The opinions expressed by students do not represent the views of Ramallah Friends School (FBS) and Friends United Meeting.
My Religion

1.Were you born into your religion or did you have a choice? – Andrea (Mexico City)

People are usually born into the religion of their family and ancestors. I didn’t get to choose my religion because my family is Moslem. So, I was born as a Moslem. I am very much proud to be one. Still, there’s one issue that I don’t agree with: making the hijab (what a Moslem woman covers her hair with) compulsory. Even though it is meant to protect women, it just doesn’t make sense to me.
By Pillar

Every single person should have the right to choose his own religion. People in Palestine are born with their religion chosen for them. I think that we are put in this world to think and to discover what we believe in, and what kind of people we are. For that I must say that every person should have the right to choose his religion after he becomes a mature adult. People must have the choice to decide what religion they want to follow, because life is a path that you choose to go through and live your life based on that.
By Yasmeen

Luckily, I was born into my religion which is Islam. That made my life a lot more easy and simple and a lot easier to grasp and to comprehend.

Knowing what my religion was and believing in God made my life very stable; for example, at moments where I would be scared, annoyed, angry or just simply not knowing what to do, all I had to do was to turn to God! I believe that if it was up to me to choose my own religion I would be a Muslim anyway. It explains to me everything in life, even some things that are not so significant but would make a big difference in the end.
By Reem

In my country, we take the religion of our families. We can say that we are born to our religion. It is rare to choose one’s religion. In my society, it is not acceptable to choose your own religion different from your family. However, there are some conditions were you can change your religion, such as when you get married to a person with another religion. In addition, in my country the father dictates the religion of the family.
By Mona

Answer: - Well in the Arab states, we get our religion when we are born. If your dad is Muslim then you are Muslim. And if your dad is Christian then you are Christian. I wish that we had 3 religions in this country (Islamic, Christian, and none), then I would choose the “none” category so I wouldn’t face problems in many things (such as marriage, divorce, problems taking my ID, and sometimes traveling). But I will always find that group of people who stand against me.
By Hanin

I was born into my religion. My religion taught me to tolerate other religions through the entire world. I believe that religion is a private relationship between the person and God. In that way each person has the right to think and choose his beliefs as he wishes.
By Joy

I have born into my religion. When I was born all my family members were following the Christians religion. My family taught me the values of this religion. After that I began to know more about this religion. I think that if I was asked to choose the religion that I wanted, then I would have chosen this religion.
By Janan

I was born as a Muslim. All my family is Muslim. My father has no problem if I change my religion. “I was an atheist for one to two years, but when I thought about religion I found out that it makes more sense than atheism.” I think (but I am not sure) that Islam gives me the right to change my religion to Jewish\ Christian. I don’t think about changing my religion. I think that I was born Muslim because God wants me to be Muslim.
By Saji

I was born into my religion as a Muslim. When I was born, I had the religion of my family, which is Islam. I was pleased to have such religion, because it succeeds in everything that can make the world a better place to live in. If I had choice, I would not change the religion that generations of my family held to bring us in these days. I am a Muslim who decided his religion when he was born.
By Najeeb

In this country, children are born into their religion. Christians are baptized before the age of three. At this age children cannot understand or recognize what religion is about. Therefore they can’t choose a religion. As they grow up they become more aware of their religious traditions and start to believe in them. It is very rare that a mature person thinks to convert; that’s because it is not acceptable to the society.
By Juman

I was born a Muslim and I don’t have a choice to be in any other religion. I was born a Muslim because my parents were born Muslims. Also, till now I have never seen a Muslim change his religion. So I don’t think about being in other religion.
By Bashar

I was born into my religion. In my country the person's religion depends on his father's religion. I feel comfortable with my religion and its beliefs. If I had the choice now to choose my religion, it would be the same as the one I have now. Having been raised in this religion, I like it so much. I don't think that anyone who understands his religion would change it easily.
By Abbas

