Embedded in Muslim culture is the principle of modesty. This is emphasised to Muslims from an early age and it influences every aspect of their life. In the 18th Chapter of the Koran, their holy text, it says in relation to modesty: “Lower your gazes and be chast in your private parts and this will be purified for you.” Going against modesty is the main argument from some people in Preston’s Islamic community against young Muslims having sex education. Hajra Bux, 18, of Frenchwood, Preston, thinks everything in her life built up from her understanding of modesty.

The history of modesty

About 570 years after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ this important principle was brought about by the Omar, one of the Prophet Muhammad’s disciples.

He did not like that the Prophet’s daughters were being gazed at so decided to put forward the problem to the Angel Gabrielle, the link between the Prophet Muhammad and the Lord. Immediately the verse in the 18th Chapter of the Koran was revealed. The main message from the verse advises men to lower their gaze and women to ensure they adopt a very modest approach towards society. In Muslim culture segregation of men and women in the mosque and the wearing of the veil stem from modesty.

How is it taught?

Young Muslims attending the Madrassah in Preston

Young Muslims attending the Madrassah in Preston

From the age of five until 16 Muslims attend the Madrassah which is commonly referred to as Evening Song. Madrassah classes are held for two hours from five till seven in the evening Monday to Friday at the Mosque. In these classes they learn about Islamic principles and study the Koran. In the last few years the teachers have been relating these principles to scenarios in modern life.

Here is a slideshow of video and images that represents different parts of Muslim life, including men at prayer in the Mosque, children attending the Madrassah, and students at the Preston Muslim Girls High School.

An Introduction to schools in Preston

Preston has a variety of schools, which includes faith schools. Follow this link to view a Google map showing all the schools in Preston, Lancashire. The two Muslim church schools are identified by blue markings.


A potted history of faith schools

Opposition to church schools has always existed since the Government created many throughout Britain in the late 1990s. The main argument from people against these types of schools is that they don’t help social cohesion and increase religious intolerance. Faith schools came under fire in 2001 when students and staff who did not follow the religion of a particular school were discriminated against. A White Paper was even drawn up in September 2001 entitled “Schools: Achieving Success” which discussed the expansion of church schools. Click here to view a timeline which has links to news articles about faith schools.

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Attitudes towards sex education

There are two faith schools in Preston and both have opposing views about sex education and the role it should have. The Imam Muhammad Zakariya school is the only church primary school in the city for Muslims, The Preston Muslim Girls High School teaches 11 to 16 year olds.

At The Imam Muhammad Zakariya school students do not get taught any sex education. Atiya Patel, one of the teachers, believes providing sex education to the pupils, “opens their eyes to corruption.”

She said: “Muslims are taught not to have illicit relationships before marriage and it is only then that we break our virginity, but for children to be taught about sex at such a young age only breaks the barrier of modesty.”

Principal of The Preston Muslim Girls High School, Mufti Javid, thinks it is important that the students at the school get taught sex education. He said: “All the books that have been written on these topics have very explicitly given explanation, guidelines, on these matters. So it is part of Islamic education, not only the national curriculum.

“The delivery is crucial and the key thing is that it is delivered with modesty.”

Mufti Javid

Mufti Javid

Girls at the school between 11 and 14 are taught by female teachers and a school nurse as part of the citizenship program. Issues to do with sex are discussed which include sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy, contraception, and emotions. Relationships are discussed in terms of potential marriage partners.

But the teaching of modesty https://swyllie87.wordpress.com/?p=26&preview=true that is so important in Islamic culture remains important within these classes.

A Muslim woman in traditional dress

A Muslim woman in traditional dress

The Government has told faith schools to follow new sex education guidelines.

Principles of Islam go against the teaching of sex education making it a controversial topic for some of the Preston’s Muslims.

Traditionally Islamic teachings in the mosque conflict with the teaching of sex education in schools. But there is pressure on young Muslims in today’s society that increasingly exposes them to sex and the issues surrounding it.

The question is should sex education play a more prominent role within their education and culture?

In the following three blogs I will look at the issues surrounding this subject.

In my first post the history of faith schools will be looked at as well as what people involved in these schools in Preston think about sex education. https://swyllie87.wordpress.com/?p=16&preview=true

In the next blog I will cover Muslim life and focus on Preston’s Islamic community. Follow this link to find out more about their culture.

https://swyllie87.wordpress.com/?p=26&preview=true

In the third section I will look at sex education in Lancashire. Click on the link to find out about different opinions on young Muslims receiving sex education in school.<https://swyllie87.wordpress.com/2009/01/22/elyas-desai-video-2/?preview=true&preview_id=43&preview_nonce=ec2f4935e8

How important is sex education in Lancashire?

On July 3 2008 Lancashire County Council launched the Lancashire Sexual Health Policy for Children and Young People. It is to encourage any organisations who work with young people in the county to encourage healthy relationships and sexual health well-being. The policy is endorsed by the Children and Young People’s Strategic Partnership. Here is a link to the page where the document can be downloaded. http://www3.lancashire.gov.uk/corporate/atoz/a_to_z/service.asp?u_id=2804&strSL=S.

What do people in Preston’s Islamic community think about sex education in schools?

Elyas Desai is the Imam for the Maahadus Shuhada mosque in Deepdale, Preston. He said: “I personally feel it is creating an image within the mind, it’s not helping a child, it’s destroying a child. Islam has taught us, don’t gaze, be pure, be natural.”

Vsiyyullah Bhayat is the Imam at the University of Central Lancashire’s Multi-faith centre. He said: “We have classes for eight to nine year olds where we teach them basic information they need to know. Some girls become mature at a young age, so we need to give information about maturity.”

Hajra Bux, 18, of Frenchwood, Preston, said: “They should keep it in high school but teach it to a certain extent. “They are still young in high school, they will learn about it when they feel ready because every individual is different. Really it should be the parents who decide when they want their child to know about it.”

Hajra Desai, 32, of Frenchwood, Preston is a mother of three. Her eldest daughter is in year seven at a state school and about to start sex education.
She said: “I’m not happy with it, as Muslims we don’t really promote that. My daughter is a bit embarrassed about it because we don’t discuss things like that at home. It is quite an embarrassing topic for us.”

There are contradicting views on whether sex education should be taught to their younger population in schools. Faith schools and sex education will always attract criticism but one common opinion in Preston’s Muslim community about sex education is the importance to keep an emphasis on modesty when teaching young Muslims.

Muslim girls in class at the Preston Muslim Girls High School in Preston

Muslim girls in class at the Preston Muslim Girls High School in Preston

How should sex education be taught to young Muslim girls?

In 1995 a report was published by the North West Lancashire Health Promotion Unit, called, “Rishtae Aur Zimmevarian, Relationships and Responsibilities” It looked at sexual health education for black and minority ethnic communities in Preston. It came up with this conclusion:

-The Sex education received by the girls was random and unstructured. It had not included any relationship with their faith and culture, and in some instances, there had been no formal sex education.

-In inequality between girls and boys in the community was felt acutely by the girls and may be challenged in time.

-There are implications for girls’ sexual health in physical terms if young men are exposing more sexual behaviour prior to marriage. It follows that there is an increased risk of infection for young women.

-The girls identified a need for more support in faith and cultural relationships with sexual health issues and more practical support through a safe, confidential environment for reproductive health.

Elyas Desai talks about modesty in this video

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