Every parent shares a common dream: to provide their children with the best possible education, ensuring their future economic independence. Traditionally, the focus has been solely on career development. However, education experts believe that the purpose of education extends beyond merely preparing individuals for their careers. They argue for a more comprehensive approach, emphasizing the social and emotional development of children, as stated by Jerome Bruner: “…schools must also contribute to the social and emotional development of the child if they are to fulfill their function of education for life in a democratic community and for fruitful family life.” In other words, education should equip learners with the intellectual abilities and practical skills needed to thrive in a rapidly changing and complex world driven by technology, social dynamics, and politics. Consequently, educational institutions today, ranging from early childhood centers to universities, design their curricula and syllabi with these goals in mind.
Despite the noble aspiration to “helping each student achieve his optimum intellectual development…”, this educational strategy neglects a crucial aspect of personal growth: the spiritual dimension.
In essence, our public educational system is strictly secular, lacking space for moral education. The problem with this approach becomes evident when considering the words of an educator who asserts that “… training the child without moral consideration makes them nothing more than a clever criminal…” As Muslims, it is incumbent upon us to confront this challenge head-on. While we undoubtedly strive to assist our children in excelling in secular fields, we must equally ensure that their religious needs are met. Imam Zainul Abideen, may peace be upon him, advises us: “You should know that you, in your capacity of his guardian, are responsible to bring him up by imparting him proper training, and guide him to Almighty Allah and assist him in obedience to Him…”
Fortunately, our community elders have recognized this challenge and initiated spiritual training for our children through madressas. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that our madressas face significant constraints in terms of time and resources. Regrettably, our current priorities do not prioritize the needs of madressas. Although teachers work tirelessly to shoulder the responsibility of madressa education, they have their limitations. After all, they lack formal training for this task. The scope of this article prohibits an exhaustive list of the backbreaking challenges faced by madressa instructors. It is evident that religious education often receives secondary treatment. The Prophet’s warning to such communities remains relevant: “May Allah save the children of the later time from improper conduct of their fathers… the conduct of the Muslim fathers, who do not teach their children the religious duties, and if the children resort to learning religious matters, they forbid them from doing so, and are contented with regard to their insignificant material things. I am disgusted with them and they too, are disgusted with me.”
In summary, while we aspire for our children to succeed in their chosen careers and financial endeavors, we must also recognize the importance of providing them with moral education. This ensures that their lives in the hereafter are as fulfilling as, if not better than, their earthly existence. The sooner we prioritize this essential aspect, the better.