Actually, I was born into my religion. I think most of the Palestinians are born into their religion, unless the parents are from different religions. A new generation must be the same religion as their parents, because nowadays this generation is ignoring religion and many other values given them by their parents. Therefore, I don’t support the idea for anyone to choose his religion. Nevertheless, when it comes to those who want to marry someone from another religion, they will have two choices; either they will stay in the same religion or convert to the other one.
By Marian

In Palestine, and I guess in every country in the world, the people are born into their religion, according to their fathers' religion. And in my country, you only have a choice to change your religion after you are 18 years old, and you might get neglected for that, especially if a man changed it! And I think it would be better if a person chooses at age 18 what he wants to be, and not just follow his father’s religion.
By Danah

I was born a child of a Muslim father and a Christian mother. They taught me to be tolerant to differences between religions. I became a Muslim by birth, because in the Muslim society children follow their father’s religion—in other words, the religion of the majority people in our country. In my case, I have a choice of the type of religion I want to believe in, because my father is a secular person and he encourages us to think and follow what we believe in. In our society, it is hard to change religion but I can, at least, be allowed to think freely.

I believe an adult person, with a case that is similar to mine, should have the choice of the type of religion they want to follow. At that point, a person will have a good view of both religions, and can decide which one he thinks is more likely to be the religion he/she wants to follow.
By Taleen

I was born into my religion and I was forced to follow my father’s religion as is our tradition, and as the religion wants us to do, because the baby can’t decide the right way and the safe one for himself.
By Omar

I personally was born into my religion. I find it better to be born into a religion rather than to choose it. Our generation doesn’t think of religion and God as much as people used to think before. I think if kids of my generation had to choose their religion they wouldn’t have chosen any. So, it’s better to have a religion when you’re born. That’s what I think maybe others will disagree with me. But I believe that that’s what’s best for us as young teens.
By Monica

I was born into my religion. I was raised to be faithful and follow my religious beliefs as well as respect other religions. I do not think that a person is born in this life without a religion; it depends on the parents and how they implement the values of their religion. It is also good to hear that someone with no religious beliefs decided to convert and become faithful. A Christian can convert to Islam. However, if a Moslem converted to Christianity one thousand years ago they would kill him. Therefore, a long time ago there was no choice. Eventually, converting to other religions became complimentary.
By Canaan

I was born into my religion but I still have the choice. I don’t see why I should change it because all religions are the same; I mean it doesn’t really matter.
By Athar

I didn’t have a choice when I was only months old when I was baptized, and I’m glad for that, because in my opinion, if a person after many years has the opportunity to choose a religion, then his faith won’t be strong because he won’t have grown with his religion. I think a person should be taught a religion in a right way and when he grows up God will judge him on his actions and beliefs.
By Faris

After 9 months from my birth I was baptized to become Christian; in our religion if you want to be a Christian you have to be baptized, that’s why most Christians are born into this religion and can’t chose their religion. And this property is not unique only in our religion, in Islam they are born into the Islamic religion and they don’t have the ability to chose the religion they want. But I think that if you are born into your religion it’s better than choosing your religion when you get bigger, because the relationship between you and your religion will be stronger and built on the true beliefs your parents gave to you.
By Rami

I was born into my religion, and that’s the right thing in my opinion, and I will tell you why. First, if you had the chance to choose your religion, and your religion was different than your dad's religion, and your mother's religion is different than both, internal conflict will occur in the family, a serious internal problem that will lead to the separation of the family. Second, choosing a religion would make the society free of its government’s hand, so that everyone will do whatever he wants to do; therefore, no specific rules would be set, so stealing and other illegal activities would occur, leading to the breakdown of the society.
By Basil

I was born into my religion, and I don’t believe in changing or choosing another religion instead of one’s real religion, because I think God had a point in letting a person follow a certain religion. I like my own religion, and I am interested in my religion’s rules and pillar, and I think that my religion gives me all my rights, and provides a balance between all kinds of people.
By Fahmi

