Muslim students breaking down cultural barriers in Regina

Muslim students from Regina Huda School are trying to bridge the cultural gap in the city — visiting public schools and talking about their religion.
Saria Jabbar wants to tell fellow students that she doesn't feel oppressed wearing a hijab. (CBC)

Top 10 Things

Saria Jabbar & Abdul Rehman would like you to Know About Islam

1.  Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance.

2. Muslims believe in the same God as Jews and Christians, but call him Allah.

3. Culture and religion are very different, but sometimes get mixed up together.  Some cultural practices are not condoned in the religion.

4. The hijab (head scarf) represents modesty and is not a form of oppression against women.

5. Muslims insist on little to no physical interaction or contact between people of the opposite sex.  This does not apply to immediate family members.

6. Muslims must pray 5 times a day.

7. Prophet Muhammad is the most important role model in Islam.

8. Islamic rules and regulations come from the Qur'an (the Muslim Holy Book), but Muslims learn to incorporate them into their daily lives through the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad.

9. "Haraam" is the word that refers to all aspects of life that are forbidden. "Halal" refers to all things that are allowed.

10. Ramadan is the month of fasting from sunrise to sunset (no food or drink during the daylight hours, and refraining from bad things or deeds) and is ended with a celebration called Eid al Fitr.

Muslim students from Regina Huda School are trying to bridge the cultural gap in this city by visiting public schools and talking about their religion.

About 325 student between pre-kindergarten and Grade 12 attend Huda school on the north side of Regina.

There are an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 Muslims in Regina, and many students from the community attend public schools.  

According to Huda students Abdul Rehman and Saria Jabbar, who are in Grade 11, their fellow students around Regina have lots of questions, such as why Muslims don't eat pork or why women wear head coverings, like the hijab. 

"I've been in public schools where a guy asks Muslim girls to go out and the girl will say no and the guys ... they don't understand it's a cultural thing," Jabbar said.  

The two were recently answering questions at Arcola School, an elementary school in Regina's public system.

"My parents are actually pretty happy about it," Rehman said. "They're really encouraging me to do it because it helps people to understand Muslim people in general."

Teacher Barb Hilts-Most, who works with immigrant and refugee kids at Arcola, says students are not the only ones with questions.

"Teachers definitely have questions as well. We all want to meet our students' needs and we all want to know as much about our students as we can," Hilts-Most said.  

Both Rehman and Jabbar say they're happy to talk about their customs and dispel myths. They say they want what every kid wants: a chance to be understood and to fit in.

(With files from Merelda Fiddler)