“If I stayed in IFS until grade 12 then it would be harder for me to make friends that are not Muslim in university. And that's something you have to do because you’re not always going to find Muslim people everywhere you go.”
Ahmad, like many 14 year old boys, loves to play sports. He has attended IFS since Kindergarten as have his two younger brothers Tayyab and Mustafa. Ahmad always planned to leave IFS after grade 8 so that he could attend his local public high school. Playing basketball, soccer and hockey has made Ahmad a popular kid with lots of friends. He wants to please his parents (Moshin and Batool) and do well in school but it’s clear that sports are his passion.
“I'm just worried that someone like decides to attack here because we're an Islamic school and if I go to a Catholic school I would worry less... I never have that sense of ease. Like sometimes I do but like most of the time I'm like, “What if something happens? What if something happens?”
Sahar has been at a private Islamic school for 10 years. At the end of grade 8, she is still deciding whether to stay at the Islamic Foundation School or to leave for the International Baccalaureate (IB) program at a local Catholic high school. She likes the idea of the IB experience but is worried about not having Muslim friends and being treated differently at another school, “I’m afraid about what the ‘different’ will be. Change is good, I just don’t know if I am ready for it.”
Sahar is doing her best to avoid having to make a decision, knowing that she has until September 1st to enrol in the new school. At IFS Sahar is on the yearbook and grad committee. As a student she is confident and relaxed but she is also very vocal about her worries and anxieties when it comes to Islamophobia. Both of her parents speak openly with Sahar about politics and religion and she is a thoughtful and engaged young teen.
Sahar lives with her mom and spends time with both her parents.
Sahar’s mother, Bushra, is a parenting worker at the Toronto District School Board and was recently very involved with helping Syrian families who were new immigrants in the Toronto area.
“I'd like to go to another environment see what it’s like in public school but I don't want to lose who I am at the same time.”
Malaieka is the valedictorian for her Grade 8 graduating class. As the vice-president of the student council she is clearly a leader and is outspoken, funny and confident. Malaieka has been at IFS since grade 3 and is planning to stay until grade 12. Her sister, Momina, went to a public school and was teased because of how she dressed – her parents (Safia and Fiayyaz) didn’t want Malaieka to go through that experience and have asked her to stay at an Islamic school.
Despite being a normal teen who Snapchats with her friends and posts pictures on Instagram, she is also comfortable with the way that she must dress, works hard to prepare for Ramadan and follows the rules of her religion: “Many of my classmates, they love Shawn Mendes and Drake. I haven’t listened to music for a long time because it’s not allowed. Everyone breaks rules sometimes, but I do my best not to.”