I was born into my religion. I was raised as a Muslim. In our religion, if the father is Muslim, we must follow the religion of the father. If I were to have a choice, I would still stick with Islam. I am glad that I was born as a Muslim, because in my personal opinion I think its one of the best religions.
By Salah

In this country, children are born into their religion. Christians are generally baptized before the age of three. At this age children cannot understand or recognize what religion is about. Therefore they can’t choose a religion. As they grow up they become more aware of their religious traditions, and start to believe in them. It is very rare that a mature person considers conversion, because it is not acceptable to the society.
By Juman

1.Do you believe your religion gives you freedom? If not, explain. – Cata (Mexico City)

Of course, my religion gives me freedom. If my religion did not give me freedom then I would not be writing this answer to your question. In my religion, an important topic is freedom; this topic talks about all the freedoms that the religion offers, that are more than the freedoms in the democratic countries right now. I do believe my religion gives me freedom; otherwise, I would not be in this religion.
By Najeeb

In general, religions do not give much freedom to their followers. However, Islam is a strict religion, and it contains so many details that Islamic people should follow. Every person practices Islam in a different way than others, but at the same time I respect others’ way of practicing Islam, as long as they don’t impose their ideas on me or others.

In my case, I follow directions and values that I think are right. I dress modernly and I go out with my friends to cinemas and parties. I do not cross red lines as I see them in my heart and mind. I think religion must be respected as long as it stays between the individual and his God or what he/she believes in.
By Taleen

Islam is a great religion. It does give us freedom to do everything, as long as it doesn’t harm us. For example, Islam prohibits drinking alcohol, because alcohol is harmful. It also prohibits having sex before marriage, because that harms us also. In Islam, you have the freedom to do everything that is good for you and your community.
By Yazan

I believe that religion has its boundaries and restrictions. As a faithful individual, I must respectably obey them. I feel that my religion gives me freedom, but at the same time, there are limits to that freedom. These limits are what make my principles and morals that I follow in life. In Christianity, every limit has a reason. If you do not cross the limits, you will live a successful and prosperous life.
By Canaan

To understand something in a wrong way is a very bad thing. My religion demands the freedom of its people with some limits. It gives us the freedom of speech, thoughts, and the way to live. But we must know how to use our freedom in a good way. People who understand religion in a wrong way, and think that it’s just fasting and praying, are the ones who think that we shouldn't have our freedom. I'm happy about being with people and family that understand my religion and my freedom.
By Ahlam

I believe that my religion gives me the freedom I want in my life, but if you look at a bad person who cheats, steals and commits adultery, he will say yes, religion doesn’t give me the freedom I want in my life, because he wants to remain in his bad personality, with no one to stop him and limit his freedom. Religion gives us some rules or advice that we can use in our life to protect ourselves from doing this kind of thing.
By Rami

Which doctrines or rules (if any) of your religion do you not agree with? – Nikko Ladislaus (California, USA)

I agree with all the rules but one. This rule is that the woman should cover her hair. I think if a woman's hair is shown that's not a big deal. If the woman covers her body well, so that it can't be shown, exposing her hair wouldn't make her a bad woman. The hair is important for the females so they should not cover it. That's the only rule that I don't agree with in my religion.
By Abbas

I think that Islam is the only true religion. And that it is almost perfect. But there is something I don’t agree with my religion in. In Islam, anyone who wants to leave Islam and go to another religion must die. I don’t agree with Islam in this point. Everyone has the right to choose his religion.
By Yazan

Why do Muslims visit Mecca? – Sage Owen (Michigan, USA)

Moslems visit Mecca once in a particular time in the year to practice one of the five tasks that God has asked them to do. In Islamic religion every Moslem has to go to Mecca if he or she has the ability to do so.

