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Challenges Faced by Muslim Youth in the West

Challenges Faced by Muslim Youth in the West
Being a Muslim in the West especially these days is an active choice that we have to make every single day, especially those of us who are visibly Muslim.

Being Muslim and living in the West is something that many of us do on a day-to-day basis. So, I have a couple of pointers to talk about and then we will do a few questions in case anyone has anything in particular they wanted to talk about.

Having Fun

It’s very easy to not drink. There’s this pervasive sort of attitude or belief that in order to have fun, you have to be drinking.

There’s a particular TV personality who travels around to different countries, and every time he goes to a Muslim country, he always ends up saying something like: “So how do people have fun here?”

It’s not that difficult to have fun without drinking. I don’t know if especially ladies if you’ve ever been to wedding parties or engagement parties, those are always very fun and there’s no alcohol there…

Socializing

How like feeling isolated from your colleagues at work because a lot of socializing or going out to lunch takes place in the UK and pubs?

Some Muslims will say that even going into a pub or a bar at all is haram, others will say you can go in as long as you’re not ordering alcohol.

You need to figure out what makes most sense to you. I mean obviously don’t just take the easiest like, “oh well I’m just going to decide that I think drinking or going to a pub is okay as long as I’m not drinking…”

I think it would probably be safer to not go. But I do understand how that would leave you feeling isolated.

I personally don’t socialize I’m a huge shut-in. So, if someone wants me to go out drinking with them I simply apologize, it’s just easy for me.

But, I know that it’s not how everyone is same. If you’re a really social person, maybe you suggest a place to go to lunch or you can host something at your house… there are lots of ways to be social but I do understand how in day-to-day kind of situations that might feel isolating.

Being a Muslim in the West especially these days is an active choice that we have to make every single day, especially those of us who are visibly Muslim.

So, I do understand how the isolation can set in. Try and make the best choices for you and not get distracted by these petty things in the dunya when you know in reality this is all just temporary.

Marriage

Some people have said that it is difficult to get married, it’s difficult to find a good Muslim spouse…

I think there are lots of good Muslims out there, I don’t necessarily think that it is across the board true. Often times we end up making it harder for ourselves, and I don’t mean like by being too picky although that has a reputation of being a factor… Certain families have a reputation for requiring three PhDs and he’s a doctor, engineer, lawyer etc. but that’s not what I mean.

I think something that makes a marriage difficult, or finding a spouse difficult is that we expect too much too soon. On one hand, islamically, we are encouraged to get married young.

But on the other hand, I think people just sort of take that at face value and don’t look deeper into it. People like to just say you know you should get married young to avoid sin and that is a little bit on the dangerous side simply because in Islam there’s something deeper to it.

Read: How Islam Views Early Marriage

So, if the only reason you are getting married is to avoid sin in my opinion that is incorrect. You can’t just get married young in college today and say like okay I’ve done it the Islamic way.

If we are supposed to be encouraging our children and ourselves to be married at a young age, we need to be preparing our children and preparing ourselves for getting married at a young age.

But, we can’t just throw people out there and say, “okay you’re young, get married quick!”

It’s hard work. and it’s again you know it’s making an active choice, and to encourage a certain kind of maturity and it can’t just be about the surface, it has to be so much deeper than that.

Love and Marriage

I received a question here that says:

I want to marry a Muslim girl, but I’m still in college. What would you advise us to do? We know our parents don’t agree even though we found a part-time job and cover our own expenses until we graduate.

You have to remember that there’s so much more to marriage than avoiding sin. Marriage is a lifelong commitment, it’s not something that can be taken lightly.

If you’re in that situation, I think that you really need to take a step back from the emotion of it. Take a step back from your feelings, and really look at the basis of the relationship. Why do you want to marry this person for logical reasons?

I’m a very emotional person, so I understand how emotions can play a strong part in it; I completely get that. But when you’re looking at something that is so lifelong and so much of a commitment, you really need to take a logical viewpoint first of all.

So, what are the logical reasons that you have? Are you compatible with this person? Do they follow Islam in a similar manner to you?…

Read: Making Allah the Heart of Our Marriage

One thing that was mentioned recently in an About Islam article was one woman posted a question saying that she doesn’t think she wants children. If you don’t want children, you need to make sure that your spouse is aware of that… You need to really take care of these things.

And if you go through all these issues and you match up with this person, and you feel that you’re emotionally mature, then I would say in my opinion that seems to be a situation where you would be emotionally ready for such a commitment.

Love is a very important component in marriage for certain individuals such as myself. But that is not the most important ingredient to making sure your marriage works. You need to make sure that you are on the same page and you have to make sure that there is a foundation of trust and respect…

If you have those, then the love will come sooner or later.

I don’t know the full situation of course, but your parents cannot forbid you if there’s no Islamic reason to forbid you.

Expensive Weddings

“My best friend just got married to a Muslim of Asian background and his family spent a fortune on the wedding. Why is it so complicated? And why do they like to show off? My family can’t afford all the wedding related expenses does it mean we’ll never get married!”

No. It does not mean that.

I do not like to talk about my personal life, but just very brief surface, I got married to someone from a different culture and we had an extremely simple wedding. We went to the mosque, we had our witnesses there, we got married. And a few days later, we got legally married and it was very small. Just the family.

You do not have to have a big wedding. If that’s the thing that’s keeping you from getting married, there’s something wrong there.

The important thing to remember is that marriage is marriage, you can’t just think about a wedding, you have your entire life.

No one is perfect of course. I have many imperfections, but you do need a baseline. And there are certain things that should not be compromised, perfection of course should never be expected, but if there is a lack of trust or respect, then you have something in the foundation that’s broken.

You should know what your line is and if it crosses this line, then it’s not okay.

In order to have a happy marriage, you need to make sure that you are going to be content with what you have and what your spouse has; you both need to be contented.

How to Find Spirituality

There’s a question someone says that they’re very depressed and not following the path thoroughly and how to increase spirituality.

I first and foremost I want this individual to know that they are not alone. I have been through this many times in my life, and I know people who are going through it many times in their life.

And it can feel very isolating because you see other Muslims around you and you presume that they are doing fine because they look fine. But they might be looking at you and seeing the same thing.

So, first and foremost you’re not the only one. For me, after I had my children, it’s usually the time when I suffered the most in my religion. Sometimes it took me years to feel spiritual again.

The bad news is that there’s no one answer for how to increase spirituality. I think there are different things that work for different people. For me I love to read the Quran because the Quran itself is what brought me to Islam. So, reading that, reflecting on it, and thinking that there is no way that this came from any anyone but God.

So, for other people it might be going to the mosque, for other people it might be really trying to focus on prayers, or make sincere duaa, or make dhikr, or fasting…

I think that the most important thing to start with is to make duaa. Make duaa for that desire to want to be practicing in your religion, or to wanting to feel spiritual, or wanting to feel close to Allah… and Allah will lead you to find the best thing for you.

(Editor’s Note: This is a partial transcript of sister Leah’s video. Watch the full video here.)

 


About Leah Darland Hanoosh

Leah is a Muslim convert of almost a decade. She has two kids, an intercultural marriage, and half of a French degree in her back pocket, looking to switch gears to science and medicine. She has lived abroad for over a decade, having just recently become reacquainted with her roots in America. She currently lives in Michigan near her family and – masha’Allah – a sizeable Muslim community.

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