2 days ago
Today Middle School students hosted a special guest speaker visit! Mr. Julius Johnson is founder of the Newberry Foundation in Georgia and he told us his story about being an American who first heard the adhan in a small mosque in Taif and after following the sound he found what he was looking for- the presence of God. Mr. Johnson also spoke about the African-American experience through history and how it is important stand firm in our identity, making it our own. We will continue to talk more about what shapes identity and how we can be more responsible about learning about each other's experiences and realities.
4 days ago
3rd Graders hosted a very special publishing party today for parents today! After researching selected animals, each student wrote a report, presented findings on a tri-fold, wrote a fiction story including their animal and created artistic dioramas depicting the animal's habitat. Ayaat from the Quran completed their study of animal behavior. We read mysteries, comedies, suspense, and non fiction stories about all sorts of animals written by very enthusiastic, well informed, and passionate authors! And check out the grub buckets of related food!
5 days ago
What a gathering of baraka and rahma on Saturday! We celebrated our love for the Prophet with songs, Quran and salawat. An outline of the Prophet's sandal was surrounded by messages of how we follow in his footsteps and what we love most about him. A Senegalese group of munshids joined us to sing poetry from Shaykh Ahmadou Bamba, a scholar and pacifist resistor of oppression who founded a town in West Africa devoted to building stronger connections to Allah ta'ala and beloved Muhammad (s). He wrote 10s of thousands of verses about the Prophet and we were blessed to hear them in our newly painted musalla. Allahumma salli 'ala sayyidina Muhammad. Oh Allah shower blessings and peace upon our beloved Muhammad ﷺ
Brothers from the Senegalese community singing poetry of Shaykh Ahmadou Bamba who lived 100 years ago in West Africa. Our hearts were filled with the love for Rasulallah with this poetry and duas recited in Arabic.
7th Grade Civics annual trip to Richmond was a success! We met with our local and State representatives- Delegate Sam Rasoul - who reminded us to be intentional in our work for equality for all; Delegate Jennifer B. Boysko - who first became an activist in 5th grade advocating for girls to have the same opportunity to be crossing guards like boys; Delegate David Reid, and Delegate John Bell to talk about issues of concern- plastic bags usage, minimum wage vs living wage, the intersection near school needing a traffic light, and why cashiers are not given seats to rest on. We were recognized from the House Floor for our work in social justice and peace! And we had a special treat meeting the new First Lady of Virginia Mrs. Pam Northam at the Governor's Mansion! She told us about their pet chickens (outside the mansion!) and as a former science teacher encouraged us to pursue studies in many interesting related fields.
We were so excited to be a part of doing something kind during of our days of service today! Thank you KindWorks for giving us the opportunity to put our hands and hearts to work and make an apartment turn into a home for the newly arriving family.
We delivered cookies to our neighbors today as part of our service efforts. So glad to have neighbors like Shelter House doing important and needed work for all communities!
How to talk to your children about being Muslim
Muslim American parents face the frightening prospect of their children confronting harassment at school, or being questioned about their faith. Studies have found that Muslim youth face bullying at twice the rate of their peers. Last week, U.S. Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch encouraged parents to contact the Department of Education and the Department of Justice if their children are threatened. Below, Afeefa Syeed, an educator and parent based in the Washington, D.C., area, shares some guidelines she developed for her community.
It's toughest for the young ones who look at pictures of the bad guys and say, "But Mama, he looks like me."
Our American Muslim children are growing up in a world of warped lunacy that takes what they know about a beloved prophet or God and turns it into reasons for anguish. And the frustrations are even greater when young ones watch the news or are witness to confrontations that end with their asking, “Daddy, why does that man say I’m going to hell?”
As Muslim parents and teachers, we feel a heaviness in our hearts about the world and because of this hopelessness and helplessness, we are stripped of the superpowers usually assigned to us in those little eyes. Nevertheless, our children are an amana, a trust for us to keep safe while we have them in our care. Being present with them and understanding their feelings is the heart of parenting in this complex and difficult time.
In order to be conscientious and responsive parents, American Muslims might think of the following elements that are becoming part of our new normal:
Deal with our own emotions
As parents, we are sad, angry, confused, frustrated. It is important to acknowledge these emotions and empathize with one another so we can respond to the needs of our children. Even without knowing what we know, children pick up cues from our behavior and emotional state to then be in a state of disorientation themselves.
Actively listen to our children
Parents need to learn what their children know and feel. Some kids may have snippets of information, others are essentially clueless. Be present and be aware so your children feel connected when they do ask questions. Create opportunities for check-ins as a family to ask how they feel, what their day has been like with specific questions about friends, teachers and relationships.
Talk about what it is to be Muslim, and let them ask questions
Instead of only focusing on “that’s not who we are,” use this as an opportunity to reinforce and reclaim who we are as Muslims. Whether it’s in the family or a Muslim school like ours, we need to create environments where they feel comfortable asking questions, and sharing doubts and concerns. It’s really a series of teachable moments -- “Let’s talk about what [prophet Muhammad] did when he had disagreements.” “How does the Koran tell us we are supposed to treat each other?”
It comes down to taking tools from the faith to counter how it is being misused. We can use the power of prayer and fasting, knowing that God is the source of peace, protection and love to counter the hate, violence and insecurity swarming around us. When children see parents model their faith as a way to be stronger than what surrounds them, their sense of belonging to something greater than themselves reassures them.
Find the positive, be the change
These are trying times to be sure, but we have to point out to our children where there is goodness in the world, regardless of nationality, religion or background. Parents can model random acts of kindness for children to bolster how we can contribute goodness to the world. Get to know neighbors, clean up streets, participate in interfaith activities to truly exemplify the undeniable identity we share as Americans who are integral threads in the fabric of our country.
Afeefa Syeed, a cultural anthropologist, is founder and head of school of Al Fatih Academy, a school with a curriculum based on peace and civic education and integrated learning. She has served as a senior advisor at the U.S. Agency for International Development and as a scholar consultant for the Carter Center, as a research associate with Cambridge University’s Institute on Religion and International Studies, and as a senior fellow and an advisory council member for the Institute for Global Engagement’s Center for Women, Faith & Leadership. Additional tips on talking with American Muslim children about current events can be found here.
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