Islamic day care centers and preschools help children learn basic social skills and religion.
Jim Wallis -- chief executive of Sojourners, an organization advocating for a Christian approach to social justice issues -- calls parenting a "counter-cultural activity," and this is especially true for American Muslim parents. Raising children who are secure in their faith and confident enough to be different while growing up will be a challenge for you and them. Surrounding your children with positive influences and giving them a chance to express their curiosity about their classmates and neighbors won't guarantee that your kids will be as devout as you'd like. It will help them see their faith as something to guide them and not an excuse you invented to deny them pepperoni pizza.
1Identify the Islamic values that you want your child to adopt. America is home to a religiously diverse Muslim community, and the teachings that you follow may not always match that of a local mosque or Islamic school.
2Gather Islamic resources on parenting. These will help you with Muslim parenting challenges, including explaining non-Muslim holidays, teaching your children to politely refuse food items that might be haram (forbidden for Muslims), and help you develop solutions for more complex problems. The works of Drs. Ekram and Mohamed Rida Beshir are a good place to start. Ask if your local mosque or school offers parenting seminars.
3Connect with other Muslim parents in your community whose values align with your own. American mosques sometimes have mothers' groups. If your nearest mosque is too far away for you to attend regularly, or you don't quite "click" with nearby families, join an online community such as Muslim Mom's Cafe or Muslim Parents Network.
4Make worship and religious study a regular part of family life. Children will learn from your example more than your words alone.
5Involve your kids in creating new American Muslim traditions. While it's important that they connect with your home culture if you or your husband is an immigrant, there is room to add new ways to celebrate American Muslim life. Make homemade decorations for Ramadan. Throw a party when your little one memorizes a new chapter of the Qur'an. Hang banners on your porch to welcome those returning from Hajj.
6Welcome the questions your child will probably have about other faiths. Your child is likely to ask about holiday decorations or the purpose of a nearby house of worship. Curiosity does not mean that your child will be any less devout as an adult. If you don't know the answer to a question, search for it with your child by your side. Islamic source texts refer to the importance of seeking knowledge, and showing your child that you value her curiosity is the best way to communicate a key Islamic value.
- Reach out to American Muslims who have experiences that differ from your own. You and your child will grow spiritually as you connect with Muslims from all walks of life.Children may have day care or preschool activities that are connected with a non-Muslim religious holiday. If this is unacceptable to you, consider an Islamic day care or preschool.