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MuslimKidsMatter: What makes you a special Muslim Kid?

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The following is a clip from a documentary called Abraham’s children – following the lives of 6 Muslim American kids – can you identify with any of these children?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMG_VY_xcks[/youtube]

Disclaimer: background music.

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I didn’t know that every tenth kid in NYC is Muslim. It is a tough time to be a Muslim kid especially if you attend public school. But despite the negativity and problems, I see strong, proud Muslim kids everyday! It is also a great time to be a Muslim kid because more people are learning about Islam everyday. I want to talk to you and your parents but mainly you – Muslim kids – about what is it like being a Muslim kid in today’s world. What problems to do face? How do you deal with them?

Are you a hyphenated kid: Muslim-American, British-Muslim etc.? How do you deal with the hyphens? Do the kids in your school know that you are Muslim? Have you been bullied because you are a Muslim – how do you deal with the bullying? Or are you a Muslim kid in a Muslim country who is finding out more about her religion? Tell us what it is like being a Muslim kid in 2011?

I have four kids Masha Allah – each one of them special in their own way. I home school one and two attend elementary school.

My eldest daughter is ten. She is my constant companion. She is a strong Muslimah and a blessing from Allah. She tries her best at everything whether it is taekwondo or art, but thinks my expectations are too high.

My younger daughter practices wearing hijab to school on Fridays – she gets teased a lot about it but I think she is amazing because when people ask her why she wears it, she just answers, “why do you wear pants?” Gets them every time. She is special to me because she tries really hard to bring a smile to me face, especially when I am having a rough day.

My boys love talking about if they are on Allah’s team or on Shaytan’s team? They think it is really cool that they are named after noble Prophets of Allah and get happy when their names are read in the Quran. When my son started kindergarten, it was in Ramadan, so we shared out Muslim traditions with his class and that helped him feel comfortable, knowing that it is OK to be different. Ever since President’s Day in February, he tells me that I practice slavery because I make him clean his room and ‘slavering is illegal, Mama’. :)

Are you a parent of a Muslim kid? What makes your kids special? Share you stories.

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Hena Zuberi is the Editor in Chief of Muslimmatters.org. She leads the DC office of the human rights organization, Justice For All, focusing on stopping the genocide of the Rohingya under Burma Task Force, advocacy for the Uighur people with the Save Uighur Campaign and Free Kashmir Action. She was a Staff Reporter at the Muslim Link newspaper which serves the DC Metro. Hena has worked as a television news reporter and producer for CNBC Asia and World Television News. Active in her SoCal community, Hena served as the Youth Director for the Unity Center. Using her experience with Youth, she conducts Growing Up With God workshops. hena.z@muslimmatters.org Follow her on Twitter @henazuberi.

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Ali S.Kadi

    April 2, 2011 at 8:30 AM

    Are you a parent of a Muslim kid? What makes your kids special? Yes, I am a parent of two Muslim American Kids and what makes my kids special is that they know where they stand in the United States and challenges they will face if they don’t participate in the American process by: (a) getting involvded in their community, (b) listening to invdividuals within their peer groups, (c) understanding the challenges, (d) know who they are, (e) focus on whats important, (f) tune out the nay sayers and build upon the positive vice the negative, but know what the negatives are, (g) America is a place of opportunities and it is up to them to make the best of the worst situations despite the challanges facing Muslim Americas today. My kids continue to amaze me in the matter in which they handle themsevles in private and in public as they are both very strong minded and no one will be able to deter their belief in what they precieve is right. They have high values: Honor, Courage and Commitment and believe these value encompass the strength of great leadership to carry ther next generation forward in American. I am excite to see where they will be 10-20 years from today. I continue to be impressed and know that they have a bright future.

    • HenaZuberi

      April 2, 2011 at 3:42 PM

      MashaAllah brother, your kids sound just like the kind of people who can be groomed to becoming our leaders. Can you give us some details on how you are raising them
      And how they deal with the negativity? What kind of activities are they involved in?

  2. Pingback: MuslimKidsMatter: What makes you a special Muslim Kid? | ISLAMIC SPOTLIGHT: ISLAMIC NEWS, STORIES, HADITH, DOCUMENTARIES, LECTURES, NASHEED AND MORE DEEN RELATED ARTICLES

  3. life is a test

    April 2, 2011 at 12:45 PM

    Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh!