Moslems pray there because it’s a holy place. It's where the prophet Mohammad started his campaign to make people believe in God 1400 years ago. They visit Mecca also to visit the grave of Mohammad and Al Ka'ba.
God promised Moslems if they do this task, they will go to heaven. People want to go to the heaven after death, so they perform what God asks them to do.
By Lama

Most Muslims visit Mecca because it’s a requirement and a base of the Islamic religion. In Mecca, there is AL-Kaeba, where the Muslims go to pray in specific times of the year. Visiting this holy place is a great pleasure to many Muslims because, as they say, they feel very close to God and all their sins are washed and gone.
There is also the tomb of Muhammad that many people visit to pray upon it. They go also to Arafat's mountain to throw rocks on the devil, as the thought of killing him and getting rid of the source of sins.
By Mona

Answer: - These are cities of great importance in Islamic tradition, centers of pilgrimage and prayer, holy places where Muslims are free from the distractions of daily life. People visits Mecca to do something God ordered the Muslims to do, which is Hajj. The Hajj pilgrimage imposed on the right nine years of the Islamic calendar "ALhejreh".
By Hanin

Muslims visit Mecca because it is a place for praying to God. This place is related to Mohammed. Every Muslim dreams of visiting Mecca because it is the holiest place for Muslims to pray. Every year 4 million people visit Mecca. I hope one day I can visit also.
By Bashar

Muslims visit Mecca for pilgrimage. Pilgrimage is the fifth (last) pillar in Islam. Christians go to Bethlehem and Rome for pilgrimage, while Muslims go to Mecca. Mecca is considered the most sacred place for Muslims. Mohammad (peace be upon him) was born in Mecca, and Islam started there, too. Therefore, it's considered a holy place in Islam.
By Lena

Mecca is an important place for every Muslim in the world. Muslims go there to pray to God, because Mohammed the prophet lived there many years ago, and he fought many times for its freedom. Lastly, I want to say that Mecca is a very nice and beautiful place to visit, and I advise you to visit.
By Ameed

The pilgrimage to Mecca is one of the five pillars of Islam. A Muslim is required to perform this pilgrimage at least once in his/her lifetime if they are physically and financially able to. If a Muslim is not fit to perform this Holy act he/she will not be punished due to his/her inability. This pilgrimage frees the Muslim of any previous sins that he/she may have committed. This pilgrimage also cleanses one's mind and soul.
By Atheer

Mecca is the place where Muslim's prophet, Mohammad, was born. This is the place where Al-Qaaba is, and it is very important to Muslims. They perform one of their most important religious requirements there, and they need to visit Mecca once or more in their lifetime to accomplish it. When Muslims pray, they direct their prayers to Mecca and exactly to the Qaaba. The holy Koran tells them to do that, and they can't argue with it. I'm a Muslim, and I don’t pray as I am supposed to, but when I do I direct my prayers to Mecca.
By Amro

Muslims visit Mecca to do their Islamic duty, which is the "hag", they say that if you visit Mecca and fulfill the hag duties all of your sins will be forgiven, and the hag is one of the Islam five pillars "duties". It is one of the things that make a true Muslim.
By Ahmad

God can forgive us in many ways, including visiting Mecca for the one who has the strength (and by strength I mean by two ways, the first is physical, the second is economical strength.
Muslims visit Mecca usually so God can forgive our mistakes, and give us another chance in life.
By Salman

Moslems visit Mecca to pray to God. Everyone knows that Christians pray in churches and Moslems pray in Mosques, but if a Moslem wants to repent on all his mistakes in life and have God forgive him, he should go to Mecca to pray. Also it is a different way of praying than praying in a Mosque, because a Moslem should be moving and walking around a great big black building called Al-Ka'be; then he walks 7 times between two mountains, also every Moslem should kill a sheep to contribute for poor people.
By Khalad

Moslems visit Mecca for one simple reason, which is praying to God. Mecca contains the Kaaba, which is one of the most important places for praying to God. People love this place, because our Prophet Mohammad used to pray in this place with his friends; besides the Kaaba was build thousands of years ago.
By Basil

