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Integrating Identities: Muslim American Youth Confronting Challenges and Creating Change

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... There is a vast body of literature and empirical studies on the representations of Muslims and Islam in the media including popular culture, and of the effect of these negative portrayals on different strata's of society, teachers and students included -Muslim and Non-Muslim (Dharamsi, 2014;Kunst et al., 2011;Sanjakdar, 2011;Khan, 2009;Abdalla and Rane, 2007;Akbarzadeh and Smith, 2005;Mešić, 2011). Even educational materials in mainstream education have presented Islam from Orientalist and essentialist positions and have been replete with errors (Douglass, 2009, referenced by Dharamsi, 2014Akbarzadeh and Smith, 2005). ...
... Consequently, many Muslim students experience marginalization, alienation and isolation. As a way to cope, a sense of 'othering' can also be prominent in how Muslim students identify themselves (Zine, 2011;Khan, 2009). The pervasive discourse between 'Islam' and the 'West' has further led impressionable Muslim youth to be influenced by these representations as being true (Sanjakdar, 2011). ...
... As a result, some may not openly identify themselves as Muslims to others for fear of being ridiculed and embarrassed (Tindongan, 2011;Sanjakdar, 2011). Khan's (2009) qualitative study provides us with student narratives which provide a glimpse into identity struggles of Muslim youth. The study explores the role of a youth program on the identity development of its Muslim participants across Canada and the United States. ...
Chapter
This chapter explores how Muslims have themselves become a burden to the religion of Islam in the 21st century as a result of their intransigent on issues and the belief that the only way to be a Muslim is to live in the 7th century of the earlier period of Islam. Through the exploration of some issues that bothers on interpretation, practice and relationship among Muslims and between Muslims and non-Muslims, this chapter examines how all of this has contributed to the burdening of Islam by Muslims and how it has led to the misunderstanding of the religion by non-adherents. The chapter argues that the current state of Islam in the 21st and it perception as a brutish, nasty and non-compassionate religion is a result of the burden placed on it by some Muslims and does not necessarily represents Islam. By using the qualitative method, the paper explains through critical analysis that there is a need for these Muslims to come to term with the fact that the world is dynamic and not static and that it is possible to live Islam peacefully in the 21st century if they stop living in the books – taking the text, hadith and other materials verbatim and trying to do as explained in them without applying wisdom and interpreting them to suit the current context.
... To grasp the complex positionality of Muslim youth in Canadian classrooms requires a nuanced approach to multicultural education that goes beyond race, class, and gender to include family, religion, and ethnicity, as well as the power of mass media in the construction of dominant ethnic and religious identities. Scholars have called for developing educators' awareness of the complexity of Muslim women's lived experiences for reflecting on the intersection of dominant discourses and the impact of classroom relations juxtaposed with their own sense of identity at home and at school (Khan, 2009;Kincheloe et al., 2010;Sensoy & Stonebanks, 2009;Watt, 2011aWatt, , 2011bWatt, , 2012. Through witnessing how particular minority youth negotiate their lives and identities in between family, school, and public and school discourse, teacher educators, teachers, and teacher candidates are better positioned to respond to difference in ways that create equitable school curricula and classroom practices. ...
... Constructing a "Muslim space" (Khan, 2009) for themselves at school takes varied forms, including school-wide efforts to establish a prayer room, organizing Muslim Students' Associations, and hosting girls-only alternative proms. Many girls also take action on a personal level such as the use of humor "to address stereotypes held by peers in their schools" and joking with non-Muslim peers "in an attempt to avoid otherwise confrontational scenarios" (p. ...
... Shaza Khan (2009) also emphasizes that Muslim students are not passive victims, but often actively transform marginalizing factors in their own environments. Her research participants construct a Muslim space for themselves in their schools. ...
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This article researches how Muslim students in Canada negotiate identity in an extremely complex discursive terrain of the unofficial Islamophobia curriculum of family, schooling, and mass media. Critical examination of the exclusion of Muslims from school policies and the absence of Muslim experiences and perspectives in the Ontario Language Curriculum are highlighted. This article aims at developing teacher educators, in-service teachers and teacher candidates’ critical multicultural awareness of how Muslim minority students negotiate the absence of their culture in the secondary language curricula. Drawing from postcolonial feminist perspectives and curriculum theory this research was conducted with seven young Muslim women as participants. Findings indicate while absent in the official secondary language curriculum, the unofficial curriculum represents Muslim women as the cultural “other” sustained through the unofficial school curriculum and media portrayals. This study argues for a need to involve teacher educators, in-service teachers and teacher candidates in complicated conversations on cultural and linguistic differences, engagement with life-experiences of cultural minorities, development of complex pedagogies, critical media literacies and multicultural practices that are diverse and inclusive.
