[fullwidth background_color=”” background_image=”” background_parallax=”none” enable_mobile=”no” parallax_speed=”0.3″ background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_webm=”” video_mp4=”” video_ogv=”” video_preview_image=”” overlay_color=”” overlay_opacity=”0.5″ video_mute=”yes” video_loop=”yes” fade=”no” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding_top=”20px” padding_bottom=”20px” padding_left=”0px” padding_right=”0px” hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” menu_anchor=”” class=”” id=””][fusion_text]By Author Umm Juwayriyah
Now more than ever it is important for Muslim parents to create open dialogue with their children and teens about what is happening in the world around them and especially in their own communities as well. With Islamophobia at an all-time high, it is very likely that one of our children will be confronted with some form of discrimination or just feel burdened, overwhelmed, or depressed by the constant Muslim and Islam bashing prevalent in the media now.
Parents, imams, teachers, and elders in the community have to take a proactive role in creating opportunities for our Muslim youth to come together to gain awareness and work together to create empowerment. However, we need not look outside of our way of life and community to instill and enrich our youth with fortitude. Certainly, we as a community have been blessed with the best of guides and role models in our prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alyhi wa sallam.
“Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad SAW) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.” Surah Ahzab, aya 21 As those who came before us were tried and tested and learned to pull together to strengthen one another and overcome their adversities, so must this ummah. We must recommit ourselves and our youth to behaving in a community minded manner. Now is not the time to retreat away or allow our children to fear their existence or the judgement of the ignorant. Our youth must learn to work together, to support each other, to love one another, and to be kind to one another. Our youth must learn to go forward in their communities and be proud to represent Islamic thought. Likewise we, as parents, teachers, imams, and elders have to make room for our youth to step up in the community and infuse their energy, creativity, and skills into our plans, activities, and future goals. Inshallah, by being active community participants and thinkers, our youth will learn to be empowered and find ways to stand up for themselves and take ownership of their narratives in their communities and the world at large as well.
The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alyhi wa sallam, said: “The example of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body.” Source: Sahih Bukhari 5665, Sahih Muslim 2586
Five ways to instill community mindedness in Muslim youth:
- Get them out to be active in the community! Find activities in your local community and within the Muslim community where youth are underrepresented and join in. Whether it’s the YMCA, an afterschool program, or an Eid planning committee at the masjid, push the youth to participate.
- Speak up and about what is going on in the community! Family discussions are super important. Not only does it teach our youth how to communicate effectively and properly, but it is also therapeutic. Talking can help your children to clear their minds and hearts and find Islamic support and reassurance so that they can work through any difficult stuff.
- Give a hand! Sadaqa or charity is an excellent activity for the whole family to engage in on a regular basis. Whether you are teaching your toddlers to put away their toys (removing obstacles from people’s path), setting aside a day each month for your middle schoolers to bake a cake for neighbors (feeding the people), or driving your teens around the community to rake leaves or shovel snow out of driveways and sidewalks for elders, they will be making a difference in someone in their community’s lives.
- Lead the way! Muslim youth need opportunities to voice their opinions and create Islamically appropriate fun activities. Help the youth in your community to come together and establish youth nights, a community newsletter, fundraisers, plays, basketball teams, double-dutch teams, debate teams or even a Youtube page where they can discuss Islamic topics with an Imam or Muslim elder.
- Introduce them! Firefighters, police officers, librarians, and local politicians often have nights where community members can come out and visit with them. These are excellent opportunities for your middle schoolers and older teens to introduce themselves to decision makers in their community and express themselves and the concerns of our communities. Encourage them to ask open ended questions that will allow for a good exchange.