Beginning 2018: Raising Our Children to Think Globally, Act Locally

May 10, 2018


Fariha T. Tayyab

Beginning 2018

Raising Our Children to Think Globally, Act Locally

Muslim families are continuously engaging in dialogue about how to raise children in this ever changing landscape. How do we keep up with recent dialogues in society? How do we get involved in a society where hate crimes are rising? What does our Muslim-American narrative look like in today’s world?

As these questions and others float through our minds, we realize the need to raise our children to think critically, expand their minds, and be of service to their communities.

What does it mean to think globally and act locally? Often we view charity as a foreign concept that exists outside American borders and not within our communities. When we do acknowledge the impoverished neighborhoods in our backyard, we often label them as dangerous or unwelcoming.

The only difference between someone who lives in that neighborhood versus this neighborhood is not necessarily a result of their choices, but of what Allah (SWT) has bestowed upon them. It could be that within the blink of an eye our realities are switched and now we are in vulnerable situations and recipients of judgement.

If we take a minute to ponder, there are overwhelming opportunities in our area that could always use our time and energy:

  1. Look online for opportunities: Search VolunteerMatch or Catchafire or create your own opportunity by volunteering at a home for the elderly or peer mentoring in after-school programs.

  2. Create an ongoing project: Projects can be held on a monthly basis. Ideas include planting at community centers or serving the homeless with local produce.

  3. Let your children select their own issues: Sit with your child and ask them a few issues they are deeply passionate about. Based on their responses, find opportunities that fit those interests. For example, if your child cares about preserving the environment you can contact your local Sierra Club or county parks and recreation department.

  4. Plan your time: Create stickers for your family calendar and list which day of the month you will volunteer and how your child can manage all other responsibilities such as chores, homework, after school activities, masjid commitments, etc.

After understanding our time and commitment we must create a sustainable model. Many Muslim families donate much time, energy and money in months of heightened blessing such as Ramadan. The Prophet (SAW) mentioned: 

Take up good deeds only as much as you are able, for the best deeds are those done regularly even if they are few.”

Start your family’s year off with realistic and sustainable service goals that will expand your children's horizons, as well as create room for family and community bonding. Most importantly, it will empower them to be an agent of change in their own community.

Fariha Tayyab is an educator and artist currently residing in Ohio, by way of Texas. She has worked both domestically and internationally within a variety of school systems and nonprofit institutions. Earlier in her career, while at an Islamic school, she was recognized on a national blog for her work with students in community awareness and activism.