... The teacher viewed the hijab as a type of disguise that was being used to violate the classroom. Shaza Khan (2009) has noted that in circumstances where teachers have concerns with students who wear visible religious signifiers like the hijab, it is best to address these concerns privately with students. Students may feel offence or marginalized in a classroom environment in which the teacher makes a spectacle of their religious attire in front of the class. ...
... When discussed privately, many of these tensions can be de-escalated (Khan 2009). In the case of Sarah, this episode marked a confrontational relationship with her teacher which could have very easily been avoided by speaking with her privately. ...
... Our personal, practical, social, educational, and institutional experiences inform us that victim-narratives come from a place of brokenness, powerlessness, and helplessness, while counternarratives arise from a place of wakefulness and gracefulness. Every day together we make an effort and attempt to be active agents of change in our own lives, communities, and in society, and learn how to actively get engaged in transforming the marginalizing factors in educational spaces and social and political environments (S. Khan, 2009). "Perhaps in our lifetimes we will not succeed. ...
Article
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Cultural and faith-based narratives live in our skins and personal lives. Each body is tied to the stories that are written on it, and thus the body and the soul within it are central to our coming to know of tears, wounds, pain, and suffering. Using autobiographical narrative inquiry and poetry, I share my lived experiences and encounters with the pain of silence and truth telling. As a Canadian, Muslim, woman of color, and mother of four children, I unapologetically question the “psychic violence” of strategic silencing, scripted conformity, and structured surrender enforced and performed in institutions and society toward people of color. I seek to embrace, dwell in, and engage with pain to pull out passion, potential, and possibility. I offer the truth of my knowing to construct pathways and possibilities for reimagining and deconstructing pain and tears as the cure for personal and systemic liberation.
... She was portraying the story's other side; she was composing a "juxtapository narrative" (Bhabha, 2006, p. 17), placing her voice alongside the voices of other students in her class. Simultaneously, she was constructing a Muslim space (Khan, 2009) for herself and other Muslim students. It is such "a space of juxtaposition and re-alignment that opens bodies and thought to new arrangements and possibilities" (Springgay & Freedman, 2009, p. 30). ...
Chapter
Grade 12 students in my son’s psychology class had been asked to share their deepest reactions and thoughts toward the victims of the Charlie Hebdo incident in Paris. Charlie Hebdo is a satirical magazine that had published controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Students felt sympathetic toward the victims and solely held Islamic extremism responsible for it. During the heated conversations, a female Muslim student stood up and voiced her perspective. Given the teacher’s discomfort with the potential reaction to the counter story, he shut down a crucial conversation that could have created a space for critically assessing polarizing debates.
... Rather, he needed to make efforts to be accepted even if this meant telling students "what they want to hear" at the expense of misrepresenting his faith. Some studies have shown that within educational institutions, students have been able to assert their Muslim identity through participation with Muslim student groups formed within the school, as these help ease tensions relating to peer pressure and prevent marginalization (Khan, 2009;Zine, 2001). Unfortunately, in Yusuf's school such an organization did not exist. ...
Article
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This article explores the historical, theoretical, and ideological background surrounding biased immigration patterns of immigrants to Canada. It discusses past eras of racial classification and categorization to uncover the practices used to exclude certain groups from white Canadian populations. These discriminatory policies continue to disadvantage these racialized immigrant populations to this very day.Finally, the study recommends that Canada needs a better understanding from the migrants’ perspectives on what they perceive as barriers, problems, or opportunities in order to develop an inclusive plans for migrant integration and equitable access to economic opportunity with a prospect of effective resettlement in Canada.
... Rather, he needed to make efforts to be perceived as 'normal' even if this meant telling students 'what they want [ed] to hear' at the expense of misrepresenting his faith. Some studies have shown that within educational institutions, students have been able to assert their Muslim identity through participation with Muslim student groups formed within the school, as these groups help ease tensions relating to peer pressure and prevent marginalization (Khan 2009;Zine 2001). Unfortunately in Yusuf's school such an organization did not exist. ...
