Archive for the ‘youth’ Category

Islamic Entertainment for our Children

“Each of you is a shepherd and each of you shall be asked about his flock”

Bukhari and Muslim

 I am always worried about what my child watches on television. I do not stop him from watching television completely as I feel that could have  negative results.  However, I try and  provide a controlled environment in which he can only watch DVDs and programs which I have approved.  This summer I have been on the look out for quality Islamic shows for him to watch and enjoy.

As a Muslim convert I have realized over the years that as a mother watching her child grow would also mean being able to hand down the importance of knowledge through books and interactions with other children his age group. Alhamdulillah, as society continues to change with the times so has the importance of Islamic media. Thus, in the past few years many products for children have been produced.

I have compiled a list of my favorite Islamic entertainment products for children to share with other parents who have similar concerns. People may differ over the permissibility of these products (music, animation, etc) but this is not the forum for that.

Stories of the Prophets – Yusuf Estes

PEACE TV has produced some of the best Islamic shows for children. The first one to make this list is Stories of the Prophets. Yusuf Estes is perfect as an Islamic teacher for children, looking like a jolly grandfather and with a very good sense of humor, he keeps the children entertained while teaching them the stories of the prophets (peace be upon them) and many valuable lessons from each story. This is a very important show to let your children watch and one of many reasons why I recommend PEACE TV for every Muslim home.

 Whiz Kids & Wonder Kids

Other entertaining shows on PEACE TV are Whiz Kids and Wonder Kids, both feature performances by the children of the IIS (International Islamic School) in which the children deliver lectures, sing nasheeds, act out plays and overall provide good entertainment and lessons for children. I really like these shows because they provide positive role models for Muslim children, as your children can grow up watching practicing Muslim children on television.

Hooray for Baba Ali

Young people and teenagers are entertained and learn a lot through Baba Ali’s Reminder series, but for the little ones, there is Hooray for Baba Ali. A series of short videos in which Baba Ali entertains the kids by behaving like a child (more like a Muslim version of Mr. Bean) while teaching them many important lessons including obedience to parents, cleanliness, kindness to animals and so much more.

The Zaky Series

Islam Productions child division One4Kids have hired quality animators to put together a series of DVDs with an Islamic ethos about a purple bear named Zaky. There is so much to praise about this series. The animation is of the highest quality, the knowledge passed on is approved by scholars and authentic, there are no musical instruments and it is very well scripted. The best DVD in this series thus far is Time to Pray with Zaky which teaches children how to perform Wudhu, Tayyamum and Salah as well as many other lessons along the way. This DVD taught my children how to pray before they were two years old and at the moment they are learning their duas and surahs from this movie. If you don’t have this DVD in your collection, get it now. At the moment, we are eagerly awaiting the DVD release of the next Zaky movie in which he deals with protecting the environment

Muhammad (pbuh): The Final Prophet

It is hard to choose between the Message, the Final Legacy (series on Islam Channel) or the animated movie Muhammad: The Final Prophet. All three tell the Seerah beautifully, but since this is a list for children, I will go with the animated movie as the best way to teach your children the basic Seerah. The movie is well-animated, has good voice acting, an excellent script and tells all the major events of the Seerah with many moral lessons in just one and a half hours. I find this movie perfect as an introduction to the Seerah for children, Non-Muslims and new converts.

Insha’Allah, if you have something to add to this list of resources, please feel free to share your media experiences with your children. I would love to got to know more of your favorite places to visit with your children.

Jazakallahukhair!

A parental point of view

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As my child is nearing the age of understanding, I am finding it critical to be on the alert for anything that could possibly send a confusing message(s). Thus, with December just around the corner and the festive holiday decorations throughout stores or schools will raise many questions among our young Muslim children. I found the following article as a step that will help me help my child to better understand an approach to explain non-Muslim holidays such as Christmas. I found the article to be to the point and concise about the importance of bringing an awareness to a child’s life about events that may affect their religious beliefs and practices.

 Call a Meeting about Christmas

Source: Soundvision

With the ubiquitous decorations, Santa Claus beckoning, and classmates anxiously awaiting their presents, your kids are probably wondering once again: what’s the big deal about Christmas?

Some of them may have just accustomed themselves to the yearly celebration. Younger kids may be feeling curious, jealous even, of all of the excitement surrounding the event.

This is why it’s critical to share the Islamic perspective on Christmas with your kids. Even if they know what it’s about, they may feel left out, pressured, or even confused about it and where they stand as Muslims. Here are some ways to bring it up with them.

1.              Call a family meeting

While you can talk about the issue individually, the benefit of getting everyone together is that they can find out how different age groups are handling it. Dealing with Christmas in the office is different from facing it in high school or elementary school.

2.              Start with the recitation of the Quran

Begin with a recitation of Surah Al Fatiha, the first chapter of the Quran. Follow it up with a recitation of Surah al-Ikhlas, the 112th chapter of the Quran. Make sure the translations of both are read out loud. You can have each recitation done by a different family member.

