We have spent many happy hours and days in Syria. We grieve for our Syrian friends, for those living in Homs and Hama, and all those seeking freedom from tyranny.
Those who do not know that there is only one God often think Allah is not the same God we worship. Those who do not know the history of Islam do not understand that all our traditions stem from Abraham, and that Islam springs from Hajar, mother of Ishmael. They do not know that the prayers start with “There is no God but Allah” and I am willing to bet that linguistically, Jahweh and Allah are related, too.
The good news is, too, that this is not an official school activity, and the student has the freedom to sing – or not to sing. My bet is that the student is missing out on an interesting opportunity to sing some very different music.
A Colorado high school student says he quit the school choir after an Islamic song containing the lyric “there is no truth except Allah” made it into the repertoire.
James Harper, a senior at Grand Junction High School in Grand Junction, put his objection to singing “Zikr,” a song written by Indian composer A.R. Rahman, in an email to Mesa County School District 51 officials. When the school stood by choir director Marcia Wieland’s selection, Harper said, he quit.
“I don’t want to come across as a bigot or a racist, but I really don’t feel it is appropriate for students in a public high school to be singing an Islamic worship song,” Harper told KREX-TV. “This is worshipping another God, and even worshipping another prophet … I think there would be a lot of outrage if we made a Muslim choir say Jesus Christ is the only truth.”
But district spokesman Jeff Kirtland defended the decision to include the song.
“Choral music is often devoted to religious themes. … This is not a case where the school is endorsing or promoting any particular religion or other non-educational agenda. The song was chosen because its rhythms and other qualities would provide an opportunity to exhibit the musical talent and skills of the group in competition, not because of its religious message or lyrics,” Kirtland told FoxNews.com in an email while noting that the choir “is a voluntary, after-school activity.”
“Students are not required to participate, and receive no academic credit for doing so,” he said.
At an upcoming concert, the choir is scheduled to sing an Irish folk song and an Christian song titled “Prayer of the Children,” in addition to the song by Rahman.
“The teacher consulted with students and asked each of them to review an online performance of the selection with their parents before making the decision to perform the piece,” Kirtland said, and members who object to the religious content of musical selections aren’t required to sing them.
Rahman, who has sold hundreds of millions of records and is well-known in his homeland, has said the song is not intended for a worship ceremony. He told FoxNews.com in a written statement that the song, composed for the move “Bose, the Forgotten Hero,” is about “self-healing and spirituality.”
“It is unfortunate that the student in Colorado misinterpreted the intention of the song,” Rahman said. “I have long celebrated the commonalities of humanity and try to share and receive things in this way. While I respect his decision for opting out, this incident is an example of why we need further cultural education through music.”
The song is written in Urdu, but one verse translates to “There is no truth except Allah” and “Allah is the only eternal and immortal.” Although the choir sang the original version, Wieland distributed translated lyrics.
Grand Junction High School Principal Jon Bilbo referred questions to Kirtland.
FoxNews.com’s Joshua Rhett Miller contributed to this story.
I found this article on the National Public Radio Health Page; with the title Why a Teen Who Talks Back may have a Bright Future. It has to do with teaching your teen to talk problems through confidently; researchers found teens who could express themselves confidently had a greater likelihood of turning down offers of illegal drugs or behaviors.
It is interesting to me, too, that the Dutch who had the courage to shelter the Jews during the Holocaust were those who had learned to think independently as teenagers.
If you’re the parent of a teenager, you likely find yourself routinely embroiled in disputes with your child. Those disputes are the symbol of teen developmental separation from parents.
It’s a vital part of growing up, but it can be extraordinarily wearing on parents. Now researchers suggest that those spats can be tamed and, in the process, provide a lifelong benefit to children.
Researchers from the University of Virginia recently published their findings in the journal Child Development. Psychologist Joseph P. Allen headed the study.
Allen says almost all parents and teenagers argue. But it’s the quality of the arguments that makes all the difference.
“We tell parents to think of those arguments not as nuisance but as a critical training ground,” he says. Such arguments, he says, are actually mini life lessons in how to disagree — a necessary skill later on in life with partners, friends and colleagues on the job.
Teens should be rewarded when arguing calmly and persuasively and not when they indulge in yelling, whining, threats or insults, he says.
