This is the 8th post in the Muslim Nation within Education series written by a group of younger NYM iNK sisters who are currently in high school. This series focuses on their personal lived experiences as Muslimahs in the mainstream high school system.
In our previous posts we discussed the issue of Islamophobia and how to practically deal with Islamophobic attacks as the victim. For our final post in this series, we would like to emphasize the importance of having the support of the Muslim community when facing and addressing Islamophobia. It may even be surprising how much of a difference we can truly make as a community by supporting young Muslims dealing with Islamophobic situations. Here is a compilation of several roles in the community and what each role can do to show their support for someone dealing with an Islamophobic attack:
- Parent of the victim
Remain calm. Your response and action towards the situation has a large impact on your child so be mindful of your reaction. An inappropriate response can lead to further problems at school.
Have empathy towards how your child is feeling and try to put yourself in their shoes before jumping to conclusions.
Be concerned, but know your limits. Try not to let your emotions overshadow your child’s emotions.
Don’t let your anger get the best of you. Don’t get upset or yell at your child as it may have been difficult for them to tell you what happened and it’s best if you are supportive of them.
2. Teacher of the victim
Create a support system for them as well as other students who are at risk of facing Islamophobic attacks. Make the environment one that is comfortable for all of them.
Educate your students about the boundaries of right and wrong to emphasize what sort of actions and attitude will not be tolerated by the school.
Be on alert for similar issues that may occur surrounding this topic. If it happened once, it isn’t unlikely that it will happen again.
3. Friend of the victim
Be understanding of the situation and how they may be feeling.
Show your support by letting them know you disapprove of what happened and know that the action taken against them was wrong.
If you see others making fun of someone because of their beliefs, stand up and address the issue by reporting it to the admin.
4. Sibling of the victim
Don’t be invasive and understand what they are going through as a result of the incident. Sometimes a little bit of space is what they really need.
Create a comfortable environment for them at home. This lets them know that their house is a place where they are safe and free of any prejudice.
Be patient and wait for them to open up to you. Don’t continuously ask questions if you can see that they aren’t ready to discuss the situation, but be there when they are ready to talk.
Islamophobic attacks are more prevalent in schools than they were in the past so it’s essential that we have the tools to tackle such situations. We hope that this series has been of benefit to you and that inshaAllah it will come to help you in a situation in the future where you may be lost. And recall that in times of struggle, dua has obsolete power. Do not lose belief and remember these situations require patience. So, be patient for “Indeed, Allah is with the patient” [2:153].