By Farozan Warsi
I begin with a disclaimer today. This is a slightly sensitive topic and it is possible that many people might not agree with me or have a different take about the issue. As long as we all agree that it is okay to disagree, we can widen the scope of our thinking.
Many of us have moved from different countries and adopted Canada as our home. We are blessed to be in a country where we have the freedom to express our opinions. But no situation in life can be perfect. With the good, walks in the bad too. Choosing the good over the bad requires wisdom, knowledge, conscious thought. We come from different walks of life, from different cultures, from different traditions of faith. We come from countries that are suffering of want, from politically volatile situations, from bias, from discrimination, from terror. The list just goes on. It is important to find common ground to lead a peaceful, meaningful life. The Pandemic has shifted the plates under our feet in a way that we are still trying to find balance. We are having to deal with economically stressful times, socially trying times, mentally unstable times.
Children have lost two years of quality learning. Focus should be on catching up with this shortfall in their knowledge base. For a lot of us whose children attend public schools, the increasing gender expression and LGBTQ discourse is causing discomfort. The Ontario government set up the Safe Return to Class Fund in the past year to support the mental well being of LGBTQI+ students in schools. As per the government this will contribute to the operation of safe and inclusive classrooms. However, the LGBTQI+ inclusive curriculum is not compatible with the beliefs of homes that come from different faiths. Is it then fair to introduce these ideas in a classroom? To these homes, it feels like the whole issue is being imposed upon their children. Some societies are more faith-based in their outlook and protect their children from engaging in certain relationships ahead of their mature years. Everyone has a right to hold onto their values. As much as the LGBTQI+ have the right to exist, so do the others have a right to practice their cultural, religious and social beliefs.
By no means am I promoting the idea of intolerance through this. While it is understandable that LGBTQ/gender identity or gender expression matters are lifestyle choices not acceptable to many homes, it is also completely unacceptable that we cause any injury to a fellow human being just because they are different- be it through innuendos, aggression, or by bullying. To victimize anyone based on their beliefs or in the way they look or behave, is reprehensible. Islam is a religion of peace and mercy.
Is there any evidence to show that the Prophet of Allah PBUH spoke a hurtful word to anyone, cause injury to anyone for the way they were or behaved? Did he abuse anyone for their beliefs? He never did. Then who are we to do so?
Can we maintain our identity as good Muslims even as we integrate within the communities we live in?
Yes. By helping our children focus on the qualities of a good Muslim. Let us teach our children to respect boundaries, not be judgemental, avoid backbiting, be gentle and polite in speech, assist people who need our help, be truthful and honest. There is so much to do to correct ourselves; so much to fix in ourselves before we judge or disapprove of others.
We need our children to reason, to understand what it means to be a good Muslim citizen. Let us keep an open relationship with our children such that they do not hesitate to share their thoughts with us.
So how can our children navigate their time at school in the context of this highlighted issue?
- If they see a fellow student who appears different, behaves differently, talks differently, let them not make any derisive comments about them. Do not needle them, say anything mean to them, isolate them. Treat them as you would treat anyone else. We do not go to school to judge anyone. We go to school to acquire knowledge.
- If they try to raise a discussion about gender or any orientation, politely re direct the conversation to topics of other interests.
- Do not discuss them with other fellow students. Backbiting is strictly forbidden in Islam.
- Do not stare at them conspicuously or inconspicuously. It is rude to do so with anyone.
We are living in difficult times. Our children are being raised in a highly challenging environment. Unless we educate them, give them the confidence of our support and model to them the behaviour of a good Muslim, we may not be able to save, what at this time is still savable.
About the Author
Farozan Warsi is an Educator and Author who has an interest in child psychology and theology. She draws her inspiration from the hundreds of children she has taught and guided – specifically her three grandchildren. Her writing is an homage to them. Through her writing at Farozans Book Shelf she hopes to ignite a curiosity about Islam amongst this most thoughtful generation. With this specific work, she aims to exemplify the mysteries of Islam through a fun-filled genre. She comes from generations of writers and educators. She lives in Canada with her spouse where she paints pictures with her words.
Further Learning on this topic:
YouTube: Shaykh Hamza Yusuf: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mf5L5Q3BuU&t=2s
YouTube: Dr. Omar Suleiman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDbiV4VqEug
YouTube: Dr. Yasir Qadhi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0oxJ-wfJZo
YouTube: Dr. Yasir Qadhi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCsUXGz1_6I