Living Islam Today
A Magazine for Muslim Americans
Vol. 1 Issue 1              Spring 1420/ 2000



page 2

          On a micro-level, Islam is a set of good habits. If correctly and humanely soothed within the system of young Muslim people, it will become an inextricable part of their personality.  As a Muslimah who grew up in one of the most bizarre corners of the United States, New York City, I know firsthand that it takes a battle of heart, mind, and spirit in order to survive with your Islamic identity intact. It also takes hard work and fortification of the soul. Adolescence is arduous enough with hormones surging through your body like a freight train out of control and having pop culture imagery vaulting wheelies in your head like a video game on overdrive. That's where parents come into play.
          Muslim parents have to become cognizant of the fact that their child does not live in a vacuum. Just because mommy and daddy love their little girl or boy doesn't mean that he/she will automatically germinate into a picture-perfect Muslim by the good graces of the heavens above. I think it's appropriate if I may interject a quote from one of my favorite student's feelings about his parents: "Wake up people." I know the parents reading this are thinking: "Why, this can't be true. I know exactly what my Ayesha and Umar do before, during, and after school." Once again, the harsh reality comes in. Parents, your questionable psychic abilities that may have worked once during your life , I am sorry to say, will not work now.

When was the last time I sat down with my child and talked about whatever was on his/her mind?

          Most Muslim parents' conceptualization of their child's behavior ranges from the idealistic and uninformed to being blind-sighted and ambivalent. As a community, we must begin to realize that just because we do not see evil that it doesn't exist. On the same note, it is also fair to state that just because we do not see good that it doesn't exist. Once again, the obvious is overlooked.
          Ask yourself: When was the last time I sat down with my child and talked about whatever was on his/her mind? When was the last time I explored some aspect of Islam with my child? Have I offered Salah with my child in the last week? Syllogistically, estrangement breeds contempt and suspicion while familiarity breeds awareness and dialogue. So, do you perceive your child as an alien or are you diplomatically together in spirit? It's true that warnings and advice can be hailed from mountaintops, yet if the listener does not take heed, the booming wails are like a cold, austere silence.
          Ironically, the loudest warnings seem to go unheard as illustrated by the following experience. Five years ago I remember speaking with a young Muslim boy of about 12 that I had observed was sitting alone during a break for 'Asr Salat at a Muslim conference. He was playing with a pocket electronic game and seemed hypnotically engrossed with the flashing lights and rhythmic beeps. I asked him why he wasn't with the other boys or even with his parents.
          He said something simple, albeit greatly disturbing, which I later witnessed in acute proportions throughout my experience as a teacher and counselor. He waved a set of three twenty dollar bills in my face and said in a defiantly strong voice: "I have this and my game. My dad told me to keep busy, and I don't need to be with those other boys." Those "other boys" were busy offering Salat. Truth lies in simple actions, and simple actions do not lie.

"I have this and my game."



previous page