Dealing with Hate

At what age should we talk with our children about the hate and ignorance towards Muslims that does exist in our country, albeit among fringe extremist groups? When we saw the video below showing hate rallies in Orange County outside an ICNA fundraiser for a women’s shelter, we were appalled. Elected officials spoke in slurs and death threats, and the crowd screamed insults at the children walking to the event.

If one day we unexpectedly met such a rally at a mosque or community gathering, we wonder what words of wisdom and comfort we could tell our children. We want to hear from our readers. Should we talk to our children about hate before they encounter it? Or would this be too bewildering and confusing for a young Muslim child to swallow? If you would talk about it, what would you say?

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  • Um Lubayah

    I think I would talk to my two-and-a-half year old kids about this only if it happened to us.

    At this age, they still listen to me the most and would not concentrate on what the people were saying, but they would definitely pick up the tone. I would say: “These people sound so angry, don’t they? You know why they’re angry? They’re scared of us and think we’re going to hurt them. But it’s sad, because they don’t understand. They think Muslims are bad people who might hurt them. Would we ever hurt them? No, we don’t do that. But people get angry and scared all the time. It even happened in the time of our Prophet, Muhammad (pbuh), and you know how he responded? He prayed for them. Would you like to pray for these people, too? Ok, come on, raise your hands (Allahumma ihdi qawmi, fa’innahum la ya’lamoon. Oh, Allah. Guide my people, for they do not know.) Ameen. Good for you, girls. I’m so proud of you!

    That’s what I would say.

  • Maha

    I tell my 5-year-old many stories from the seerah (the Prophet’s life), so she is familiar with the hardship he encountered in the early years of Islam. If she ever encountered something like this, I would want her to know three things that would help her make sense of it.

    1. People who follow Islam will be tested. Just like the Prophet’s people abused him and laughed at him, so we might too be. We have to be patient and seek help from Allah (swt). When we go through hardship, it helps us get closer to Allah because we have to seek His protection. I would tell her that one day someone might make fun of you, or fun of mama’s scarf, or make a rude comment, and we will just respond to them saying, “Salama,” (peace) because that is what the Quran advises us to do. It’s OK, we will stay calm and will respond with the best manners.

    2. Most of those people are ignorant. They are afraid of anything that is different. They heard lies about the Quran, and lies about the Prophet, and they think those lies are true. But they are absolutely not. Maybe one day, they will learn the truth about Islam, that we are good people and only want good for them.

    3. Don’t let anyone tell you you are not American. This is your country, these are your people. Maybe it is even more your country than it is theirs because you want peace and fairness and good things for our country and our people, and that is the best kind of American.

  • Muslim

    AA

    I was thinking not to show the video to my teen children then thought may be they need to see that even if these people aren’t many.

    But I hate for them to grow up “hating” others or stereotyping.

    Children might generalize and think that all or most white people are like that.

    Also I was sick and hurt to see children witnessing that in the event itself, as shown in the video. So i thought maybe it’s too much for a child to see.. it was indeed very hateful!

    still thinking, but probably i will show it to my 13yr

  • Marwa

    I just want to reiterate that these are great comments by Maha and Um Lubayah. It is so discouraging when events like this take place, but it can also be the catalyst for igniting the flame of activism into our children. This depends on the age of the child, but the idea of making our children feel responsibility towards educating people who hate and people who are misinformed should be one of the greatest lessons we take away from this. “You are the change you want to see.”

  • kariman

    To piggy-back on Marwa’s thoughts and as a #4 to Maha’s, depending on my child’s age, I would definitely add an action item. Islah is one of our responsibilities as Muslims and we should teach our children to look at these situations as opportunities to come closer to Allah swt through action. We witnessed hate-speech from political figures and we should make sure these individuals hear from us–we can’t expect change to happen while we stand on the sidelines. We can encouraging our children to write and even pick-up the phone and call these political figures and express their distaste.

  • Khadeejah

    This video is too hurtful to show *any* child, and most adults, in my opinion. I’m a sensitive person, and this clip has profoundly wounded me. Showing such bigotry to young humans, can desensitize them to such acts. IMHO, it is crucial to preserve their and our innocence. I wish I hadn’t viewed this video, because now i find a darkened, hurt spot in my heart.

  • Susan

    I haven’t seen the video yet, but my 10 y/o heard some negative comments on a radio news clip the other day. It was utterly confusing as he has always thought that the Muslims were considered the “good guys”. I felt like we hit a real turning point in his youth and innocense. Although he’s attended rally’s and is aware of the events in Palestine, Egypt, and around the world, this time it came from his own backyard. I like the comments and suggestions of the other sisters, I can only add that I pick random moments in a crowd with my kids and say things like… “See this room full of people? If I were the only Muslim here and everyone was being mean to me, I would STILL be happy to be a Muslim because Allah would be the most pleased with me.”

  • Maliha

    Salamaat,

    I won’t show it to my children or discuss hate until we come face to face with it. I can’t bring myself to watch the video either, because I am really sensitive as well. Every time we have a positive encounter with others outside, I do magnify it for the children. I would say statements like “Wow, that was SOO nice, that made me SOO happy!” etc.

    We are in a cocoon right now, but I think as much as possible to keep them there until they are mature enough and discerning enough not to generalize or subsume it.

    For all this talk of exposing children to the world as it is, someone commented we don’t just take an oak sapling and put it out to fight the elements so it can be “stronger”…it will die. In the same way, we have to nurture our children with so much love and security, so when they are older they can handle the rigors of the “elements”…

  • ummossama

    I don’t think a young child should be shown this video and I don’t think anyone here is saying that. ..but I do think that we should start equipping our children with the skills, mindset and strength they need in order to handle situations like these when they are exposed to them and the best way to do this is through the study of the life of Prophet(pbuh). How was the Prophet(pbuh) treated? Was he called names? How did he respond? Do you think that some people would call the Prophet(pbuh) names,even now? etc….are all questions we should be discussing with our children as young as 5/6. People were demonstrating at the CAIR fundraiser in DC.last year. There is a good chance many of our children will be exposed to scenes like these. Let’s be prepared.

  • http://www.quranreading.com/ Live Quran

    We need to talk to our children and show them live example near by us. and show the right and wrong paths. The best thing in today’s children are they are far better then last decades children. these children are intelligent and learn what is good or what is bad for them . So hiding hatred or not telling the truth is you are not loyal to your children.
    Give them time so that they can understand them self don’t do spoon feeding that may spoil your child.

  • Zainab

    I’ve put off watching this video until today and I’m almost wishing now I didn’t watch it. It is *really* hard to watch this kind of hatred. Sickening. Heartbreaking. The world is full of ignorant people and this is more proof of that. It’s sad that we have this type of ignorance/hatred among our elected officials.

    No, I wouldn’t show this to my children. At this age I don’t know that they would really understand and might become afraid. This got me thinking about how we do need to prepare our kids for this. Lots of good advice sisters!! JAK!.

  • Emaan

    i wouldn,t show that to my children coz as there r ignorant people , there r the educated ones.so why showing them the dull,dark, stupied side , when we have the kind side?!! i would like to limit the present and the influence of those racist people. they r trying to show up and spread thier sick ideas. lets don,t help them .

  • Asifa

    Talk to the child before they encounter such a thing. It helps to be prepared.


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