Camp Ramadan is helping kids be proud of their Islamic identity.

There is a growing sense of Islamophobia or an anti-Muslim sentiment all over the United States. While refuted by many media and political outlets, it is an issue that needs to be brought out and discussed. The most vulnerable sections of society to misinformation and easy misdirection are children.

If such thoughts are implanted, or find their way into the minds of youngsters and children, removing it can be almost impossible. On the other side of the equation, there are young Muslim kids who may be afraid, apprehensive, or even, unwilling to identify themselves as being of the Islamic faith for fear of bias or unfair treatment.

The Ramadan Camp

A crafts-based camp that seeks to bring about sensitivity of the issue and teach children about Islam was organized in the holy month this year in Washington D.C. About 60 Muslim kids aged between 3 and 15 participated in this one of a kind camp; it is the only one in the U.S.A. The second edition of this year's camp came to a close on the day of Eid.

Unlike most other religious camps, Camp Ramadan avoids all religious activity on purpose. In fact, apart from the midday prayers, it is nothing like a summer camp dedicated to the month of Ramadan. The idea was to get kids off the couch and involve themselves in a few fun activities when they are fasting, the organizer of the camp said, that was the original plan.

The focus, however, is on traditional arts and Islamic craft work, things that are not taught anywhere else in the U.S.A. It is true that there are a number of Muslim camps for children in other parts of the U.S.A., but none of them avoid the actual religious aspect of it. They are mostly scripture teaching camps, mostly Quranic in nature.

Everything from paper marbling, bookbinding, calligraphy, to marquetry is taught here. The camp is part of the Next Wave Muslim Initiative and is intended to create awareness among children in the States about their Muslim identity. Issues like gender equality, the importance of their core religious practices and other things pertaining to their faith, whether or not they are from a family that worships regularly or even attends the mosque are deftly handled. The children, although young, are quick to pick up on these issues and imbue what they learn in their day to day.

Resources

Follow the Conversation on Twitter