Throughout the month of Ramadan, which begins Friday, the Cattaneo children won’t have to worry about explaining to teachers and friends why they’re fasting every day.

That’s because they’re home-schooled, part of a growing trend among Muslim families.

“We wanted a more religious-based influence on our kids’ lives,” said Ismail Cattaneo, their father. “It’s the same reason the Christians have.”

Home-schooling is big in Virginia, especially in Loudoun County where the Home School Legal Defense Association is based at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville. And Patrick Henry — where I was a temporary adjunct journalism professor in 2001 — is a magnet for home-schooled kids.

I had been to a state home-schooling conference in Richmond in the late 1990s, but I hadn’t picked up much on which religions — other than Christianity — were getting into the act.

A lot of Muslims are fine with sending their kids to public schools, Mr. Cattaneo told me, but what encouraged him and his wife, Jean, to keep their children at home was the success Christian families were having.

“You hear of these Christians winning spelling bees and going to Harvard,” he said.

It’s not like they live in a Muslim bubble, said the couple when I visited their town house in Sterling last week. Their English tutor is Jewish; the family participates in Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Little League, and the kids play with Christian home-schoolers two doors down. (More)


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