    I dont know where i should be writing this so im writing it here….is there any way to help children who are forced to do labour? i know something has to be done but im clueless regarding what exactly can be done :s

  4. Veiled Muslimah

    April 2, 2011 at 1:22 PM

    Assalamu Alaykum!
    I’m a freshman in high school and wear the abaya and Hijab. I have had no problems whatsoever.
    People told me all the time that I would have no friends and boys would be scared of me, but nothing happened, Walhumdulillah. But I think that’s because I live near the “Bible Belt” so the Christians understand why I dress this way. I talk to people almost everyday about why I dress that way I do.
    My advice to younger girls would be to have a positive attitude, keep the amazing personality inside of you open to others, and smile :)! Many people say that theyre my friend because of my smile.

    • Mohammed

      April 5, 2011 at 2:19 AM

      May Allah give you strength and patience, Ameen!

  5. Cartoon M

    April 2, 2011 at 3:39 PM

    I’m a product of NYC public schools and the experience really depends on who your friends are and the activities you’re a part of.

    I think jr. high was the toughest for me. There was a lot of pear pressure. But Alhamdulillah after I really started thinking about Islam and became convinced of it, it became easier from there. A lot of it was thanks to my mom teaching me about Islam and my parents practicing it at home.

    My advice for parents with kids in public school is to help them find good friends. If there is an MSA in the school, encourage them to join it. If there is nothing in their school, find an afterschool program where they can make practicing Muslim friends.

    When I had friends who were bad influences, I felt like I was pressured into being someone who I wasn’t. When I starting hanging with friends who were Muslims, or even non-muslims who had good character, I felt at ease and could be who I was.

    I think the greatest benefit of public schools is how you are exposed to such a diversity of people and ideas.

    • HenaZuberi

      April 2, 2011 at 6:08 PM

      CartoonM, would like a post contributed from you inshaAllah- we all loved your post on Shykh Accha :) ESP aimed at kids.

  6. Cartoon M

    April 2, 2011 at 3:41 PM

    On another note, I visited my high school’s MSA a few months ago, and Alhamdulillah it made me so happy to see how many practicing and enthusiastic brothers and sisters there were.

  7. Amman Abdul Adl

    April 2, 2011 at 10:39 PM

    This particular documentary is not helping any muslim whatsoever. It actually giving a “watered down” impression of Islam that clearly found in secular countries and unfortunately many muslims are embracing.

    In the clip, the girls who were clearly over the age of puberty were not covered up at all. This gives an impression that Muslims can be selective in their deen. Within the first 20 seconds, a girl is ice-skating. Wearing tight cloths that show her figure, shes is dancing. Muslims women are told that its better for them to pray in their house, to an extent thats its better to pray in the most secluded place in her house, and this girl was ICE SKATING in public? What impression does this documentary leave on young muslim girls? That I could do this?

    Within 35 seconds of the clip, a muslim boy is saying that he wants to be on Broadway!? These types of documentaries are actually making our situation worse as muslims. They cause confusion and then at a young age people start questioning their Islam; creating the next Irshad Manji or Asra Nomani’s…

    Born and raised in the United States, I know exactly what many young muslims think. That Islam is a very tolerant religion that appreciates differences amongst the children of ADAM (As). When I was sent to Pakistan, then I realized exactly that the Islam that I was embracing never really existed.

    I know some people might be thinking that I don’t have the right to “JUDGE”. We all can, but as muslims we have no right to condemn or chastise these individuals. I’m clearly pointing out what is wrong from an Islamic perspective…

    Allah Knows Best…

    • Niqabisis596

      May 29, 2011 at 7:20 AM

      I agree! subhanAllah, this is so frustrating! We are the representatives of islam! We are showing others islam, and this is not how we do it!
      Yes we need to be understanding with the youth who have troubles and problems, as we all have our own weak points, however, its not being understanding to just allow this!!! Its not understanding to accept it, to make it ok!
      Understanding, is taking their hand and showing them to the right way!
      May Allah guide us all! ameen

  8. UmmAasiya

    April 3, 2011 at 3:22 AM

    Assalamu Alaikum
    Alhamdulillah we have two children 6 and 3 and I think they are special because they are MUSLIMS, loved and cherished. They read Allah’s book and talk about what they will get to have in Jannah and are always on the look out for shaitaan. And yes there names are

    :)

    Great conversation – please keep going…

    • UmmAasiya

      April 3, 2011 at 3:26 AM

      And yes their names are both mentioned in the Qur’an and both are so proud to hear about their stories and the values upheld Alhamduilillah.

