Thursday, February 14, 2008

What do you think?

So, in my DD's school (as I have mentioned in the whole cultural heritage post) they are doing a unit on family and heritage. I have been OK with this until yesterday when my DD came home and said that the teacher insisted that she tell the class what god she believes in. Now I am a little irked by this, but apparently the entire class had to answer the question. So, I think it's not an appropriate discussion... But I might be inclined to let it slide. However, DD then went on to say that when she stayed late yesterday to finish an assignment the teacher asked her about it again. Now I'm mad. I am thinking about bringing it to the teacher and making sure that DD wasn't telling me the story in some way that makes it sound worse than it is... And then going to the principal with my feelings on 2-3rd graders entering into theological discussions under the name of cultural heritage.

I am not really prepared to put my daughter in the position of explaining the Islamic concept of God to her class, and as it stands I think she is somehow feeling like her classmates believe she is worshiping some foreign God called Allah. This really puts me in a bad position. So, dear readers... What would you do?


suhaa said...

asalaam alaikum sister!! my daughter is in 3rd grade..granted we are in saudi. But when my other was in KG back in the US, we did this whole hoopla fun presentation on Islam's Holidays. My opinion is that you should encourage your daughter to just go for it. make it into a project with her and have her explain the "project" to the class. This is your invitation from Allah to to your daughter too. Simple, sweet, and information the other 3rd graders probably won't forget inshaAllah. Bring different hijabs, a picture of the Kaaba (making sure they dont think we pray to it, only in front of it) and a prayer rug. I think it would be best to ask the teacher for time to pull this together, and if you can watch the presentation-so youll support your daughter and answer any qs that come up. you can even make goodie bags for the kids as a kind gesture or show pics of the millions of hajj, or that of a nearby masjid even..showing the diversity in people in pics too..
don't get defensive, its not worth it now because the potential good of this outweighs any reason to get upset. just another test from Allah-but your daughters words might be the first of which leads these curious classmates and families to jannah..right along with her, you , and family! ameen.
just my thoughts!

Umm Yehiya said...


they had to answer "what God they believe in?"

what? how is this appropriate for (i suspect) a secular school classroom?

i'm flabberghasted. like you seem to be. my first reaction is, "Excuse me?"

I too would be afraid that my kid is being put on the spot as being some "foreign worshipper" istaghfirallah.

Suhaa's suggestion is interesting though, and certainly a better way of doing dawa than marinating in shock. :)

Ummhana said...

I was thinking about my own Kindergartner and how she is adjusuting to the whole public school thing. She spent 2 years prior at an Islamic school. As for the whole "what do you believe?" question...I think it is not right to instigate such a conversation in a class. Now having said that let me give you a scenerio that happened to me a month back. I was subbing at my daughters school..2nd grade class...when I walked through the door 4 children rushed up to me and said "are you Muslim?" I then said " name is Ms. --- and I will be spending time in your class today" The four kids were estatic to see a Muslim in their class because they too were Muslim...but what happened next was something that I was unprepared for and I pray that I handled it in the correct way. The four kids then proceeded to ask me questions and the parade me around the room as a reflection of their identity. I knew at that moment I had to get control of the class before it all spiraled out of control. One girl even asked me when she should start wearing hijab...I told her she probably needed to ask her mom that question. The reason I am telling you this is because kids want to feel they have an identity. These kids wanted to feel validated. My daughter who is in Kindergarten decided during Christmas time to pray on the playground. I realize that this was her cry for identity. Here everyone else is celebrating Christmas and she needed some touch point to feel connected. I would defiently voice my concern. I believe that if it was the teacher that initiated it then it was poor judgement. However, if it was a student who had a question, I would view it differently. Sorry for the long comment.

Mona said...

Wait a second, is this a public school? What the?

Anyhow, I'd take it as a good chance for dawa inshaAllah.

Molly said...

I'd give her a good talking to.

I mean the teacher, not your daughter.

And then I would teach your daughter, assuming you haven't already which I actually think you probably have, how to explain that Allah is the God of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, as well as Mohamed.

And that should be a good enough answer, I think.

