Blessed With Brothers

A Muslimah’s Day to Day Life

Baby Hasan August 20, 2008

Filed under: Random — blessedwithbrothers @ 11:53 am
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I’ve been pretty busy for the past few days! My sister-in-law delievered a healthy happy baby boy Mash’Allah. His name is Hasan 🙂

Subhan’Allah it was an amazing experience to be waiting and waiting. There were happy, sad, quite, thoughtful moments throughout the whole ordeal. Alhumdulillah both mom and baby are doing very well. Insha’Allah they’ll be coming home today or tomorrow, and we’re all extrememly excited for that! 🙂

I think he’ll keep all of us busy for the time being, so until then, I’ll probably have fewer and fewer blogs 🙂

Here’s a video of him:

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An Education in Islam

Filed under: Islam — blessedwithbrothers @ 11:45 am
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I was sent this article about Islamic school. It’s pretty interesting.

An education in Islam

As Muslim schools grow, parents must decide: public or religious education?


AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF
Sunday, August 17, 2008

A decade ago, the Austin area had no Islamic schools. Most Muslim parents sent their kids to public schools and hoped that exposure to drinking, immodest clothing and other un-Islamic behavior wouldn’t undermine their religious values.

Now local Muslims have their choice of three schools — in Austin, Renaissance Academy and Austin Peace Academy, and in Round Rock, the Illuminated Academy — reflecting a similar surge in new Muslim schools across the state and the country.

But as parents embrace the new educational opportunities for their children, they’re also grappling with an issue they’ve never faced before. Renaissance and Peace Academy have begun adding high school grades with plans to expand to the 12th grade within the next couple of years, and Illuminated, which goes through sixth grade, is adding a grade each year. For the first time, local Muslim families will have the possibility of educating their kids exclusively in Islamic schools. But not everyone thinks that’s a good idea.

Will staying in a Muslim setting through high school help their kids develop as confident Muslim leaders when they arrive on secular college campuses or isolate them from the mainstream, making integration into American culture more difficult or impossible later?

Mohammad Al-Bedaiwi and Bahia Amawi volunteered and helped raise money for Islamic schools even before they had children. Now that the couple’s oldest daughter, Sumaya, is in the first grade at Renaissance Academy in far North Austin, they’re seeing the fruits of their labor. Along with reading and writing, Sumaya is learning Arabic and Islamic theology and the value of serving others — each student much complete 20 hours of community service to graduate. Her parents believe she is absorbing something even more rare: a sense of pride in being both American and Muslim.

A bright-eyed girl in a navy tunic, slacks and black patent leather shoes, Sumaya shyly offered the reason she likes her school: “because there are a lot of Muslims like me.”

Al-Bedaiwi, 35, a software engineer who grew up in Ramallah in the Palestinian territory of the West Bank, dismisses the idea that Muslim youth will miss out by not going to a public high school.

“I think (Islamic schools) will make them better prepared to be leaders,” he said.

Muslim Web site creator and editor Shahed Amanullah isn’t so sure. His 6-year-old son is enrolled in the first grade at Austin Peace Academy, a North Austin Islamic school that goes through the 10th grade; his younger son will start preschool there in the spring.

In a recent column in the Muslim publication Illume Magazine, Amanullah cited the benefits of an Islamic school.

“After attending this school for only two years, my son tests several grades above the state average and can recite far more surahs of the Quran than I can,” he wrote, “with the added benefit of having a proud sense of his Muslim identity.”

But before his boys leave home for college, Amanullah, who attended public schools in California, says he wants them to learn how to “interact in a pluralistic, gender-mixed and Muslim minority society.”

He hopes their presence in a public school will also help “inoculate other students from anti-Muslim feelings.”

Muslim youth can receive religious instruction at the mosque and stay connected through Muslim youth camps and retreats.

This is how Amanullah’s identity was forged, he said, adding, “I came out OK.”

Muslim schools increasingly popular

Although parents might be divided on whether to send their kids to public school, there’s no question that more Muslim families support Islamic education, following in the steps of Christians and Jews who have established a tradition of educational excellence with private religious schools, according to “Educating the Muslims of America,” a book that will be published next spring.

