Sunday, March 31, 2013

Doing things naturally in today's complex world

From an exchange of emails in Pakistan Home Education Yahoo Group:

Assalamu alaikum,
I feel that we should not force learning. But one question has been on my mind. The children of yester-years, they learnt naturally. All around them, work was being done naturally. Food was cropped, clothes were sewn, furniture was made, trade was carried out. The children were aware from start to finish what was going on. In today's world, NOTHING, is done naturally. We don't know,or want to know, the intricate detail of the finished products we consume. Every field has an expert and a gazillion details. How can our children grow up on the Fitrah NOW? Left at home, all they would see (at least in my home) is a mom, who is either cooking, cleaning or reading. Where is the food for thought? I think, the issue is, if i want them to lead meaningful lives, I have to LIVE one. Myself. Taking full responsibility. To ignite the fire that fuels Imaan. To not settle for anything less than the glory Muslims are destined to create.

Some practical framework is the dire need. So far, I agree with the fact that education is building a world view. Deviation from Islamic culture will deviate our minds. The groundwork is laid,... Waiting eagerly for the real thing.

Sr. Hanaa

Sister, Assalamu Alaykum,

We have taken an unconventional route, and doubts are bound to visit us every now and then. Personally, I feel that given a child's physical and emotional needs - (need for mother, for play, for sleep etc.) and given the fitan of the times, it's best if the child spends his first 7-10 years at home.

Institutional education can wait.

Parents, esp. mother, are the primary educators in these years. But the child can also learn from others (such as Qari/ Qaria, Islamic classes, sports coach, or someone who knows a craft). These early years at home are likely to build a strong base vs. sending him away at age 3/4.

Yes, it's hard work, made harder by the criticism we face, but have conetnement in knwoing that we are fulfilling our responsisbility as parents, and can be hopeful of great ajar and sadaqa-e-jaariah. Don't we read in the biography of some great Muslims that 'Ibtidaaee taaleem ghar pe haasil kee.'' And werent they better Muslism than us?

As for your concern about the natural ways having vanished, I'd say, thank Allah that you live in Pakistan. It's a very rich country. So many crafts and skills are still preserved. Recycling/ reusing come naturally to our people (vs. the drama in the West and West-like Muslim countries whose consumeristic econmies are constantly over-over-producing and then they talk about reduce, recuse, recycle!).

However, this is 2013, and we are city-dwellers. We have to accept the fact that things cannot be excatly as they used to be. It's Allah's will that we born in this time and be city-dwellers. (The Prophet (sa) too was a city-dweller, and we all have our unique role to play in the larger role of the Ummah).

With positive, out-of-the-box thinking, we can make the best use of our situation. Below are some examples of reviving the good, old ways (not theoretical examples, but things I have done/do myself). I'm sure others would have more to contribute:

*** It's easy to make ghee and butter at home in Pakistan, and so nice to see the malai turning into butter/ghee before your eyes. (People also make yogurt at home.) I tell the kids it's healthier than bazaari one, almost free-of-cost, and the ghee's fragrance is amazing. I point out Allah's great qudrah in milk and how it gives us different things. Making these things at home teaches us self-reliance - the old way of life ruined by capitalism - today's dominant econiomic system, which even wants you to purchase water and LimoPani from them!

***As your son grows older, send him alone for ba-jamaat namaz and bringing sauda. This will teach him to be brave*, to deal with people, to do hisaab kitaab. (Dont we see these qualities in the children of poor people?) * Mom also grows braver with this.

*** We used cotton nappies mostly, instead of disposables, for the youngest. (Imagine how put-off and surprised our grandmothers and great-grandmothers would be to know that we use throw-aways every single moment of the child's first 2-3 years, and the child remains unclean all the time.)

*** Whenever the electrician, plumber, carpenter would come over, kids would nautrally be interested in their work. Plus, I woud specifically ask my son to stand next to them and 'supervise'.

*** I have seen people in Pakistan growing veggies in small spaces outside their homes. One can easily plant dhaniya etc. in pots. We planted raai, and beautiful leaves came out.

*** Our mothers and grandmothers knew stitiching, knitting, crochet and embriodery. It's not impossible to revive these highly useful and interesting skills. With our girls at home, we have the opportunity to have them learn these skills again. Quite possible, some famile member or domestic helper could teach them this or another skill.

Rest assured, in an institution, the envioronemt is generally even more articfical . So lets think positive, and make the best use of our situtaion.

Sr. Umm Shanze


  1. Wow! reassuring indeed. Our 3 years daughter got admission at Dawood Public - the only school we applied to. But we have taken a decision to withhold this for at-least one year - despite the risk of not getting admission there in the next years. Reading this blog just made me more satisfied with our decision.

  2. Assalam o alaikum wa rahmatulahay wa barakatahu,

    Jazakallahu khaira for this inspiring piece of writing. I am considering homeschooling for my child in order to make her a true Muslimah. But this seems quite challenging to me. So I am looking for like-minded mothers who can interact with me and guide me in this endeavor.

    If there are any such mothers here, please please contact me for the sake of Allah.

  3. Assalam o alaikum

    Jazakallahu khaira for such an inspiring article. I am considering homeschooling my child on the basis of Islam. For this I need encouragement and guidance from experienced mothers. If there are such mothers, please contact me for the sake of Allah!