If we believed the news it would appear like the entire population of Muslim youth have gone abroad to join ISIS and create a medieval world. And with the backdrop of the Trojan Horse investigation of Muslim schools, it would be safe to say the seeds of suspicion have been planted across wider society, of how Muslims raise their children.
So for those who now wonder what does all this 'extremism' with children mean - Are Muslims raising children with the sole life purpose of spewing hatred and committing acts of terrorism throughout our streets? Well perhaps it's about time us Muslim mothers put this story straight. So the following are some thoughts on the kind of things we actually teach our children.
1. Not to behead non - Muslim neighbours, but to actually shower them with concern and kindness.
The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him PBUH) greatly reinforced the rights neighbours have in Islam, regardless of whether they are Muslim or not. Moreover the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) actually stated that harming a non-Muslim citizen is the same as hurting him - which a Muslim would never seek to do.
So let's put aside the actions of a fringe militia group in Iraq, and look at the mainstream Islamic views of a billion wide Muslim population. One which believes in emulating the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in his exquisite manners - kindness, generosity, trustworthiness were characteristics he embodied, and ones which Muslims seek to embody too with everyone they live with and around. Regardless of religious background.
Muslim children should aspire to be the model neighbour, friend, pupil and colleague.
2. To be aware of the happenings in the world, not detached from them.
But here's the difference. We teach our children to know and then care, especially for those who are oppressed. This was the legacy of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
So whether it be the massacres in Gaza, or the bloody struggle in Syria of innocent people against a dictator; contrary to sensationalist opinion, Muslim parents make their children aware - not for them to be 'radicalised', but to 'realise' that they hold some responsibility for the happenings in the world. And will definitely do so in the future. The years before adulthood are not the time just to live a life of escapism through an endless brainless entertainment culture.
3. The Ummah (the idea of the global Muslim community).
The idea of Ummah has almost become synonymous with the road to terrorism. Muslims feeling part of an Ummah, seems to insinuate through the rhetoric of politicians, that they want death for everyone else. No, that's not the case.
The concept of Ummah is simply characterised by a bond of brotherhood between Muslims across the globe. The good treatment Muslims must exhibit with everyone, is not lessened in any way by the cultivation of this bond between the fellow followers of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It is simply an elevated love and sense of responsibility that Muslims have towards one another which means they cannot stay silent and idle at one another's pain. So when they see the insurmountable sufferings across the Muslim world - Gaza to China, Burma to Chechnya they do not switch off, but actually switch on.
Rather by placing the blame for terrorism on concepts like 'Ummah', Governments like Britain have been able to wash their hands of responsibility for its' political policies which have created havoc throughout the Muslim world. Wars, occupation, drone strikes, to support of tyrant dictators have been the real instigators of death and destruction - which too often remains understated.
4. Being a Muslim means to care about society, but by the values that you live by.
The actions we teach our children to undertake as a response to global problems as they grow, would have to be shaped by the very Islam which pushes them to care in the first place. Rampant, random indiscriminate violence has no place as a response to any situation, in any reading of Islam.
There are a host of values in Islam which shape the Muslim's need to care about society. This could be the much rewardable physical and humanitarian help - from helping a neighbour, taking food to the sick; to raising money for the poor and destitute abroad. However for political and social issues, Islam has a cornerstone idea. This is initiating a social responsibility to advocate good and noble actions in society, and attempt to put an end to corrupt ones. More commonly known amongst Muslims as 'enjoining good and forbidding evil'.
Under this idea Muslims are urged to vocally advocate honesty, kindness and service to others for example, whilst urged to actively stamp out theft, cheating, even domestic violence. This then includes political activism such as speaking out to aid the removal of tyrants like Bashar, or to spread the correct awareness about terrorist states like Israel. It also includes support for the idea of the reestablishment of a Caliphate in the Muslim world - A system which implements the values and rules of Islam; not the whipped up, divisive policies of any old group.
So regardless of whether the world sees Israeli crimes as crimes or not, American drone attacks as illegal or not, Guantanamo torture as justified or not - We teach our children to judge by the truth and not by world opinion and act accordingly.
5. Women are not things, but people.
Putting aside all the media garbage one hears about Muslim women oppressed by Islam, the real truth is not that complicated. We just teach our growing girls that how you look really isn't your make or break in life. In fact the way you look isn't even a factor in the journey of who you want to become and the contributions you want to make when you go out into the world. Keep your beauty for those who will love and protect you.
And to our boys we say, women are real people, not things. Value them for who they are, what they do, what they say whether in the classroom, in the boardroom. Hijab tells them that.
We don't teach our girls to disappear. We teach them to appear in society putting forward only their character, intellect and contributions for scrutiny.
6. Knowledge and education is their cradle to grave quest.
We teach our children that being a seeker of knowledge is the greatest and most needed quest of their lives. It isn't the uncool preoccupation of geeks in school.
Rather Muslim children are encouraged to spend their time not only indulging in the seeking of their academic knowledge but in the Islamic knowledge as well. This is what gives them standing in this life and in their Afterlife. It also builds a mindset that knowledge isn't just about coming out of education to get the best paid job, but about becoming someone who is a force for good in the world, a model for those around them.