Students'-Eye Views From the Classroom

July 3, 2000

Source: The New York Times

On July 3, 2000, The New York Times published an article about the pressures facing young Muslims in America. Aliyyah Abdur-Rahman and Tajah Muhammad, students at the Clara Mohammed Elementary School, talked to the Times about their goals, dreams, and the difficulties they sometimes face. Both girls, like so many young children across the country, hope to grow up to be professional athletes. Yet the two African-American girls from devout Muslim families must also wear head scarves while they practice and play; the basketball season also has games during Ramadan, a month where Muslims fast from sunrise to sundown. Tajah explains her frustration, "We're running up and down the court and we can't drink anything. I love the religion. I just wish we didn't have to cover." The two best friends are "as concerned about tests and college admission as their counterparts in secular schools." But they are also struggling to learn Arabic and to exhibit Islamic character. Aliyyah explains that, "Since we're Muslim, they don't want us to get off the straight path. We have all these earthly things to do--like basketball practice and soccer practice. Sometimes when I get home, I'm so exhausted. We have this devil, Satan, Shaton. He whispers in my ear. He tells me to just lay down, lay down." Both girls have big plans for their futures, wanting, between the two of them, to play professional soccer and in the W.N.B.A., be a chiropractor, a lawyer, and the first black woman president.