A Brief Teacher’s Guide to Interacting with and Understanding Muslim Children

Prepared by Connecticut Council of Masajid, Inc.
(with Muslim Education Committee, Hamden)

Dhul-Qa’dah 1418 (February 1998)

Islam at a Glance

Articles of Faith

1. Belief in Allah (one Allah), Supreme and Eternal, Infinite and Mighty, Merciful and Compassionate, Creator and Provider.

2. Belief in the angels of Allah.

3. Belief in all the scriptures revealed by Allah.

4. Belief in all the messengers of Allah without any discrimination among them.

5. Belief in the Last Day.

6. Belief in Qadar. (the fact that everything good or bad is decreed by Allah).

7. Belief that there is an accounting of our actions after death.

Islam and Muslims

Islam is an Arabic word that means peace, purity, acceptance and commitment. As a religion, Islam calls for complete acceptance of and submission to the teachings and guidance of Allah.

A Muslim is one who freely and willingly accepts the supreme power of Allah and strives to organize his life in total accord with the guidance sent by Allah as revealed in the Glorious Qur’an. He also works for building social institutions that are based on this guidance.

Calling Islam or Muslims by any other name is very offensive.

Allah is the exclusive name of our Creator. Its use in any other way is not proper.

Muhammed (peace be upon him) is the last messenger of Allah. Before him there were at least 124,000 other messengers sent to various nations. Muslims must recognize all the messengers without distinction. Ibrahim, Musa, and Isa (peace be upon them all) are three of these messengers.

Continuity of The Message

Islam is not a new religion. It is, in essence, the same message and guidance which Allah revealed to all of His previous Messengers.

Say (O Muhammed): We believe in Allah and that which is revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Ibrahim and Ismaeel and Is’haac and Yaqoob and the tribes, and that which was vouchsafed unto Musa and Jesus and the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we have surrendered. [Qur’an 3:83]

The message that was revealed to the Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) is Islam in its comprehensive, complete and final form.

The Five Pillars of Islam

Every action done with the awareness that it fulfills the Will of Allah is considered an act of worship in Islam. There are specific acts of worship termed the “Pillars of Islam” that provide the framework of Muslim spiritual life. These are given below:

  1. The declaration of faith: “I bear witness that there is no one worthy of worship except Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammed is His servant and messenger.”
  2. Prayers are prescribed five (5) times a day as a duty towards Allah. Prayer strengthens and enlivens belief in Allah and inspires man to higher morality. It purifies the heart and helps control temptation, wrongdoing, and evil.
  3. Fasting during the month of Ramadan. This means abstention from food, beverages and sex from dawn to sunset, and curbing evil intentions and desires. It teaches love, sincerity, and devotion. It develops patience, unselfishness, social conscience, and willpower to bear hardships.
  4. Zakah (Fixed percentage of one’s yearly saving). It is spent on the poor and needy in particular and the welfare of the society in general. The payment of Zakah purifies one’s income and wealth and helps to establish economic balance and social justice in the society.
  5. Hajj or pilgrimage to the Ka’bah in Mecca, once in a lifetime, provided one has the means to undertake the journey.

Expectations of the Teacher

  1. Prayer – The early afternoon prayer falls during the school hours. During the short winter days, especially, it has to be offered during school hours or the prayer will be missed. The Muslim student will need a secluded, clean area to offer this prayer. It generally takes about 15 minutes to offer Salatul Zuhur. However, on Friday, a Muslim, especially a male, must go to the Masjid (mosque) for a special prayer in place of Salatul Zuhur. This prayer cannot be delayed or missed and must be offered in congregation. Parents will send permission notes. Please arrange for these students to get their homework and assignments to be completed over the weekend.
  2. Pledge of Allegiance – The Muslim children do not pledge allegiance or salute the flag. Please allow them to sit while this activity is being conducted. Muslim allegiance is to Allah only.
  3. Holidays– Muslims celebrate two holidays during the course of the year. The first holiday is called Eid-ul-Fitr. This holiday is celebrated after the month of Ramadhan, the ninth month of the Islamic (lunar) calendar. During this month Muslims fast from just before sunrise to sunset. Muslim children who have reached puberty will be observing the fast during this month. The other holiday is Eid-ul-Adha or the Eid of Sacrifice. This holiday is celebrated on the 10th day of the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar. These are the only two holidays that Muslims celebrate. Teachers will be notified when these days will occur, as these students will be absent. This absence is not to be counted against them.
  4. Dress – Muslim children will wear religious headdress, which may consist of caps or scarves. At no time should a female’s head covering be removed. Boys may wear a brimless cap. At no time should children be asked to expose parts of their bodies that are considered (aura) private.
  5. Physical Education – At the age of puberty physical contact with the opposite sex is not permitted; therefore Muslim children should not be required to engage in physical education activities that would require such contact. Alternate activities have to be provided instead of swimming, as long as it is not possible to separate the sexes and to observe dress code strictly.
  6. Showering – Muslim children must not be subjected to the humiliation of undressing or showering in front of other students or a teacher. Showering has to be done in solitude.
  7. Music – It is not permissible to sing songs or play instruments of religious content other than Islam. Also the playing of certain instruments is prohibited in Islam. These instruments include the string, the wind, and any brass instrument. It is preferred that Muslim students be given assignments in music history as an alternative to planned activities that are prohibited in Islam.
  8. Dietary Restrictions – Muslims do not eat pork, products that consist of pork by-products or eat any foods prepared with alcohol. They can also not eat meat if the animals are not slaughtered in the lawful manner.

Please address questions, comments to info@ccm-inc.org or contact:

Islamic Center of Hamden, CT
P. O. Box 4456
Hamden, CT 06514
(203) 562-2757