Mecca is the city where Mohammad was born, so it’s a holy land. Mecca contains the mosque that the Muslims built with their hands; for the one who goes there, God will loves him and remove his sins. Also it’s a holy land because Mohammad is buried there.
By Ahmad M

Muslims visits Mecca to pray, to feel connected to God in a special way, that kind of praying and asking for forgiveness. People from all Arabian countries gather in Saudi Arabia to visit Mecca. This is also a good way to bond and connect to people from around the world.
By Kamilia

What’s the Islamic view of Jews and Christians? – Andi Ruth Owens (Michigan, USA)

Islam doesn’t say “No” to having relations with Jews and Christians, but in a good way, treating them with respect, tolerence, loyalty, and honesty. Also it’s ok to live beside each other, and help, talk, visit, and marry (in some situations) each other. Therefore, to live peacfully without violence with each other according to Gods methods and rules.
By Sami

Islam respects and accepts other religions. This is obvious in my country in how Muslims live side by side with Christians. Islam also accepts Jews as people with a religion and Bible. For instance, in Morocco Muslims live side by side with Jews. Muslims respect people who believe in God and have ethics. In my country, there is no contact between Muslims and Jews, because they are considered Israelis who are fighting with us on our land.
By Lana

The Islamic view on Jews and Christians is a first-class outlook. Both Jews and Christians believe in one God as Muslims do. To the contrary, Jews only believe in their Prophet, Moses, while Christians only believe in their Prophet, Jesus. Muslims believe in all of the Prophets. The Holy Messenger once said that Muslims are permitted to sleep at a Christian's home, but are unable to eat a meal prepared by a Christian person. On the other hand, the Holy Messenger also stated that a Muslim person is prohibited to sleep at a Jewish person's home, but is permitted to eat food that a Jewish person has prepared. The Holy Messenger stated this fact to inform the Muslims that they are able to trust Christians, but they aren’t permitted to eat pork as Christians do, and that Muslims are unable to trust Jews even though they do not eat pork.
By Atheer

Islamic religion is a religion of believing in God, and believing in other religions, such as Jews and Christians. The Islamic point of view is that the Christian religion and the Jewish religion are the same as the Islamic religion; they believe in something and we believe in something, while the source of the Jews and Christians is from God, as the Islamic religion says.
By Basil

What are the most important values in your religion? What are you brought up to value most and how do your values affect your daily life and influence you as a person? – Brittany Chittano and Marco Maragno (Florence, Italy)

There are many values in my religion; it affects my life daily as a student, such as respect the teachers, headmaster, and help the young kids. And it affects my life as a person, such as forgiveness, love, tolerance, and cooperation. It affects my life daily in many places, like the school, street, house, family, and in many affairs.
By Waleed

All religions lead to the same values. Believing in God is on the top of the values, after that come the other values, which are simplicity, honesty, forgiveness, etc. These values help me a lot in becoming a better person. It also helps me in dealing with others. It gives me peace of mind, and as I said it makes dealing with others easier, and makes me try to understand and respect others. It teaches me how to forgive people when they are hurting me, because many times I do hurt others also. Therefore it teaches me many good lessons in life and in dealing with others. Taking these values into consideration protects me from many problems.
By Mona

The most important value in my religion is being respectful, praying to God, and not doing bad or taboo things. We can act on these values by respecting others and being generous, also by praying every day; then these values will effect my daily life a lot for good.
By Ameed

I grew up in a very loving family, where care and respect are a natural part of our life.
In my family, we also cherish religious traditions. As a Christian, I was brought up to believe in God and respect the teachings of Jesus Christ. This in itself has provided me with the ability to understand and help my colleagues.
By Monica

There are certain values from my religion that I should consider to make my daily life easier to deal with. My religion, which is Christianity, teaches us many important values that create good people, and which can be communicated easily by having and practicing the same values. For instance, one of these important values is to be respectful; in order to let people respect you, respect them first. To love your relative (or any person) like yourself; love people first in order to gain their love. Be trustful; let people trust you, so as to trust them. Finally, caring is sharing; care and share with people and let them know that you care for them. These values affect my daily life, because with them I can have a secure, loving, and simple one. As a person, these values are part of my personality that makes me a successful person.
By Lana

