By Maulana Khalid Dhorat
After spending 13 or 14 cumbersome and grueling years in school, some in private Muslim schools, the Grade 12s finally reach the end of a long journey – a journey that heralds the start of a new academic phase in tertiary education, and another journey that hails their transition into adulthood. Many learners think that in matric, especially after formal teaching ends and preliminary examinations start, they can morph into the absolute mafia. The school, whatever mischief they get up to, will not be able to take disciplinary action against them. Formal teaching for matriculants end sometime in September, and this is when many learners have their matric balls and functions – just before the very strenuous final-examination period.
Over the years, these functions have become accepted as the norm in many schools, and also known for their glitzy and extravagant nature. The main function is normally organized and attended by the officials of the school itself and by responsible adults. It is generally a formal and sensible affair. However, the before and after parties have become notorious for the evil that take place therein. Many Muslim schools, in order to prevent such an eventuality, have a controlled matric farewell function in order to discourage these pre and post party events, but it seems that learners as well as their families are not content with such a conservative main function anymore, and are hell bent in organizing one. They want something more exciting, glitzy, and adventurous – something where they can let religion, decency and morality loose for a while, and just enjoy the moment. These notorious functions have become the new craze and fashion of our times.
In the past, such functions were held secretly and the video footage, if any, was not allowed to be leaked. But nowadays, professional cameramen are hired to capture the event and a proud display is made of such intransigence. The footage is circulated all over the internet, and a loud and clear message is sent to the school: “We are out of your clutches now. What we do outside of school hours is none of your business, and since we will not be returning to school next year, there will be no reprimand and no long boring lectures from our old-fashioned Maulanas anymore. We’ll leave Islam in the school classrooms and corridors and move on with life! ” Such a proudly display of arrogance has not only become fashionable, but if one does not come across as arrogant, then one is regarded as a simpleton with no money and worth in our community nowadays.
But the more alarming part of these pre and post Matric functions is not the function itself, BUT THE ONE’S WHO ORGANIZE IT. One would think that the learners themselves would discreetly arrange it without the knowledge of their school and their parents, but this is where we are sorely wrong. In many instances, the learners themselves don’t want to be part of it, having had some sort of Islamic education, but the parents then take over and gleefully both organize and fund it, and then coerce their children to attend it! This is putting the cart before the donkey. It seems some parents have become worse than teenagers nowadays. After sending their children to attain Islamic education for 13 to 14 years, at the end of it all, they show their children just how not to follow Islam, how not to take the Qur’an and Sunnah seriously, how to take the micky out of the school, how to unashamedly splash their money and bodies all over social media, and how to bend all the rules in the book! This is an absolute disgrace to Islam, themselves and their own children too.
How ironic it is that during their schooling career, parents will fight for their daughter’s right to dress modestly, especially for a trouser and a scarf in non-Muslim schools, or to wear a beard for their sons. They will skim through the LO (Life Orientation) and other text books looking for objectionable material, and also sign petitions and take the matter to the highest authorities. However, when it comes to the matric farewell event, or any other family or social event, they are allowed to disrespect the same rules that they enforce themselves within schooling hours. This is crass hypocrisy. Such an attitude shows that we are more worried about showing off our clout and authority over the school, rather than having a true and genuine love for Islam.
A word of caution here. Nowadays when pictures emerge of matric farewell functions, we need to first ascertain whether it’s the official school function or not. If it’s the official function and evil takes place within it, then the school themselves must answer for it. A school that can not represent itself with dignity and morality should rather close down. And if the function has been organized out of school jurisdiction, then we should find out if the parents or the children organized it. If the children organized it, then they are still our children but with raging hormones. We can nurture them with love, and kindness and there is still hope. But if the parents and their families organized it, we have a serious problem on our hand – and this seems to be the scenario nowadays.
Some parents and adults have the following lopsided approach to such events: “Let’s not be too strict on our children and let them enjoy themselves whilst they can. When they become older, they will change. In any case, we wonder why people make such a hullabaloo about it when all our other social functions also have naked women, mixed gatherings and music. Our malls are also full of evil, but no one makes a fuss about it. They better not know of the wine in some cases, or else we are dead!!” These types of justification are just devilish whispers. A child is nurtured and taught the basics of Islam until the age of puberty, and thereafter he or she is fully accountable for their all their actions – good or bad. Matriculants are generally about 18 years of age, and should be behaving consciously, with Taqwa (God Consciousness), by then. The grace period of actions without consequence is until puberty, not until the age of 50! So leave such logic in the woods where it belongs.
Some parents and adults, it seems, are so ashamed of their own behaviour that instead of changing for the better when their children reach adult age, they rather endeavour to reverse the cycle and make the children in their own depraved image. Instead of supporting their children on their journey of Islam and setting a sterling example for their children, they discourage them from doing so simply because they are not practicing Muslims themselves. “Islam is only until you are young. In the real world, Islam is just a myth,” they silently preach. “Those old-fashioned Maulanas can continue lecturing to rocks and trees, whilst they are so un-Islamic themselves!”
Nowadays it’s not uncommon to see a young girl, modestly dressed with her eyes lowered, next to her half naked mother with the strongest perfume, strutting around malls. Whilst their children were in schools, they could blame the school for all their children’s issues, but since they graduated or matriculated, they cannot do so anymore. It’s like saying: “Islam caused all our problems. Now that they are out of school, we can do what we think is the right way to do things.” So Matric Farewell translates to Islam Farewell.
Muslim Schools are a community initiative to give our children the best of Islamic and secular education, but it seems many send their children only for the academic education, and in order to get away from the public schools. And since Muslim schools are cheaper than the other White private schools, they will opt for the local Muslim school and just slug out the Islamiyyat aspect of it. We say to such parents – don’t be such shallow cheapskates. Don’t make it difficult for the Muslim schools to do what they need to do by constantly being at odds with their vision. Rather find a “modern” Muslim school or pay the price for a good non-Muslim private one.
Lastly, kudos to all sincere personnel of Muslim schools who preserve against all odds. Muslim Schools have many challenges and areas of reform (we leave that for another day), but this is an appeal to the parents themselves – start reflecting the Islamic ideals you want your children to adopt. Muslim schools are there to groom our children in a certain direction, and if you do not want such grooming, move on to other Institutes.