April 9, 2023

As Salaamu Alaikum Brothers and Sisters,

Do you remember being bullied as a Muslim student?

I was 10 years old when I first began to wear my headscarf regularly and that was the same year a group of students yanked it off my head. It was my first time crying at school. I was embarrassed and hurt, and it was difficult to go back to the same class.

It’s a memory that has remained with me to this day and motivates me in CAIR-SFBA’s work to protect and empower American Muslim students.

We should all be invested in creating a safe learning environment for all young American Muslims. Unfortunately, many students face the harsh reality of bullying in schools. This Ramadan, we need you to empower the nearly 50% of Muslim students that face bullying in school.

Protecting Students

One heartbreaking example of the type of bullying Muslim students face comes from a local high school student. This student requested religious accommodations to maintain modest dress during swim class. However, her P.E. teacher intimidated her and made her pretend to swim on a yoga mat outside of the pool.

This unacceptable behavior did not stop there. When the student requested to be exempt from running while fasting for Ramadan, the P.E. teacher once again dismissed her accommodation request, negatively impacting her grade.

Our team intervened, advocating for the student’s rights and the school’s responsibility to accommodate her requests. Thanks to our involvement, the district investigated the incident and provided the student with an opportunity to make up the runs and improve her grade. 

Moreover, the district committed to district-wide training on accommodating student requests, ensuring this doesn’t happen to other students again.

Advocating for Long-Term Change

Bullying can cause severe and long-lasting negative effects on mental health and overall well-being. No child should have to face rejection, isolation, low self-esteem, anxiety, or depression because of bullying. Muslim students should feel proud of their identity and free to practice their faith.

We will continue to advocate for you and your children. We will push for strong anti-bullying policies in schools across the state. We will work to recognize Eid holidays in schools statewide. And we will collect further surveys to issue updated reports on the frequency and impacts of bullying on our children.

Cultivating Young Leaders

Our work does not end with responding to crisis. We are training young Muslims to speak up for themselves, assert their rights, and organize for change. Our flagship youth programs include:

Muslim Gamechangers Network: a 10-week training for Muslim high school students that equips participants with the tools to critically understand their world, effectively challenge injustice, and build legacies of positive change.

Muslim Youth Leadership Program: an intensive, four-day retreat in Sacramento to introduce Muslim high school students media, law, and government-avenues that shape public opinion and public policy.

Anti-Bullying Presentations: know your rights presentations to Sunday schools, youth groups, and MSAs making legal information accessible to all participants so they are empowered with the information they need to protect themselves and each other.

Internships & Clerkships: hands-on work experience for college and graduate students with our professional staff, enabling them to gain first-hand insights in to careers in Islamic work and community engagement.

Together, we can make a difference in the lives of young Muslims. Please donate today and help us protect and empower Muslim students.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “The believer’s shade on the Day of Resurrection will be [that person’s charitable giving].” Al-Tirmidhi 

The Prophet also said: “Every act of goodness is [a form of] charity.” Sahih Muslim 

A group of generous donors have pledged to match every donation we receive up to $100,000.
Your zakat or sadaqa gift of $5,000, $2,500, $1,000, $500, $250, or any amount that is meaningful to you, will enable our staff to continue to protect and empower American Muslim students.

You can donate by:

  • Via our website, which ensures we receive the funds immediately
  • Online, through PayPal Giving Fund, which waives all processing fees
  • Via cryptocurrency, through our account at Coinbase
  • Via stock, by emailing us at info@sfba.cair.com 
  • Mail a check to 3160 De La Cruz Blvd., Ste. 110, Santa Clara CA 95054 
  • Over the phone, by calling 408.986.9874 

Jazakum Allahu Khairan for your generosity and support. 

Zahra Billoo, Esq.

Executive Director