Articles by Umm Salihah

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Can You be Muslim and English?


Can You be Muslim and English?
We recently celebrated St. George’s Day here in England, the day of the country’s patron saint.  My children dressed in red, white and blue for their schools’ St. George’s celebrations.  For most people this is no longer a celebration tied to religion, but about celebrating all things English.  I have always felt very conflicted about my identity—am I English, British, Pakistani, Punjabi or none of these?  Can you be more than one? Growing up, my parents made it very clear to me that we were Pakistani.  Read more »

Islam’s Take on Children and Kinship Ties

Preserving kinship ties is considered to be a very important part of Islam.  Read more »

What’s an Asian? Race and Identity for a New Generation

My eight-year-old daughter did something a few weeks ago that surprised me.  Read more »

The Dangers of Consumerism and the Muslim Child

I suspect those who celebrate Christmas will be familiar with the way I felt a day or so after last Eid.  Read more »

Ramadan Recipe: Chicken Kebabs

I can remember when I was little my parents would feed us early and send us to bed to get some peace during iftar (the daily breaking of the fast during Ramadan). We then spent all evening sitting on the stairs trying to find ways to come downstairs and eat all the nice things everyone else was having. I am now having to deal with the same from my children  Read more »

Children’s Experience of Ramadan

Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, is the time for healthy adult Muslims’ to spend the day abstaining from food and water and the nights in hours of worship and contemplation. Although Muslim children do not usually fast, this does not mean that Ramadan, the holiest of months in the Islamic calendar, is not important for them. In Ramadan, a family and community’s routines are completely changed.  Read more »

Islam and Child Discipline: Is Hitting Ever Ok?

In the past, when I have written about Islam’s perspective on child discipline, I described it as one where gentleness is preferred according to the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the examples set during his own life.   I feel that taking the time to explain, exercising patience and making an effort to try to see things from your child’s point of view are the strategies that are most conducive to producing good behaviour and a calm child.  Read more »

Separating Faith From Culture in Islam

I had an interesting conversation with my sister-in-law recently about an old friend of hers who had moved to the States and become a Christian, despite being raised in a practicing Muslim household. It made me think about what aspect of her former faith led her to believe that Islam was not for her.   I have come across a small number of former Muslims who have converted to a different religion or become atheist.  Read more »

The Big Question—Sex Education and Islam

Sex education is a bit of a minefield for me as a Muslim mother, as I am sure it is for most parents, whether Muslim or not. How much to tell? At what age? Who should do the telling? I have been adamant that I will be honest with my children and expect them to have the courage to be honest. By never lying, I hope my children would be able to trust me and believe what I say to them and to understand that there is never anything to fear from when they are honest with me (oh the things they have gotten away with just by honestly owning up!) My determination to be an honest mum has been challenged now that my oldest daughter is at an age when she is curious about the “birds and the bee’s” and in particular where baby’s come from.  Read more »

Rights of the Child in Islam

I have a small poster on my fridge, now old and slightly yellowed, which my children love. It's called the "Children's Rights and Responsibilities" and lists all of the basic things to which every child is entitled. They love seeing it and having it read to them—it makes them feel that as children they matter in their own right, and knowing that it is the duty of adults to provide these things is empowering to them.  Read more »

The Status of Mothers in Islam

After the birth of my first child, there was a thought that kept crossing my mind regarding the status of mothers in Islam. Growing up I had heard of hadith (Prophetic sayings) such as, "Your paradise lies under the feet of your mother," and not given much thought to them. Once I became a mother myself, I started to wonder what this meant. I was no one special, why would paradise lie under my feet?   Then I thought back to the sickness, discomfort and exhaustion I suffered during my pregnancy.  Read more »

Being a Working Muslimah Mother

Guilt seems to be an integral part of modern motherhood. It sometimes seems that no matter what you do, you are not good enough as a mother. Stay at home mothers sometimes feel they miss out on things they want to do and are accused of living through their children, going into overkill mode with every birthday party and milestone, turning their children into spoilt, selfish little monsters.  Read more »

An Islamic Perspective on Child-Rearing and Discipline

Thanks to a small number of Muslims and large chunks of the mainstream media, Islam has gained a reputation for severity and harshness. When it comes to the way we raise our children this can often be true, but usually due to our cultural backgrounds more than our faith. My parents and grandparents grew up in Pakistan where it was the norm to be smacked by your parents, extended relations and anyone else that happened to be around and in a bad mood.  Read more »

Languages of the Mind and Heart: Growing up Trilingual in the UK

As someone who loves to write and read, a love of language and words fits naturally. My family is of Punjabi origin, hailing from Jhelum, Pakistan and therefore speaks a Patwari dialect of Punjabi. Growing up, I spoke Patwari with my mother and grandparents; this was the language they scolded us in (Danger! Animals!) and loved us in. The dialect they used is exactly the one they brought with them from Pakistan to the UK forty years ago.  Read more »

Muslim Children and Christmas

Christmas is a favourite time of year for most people, parties, gifts, special foods and family traditions--what is not to like? But for most Muslims, this time of year always brings with it a host of issues to consider: should we participate? Should we join in the office parties and games of Secret Santa? Or should we avoid the celebration totally, writing it off as not part of our faith? For those with children, the decisions we have to make require even more consideration.  Read more »

Eid-ul-Adha Family Traditions

With the approach of Eid-ul-Adha this year, it felt like a good time to reflect on some of the family traditions that we had begun as a family and some of the ones that my husband and I had brought with us from our own childhoods. Eid-ul-Adha is one of two Eids that Muslims celebrate around the world. The first is Eid-ul-Fitr which celebrates the fact that we have fasted for a month during the Muslim month of Ramadan.  Read more »

Raising Good Muslims

I am facing one of the biggest challenges I have ever met: how to raise good Muslims. I have always found progress very easy in my academic and working life and have enjoyed the feeling of sailing through these spheres most of the time. This leads a person to the feeling, especially when you are young, that you are oh-so-clever. Having children puts that whole mindset into perspective.  Read more »
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