“A large number of Muslim parents are highly educated professionals who place a great value on education,” said Yvonne Haddad, professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and one of the book’s editors. “The fact that public schools in many areas in the United States are struggling with issues of violence, drugs and premarital sex keep parents very concerned.”

In addition, she said, they’re concerned about the Islamophobia their children might face, and they see Islamic schools as a way to protect them.

According to one of the book’s contributors, Karen Keyworth, co-founder and director of the Islamic Schools League of America, it’s difficult to know the number of Islamic schools, but she estimates about 235 in the United States and Virgin Islands.

For decades, the focus among Muslims was building mosques. And when it came to education, Al-Bedaiwi said, they tried to imitate Christian Sunday school. It wasn’t enough, he said.

“In the last 20 years, (Muslims) realized our children are losing their identity,” he said.

Families began pooling their resources to start small schools that often struggled in the beginning, Muslim educators said. Because they offered relatively inexpensive tuition (Renaissance currently charges about $375 a month), they had to find teachers and administrators willing to work for far less than they would earn in a public school.

But over time, the schools distinguished themselves academically, and the small class sizes and emphasis on character development drew more interest from Muslim families, said Hamed Ghazali, chairman of the Muslim American Society Council of Islamic Schools, an organization that supports Muslim educators.

Ghazali works as a consultant with schools across the country, helping them get accredited and develop a curriculum that emphasizes nurturing “committed, balanced Muslims” who shine academically and perform community service.

“It’s no longer like the past, where the Islamic school is struggling,” he said. “Now it’s a really solid system.”

In Houston, he said, several schools have long waiting lists for enrollment, and more cities, including Kansas City, Kan., Oklahoma City and Wichita, Kan., have shown support for such high schools.

Muslims fit in, but schools open to all

Renaissance opened last fall with grades pre-K through 8. The school barely came together in time for the academic year, said Principal Mohammed Malley. Organizers found a building in June — a former insurance company call center in North Austin — and managed to round up 140 students by August. This year, the school enrolled 160 and added a ninth-grade class. It plans to add a grade each year.

The hallways are decorated with construction paper displays on the presidential election and Islamic values. A large recreational room is used for afternoon prayer and student plays. Last year, the sixth-graders staged a production about the challenges of growing up Muslim in America. Students recently volunteered to stuff backpacks with school supplies and donate them to needy families in Austin.

The school isn’t exclusively Muslim. Renaissance has hired non-Muslim teachers — head scarves are not required for female teachers — and, like Austin’s other Islamic schools, admits non-Muslim students. Administrators and parents say they hope more non-Muslim students will enroll in the future.

The curriculum includes the basics such as language arts, social studies, math and science but also requires students to master Arabic, the language of the Quran, and take Islamic and Quaranic studies. Students start memorizing chapters of the Quran as early as pre-kindergarten.

Austin’s other Islamic schools offer similar models, and the three schools now have more than 300 students enrolled. Estimates of Austin’s Muslim population have ranged between 8,000 and 15,000 people.

Malley said he couldn’t be happier that his four children can attend Renaissance and avoid the sense of isolation he felt as one of a few Muslims in his Arizona public school in the 1980s.

“I remember the struggle of identity I went through,” he said. “I don’t see that with my children.”

Imam Islam Mossaad, leader of the North Austin Muslim Community Center, said he isn’t opposed to Muslims going to public school.

Much depends on the level of religious observance in the home, he said. When he was growing up and attending public schools in Austin and Pflugerville, Mossaad’s mother provided religious education in the home that he said helped him and his siblings preserve their Muslim values.

“Nowadays, with both parents working, the time to teach Islam to the kids is not available,” he said, adding that Islamic schools provide a sense of comfort for parents.

But he also thinks it’s important for young people to learn to cope with the challenges of mainstream society in a public school setting.

“This is how they’ll mature as American Muslims,” he said.

As far as Al-Bedaiwi and Amawi are concerned, there’s no better way to mature as a Muslim than to continue in an Islamic school.

“Right now, the message is you fit in as a Muslim,” Al-Bedaiwi said.

“And be proud of it,” Amawi added.

