A couple of months ago, I wrote about our decision to enroll my son in Islamic Sunday School, and how we had searched hard for one that incorporated both our Muslim values and progressive views. It’s now been over 2 months that my son has been attending his classes, and I am very pleased with the outcome. The environment of the school is academically rigorous while at the same time being open, friendly and kid-oriented. The founders of the school incorporate a lot of the Montessori principles into the structure, and given that’s what my little boy is used to, he’s adjusted quickly and happily to the teachers and curriculum.
One of the consequences of my son’s new religious knowledge has been a deluge of questions about Allah (the Arabic word for "God")that he has been bombarding us with especially over the past few weeks. Allah’s all-powerful, all-seeing characteristics have obviously piqued my little one’s interest and there’s lots he wants to know.
My mom was an Elvis fan and had this magnet on her fridge in NB (I’m getting back to the God questions in a minute). When we sold the house, I held on to the magnet as it reminded me of Mum. We have a lot of family photos on my fridge, and it appears that my kids now consider Elvis to be "family" – sort of. They often look at the magnet and ask questions about Elvis – like how did I know him, was he my uncle, where does he live etc. A few days ago, this conversation occurred in my kitchen:
"Mum, do all people go back to Allah when they die." "Yes, they do."
"What do they do there – are there toys there?" "Ummm, I don’t know – I’m sure there are lots of fun things to do there, but you don’t have to worry about that for a long time."
"But, do they get to see their friends and family over there?" "Yes, all the people who have passed before them will be waiting for them, and excited to see them."
"So, when I die, will I get to hang out with Elvis?"
Oh my. And this is only the beginning.
I’m happy that my son is asking a lot of questions – we encourage our kids to question everything – in my opinion, that’s how you learn and form your own opinions and identity. He’s in the process of forming his own perspective on Islam, and I hope that with the combination of school and an ongoing dialogue at home, he will cultivate an informed, educated perspective. Muslim identity is a hot discussion topic lately – progressive voices are crying out to be heard in the face of rising fundamentalism and an increasing media portrayal of Muslims as terrorists. I’m happy that a more moderate voice is now being articulated in the media. It’s an interesting time for my kids to be coming to terms with their Muslim identity.
Here’s something interesting I found on Youtube – part of a new campaign to remedy the current stereotypes of Muslims being perpetrated in the media (largely American media, I should specify).