Book
This edited collection brings together international leading scholars to explore why the education of Muslim students is globally associated with radicalisation, extremism and securitisation. The chapters address a wide range of topics, including neoliberal education policy and globalization; faith-based communities and Islamophobia; social mobility and inequality; securitisation and counter terrorism; and shifting youth representations. Educational sectors from a wide range of national settings are discussed, including the US, China, Turkey, Canada, Germany and the UK; this international focus enables comparative insights into emerging identities and subjectivities among young Muslim men and women across different educational institutions, and introduces the reader to the global diversity of a new generation of Muslim students who are creatively engaging with a rapidly changing twenty-first century education system. The book will appeal to those with an interest in race/ethnicity, Islamophobia, faith and multiculturalism, identity, and broader questions of education and social and global change.
... Rather, he needed to make efforts to be perceived as 'normal' even if this meant telling students 'what they want [ed] to hear' at the expense of misrepresenting his faith. Some studies have shown that within educational institutions, students have been able to assert their Muslim identity through participation with Muslim student groups formed within the school, as these groups help ease tensions relating to peer pressure and prevent marginalization (Khan 2009;Zine 2001). Unfortunately in Yusuf's school such an organization did not exist. ...
... Rather, he needed to make efforts to be accepted even if this meant telling students "what they want to hear" at the expense of misrepresenting his faith. Some studies have shown that within educational institutions, students have been able to assert their Muslim identity through participation with Muslim student groups formed within the school, as these help ease tensions relating to peer pressure and prevent marginalization (Khan, 2009;Zine, 2001). Unfortunately, in Yusuf's school such an organization did not exist. ...
Article
Full-text available
This article examines the experiences of Muslim men who had attended the secondary schools in Quebec in the post-9/11 context. Employing a critical ethnographic approach stemming from institutional ethnography, this study presents biases/racism these men had experienced in their secondary schools in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks and throughout the period of the War on Terror, and the possible causes for this treatment.
... For Muslim-American youth, there is a need to manage viable hybrid identities that represent multiple commitments (Khan, 2009). Even in an Islamic school setting where learners are less likely to have to confront anti-Arabic and anti-Muslim discourses, identity negotiation is highstakes in terms of establishing social and academic capital. ...
Article
The social turn in second language acquisition (SLA) has led scholars to involve a more social semiotic approach in their research (Johnson, 2004; Ortega, 2013). In heritage language contexts, this means greater attention to learners as individuals who construct, enact, and resist multiple identities in the classroom (Gee, 2000; McKay & Wong, 1996; Norton & Toohey, 2011; Pierce, 1995). For Arabic heritage language learners (HLLs) the question of identity is fraught with complexities across linguistic (Ryding, 1991; Abu-Rabia, 2000), cultural (Temples, 2013), political (Brown, 2009), social (Sehlaoui, 2008) and religious domains. This paper examines the role of religious identity for second-grade Arabic language learners at a K-12 Islamic school. This sociocultural linguistic study highlights the ways in which learners’ religious identities intersect, support, and overlap with their social and academic identities in a language course exclusively for Muslim HLLs. Findings point to the ways that identity is negotiated through talk, highlighting how Muslim learners draw on their religious identities in Arabic class to support and strengthen their academic and social identities. Religion can serve as a resource for HLLs even in the absence of ethnic and/or ancestral links to the language given adequate ideological and implementational space (Hornberger, 2005).
... For instance, Barron's (2007) ethnographic study on a group of three and four-year-old children of Pakistani heritage in Britain, for example, shows that school settings shape one's identity. Similar account also emerges from the study of Haw and Hanifa (1998), Limage (2000), Zine (2000), Collet (2007), Sarroub (2005), Abo-Zena, Sahli, and Tobias-Nahi (2009), Imam (2009), Mossalli (2009), andKhan (2009). This is because school is seen as an agency of socialization, in which students' identity is moulded. ...
