Telling my kids we don’t celebrate Christmas

I don’t celebrate Christmas. I never have and I’m fairly sure I never will. Growing up in Ottawa in the ’80s, my Christmas celebrating friends would often be shocked that December 25th was just another morning for me where I would sleep in and then go downstairs and watch cartoons with a bowl of cereal. I never felt like I was missing out though. I grew up being taught that Christmas just wasn’t a part of our Muslim traditions.

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Reading with Maryam – Discovering Muslim children’s books that delight and inspire

Some time ago, I complained to a friend that there were few good children’s books on Muslims or Islamic themes. I’m an American-born Muslim woman, and I was looking for books to share with my older daughter Maryam, then three. I wanted lively, upbeat bedtime books that would introduce her to our faith and identity while emphasizing universal values.
My friend, a thoughtful educator at a local Islamic school invited me to visit the school’s library. Unfortunately, that visit largely confirmed my dismal view.

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When our children ask about God

“If God made everything, the sun, the trees, the Earth, then … who made God?” “Where was I before God made me?” Zaynab, my five-year-old daughter, has been asking questions about faith, God and her purpose in the world at an ever-increasing rate. She is at that amazing, tender age where her universe of possibilities is expanding at lightning speed. . . . As a parent, my struggle is to preserve that innocence and keep her faith experience as joyful and wondrous as it is now. I realise, though, how difficult that is going to be.

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Boys hugging during Ramadan

Let the hunger games begin

Summertime and the living is easy—for those lucky enough to be sitting on a sun drenched beach while gentle ocean breezes waft serenely by and a handsome cabana boy brings a never ending supply of frozen drinks. For those of us cloistered at home with fasting children, not so much.

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Accidentally childfree

I never imagined that I would one day be discussing a childfree life, let alone my childfree life. I had never been taught to think of this as an option. We’re a family-centered lot, you see. So family-centered that any display of individual separateness is rarely encouraged. You belong to us and we belong to you. And in continuing this cycle of our us-ness, we must have children of our own, for our own.

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Homeboys: Deciding to be a stay-at-home-dad

This past Father’s Day I had a new appreciation for what it means to be a dad. Last July, I was blessed with a child who changed my perspective on life. There is something spiritual about seeing a baby who looks like you, has your smile, shares your mannerisms and calls you ‘Baba.’ Eleven months later, the miracle only gets clearer and more divine.

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Trust and the autistic child

I put Lil D on the bus this morning, like I do most school-day mornings. We walk out to the bus, often in semi-darkness before the day has broken, and I escort him to the steps of the bus. The bus matron takes over from there, guiding him to his seat and attaching his harness to the seat. Sometimes he is agitated, upset and crying. Other times he is calm and eager to go. As I silently pray Aytul Kursi (a verse from the Qur’an), I wave goodbye, tell him I love him, and wish him a good day at school. He jerkily waves back. And then he’s gone.

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Please help me: The child abuse epidemic

A little over a month ago, on April 17, a ten-year-old Muslim boy named Abdifatah Mohamud, was brutally murdered in Buffalo, NY by his stepfather—beaten to death more than 70 times with a rolling pin. The stepfather admitted to “…binding the boy’s hands, stuffing a sock into his mouth, duct taping the boy’s mouth and beating him to death.” Abidifatah himself had made two frantic calls to 911 the year before he died, pleading for help, but no one arrived at his home to investigate or intervene.The day of his death, he ran to a neighbor’s home asking for refuge, but she urged him to return home.

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Children are people too: Child abuse in Pakistan

As a student in Karachi, I met a 10-year-old boy who I’ll call Ali. Ali was a disruptive student; generally what we’d call a problem child or a nuisance. I believe that he came from an abusive home. Though we never talked about the physical abuse, he would occasionally come to school with fresh bruises on his arms and legs, and once even a black eye. The school administration was aware of the alleged abuse and they never took any action to address it; they did, however, hesitate to call Ali’s parents regarding disciplinary issues.

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