© About Islam.
It is not easy being young, single, and Muslim in today’s world.
Millennials have it very different than the previous few generations. They do not have simple, technology-less childhoods.
Brand conscious, tech-savvy, and socially-wired to exclusive cliques since early ages, by the time they leave high school, they are fired up to enter the best university anywhere around the world.
Armed with the best branded degrees under their belt, they eventually aspire to join “the rat race” in the cut-throat professional world.
For the youth today, the sky is the limit!
But, there is one small problem: they face the ever-increasing temptation of romantic relationships, between the ages of 16-23. Around them adultery is common, especially if they live alone in the West, away from family, on college campuses where instant sexual gratification is the norm.
To deal with this trial, they have two options: either get married, or break off any romantic relationships/friendships that distract them from Deen. For most youngsters, the first option is unthinkable, due to the responsibilities that come with marriage.
To them, as well as their parents, marriage stands in the way of their professional dreams. And yet, Allah says in the Quran:
“And marry the singles from among you…” (24:32)
This is also what Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) advised young men to do:
Abdullah bin Mas’ud narrated:
We went with Allah’s Messenger, while we were young men who had nothing.
O young men! You should marry, for indeed it helps in lowering the gaze and protecting the private parts.’… (Jami` Al-Tirmidhi)
What can we, as adult Muslim mentors, parents, teachers, and activists, do today, to make it easier for our youngsters to get married, and to also lead a happy married life?
Become a Good Role-model of Muslim Marriage
The biggest turnoff for any Muslim youngster today, which deters them from getting married, is their tacit observation of the apparently dull and monotonous married lives of the “aunties and uncles” that they see around them.
In glamorized films, novels, television, and celebrity media, they see non-Muslim couples move in and out of casual relationships without getting married. They see them achieve worldly goals and ambitions, and amicably move on from past romantic & sexual liaisons without getting deterred from worldly success.
Then they see their own parents, and other aunties and uncles, bicker over what is to be cooked, and what household chores need to be done.
Guess which picture is more appealing to them?
Married Muslim elders today need to be more easygoing, fun-loving, and enjoyable to be around, in order to inspire their youngsters to also desire matrimony for themselves.
Observing the barakah and joy in the lives of older married couples will inspire younger Muslim singles to want to acquire the same happiness in their own lives.
Sooner rather than later.
Back to the Basics: Discuss Romantic Love in the Light of the Quran & Hadith
The anomaly today is how, in any typical Muslim home, the television set and smartphone screens display sexually graphic scenes of kissing and foreplay between men and women, but the elders treat the topic of sex like “the elephant in the room”: totally off-limits for discussion with their growing children.
Culturally-rigid Muslim elders need to let go of their hang-ups regarding the absolute taboo of discussing sex with the younger generation. Growing children need to be referred to the Quran and hadith regarding how to handle coming of age. They need to be told about the reality and nature of the sexual urges that will eventually be felt in their bodies, and how they should handle them.
Training them to lower the gaze, and stay away from provocative scenes, company, and modes of entertainment, is very important for today’s youngsters to be able to successfully transition from childhood to young adulthood.
Growing up, they shouldn’t be wrought with guilt for having normal desires that conservative culture makes them regard as “evil” and “dirty”.
Discuss the Damages Caused by Romantic Relationships & Adultery
Muslim elders need to educate their younger peers about why adultery is prohibited, and marriage is ordained in Islam.
This can only be done when they adopt a mature approach towards the topic. They should discuss the ever-present temptation of sexual attraction to the opposite gender during the years of youth, in a calm, explanatory fashion. Then they should discuss authentic research and statistical data about the ills and vices that become rampant in society due to adultery.
This will help naive youngsters understand why staying away from adultery is the best option.
Facilitate Responsible Behavior
In order to encourage millennials to get married today, they need to be trained early, during their teenage years, to handle mature, adult responsibilities. E.g. household chores, everyday errands, and keeping a part-time job.
Learning how to earn, spend, and save money is a skill that is vital for any youngster today, male or female, to master before they get married.
The sooner they start to get the hang of practical adult life, the better their chances of being more inclined towards marriage and parenthood at an earlier age.
Muslims should always remember that children at the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to handle adult responsibilities much earlier than millennials do today. A 17-year-old at the time of the Prophet lived like a fully mature adult.
Undermine Cultural Traditions that Make Marriage Difficult
We live in a very dichotomous world. Today, adults do not get so scandalized at the thought of a 21-year-old college guy dating, or even having a child out of wedlock with, a 17-year-old high-school girl. Media even refers to young teenaged couples as “childhood sweethearts”, romanticizing the concept.
Yet, when we hear about a 20-year-old Muslim guy in college who works part-time at the local grocer, marrying a 16-year-old high school girl?
All hell breaks lose!
Marriages of so-called “children” are treated as taboos. This is because we treat young adults as immature, overgrown “babies” who still survive on pocket money from their parents and are addicted to video games and movies.
If Muslim elders today want their young millennials to stay away from adultery and get married when they (the youth) want to, they first need to bravely take a stand and challenge cultural stereotypes regarding early marriage.
Instead of giving importance to job titles, degrees, branded trousseaus, extensive guest lists, flamboyant pre-wedding parties, and prestigious venues, parents and other elders need to bridge the generation gap and join hands with the millennials to help the latter settle down happily, earlier on in life.