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The Globe and Mail

For young Muslims, more than one way to adapt

Zuber Sidyot, a 16-year-old Muslim boy poses inside his Saskatoon, SK on Jan. 31, 2011.

David Stobbe/david stobbe The Globe and Mail

One is a Saskatoon high-school student who adheres to traditional cultural practices out of deference to his community; one lives in Oakville, Ont., and slowly accustomed his parents to Western norms; one is a university student in Toronto who finds more humour than conflict in her family's generational differences. All three are young Canadian Muslims.

Zuber Sidyol, 16, attends high school in Saskatoon and volunteers at his local mosque, where his father is an imam.

I was brought up very religiously and following Islam in a very strict way: wearing Muslim clothes and wearing the hat on your head. Thankfully, fortunately, nobody has ever invited me to a party. At my school, people for the most part know I'm religious and all that. People know me in the community and so I know if I do anything wrong, people will start pointing at me. I don't really find a point in doing anything wrong – I have a good life. I've got the identity that I'm looking for.

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-As told to Dakshana Bascaramurty

Mostafa Soliman, 19, studies at McMaster University and lives at home in Oakville, Ont.

In Grade 7, I was asked to the high-school dance. It caused quite a bit of commotion at home. We were only in Grade 7 but they only knew what they saw on TV and that was the end of it – they didn't understand the culture of Canada. I explained to them what was going to happen, I pretty much let them talk to my teachers. My father actually came in for the first 15 minutes of the dance to make sure nothing stupid was going to happen. For 15 minutes it was mad awkward. [After]they pretty much told me, "Make your own judgment. As long as you think you're okay and you're going to be safe, it's totally fine."

-As told to Dakshana Bascaramurty

Khadijah Kanji, 23, studies part-time at Ryerson University and works at the Noor Cultural Centre in Toronto.

I don't know if you're aware of the blog Stuff White People Like; there are similar things relating to South Asians and Muslims. A lot of the reason people from these communities gravitate towards each other is because we can commiserate over the way our parents behave or the food we eat. Our parents do the same embarrassing things or have the same accents … tend to be strict in different ways or expect different things from us, and that's often why I get along with people that have the same background as me. The fact we can relate to people from our own community just shows that there are certain characteristics that still exist here but, for me, they're just a source of humour, not a source of conflict.

-As told to Adrian Morrow

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These interviews have been edited and condensed.

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