Archive for December, 2012

Why I got involved in homeschooling

As I became involved in The Cult, I gradually learned more about how the leaders saw child-raising, and especially, what they thought about the public education system. The Cult was not the sort of group that kept all its goods in the shop-window; you had to be with them for a while before you’d get anything like a full picture of what they taught.

As I discussed in the previous post, The Cult taught that teenagers are a creation of the modern world, and that parents who raise their children “properly” can avoid having them go through teenagehood. The Cult also taught that the public school system was fundamentally ungodly, and that it would pollute any child who went through it. Therefore, parents who are at all serious about having their kids grow up Muslims would not send their kids to public school.

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I never thought I’d be dealing with teenagers

Oddly enough, it never crossed my mind when I (and my convert friends) were having multiple children as our small, insular conservative Muslim and extremely pronatalist community vigorously encouraged us to, that… we’d be dealing with a boatload of teenagers and their typical teenage problems down the line.

Oh, a few people tried to tell us that, of course. That these cute babies would be teenagers soon enough, and night feedings and teething and all that sort of thing would seem like a picnic compared to teenage shenanigans. But we would either look at them blankly, or feel smugly superior to them. Because our kids weren’t ever going to be teenagers.

After all, this is what The Cult taught: Historically, there is no such thing as a “teenager”—there were children, and then there were adults. A child is a child until he/she reaches puberty, and then he/she is biologically an adult. “Teenagers” are a modern invention, caused by a godless, indulgent consumerist society, family breakdown, peer pressure, advertising and a lack of discipline in childhood.

Therefore, parents could avoid having their children turn into teenagers by raising them correctly, by instilling the fear of God in them, by teaching them to take on as many adult ritual and behavioral responsibilities as possible when they were still young, and by carefully sheltering them from the wider society. Because if we sheltered our kids, they would never get the idea that supposedly typical teenage behavior is in any way normal or acceptable, so they would be much less likely to act that way. And if we kept them securely inside our conservative, insular Muslim bubble as much as possible, then community expectations that they act maturely would be constantly reinforced, and it would be that much harder for them to be rebellious “teenagers.”

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Penis-waving for dummies: a brother’s guide

The discussion could be taking place anywhere. In a sister’s kitchen, while drinking tea at her kitchen table, as kids chatter in the background. In the sisters’ section of a mosque, behind some dusty, water-stained room dividers, while sitting on a dank carpet that hasn’t been steam-cleaned in years. On an obscure recovering conservoMuslim blog that its author does not have time to update regularly.

Looking back, I wish I had noticed that so many of the arguments made to keep sisters "in their place" basically amounted to men saying: "Look at me, I have a penis! And my penis and I are entitled to special rights, because God and His Prophet and the scholars and every man with any brains/gonads says so!"

Looking back, I wish that I had noticed that so many of the arguments made to keep sisters “in their place” basically amounted to men saying: “Look at me, I have a penis! And my penis and I are entitled to special rights, because God and His Prophet and the scholars and every man with any brains/gonads says so, and the world will end if you question this!”

Or perhaps in a considerably more prestigious setting: at a Muslim conference sponsored by major “mainstream” Muslim organizations, headlined by rock-star imams.

I mean the kind of discussion in which one or more sisters raise a serious issue—whether it’s something like wife abuse or underage marriage, or the way that women are treated in the mosque. The sisters will condemn this behavior as unjust, and explain how it is harming individuals, as well as the community. They may also selectively quote verses from the Qur’an or hadiths to drive home their point.

This is hardly ever a good thing. They are airing the community’s dirty laundry, which seldom ends well, and they usually lack the wisdom and Islamic knowledge necessary for discussing serious issues in any depth. As women they should be focused on things like taking care of their homes and husbands, not addressing community problems.

But fear not—such a situation is not entirely beyond rescuing. All it needs is a Pious and Knowledgeable Brother (such as yourself) to quickly intervene, and decisively steer the discussion back within god-fearing bounds—with the hidden aim of putting a stop to it as soon as possible.

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