Saudi Arabia: From the Mouth of a Child…Repeated

American Bedu’s earlier post “From the Mouth of a Child” was well received that it is with pleasure that we get to hear from another youngster!  This young man also lives in Saudi Arabia.  His parents asked him the questions but the answers are his own.  As readers have remarked upon previously, hearing the perceptions and views of a young child can be very enlightening indeed.  American Bedu would like to hear the responses of even more young children whether in Saudi Arabia or not.  It is always interesting to learn how a child’s mind thinks when asked questions that the answers may not necessarily be known to them.  If you have a child and wish to have your child’s views shared with American Bedu please email me directly at admin@americanbedu.com.


What is your name?

Abdullah

Where do you live?

In Jeddah

What is your nationality?

American

How old are you?

Almost 10

Who is the leader of Saudi Arabia?

King Abdullah

What is the capital of Saudi Arabia?

Riyadh!

Who is the leader of the United States of America?

Barak Obama

What is the capital of the United States of America?

Washington D.C.

How many hours does it take to go from America to Saudi Arabia?

11 hours

What is the best thing to do in Saudi Arabia?

Praying in Makkah and Madinah.

What is the best thing to do in the United States?

Visiting my grandparents and praying with them.

Why do women wear black in Saudi Arabia?

I don’t know

What is a muttawa?

A guy who is wearing tagiya, shumag and mishleh. Walking around like he is important.

What is the adhan?

Something you hear before the prayer so that people can get ready.

Are there muttawa in the United States?

No

What is a Muslim?

A guy who prays to god, and is an abd-allah (servant of God). He prays before he sleeps and he prays when he wakes up.

What is a Christian?

A guy who prays to a cross. And he doesn’t believe in god.

Do Muslims and Christians like each other?  Why or why not?

No. Because Christians don’t believe in god and Muslims don’t believe in the cross.

What do Saudis like to eat the most?

Rice and chicken

What do Americans like to eat the most?

Turkey

What would you like to say to other children around the world?

To always pray and listen to their moms and dads and to tell them that “Paradise lies under the feet of your mother”.

 

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45 Responses

  1. He sounds like a sweet boy…a bit concerning however, is that he is obviously somewhat pious and yet he is poorly informed about what Christians believe. But he is a kid…who knows where kids get their ideas sometimes…maybe he is misinterpreting what he has heard or maybe he is repeating what he has heard. In which case the adults around him are misinformed. Hard to say.

    If he is American and spent any time there one would have hoped he absorbed the differences a bit better.

    Perhaps instead of an interfaith dialoque center being built in the west some should be built in Saudi.

    He sounds like a nice kid but it reminds me that we should be clear with our children how we speak about other faiths and try to make sure they get accurate information.

  2. i don’t know the age of the child answering the questions. i’m sure young, so he can say whatever he wants. my side of the family is christian, and they would never take too seriously by a young gun. cute

  3. Carol, I am glad you are offering this ” Out of the mouths of babes.” Q and A. It is very alarming on the two last Q & A’s that neither child had accuracy about Christianity. He seems like a sweet child. It sounds as though he parrots what adults have told him. The question that came to my mind quickly was is this what is taught in schools and homes in SA? I would suggest you also ask children at different ages. I don’t want to become bais. I need to hear from more children. This is alarming though.

  4. never tell//suggest to a parent how to raise their child. big no no. unless they ask you..

    this child is going to be someone great when he grows up…wait and see….

  5. I enjoyed reading this interview although I’m sorry he believes Christians don’t believe in God and pray to a cross. 🙂 I loved that he thought Americans liked turkey best.

    I plan to ask Michael these questions. I started to the other day, but was not able to finish. It’s cute to hear what the little ones have to say. Thanks for sharing!

  6. By the way, he’s almost 10 for those wondering of his age. It says so up there. 🙂

  7. please do share michael’s answers with us!

  8. Carol…

    the last child Omar, seems like a little cutie and better informed. The way he answers his questions with full answers is cute. Plus he understands the concept of Jesus/religion better. AND he seems to have a rudimentary understanding of the political issues. I find it interesting that the first child thinks that Muslims and Christians have issues with each other due to politics. The second child attributes it to religious differences. I am confused though, Omar says he is Christian. Am I misunderstanding this? I thought he automatically has to be Muslim if the father is Muslim and his name is Muslim. What am I missing?

    If he is Christian I find it telling that he doesn’t view the issues between the two faiths as religious…seems someone is teaching him the difference and that they don’t have to automatically not get along due to religious differences.

  9. correction: I mean the first child interviewee Omar…

  10. Sad that adults teach those under their care not to be friends with others based on imaginary tales about invisible friends.
    Very sad…

  11. I remember Omar’s mom was Russian Orthodox and her Indian Muslim husband seemed to be fine with Omar choosing his own religion. So far he’s chosen Christianity because, she said, he identified himself as an American and thought most of us were Christians, therefore HE was. Maybe for him Christianity was more aligned with nationality than pure religion.

