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How to Raising Muslim children in the West Culture?

Praise is to Allah, and prayers and peace be upon His Messenger.

If you are a Muslim living in the west, then you probably have reasonable concerns about upbringing your children in a western civilization and the reasons are no secret to anyone. This is becoming a growing problem in Muslim countries that were and still are invaded by the western culture as well.

Raising Muslim children in the west culture

But praise is to Allah, there are no hard situations except where Islam had gone through it and came out stronger than ever, historian and scholars who studied and investigated the stretch of fourteen centuries of Islamic history will always reach to such conclusion.

But as life takes a grip on parents, getting busier to earn a living, it has become harder to be involved in the upbringing regime of children, and upbringing children in this era; the era of technology, satellite television and the internet. In the old days, upbringing children depended mostly on parents and schools, but in our days, it is the street, the school and all kinds of technology gimmicks, with all its unlimited access funnels, where some are even specialized, or shall I say directed, to children. All this is taken by the pure mind of children, but is wrapped with many matters which they take their upbringing from and the way they deal with others as well.

We –As Muslims- need a generation that is crystal clear and is not confused about Islam, so the question is, “how do we raise our children amid all such matters surrounding them?”

There is a central and basic fact in such matter, a fact that we need to establish and begin from; is it correct for a person to say, “This is something I can’t accomplish?”

The divine response from Qur’an answers:

{Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity} (2:286)

Allah is our creator, He is the All-knowing, if it was not that He charged us with what is within our capability, we wouldn’t be blamed, and there is an initial core fact here, that Allah does not burden a soul except what is in its capacity, which necessitates that Islamic obligations could and should be upheld in any place in the world, except that the second fact is that we are under the illusion that we cannot do certain things, but it is actually the thing we do not want to do it, the thing that we are under the illusion that it is beyond our capacity, is the thing we actually do not want to do.

When one travels to a European city for example, they can find an abundance of universities, cinemas, parks, theaters and brothels, they can also find indecency in streets, mingled within civilized manifestations. As a student in such city, I have one reason to be there, and that is to study; let’s say, for the sake of the argument, my father sent me to achieve a Phd from one of the universities over there, if I did not enroll in it, there is no meaning to my residency there; meaning that, the place where people cannot achieve the purpose of their existence, they should leave it, and the purpose of my existence is to worship Allah, this is the Third fact, the purpose of my existence in this life is to worship Allah; and so I must migrate and leave any place that comes between me and between my worship.

Those are facts; there is nothing that Allah charged us with except it is within our capability, but if we are under the illusion that such thing is hard on us –in reality- it is because we do not want to do it.

If any environment, city or region came between me and my obedience to Allah and the purpose of my existence in this life to obey Allah, it becomes a must for me to leave such place, but the problem is the weakness of faith, as Allah says:

{And whoever emigrates for the cause of Allah will find on the earth many [alternative] locations and abundance} (4:100)

As humans, we are all cautious about the safety of our existence and its perfection and continuality; the safety of our existence in the obedience of Allah, without any prohibited wealth, aggression against others, or prohibited relationships, and as long as I am straight forward with Allah, I am then at peace with Allah.

But let us not confuse peace and safety from happiness; when someone has no problems in his life, has no search warrant hawking him, or does not have an incurable disease, such person is at peace and desired safety, but one seeks happiness above all that, and happiness in Islam comes only through good deeds. As for the three conditions humans seek to accomplish in this life are:

  • The safety of their existence
  • The perfection of their existence
  • The continuation of their existence

The safety of existence comes with being righteous, its perfection comes with being happy to accomplishing good deeds, and lastly continuation is accomplished through extended off-spring.  Allah says:

{And those who believed and whose descendants followed them in faith - We will join with them their descendants, and We will not deprive them of anything of their deeds} (52:21)

There is no problem in having and seeking ambitions in this worldly life, and we all know that worldly ambitions are easier to accomplish in the western world than in the Muslim world, but as Muslims we must realize and comprehend that we are created for the afterlife, and Allah says about those who waste their afterlife:

{Indeed, the losers are the ones who will lose themselves and their families on the Day of Resurrection}

Indeed, the biggest lost ever is losing the afterlife. This is why, one of the fundamentals for Muslims to realize is that the general public masses, live for the purpose of this current life, but for us Muslims, the most current purpose we must live for is actually leaving this life, leaving the house of 5 bedrooms, children, kinships, feasts, social visits and tourism; because all of this is momentum pleasures, but how many times do we ask ourselves, what is waiting for us after death?