3.              Get to know the territory

Have everyone share what kids at school, coworkers at the office, or the neighbors have been saying about Christmas. Whether it’s plans to go to church for Mass, visiting relatives, or getting lots of gifts under the Christmas tree, get as much information as possible so that each point can be addressed.

4.              Discuss Muslim and Christian beliefs about Jesus, peace be upon him.

Knowing these similarities and differences will teach them to respect beliefs different from their own. Ignorance only fuels misunderstanding. It will be good for parents to read our article about similarities and differences in the Christian and Islamic belief in Jesus, peace be upon him.

5.              Explain the need for multicultural understanding

The USA is a rich mosaic of colors, cultures and backgrounds. There are more than 80 million people of color in America.  There are followers of Native American faiths, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs who live in the US and practice their faith, while the majority of people here are born into the Christian faith. Each religious group has its celebrations and festivals. Just as Christians have their Christmas, for instance, Muslims have their Eids. It’s important for Muslims to know about Christmas, just as we expect people of other faiths to know about Eid.

6.              Stress the importance of respect for other faiths in Islam

Share how Islam has taught us to respect others’ beliefs and faith traditions, emphasizing that disagreement must never amount to disrespect. Use examples from the life of Prophet Muhammed, peace and blessings be upon him, to show how he gave the utmost respect to other religious groups by allowing them to pray in his own mosque and by instituting the freedom of religion and self-governence in the constitution of Madinah.

7.              Emphasize the respect for Jesus and all Prophets in Islam

Explain how every Prophet in Islam is treated with dignity and respect. One example is how we say ‘peace be upon him’ after each of their names. Another is how they are highly praised by God in the Quran. Jesus, peace be upon him, is important because belief in him can serve as a bridge between Muslims and Christians.

8.           Talk about gifts and decorations

You can’t talk about Christmas without discussing these two elements of the celebration. Don’t be surprised if your kids share feelings of longing for presents and pretty decorations.  Ask them what would make Eid, their holiday, special for them. Gifts? A trip? This should lead to a lively discussion and great ideas that you can implement next Eid Insha Allah (God willing).

9.              Respecting others does not mean compromising your faith

Islam is a unique faith which asks Muslims to believe in all the Prophets, recognize all the Scriptures given to them, respect all other faiths, and not force our faith on anyone else. But at the same time the Prophet Muhammed himself, Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, asked us to be firm about our faith and its practices. Respect for other beliefs never means compromising our faith. God given freedom to practice our religion is also embodied in the constitution of the United States which allows freedom of religion to all citizens. It is in recognition of this freedom and the celebration of diversity in the US that the post office issued the Eid Mubarak stamp as it did for other celebrations.

10.           Make the meeting interactive

Family meetings should not be just lectures by an adult. Although the topics for this meeting are all serious, you can turn them into interactive sessions based on the age of the children attending. You may decide to do two meetings instead of one.

11.           Putting this all into practice

When we tested this meeting concept and format in our editor’s home, it went very well. The youngest participant was eight years old, was the most active and knew most of the stuff, thanks to the other meetings and the Islamic schools he attends. However, the meeting reinforced the messages which we wanted to come across and the evening ended with a storytelling session with all the lights off. It was fun!

 

Writing for a Purpose

Thoughts

Open Letters, Open Hearts

Personal Letters from Muslims to Family, Friends and Others

Working Title: Open Letters, Open Hearts

Narrative Author/Editor: Christine (Amina) Benlafquih

Publisher: An-Najm Publishers, London, UK

Deadline for Submissions: January 31, 2008 (see Guidelines below)

About the Book

The anthology-style Open Letters, Open Hearts will feature heartfelt letters written by Muslims who appeal to their family, friends and others to open their hearts and minds to the message of Islam.

Most of us have been touched and inspired by an emotional piece of writing. Something as simple as a greeting card or as lengthy as a novel can successfully evoke emotion in a reader. Whether raw and direct, or gentle and persuasive, the power of the written word can not be denied. 

Muslims worldwide are invited to use this power and compose open letters which address the people and unique circumstances in their own lives from an Islamic perspective.  Whether differences need to be solved, religious issues explained, or concern expressed about someone’s harmful life choices, a letter allows the writer to convey sincerity and present Islamic values and teachings in a positive, relevant light.

Although Muslims naturally wish for others to recognize the truth of Islam, one of the main objectives of Open Letter, Open Hearts is to appeal to the emotional ties that connect us to family, friends and humanity in general. It is hoped that people of all faiths will find common ground with Muslims through the personal stories and situations revealed in the letters. Inshaa’ Allah, this connection will help open the door to better understanding of Muslims and Islam’s true teachings. 

