The whole thing started about two weeks after his first day. Big H started to tell me that he didn't like his madrasah teacher. But of course, disliking one's teacher does not give one the justification to stop learning so I told him that going to the madrasah is not about liking your teacher but about learning the Quran.
And that pacified him for a few weeks.
Until he came back sobbing one day - "Mama, the madrasah teacher hit me!"
He had told me a few days before that that he didn't want to go to the madrasah anymore because the teacher was 'too fierce'. And when I asked him for details, he told me that the teacher liked to shout at the children and sometimes he would hit a child's head - if the child made mistakes while reading. Actually it was so terrifying for him that for several days, the first thing he said when he woke up in the morning (his madrasah classes are after school, in the evening) is, "Mama, I'm scared to go to the madrasah..."
For God's sake, I thought. These children are very, very young! They start at the madrasah as young as 5 or 6 years of age so they certainly don't deserve to be treated in such a way when they make mistakes! I had told Big H that if ever the teacher hits him - he must tell either his Mama or Papa and that was what he did. Mr S and I (Mr S was surprisingly vehement about it) decided that we would not tolerate such things and thus we wrote a polite letter to the madrasah's Head of Committee complaining about the teacher...
COMPLAINT REGARDING MADRASAH TEACHER
I am the father of XXX, a student of your Madrasah. I would like to voice my concern with regards to the teaching methods of my son’s Madrasah teacher.
On Friday, 23rd Nov 2007, my son was hit on the head for reading incorrectly by his teacher and he cried because it was painful.
As a result of the teacher’s actions, my son is traumatised and frightened to go to the mosque which worries me as he is still too young to have such negative feelings in such things. This is a drastic change - he was very, very excited about joining the Madrasah and couldn’t wait to go in the beginning.
In this country and also where I come from, such an action may be considered as an assault. I am sure that the committee is aware that even teachers at school are not allowed to punish their students in such a way.
We are all Muslims and we all want our children to be good Muslims of the future. But I doubt hitting the young children when they make mistakes in their reading is any way to achieve our objective.
I would like to urge the committee to advise the teacher(s) to be more patient with the children (especially the young ones) who are there to learn, not only how to read the Quran but also how to be a good Muslim, one who is amongst other things, patient and loving towards other Muslims. Let the teachers teach by example too, rather than only by instruction.The letter resulted in a visit to our house by the Head of the Committee at the madrasah. He apologised, of course, saying that he had already 'spoken' to the teacher and that such a thing will never happen again and that he wanted me to get Big H to come back (because it was 'our duty to do so to make sure our children will learn'..).
I thanked him and said that I would 'try'...
I did try. Because I thought, well, everyone needs a second chance - even that bully of a teacher. And I managed to persuade Big H one time. I turned the shower on for him so that he can have a quick shower to freshen up before going to the madrasah but as I came back to the bathroom to get him out - I found that he was crying softly under the shower, whilst soaping himself. When he saw me, he said, "Mama, I don't want to go because I'm gonna miss you if I go..."
I looked at him. I knew that was not really the reason. I said, "Or is it because you're scared to go, Hxxxx?"
"Yes..", he said, "..and I'm also gonna miss you."
Big H is a little complex. I was thinking - is he so scared to go that he's making other excuses with the hope that he will not be forced to attend the classes?
That was bad.
Thus, I decided to draw the line. I will not spoil his early Islamic (education) experience. It is bad that he hardly gets any here in London but we were not so desperate that we have to settle for such a terrible one..
I called Mr S to persuade him to let Big H off his madrasah for good.
I pity Big H.
He was very, very excited about going to learn at the madrasah but now, he dreads it and absolutely refuses to go even when I tried to coax him and explain to him all about the head of the committee's visit to the house. I even told him that he should just try one more time and see how it would go - he can quit if the teacher hits him again...
Well...there goes my intention (for now) to let Big H have some formal Islamic schooling here in London. Looks like it's back to me now to teach him his muqaddam...
Thank God I brought those Iqra' books back from Malaysia.