CAIRO - Moving from Kenya to the US at a young age, Muslim football player Khalid Mohamed managed to achieve the hard balance between his Islamic faith and the American lifestyle.
"The two paths seem to become mutually exclusive," Adam Burden, Khaled's teacher, told The Seattle Times."And there's a magic to the way he handles things."
Khalid arrived in the United States in June 2004 with his parents, six brothers and one sister.
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As the car sped along carrying Khalid away from the airport that night through Jacksonville, Florida, he saw a different world from the car window.
"That's when I knew things were going to be different," Khaled says.
It's tough in America."
While many children of immigrant parents found themselves caged in, Khalid managed to find a different path for himself.
He started playing football only after Cleveland High School coach Ronn Jackson persuaded him to join the team at freshman orientation.
Though his parents were not interested in the game, they did not oppose their child's will.
"If they would have said no," Khalid said, "I probably wouldn't have played."
Keeping his hard work, Khalid was named first-team All-Metro Sound Division as a junior last year.
"A lot of kids need football or sports for the structure," Jackson said.
"Khalid's using it as almost a resource to venture out, to see what else is out there.
"He's not trying to cut the cord from his parents or culture. He's just trying to see what else is out there."
Though there are no official figures, the United States is believed to be home to nearly six to eight million Muslims.
Leading a busy life in secondary school between study and American football, Khalid has managed to keep the role of religion alive in his daily routine.
"Khalid doesn't seem like he's got this internal struggle of, what side am I on?" teacher Burden, who has known Khalid since middle school, said.
He's on his own side. That's what makes him unique.
For a time in middle school, Khalid barely prayed during the day because the school didn't have a place for him to go.
Now, he prays in a designated room at Cleveland or in the locker room.
He doesn't get swallowed up by how he identifies and what he identifies with, Burden said.
He's still him at the end."
Not everyone in Khalid's position has harmony.
"Our students really do have both worlds going on," Megan Isakson, the education program manager for the Refugee Women's Alliance (ReWa) in Seattle, said.
And they are kind of in that gray area in the middle."
Though he found harmony himself, Khalid has no idea for how he will keep the balance with his own children one day.
"I don't want to stray too far from my religion, but I think I would understand the social pressures that they are going through," he said.
"I would not be as hard on them as my parents are on me. I would still lay boundaries where you cannot get to this point."It's a thin line. I'll let you get near it, but never touch it or cross it."
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net