Christianity is my religion. The major value that Jesus taught his followers is the value of love. He urged us to love our enemies as ourselves. This value affects me and people surrounding me a lot. If you love the people that are around you, you will be loved in return, and respected. In addition, love surrounds you with peace, and peace will help you lead a healthy life. Jesus was full of love; this explains why he forgave his crucifiers! I believe that we should take Jesus as our role model.
By Nicole

The most important value that my religion (Islam) believes in is to be honest. To be honest would help a person more then he thinks. Islam is not what you see now by Osama Bin Laden; he doesn't represent Islam in the right way. Our religion believes in peace, justice, and respect.
By Yazeed

As a Muslim I count religion as a very important thing in my everyday life. Without my religion I would be careless and I would do anything that hurts people without thinking twice or do something bad that it has been hated by Allah, and he ordered us not to do it. Iif I can do all these bad things then every person that counts religion an important thing in his\her everyday life can do nasty things too. Society will be destroyed in the end. That’s why religion plays a very important role in everyday life.
By Ahmad

According to the Koran, what freedoms should or should not a government provide its people? – Mark Lohman (California, USA)

According to the Koran, the government forbids a girl to have a boyfriend and forbids kissing in the streets; also, no girl is allowed to show her hair. Finally I want to say that these days no one follows the Koran, because everyone wants to imitate European Countries.

Do Palestinian Christians feel connected to Christians in the United States? – Catrina Schrock (Calvin College, USA)

American and European Palestinians did not support Palestine in anything. They support their families, their brothers with money to live. And their family supports them by telling them that they are all right from the last occupation that happened.
American and European Palestinians support their families, by giving money to live an improved way of life.
By Waleed

As for being a Christian in my country (Palestine), I feel connected to other Christians in the world, especially Christians in the United States. The church that I go to is sharing and exchanging visits with Christians from churches in the U.S., especially from Washington D.C. This helps in creating an atmosphere of good Christian relation. Personally, I feel connected during special religious occasions, such as Christmas and Easter, because we exchange greeting cards and presents.
By Lana

I think so, because many times I hear that there’s a conference for Christians from here and other foreign countries; last week there was one in the Ramallah Cultural Palace and we did “Debkah” for them. I think these kind of connections between Christians or other religious people is great, because they would have new ideas, thoughts, and opinions, and they will know more about their religion and understand it correctly. Also they’ll resist allowing their religion to be changed.
By Sami

I don’t think that the Palestinian Christians feel that there is a connection between the Christians in the United States. Sometimes, Palestinian Christian can feel this connection when they make protest in the United States. They also can feel this connection at Christmastime or at Easter, because they can help poor Palestinians Christians with donations. Nevertheless, I think that that Christians in the United States should find better ways to support the Palestinians here, so they can feel that there are some people who stand beside them, giving them support and love.
By Marian

Nobody is looking out for our situation. Arabs from all over the world are not helping us. Some Christians and also Jews are trying to do something but they can't because not everyone is helping. If all the Arabs would gather together, our case would be solved. I don't know why the world is not saying anything about what happened in Gaza and also in Bet Hanoon, where more than 45 were killed in 4 to 5 days.
By Nihad

No we don’t feel any connection, and the reason is simple; people of the U.S. don’t know Palestine, so where’s the connection? They have their own beliefs, they don’t do what the Bible tells them to. We are the opposite in Palestine, but I’m not religious, so I’m talking about people I know, and they hate when they hear what the U.S. is doing.
By Hagop

Christians are Christians no matter where they live or what they wear or how they react. One thing that differentiates Christians from each other is that some are strict and very religious and some are not. The characteristics of Christians all over the world are practically similar. They all go to churches on Sundays, wear crosses (some of them), and believe in Jesus and God.
By Monica

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