 

Ready for Ramadan? August 14, 2008

Filed under: Islam — blessedwithbrothers @ 2:43 pm
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A sister from AlMaghrib sent out an email with a list of lectures about Ramadan. Insha’Allah they should help us prepare for the upcoming month and be beneficial to everyone:

Dr Saleh as Saleh rahimahullah – Fasting in Ramadaan (20+ lectures on the fiqh, etiquette, focus and benefits of fasting)
Dr Bilal Philips – Ramadaan: a Way of Life (video)
Ahmad Jibril – Are you Ready for Ramadaan?
Ahmad Jibril – Greeting Ramadaan
Yasir Qadhi – Preparing for Ramadaan
Yahya Ibrahim – Rewards Derived from Ramadaan
Yahya Ibrahim – Renewing One’s Faith is a Priority in Ramadaan
Muhammad Alshareef – Towards an Outstanding Ramadaan (video)
Nouman Ali Khan – Welcome Ramadaan (video)
Siraj Wahhaj – Ramadaan: Prepare Yourself
Waleed Basyouni – How to Make this your best Ramadaan (9 parts)
Navaid Aziz – Preparing for Ramadaan

I hope everyone benefits from them Insha’Allah! 🙂

 

 

Back to School August 7, 2008

Summer is quickly winding down. As it comes to an end, the one thing on many people’s minds is going back to school. For me this doesn’t just mean going back to classes in college, but also going back to substituting for public schools, and going back to teach at the Saturday School at the local masjid. ( I want to be an Islamic school teacher, just in case anyone’s wondering why I love schools so much) 🙂

I’m 100% sure that one of my friends in particular will be very happy to read that this year, Insha’Allah, I will be going back to teach at Saturday School. (She knows who she is) The kids are ages 6-9 (1-3 grades). This is actually a relativley new Islamic weekend school in our community and is a branch of the local masjid.

I’ve taught at the masjid’s Sunday School for the past 3 years as a 1st grade teacher. I took off last year, but I really began to miss the whole Sunday School experience.

I realize that Weekend Schools at the masjid have MANY problems, but like one of my friends told me: you can’t just leave and expect to come back to perfect bliss. You have to work really hard as a teacher to improve anything you don’t like about the school.  

One thing that is very true is that the students NEED to have teachers who can relate…in short they need teachers who were also born and raised in America and went to public schools. While teachers from abroad do put in a noble effort in doing their best, it can be a much more fruitful year if the teacher has a good understanding of where the kids are coming from.

One of the things I really loved about Sunday/Saturday schools was lesson planning! 🙂 Although this doesn’t sound like the funnest thing to do in your free time, it’s actually very engaging. It opens up the creative side of you (especially if you’re teaching younger kids who can barely read or write). You learn a lot about the students and their learning styles and how to tweak your teaching methods to encompass their differences.

I’ve always tried to make my classroom at weekend school as close to public school as posssible (in terms of procedures). We have morning work, homework folders, awards, treasure chests, newsletters, and the list goes on. I feel that the kids take you much more serious if you actually have a set schedule and know what you’re doing. 

One thing I found annoying was how there is a lack of resources for Islamic weekend school teachers. One must realize that you’re only with the kids for 3 hours (actual teaching time is probably 2 hours) and only once a week. Absences are very common and homework is usually taken lightly. Many parents are not too serious about weekend school and treat it more like a daycare. However, I would also like to say that there are many parents who love getting involved with their child’s Islamic education and well being. They are always involved with the teachers and usually the ones who choose to volunteer. I love the Islamic textbooks that have come out, but they really aren’t well suited for the weekend school style. I usually would make my own worksheets on the computer and just teach with those. I always wanted to post them online, so that if any other teachers were struggling with coming up with lesson plans, they could take ideas from something I have. Rest assured that Insha’Allah I plan on putting up my lesson plans and worksheets on this blog. I hope they help out Insha’Allah. 🙂

Insha’Allah I get my class curriculum next week! I can’t wait to see what becomes of this year and will keep posting about my experiences as a Saturday school teacher for 2008-2009. 🙂

 

Kitaab At-Tawheed

Filed under: Islam — blessedwithbrothers @ 7:42 am

I’ve posted the notes which I have taken so far on the Kitaab At-Tawheed lecture by Sh. Yasir Qadhi. I think this lecture is actually a seminar, because it’s extremely long. I’m only on part 4 of 30. I’ll keep this as updated as possible Insha’Allah.