    I like the fact Omar was free to choose and not automatically forced to be Muslim since his father was. Newsflash: Mothers do count for something!

  12. “What is a Christian?

    A guy who prays to a cross. And he doesn’t believe in god.”

    One can certainly understand the state of tolerance in Saudi Arabia when a muslim child spouts this kind if nonsense. Christians do not pray to a cross (even if that is the point of focus). Are Muslims praying to compass points when they pray? The child’s parents should be slapped his teachers should be slapped.

  13. children say a lot of things they hear from a lot of people. the surroundings of where they are raised also plays a part, so his views on religions could all be hearsay from strangers … well, now that his parents know what he knows they can always educate him.

    sometimes someone asks my kids a question and i’m surprised by their answers, in this busy life we all lead who sits & quizzes their kids on religion, as long as he knows his it’s a start i guess.

  14. Dear Carol, I hope I’m not being rude in coming back to your interesting, blog. I was reading some of my favorite poems and quotes from different poets and came across this one. I thought you might enjoy. 🙂

    Charlotte Bronte
    1816-1855

    “Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilized by education; they grow firm there, firm as weeds among stones.”

  15. i know how the child gets his idea of it [christian]
    they think jesus is son of or is literally god. i live around both religions and know how the arabs think about it….and i know that christians can be weird about it[islam] too[they also think muslims don’t believe in jesus, he is a kid…so that’s it

  16. It’s very interesting to read the comments. I am Abdellah’s mom and I just want to say that I was as surprised by the answers as many of you. As Radha said above now that I have heard what he thinks to be the truth I can educate him.

    While he is American he only lived there for a few years when he was young and hasn’t been back for a few years. I also want to point out that we are a very religiously tolerant family- we practice Islam as a family however my extended family is mostly Catholic as well as Christian and my moms side is Atheist.

    The only thing I can attribute this to is possibly his school or friends.

    I’m glad Carol gave me a chance to participate in this and who know maybe we will start our own little Interfaith Dialogue Center within our own home ;).

  17. @ oby
    Omar was born in the Unite States and when we brought him form the hospital, we invited local moulanah to receive the boy into this world. We were expecting a girl, so his gender was a total surprise to us. We thought of a girl name Valerie Nicole for 9 months of my pregnancy, but to be released from the hosital child had to be given name – to apply for Social Security Number. I personally named him Omar Farooque, it just came to my mind all of a sudden – Omar… Farooque is his father’s first name, and in Russia it is customary to give a child second name of the father. So, that is how the name came up.
    As for religion – we leave it up to Omar to be whoever he wants to be….
    As for little boy Abdullah – Omar and I wish him all the best…

  18. Habeeba, I enjoyed your reply! It’s amazing what kids pick up just from hearing talk on the TV, from others and so forth, huh? Thanks for letting us “meet” your little boy this way. I still smile when I read that Americans like turkey the most. Maybe he was here over Thanksgiving? 😉

  19. Children pick up a lot at school, I think schools are very important because children really spend most of their waking hours at school, not with their parents. Therefore it is very important to choose the right school for your child, if you have that possibility.

    I was at a Christian school, which my parents choose because of it’s reputed excellence academically.
    That school had some teachers which definitely tried to poison our minds against other religions. Like ”Catholics are bad because they pray to the virgin Mary”
    Which I always thought extremely dodgy, even at the age of 6, and their religiously biased bigotry put me on the way of rationalist thinking very early.

  20. The line “Paradise lies under the feet of your mother” may explain the 100 comments on other recent posts about marriage and divorce issues with Saudi males. The little kid nailed it.

    Actually, paradise is getting along well with your spouse. Or better, paradise is actually a moving target as you get older – it changes over time.

    Anyway, Christians pray to a cross and Muslims worship a rock. Fair is fair.

  21. Habeeba…

    Thanks for the clarification. Yes kids pick up some of the most interesting things at school. I know that my daughter has come out with some wild things and when I ask her about it I realize she has misunderstood something she saw, was told, or overheard. Some of the things are so funny because you never think of it as a child does…

    As Aafke said schools are so important…I feel blessed that the one my daughter goes to, this year made a study of the major beliefs of the world (not just the Abrahamic ones). Each kid had to research them and then contrast and compare and give a small presentation. I think that helped them understand some of the differences but also commonalities. It is a secular school not a religious one which I think makes it even more admirable that they are trying to foster understanding early. I wish more schools would do that…

  22. Jerry M

    “One can certainly understand the state of tolerance in Saudi Arabia when a muslim child spouts this kind if nonsense. Christians do not pray to a cross (even if that is the point of focus). Are Muslims praying to compass points when they pray? The child’s parents should be slapped his teachers should be slapped.”

