If anyone were to ask me how a teen who never really felt a strong connection to Islam would fare at an Islamic school such as Hidayah, I would reluctantly admit he or she would probably not fare well. I would wonder what Hidayah could do to help that teen develop a strong affinity to Islam that I could not do or had not done on my own. I was a stay at home mother that homeschooled my children and believed I knew exactly what my children needed for their academic and religious education. I was wrong. My teen went from not even being certain of the existence of God to now sometimes feeling guilty when he misses prayer and praying on his own even when no one is looking. Alhamdulillah, he is more certain that his religion is the right religion for him. He is developing a quiet but sure belief and confidence in his faith. It is amazing to watch this growth of faith and I pray to Allah it continues to grow after he leaves Hidayah.

Hidayah provided a safe haven for him religiously, spiritually, and academically. It’s small class sizes allowed for individual attention. Their warm and compassionate teachers respect different learning styles and abilities but still nurture and encourage rigorous thinking. Many teachers hail from top universities or have PhD’s in their disciplines. Class participation is not simply encouraged, it is expected. Best of all, many teachers weave Islamic education into their curriculum. The pre-calculus teacher always reminded students of the importance of honesty in test-taking. The English/Language Arts teacher sometimes assigned readings, films, or classic Islamic literature and delved into Socratic discussions of morality and ethics. The Islamic Studies teacher provided in-depth teachings of the history of Islam, the Prophet’s (pbuh) life, and explained why and how Muslims practice.

So I have learned that the prescription for enriching the mind and soul is simple. Place a child in a small classroom environment with dedicated, warm teachers, ensure the child feels safe and free from any type of bullying, hold that child to high expectations…and he or she will inevitably thrive.