The Open Letters, Open Hearts project was born of the editor’s desire to meet her personal da’wah obligation and help her non-Muslim family better understand her decision to embrace Islam.  All Muslims have a religious duty to give da’wah (invite others to Islam through teaching or example of good actions).  However, many Muslims are uncomfortable doing so, either due to inhibition or because family and friends aren’t open to such discussion.

Da’wah is not only directed at non-Muslims. Born-Muslims often find themselves dealing with family and friends who either don’t practice the religion at all, or neglect certain aspects of it.

Submitting an open letter to the anthology – and inshaa`Allah directly to the person(s) to whom it is addressed – offers a positive step towards meeting our da’wah obligation.

Submission Guidelines

– Please limit your letter to 1200 words or less.

– Submissions must be in English.  Proofread your letter carefully for spelling and grammar. Poorly written submissions will not be considered.

– You may submit more than one Open Letter, but each letter must be submitted separately.

– Letters may be written to an individual or a group (i.e. an entire family, colleagues, neighbors, etc.).

– Although general content to promote understanding of Islam is acceptable, letters which address very unique, personal situations are most likely to be selected.  For example, a revert to Islam may feel the need to explain his reversion to an angry family member. A born Muslim might want to clarify to her mother why some of her “Islamic” cultural practices are actually not compatible with the true teachings of Islam. Another writer might address a friend’s alcohol or gambling addiction. 

– Open Letters of a political nature or letters which address a vast group of people (i.e. letters addressed to the West, all Americans, world leaders, etc.) will be considered only if the content and message will outlive today’s current events.

– Whatever the letter’s theme, the content must contain relevant and correct Islamic perspective or teaching. Passages from the Holy Qur’an and Ahadeeth should be referenced.

– Write from the heart. Letters with a strong emotional component are highly desired.  References to personal events and family history will help evoke memories and stir emotion in all readers.

– The tone of the letters should be kind, informative and non-judgmental. Hateful or inflammatory language will immediately disqualify a submission.

– Any topic is welcome, as long as the writer successfully relates it to Islam. Possible topics include:

– Culture versus religion

– Comparison of Christianity and Islam

– Explanation of conversion/reversion

– Incompatibility of the Trinity with Islam

– Infinite Mercy of God

– Women in Islam

– Islamic appearance and dress

– Comparison of the Torah, the Bible, and the Qu’ran

– Current events and terrorism

Tawheed and the belief in One God

– Islam’s views of Jesus and Maryam, peace be upon them

– Harmful lifestyle choices and practices

– Polygany

– Concept of submission to Allah

– Non-Muslim and Islamic holidays

– Rights of parents and children

– Tenets of Islam

– Commonalities and differences between Christianity and Islam

Shirk and the association of others with Allah

How to Submit

Submissions must be made electronically by email to OpenLetters.OpenHearts@yahoo.com.  Please write “Submission” in the subject line.  

Include only one submission per email.

Use double spacing and select a 12 pt. Roman font (such as Times New Roman).

Save your document as a Word file (.doc) or Rich Text Format (.rtf) and attach it to the email.  (Please do not copy and paste your submission into the body of the email.)

Include the following information on the first page of your submission.  Copy and paste the header directly into your document.

Your name

Nationality

Email address

City/State/Country of Residence

Introduction

The introduction should be a sentence or short paragraph which offers background to your letter. An example might be: I am an American Muslim convert of 14 years writing a letter to my brother, who is considering converting to Judaism.

Privacy and Anonymity

Your privacy and that of your family and friends is important. If your letter is selected, you will be asked what name you would like to be published under (real name, first name, kunya or pseudonym).  Names, localities, and other details which help identify the addressee(s) will be changed when needed to protect their privacy.

Payment

As this is a da’wah project to promote better understanding of Islam and Muslims, the publisher, editor and contributors will receive no monetary compensation. Writers of letters selected for publication will receive two copies of the printed anthology.

About the Narrative Author/Editor

Christine (Amina) Benlafquih is a freelance writer and the current publications officer of the Islamic Writers Alliance.  A former publications and public relations director, she accepted Islam in 1993. She lives in Morocco with her husband and six children.

Contact Information

If you need more information, please contact the editor at OpenLetters.OpenHearts@yahoo.com.

What’s up with manners?

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“It takes a village to raise a child.”

If it does take a village to work with families, to raise a child and endure the tribulations in life how are we to influence the contemporary village to enable our children to flourish? There has been a change in this contemporary village relating to the people we share the village with. In many instances, we no longer chat with our neighbors(as a souherner this would mean on our porches over a glass of lemonade or brewed ice tea or at the local store). Today, we wander tediously around shopping malls. We don’t live in an environment where it is safe to leave our homes unlocked and let our children play in our front yard.

Child development is personal and I am  not in a position to offer any definitve answers but I am rather raising questions to reflect on. What constitutes a family? Is a single individual with a child a family? What value or benefit does the family bring to society? Controversial issues with different points of views but we can agree that family is a network that supports and affects our lives. So where am I going with all of this.

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