I'm sure you already taught her that though.

UmmLayla said...

Suhaa, thanks for the positive take on the situation. I have (in the past) done presentations about Islam for kids at local schools... And I usualy do like a little Adam's World and a book or something. I even made a book about eid with little pictures of the kids doing Eid things to read to school.

UmmYehiya, yes I was shocked especialy since this school prides themselves in diversity and is associated with the University.

UmmHana, I know what you mean about the subbing thing. When I was teaching I had some experiences like that before I went to the Islamic school. Actually the highschool I went to as a kid was where I taught and it has lots of Muslim students now, masha'Allah. Of course highschoolers don't express admiration like 2nd graders... But you know they are happy to see you;) Masha'Allah about your daughter praying. I know she's young but it's good to hear that she is asserting her identity in a postitive way! Insha'Allah it is something that she will continue to do in the future. I saw kids like that in the HS that were leading the Muslim kids in good things rather than hiding thier identity and they always made me smile.

Mona, yeah public... Can you believe it?

Molly, funny that you said that because that is the EXACT thing I told her. She as funny though... She told me, "No mama the Christian kids said they believe in Jesus." Oh my. Well I don't know how to explain that one myself because the confusion even exists for Christian adults sometimes!LOL

rahma said...

Yikes. I can't ever remember religion being mentioned in grade school. In fact, I don't think it was mentioned until we studied the renaissance/reformation in 8th grade. There the teacher smuggly declared he could tell what religion you were from where your ancestors were from.

The majority of my ancestors immigrated from Italy, so he declared we must be catholic. Booyah, I come from a family of non conformists. My great grandma was the founder of the italian methodist church in our town after she was excommunicated.

Now that that tangent is out of my system, I can't imagine why a teacher would think such a question was appropriate to ask young children. I know at that age, I didn't have the faintest idea about religion aside from "Jesus loves me."

Umm Ibrahim said...

Assalaamu alaikum,
The other sisters make good points about how to turn this into something positive and how to take the opportunity to make dawa but evenso I think at your daughter's age (I am assuming age 7 if the grading is like the UK system) it's a bit much getting into theology and 'What do you believe?' I would not be impressed to tell the truth.

Anonymous said... know what I would do...homeschool :)
I live in a lil' community where people have been putting their kids in PS for a couple of decades because we don't have an Islamic school. Lemmie tell you-we have a blooming generation of secular, CULTURALLY-Muslim-identifying, non-practicing Muslims around here. Proofs in the pudidng-public schools are great at assimilating children into the hegemonic secular Christian society we say has "freedom of religion."
Stepping down before the #2 pencils start flying...okay wait-but for those of you that will say "I'm Muslim and I went to public school" Let me just ask-how was your Muslim identity fostered? Where you at all active in a Muslim community that Ummlayla and I don't have? I don't even have a bonafide Masjid. Also, did you have an extended Muslim family beyond your Mom and Dad? -which again, Ummlayla and I don't have. Did you play regularly with other Muslim kids?
Our kids are too you to be "giving dawah"-they don't even have their identity fully formed....Sis, you have read Charlotte Mason, yeah?
This is why I said go with Germany. Show the similarities, not the differences since they already see that-as your teacher has so dumba***dly proven.
Ok, really done...
Love and Peace,
~Brooke AKA Ummbadier

Anonymous said...

Oh some typos like "too young" -no one would ever guess I'm an English major lol!

Anonymous said...

That's a tough one. My best friend in high school was from Iran and she always got asked the most crazy questions like what type of a God she prayed too.

She always handled it well like it was an opportunity to educate others on what they obviously didn't know much about.

I know for me being a conservative Christian my older son gets asked some strange questions in the public school he is going to. Because he is very open about his religion kids I guess are curious. I always tell him that it's wonderful to educate others about our religion as it is to listen to others and learn about theirs.

I think it can be a great experience for your daughter and she doesn't have to get detailed about it just the general customs, prayers, beliefs and such would be a great idea for her.

Ishallah it will go well for your daughter. Take it as an opportunity for your daughter to educate the other students about your religion.