In Allen’s study, 157 13-year-olds were videotaped describing their biggest disagreement with their parents. The most common arguments were over grades, chores, money and friends. The tape was then played for both parent and teen.
“Parents reacted in a whole variety of ways. Some of them laughed uncomfortably; some rolled their eyes; and a number of them dove right in and said, ‘OK, let’s talk about this,’” he says.
It was the parents who said wanted to talk who were on the right track, says Allen. “We found that what a teen learned in handling these kinds of disagreements with their parents was exactly what they took into their peer world,” with all its pressures to conform to risky behavior like drugs and alcohol.
Allen interviewed the teens again at ages 15 and 16. “The teens who learned to be calm and confident and persuasive with their parents acted the same way when they were with their peers,” he says. They were able to confidently disagree, saying ‘no’ when offered alcohol or drugs. In fact, they were 40 percent more likely to say ‘no’ than kids who didn’t argue with their parents.
For other kids, it was an entirely different story. “They would back down right away,” says Allen, saying they felt it pointless to argue with their parents. This kind of passivity was taken directly into peer groups, where these teens were more likely to acquiesce when offered drugs or alcohol. “These were the teens we worried about,” he says.
Bottom line: Effective arguing acted as something of an inoculation against negative peer pressure. Kids who felt confident to express themselves to their parents also felt confident being honest with their friends.
So, ironically the best thing parents can do is help their teenager argue more effectively. For this, Allen offers one word: listen.
In the study, when parents listened to their kids, their kids listened back. They didn’t necessarily always agree, he says. But if one or the other made a good point, they would acknowledge that point. “They weren’t just trying to fight each other at every step and wear each other down. They were really trying to persuade the other person.”
Acceptable argument might go something like this: ‘How about if my curfew’s a half hour later but I agree that I’ll text you or I’ll agree that I’ll stay in certain places and you’ll know where I’ll be; or how about I prove to you I can handle it for three weeks before we make a final decision about it.”
Again, parents won’t necessarily agree. But “they’ll get across the message that they take their kids point of view seriously and honestly consider what they have to say,” Allen says.
Child psychologist Richard Weissbourd says the findings bolster earlier research that finds that “parents who really respect their kids’ thinking and their kids’ input are much more likely to have kids who end up being independent thinkers and who are able to resist peer groups.”
Weissbourd points to one dramatic study that analyzed parental relationships of Dutch citizens who ended up protecting Jews during World War II. They were parents who encouraged independent thinking, even if it differed from their own.
So the next time your teenager huffs and puffs and starts to argue, you might just step back for a minute, take a breath yourself, and try to listen. It may be one of the best lessons you teach your child.
Kuwait makes AOL News: Huffington Post today, as two guys are arrested over Tweets offensive to royals:
Kuwait To Try Nasser Abul And Lawrence al-Rashidi Over Twitter Posts
KUWAIT (Reuters) – Kuwait will put on trial two citizens for criticizing Gulf Arab ruling families on social media site Twitter, a security official said on Monday.
Nasser Abul, a Kuwaiti Shi’ite Muslim, was arrested for posting criticisms of the Sunni Muslim ruling families in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, and Lawrence al-Rashidi posted defamatory comments of Kuwait’s emir, he said.
He said both would remain in detention for two more weeks before a hearing is scheduled, where they will likely face charges of harming the Gulf Arab state’s interests and defaming the country’s ruler after being arrested earlier in June.
Democracy activists have used social media such as Facebook and Twitter to debate, organize and share information in Bahrain, where the kingdom’s Sunni rulers crushed a protest movement in March led mostly by the country’s Shi’ite majority.
Bahrain called in troops from Sunni-led neighbors such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to enforce its crackdown. OPEC member Kuwait, which has a Shi’ite minority, sent naval forces.
Bahrain questioned a rights activist in April for publishing an image which appeared to show signs of torture on a man who died in detention during the unrest. It is not clear if the case will be brought to court.
Gulf Arab states, run by closely-allied ruling families, are trying to prevent protest movements that brought down Egyptian and Tunisian leaders earlier this year from taking off in their patch.
(Reporting by Eman Goma; editing by Mark Heinrich)
YANGON, Myanmar (Nov. 13) — Myanmar’s military government freed its archrival, democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, on Saturday after her latest term of detention expired. Several thousand jubilant supporters streamed to her residence.
(You can read the entire story on AOL News