Compassion for the Creation, even the Homosexual?

When I was in college,

I lived in the large house of an older woman who sort of ‘rented’ out rooms. In one room, was a young divorced woman trying to ‘fix her life’. In another room another young girl who was her relative. I, a student at the University of Wisconsin at the time had my room. And the last room belonged to ‘D’. That’s what we called him, short for Demetrius. He was her foster child and she was earning a sizable income looking after him because nobody else wanted him. When I met him he was 13 and at first glance, I assumed him to be a girl. After all, he was wearing a dress, lipstick, walked with a switch and had his hair layed out! I didn’t know that he was a boy until someone told me. (SubhaanAllah)

D was very flamboyant,

he needed lots of attention and there was no way you could ignore him. He talked loud. He laughed even louder and he squeaked and squealed! Being from New York City, I had seen transvestites from afar, you know walking down in the Village in lower Manhattan or coming from a party uptown. but actually knowing one persoanlly and living with him was crazy. One day, we were all sitting in the living room watching t.v. and he came sachay-ing into the room like a model, wearing these beautiful light blue bell-bottom jeans. (He did quite a bit of shoplifting and had an amazing wardrobe!) We were like, ‘D, go sit down somewhere!’ He said, “So how do I look?” I said, “I like those jeans, can I have them?” He squealed and said, “No I mean how do I look up here?” He shimmied his shoulders. “Oh my God! He has breasts!” The boy had taken small balloons, filled them up with water and put them inside of the bra. We touched his ‘breasts’, they felt real!!

The Queen of the house used to just laugh at him, so we did too.

At that time, back in 1993- 1994, She used to pull rank on us all by saying’ “Don’t play with me I’m almost half a hundred!” It’s funny that I am almost that age now. When you reach middle age you start to look back on your life and collect lessons; well I do. D came to my mind just before I prayed Fajr (Before Dawn) prayer today and I had to shed a few tears. I had not thought about him in many, many years. I think my memory got jogged by something I heard a psychologist saying a few days ago, about the percentage of homosexuals who had been molested as children. D was in foster care because his mother was on crack and his uncle had molested him. Now I see why he was the way he was, he was calling out for attention to his plight, but nobody heard him. I imagined him in front of me and giving him a big hug. No, as a Muslim, I do not condone homosexual behavior and it carries a heavy punishment if 2 are found engaging in these actions. I am also a human who believes in the natural order of creation in this universe, I believe male was created for female and vice versa.  However, I do understand something about human pain. As I rested my forehead and nose on the carpet, my heart went out to D and I ask Allah to guide him wherever he may be. I ask Allah to put compassion in my heart for all His creation.

 

Hijrah Discussions pt. 2: Education in the Arab World

Yaa Akhwaatee!

My goal in these articles is to share my personal experience as well as what I have observed from other families over the years. However I am not saying:  Do not move to the Muslim lands. That is not my intention as our Prophet sallallahu alyhi wa sallam said:

وَعَنْ مُعَاوِيَةَ – رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ – قَالَ : قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ – صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ – : “ لَا تَنْقَطِعُ الْهِجْرَةُ حَتَّى تَنْقَطِعَ التَّوْبَةُ ، وَلَا تَنْقَطِعُ التَّوْبَةُ حَتَّى تَطْلُعَ الشَّمْسُ مِنْ مَغْرِبِهَا ” . رَوَاهُ أَحْمَدُ ، وَأَبُو دَاوُدَ ، وَالدَّارِمِيُّ .

Narrated Mu’awiyah:

I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: Migration will not end until repentance ends, and repentance will not end until the sun rises in the west. (Sunan Abi Dawud: Book of Jihad)

As I said in part 1 of this discussion, traveling as an adult to study or live is different than traveling as a parent wanting to raise and educate children. So I want to give a summary of the types of education offered in most Arab countries; that is North Africa, the Arabian Gulf (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Kuwait) and Jordan.

Types of Schools in the Arab World

  1. The Government Schools:  these are schools set up by the government, public schools. The official language of the public schools is Arabic, so all the subjects are taught in Arabic. There will usually be some level of Islamic studies and Quran taught as well.
  2. The ‘International’ Schools:  These are schools set up to educate Arabs in a Western language, most likely English, there are also French schools. These schools are usually owned by non-Muslims as private businesses or may be under a Western embassy.  Usually, the more ‘high class’ the school is, the more they are pushing Western culture and values. There are International Schools owned by Muslim families who do try to keep the Islamic values along with teaching the English. Many of these schools create within them a whole different culture. Al-hamdulillah, many Western Muslims are going to teach in these schools and helping to bring the balance.
  3.  The 3rd type of school is the Private Islamic schools. These are Arabic language schools, privately owned by religious families, that focus on creating an Islamic educational environment. I have heard mixed reviews about these kinds of schools so I can’t report.
  4. Quran Centers; in most or all of the Islamic countries, there are Quran Centers in every neighborhood or district of each city. Some are better and more progressive than others. If they are private they charge fees, if they are government run then they will be free or for a small fee. In general, they all operate in Arabic, the registration, the classes, the books. Sometimes you can find a center that has an English section but this is something that will take research.
  5. Homeschooling; many Western families living in the Middle East are homeschooling their children in English. It is always an option and many families prefer it or do it out of necessity to avoid the high fees of the International schools and the bad behavior and bullying of the government schools. The question is; how to fill the gap of Arabic/ Quran learning? How can you raise children in the land of the Arabs without them learning Arabic?  Can you afford the fees of bringing in a private tutor? Can your children learn in an Arabic speaking Quran Center? (Well they probably can,  but are you willing to put them in that sink or swim environment).