    Jerry hit it spot on! Quite a few of our friends who have lived in the Kigdom of Stupidity & Arrogance have related that kids are taught in saudi schools that their western mothers are harlots and whores and sluts. And that Jews are apes and pigs.

    Go figure …..

  23. Oby, it is because your child is lucky enough to go to e secular school that she gets to learn and understand about all religions in an unbiased way.
    Do you really, seriously think a religious school would teach something like an unbiased view at all major world religions???? Hell no!

    All schools should be secular. Religion has no place on schools. Schools are for learning real stuff.
    The mystic fairy tales can be taught at home.

  24. Susanne- Well we do celebrate Thanksgiving every year and he knows that it’s an American holiday, also there always seems to be a turkey in Tom and Jerry and he has watched that a lot! I remember my youngest seeing a turkey for the first time and his eyes were huge- he said it’s like Tom and Jerry mom! I actually thought he was going to go with the standard hot dogs and hamburgers that most Arabs think is the favorites of most Americans.

    Aafke- I agree with you that schools play a major role in the ideas that children hold. My son is in 4h grade and this is the 3rd school that he has been in here in Jeddah. The lack of quality education is appalling and frankly we have had enough. Next year he is being homeschooled if we are still here. Also I believe that I am sending my child to learn language, mathematics science etc… Religion if any should be taught at home because there is no right or wrong way its an individual decision.

    You know that out of the 15 or so textbook/workbooks that are in Abdellah’s backpack about 8 are related to religion? I think it’s too much for children really.

    Oby- You are lucky that your child is in a school that you are happy with. After I explained more to Abdellah about Christianity and the symbolism of the Cross he was really interested and said that it makes more sense the way I explained it than what he had thought.

  25. My thought is that at least one of the parents read and approved the child’s answers so it seems to me that the parent had an opportunity to explain right there and then to the child that he was wrong. It also seems apparent to me that it did not happen. Most Muslims I know are taught to respect Christians and Christianity and also understand that the God of Christians, Jews and Muslims is one and the same.

  26. Habeeba, I love the pure logic children have!
    Turkey: ”it’s like Tom and Jerry”!!! LOL!
    Muttawa: ”A guy who is wearing tagiya, shumag and mishleh. Walking around like he is important.”
    Hihihiiiiii!
    I once read this book, compilation of children’s comments. Hilarious! And so utterly true and logic! I wish I had brought it 🙂

  27. Habeeba…

    I would heartily recommend home schooling.Though i haven’t done it I have friends who do as well as my sister in law. There are so many good ones out there available and not just with a religious tilt…I have a friend who prefers a secular one and the stuff her kids are learning is amazing… he is one full grade ahead of kids in his age group. I don’t know about Saudi, but in the USA the program she uses is sanctioned by the state. The kids have to take tests that are state approved and he meets with his teachers virtually via computer, they grade his work etc. It is mostly done by computer with my friend following the guidelines they have laid out. Also in studies it has been shown that home schooled kids are ahead of most of their peers in public, parochial (religious) and private school. Since it is done mostly online you might even be able to access a program from your home country. I say go for it and the best of luck if you do.

  28. “Anyway, Christians pray to a cross and Muslims worship a rock. Fair is fair”

    Just read this now, Jay. LOL!!!

  29. Wendy,

    “Most Muslims I know are taught to respect Christians and Christianity and also understand that the God of Christians, Jews and Muslims is one and the same”

    You really need to get out more and meet more people. I figure that you meeting 10 people per hour, 10 hours per day, for 42,000 years should take care of this problem. Please get to it!

    J.

  30. I said most Muslims I know and that is what I meant and I do know more than just a few.

  31. I am so happy that the “Mom’s” are actively participating in the discussions. The perspectives of young children open our own eyes in so many new ways. I always like asking young children for their views or a description of what they are seeing. Their honesty and openness is very refreshing.

  32. cute… but an indication of what is taught in his school. Sad but I think a lot of already knew that the quality of education in KSA isn’t as high as the US (not that the US is all that great anymore compared to China and India).

  33. First of all, some folks are way too critical here! Radha had the right idea. Imagine how many non-Muslim American kids would just say, “oh, Muslims, they are the ones who blow things up and hate us.” So, kids are pretty ignorant/scarily naive.

    Second, Aafke, sometimes you are stuck in your own stereotypes. I actually did attend Catholic high school and we actually did study all major world religions including all sorts of Christian denominations. I never heard one bad word about any of them! In fact, I would argue they could have taught us more about the pros and cons!!! I think most schools, no matter the religious affiliation, focus on the PC stuff.

