Dr. Aneesah Nadir –
Muslim American families strive for a healthy, balanced family life just as their counterparts of other faiths. We experience the strains of life and living in a post 9/11 Islamophobic climate. We are also strengthened with a host of life’s blessings. This article is based on a speech entitled “Muslim Families: Strained and Strengthened in a Climate of Islamophobia,” shared with those who attended the 2015 Muslim Police Advisory Board’s pre Ramadan dinner.
Muslim American families experience the common worries and concerns of most parents and families these days. How will we afford the high cost of education? Will they achieve a good career or become successful business men and women in tough economic times? Will they meet good, compatible mates? Will they be good parents?
We also have worries unique to our current experience in America. Will our young people be misjudged or prejudged by negative media generalizations of Islam rather than the truth of Islam and the content of their character? Will they fall victim to extremists on both sides, those who want to draw them in to their cause misusing Islam to hurt people, as well as those who want to bully them or commit hate crimes against them?
Despite the strains and challenges we are strengthened by our faith and our belief in God. We are strengthened by strong family ties and by a community of friends who share our faith, as well as those of other faiths. We strengthen our youth with faith and hopefulness for a peaceful, and just future. We encourage them to be excellent students, balanced practitioners of our faith and understanding of others’ right to practice their faith. We want our young people to be good citizens and encourage them to make this a better society for everyone. Our youth and families are strengthened by a strong social network and faith community, many of whom are adopted relatives, who nurture and embrace us in good times and tough times, graduations, weddings, births, job losses and deaths.
We arm our families with protective factors, so that our young people will be resilient in the tough times ahead. To protect them against the challenges ahead we must spend time with them, talk with them about their experiences and be understanding of them. It is not easy to be young and Muslim in America these days. It is important to keep our children engaged in the family and in healthy youth activities with good mentors. We must spend more time face-to-face across the dinner table and less time with technology in between us.
With the help of Allah we must wrap our arms around our families and get to know our neighbors. We must work as Muslim Americans for peace and justice. To paraphrase Gandhi, “We will be the change we want to see in the world.”
This is an excerpt of a speech delivered by Dr. Aneesah Nadir for the Pre Ramadan Dinner hosted by the Arizona Muslim Police Advisory Board in June 2015. Dr. Nadir is a social worker, published author, speaker, retired social work professor and social entrepreneur. She serves as the president of the Islamic Social Services Association-USA headquartered in Arizona.