The Rise of ‘Says Wlhi’ Teachers in Minnesota Dugsi; Community heading in the Right Direction

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In our last article about dugsis in Minnesota, we addressed the departure of experienced teachers from the profession with no teachers to replace them. The shortage of Qualified Quran Teachers is alarming for the future of our community. Alhamdulillah a growing number of U.S-born Somali youth are stepping up to fill the void, bringing a new mindset and perspective to our learning centers. I would briefly explain below the journey and impact of these young teachers in our community.

Most, if not all, of the students in Minnesota Dugsis, are taught by Quran teachers trained in Somali or other Islamic countries. These teachers are leaving the profession or retiring and there is a need for a younger generation to replace them. There is a generation filling up these gaps and keeping the torch burning. The ‘say wlhi’ generation is children brought here at a very young age or born in the United States of America. They speak English well and went to American Public schools, colleges, and even Universities.

These young teachers usually started their teaching careers as assistant teachers(Kabiir), working under the supervision of a teacher. Kabiir Are chosen because of their strong Hifdh of the Quran, age(usually older students of the class), ability to manage a classroom, and superior communication skills with students and parents. They work under these teachers for a while. They eventually have their classes and are considered full teachers.

The ‘’Say Wlhi’ teachers in our dugsis are essential in ensuring our dugsis exist and continue to be centers of knowledge culture. They have qualities; They are younger, usually in their early twenties, well versed in the American way of life, tech-savviness, and new ways of teaching the Quran while preserving some of the old ways of Teaching the Quran while keeping the ancient tradition of learning the Quran in the Somali culture.

They happen to develop deeper and more meaningful relationships with their students. The smaller age gap between them and their students helps them relate more with their students, understand their challenges, meet their needs, and help them make better choices. Their understanding of technologies helps them be innovative in their classes and improve their students’ experience in the classroom. They are able to organize fun field trips for their students and help them connect more with their dugsi.

They bring new energy to the classroom with a better understanding of the challenges facing their young brothers and sisters in school and generally in their lives. Students are more likely to approach them if they are having problems because of their openness and the ability to listen to them without judging them. These young teachers are modern and reforming how dugsis work here in Minnesota while preserving the old ways of learning the Quran in Our community.

These young teachers are making tremendous progress despite the lack of support from our institutions and their leaders in helping them develop. These young teachers are resilient despite facing the same challenges their mentors face in this profession. I will discuss in a later post the specific challenges facing them. Still, we as a community need to invest in our Future Quran Teachers by building a center or establishing programs specializing in Quran teacher training, thus safeguarding our children and their faith.

Finally, the ‘’say wlhi’ generation is viewed as a lost generation burdened with problems and needs saviors. We need to change how we view our youth, see their uniqueness and not see them as a liability but as an asset. I call upon our community leaders to invest in our youth, for they are teachers, scholars, imams, and leaders of tomorrow.

Let us leave behind a better legacy.

إِنَّا نَحْنُ نُحْىِ ٱلْمَوْتَىٰ وَنَكْتُبُ مَا قَدَّمُوا۟ وَءَاثَـٰرَهُمْ ۚ وَكُلَّ شَىْءٍ أَحْصَيْنَـٰهُ فِىٓ إِمَامٍ مُّبِينٍ

It is certainly We Who resurrects the dead and write what they send forth and what they leave behind. Everything is listed by Us in a perfect Record.

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