By Mufti Yusuf Moosagie
Will it be sports or Maktab?
Will it be tuition or Maktab?
Will it be an extracurricular activity or Maktab?
This is a difficult choice that has to be made by parents and learners frequently.
We are defined by the choices we make or the choices that are made for us. Every choice we make has a consequence to it. When we choose sports, tuition or extramural activities over our child attending Maktab – we are choosing something temporary over something permanent. The items of this world, the sciences of this world, the pleasures of this world will be left in this world when we enter the grave.
However, it is our knowledge about Deen and practice on Deen that will avail us in our life after death. This knowledge of Deen which enables us to practice on Deen is gained through the Maktab system – the system of primary Islamic education, which are usually offered at Masjids and Madressah’s in the afternoons.
The Noble Qur’an is the word of Almighty Allah, revealed as a guidance to mankind. Learning to read the Noble Qur’an and making the Noble Qur’an one’s companion for life is not something that occurs instantaneously. It takes a prolonged period of perseverance and sacrifice. It is for this reason that a child needs to attend the Maktab, regularly for several years.
The Messenger, Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam, placed a lot of emphasis on learning the knowledge of Islam. The first Muslims were taught the Noble Qur’an and other essentials of Islam in Maktab that was set up in Darul Arqam near Mount Safa. Here, about forty Sahaba Radiyallahu Anhum would reside permanently. Nabi Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam would stay there for a varying number of days to teach them.
When the first group of 11 Ansaris’ accepted Islam from Madinatul Munawarah, Nabi Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam made immediate arrangements for them to learn the Noble Qur’an and other basic aspects of Deen. Nabi Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam sent Sayyiduna Mus’ab bin Umair Radiyallahu Anhum to them as a teacher.
Nabi Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam continued to put in place this type of arrangement whenever a group, delegation or tribe accepted Islam. It was an informal arrangement.
During the time of the Caliphate of Sayyiduna Umar Radiyallahu Anhum, he formalised this arrangement. He stipulated Sayyiduna Amar bin Abdullah Al Khuza’ee as a teacher for the children in Madinatul Munawwarah. This was his full-time occupation for which he would receive a stipend from the Public Treasury. This system has continued till today.
The Maktab is the lifeline to preserve and protect Islam in a community. Through travel to different countries of the world, I have observed that those communities that have emphasized the Maktab education – hiring dedicated teachers and ensuring children attend – have preserved the Deen of Islam.
In the last few centuries, Muslims from Arab countries migrated to South American and North America. Many of whom are from the progenies of Sahaba Radiyallahu Anhum. Unfortunately, they did not ensure Maktabs were set up to educate their children – Islamically. The result is that they have sadly lost their Deen and are living fully integrated into Non-Muslim communities.
On the other hand, wherever Muslim communities have paid special attention to the Maktab education of their children, their Islam is not only preserved, but it also flourishes.
So, whenever you have to choose between Maktab and sports, tuition or extramural activities – let your choice be guided by what is in the eternal interest of the child.