Article
Full-text available
This article examines six Indonesian Muslim youth’s narratives and those of their parents in relation to their experiences of being Muslim in Australian public schools. Previous studies on similar issue found a certain degree of exclusion and discrimination for being Muslims in public school, this present article however, perceives Muslims’ experience differently. The interview data and their written protocols suggest that while prejudicial sentiments may emerge within the lives at Australian public schools, Indonesian Muslim youth gain a certain degree of enjoyment being Muslims in those schools. This is so because participants in this study report that rarely do they encounter severe exclusions or discriminations. The research provides insights into the ways in which Indonesian Muslim youths construct their sense of religious identity within the Australian public schools. It also briefly analyses Muslim parents’ rational for sending their children to Australian public schools. Findings of this study also will enrich literature on migrant communities and their experiences in Australia.
... At the same time, Khan (2009) emphasizes Muslim students are not passive victims, but actively transform marginalizing factors in their own environments. Her research participants "construct a Muslim space" for themselves in their schools. ...
Article
This study investigated seven Muslim elementary school students’ classroom experiences in a large urban area in western Canada. Although existing studies have examined the experiences of Muslim high school, college and university students, no research focused specifically on Muslim elementary school children’s classroom experiences in Alberta prior to this study. The study used an interpretive inquiry approach in which interviews with children about their lived experiences of schooling served as a foundation for critical analysis of school culture. The study results provide important insights into the lives of Muslim immigrant children who are trying to adapt to their host country while maintaining their family and community religious beliefs and practices. According to the findings, there are clear signs of the presence of Islamophobia in Canadian schools.
Chapter
In this chapter, Bakali provides a timely examination of the presence of Islamophobia in Quebec secondary schools in the post-9/11 context. Employing a critical ethnographic approach stemming from institutional ethnography, this chapter explores systemic and institutional racism experienced by young Muslim men in their secondary schools and possible causes for this treatment. Through engaging with participants in individual interviews and focus group discussions, Bakali describes how participants regularly encountered bias from classmates and teachers relating their perceived faith. The findings in this chapter suggest that anti-Muslim racism experienced by participants was inextricably linked to the effects of the War on Terror in the North American context. Moreover, these experiences were also impacted by Quebec state practices, policies, and political and media discourses.
Article
Islamic schools in Australia have become a subject of notable societal and academic interest, but discussions on the purpose of these schools are often approached from the perspective of concerns about national security or the integration of ethnic minorities. Given the growing popularity of Islamic schools in the Australian educational landscape, critics of such schools often assume that their pedagogical climate, curriculum and “separatist” environment does not foster the formation of cultural citizenship. This essay analyses the complex interplay between religion, Islamic identity formation and the politics of schooling in diasporic settings on the basis of an analysis of the experiences of graduates of Islamic schools in Victoria. It provides an insight into the multidimensional role Victoria's Islamic schools play and enables a better understanding of how the schooling of Muslim students in Victoria's Islamic schools relates to the development of an Islamic identity, which is critical to a conceptualizing of how Islamic schools are considered sites for religious identity construction.
Article
Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Rochester. Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development, 2009. This dissertation research examined schooling and youth programming experiences of participants in the Muslim Interscholastic Tournament (MIST), a youth program specific to Muslims. Data from interviews, MIST documents, and participant observations were analyzed using grounded theory to explore the challenges and opportunities that participants faced in school and society, particularly in the post-9/11 climate, and their responses to those challenges. By using MIST as the context for the study, it further explored how youth programs for Muslims, such as MIST, can strive to support the positive youth development of participants through a careful consideration of their identities as Muslim Americans and the contexts in which they are coming of age. Interviews with participants revealed that many Muslim American youth were affected by the racialization of their religion, where they were often made to feel different or marginalized. Many felt obligated to act as “ambassadors” of Islam, even though they recognized the difficulties involved in this responsibility. They felt pressure in school and society to correct stereotypes about Muslims and re-present their religion in a positive light. In contrast, participants felt that MIST provided them with a space in which they could be themselves, meet other Muslims from diverse backgrounds, and explore their identities as Muslims. However, some participants also felt MIST was from a Sunni-perspective and imposed unrealistic restrictions on inter-gender interactions and clothing requirements, causing them to feel marginalized at the tournament. This study has the potential to expand theories on the racialization of religion and positive youth development. Specifically, it illustrates some of the ways in which the effects of racialization differ based on various personal and contextual factors, such as gender, and it suggests that the latent variables of positive youth development, or the “Five C’s,” be crafted with an understanding of and sensitivity to the multiple contexts in which diverse youth participate and operate. In addition, it provides recommendations for educators and other practitioners to create more spaces, both in school and during out-of-school time contexts, which can foster positive youth development.
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