Of course, there is absolutely no problem for those who desire living the future of this life, but we must engrave in ourselves a main Islamic fundamental, and that is what Allah says:

{The enjoyment of this world is little, and the Hereafter is better for he who fears Allah}

Knowing such fundamental will surely not sit well in the hearts of many Muslims living in the west and reading this post, knowing that the necessity of their existence which are attached with many situations that could even be political among other reasons which may mean that it is difficult for them to go and live in the less fortunate Muslim populated countries, while attempting as much as possible to up-bring their children well, teaching them Qur’an, giving them Islamic ethical values. But at the same time, they are faced by a majority community that permits homosexuality, which is by the way spreading in Islamic and Arabic countries as well!

A Muslim might ask himself, if I was in the market with my children, and we saw two men or two women kissing each other, how do I explain this to my children? This obviously goes against the laws of Allah and Islam!

To begin with, we must be accurate when we say, it is not impossible to up-bring our children Islamically well in the west, but it requires massive efforts, and we also understand that there are many Muslims that have no ability to return to their original countries in the Muslim world; those people are excused with the Will of Allah, but they are demanded to put massive efforts on their children’s Islamic values.

  • By sitting with them on an hour average to daily remind, stimulate and excite them about their religion.
  • Parents must know who their children’s friends are.
  • Parents must make their houses a heaven to their children.

There is nothing impossible if matters were taken with a determined will and faith.

If Muslims cared for upbringing their children greatly in the west, they can make them serve Islam massively in the west for the coming future, but it requires great efforts, as it is ridiculous to think that Muslims can have great results with weak reasons, this is impossible! when a parent is being busy with going out and meetings and not care for their children, returning home while they are sleeping, and leave before they wake up and then ask…How is the children doing?!!!

Children will be lost if you do not engage with them for at least an hour a day, or even more; by following up with their movements and stills, knowing their friends, their ambitions and ideas, upbringing is a huge responsibility. Know that one thing is for sure, there is no greater feeling than to see your children grow up to what you wish for Islamically, as Allah confirms such fact by saying:

{Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous}

Any parent that sees their children becoming righteous, virtuous, and have chastity, in other words, a piece of happiness; will have positive outcomes that are unbelievably filled with cheerfulness, and as called by Qur’an with ‘comfort to the eye’.

Upbringing Children requires faith:

Raising Muslim children is a faith issue, if you have true worries on your children, you are worried that they will deviate, you then need to migrate to a Muslim country, yes there are troubles and the difference is vast between the west and the Muslim countries, but Allah promised those:

{Whoever emigrates for the cause of Allah will find on the earth many [alternative] locations and abundance}

They will surely find amazing results, but the matter requires faith and belief, if it was weak, they will not sacrifice to such extent.

A Muslim scholar once said, “If you do not guarantee your son’s son to be a Muslim, it is not permissible for you to stay in such country”. Sadly, we start to see and hear stories of Muslim families in the west having Christian children, or getting married to Christians.

This problem is huge, for a person to sacrifice their afterlife, and reality is bitter, if you neglect your children’s upbringing in the west, they will be corrupt, and it is no secret that upbringing in Muslim countries is easier, but if you also neglect your children there, they will be corrupt as well, this is why we always tell people, if it is hard for you to migrate to a Muslim country, then you must place the highest degrees of care to your children.

The necessity of having authentic Islamic knowledge from all sides by parents:

If parents show no interest in knowing the details of their religion, their children will grow up having no interest in religion as well. If parents do not attend the five prayers in the Masjid when having ability to do so, then children will grow up far from the Masjid as well, if the Masjid was far or unreachable then parents have the obligation of establishing congregational prayer at home. If parents do not read, understand and practice the Qur’an on a daily basis, children will never do so as well.

How to Raising Muslim children in the West Culture

One thing that I believe is equally important to having authentic Islamic knowledge is learning the language of Qur’an, the Arabic, practicing it and speaking it at home among the children is very crucial, I am not talking here about the slang Arabic, but the classical Arabic, and Alhamdulillah there is an abundance of Arabic courses online as well as in many different western countries. As I mentioned before, it takes great efforts to achieve great outcomes.

