Being a Muslim Dad

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Being a Muslim, and being British in the 1980’s as a young high school child in the North of England endures a mark difference in what a Muslim child is experiencing today.

I remember opening up my spicy kebab sandwich on a high school trip to the Dales and getting sarcastic innocent comments. What about memories about fearing walking across the science school corridor and being called a Paki. That was tolerable. 

In hindsight, fast forward 30 years, the same school is dominated by nearly all Indian and Pakistani Muslim children. By the mid-90’s, most White British Batley parents had moved their children well away from Muslim children. And this was well before the media started taunting the Islamic image after 9/11.

With Islam being on the headlines daily and having to explain the actions of people across other parts of the world, who these youngsters have little in common with, except sharing the same religion – the young Muslim life is much more difficult than it was for me.

As a Muslim parent, I want to be clear in my mind that the upbringing of my children depends on my values and my wife’s values and definitely is not the responsibility of a government, the Police or some agency who wants to remove my freedoms in the claim of liberty. I definitely am not that ignorant to believe the claim.

I also want to make a distinction between religion and cultural baggage. I want to be clear in my mind the boundaries between these two dichotomies and I want my children to see this distinction. This will help my children develop their Britishness – yet be Muslim.

As children reach teenage years, the building of identity and its pronouncing is more usual. Can you be British and Muslim at the same time? For the vulnerable minds, their Britishness can be in doubt with the hostile media on their backs.

In addition, the present education curriculum is not helping. Learning of British history is paramount and always will be, but I do sometimes think why is it that seven hundred years of European History in Muslim Spain (711 to 1492) is omitted? Muslim Spain brought civilisation to the country. There, Muslims, Christian and Jews lived and benefited from each other. And let’s not be clouded, there were restrictions placed on the other two religions but generally for the time and era, Muslim Spain offered some great conditions to live in than the rest of Europe.

Surely, we have some key lessons to learn on how these three groups could have lived in social cohesion for the majority of time. All three worked together for the flowering of a culture. If we draw the lessons from this important part of European history, then British Muslim children can integrate and contribute positively to this great nation that has offered me, my parents and family so much, a privilege no family can deny without paranoia or threat. 

Why can we not vision a day when this present darkness can be shod by love between us, that one day all children are not judged by his creed but by his character and his moral conduct with one another, in peace as brothers and sisters.

What are your thoughts?

MR G Dabhad is a tutor in Bradford