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Holidays & Identity

About the Episode:

Every year, right around Halloween and until after Christmas, the same conversation pops up in our Muslim communities – Should my child be going trick-or-treating? Can we make gingerbread houses? Is it okay to celebrate mainstream holidays?

Parents are thinking about whether their children will feel left out–and maybe whether this whole thing is really that big of a deal? A lot of parents are concerned with making the right decision to set the tone for their kids at a young age.

We wanted to dig into this topic a bit more. What’s the big deal with holiday celebrations anyways?

How is it different if you have young kids versus teenagers?

What should parents consider as they navigate these decisions during the holiday season?

About the Hosts:

Duaa Haggag is a Community Educator at The FYI and works in private practice as a child, adolescent, and family therapist at Silent Sunlight Counseling. Duaa is also the writer behind one of our most popular projects, the Meaning through Movies series.

Dr. Madiha Tahseen is a Research Fellow, Community Educator, and Research Translation Manager here at The FYI. She has a Ph.D. in Applied Developmental Psychology and will be bringing that perspective and her research on Muslim youth and identity, into our conversation today.
Mahnoor Faheem is an intern at The FYI. She is a senior at the University of Texas at Austin majoring in biology with a minor in human rights and social justice and hopes to pursue a career in healthcare. She is passionate about making healthcare accessible for all and ensuring that the Muslim community’s emotional, social, and spiritual needs are considered.


Duaa Haggag

Duaa Haggag, LPC is a Community Educator with The Family & Youth Institute. She holds a Master’s degree in counseling, with a dual certificate in school and community counseling. She currently works in private practice as a child, adolescent, and family therapist at Silent Sunlight Counseling. Her interests include group, play, and art therapy.

Madiha Tahseen

Dr. Madiha Tahseen is the Research Director and a Community Educator at The Family and Youth Institute. She holds a Ph.D. in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her research expertise is in positive youth development amongst Muslim-American youth, particularly focusing on the role of cultural and religious contexts in character development among minority populations.

Issra Killawi

Issra Killawi is a Resource Development Manager with The Family and Youth Institute. She graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Apparel Design and a minor in Art. She has interned with The FYI previously and co-authored The FYI’s Marriage Prep Toolkit.

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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).