Growing Up As A Muslim in USA
by Eyad Hennawy
Growing up in America is a challenge for young Muslims like us. Most likely, either you or your parents were raised somewhere in the Middle East. A place where azan is called, where mosques are around every corner, and everyone greets each other with salaam, regardless of their language. On the other hand, America is a completely different story. You do not have the luxury that the Middle East provides; the experience to learn and grow in this kind of environment. But you may be asking yourself “Why is this so important?” As Muslims, it’s important to keep our connection with Allah close and making sure we do the right thing. Instead in America, we are treated with the complete opposite; things that catch our attention, jump out at us and distract us away from our religion. We begin to lose this critical touch is unique to us to all these distractions. For example, let’s take a child. If the child was to be raised in the Middle East, he would learn and acquire these values naturally. He would know suras from the Quran, how to pray, and the times of the prayer. Not to mention the holidays like Eid and Ramadan in which almost everyone participates in. But in America, most of these things are difficult to do. School and English would interfere with a child’s learning habits and the constant exposure would cause him to gravitate more towards it rather than Arabic, the language of the Quran. Additionally, this would put more stress and constant pressure on the parents as they have to ensure and fulfil their duty to teach their child right.
Fortunately, programs like the AMCC Peace Academy are aiming to resolve this problem. Growing up, I was also stuck in this awkward position. I used to know more Arabic than English but ever since I was introduced to school, it started to become the opposite. And as you get older, time becomes much more precious than it was before. My parents were quick to realize this, and made full endeavors to make sure I don’t fall behind. They taught me many suras from the Quran and explained to me what they all mean. They taught me all the letters of the Arabic alphabet and what they look like when making words. This kind of care towards our language and religion is something we should all pursue. We need to make sure what makes Islam so special is not lost. Together, we are working to ensure that this is not the case for the future generations to come.