Exploring, Defining and Celebrating Muslim Identity

I started Bismillah Buddies when I was about 37, when my son was around 2 . Why do I mention my age…. because the number , so close to 40, helps to anchor and define the journey that led me to doing this.
A journey which many of us born-Muslim share. It takes us from being born Muslim to a lifestyle which ignores many key aspects of faith. Aspects which include core concepts, and not only rituals. For me, the journey was a bid to find myself. This quest led me along many different dark alleys before leading me back to familiar, but now new, path; that of my faith -Islam. The process of this journey helped in finding a calm within myself which stays on as a reassuring companion. This journey, however, doesn’t end. It is ongoing till we meet our maker.

Becoming a mother was a life-changing experience- in its sudden, unexpected intensity of raw emotion. Emotions, I can honestly say I had not felt before. Emotions that led me to discover new aspects of myself, Like finding new secret-rooms in a house I had lived in all my life. Why; I often introspected as I held a new born in my arms; did I doubt? Why did I lack confidence in my identity as a Muslim when I was young? Why did I make choices prioritizing extrinsic societal expectations over the voice in my heart?

One part of it, I realized was a lack of joy, confidence and pride in being Muslim, un-abashedly so. Our natural fitrah is subdued because we fail to inject joy, enthusiasm and relevance in our conversations about Islam.
This is something that I felt I could amend when it came to my own children.

With Bismillah Buddies, I want to cultivate that joy, confidence and calm acceptance that comes with knowledge. Having Faith as an anchor, regardless of the trials around, is the gift I want to give my children.

I have thought and searched about how to create this anchor, starting to piece together elements and colors that need to be blended as we explore, define and celebrate our Muslim identity.

Some things that come to mind:
– Joy: A smile, a laugh, joy, colour. Anything that makes us happy should be integral to the practice of faith.
– Understanding core concepts: somethings speak to the deepest levels of our hearts. They are universal desires for love, mercy and justice. Because any practice of faith devoid of the core leaves us searching for answers outside.
– Factual knowledge : Accurate factual knowledge about what our Book says, what the lives of inspiring Muslim personalities exemplify, outside of cultural biases, and time-bound trends.

Bringing these elements together – this is what Bismillah Buddies is dedicated to. To rediscovery. This is how we aspire to make Islam relevant, engaging and fun for our children and us. And of course, our intention is to draw closer to our creator as we find peace in submitting to the divine will.

‘I will love you even when you’re dead’

When my daughter was around 5 and heavily into the card making phase. I once got one with a cute drawing and a message that read ‘I will love you even when you’re dead’
My reaction was torn between awww so cute and OMG does she want me gone already ?
This card came to my mind recently when my friend’s 4 year old told her ‘Mama I will miss you so much when you die’.
Strangely enough, many friends had similar equally emotional yet morbid stories to tell about their children.
So I googled it, and sure enough there were several articles that spoke about how kids aged 4 and 5 years have this strange affinity towards death and talking about it as part of normal conversation. It was even called a ‘normal stage of development’ in kids. Who knew?
So how do we address it ? I’d say first and foremost they need acknowledgement. That yes you are saying this and I hear it. Now let’s see what we can do about it. Understand what your child themselves know about the statement they made. Ask them what they know about death. Be open to questions and be ready with the age appropriate language and apt terms to explain it to them. We can tell them that death is certain but we never know when. And after death we will be reunited in Jannah In Sha Allah so that should give us hope. We could also try to talk about what to do after someone dies. Make Dua for them, give charity. And if you feel sad the best thing to do is to get closer to Allah SWT.

May Allah SWT keep our little ones protected today and always.

P.S Have you had similar experiences ?