Recently, I had been invited to take an exam at a local Madrasah (supplementary school for teaching Islamic studies to children). Although I have a formal qualification and experience in teaching, I have never really taught in a Madrasah for a sufficiently long period of time. So, as you can imagine, I was a little bit apprehensive being invited to take an exam.
Upon my arrival and walking up to the entrance, I could hear parents eagerly walking their loved ones to the door and whispering whatever words of inspiration that they could find. The Madrasah means a lot to our parents, it is where, rather unfortunately, children receive the only bit of Islamic education in their entire lives. I have long argued that the ‘real Madrasah’ is the home and the ‘real teachers’ are, actually the parents.
In any case, as I walked in I felt the weight of the expectation that the many parents had of their children and how proud they must feel of them. And so they should. It is tough for these children – after a long absorbing day at school and then to come here in the evening. This is where as teachers our compassion really shows its colours – we have to make the environment in our classrooms stimulating and a place where children want to come and learn.
The hospitality I received was second to none; there was a real spirit of teamwork and everyone there made us feel welcome. It’s a testament to the people running the Madrasah in that everybody felt part of the mission. The success of any initiative hinges on how they are able to create a sense of inclusiveness and ownership. People really take to flight when they feel that their involvement is important and that they can share in its success. I felt this strongly at this Madrasah.
Our Madrasahs are vital institutions without which our faith cannot flourish. They are the lifelines of our children. Madressahs aren’t perfect, but then that’s not the point. Rather than being a spectator whose only real occupation is to complain and whinge about how things need to improve, get involved, be part of your community and become an agent of positive change in your community. May God allow us all to become an inspiration and an agent for positive change in our communities.