It is important to find every available means of reinforcing positive images of Muslim children. In many instances, our own children can be great advocates for themselves. And parents can do a lot to help this along. Uthman Guadalupe is a great role model here.
Uthman is 14-years-old and has been illustrating children’s books by and for Latino Muslim children for a couple of years. He loved drawing since he was little. His mother, author Wendy Diaz, had written a couple of books and was in the process of writing another when Uthman asked if he could help. His mother embraced the opportunity. Uthman’s first foray into illustrating was their combined effort The Secret of My Hijab.
Most of Uthman’s drawings are inspired by “things I see, and I like to look at other drawing styles to learn.” He mentioned that he usually asks the writer for ideas before starting to draw. “I like to hear what they envisioned the drawings to be, so I can build up on what they say.” Uthman initially began drawing on paper but has since moved to working digitally. His most recent illustrations for his mother’s latest book Eid Empanadas were drawn in Photoshop.
Uthman has also assisted his with Hablamos Islam, a non-profit organization that produces educational resources about Islam and culture in Spanish, by helping make videos and also participating in them.
Uthman’s creativity and energy are impressive, mashaAllah, and the future looks bright for much more work ahead. Of course, not every child is artistically inclined or has a ready-made advocacy organization operating out of their home. But parents can help significantly in encouraging and supporting their children’s special interests and talents.
The most important way you can nurture a child advocate of your own is to be a great role model yourself. Children listen to what we say but they watch more closely how we put that talk into action. Take a step back and ask yourself, what am I doing to be an advocate for my own needs and that of my community? And then step right in, there are a gazillion gaps that still need to be filled. And when you do, there is a great likelihood that your child will also learn to walk in those shoes!