Teaching with an Islamic identity

When you ask high school students what they want to become when they grow up, you will most likely hear doctor, lawyer, or an engineer. Something you do not hear often is that someone wants to become a teacher. Can you blame them? They spend a lot of their lifetime in school, so why would they volunteer to go back to school?! 

The image of teachers in general is not a positive one. I experience it myself when I tell people that I am studying to become a teacher. They find it a waste of time that I study for so long to eventually become a teacher. Something I strongly disagree with. Being a teacher is such a meaningful profession, because you educate the next generation! Think about the future doctors, lawyers, and engineers. So how can it be a waste of time?

I can understand nowadays that people are not thrilled to become a teacher, especially Muslims. If you have followed the news in the Netherlands the last couple of months, you have probably heard about the stereotyping and the Islamophobic environment in schools in the Netherlands. I can imagine this is not inviting for someone with an Islamic identity. But the schools in the Netherlands are not all like this. As a teacher in training, I have never experienced these kinds of things, in fact my experience is positive. 

At this moment I am doing my internship at a high school based on a Catholic foundation. You would think that I, as a khimari, would not feel welcome, but this is not the case. To give you an image of the teachers in this school, most of my colleagues are from Dutch origin and I am the only Muslim. But I have not experienced that this has caused me any problems or held me back. I am really a part of the team and within a week I felt very much at home.

At my internship, I also did not experience problems with practicing my deen Elhamdoelillah. They let me pray whenever I want. In fact, when I asked during the job interview if I could pray, I did not immediately get an answer because I was the first one who ever asked her this question. So she sorted it out for me and made it possible for me to pray.She understood how important this is for me. I also never experienced something negative because of the way I dress, Elhamdoelillah. I never felt that I was any different from my colleagues or treated differently because of my religion. 

Last year I was a little worried about my internship, because of the fact that I do not shake hands. I thought, partly because of the stories I heard and read, that this would be a big problem.I had already warned my mentor that this might cause problems in the future. But Elhamdoelillah, at this moment I have seen 4 schools as a teacher in trainer, and not one of them found this a problem and accepted it. 

I hope that more Muslims decide to become a teacher. As a teacher you could be a role model for the students. I have never had a teacher with an Islamic identity who could be my role model. Because of the time you spend at school, this is something I missed. A role model who could show me that practicing my religion does not directly mean that all the doors this dunya will close. When you put your trust in Allaah, doors you did not even know about will be opened and He will let you succeed if it is good for you. 

I am aware that being a teacher is not all fun and games. But with the experiences I have gained so far, I would make the choice again to become a teacher. How bad my day may be and how stressed out I am, there are moments that make up  for all the bad things. For example, when a student you are not teaching and you have never seen before is patiently waiting for your attention. Only so he can say how proud he is that you are teaching while still practising your faith and obey Allaah regarding dress code. These kinds of gestures are for me the things that make being a teacher worth it for me.

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