  34. Lada…

    I am sorry for not answering. I missed your ealier response to me. Valerie Nicole…that would have been such a lovely name had Omar been a girl.

    My husband is from India too and his mother was quite anxious that we name our child an Indian name so the suggestions poured in. I could not settle on any one but for some reason I liked the name Asha…the way it flowed off the tongue and it means “hope”. Plus the big bonus was it was easy for an Indian name and would be hard for non Indians to mess up. However, his mother and the family didn’t like it as they said it was “old fashioned”. Who knew? My mother was pushing me to name her after myself which is also my mothers name and a great aunt’s name and she thought it would be cool to have 4 generations with the same name…but I didn’t want my daughter to go through what I did my whole life with my mom…when anyone called one of us the other would invariably answer “what”? I only recently found out that my mother still harbors a bit of resentment over that…she’ll live! LOL!

    My poor daughter remained nameless until she was almost born. Ultimately we decided on an American/Anglican first and middle name. My reasoning was that NO ONE ever pronounces my Indian last name correctly and I have had to spell it ever since I got married. I thought the kid already is going to have a lifetime of spelling her last name for everyone, why not make her life easier and pick a name that virtually everyone will recognize and no one will mangle. And that is how it was done. So she is a mix of Indian and American. I am sure it will raise a few eyebrows.

  35. @oby
    Thank you for sharing you daughter’s name story…
    It is funny, how in America they pronounce unfamiliar names… I was called differently many times, though my name is soooo simple… It cracks me up everytime.
    I would agree with your suggestion about home schooling. Considering downfall of educational system in USA that is the best option for our children. Sadly,but teachers can not teach…

  36. That’s too funny about the names, I figure that all mixed couples have these battles. Our son remained unnamed basically until an hour before we left the hospital, and only because we HAD to name him. For the duration of our hospital stay, he was referred to as “baby boy [my last name]”, which is funny as hell because in Russian last names are gender specific and it sounded like he had a girl’s last name. I was dead-set against an Arabic first name because I figured that having an Arabic last name is enough of a prize for a man, considering that he did not have to carry the baby or give birth to it, or give up booze or set aside all the skinny jeans and stilettos. We settled on an Arabic name that sounds exactly like the male equivalent of my sister’s name. My sister’s daughter is named after me, so it worked out. But it was hard!!! For the second child, I’m digging in and the thing WILL be named as I say.

  37. NN, LOL! 🙂

    I always have to spell my name… If it’s not important I just use my second name, which works in English and other languages.

  38. @NN – priceless! And to think that you’ve only recently given birth and can already speak of child number two! My 2nd grandson is almost two months old but I learned not to bring up the subject of more children. (smile)

  39. I was also one of those “nameless” children until it was time to leave the hospital. After having given birth to 3 daughters my mom and dad were certain that “I” was Brian David. It never occurred to them I would be nothing but a son. So when the birth certificate had to be completed there were my mom and dad impromptu declaring me “Carol Ann.”

    On Sun, Jan 30, 2011 at 3:41 AM, Carol Fleming wrote:

    > @NN – priceless! And to think that you’ve only recently given birth and > can already speak of child number two! My 2nd grandson is almost two months > old but I learned not to bring up the subject of more children. (smile) > >

  40. NN-sounds familiar, we’re also thinking of names for our baby girl. I hope we come to an agreement before she’s born 🙂
    Its difficult to find names that would be easy to pronounce both in Saudi and Finland or that it doesnt have some weird meaning in the other language..
    For example my husband suggested Munira, which in Finnish sounds like ” a chicken laying eggs”..

  41. Laylah, I always loved the name Alia, you can make it Finnish by spelling it Aallllliiyya ;-). What about Lena? It’s both a Scandinavian name as well as Arabic. Congrats on your girl! You have so many beautiful names to choose from. I only had boys, so by the second one, we were really struggling for names we both liked.

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  43. Hi Carol…

    The problem with these interviews is that they are VERY CLEARLY showing the lack of tolerance and understanding ON both sides. Muslims do not educate their children openly and with tolerance about other religions and christian/western children are bought up, if their parents are not fair and just people, to see muslims as terriosts. The majority of muslims in this world are peaceful people but the exception seem to make the rule. It doesnt matter what we think, children need to be educated in a rounded manner. If we dont give our children a unbiased view of the future peace will never be achieved, racism and bigotry will contine to exsist. muslims, christians, jews… everyone. educate your children without your own views.

  44. @Anna,

    Thank you for your comment. I think for us to read the words from the children are important and very eye opening. Reading the words of children who are both Christian and Muslim and living in different countries does highlight the need for interfaith and intercultural initiatives beginning at the primary level.

  45. […] educating and just downright entertaining at times too!  In this latest post of the new series, young Nikki gives her views and perspectives!  I enjoyed learning Nikki’s outlooks on many of […]

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