Muslim Children in State Schools.
This essay is going to identify and describe some cultural practices that Muslim children of Islamic faith would bring into the classroom and the reasons behind the practice as well as how a teacher can accommodate the child’s cultural practices and beliefs. Muslim children aged seven years going up are expected to practice Salat, five daily prayers. Two of the prayers Zuhr, practiced between midday and afternoon (Quran 17:78) and Asr, practiced between mid-afternoon and sunset (Quran 2:238) have to be practiced by children during school hours.
Zuhr is practiced so as to remember God and seek his guidance, while Asr is practiced so as to remember God and the greater meaning of lives (http://islam. about. com/cs/prayer/a/prayer_times. htm). To accommodate Muslim students who want to practice the two prayers, the teacher can talk to the school Principle about allowing the students to conduct their daily prayers in an empty room at the school during lunch time and/or breaks. Firstly, the teacher has to discuss about this decision/suggestion to the children’s parents, so as to hear what the parents think of the idea.
Jumah/jumu’ah is the Friday prayer or congregational worship. Jumah/Jumu’ah replaces the Zuhr and has to be performed in congregation (http://www. submission. org/salat-how. html). Jumah/Jumu’ah is obligatory for males and optional or recommended for females. It is different from normal prayer in that it is shortened and has to be preceded by a sermon (Khutbuh) (http://www. mcb. org. uk/downloads/Schoolinfoguidance. pdf). Jumah/jumu’ah should take twenty to thirty minutes.
It is of special significance and importance to Muslims because they believe that Friday is the day that Adam was created by the almighty and it is also believed that the day of judgement will be a Friday, therefore it is a day of expedition of sins (http://islam. about. com/od/prayer/Prayer_Salat. htm). The teacher can talk to the child (ren)’s parents and allow students to be excused for the time required to attend a local Masjid (Mosque) and to make up for any missed work.
The teacher can make arrangements to allow Muslim Children who wish to perform their Friday congregational prayer on school site, led by an external visitor of the Muslim religion, approved by the parents. Wudu is cleanliness before prayer; it is a prerequisite for all daily prayers. “O you who believe, in preparation for the Contact Prayer, you shall (1) wash your faces, (2) wash your arms to the elbows, (3) wipe your heads with wet hands, and (4) wash your feet to the ankle” [Quran 5:6] . Wudu has to be done for purification purposes, to make one clean before praying (http://www. islamicity. com/mosque/salat/salat6. htm).
Teacher can help students to perform Wudu by keeping water cans or bottles in the classroom or toilet/shower so that the students can easily access water. The teacher will explain to other students why the water cans or bottles are in the classroom or toilet/shower. Muslim dietary needs are governed by two principles: food should be Halal (permissible) and Tayyib (good, healthy, natural and wholesome). Halal refers to meet from animals that have been slaughtered in accordance with the prescribed Islamic manner, that is slaughtered by a Muslim and Allah’s name must be pronounced at the beginning of the slaughtering process (http://en. ikipedia. org/wiki/Halal). The reason this is done is because The Qur’an states that the food of Jews and Christians is lawful for Muslims provided that certain conditions of method, cleanliness and purity have been fulfilled. Consumption of wholesome food and leading a healthy lifestyle are seen as religious obligations. “Eat of what is lawful and wholesome on the earth. ” (Quran 2:168) When having school events or parties, Muslim students can be asked to bring Halal meal dishes. In Early Childhood Centres all staff should receive guidance and training in handling, preparation and serving of Halal meals.
Etiquettes of eating, Muslims normally begin by reciting a small prayer before eating. They always prefer to eat with their right hand, regardless of whether they are using cutlery or not. They do this because this was the practice of Prophet Muhammad (http://www. mcb. org. uk/downloads/Schoolinfoguidance. pdf). To accommodate the student’s practice the teacher should allow the student to recite a prayer individually before eating. Fasting (Sawn) is performed during the Islamic month of Ramadan, a lunar month of twenty-nine or thirty days. During this month Muslims abstain from all food and drinks including water, from dawn to sunset.
This is regarded principally as a method of self purification. Muslims believe that a fasting person gains true sympathy with those who go hungry as well as growth in one’s spiritual life (http://www. mcb. org. uk/downloads/Schoolinfoguidance. pdf). If students eat lunch together or at a common place, Muslim students should be allowed to spend Ramadan fasting in an alternative location, for example the library. Teacher should consider giving less vigorous exercises in Physical Education during this month. Muslims are expected to dress in clothing that does not reveal the features of the body.
Many Muslims girls will attend school wearing a Hijab, commonly referred to as a scarf or head covering, but more broadly meaning appropriate covering of the entire body except for hands and face (http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Halal). During Physical Education and Swimming Muslim students should be allowed to wear clothes that are culturally appropriate and comfortable, e. g. long sleeved T-shirts and sweat pants instead of tank tops and shorts, and swim wear that cover more of the body than most swimsuits. The teacher can organise a school cultural event where the teachers and students can get to learn about different cultures.
The teacher invites parents or elders from different cultures to share with children information about their cultural food, the traditional dress code, cultural beliefs and values as well as to explain why this is of great importance. This event is meant to educate teachers and children, that they are from different backgrounds and that they should accept and respect each other’s culture. The teacher should develop good relationships with parents so as to work together in creating a good positive learning environment for the children.
The teacher can do the roll call in different languages or ask students to respond in their mother tongue, just to show the students that their home language is catered for, respected and accepted. Students with the help of the teacher can develop a cultural corner in their classroom where they have the world map showing where each student comes from. They can also have pictures of different food types; dress codes and write about their cultural beliefs. This corner will always remind students that they come from different countries and have different cultural beliefs.
This will assist students to respect each other. In conclusion, for a teacher to identify, describe and accommodate children who practice the Muslim culture there should be good communication between the teacher and the parents of the child. Through communicating the teacher can be informed of the practices and the reasons for the practice. The teacher can also suggest ways of accommodating the child and hear the parents’ opinion about the suggestion. The teacher should also plan some activities that encourage and educate students to learn about different cultural practices. REFERENCES: Yusuf, A. A. (2001).
An English interpretation of the Holy Quran. New York: Lushena Books http://www. mcb. org. uk/downloads/Schoolinfoguidance. pdf (Retrieved on 26/04/11 at 2015) http://www. angelfire. com/ca/IslamicInfo/MuslimRights. html (Retrieved on 25/04/11 at 0925) (http://www. islamicity. com/mosque/salat/salat6. htm (Retrieved on 29/04/11 at 1307) http://www. submission. org/salat-how. html (Retrieved on 29/04/11 at 1338) (http://islam. about. com/cs/prayer/a/prayer_times. htm (Retrieved on 29/04/11 at 1443) http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Halal (retrieved on 26/04/11 at 2103)