U.S.

August 22, 2013

Freedom of Religion; Two cultures, same house

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Senior Airman Camilla Elizeu
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Camilla Elizeu)
Staff Sgt. Asad Abdul Muhammad, 355th Fighter Wing protocol specialist, and his family sit down and read a book about religion at their home Aug. 13. Abdul and his wife Ashley believe in allowing their children to pick their own religion.

Staff Sgt. Asad Abdul Muhammad, 355th Fighter Wing protocol specialist, has just finished partaking in Ramadan.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar.

Every day during this month, Muslims around the world spend the daylight hours abstaining from food, drink and other physical needs during the daylight hours, it is a time to purify the soul, refocus attention on God and practice self-sacrifice.

“Ramadan is a test of discipline,” Abdul Muhammad said. “When I participate in Ramadan, I am humbled by the fact that at the end of the day I get a meal where there are people who don’t have that option. They don’t have a choice of when their next meal will come, if it comes at all.”

Abdul Muhammad, being the only Muslim in his household, was the only one who participated in Ramadan.

“The kids didn’t notice it much,” Abdul Muhammad said. “They have their own schedules for dinner and bed time, so by the time I am eating they are in bed. My wife does try and wait for me to have dinner, though. She also plans to fast with me next year.”

Abdul Muhammad’s wife is a Catholic, who is very interested in other religions, and teaches their children about the different options they have.

“We do not try to force our religion on them,” Abdul Muhammad said. “We believe that it is their right to choose what religion they want to follow, so we celebrate all holidays in the Islamic culture as well as the Christian culture.”

Abdul Muhammad’s parents raised him the same way.

“Growing up, my parents were Baptist, and my dad converted to Muslim. Sometime after that my mother converted as well,” Abdul Muhammad said. “But they didn’t force it on me; they gave me the choice of attending church with my uncles and aunts or going to the mosque with them. So, I tried both out and decided to be a Muslim.”

The Abdul Muhammad family hasn’t picked a religious establishment to attend in the local area, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t partaking in their religious beliefs.

“Religion doesn’t have to have a building,” Abdul Muhammad said. “We believe in focusing on the lessons to be learned from the book, rather than someone else’s interpretation.”

The children in the family are taught moral values based off the different religions in the house.

“We teach them the values that our religions teach us. We want to instill morals in them,” Abdul Muhammad said. “When you think about it, that is what this nation is; a variety of cultures, a variety of identities.”

Mrs. Abdul Muhammad has taught their children about Buddhism, Judaism, Catholicism and Islamism.

“In the house we have a Bible, a Kabbalah, a Quran and books on different religions for kids,” Abdul Muhammad said. “We just want our kids to focus on the lessons, essentially a good moral standing.”




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(U.S. Air Force Illustration by Airman 1st Class Cheyenne Morigeau)

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