As an expatriate Muslim, one of the great things about living in an Islamic country is the amount of resources available to you and your children to learn about and practice your religion.
Amina Khanum, a 32-year-old administrator with two young children, feels that no matter how old you are, you can definitely benefit from some in-depth courses about religion.
While Khanum appreciates that nurseries and schools in Doha offer Quran and Islamic studies, she feels that they are not intensive enough, as they only cover the basics.
"They're taught out of a text book and the focus on perfecting their Qaida isn't given," she says. That is why for the past two years, she and her two children have been attending the Saturday programme at Fanar Qatar Islamic Cultural Centre, which covers Islamic studies and Arabic.
Fanar is a government organisation that aims to present Arab and Islamic culture though various activities, exhibitions, mosque tours and educational courses. Their mission is reflected in their name; they aim to "act as a guiding light to [the] whole of mankind and to help all non-Arabs to have a better understanding of Islam and culture of Qatar."
Fanar is not the only centre of its kind in Doha. If you are a female and prefer a place limited to women only in which to learn about Islam, Markaz Maryam Ibnata Imraan may be the place for you.
Markaz Maryam Ibnata Imraan
Hiba Hamad, a representative from Markaz Maryam, boasts about the yearlong certificate courses held twice a week at this centre, complete with a mid-term and final exam.
"We have two courses: Quran and Islamic Studies. In Quran, we teach how to say the Saudi Qaida Nooraniya, as it is easier for non-Arabs. And the Islamic Studies course is based on the Dar Al Salam series," explains Hamad.
Women enrolled on the courses can look forward to gaining a better foundation and a deeper understanding of Islam, as well as better pronunciation. Pronunciation of the words in the prayers is often cited as the number one problem for non-Arabs in practising Islam.
"Different cultures pronounce the words in different accents. So that is the benefit of coming to our Markaz: all of our teachers are certified by Saudi standards and so there is more structure. You will learn the proper pronunciation," says Hamad.
Teaching Islam at home
For Laila Johnson*, a 40-year-old pharmacist, the limited and specific times of the courses are difficult to work into her hectic schedule. And with a toddler and a baby, getting stuck in traffic is not ideal.
"It’s very limited; having one class once a week is very difficult, especially if it’s in a congested area of town," Johnson explains.
She prefers to teach her children Islam at home by leading by example and with the help of a book series called Tasheelul Aqaaid.
"Islam is a way of life and should be taught/practiced 24/7, whether in school or not," she says. "Anyway, I like to be in control of what they learn and how they learn it so I prefer teaching at home through resources I’ve found."
And there seems to be nothing wrong with that as Johnson boasts that her toddler is quite receptive to her Islamic studies.
Whatever choice is made, both Khanum and Johnson agree that living in an Islamic state makes it all the more easy as an expatriate to practice this way of life.
*The names of some sources have been changed to protect their privacy.