(248) 426-7777 Wednesday - Dec 02, 2015

Challenges to Muslims In America

By Thomas Saffold, Michigan Islamic Academy

This is potentially a new TMO column by a Muslim convert living in Michigan.  Opinions expressed are his own.

(tsaffold@provide.net; 734-649-7241)

“…and say: ‘My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.’”  Al Qur’an Surah 20: Verse 114

After a career as a Christian clergyman, I reverted to Islam in 2003. 

I came into the Ummah as ignorant of the Quran, the life of our Prophet (s), and Islamic teachings as the average Tea Partier, but I knew a lot of Muslims here and in Palestine and Iraq, and sensed that Islam was a blessing, not a curse, to mankind.

My first months as a Muslim were spent furiously reading, praying, and asking questions of and hearing answers from brothers and sisters in my new faith family.

However, I craved more immersion in the teachings and culture of Islam, and Allah (SWT) blessed me with two avenues for more intense instruction.  First, I married a wonderful woman, Elizabeth, who had made Shahadah three years earlier and has been a wonderful partner in learning Islam.  Second, I was hired by the Michigan Islamic Academy as a part-time teacher.

The motto of MIA are from words in Sura Ta-Ha, 114, which mean, “…and say, ‘My Lord! Increase me in knowledge.’”  Interacting with the faculty, staff, students, and parents of MIA has certainly fulfilled that prayer in my life, and shown me the vast importance of the kind of Islamic education exemplified at MIA, especially here.

American Muslim kids live in a nation in which materialism, sexism, greed, racism, violence and other forms of immorality are integral parts of its society, culture, and economy.  Too many Muslim kids are sent with their non-Muslim peers to public schools which teach them how to think and act in order to serve that world.  

This is unhealthy for anyone and everyone, and leads to more and more Muslim youth becoming secular and assimilated.  The Ummah suffers as a result.

What I have observed at MIA is the development of a thriving sub-culture based upon the best traditions of Islamic education, etiquette, and lifestyle, and which offers a healthy alternative.

I have been there long enough to see that this sub-culture results in nearly all of our children growing up to become young adults who not only possess the academic knowledge necessary to successfully compete in higher academics and the job market, but are also grounded in a strong Muslim deen.  Graduates excel in their professions and, more importantly, as solid Muslims. 

This kind of Islamic education reaches deep into the souls, as well as the brains of our students, using camaraderie and role-modeling to guide the lessons, and threads of love and mutual adoration of Allah to bind them to minds and hearts.

The reason I know all this is not only because I have seen the effects in others, but also in my own life.  It has been challenging for me as I discovered that ways of thinking and acting I took for granted as a non-Muslim Westerner were forced to change the more I was exposed to the morally superior teachings of Islam. 

InshAllah, I and members of the MIA community will offer more thoughts in celebration of Islamic Education in coming weeks.


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