Friday, December 14, 2007

Yes, say it again, Uncle Sam!

Well, well well... This year is another hat trick year for God, with Hanukkah, Christmas and Eid-ul-Adha falling in the span of a couple of weeks. Needless to say, for us it is a time to reflect on the thorny mess that has as ingredients: State, Religion, Education, Culture, Heritage, Equality, Citizenship, etc. It is a long story, but it will be the subject of another post, or maybe a series of posts. This season we are again in the midst of an interesting experience with the kids' school, but that is part of the long story to come... In one turn of that story, Hannu found a very interesting article by a teacher and author of children books. She writes to raise awareness of Islamic holidays. She lives in Ohio, interestingly enough, but her research on the subject is quite broad based, and her findings probably resonate with parents all around the Western world.

A small request: Please share this article with your local school teachers and administrators. We did.

Say the Word Again? Eid
An author and teacher strives to raise awareness about the Islamic holidays

By Fawzia Gilani-Williams -- School Library Journal, 12/1/2007

When I visit public libraries and peruse resources on children’s holiday literature, I am always confronted with a glaring absence. The two major celebrations in the Muslim world, Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha (see explanation boxes), seem remarkably obscure in American libraries. If I am fortunate, I may find one or two nonfiction titles addressing the topic. While informational books on the Islamic holidays are few, fictional tales are even more scarce. Not surprisingly, very few teachers and librarians are familiar with them. When I recently asked a group of children librarians if they had ever heard of Eid, there was silence. “Say the word again?” said one librarian. Even my computer’s spell-check, which recognizes holidays like Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa, underlines Eid in red–highlighting it as a mistake.

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[Note: The article gives a link to a bibliography of Eid books for children, but that link is broken. I found the file, and you can view it in your browser, or download it as a Word document.]


  1. I remember when I was younger I did a school project on Islam, with a friend, that spanned for more than a week. Taking my class to a local Mosque and showing them the Movie " The Message" and showing them how to write in Arabic and make prayer mats etc. .
    At the time I was in primary school and all I knew was a result of what my parents had taught me of my culture and religion, of which I'm very proud, even with all its ills; as most people are of their culture.

    I totally agree with this part of the article :

    "By leaving out some children’s heritage while others are visible presents youngsters with an image of being undervalued or unimportant. Part of self-esteem and self-confidence is knowing where you fit into the world."

    As I have seen that happen to a lot of friends who were brought up with me; but whose parents used to stereotypically scorn Islam, Muslims and the Arabic language in front of them while praising the opposite .
    I guess teaching your children about their heritage and religion and culture becomes harder when you believe it to be that of terrorism and retardness.


  2. Greetings, PH. I get the jab, or maybe a couple jabs! lol lol. That's fine, and happy Eid to you, too. :-))) In short, I would say, teaching children about Islamic and Libyan heritage without addressing the ills, as you admitted, would not be teaching at all, it would be indoctrination. I would also add that I have seen some models where the children are taught they are superior to others, that "we" are right and "they" are wrong. Frankly, if one assumes a purely faithful position, then there is no escape from the "we're right, they're wrong" trap. The point here is really about citizenship, citizens rights, and the obligation of the state to all of its citizens. Kids with Muslim heritage growing up in America need to be taught their rights are no different from others, no less and no more, and their obligation goes both ways: to give/teach and to demand/learn. That tight rope is not easy to walk, and that's why I think a lot of people fall on one side or the other.

    Having said all of that, I'd add that there is no question that our culture suffers from ignorance and backwardness. I don't have to look far: Any society that cannot achieve self-governance is a disabled society, and its fundamental disability revolves around the issue of rights, not democracy or mechanisms of governance. Yes, these issues should be discussed with children of the right age and level of comprehension and emotional maturity. But before they get there, children need to have their pure humanity reinforced, as the basis of their equality to others, and the commonality that underlies and supercedes social diversity.

  3. Eid Mubarak to you and your family

    hope you all have a great holiday

  4. Dear Mr.Soliman ,

    Happy 3eid to u and to the Family .i found YOUR nice writing on Imtidad ( Doctors with No mercy ) and i could not resist the urge to follow you through to this blog.
    woow man ..a big Woow s really refreshing to know that someone like u is out there .. doing some fantastic work.Thanks alot ..


  5. Hello, Ahmed, and welcome to D-log. Thank you for your kind words. I hope your Eid was happy, and I wish you the best for the coming year.