Apr 152014
Al-Maghrib's History Class: Life Lessons Learned - www.MiddleWayMom.com

photo by Alex Bruda

Alhamdulilah, I was fortunate enough to attend Al Maghrib’s new class, New Dawn, an Islamic history class. Since I’m a homeschool mom, I thought it fitting to attend a history class, especially given the lack of materials available that teach history from a Muslim’s perspective. As with almost any of Al Maghrib’s classes, I walked away with a bit more food for thought than I originally expected.

Studying history shouldn’t be simply for the purpose of memorizing facts, names, and dates. Ask yourself, why are there historical stories in the Qur’an? Allah doesn’t intend tell a story without a purpose.

Likewise, learning history should be with a purpose: to learn valuable life lessons. Learn what worked and what didn’t. Here are some of the valuable lessons I learned from Al Maghrib’s class, New Dawn.

Learn history from a variety of sources

Everyone has their slant, perspective, and agenda. Even the most neutral source will have some cultural baggage that colors their understanding of historical information. How do they center their thinking? Do they have Euro-centric thinking? Afro-centric? Makkah-centric? Everyone has an angle, and it’s important to let everyone speak. Let the facts speak for themselves. As Allah tells us in the Qur’an (emphasis my own):

Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah hears and knows all things [Qur'an 2:256]

Too often I think we become so engrossed with defending “our people” that we only listen to what will give us ammo in a debate. Not all Muslims were great leaders, and it’s valuable to understand and accept the shortcomings of our leaders in history. Knowing as such can help us see clearly the great leaders, and what they all had in common. Learn not only from Muslim sources, but also from Christian, Jewish, polytheist, and secular sources.

Find the patterns

Our teacher, Dr. Abdullah Hakim Quick, pointed out that the great leaders throughout the Islamic eras all lived close to the prophetic way. They didn’t keep much money for themselves, mingled with the people, and make sure the poor and needy were well cared for. Many times the larger and more elaborate the castles, the closer they were to their downfall. SubhanAllah! Providing free education to the populations, and never forcing Islam on the population were also very important in the success of a society.

Different leaders for different needs

It takes a different type of person to make changes than it does to keep established order. As our teacher pointed out, you have initiators and consolidators. Each are important and have their need. You can not be ruled for decades by someone who always wants to start new projects and make changes. You can’t have progress with someone who wants to maintain the status quo. You need both. Even for my own personal life, it’s good to have this outlook. Do I need to take an initiator approach, or a consolidator approach? Different seasons in life will call for different approaches.

Present global view

I need to make a clear effort to present a global view to my kids, in sha Allah. If I don’t make sure to open the conversation, and show various viewpoints, they may not learn to question information they are given. I remember being a small child and questioning commercials and their motives. Maybe it was because my parents were cynical when it came to advertisements, maybe it’s a natural skill. Either way, I can’t assume that my kids will naturally question the motivation behind information they come across. If I give them various viewpoints, they can use their own minds, in sha Allah. After all, isn’t that why Allah gifted us with reason and intellect?

What is your view of history and the value it has in your home?

Apr 092014

Are You a Homeschool Failure? - www.MiddleWayMom.com

Homeschooling is a big responsibility, and arguably one of the most important tasks you will have your entire life, if you choose to take it on. This fact is a big reason why many people never get started. Many others worry about if they are failing along the way. So, how do you know if you are a homeschool failure?

Fail is a big word. If we’re going to get all formal, the definition of failure is:

A subnormal quantity or quality; an insufficiency

Of course, there are other variants of the definition, but this is the one we think of most, isn’t it? We are worried we are providing an education or experience that is of subnormal quantity or quality. We are worried that our work is insufficient.

Insufficient in compared to what? What do we think we should be doing better? When you start looking at all the available homeschool materials, it’s easy to feel like you’re not doing enough. When we read blogs that give you the highlight reel, it’s easy to feel like you’re not doing enough. (In fairness, would you read a homeschool blog that complained and showed you all their failures? Most of us are looking for support and ideas, not a list of “don’t do” items).

Don’t compare yourself to the systems setup by the schools. You aren’t a system. You don’t get a group discount for buying supplies for your three kids. Don’t compare yourself to other homeschool moms. She might have different goals than you. So, what’s the marker?

