The Habibia Junior Madressa: A legacy of love and learning

In the 1960’s, while sitting in a barbershop, Mr Dawood Firferey heard a young Muslim child singing “Fishing for Jesus”. Concerned that Muslim youngsters were unaware of their own beliefs and heritage, he raised the issue with Moulana Qutbuddien Kagee of Habibia. Moulana Qutbuddin, together with other concerned members of the community such as Mr G. Moosa and Mr H. Sayed, saw the need for a pre-school that catered specifically to the needs of Muslim children. They pooled their efforts and the Habibia Junior Madressah- or Habibia Nursery School as it is popularly known- came into being in 1969.

The school is located on blessed ground. It is on the ground where Hazrath Soofie Saheb’s RA horse stood still, out of its own accord, prompting Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA to build the mosque complex in this vicinity. It is also located on the ground on which Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA delivered the first Khutba (before the construction of the mosque proper). In fact, we firmly believe that it is due to the barakah and dua of Hazrath Soofie Saheb RA that the nursery enjoys such a vibrant existence.

In fact, the contemporary Sufi author, Dr Saadia Chisti, on a visit to the nursery a few years ago declared that “’ilm is felt here” even though there were no children present there at that particular time. She then asked about the surroundings of the nursery and when informed about the saint (Maulana Shah Abdul Latif (R.A.)) who rests besides it, she remarked that the nursery “will never die”.

Such blessings that are associated with the nursery derive from the fact that it exist to serve its community and for nothing else. The keyword is sincerity. The nursery’s primary aim is to inculcate an Islamic ethos into the young Muslim child. Such an ethos is underpinned by love for Allah and love for his Holy Prophet, the Salutations and Peace of Allah be upon him and it is this love that, in the first place, is instilled into the children. All other aspects of education - such as having respect (adab) for parents and elders, gaining basic knowledge of Islam, and gathering one’s first skills in “secular” subjects- are imparted on the basis of this love.

With regard to the teaching of adab (respect) the nursery holds firmly on to the motto that “knowledge without respect is like rain clouds without rain.” Respect is the cornerstone of our religion and without it knowledge is worthless. Inculcating respect at this age helps one in later life to remain humble, no matter what one’s accomplishments, as one realises how thankful one must be to one’s parents and teachers. Respect is, of course, also vital the smooth functioning of the Muslim community and contributes to social stability.  

As to the Islamic knowledge, pupils are taught the pillars (arkan) of Islam and Iman, the Kalimahs, short surahs and dhikrs, Taharah (purification), other basic fiqh, short duas that are relevant in their daily lives, proper dressing, and rudimentary Arabic. The Islamic curriculum not only acquaints the youngster with essential Islamic teachings, but in that process also builds his or her self- conscious Muslim identity. And it may be remembered that it was due to fear of losing this identity that the nursery was started in the first place. The school also holds an annual Moulood celebration.

As to “secular” studies, the school keeps abreast of all new developments and is OBE (Outcomes Based Education) compliant. Thus, besides Islamic education, students are suitably versed in numeracy, literacy and life skills. In fact, we are proud to say that the nursery outstrips many others in these fields. This is because we have not been content to merely keep within the standard guidelines, but constantly strive to achieve the child’s full potential. Many of our graduates have accomplished great things in numerous and diverse fields.

The school presently has a role of approximately 400 students and twenty six teachers. The experience and training of these teachers can be seen in the fact that the workbooks used at the school have been compiled by them. In fact Habibia has proved a fertile training ground for teachers who have set up Muslim pre-schools in other areas, even internationally! The school also has after-care facilities.

At a personal level, as one of the founder teachers of this school (together with Mrs Moosa and Mrs Moerat) the school is my life. I firmly believe that the prayers of the children are accepted by Allah. One feels honoured to teach them. One feels very blessed when one sees a child inculcating the respect, knowledge or skills that one has taught him or her.  And I feel blessed to be part of what is not only a school, but in reality is a family.

Nursery Website

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