Each school day, I have Care Bear do 15 minutes of independent reading for her Islamic studies. We started with her reading the Qur’an with a simplified translation for young readers and after she was done, I decided to have her start reading the four gospels in the Bible. Why?
For one, Care Bear is surrounded by people who are hoping she does not choose Islam for herself. Some are practicing Christians, while others call themselves Christians but it is simply because they grew up hearing their family is Christian and it doesn’t have any value to them on a day to day basis. If the prevailing opinion outside of our home is that she should choose Christianity, I want her to have a good knowledge of the faith and not just choose it because it is the easier option in her surroundings and our culture at large.
I’ve chosen for her to only read the Gospels since the Bible is not an easy read, and frankly the Old Testament has some rated R material in it. I’ve heard many Christians state that reading the Gospels would be enough for someone to be Christian so I’ve allowed it to be limited to those four books. We discuss references from time to time in other books in the Bible as the need arises. I also want to move forward to other valuable books, from an Islamic perspective. At the end of the day, my priority is still to ensure she is properly educated and motivated in Islam.
I do think it is valuable for kids at the middle school and high school age to learn to look for answers from source documents and not reading a secondary source for their information. Too often I see people talk about how they have studied Islam, but never thought to read the Qur’an.Why do we look to people talking about a book, instead of reading the book when it’s readily available.
There are also many references to Bible stories and Christian belief in movies and literature. Especially when reading classical literature, you lose depth of the meaning if you are unaware of the references the author is making. Just like many Muslims are appalled at how little of Muslim history is included in the school systems, we would likewise be doing a disservice to our kids by not including information about a major religion and culture in the world. For some, this may not mean reading the Bible itself, but I would argue that it should be covered in one way or another.
Do you think time should be spent on reading the Bible? If so, would you argue for the entire book, or just parts?
I think it is great idea. I would never have thought it. My parents are Muslim and my husband’s parents are Muslim and we live in a large Muslim populated city in the United States but knowledge is an intricate part of our faith. Kudos to you!
Shannen Espelien says
Thanks! In sha Allah knowledge of other faiths is helpful in many aspects. As we are working through classical English literature, I’m finding a LOT of references to Christian doctrine, so without some knowledge of it, there’s a lot of the story that just doesn’t make sense.
What are the challenges of raising a Muslim child in a country where Islam is practiced by a small minority? Is it even possible? I don’t have kids yet, but it is something my fiancé and I often wonder about.
Shannen Espelien says
I do think it’s possible, and it’s one reason why we are homeschooling. I think putting children in an environment for the majority of their week where they are the outsider makes it more challenging. Alhamdulilah, we live in an area with a vibrant Muslim community, so we can make sure we are a part of that community to build their Islamic identity, in sha Allah.