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"My Lord, increase me in knowledge." (2:114)

Reflections of a Homeschooling Dad – Part 2|What will the people say?

Homeschool dad 2

Rabbi Zidnee Ilman
“My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.”


And you feared the people, while Allah has more right that you fear Him,”
{Surat Al-Ahzaab 33: Verse 37}

It was the one thing holding me back from my decision to homeschool, knowing that it might not be a popular choice among my family and friends, as it wasn’t something they were accustomed to. For many months, I battled with whether I should homeschool them regardless of whether my family approved or not, which I knew was the better option, or just send them to school like everybody else, which was the easier option.

I believe this is a question that many of you can relate to for different decisions in your life. Whether it was your decision to wear Hijab, get involved in a polygamous marriage, pursue Islamic Studies instead of medicine, or marry someone righteous who your parents did not approve of. Everybody finds themselves at some point or another having to choose between pleasing the family and doing the right thing.

The funny thing is that we all know what is the right thing to do in these situations, yet it doesn’t make the choice any easier. The pressure to please our families, avoid confrontations, and just be accepted by others is often too much and many people tend to cave in to such pressure.

I dealt with this topic extensively in my book, Best of Creation: An Islamic Guide to Self-Confidence, and concluded with the following advice:

  • True success comes from letting go of this concept and focusing on the pleasure of Allah. One of the qualities with which Allah describes those whom He loves and they love Him is 

“And they do not fear the criticism of the critics,”
{Surat Al-Ma’idah 5: Verse 54}

  • The key to overcoming this fear is to focus on the pleasure of Allah. If what you want to do is Halal, then don’t worry about what people say and do it. At the end of the day, we will all be accountable only to Allah when we die.
  • Why focus on pleasing people who don’t have influence on your Afterlife, or even your happiness in this world? What makes their opinion of you important? Why do we give people such authority over our lives? These are questions we should ask ourselves whenever we find ourselves fearing what people will say. (Best Of Creation, p. 133)

Interestingly, I initially wrote the above as advice to myself regarding homeschooling, and it eventually grew into a chapter of my book. This is essentially how I dealt with this issue, by reminding myself that at the end of the day, whether people approve or not, it does not matter.

I thought about the future, 12 years from now and how it would be if I chose to send my children to school and I felt sadness, disappointed, and a feeling of ‘if only I chose to homeschool them instead’. Then I thought about my future if I chose to homeschool and felt happiness, excitement, and a feeling of accomplishment. This made the decision much easier.

Telling my mother was never a worry, as she herself took me out of High School and had me complete my High School from home, so she understood the reasoning behind our decision and supported it completely. It was the extended family that I needed to sit down with and explain our decision to, and surprisingly we did not get any real negative feedback, just a lot of questions.

We were asked about how our children were going to socialize and make friends, this was the most common question that I was asked (and still is the most common question that I am asked). I realized that nobody doubted my ability to teach my children myself, I am after all a teacher by profession. Their only real worry was the socialization aspect.

There were two ways that we dealt with this issue. The short answer and the long answer. The short answer was that my kids go to afternoon Madrassah in which they have friends and for soccer practice and swimming classes on Saturdays, where they also have friends. This seemed to satisfy most people.

The long answer though is more controversial and I explained it in detail in my book ‘Homeschooling 101: What to Expect in Your First Year’. Basically, I believe socializing is a normal human quality that every human learns on his/her own whether they go to school or not, and that socialization should not be the reason we send our kids to school because they could socialize with the wrong crowd there, and be influenced negatively.

I do not believe that socializing needs to be learned, it is a natural human quality and is really based on our natural inclination to be extroverted or introverted. Schooling cannot change that aspect of our nature.

This was the big question everybody asked and once I drafted a standard response to repeat over and over again for the next twelve years, most people were actually quite impressed by our decision to homeschool and admire the relationship we have developed with our children.

This really goes to show that often we worry too much about what may happen, yet what we fear never ends up happening. Too many people are crippled by such fears which stops them from making positive decisions in life.

My advice to you is to never make your life decisions based on fear of what people will say. Focus on what is best for you and your family, especially for your Afterlife. This is far more important than what anybody thinks about you and your choices in life. You will find that when you make decisions for the sake of Allah, Allah helps you in many ways and opens people’s hearts to see the courage it took to make your decision.

How did homeschooling change my relationship with my children and brought us together? Find out in Part Three!

Best of Creation: An Islamic Guide to Self-Confidence
Homeschooling 101: What to Expect in Your First Year

Authored by Ustadh Ismail Kamdar
Edited by Tahira Amatullah

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ - "Convey (knowledge) from me even if it is just one ayah" [Bukhari 3461]

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