This is why it’s so important to do the research.  Whichever type of schooling you choose, you will have to be ready to fill in the gaps.

And…what if you just can’t get overseas at all?

I want to show you the program that will work from where you are right now.

The Ramadan Course that will bring Arabic into your home and raise the level of your family.

 

 

 

Hijrah Discussions: Raising Kids Who Speak Arabic WHERE YOU ARE RIGHT NOW

This Ramadan, I will be sharing some “secrets” or perhaps little known or told information about living in the Muslim countries and

how you can raise an Arabic-speaking family WHILE YOU ARE RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE, You see,
I keep getting emails from sisters asking me ‘how can I get over there?’

(I have been Qatar almost 8 years, and on my way back to the U.S. ) HOW CAN I EXPLAIN THE REALITY? WOULD YOU BELIEVE THAT PEOPLE HAVE BEEN IN THE MIDDLE EAST FOR 10 YEARS AND STILL DON’T KNOW ARABIC OR QURAN AND NEITHER DO THEIR CHILDREN???

So we think going overseas to the Arabic speaking countries is the answer and we start to dream. Some of us even pack up all our stuff, give up our Western life and move. I did that, more than once… The first time to Egypt back in 1995, then Saudi Arabia from 1999 – 2004. But I did not have any children then; different experience.
In 2011, I got a teaching job in Qatar. I HAD MY IQAMA (RESIDENCE VISA), MY ‘GOOD JOB’ AND FREE TUITION FOR MY DAUGHTER
We made it to the Promised Land !
Well, kind of…

You move to the Land of the Muslims with sincere heart and people don’t realize, it may be a struggle to maintain that sincerity…

My professional experience was pretty amazing! I learned so much!

But my daughter’s experience was something very different…

Being the only 1 of 3 non-Qatari children in the whole grade level (Years 1, 2, and 3) I realized the bullying was a problem towards the end of the 1st year. So before the 2nd year I had the Enrollment lady put the 3 foreigners in the same class; my daughter and 2 Egyptians. People talk of Racism in the U.S.A. but this was so much more than colorism. The Egyptians were vanilla skinned and just as rejected and bullied; didn’t matter… they were outsiders. There was one little Qatari girl, Aisha al-Ka’bi, Allah yah-deeha, she was a big girl and she used to say to the other girls, “If you love me, then hit Aamina!” So they would do it.  Getting my child into the classroom in the morning became traumatic at one point, she would cry because she didn’t want to go into the class.

Then there was the academic issue. After 3 years, her spoken Arabic was good, she had also memorized some Quran, hadith and poetry, and she could understand 3 different Arabic dialects.  There was a lot of memorizing but at the end of year 2 I realized my child could not actually read; not Arabic, nor English. I didn’t concern myself too much with the English literacy at that time my main concern was the Arabic.

The best part of the primary school was the Quran teachers, several were from Syria and they had a beautiful way of teaching. And when the budget cuts came in the 2nd year, they were the first to be cut. Everything went downhill from there.

I HAVE TO BE HONEST, THE SITUATION WAS EXTREMELY FRUSTRATING

We had to learn 2-3 different Arabic dialects in order to learn Fus-ha, the pure Arabic of Quran. You see, in the Gulf Arab countries (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar) the native kids speak Najdi dialect, but the teachers are Egyptian or Jordanian, so the kids also have to understand their dialects.

This along with the BULLYING and bad behavior, teachers who are there for a paycheck and always comparing their low pay to English teachers high pay. (I talk about this in another blog post).
The sacrifice of my child’s character and self-esteem at that tender age JUST to get the Arabic language and EVEN THEN WHAT SHE GOT WAS NOT NEARLY WHAT SHE WAS GETTING BEFORE LEAVING THE U.S.!!!

It took 2 1/2 years in homeschool to undo the damage. (Wallahi, I wish I was exaggerating)
إنَّا لله وإنَّ إليْهِ راجِعُونَ
Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raa’jioon
I had to humble myself and realize my mistakes and realize that I had  actually been onto something before I left the U.S. ….  

Well, I will continue tomorrow inshaAllah, you can read, comment if you like.

This is the course I will be teaching during Ramadan to show you how you can RAise Children Who Speak Arabic (even if you don’t).  Take the first lesson for free if you like:

My Ramadan Course

Ustatha Nadiya Johnson

Curriculum Design

Arabic for non-Arabs.