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Cross Cultural Differences and Respecting Others

What is culture?

Culture is often thought of from the perspective of language, race, and ethnicity and how it is expressed through art, music, food and literature.[1] A cultural group however, can also comprise people who share a theme or an issue, such as gender, spirituality, sexual preference, age, physical issues, or social and economic status.[2]

This hot topic aims to explain how cross cultural issues, including discrimination and racism, impact on the health and wellbeing of young people, what form this issue takes, and how to identify impacts on your child. It ends with ideas on how you can support your child and offers some resources you can access for more information.

What is discrimination?

Racism is a belief that a particular race or ethnicity is superior or inferior to others. Racial discrimination is any act where a person is treated less favourably because of their colour, race, descent, nationality or ethnic origin resulting in individuals being offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated.[3][4][5] Any group that is considered a “minority” group in Australian society may be the victim of disrespectful, negative stereotyping which may lead to hurtful and discriminatory outcomes for the individuals involved.

Australia is a diverse country which is officially multicultural providing laws to protect its citizens from discrimination.

Despite legislation racism and discrimination do exist.

Why is cross culture acceptance important?

Young people from cultural minority groups experience a unique challenge as they seek to resolve understandings about their identity whilst coming to terms with the fact that some aspect of their lives is not accepted by society.[6] Identity confusion can lead to extreme anxiety in young adolescents and if a young person has little to no connection with their cultural context they can experience an increasing sense of alienation.[7]

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Zakat eligibility of The FYI

The Family & Youth Institute, or The FYI, is a well-known Muslim organization in the United States. It works to promote mental health and wellness by strengthening and empowering individuals, families, and communities through research and education. It has been working for many years to bring Islamic perspectives to understanding and promoting mental health in our communities.

It is dedicated to serving and supporting Muslims – safeguarding our deen, our families, and our future generations. Therefore, the work of The FYI comes in the category of ‘fi sabeelillah’ or the Path of Allah, within the eight categories where Zakat money can be used.

Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed for it and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah, and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah, And Allah, is Knowing and Wise.”
(Al-Tawbah 9:60)

According to scholars who widen the meaning of fee sabeelillah to include any activities that promote Islamic growth, The FYI is indeed eligible to receive part of the Zakat funds for its programs and services. I urge Muslims in America to support this organization through their donations, general charity, and through their Zakat. I ask Allah swt to strengthen and guide The FYI to continue its good work in supporting Muslims.

Shaikh Ali Suleiman Ali, PhD

About Shaikh Ali

Sh. Ali Suleiman Ali was born in Ghana where he spent his childhood studying with various Muslim scholars. He then moved to Saudi Arabia and enrolled in the Islamic University of Madina.  He graduated with a degree in both Arabic and Islamic Studies. Dr. Ali went on to complete his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Sh. Ali serves on the Advisory Council of The Family & Youth Institute. He is the Senior Imam and Director of the Muslim Community of Western Suburbs in Canton, Michigan. Additionally, he serves as the Director of Muslim Family Services in Detroit and is a council member of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA). He is also a member of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF) and the Association of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA).