Islamic Renaissance

A Voice for the Muslim Freedom Struggle

We Are Failing Muslim Children

It goes something like this. We bring a tiny innocent soul into the world, we shower them with all the love and affection we can find, we put our heart and soul into raising them as good Muslims, and we instill within them hopes and dreams about their future, but somewhere down this road, we fail them.

We fail them because although we teach them all about Allah, about heaven and hell, about good deeds and bad deeds, about the Prophets and the Sahabas, we never teach them their role in this world. We never teach them what it means to be a Muslim in 2017.

We raise them in a vacuum; we shield them with what I like to call the “happy clappy Muslim syndrome”. We revere in the beauty of Islam, we build within them a strong connection to Allah, we make Islam fun through activities and games, but we never prepare them for what’s to come once they step outside their comfort zone and face the big bad world.

Because the truth is, no matter how much you try to protect them, no matter how hard you try to get them to love Islam, no matter how much time you spend building their god consciousness, it will all fall apart once they wake up and find themselves to be members of the most hated community on earth.

It will all come crumbling down once they learn that the narrative they’ve spent their entire lives learning, is a lie. You see we feed our children a false narrative, we teach them that all they need to do to be happy is to worship Allah, do good deeds, to pray and fast, to trust in Allah when life gets tough, and we promise them heaven at the end of it. We teach them that they are special because they follow the truth, and we tell them that they are guaranteed success if they live their lives out as good Muslims, but this is nothing but a lie.

We try to protect them and shield them, but really we send them into the world completely unprepared, and as a result of this, their narrative is shattered, their entire identity is called into question, and they are forced to undergo a period of cognitive dissonance, the result of which is completely unpredictable, and leaves our children vulnerable to either walking away from Islam, or worse, allowing others to take advantage of them.

Let me give you an example to prove this, studies conducted on the psychological impact of war on children shows us that when Palestinian children were struck with missiles, or when they lost a parent or sibling to Israel’s brutal bombings, their narrative and their sense of identity strengthened.

This is because from a very young age they were taught that their country, their heritage, and their people were under threat, they were taught that their survival was under threat, they were taught that they were victims of ethnic cleansing but despite this, they were the bravest human beings on earth, because in the face of ruthless persecution, in the face of complete abandonment by the international community, they never hid or ran away like cowards, they fought for their freedom, even if it meant resisting military tanks armed with nothing but a stone.

This is why, when they were personally afflicted, it didn’t break them, it strengthened them, it strengthened their faith in Allah, it increased their courage, and it led to greater defiance in the face of tyranny.

This is why we see children whose eyes know no fear, standing in front of tanks throwing stones, they are the epitome of what ideological freedom looks like, because they know exactly who they are, they were never fed lies, they were taught their role in the world from the moment they could understand, they were served their narrative on a plate, so when the time came, they embraced it.

On the other hand, when Israeli children were struck, even if they were not injured, their narrative completely crumbled, their identity fell apart, and everything they were ever taught was called into question. Because Israeli children were taught from a very young age, that they were “God’s chosen people” they were taught that they were special, that God promised them the land of Palestine, and as a result of this, they grew up with a sense of entitlement, one in which they would never feel unsafe, one in which safety was promised. So when the time came, they were left confused and traumatised.

This is why it’s so important that as well as teaching our children the aqeedah of Islam, the values of our faith, the stories of our Prophets and the bravery of our ancestors, that we also teach them what it means to be a Muslim in the climate we live in today. It’s important that we teach them about Islamophobia, about terrorism, about the geopolitical reality we live in, but most crucially, we must teach them their narrative.

The narrative that tells them that they are living in an era where the prophecies of our Prophet are no longer just words, they are the reality within which we breathe, the narrative that tells them that being a Muslim in this era is like holding onto a hot coal with our bare hands. [referring to the hadith in which the Prophet said “There will come a time when holding on to your imaan will be like holding onto hot coals” ~ Trimdhi]

The narrative that tells them that we are the most oppressed and demonised community on earth, but just like the communities that were persecuted before us, we have had enough, we are fighting for our freedom, we are standing up against oppression, we are speaking out against demonisation, and although a few people within our community wrongly react to years of state terrorism with terrorism of their own, this has nothing to do with Islam, and everything to do with our government’s oppressive foreign policies. We have absolutely nothing to apologise for, we have nothing to explain and nothing to prove. We have every right to defy our subjugation, to demand our freedom as equal human beings, through political activism, the arts, and our collective voice. The narrative that tells them that as Muslims, it is our job to propagate the truth, to strive for our freedom, to stand defiantly in the face of hatred, injustice, and oppression.

So let’s do justice to our children, let’s stop raising them in a void, and let’s start raising them within the belly of the beast, all at the same time, teaching them how to break free. Here’s to my daughter, I hope you read this one-day and know that your smile led me to write this. I love how your entire being radiates purity and happiness and I hope you never lose that, but I also know that you’ll need a lot more than that for what’s to come.

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