Growing Up Muslim in Region 8, Part 3

Children as young as four years old are taught to read from the Qur'an.  That's quite a feat when you consider the book is entirely written in Arabic. But, its that dedication to one's religion that drives the Islamic faith... especially here in Region 8.  Central to all this is family.  That's why we visit the Bouzihay family right now.

The television is a link to the world they left behind. Muhammad Bouzihay is a native of Morocco. He and his wife, Fatima, a former nurse now housewife, emigrated to the states in 1995.  "Until I was 22, I never see my Dad face-to-face," said Bouzihay. "I talk to him with my head down, that's how much respect I had for him."

To raise his own children here in the states has its challenges. The family is Muslim and tries to follow the tenets of Islam. A computer connected on-line to the website,, lets this family and others all around the world know that it's time for prayers. Worship is extremely important. Even in the home, prayers are said five times a day. Even the youngest members of the family bow and kneel to show their submission to Allah, or God.

"It's like you're bending down to God," said Mariam Bouzihay.  "You pray at home every day, said Muhammad Mbarek Bouzihay.  "We go to mosque once a week, but like our schedule doesn't allow us to go only once a week."

Khadija Bouzihay, a recently graduated Nettleton High School student, found that praying at school was never a problem. "They give me space, " said Khadija. "Whenever I pray,  I pray there and they don't say anything."  It's that religious freedom that Muslims in Region 8 appreciate. "I love America because I can practice my religion freely," said Muhammad Benmahammed.  "Here there is a lot of things. Alot of things. There is alot of opportunity. Education is one of the best opportunities," said Muhammad Mbarek Bouzihay.

Muslim women are encouraged to get a good education.  Khadija has her own plans. "I want to be a pediatrician and I will do it, said Khadija. Even if a woman like Fatima chooses to stay at home, she still must be educated. "She is actually the queen of the house that bring children and feed them and nourish them, said Emaam Abdu Rahman. "Not just food... But their what? their minds. The mind. The soul. That's why she should be educated."

Khadijah is educated even about those things we've always heard... such as arranged marriages. So do they still exist? "It is in our religion that if your father force you to marry someone, said Khadijah. "That is not called marriage." The family is the center of everything. Each member has great respect for the other, and for the faith that binds them together.