Tips for Muslim Youth
Why should you, a young Muslim, be helping to bring your friends
closer to Allah?
After all, you've got your own struggles to deal with: trying to
explain why you pray to hostile teachers, Hijab discrimination,
standing up in class when the professor attacks Islam, dealing with
parents who think you've gone nuts because you're growing a beard,
or all the other difficulties faced by a number of practicing Muslim
Islam was never meant to be an individualistic faith, reserved for
the "chosen few". Muslims have a duty to spread the Deen,
and practicing Muslim youth, whether beginners, activists or leaders
have a crucial role to play.
"Allah has put them in a position that perhaps no one else
is in," notes Sheema Khan, former Muslim Youth of North America
(MYNA) advisor for eastern Canada. "They have the means to
communicate with their peers, they have an understanding of what
they're going through plus they have the guidance of Islam."
Who is your childhood friend, who would rather spend Fridays at
MacDonald's than the Masjid, or your classmate who is Muslim in
name and only knows that "Muslims don't eat pork" going
to listen to: the nice Imam of the Masjid who would freak out if
he saw the way they were dressed and talked or you who may have
grown up with them, joked with them, or see them everyday in school?
The answer is obvious: you.
Don't panic. Here are some tips and advice which can help from other
Muslims, many of whom have been there and done that:
Tip #1: Make your intention sincere
All work we do should ideally be for the sake of Allah. That includes
the task of bringing someone closer to Allah. That of course means
this should not be connected to arrogance, thinking you're the teacher
and everyone else should be lucky you've embarked on a crusade to
save them. Guidance is from Allah. Make Dua and make sincere efforts
and remember Allah can also misguide you if He wills (we seek refuge
in Allah from that).
Tip #2: Practice what you preach
Not practicing what you preach is wrong and you will lose the confidence
of anyone, young or old, once they figure you out. Don't do it.
Tip #3: Use the Qur'an and Seerah (biography of the Prophet)
as Dawa guides
Read and understand those chapters of the Qur'an which talk about
how the Prophets presented the message of Islam to their people.
Read the Seerah (for some
good Seerah books) to see especially how the Prophet Muhammad
(peace and blessings be upon him) brought Islam to so many different
people, including young people.
As well, talk to Dawa workers, and check out books that have been
written on introducing dawa to non Muslims
Tip #4: Talk to people as if you really don't know them
Don't assume you know someone just by looking at them. You don't
know that the Muslim girl in your homeroom who walks through the
school's hallways as if they were fashion show catwalks
is not someone you can talk to about Allah because she looks
like a snob. Or that the Muslim guy who you've never seen at Jumah
at your university is a "bad Muslim". Maybe he was never
really taught Islam and has no idea what importance Friday prayers
have in Islam, especially for Muslim men.
Tip #5: Smile
Did you know the Prophet was big on smiling? But many "practicing"
Muslims seem to have "their faces on upside down" as one
speaker once said-frowning and serious.
being polite and kind are all part of the manners of the Prophet,
which we must exercise in our daily lives. If we want to approach
others with Islam, we have to make ourselves approachable. Smiling
is key to this.
But note that being approachable does not mean being flirtations
with the other gender. There are Islamic rules for how men and women
should deal with each other which have to be respected. Dawa is
no excuse to have long and private conversations and meetings with
the other sex, for example. Set up a system where someone expressing
an interest in Islam is referred to someone of the same sex.
Tip #6: Take the initiative and hang out with them
Take the first step and invite someone you may have spoken to a
couple of times to sit at lunch together, to check out a hockey
game or invite them over for Iftar in Ramadan. Also, share difficulties,
sorrows and frustrations. Help with homework, be a shoulder to cry
on when depression hits, or just plain listen when your friend is
upset, discuss common problems and KEEP THEIR SECRETS. There are
few things as annoying as a snitch and backstabber. But an important
note: if the problem is of a serious nature, (i.e. your friend is
thinking of committing suicide or is taking drugs), notify and consult
an adult immediately.
Tip #7: Show them Islam is relevant today, right here, right
Young people may think Islam is too "old fashioned" and
not in tune with the modern age. Prove this wrong. Show how Islam
is really about relating to Allah, which any human being can do,
anywhere, anytime. Allah is always closer to you than your jugular
vein and He hears and knows everything. Encourage friends to ask
Allah's help during tests, exams, and in dealing with problems at
home with parents and siblings. Also point out how Islam relates
to teenagers: Islam gives you focus and an understanding of who
you are and where you are going, which most of "teen culture"
Tip #8: Get them involved in volunteer work with you
If you are already involved in the community, get your friend
to help out. Ask them to make a flyer for one of your youth group's
events or brainstorm for ideas about activities to hold this school
year. This involvement makes them feel part of the Muslim community
and deepens your friendship, since you are now working together
on something beneficial for both of you. Make sure you thank them
for their contribution.
Tip #9: Ask them 4 fundamental questions
As your friendship develops, you will notice the topics you
discuss may become more serious. You may be discussing, for instance,
future goals and plans. Khan recommends four questions to ask that
can steer the topic to Allah and Islam:
Where am I going in life and what would make me really happy deep
b. What do I believe?
c. Who should I be grateful to?
d. Did I get to where I am today without the help of anyone?
#10: Emphasize praying five times a day before any other aspect
A person's main connection with Allah, on a daily basis, is
through the prayer five times a day. Don't emphasize any other aspect
of Islam until your friend starts making a real effort to pray five
times a day. Emphasize the direct connection one has with Allah
in prayer. If they are facing a problem, tell them to pray, and
to ask Allah for help in Salah and outside this time. When possible,
make it a point to pray together during your "hang out time".
If your friend begins to pray, that is the first step to other aspects
of Islam like giving up swearing, treating parents with respect
or dressing Islamically.
Tip# 11: Help instil confidence in adults
Adults, like Bart Simpson's dad Homer, are considered bumbling
idiots in the eyes of "teen culture". Your job as a young
Muslim is to help turn the tables on this false and unIslamic belief.
All you have to do is this: when a Muslim adult does something good
(i.e. saving someone's life, donating money to a worthy cause, the
Imam gives a good speech, taking good care of his/her family) bring
it up in the course of your conversations with your friend and praise
the adult in question. Doing this regularly may not only change
your friend's perspective, but could lead to them seeing their own
parents in a more respectful way.
Tip #12: Support them even when they become more practicing
Remember, just because a person starts practicing Islam more
regularly, this does not mean everything will be okay from this
point onwards. There will still be hard times, difficulties. There
may be times when your friend may have doubts about his or her newfound
practice of Islam. Be there to reassure them.