by Deana Nassar*
Despite our inexperience in our youth, there is a time in our lives as Muslims when our faith is likely to be tested repeatedly by temptations “of the flesh”.
It is here we need to realize the duty as young Muslims when we should learn to overcome these temptations and preserve our Deen, our Islamic way of life, share Islam with others and observe the teachings of the holy texts of Islam, including the Quran and the Hadith.
Beyond fulfilling these basic responsibilities, young Muslims are expected to also play a significant role in the peaceful advancement of Islam: the advancement of the da’wah.
Like everything in life, youths are driven by passion.
I remember well how my level of faith would sway to the extent where I wanted to wear a really long scarf with further intentions to wear the niqab,preaching to every person who cared to listen that it was my call only to sway just as quickly back to questioning everything.
Don’t get me wrong as I have full respect for the niqab but I was clueless to why I wanted to dress like that and I adopted the serious non-smiling stereotyped image which represented nothing of Islam without probing and educating myself further.
For me it was whatever the trend was at the time. Luckily these bouts never lasted and I was pulled on track first by my parents who were much wiser than I and later on by my husband who always reminded me that the key was moderation, if you may.
Many times when I would start making life difficult for myself and those around me, he would surely but gently remind me not to fall into the trap of passion driven by ignorance.
We are taught that Islam was never meant to be an individualistic faith, reserved for the “chosen few” and here I was reminded again by my husband that I was not from the “chosen few” who would frown as if I was the one who would judge.
Yes Muslims have a duty to spread the Deen, and practicing Muslim youth, whether beginners, activists or leaders have a crucial role to play, however it wasn’t our role to play judge, as that is solely for God.
Islam is a religion of peace and love. Since I now have my own young adults I will focus on youths as a reminder to myself as a parent first and foremost instilling in them one of the most important messages of our beloved Prophet Muhammad who narrates:
“All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.”
Youth is the prime time of our lives.
This is where we make important decisions like what to become in the future. Things we do in this time will most likely affect us throughout the rest of our life.
That is why, it is important I tell my children to bring Islam into their life during these days.
Sadly many Muslims have the conception that they will start practicing Islam when they are older.
In all reality there are no guarantees that we will live until we are older. With circumstances being as they are, my sons have sadly attended more funerals of friends than weddings.
But that is another story, A terrible reality but one that needs to be acknowledged. So what have we prepared for our turn? Morbid? Yes. However it is a reality which cannot be denied.
Because youth is the prime time of our life, it is very precious to God who has prepared a shade on the Day of Judgment for those people who used to worship God in their youth, where on that day there will be no other shade except the shade from the throne of God.
While some of today’s youth are characterized by apathy and disinterest in almost anything and everything where they occupy a twilight world defined by Instagram and hashtags with their signature gesture being the selfie, others are equally absorbed by an ideology which is just as equal in warranting concern.
Let’s just be honest, most of the time we are sending our youth into the world embarrassingly ignorant of our faith. How could we not? We’ve jettisoned hadiths, sold them on “deeds not creeds” and encouraged them to start the quest to find “God’s plan for their life” all without providing the necessary tools and ideologies and more importantly protection.
These ideologies, doctrines and beliefs are what constitute one’s goals. It is here I would like to stress that the Muslim youths should be aware of their roles in making Islam flourish as they are the adults of tomorrow.
Besides at this stage, the youth possess a strong determination which is extremely difficult to deter however there are a few points which need to be covered in order that we make the most of our years which will pass all too quickly, We are told by the Prophet:
وَخُذْ مِنْ صِحَّتِك لِمَرَضِك، وَمِنْ حَيَاتِك لِمَوْتِ[رَوَاهُ الْبُخَارِيُ ّ
“Take advantage of five before five: Your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied, and your life before your death.” (H.R. Al-Bukhari)
In our modern society, there are very important challenges being faced by the Muslim youths, which the older generation may not have a good understanding of their impacts and importance in their life. Reading up I realized that these are challenges no more restricted to any one ethnic or religious group, but affect young people generally.
Youths are all too often faced with the identity crisis finding themselves often asking, Who am I? This may lead to a lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem where they may deem themselves as worthless resulting in a sense of hopelessness and the where am I going syndrome.
Confusion and ambiguity concerning moral issues of what is right and wrong and the negative impact of the electronic media may affect our youth if they are not monitored and set on the right track channelling their energies in the right direction.
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) highlighted on more than one occasion the significance of education. He referred to the attainment of an education as a duty not a right or a privilege for all Muslims.
In youth, Muslims have the responsibility to pursue both a religious and a formal education. Muslim youth may learn by attending religious services, of course monitored by scholars, but they are also encouraged to seek wisdom from parents and other relatives.
The Prophet warned against mistreating or belittling the youth for their lack of wisdom and urged the different generations to come together and learn from one another. Such actions, whether on purpose or not, will only result in angry or withdrawal reactions.
So we have acquired the necessary education how can we advocate Islam the religion we practice with pride?
One important aspect is to apply the education into action and not fall prey to those who allege they know everything and stay away from those who believe they are the ‘chosen ones’ for the part this will be relayed all too often by the media. Remember “whoever controls the media, controls the mind”. You are now an educated individual worthy of making your own decisions and assumptions. You and only you can determine the path you may follow.
Sadly while listening to certain media channels we may be gripped by the rising tide of panic about a younger generation who apparently threaten the very fabric of our Muslim society.
Regrettably some Muslim youths have been drawn into extremism destroying the beauty of the religion.
Now is not an appropriate time to get into details regarding any particular group which we have all heard of, but my point here is what pushes some to go so far.
All too often youths have blamed poverty for their misfortunes falling prey to these groups which are as far from Islam as possible.
To overcome this, we should teach our youths how to get financially stable as early as possible.
With that they will get prepared to take so many responsibilities without piling more responsibilities on their parents and on the community.
This will also give them the self-confidence to happily shoulder responsibilities a far cry from preaches that poverty is better especially as we know all too well that this isn’t so.
While altruism is a virtue we need to understand its true meaning.
We may define the ideal youth as a balanced individual exhibiting a highly spiritual life informed by absolute moral values and whose behavior demonstrates qualities such as righteousness, honesty, humility and conscientiousness in everything he or she does.
Things should not be done just because it is what the vogue was, but because they are the right things to do. I think it is important to instill in our youths not to fear blame from anyone, as far as they are on the right track of attaining the pleasure of God.
Many years on and a much calmer and less judgmental temperament with youths of my own I have come to curb my passion and have been blessed to learn from the Quran that:
وَأَن لَّيْسَ لِلْإِنسَٰنِ إِلَّا مَا سَعَى
A man receives but only that for which he strives, (QS: An- Najm :39)
وَأَنَّ سَعْيَهُۥ سَوْفَ يُرَىٰ
And that his effort is going to be seen (QS: An- Najm :40)
ثُمَّ يُجْزَىٰهُ ٱلْجَزَآءَ ٱلْأَوْفَىٰ
And only then will he receive his recompense in full, (QS: An- Najm :41)
After all, in youth we learn; however it is in age we understand. (T/Imt/R04)
*This article published at www.onislam.net
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)