Article in brief: Parents have to instill the concepts of tolerance and moderation when raising their children in order to build a tolerant society which accepts others regardless of their differences.
After the recent terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, a number of video clips documenting the attacks and security measures, taken by people and local authorities near mosques, were circulating on social media.
My seven-year-old son was sitting next to me when I played a video showing security checkpoints at the entrance of a mosque in a neighboring country. He immediately asked me: “Dad! This is not an airport. This is a mosque. Why are they being searched? Aren’t they going to pray?” It was a spontaneous question from a child who was brought up on the fact that God means safety and security, and being in the mosque means being at peace and security with oneself. Unfortunately, the complexity of events is beyond a child’s comprehension. In fact, parents, including myself, may find it difficult to explain what is happening around us to their children or at least answer their questions.
For children, parents are the first source of knowledge, so most of their questions about their surroundings are directed to their parents. However, if they are unable to answer or provide a satisfactory answer, children will inevitably use the Internet to find answers. Such a practice makes children vulnerable to radical and extremist thoughts and messages. Therefore, I call upon parents to pay attention to their children before it is too late.
Our actions and beliefs are reflected onto our children’s personalities. We as parents need to be a role model for them and embody the highest levels of ethics and good conduct. We need to teach our children to respect others regardless of their faith or race. They should learn to accept others despite their differences. Teachings should not be limited to words, but should be followed by actions in order to leave an impact on children’s personality. Parents need to show real examples of tolerance and respect. Respecting the housemaid or cleaners on the road or accepting a neighbor that might be from a different sect are examples that our children should see as they grow up.
One of the key success factors of the UAE society is the ability of its people to live in a multinational society and welcome expats. The tolerance level that exists in the society is deeply rooted in the UAE’s culture and people. As Emirati parents, it is our responsibility to nurture this tolerance in our children and educate them about the importance of living in peace with people from different backgrounds.
The late Sheikh Zayed was once told that 85% of the population is made of expats. His response was “The livelihood is from God, the money is God’s, the land is God’s, the grace is God’s, we are all God’s creation, and he who has trusted God will never be failed, and those who come to us are welcome.”
May god bless the UAE and protect its people.
Abdulla holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and a Master’s in Business Administration. His abstract passion for history and literature with a hint of photography adds to his noble enduring quality. Abdulla enjoys visiting museums, art exhibitions and likes to spend his spare time in the outdoors. His column “Emirati Reflections” is a mixture of stories from the past and insights of the present, which blend together and formulate his understanding of the UAE’s culture.