  9. SabrunJameel

    April 3, 2011 at 3:16 PM

    Assalaamu alaikum,

    Great video MashAllah, it’s so great to see positive documentaries about Islaam. Alhamdulillah I’m “a product” of Canadian public high school exposure. It’s my last year, yet it feels like iv’e been in there forever. Having had to grow up in an evironment where I had to mature so fast… well I guess I matured too fast according to some. Alhamdulillah my transition into public high school from junior high was simultanious with my transition into Islaam. It was tough having to “carry” Islaam with me at school when I was also adjusting to so many other things. Alhamdulillah though, being active in my Islamic community and having such a khair surrounding outside of school was what kept me and still keeps me strong. Through my 3 first years of high school I was a Da’wah machine! Since the same ol’ kids surrounded me I coloured with in JK and played dogde ball with in elementary; my change of heart and ways spoke for itself. They trusted and had comfort in me, and that’s how my da’wah went through them so well. My change led to the change of some of my friends Alhamdulillah, having to see they won’t be alone. Feeling like I led a double life wearing uniforms at school and then proper Islamic dress outside, I felt like I had to make Hijrah :)Changing high schools was the toughest. I went from a relatively OK high school to a straight up A’oodhobillah One. Yet again, those people where the ones I knew from when I was really young (7 and under! ) They remembered me, speaking and joking with me looking past the way I looked. Da’wah at my new school was also very easy alhamdulillah; until this day I remember by the grace of Allah SWT having made some cry, some you would never imagine knew how to bow, prostrate and Alhamdulillah it wasn’t as bad as I though it would be. I think it’s through high school I learned never to judge people. The Muslims in public high schools who act in ways they shouldn’t be aren’t stupid; they know what they’re doing is wrong and yes they have guilt in the pressure they succomb to. I remember all of the “Please sit and talk with me, I’m not happy” moments. And the “I know what I’m doing is wrong, but how do YOU manage to do this and this” “Are YOU happy” All of these questions and moments I had in high school really got me to think and made me better; motivating others motivated me and strenghtened me. Yes I would never recommend a sane Muslim to attend public high schools, but because I had to be in such an environment I learned and grew so much. Alhamdulillah establishing jumu’ah was very hard; but guess what? All of the basketball and soccer freaks (who can play all day on a +40 heat without breaks because they love it so much) actually stop on fridays and come in running, with their wudu water dripping of their faces, to salah. What I realized through high school is that the mulims there just need to chillax and take tings easy while not compromising their deen. Why do you think fulaan approached me asking me for advice while they could have approached their super religious cousin ? Because they see I laugh at class jokes like everyone else and that I speak in the same matter as they do! Eating luch not long ago, a childhood friend asked me “if you had to be a super star what would you be?” And I simply replied ” If there were no such thing as a death, jannah, jahannam and God, and that humans just lived in a world like this for ever; then I would probably sing; I’m no actress.” And that’s when she said something that I smiled at; she said this is why I love you; had I had asked this to anyone who looks like you… they would have lectured me, starting with “AOODHOBILLAH! . I really enjoyed watching this clip , and if there is advice I would give to high school students who are practicing and struggling with not having any attention from guys like every other girl or not being able to join a party or something; Enjoy yourself in haalaal ways. It’s possible, as long as you don’t befriend them and show that you’re human; you’ll be a walking da’wah and make a difference in ways you can’t imagine. Sometimes I think people take Islaam to extremes, and that’s what really pushes kids away. If the MSA are super serious muslims who use “haram” as their every other word; people would prefer sticking with the cool non-muslims and then they fall into sin. Parents also need to understand the pressures their muslim child faces, and try to support them in being role models in public high schools if they are there as well as having a good relationship with them. Bad parent-child relashionships only causes rebellion and if they don’t talk to you about some things; then they might end up talking to the wrong people about it. As much as I call high school hell and can’t wait to escape, with the grace of Allah ‘Azza wa jal it was ONE life experience. It was one tough ride, but Alhamdulillah hardships only better people.

