PROGRAM FOR MUSLIM YOUTH AGES 15 – 35
This initiative strives to provide a safe space for new, returning, and “unmosqued”; Muslims, and friends, to explore issues pertaining to everyday life, faith and overall emotional well-being in a manner which is appropriate, comfortable, and non- judgmental.
Reflection by Nidha Yaqub, Breathing Room Project Coordinator, Muslim Food Bank Community Services
When I was 11, my identity was questioned. My classmates began questioning who I was. Some made me out to be Mexican, some assumed I was Indian and a few realized I was Muslim. No, I wasn’t greeted with hate; my peers still treated me with respect and dignity. They still invited me to play tether ball at lunch and recess. Although one thing changed, never before did I question myself as to who I was but now I was confused. I had news broadcasters labelling me as a terrorist. I had people in power saying they didn’t trust me because I was Muslim. Was I a
terrorist? Was I someone people should be afraid of? Islam teaches peace, so why are the news channels portraying us to be so mean? I was 11 and in an identity crisis.
I started asking questions to try and put my story together. I struggled, I felt alone and misunderstood. I would ask questions about religion and culture and would be shut down. So I did what any other 11 year old would do; I never asked those questions again. I would come home every day after school finished my homework and go outside to play. I would gather all the kids in the neighbourhood and we would play on a trampoline, play hide and seek, tag, keep it up.
Present day, I’m no longer that 11 year old kid instead I’m an adult that is witnessing so many youth in the Muslim community face a similar identity crisis. What scares me is that when I went through it I felt alone and now that I’m asking these youth the same questions they feel alone too. So over the past 15 years nothing has changed. Or has it?
That’s just a small snippet of my story. Being able to share my experiences has empowered me to help other youth that are struggling.