Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Raising Muslim Kids in the West

   I want to write about a topic very close to my heart and maybe some of you could share your feelings and your approaches to parenting. Being in a western country can be so full of freedom and opportunity but can come with pitfalls as well. I want my children to be Muslims and to be proud of their heritage and strong in their beliefs. I also want them to be well rounded and to be a part of the wider community that they live in as well. I want them to understand what is great about their religion but respect others with different beliefs. I guess I want what most parents want. I want my kids to be among the righteous creations of Allah. I want them to be successful and to be happy and to be good, kind people who Allah will love.

   It can be tricky to decide how to approach all of these things. If you live in a place where few other people wear hijab how do you introduce it to your daughters as something required of us as well as something that is for our benefit and as something beautiful and normal? It feels like a tough balancing act. I don't want to segregate my family from other people around us so much. My approach has been to educate my kids about their religion and heritage as much as I can at home and to be as much apart of their school life as I can be as well. I try to volunteer at the school  often as well as attending as many school events as I can. I think it helps knowing some of the other mothers as well as knowing many of the students. Plus, it helps because if I know some of the parents and children I have more opportunity to explain some of the things my kids don't do or take part in. It leaves less chance for people thinking you are rude or strange just because they don't understand your religion ;).  I like to think that it helps for other students to get used to seeing us and seeing a woman in hijab or muslims as something normal and hopefully as nice people. Other people have been so amazingly nice . . . I guess that is the way it should be but I know it isn't always the way it is unfortunately. The scariest thing in the world is those teenage years that I know can be unpredictable. InshaAllah we will be able to instill a love of the beauty and truth in Islam in our children and it will be something they can run to rather than rebel from. I like to stress choice over duty. I understand that we have obligations in Islam. What I mean is that I like to put emphasis on how my obligations benefit me. I choose Islam because it is the best life. It is a blessing in my life and not a burden.

    How do you approach these issues? Do any of you think it is difficult raising a Muslim family in the west? Do any of you think it offers a unique opportunity to flower in your beliefs? I guess like anywhere else we have fears and dangers as well as beautiful opportunities and promise


Dreamlife said...

I would think it's difficult raising a muslim family anywhere - not just the West. Muslim countries have their own issues - from tyrant rulers to distorted versions of you're not really safe anywhere. No ideal exists, and it won't be that way ever...until Dajjal is defeated and we have those 7 or so years when Nabi Eesa a.s. will spread peace throughout this world.

For us, the best we can do is make the best of wherever we are and try our best. And that starts with us being OUR very best in our deen - because as parents the most effective way to raise kids as righteous is for us to lead by example.

As for it being a 'unique opportunity' - absolutely. The religious freedom here in SA is supposedly among the best in the world - and as Muslims, it's said that we have better religious freedom here than in some Muslim countries.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with you Dreamlife

Anonymous said...

Assalamu alaikuum sister,

I am 22 years old and have an 8 month old sona nd I am 5 months pregnant with another son. I have already decided. My children will not be raised here. I am currently living in the UK and even though we are the main people influencing them in their younger years, like you said the teenage years will be very unpredictable. We will be moving to Algeria where my husband is from. Me myself I grew up in the Netherlands. Not only am I raised with a disorted view of islam by my Moroccan parents, but in my teenage years it was very hard for me to be a muslima. We all would like to be like our teenage classmates and friends, and I dont need to explain to you that the western way of living is just not decent. Here in the UK women walk around with jeans so short that you can see half their butt... As a married woman it's always a challange for me to walk outside with my husband. Not only do I feel ashamed, I also feel very uncomforatble and sad. My husband is a man and even though if he tries not to look, it's hard. Those asses (sorry) are just literaly shoved into your face 24 hours a day!! They have absolutely no manners and when they will start going to school we will not be the only ones raising our children anymore. The teachers, media and friends play a HUGE role in raising our kids no matter how hard we try. It also depends on your childs charachter etc. Why risk? Yes, Algeria is not perfect, but at least there is some decency and no one will stop you from trying to raise your child righteous. There is a better oppurtunity to raise your kids the right way in an islamic country than in a country such as the UK. We do not belong here anyway...