The Education of Children
One of the primary responsibilities parents have toward their children is to share knowledge with them and allow them the opportunity to reach their full potential. Very early on, Muslim parents guide and train their children to develop good character, manners, and a strong faith.
Muslims believe that children are born with fitrah, an inborn, natural predisposition toward God that exists at birth in all human beings. As a child grows, parents mold and shape him or her into their dominant beliefs and culture.
Islam orders all believers to seek knowledge, so parents have an obligation to educate their children, both boys and girls. Muhammad once said, “Seeking knowledge is mandatory on every Muslim, male and female.” Unfortunately, some people stray from this clear advice, due to local culture and financial circumstances.
Religious education takes primary importance during a child's early years, because it serves as the foundation for the building of all future knowledge. However, secular or practical education is also encouraged, particularly in areas where one can make a positive contribution to society.
Muslim parents prefer to raise their children in an environment where religious principles are adhered to and respected. Many Muslims in the West are uncomfortable with many school practices, such as the celebration of holidays, mixed-gender sports, and sex education (which Muslims believe should be done by parents).
As a minority community, Muslims strive to retain their own traditions and heritage in an environment where such things are considered old-fashioned or even backward. For this reason, many Muslim parents have organized to form private Islamic schools where children can pursue both their religious and practical education in a familiar environment, and where Islamic practices are the norm rather than the exception. Other parents send their children to public schools, while still others choose home schooling as an option.