You’re failing when you aren’t reaching YOUR goals.

Really, ask yourself honestly. What are your homeschool goals? Why are you homeschooling? Most times are goals are far beyond the curriculum, and have more to do with how we want to connect with our kids and how we want them to connect with the world.

I bet you are meeting those goals.

I bet your kids are well adjusted and caring. I bet they are able to teach themselves new skills. I bet they have a love for their Creator and a wish to please Him. Even if they aren’t meeting these goals right now, do you think those goals would be better met elsewhere? Would someone else work on those goal areas as hard as you will?

Of course our kids should learn to their reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic. Those things are important in the adult world! If you forget to cover the Fertile Crescent (which I never learned in public school, ever), the impact of The Iliad on modern literature, or your child never gets past Algebra 1, it’s still more than likely they have the ability to be a successful adult.

They can still have successful relationships, they can still have healthy and encouraging friendships, and they can still find fulfilling and meaningful work.

Knowing that, and remembering your actual goals, do you still think you are failing? Do you still feel insufficient? Who would do it better than you?

Take heart, homeschooling mom. You are meeting more goals than the books can carry, and in sha Allah (God willing) building a generation to come based on your love and hard work. After all, you hand crafted their education. Whether you use a boxed curriculum, choose various resources, or even create some curriculum yourself, it was hand chosen for your child and their needs. Wow.

It’s not always easy, but it’s definitely not as easy as you think to fail.

Apr 072014

Guard Your Most Precious Commodity - www.MiddleWayMom.com

Is parenting just about providing opportunities for your kids? For something special, we go somewhere and do something. When did every day life become so insignificant?

It’s not insignificant to our kids. Even spouse relationships thrive better when their every day life is nurtured just as much as date night, if not more. It’s vitally important to nurture that every day relationship with our kids, even when comes at the expense of added opportunities and experiences. What good is driving our kids to an art class, or making sure they get to their sports tournament in time, if they never have time to connect with you, get to know you, and love you for your multi-faceted personality?

It’s taken me a while to get here. It’s taken a while for me to understand that signing my daughter up for every cool program does not equate with good parenting. She remembers how I make her feel, and when I take time to focus on her specifically. Spending hundreds of dollars on classes around the city don’t show her love and appreciation. Game night is a far better alternative as it gives that one-on-one attention.

Likewise, signing myself up for classes, volunteer work, and business ideas does not make me a better wife and mother. This season in life should be focused on my family. I only get it once. In terms of time, life is a straight line, heading to our end, and you never get a moment back. You can never make up a prayer during the time it was prescribed. You can never take back a hurtful word. You can never spend time with your family after you have left them for other commitments. How many weekends did I lose with my family because I wanted to volunteer my time with the community? Alhamdulilah, it was all for a good cause, but the weekends became known for how much time I would spend with my loved ones, usually hours counted on one, maybe two, hands. That is not how I want to be remembered, and my kids definitely do not feel my love when I am gone.

It’s time to clear the schedule. It’s time to sign up for less and be present more. It’s time to change who gets my time, the my kids’ time. Will those people cry at our death? If not, then why are we spending so much time with them? Why are we giving them such a valuable commodity? Something we can never get back. Time.

Encouraging Hijab for Little Girls

Encouraging Hijab for Little Girls

I’ve talked about why my teen doesn’t wear hijab, but in sha Allah my younger girls will walk a different path. Since they aren’t faced with the difficulty of having split parents of different religions, there won’t be as much pressure to follow pop culture, in sha Allah. Hijab isn’t required for very young girls. In fact, it only becomes required for those who have reached the age of puberty. Still, I want to instill [Read more...]

Reasons You Should Have a Hobby

Reasons You Should Have a Hobby

I remember in a job interview, I was asked, “What are your hobbies?” and I remember thinking, “Who in the world has hobbies? Who has time for that?” Other than reading, I didn’t have any hobbies, and I didn’t know anyone with hobbies. I didn’t even know why anyone would need one, anyway. Now that I’m a stay at home mom, the need for hobbies has arisen. It’s not because I have oodles of time [Read more...]

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