My Muslim Friend (Ang Kaibigan Kong Muslim)
Teach your students to accept and love their peers despite having different faiths.
WRITTEN BY: Mary Ann Ordinario-Floresta
ILLUSTRATED BY: Joanne de Leon
PUBLISHED BY: ABC Educational Development Center (with English and Tagalog text)
This story tells of an enduring yet unlikely friendship between two girls who are compatible in every way, save for one difference: the narrator is Christian and her friend, Jamella, is Muslim. Their friendship begins in their childhood when Jamella is assigned the seat next to the main character. They become fast friends and enjoy learning and teaching each other about their respective cultures and faiths. Theirs is a friendship that sees them through college in different cities, careers, and families. It shows that people can have strong friendships that last a lifetime despite differing faiths.
IDEAS FOR DISCUSSION
An Open Forum
If you are sharing this story with older students, take this opportunity to discuss Christianity and Islam. To start, simply ask your students what they know about Christians or Muslims. List down what they say. Encourage objective statements but do not react if there are some that are not—you will have time to discuss these later. Hopefully, having this free-flow word association will open the gates for discussing which ideas are factual (Muslims don’t eat pork; Christians believe in God, Jesus) and which are more prejudiced (all Muslims are bad, all Christians are bigots). You want to get them to think about the differences. Ask if they know what the word “prejudice” means and how prejudice is different from not liking someone. You can also ask them to think back to a time when they experienced prejudice and share it with the class.
Related Activity: People Tags
The purpose of this activity is to show how the labels we attach to individuals can hinder us from getting to know them (beyond the label) and to highlight the importance of getting to know people before passing judgment about them.
Prepare two sets of cards: one with names of individuals and their label (Tita Joan, teacher; JR, call center agent; Ate Meann, nurse, etc.) and another set comprised of different objects (cell phone, bag, book, tickets to a Gary V concert, etc.). Then, prepare fact cards containing an important fact about the individual (Tita Joan likes dancing and cooking; Meann’s family lives in another province). Divide your class into groups; explain that they have to imagine they are going Christmas gift shopping for some people. Distribute the people cards and object cards and have them choose what gift they will give. Discuss their choices. Ask how they decided what gift to give to each person, and how the labels like “teacher” or “nurse” influenced their decisions. Now give out the fact cards, and allow the students to rethink their gift choices, based on what they now know about each person.
When they are done, ask them how the new facts influenced their decisions. What happens when we rely too much on the labels we attach to people?
In these troubled and conflict ridden times, teaching our students from a standpoint that promotes peace and non-violence
is more important than ever. Teaching peace is not simply about promoting the absence of violence and conflict, but more importantly it is about planting the seeds for self-reflection and mindfulness and giving them a chance to learn how to build and nurture relationships with all kinds of people. Note that teaching peace in the classroom also takes into account the relationships between teacher and student, where the teacher is open minded about things such as his students’ varying abilities, cultural, or social backgrounds. Now would be a good time to touch on the idea of helping people belong instead of keeping them out because they are different. A lot of people are taught to keep their distance from what they don’t know or don’t understand. We should all be more like the girls in the story and get to know our neighbor or seatmate even if they look, talk, or believe in something different.
Related Activity: A Seat on the Bus
Arrange chairs as you would for musical chairs, with one chair less than there are students. Play music and have the children walk or dance around the chairs. When the music stops, everyone must rush to find a seat, but of course one student will be left without a seat. Traditionally the one without a seat is asked to leave, but for this game, the challenge is for everyone to help that student find a seat. She can sit on someone’s lap, stand on the rungs of the chair, squeeze in next to someone else—you get the idea. Continue the game, removing one chair after each round. Remember to praise your students’ creative efforts in accommodating their peers.
The purpose of this activity is to get your students to think (individually and collectively) of ways to include people, instead of finding reasons to leave them out. This sort of activity can also be suited to younger groups of children. It’s never too early to teach children how to accommodate and include others!
Hand each student a dalandan and tell them to get to know it. Give them time to touch, smell, and memorize all the dents and imperfections. Take the fruits back and place them in a bowl. Next, have them claim “their” dalandan; chances are they will identify the right one. Next, remove the peel so that only the fruit inside is exposed and have them identify their fruit a second time. Without the distinguishing marks they have come to know so well, it becomes almost impossible to tell one from another.
Explain how people are the same—easily identifiable by what we see on the outside (skin color, race, religion), but when we “remove our skin” we can see how alike we are on the inside.
Here are a few facts about Islam.
- Did you know that Jesus is considered to be one of the five great prophets in Islam? The others include Muhammad, Noah, Moses, and Abraham.
- Islam is the youngest of the world’s greatest religions, with its beginnings dating back to the 7th century, in Saudi Arabia. It is based on the teachings of Muhammad as dictated to him by Allah. These teachings can be found in their sacred text, which is the Qu’ran, and their place of worship is
a mosque. Muslims must pray five times a day. When they pray, they must wash themselves prior to prayer and face in the direction of Mecca, the birthplace of the prophet Muhammad, and which is where the Ka’bah is found. Muslims consider the Ka’bah the holiest place on earth and is meant to be a directional location for prayer (not itself to be worshipped) for unity and uniformity. All Muslims, no matter where in the world they live, know what direction Mecca is from their home. A Muslim is one who follows the beliefs of the Islamic religion.