As a Canadian born Muslim mother, I inform my daughter that she should embrace her Canadian nationality, and she does. Furthermore, I teach my daughter to celebrate the diversity that exists within our multicultural country and to appreciate the beauty of individuality that exists amongst Canadians, and she does.
Walking down the hallways of my schools as a child, I saw children who wore turbans, crosses around their necks, and hijabs. I know my daughter may come across this same diversity within the hallways of her own school, therefore I tell her that these people exist, but they are no different than her- they are all attending school to learn, and to become vital components of society just like she is. Some students may become future teachers, accountants, dentists, entrepreneurs, chefs, and the list goes on; whatever these students may become, I know that they all the have potential to make our world a safe and loving place for the future generations to come.
I also inform my daughter of our religion, Islam. She knows that Islam is about peace, love, believing in God and the prophets, prayers, fasting, and charity. It was her choice to put on the hijab when she attends school; she wears it because she knows Allah has commanded Muslim women to cover their hair when in public, she wears it because she sees me wearing it, and she wears it because she thinks it’s beautiful.
I know my daughter is silently observing my every move and taking note of my every action, and that is why I make a conscious effort to be the best role model for her. I’m proud to say that she sees me as a person:
who wears her hijab proudly with confidence
who respects others
who has friends from different cultures, religions, and backgrounds
who will pick up an item that fell from your hands and give it to back to you
who will smile at you at the grocery store
who will make small talk with you while waiting at the doctor’s office
who will make an effort to get to know her neighbors…
…and most importantly as a person who wants peace.
As stated, the lessons I teach my daughter are to be proud of her Canadian nationality, to celebrate diversity, and to live peacefully according to Islam; but I also make sure I educate my daughter on bullying.
I tell my daughter that bullying is never the answer, and never will be. I tell her that she needs to respect herself by not allowing anyone to bully her. I tell her that she needs to respect others by refraining from bullying anyone else. I make it a priority to inform my daughter that, as a Canadian citizen, she must respect the way others dress, talk, and live- just as others should respect the way she chooses to dress, talk, and live.
As a Canadian born Muslim mother, I make it a duty of mine to educate my daughter of these important life lessons, but there is just one problem: society.
Yes, my daughter attends a school that accepts her in her hijab. Yes, her non-Muslim friends adore her. Yes, we live in safe community filled with diversity. But it all ends there.
There has been so much negativity towards Muslims recently, especially when it comes to the hijab. I’m starting to find it difficult to teach my daughter of acceptance knowing that there exists individuals that will not accept her in her hijab. I’m struggling to show her that bullying is not the answer because I know there are women being bullied because of their hijab. I’m fighting to teach my daughter that she is no less than anyone else- but society is fighting back and telling me this is not true simply because she chooses to wear the hijab. Don’t you know society? I know my daughter, she’s beautiful, sweet, funny, intelligent, and kind; don’t tell me she isn’t these qualities because she wears the hijab.
I have shown my daughter that we are just like most Canadians, friendly and giving people; however society doesn’t seem think so. Contrary to the false belief that the hijab conceals a woman’s identity, it doesn’t; my seven year old daughter knows this, but sadly most grown adults do not. How do I tell my daughter that the hijab she wears so proudly today might not be allowed in the courts one day, thus robbing her of her right to justice? How do I tell my daughter that in the near future she may not be permitted to wear her hijab in public, and her multicultural friends may also not be allowed to celebrate their diversity? It just doesn’t make sense: one day I tell her that she is loved and accepted, but the next day I might have to tell her that she is not because she wears the hijab?
I pray from my heart that this day never comes, the day that I have to tell my daughter she has to take her hijab off just so she can be loved by others surrounding her within this country that we reside in. I pray that all Canadians accept us despite our choice to cover our hair. I pray that all Canadians realize that our hijabs are not accessories that we wear, but a part of our way of life. I pray that all Canadians recognize that our identity is not lost when we wear the hijab, for our identity shines through our every action, our every word, and the sincerity of our hearts. I pray for peace.