A minority of Muslim parents need to take their children’s education more seriously, according to a senior Islamic scholar.
Parents should not take their children out of school to go on long trips to India, Pakistan or Bangladesh, even at times of bereavement, Heckmondwike cleric Mufti Shams-Ul-Huda Khan Misbahi has said.
“The damage this does to children’s education is horrific,” said the scholar, known as Mufti Sahib. “I appreciate that it is a tiny minority, but this practice needs to stop.”
Mufti Sahib, who has previously taught at Mubarakpur University in northern India, said the effect of taking children out of school for long periods was devastating to their future prospects.
He said: “I would say that taking children abroad during term time, even if it’s a family bereavement, as distressing as it may seem, is not a good idea.”
And he said teachers or other public sector workers shouldn’t feel worried about respectfully voicing their concerns about such trips.
Speaking through an Urdu interpreter at the Kanzul-Iman Jamia Mosque in Heckmondwike, Mufti Sahib said: “Schools need to get the point across.
“If they see any issues related to education among children from any minority ethnic group, they should not feel afraid that they would be labelled as racist or prejudiced.”
He advised raising such concerns in a professional, sensitive manner and urged any Muslim parents on the receiving end not to feel insulted, but to see the advice as a blessing.
His comments came after he and other clerics from mainstream Sufi mosques across the north of England met in Heckmondwike to sign a new pledge.
His Bradford counterpart, Mufti Ansar-ul-Qadri, gave a speech at the conference.
He said: “Education plays a very important part in our lives. For Muslim children, a good education at school and in the mosque can help put their lives into perspective.
“It is very important parents of our children are also aware of what their roles and responsibilities are in society when it comes to making sure their children take education seriously.”
In the pledge, the scholars promised to educate parents in their communities on the importance of avoiding term-time holidays, helping children with their homework, reading their school reports and attending parents’ evenings.
It was signed at a packed conference held at the Heckmondwike mosque to mark the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday.
Copies will be sent to schools to demonstrate how seriously the scholars are treating the issue of education.