Estimated reading time: 17 minute(s)
by Fudia Muhammad
Language has always shaped our thinking and vice versa – the way we think is expressed through our language. Every action is first preceded by a thought. The act of speech; our deliberate choice of word usage, in every instance is first preceded by a thought. The thought could be a lengthy internal deliberation or completed in an instant; but the eventual spoken word is rooted in our thinking. While the written word can be reviewed, edited, revised and perfected; casual, everyday vernacular will emerge solely from our own personal vocabulary catalog, not from someone else’s. The question is: Who is the originator of the words we select to file in our personal catalog?
It is fair to presume that those reading this article can also speak and write the English language. However, most of us are not self-taught English speakers. We learned to understand and speak the language primarily through immersion – everyone in our environment spoke English, so we picked it up. Later, we were directly taught how to read and write the language. Somewhere during our rearing we understood that certain words were considered vulgar or profane, so we either refrained from using them altogether or we were careful where and with whom we chose to use them. A powerful lesson that members of the Nation of Islam learn early in our studies is that many common words and phrases can be just as profane and vulgar if used improperly.
During ‘The Time and What Must Be Done’ 2013 Lecture Series (Part 16), The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said, “…A ‘kid’ is a young goat…Beloved brothers and sisters, stop calling your children ‘kids!’ When we understand the nature of the goat, why would you name your little children after something that is ‘wild,’ that is ‘mischievous’—that is a ‘trouble maker?’ Goats are akin to the sheep; but the nature of the sheep is different from the nature of the goat. And so Jesus used these two animals in his parable of ‘The Separation between The Sheep and The Goat’ found in the Book of Matthew, Chapter 25, verses 31-46.” The word ‘kid,’ appears several times in the Bible, but it is only used to reference a young or baby goat; never a child.
Though the origin of referring to our children as ‘kids’ seemingly goes back centuries, it was not used as a term of endearment. It was not until the 1960s and 1970s that referring to any and all children as ‘kids’ became commonplace and completely interchangeable with ‘children.’ A kid is the offspring of a goat. Our children are not baby goats or young goats, they are children of the Most High God. It is insulting and disrespectful to The Father to refer to His children as goats. Remember, our children come through us, but they are not from us – they are from Allah (God). Only a goat can give birth to a kid; humans produce children.
Jesus made a clear distinction between the sheep and the goat. The same distinction can be made between their offspring, the lamb and the kid. The Scripture reads, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world…’ ” (Matthew 25: 31-34). After such a pronouncement, why would anyone want any association with the goat, in name or in deed?
We certainly cannot make any valid comparison of our children to goats based on physical appearance; so the only practical reason to begin referring to children as baby goats (kids) is because at some point, a correlation was made between the behavior and characteristics of goats to that of children. As the Minister stated, goats are wild mischievous troublemakers – they are unruly scavengers that are very difficult to tame. Goats are nearly impossible to discipline because they are born of a stubborn rebellious nature. Now, some may be reading this saying, “Yep, I know some children that fit that description.” That may be true; but if a child had learning challenges, would we call him or her, ‘stupid?’ No! We would skillfully teach the child; and in addition, we would consistently shower them with positive encouraging adjectives to speak into them their potential, so it may manifest one day. Words create reality; call them kids and they will behave like baby goats.
According to the dictionary, a person likened to a goat (particularly a man) is depicted as a libertine, a womanizer, a seducer, a pervert, a philanderer, a dirty old man, a debauchee, an adulterer, etc. People who are characterized as goatish are lecherous, hypersexual, licentious, lustful, salacious, lewd and immoral. Even the term scapegoat comes from the Book of Leviticus (16: 9-10), where a goat symbolically took on all the sins of the people and was casted out into the wilderness.
Let’s please do away with calling our precious children ‘kids’ and all of its variants…kiddos, kiddies, kidders, etc. We must challenge ourselves and others to make this correction – gentle reminders are all that we require. The term ‘kid’ is unworthy of our children; it is snide and dismissive. Our children are divine and far too sacred to be cheapened and lowered to the level of the beasts.
In the Holy Qur’an, Allah (God) says that He has made subservient to man whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth, and granted us His favors complete outwardly and inwardly (31:20). This means that nothing in creation is above or even equal to man and woman. We should strive to reflect God in our appearance, our behavior, our character, our traditions, and our language. Children are not pets and should never be equated as such. We must elevate our language to draw the distinction. A kid will eventually become a mature goat. But the nature of a child is to one day manifest the Glory of God.
(Sister Fudia Muhammad is a member of Muhammad Mosque No. 64 in Austin, Texas. She is married to Student Minister Robert L. Muhammad and they have been blessed with four children. Sister Fudia holds a Master’s degree in Education – she is a writer, an educator and an advocate for God-centered child-rearing.)