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Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmitullahu wa Barakatu,
In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, Most Merciful. I thank and praise the One who has gifted us with a perfect religion, transmitted through the best of angels, upon the best of His creation, Mohammed ibn Abdullah (peace and blessings upon him).
In light of recent tensions arising from some sections of the community regarding our family’s decision to make public the situation regarding the expulsion of my daughter Sarrah from Al-Taqwa College, I feel compelled to explain that our motives for doing so were in no way intended to disparage this great religion of ours, nor bring the Muslims into disrepute, but rather was an attempt to highlight the injustices that have been prevalent in this entire saga.
It is an undeniable fact that elements of bullying occur within every school, irrespective of the faith and creed that the school has been founded on. On August 19th of this year, my two daughters, Sarrah and Sumaya, were expelled and suspended respectively for doing essentially what Islam demands of them: standing up for a fellow student who was being bullied and oppressed. It is narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) ordered the Muslims to help their fellow Muslims, whether they were oppressed or were the perpetrators of the oppression. As a consequence of the stand that they took for their fellow sister-in-Islam, a melee eventually erupted amongst 60 of the students. It is important to note that my daughters did not instigate the altercation; rather, they were forced into it when they themselves became targets of the same bullies that they had dared stand up to.
The School initially advised my daughters to stay home for their own safety until investigations were made into the incident. On the 25th of August, the School met with us to inform us of their decision to immediately expel my Year 11 daughter, Sarrah, and to suspend my Year 8 daughter for a period of two weeks. This decision was made without prior meetings or any form of consultation whatsoever with us as the parents, and despite an exemplary discipline record for both girls. The following day, both my wife and I approached the principal, Mr. Omar Hallak, requesting clarification of the reasons upon which their decision was based, and with a plea to take into consideration our concerns. The principal requested that such complaints and requests be put in writing. On the 28th of August, we received a letter from the School confirming that the expulsion and suspension of Sarrah and Sumaya would stand, that their decision was final, and would not be changed, based on the School Policy, which ironically they themselves were in breach of, as the School’s Student Diary clearly sets out the punishment for a physical fight as 2 days suspension.
For three long weeks, we repetitively requested to meet with the School board to discuss their issues and to voice our concerns, but the school repeatedly ignored us, with one of the coordinators claiming they had no time to address our issue. The School repeatedly failed to respond to my letters in a professional or effective manner. Consequently, having exhausted every avenue in the pursuit of mediation, and with Sarrah’s academic future in peril, as parents we took the only step left to us in approaching the media.
We want it made clear to the Muslim community that this action was in no way a calculated attack on Islam, or forming an alliance with “the kuffar” against the School, as many have claimed. This action was based on the premise that erroneous unjust actions by Schools should not just be ignored or swept away because those in charge are Muslim. When mistakes are made that infringe upon the rights of others, it should not be immune from criticism because of its religious background. At no point whatsoever did we use the media to launch personal attacks against the School or its administrators, and yet the school principal and Sheikh Abu Hamza Samir El-Mohtadi decided to use the Mosque as a platform to attack those “foolish” people who went to the media. Mr. Hallak calling us “Liars” and Sheikh Abu Hamza referred to us as those who “look up, spit in the sky, and it comes right back at them”. If we are liars as the School claims, then why did the school dodge the media instead of coming out and defending their decision, which they claim to be right and in accordance with school polices?
It is unfortunate that some believe we should have stayed quiet and turned a blind eye on the wrong for the sake of the Muslim community. On many occasions the Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was called upon by the non-Muslims to be a judge between the disputes that they had against Muslims. He judged fairly, sometimes judging against the Muslim. He didn’t think that such judgments would tarnish the image of Islam; rather, it was a proof of how fundamentally crucial justice is for the well being of society.
Your brother in Islam,