Anyone who has seen my waistline in recent years will know that there’s nothing I like more on a cold day than a bag of piping hot cod n chips smothered in salt and vinegar with a little ketchup on the side. But when it comes to chips, I’m no match for Nusaybah. On our last family holiday, with all the differing varieties of food that we could sample, you would find little Nusaybah with a plate full of chips. Whenever we have takeaway or decide to eat out, the first question Nusaybah asks is “Will there be chips?”
My children are not too bad with vegetables. They eat broccoli, carrots and peas, only yesterday, Faatiha was going mad over leeks. However, if I was to give them the option of any other vegetable or chips, chips would win 9 times out of 10. I can safely say that chips are the nations favourite vegetable based food. But recently chips have come to mean something completely different to just fried potato.
As part of the revised Equalities Act 2010, schools and other institutions have a responsibility to ensure that people are not being discriminated against based on sex, age, race, colour, religion or sexual orientation.
To implement part of the Equalities Act, Birmingham city council has decided to endorse the CHIPS programme within schools in the city. CHIPS is an acronym for Challenging Homophobia in Primary Schools and is the brain child of Andrew Moffat, a homosexual teacher in Birmingham. The CHIPS programme is supported by well-known LGBT groups such as Educate and Celebrate.
What the CHIPS program attempts to achieve is the normalisation of same sex relationships in the minds of primary school children. Moffat himself states that he is “not teaching children about gay sex, but merely teaching children that gay people exist and that it is okay”. Currently, and not surprisingly, the CHIPS program is being piloted in Birmingham, the centre of the Trojan horse and radicalisation of Muslim school children scandal. Some primary schools in the region are currently in consultation with parents on how best to execute CHIPS within their establishments.
For Muslim parents, the piloting of CHIPS raises numerous concerns and worries. Homosexuality is accepted within the secular framework of Britain as a personal freedom and a lifestyle choice. However, the thought of their child Muhammad coming home with his boyfriend Malcolm, or Ayesha coming home with her girlfriend Angela presents a nightmare scenario.
Islam has a very clear, unambiguous stance on homosexuality and same sex marriages.
Allah (swt) informs us in the Qur’an of the example of the people of Sodom and how they rejected the message of Prophet Lut (as).
Allah (swt) says: “And [We had sent] Lot when he said to his people, “Do you commit such immorality as no one has preceded you with from among the worlds? Indeed, you approach men with desire, instead of women. Rather, you are a transgressing people.” [TMQ 7: 80-81]
And He (swt) says: “Do you approach males among the worlds and leave what your Lord has created for you as mates? But you are a people transgressing.” [TMQ 26: 165-166]
As Muslims we believe in the existence of a creator, Allah (swt). Allah (swt) is the Lord of the Worlds and Master of the Day of Judgement. He (swt) sent to mankind guidance via the Messengers and scriptures, the final ones being Muhammad (pbuh) and the Qur’an. Part of this guidance is to define for mankind what is right and wrong, and what is good and bad.
From an early age, parents attempt to build within their children the need to love that which Allah (swt) loves and hate that which Allah (swt) hates. At every stage of life we remind our children of the purpose of their lives and how Islam should be the reference point for all their actions.
Although we may fear that our children may embrace and practice homosexuality, one of the main dangers of CHIPS is that it will change our perception of what is right and wrong, what is accepted and rejected and what is tolerated or frowned upon. Islam will then no longer become the reference point and instead we will take our definitions from the viewpoint of wider society.
Children have a very pure disposition and quickly develop a perception of what is natural and normal from the environment that surrounds them. My children love playing role play and their role play is based upon realities that they sense. The most oft played role play is of the family unit, which for them comprises of mummy, daddy and baby. A few weeks ago, Faatiha, my 3 year old drew a picture of some birds (well that is what she said it was) and as she said there was “Mummy bird, Daddy bird and Baby bird”. For my children that is the normal family unit, a mummy and daddy and children. When they encounter or experience something different, we would always seek to clarify what is acceptable, from Islam. Hence their perception of same sex relationships would naturally be that they are wrong and abnormal, because Islam defined it as wrong.
The main danger of the CHIPS programme is that, in the way it is structured, it will gradually change the perception of right and wrong, from what Allah (swt) defined to that which is defined by humans living in the society. The structure of the CHIPS program gradually seeks to normalise same sex relationships in the minds of innocent children.
In reception, through various children’s story books, children’s are encouraged to recognise and accept difference and diversity – with the take home message being “Wouldn’t life be boring if we were all the same?”
In Year 1, children are encouraged to “Be themselves” and not conform to what they perceive as normal – whether that be religious beliefs or the structure of the family unit. Recommended text for Year 1 children is a book called “Spacegirl Pukes”. In the book, Spacegirl has two mothers and the children are encouraged to act out the story with two girls taking on the role of the mothers. Teachers are encouraged to normalise lesbian relationships and deal with them as fact with statements like – “They love each other very much and live together.”
In Year 2, gender roles and expectation are challenged with materials like “Mister Seahorse” in which the male seahorse raises the little seahorses, with the moral of the story being that it doesn’t matter who brings up children. This challenges the Islamic perception of the family unit and plants a seed for homosexual parenting. Other material for Year 2, include “King and King” which, through the concept of same sex attraction, introduces homosexuality directly to the children. Children will be encouraged to question whether some of their fellow classmates may be gay themselves.
Through the CHIPS programme, within a few years, children move from accepting diversity to questioning their own sexuality all with the aim of normalising behaviour which Allah (swt) described as abhorrent and disgusting.
Children are very trusting of their teachers and the style of stories and role play is extremely effective in shaping opinions and behavioural traits in children. For a young child this will be the most confusing of times. On one hand they will have their parents telling them one thing, whilst on the other, their school, their teachers, their story books, the media and even emoticons telling them the complete opposite. In their most suggestible period of growth, they may be led astray with the power of suggestion and a convoluted logic.
As a Muslim parent, I worry for my children. Will they be able to see the contradiction between Islam and the norms of the wider society? Will they want to experiment and ‘Be themselves’? Will they be ostracised for holding on to their Islamic values?
As a parent, I want my children to have a normal upbringing, saved from the pressures to conform to the latest fads or lifestyle choices. My aim is that my children play a proactive role in the World, embodying, protecting and conveying Islam to the wider society. But I fear that the imposition of personal freedom and choice may affect the next generation of Muslims and lead to the redefining of Islam to fit in with whatever is deemed acceptable in the reality.
Living in the West, it is essential that we concern ourselves and are proactive with the upbringing of our children. We need to develop a warm and open relationship with our children so that they feel comfortable in sharing their thoughts and emotions with us, thus allowing us to counter any ideas that do not conform to our Islamic values.
We should also try and become proactive with schools. With the spotlight on Muslim majority schools and Muslim children, it is not sufficient that we just drop our children at the school gate in the morning and pick them up at the end of the day. We should be aware of what our children will be taught and what materials they will be exposed to. If required we should collectively raise any concerns and objections in an appropriate manner.
For the new generation of children, the rising Islamophobia and the eroding of normative Islamic values, presents a massive challenge. CHIPS will not only ruin the health of the nation, but will also ruin the identity of Muslims in the West.