  10. SabrunJameel

    April 3, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    Another advice I would give muslim kids in high school is not to bring life in there. Why does high school usually= a’oodhobillah? Because people drag in their social life in there and make bad friends, they drag in their love life and have boyfriend/girlfriends and about everything else. If a muslim kid goes to school to learn and gives a good example by being nice and just chill without compromising their deen; high school should be fine. Make friends in the halaqas you join and just seek everything else but education outside of high school in khair environments…. That’s what really makes a mislim kid special in my opinion; balance in the right places.

  11. Nur

    April 3, 2011 at 8:51 PM

    Being an American, Turkish, Bengali Muslim girl in America is lots of fun sometimes. I know about the cultures in America, Turkey and Bangladesh and enjoy studying about their history.

    As a Muslim, I have studied a lot of Prophet Muhammad’s (S) life. I think about how he grew up as an orphan and think about the orphans I know where I live. I also think about Rasulullah (S) went through and think how patient he was all the time. And I often imagine what it must have felt like to live in the hot desert life in Mecca and Medina. And when I think about that, I can’t complain about the heat in the summer. :)

    Since my parents are Turkish and Bengali, I am also exposed to those cultures, as well. Though I can’t speak either language, I can catch snitch-snatches of conversations, which I think is very beneficial for me. Insha Allah, I will learn both languages completely once my Arabic is fluent.

    Besides language, I also love the food that my mom makes which are mixtures of Turkish food and Bengali food. She always says that when Turkish people visit, they call our food Bengali and when Bengali come to visit, they call out food Turkish.

    Besides being Turkish and Bengali, I also remember that I am American everyday. Well, obviously I do since I live in America. Even though America doesn’t have a really long history, I enjoy learning about it as much as I can. Less than half of my history learning comes from textbooks, though. I read all kinds of storybooks about history like the American Girl series when I was little, the American Adventure series, History Mysteries, Dear America, etc.

    And once I learn all these facts I enjoy telling my brothers stuff like “Your birthday is the birthday of the Boston Massacre.” When I told my brother that, he groaned and said, “What?!” I was a bit disappointed at that because I was hoping that he wouldn’t know what the Boston Massacre was so I could explain it to him.

    I also like to think about what it must have felt like to be Laura Ingalls Wilder in the late 1800s.

    I live in Delaware, the second smallest state in the US. The main thing I don’t like about it is that it gets cold but it barely snows at all throughout the winter. When my penpals in Bangladesh told me that they never saw snow in their entire lives, I decided that I couldn’t complain about snow anymore, but I still do sometimes.

    Delaware doesn’t have very great school systems, but that doesn’t really matter because my siblings and I are homeschooled. When my cousin from Germany came for three months to attend a high school here, she told us all about it. My brothers were shocked that no one did their homework in her class. Even though we were already glad that we’re homeschooled, we became even more glad.

    My favorite things to do are to read storybooks and to practice my Arabic with whoever is online at the same time that I am. I don’t like going out much unless there’s snow, but I go to the Masjid at least once a week. There, I love to try to figure out what the Imam is saying while he leads the prayer. I am grateful that he recites slowly so I can process each word he says in my brain to try to figure out the meaning of it.

    Unlike most other girls I see in the Masjid and in our weekly halaqa, I don’t like to talk a lot and I don’t like to shop in the mall.

    With five siblings in the house, we often get into disagreements and squabble with each other. Sometimes I try to stop them, but that barely ever works. The toughest thing for me to do is to try to be nice to my siblings when they are making me extremely frustrated. Over the years of the being the eldest, I have practiced being patient. Insha Allah I will get better than I have been doing. :)

    And those are some things about being an American Turkish Bengali Muslim in the US.

    • sisterS

      April 4, 2011 at 12:49 PM

      as- salamualikum nur. subhanallah, as I read your response I hold onto each letters! I felt as if my future daughter may be expressing her thoughts. I am like your mother, I am a Bengali married to a Turkish. I was trying to picture your mother cooking mix dishes, thats what I do :-) only that most Turkish guests think I cook mostly Turkish food, and most Bengali guests think I am becoming more Turkish. :-)))) Alhumdulillah for both communites, I love them all.
      Please convey my salaam to your parents! I wish to meet your mother one day, inshaAllah!!! I am not too far from your family, I live in Central PA. Take care Nur and best of luck to you being a older sister. Allah yardimci olsun, Allaha Emanet ol :-)

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