The start of the school year feels like a marathon on many levels. Two weeks of hard core preparation, setting down milestones till the finish line, and then visualizing the sweet victory at the end. :) InshaAllah everything goes as smoothly as possible. This year I have two school roles .. one is of course my actual work, and the second is Saturday school. It’s been a couple years since I’ve been in the classroom so I spent a good portion of the weekend creating lesson plans and activities. The leadership this year is excellent and they’ve given me a lot of latitude in structuring the class and curriculum as I see fit. My focus with the Level 4 students (ages 14+) will be:
1. Increase their love for Allah (swa) and the Prophet (saw) through a special focus on Asma-ul-Husna and the Shama’il of the Prophet (saw)
2. Focus on refining their sense of self by presenting Islamic studies in a relevant way to help them reflect on and navigate their environment (school, home community).
3. Increase their confidence in learning and studying the Qur’an. Will be referencing the Abdul Haleem translation .. one of the best I’ve come across.
4. Develop their leadership capabilities.
5. Increase their critical thinking skills through meaningful activities and discussion
6. Help them connect with their community through services hours and volunteer work
With these goals in mind for each class, I plan to hit on some special topics including social media (using Fiqh of Social Media handbook by Omar Usman), diseases of the heart (Ustadh Abdul Rahman Murphy’s “The Good Life”), review of halal trade vs. riba (I want to touch on this since many of the students are thinking about college and student loans. Joe Bradford has great resources on this), and definitely plan to incorporate the Inspiration series. Season 2 episode 1 went way beyond my expectations.
I think now more than ever, we are at a very critical time when it comes to our youth. Some of the things I see in the school just boggles my mind, and it’s scary to think many parents are unaware or oblivious of the kinds of things our youth are exposed to on a regular basis. I commend parents for enrolling their kids in weekend programs because at the very least, they can benefit from an Islamic environment, but it’s certainly not sufficient. I met some of the parents yesterday and highly encouraged them to be engaged with their student’s learning by staying up to date with their studies so we can all work together in supporting their growth and education. They can’t do it alone and it’s critical for us to have active discussions about these issues.
One thing I’ve noticed more often ever since it was mentioned in a Ramadan khatira this year, is that when it comes to education, you almost always see that the child’s mother will come instead of the father. I see this a lot at work, and sometimes when I do see the father show up for a meeting, I get confused lol because I’m so used to seeing the mother coming to inquire about their child’s progress or challenges. Even in our parent orientation for Saturday school yesterday, I counted 3 fathers and the rest were all mothers who accompanied their kids. It makes sense on one level since moms’ typically fall into the nurturing role, but if you look at the Qur’an .. it is filled with examples of involved fathers who were at the front lines when it came to the education and tarbiya of their kids. In my third lesson this year, I plan to do an in-depth study of the advice Luqman gave to his son and then have the class derive lessons for themselves .. and in addition, I would like to really emphasize Luqman’s role as a father and his proactivity in counseling his son from a young age. Just in reading that passage, you can feel the intimate bond he had with his son and the progression of his advice is so beautiful, intentional, and age-appropriate. Screen shot below. At a societal level, I think we have a serious epidemic of un-involved fathers and single parent homes mostly run by mothers. More on this in another post inshaAllah, but suffice it to say there is tons of research on the mental, emotional, academic, and even developmental impact on children when one or both parents are absent.
For all of us working with youth, it’s a great reminder that we need to be active, involved, observant, kind, compassionate and give 110% to our students every single day. We should see our work as an amanah from Allah and “tread softly” on their dreams, in the words of W.B. Yeats.
May Allah (swa) make it a successful year for all students and help us in helping them reach their potential. Ameen.
اَللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ عِلْمًا نَافِعًا , وَ رِزْقًا طَيَّبًا , وَ عَمَلاً مُتَقَبَّلاً
Allahumma inni as’aluka ‘Ilman naafi’an, wa rizqan tayyiban, wa ‘amalan mutaqabbalan
O Allah, I ask You for knowledge that is of benefit, a good provision and deeds that will be accepted. Ameen