This topic came to my mind when I was out with my 8 year-old sister. We had decided to go to the beach one evening just to spend time together. It’s amazing how little kids’ minds seem to work and how easily influenced they become by their surroundings.
I was curious to know a few things about my sister that I had always pondered about. I was not very surprised by most of her answers until I asked her “Who is your role model? The one person you look up to and want to be like one day?” While her other answers showed her intelligence and her confidence in what she knows, I was really taken by the way she chose to answer this specific question. She started by saying “Umm, I really like Miley Cyrus…but I don’t like her singing…just the way she dresses…” She stopped for a minute and then she continued: “Did you know she was only 15 when she became really famous?”
I had to stop myself before I completely exploded with fury towards her opinion. I thought about how while I was growing up in Saudi Arabia, I was taught that the only role models I should have in my life; the only people that I was supposed to be influenced by were the women that made a difference in the history of Islam, such as the women of the Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) household, his wives and daughters. These were the women who served Allah and their community with bravery and wisdom, who tried to make a difference through learning, teaching, nursing, and other important activities.
I knew better than to spoil the moment and instantly lecture my sister. Plus, I knew that she wasn’t the one to blame. I am not exactly sure who is to blame, but I realize that compared to the exposure we have towards movie stars and celebrities, there is a lack of exposure towards certain historical role models in our educational system. I thought about the situation my sister would be in if she was asked the same question in front of her classmates by a non-Muslim teacher. What would the teacher’s response be if my sister said “my role model is the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) “? And what kind of explanation would my sister offer? I do believe that I’m responsible to educate my siblings about the important figures in Islam and I strongly felt the urge to begin doing so right after I had this talk with my sister.
I am not saying that now-a-days we lack beneficial role models, nor am I trying to be judgmental about little kids’ mentalities. I just think that if we start by educating young kids about Islam in depth and gaining more knowledge ourselves, we will be able to have confidence in the personalities that we are developing in the midst of growing up. And who knows? Maybe after sharing what we’ve learned about the great role models that we can look up to, we’ll be able to influence someone into realizing that Islam is the most beautiful religion followed and celebrated by many people around the world!