Insha’Allah I hope everyone benefits from them 😀

Explanation of Kitaab At-Tawheed

 

Quran Recitations August 6, 2008

Filed under: Islam — blessedwithbrothers @ 2:49 pm
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I have a list of links on the side of this blog and there’s one link in particular I hope everyone visits. www.kalamullah.com

Kalamullah is a really good website with lots of lectures, articles and Quran. My favorite part of the website is the Quran section. They have a group of recitors under a heading called Exceptional. They ARE exceptional. Subhan’Allah, they have AMAZING qirats.

One of my favorite recitors on the website is Emad Al-Mansary. Mash’Allah his qirat is hands-down amazing!!! 😮 You can find more of his recitations on www.zanjabil.net as well.

I’ve posted a video with 5 surahs he recites below so you can listen 🙂

 

Why whales? August 5, 2008

Filed under: Islam,Random — blessedwithbrothers @ 3:22 pm
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What does Finding Nemo have to do with Islam?

While I ride the spin cycle at home I usually turn on the TV. I feel like 20 minutes passes by quicker when I’m watching something on TV. Yesterday I couldn’t find anything on, except Finding Nemo.

Finding Nemo is actually a very interesting movie. I’m sure almost everyone has seen it. The part that I watched yesterday was when Marlin (Nemo’s dad) and Dory got eaten by a whale.  Here’s the part of the movie that I saw:

While watching Marlin struggle to get out of the whale (blue whale i think) was sad, I thought of Allah’s creation. Allah tells us in numerous places in the Quran to reflect upon His creation. It’s amazing how the blue whale is the largest animal on the Earth, however all it eats is krill and other small fish!! To put this into perspective a blue whale can be up to 110 ft long! Their heart is the size of a car! Here’s a diagram and a short clip from Blue Planet about whales:

Krill on the other hand range in size from 1 to 2 cm (⅜–¾ in) (about the size of a pen cap), the largest being 6 to 15 cm (2¼–6 in). Subhan’Allah!! It’s amazing that such a small creature can sustain the life of such an enormous giant. I find it hard to believe that us as humans, eat almost anything and everything, from whole camels to whole cows, while other creations of Allah eat such small amounts and still survive. Allah talks about the creation and how they rely upon Him for sustanence in Surah Hud, Aya 6:

وَمَا مِن دَآبَّةٍ۬ فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ إِلَّا عَلَى ٱللَّهِ رِزۡقُهَا وَيَعۡلَمُ مُسۡتَقَرَّهَا وَمُسۡتَوۡدَعَهَا‌ۚ كُلٌّ۬ فِى ڪِتَـٰبٍ۬ مُّبِينٍ

“There is no creature on the earth which is not dependent upon Allah for its provision. He knows where it lives and where it dies. They are all in a Clear Book.”

These animals are a sign of Allah’s Power over Creation.

This part of the movie also reminded me of the story of Yunus (as). He was sent to the people of Ninevah, a town located on the Tigris river. He called the people to the pure worship of Allah alone(Tawheed), however they turned away. As with any prophet, Yunus (as) was a human and had human emotions and feelings. He became impatient with the people and left them without the permission of Allah. He left the town and embarked on a boat. The boat got caught in a storm and the people on the boat with Yunus(as) drew lots and ended up throwing Yunus(as) overboard. He was then swolled whole by a giant fish. Prophet Yunus(as) realized that he had disobeyed Allah and repented and supplicated to Allah. The whale then threw Yunus(as) out onto the shore.

“And verily, Yunus is among Messengers. When he went away towards a laden boat. And cast lots and was of the pushed ones. Then the fish swallowed him and he was blaming himself. And had he not been of those who glorify Allah. He would have necessarily remained in its belly until the day when the people shall be raised. Then We cast him on a bare place and he was sick. And We caused to grow over him a tree of gourd. And We sent him towards a hundred thousand rather more. And they believed, then We allowed them to enjoy for a time.”  [37:139-148]

Maybe living in this fast paced world has made us heedless to the Signs Allah has placed all around us. I think it’s good to stop, take a break and reflect upon what Allah has created so that we may strengthen our eman and increase our love and fear of Allah.

Wow I didn’t know Finding Nemo could be so deep…Hope you enjoyed reading! 🙂