Asma Uddin '05 in NY Times Room for Debate on Religion and Child-Rearing


“Mom, who is that man?” Zaynab, my 5-year-old daughter asks, inevitably both fascinated and a bit frightened every time we’re at a stoplight and a beggar approaches our car.

“That man has no home or food. He wants us to help him.”

The beggar at the street corner comes up often in my conversations with Zaynab. He plays a central role in our conversations about generosity, gratitude and obedience to God. Every time she complains about not having enough, I have her recall those — like the homeless — who have far less. “Allah doesn’t like it when you don’t finish your food. Not everyone has food, as you know. Those who do must appreciate it and not waste it.”

The reference doesn’t always succeed in quelling her demands, but it does force her to pause and ponder. As do the angels who sit on her right and left shoulder, hastily jotting down everything good and bad she does, and the omnipresence of God. The more we’ve talked about them, the more hyper-aware my daughter has become about the consequences of her actions. There is a deeper side to her that has been cultivated by our conversations about faith.

Read the rest of the article here.