By: Ryan Ramchandar*
Growing up as a Muslim youth is not easy and can be a daunting task. Muslim youth are constantly pushed, pulled, and bombarded from every direction, expected to act in a certain way by their peers, teachers or parents. The youth are struggling to find a place in this society while trying hard not to fall into the wrong circles, or straying along the wrong paths. How can we engage the youth, and encourage them to stay close to the community? Similarly, how can we motivate the youth to be better Muslims?
The transition from high school to university opens up a whole new world for the youth. Suddenly, they are now young adults and accordingly they are given many more freedoms. No longer is there anyone checking up on them on a regular basis, and for some this much freedom can pose to be a struggle. This is when the values they’ve learned from an early age begin to kick in and it is up to them to stick by them. Do they skip class and play pool all day in the Pool Hall? Or do they study in the library or finish an assignment in the computer lab? While getting a good education is important, so too is making sure that they are mindful of their Islamic duties: praying on time, staying away from things that are haram and doubtful, and making sure that they are mindful of Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala. This can be done by surrounding ourselves with good Muslim friends and, insha’Allah, a lot of the struggles that youth face in these environments can be over come.
Having good friends who will remind us on a constant basis is key to overcoming the different temptations we face. However, it is not enough to say that I have surrounded myself with good people and therefore I can relax. We must also struggle to become a better person ourselves, to benefit others. In order to do this we must seek knowledge and be able to interact with others in a positive way. This especially holds true for when we interact with those who are younger than us, namely in high school or junior high. They are at a period in their lives when they need a mentor or a role model, someone they can relate to, who will not be overcritical with them. Before we can begin to advise or mentor others, however, we must have some basic understandings.
One way we can gain an understanding of what it means to be an examplary youth is to look at the character of the Prophet, sallahu alayhi wasalam, and how he interacted with others. Of the Prophets’ attributes, he was eloquent and concise, a good mentor and teacher, did not forget favours done to him, kept his word, was very generous, and smiled often! Abu Huraira, radiallahu an, said that he never saw someone smile more than the Prophet. By incorporating these characteristics into our personality we can grow as individuals, insha’Allah, if these attitudes/behaviours of the Prophet are reflected in how we act with others in our daily lives. This knowledge of the Prophet’s life can be gained by actively taking part in halaqa’s, lectures and study sessions that happen on a regular basis in different areas of the community. In addition, there are many good books written that any youth can learn and read from.
Alhumdullilah, we have been blessed with our youth and we will surely be asked, by Allah, on how we spent it. While we are busy at school, we must also remember that a healthy balance is important and should make time for others. Remaining active in the community is essential, and from being active we can gain knowledge which we can use to teach and benefit others, insha’Allah.
* Br. Ryan Ramchandar is a University student and a member of the editorial board of Manitoba Muslim Magazine.