If parents find it hard to move into a Muslim populated country, they are at least encouraged to take their children to such countries for visits, so that they could see the differences, see the Masjids and their attendees, to have the sense of an Islamic environment, and when we as parents manage the dealings of what they witness in reality of those countries, and by highlighting the social communications, generosity and positive outcomes of those Muslim populated countries that they miss in the western societies, as well as highlighting the negative images of the western social facts, this alone will connect them to their Islamic nation and their reality.

Parents also need to educate their children about desires, what is allowed and what is prohibited, they need to highlight the civilized aspects of the Muslim nation and Islam in general, and they need to take advantage of showing the negative influences of the western culture.

As parents we need to understand that the true problem here is that living in the western society contradicts what we want to aim for in our Islamic upbringing, we want to raise our children according to the opposite of what the environment which they engage with outside in the streets, schools, media, the markets and so on.

It’s not too late, we can still work on two paths:

The first path is by weakening the influences that negatively affects our children, both boys and girls, and the second path is to strengthen the inhibitor which can make our children have more ability to face such influences which contradicts what we aim for in our Islamic upbringing.

But parents need to be extra cautious, because pressuring children with prohibitions that are not acceptable according to religious values can result in making children fall under an internal conflict, which can result to either responding to the call of parents by obtaining such values with conviction or rebelling on their advice, and the real problem here is that most Islamic centers in the west do not offer well thought out programs that are fit to such sensitive age groups, this in turn should encourage some loyal groups to go the extra mile and promote for the necessity of establishing youth centers that attract Muslim children and studies their requirements and interests, and offers them programs and courses that can occupy their times and barricade them from western culture influences which do not comply with the teachings of our religion, such loyal advocates should see the necessity of directing the Muslim children to join Islamic schools, but the problem still exists that such schools lack potential, as well as having inability for many Muslim families to cope up with the financial commitments of such schools.

But nonetheless, Islamic centers should step up and engage with many social aspects that are within its capabilities, such as:

--Establishing the five daily prayers and Friday sermons.

--Organizing scientific courses throughout the year.

--Hosting Muslim scholars, advocates and thinkers on a yearly basis.

--Establish memorization courses for the Qur’an to Muslim children, as well as teaching them Arabic grammar and research their problems to solve them, as well as directing parents to up-bring their children according to the teachings of Islam.

--Solving family issues and offer dispute settlement that occur between Muslim communities.

--Engage with Muslim community occasions and socially interconnect with them.

In order to up-bring Muslim children Islamically, we must make sure that parents are well established, because they too have issues and problems that need to be solved, especially if the mother is working and is sharing financial duties with her husband, this is one of the main problems that face Muslim families in the west, other problems could be initiated by the husband’s lack of financial responsibility towards his wife and children, or that he is too busy at work to even engage in the upbringing of his children, leaving the whole responsibility to the wife, other problems could be due to differences of traditions and cultures between the two couples, especially if one of them was raised in the west and the other migrated from the orient, which may increase the intensity of problems and would be repeated due to flimsy reasons.

We could also ask, to what extent is the Muslim woman influenced by western cultures, considering that she is the foundation stone in upbringing her children?

We can confidently say that the first generation of women – the generation of immigrants- is still holding to its roots and origins, this generation is still connected to the Masjids and women committees, but the problem lies in the women of the second generation, as many of them had rebelled against what their mothers carry from ideologies and traditions, to the extent of living in a state of schizophrenia, as life in the west took its hold on them in fascination , so if the Muslim woman is not holding up to her values and religion, she will be lost.

Muslims and terrorism:

We know that Muslims in the west were mainly affected by the consequences of September 11th events, and what is called the universal war on terror, where Muslims in the west are weaker financially and politically, and have recorded a raising number of hate crimes, add to that the media’s unstoppable tarnishing of Islam and Muslims.

All these hardships influence Muslims and detach them further from their religious obligations and lifestyles, but it is also the reason behind the increased gape between Muslims and others from different backgrounds in the west, where Muslims need to develop such relationship with others in a way that would serve the calling to Islam, as for the values that governs the relationship of Muslims with others, they are an established relationship based on respecting humans regardless to their believes. And to take advantage and invest in all available methods from Masjid minarets, seminars, conferences and dialogues with intellects and media personals to clarify the true image of Islam and Muslims, which is an important role that should be taken advantage of by Islamic centers and organizations.

All such steps increase the confidence of Muslim families to drive forward in upbringing a strong Muslim generation that can take the responsibly of delivering the clear message of Islam in the west and for them to accomplish their true purpose in this life and what comes after.


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