How Can Muslim Youth Balance Between Faith and Modernity?

20 February, 2020
Q We live in difficult times where more and more Muslim youth are "going away" from Islam. They don't feel connected to their religion as sometimes they don't feel they relate to it or they shy away from being a part of a religion that is deemed fanatic. How do we help our Muslim youth reconnect with Islam? How can they balance between faith and modernity?

Answer

Short Answer: The youth are feeling increasing stress. They also feel they are being marginalised. They are becoming frustrated. They do not understand their religion to the extent that Allah is their only Helper. They look at their peers, the non-Muslims, and it appears if they want to get on in this world, it is easier to give up their religion. This is a tragedy both for them and for Islam. The future of anything lies with the youth. They are the future. Steps need to be taken to ensure the youth do not leave Islam. Read on to find tips…

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Part 2

Thank you for your question; it is a very important one.

Summary of Problems Muslim Youth Face

The problems the youth face can include: peer pressure from non-Muslims, perhaps based on information from the media; a perceived reaction to Muslims stemming from PREVENT policy, which seems to target Muslims in particular; unfair competition in the workplace where non-Muslims may be selected over Muslims e.g. a non-Hijabi over a Hijabi, or a Muslim requiring a space to pray at work.

Many Muslim children have not had Islam actually explained to them in English, particularly the Quran and, as a result, are not able to explain their religion;  many Imams are not able to communicate with the youth, or make time available to discuss issues the youth may be facing; unless the Imam is seen to be active in the community the youth cannot identify with him or use him as a role model; girls going from girlhood to womanhood have no support from their religion in the community, could Alimahs (women teachers) be utilised by the mosques?

Issues in Media

Indeed, the denigration of Muslims in the media has reached a point where Muslims are stereotyped and no one respects Muslims, this is not to say individual Muslims are not respected even Heads of State (Trump and Johnson) have made derogatory remarks resulting in the Far-Right  even resorting to terrorism (a recent court case in the UK resulted in an 18 year prison sentence for a Far-Right member – yet Trump does not see the Far Right as a threat!); with BREXIT there is likely to be even more competition for jobs, can we expect children of immigrants to be treated fairly with the children of the indigenous population?

Social media is having a huge effect on some Muslim youths. It is negative and popular especially Instagram and Facebook. 

So, in summary, the youth are feeling increasing stress. They also feel they are being marginalised. They are becoming frustrated. They do not understand their religion to the extent that Allah is their only Helper. They look at their peers, the non-Muslims, and it appears if they want to get on in this world, it is easier to give up their religion. This is a tragedy both for them and for Islam. The future of anything lies with the youth. They are the future. Steps need to be taken to ensure the youth do not leave Islam.

The Role of Mosques

Let us look at the Mosques. Have there been any changes? Why did Muslims go to the Mosque and what has changed?

The Mosques were places where the call to prayer, the five times prayers and Juma’ (Friday Prayers) took place. The call to prayer can now be received in people’s houses without it being broadcast throughout the area. Fewer people (relatively speaking) now attend the five times prayers. Muslims are tending to come late for Juma’. The prayer timetable is now available on smartphones.

Ramadan and Eids are available on TV channels. Speakers and lectures can be watched at leisure on YouTube rather than attending. Many Bayans (lectures) are delivered in an ethnic language and the youth are not familiar with it to the extent required, and no questions are allowed. Itikaf requires too much red tape.

What does all this lead to?

That the Mosque has to attract people into it. But it also has to reach out to the community in order to attract people to it. Not only that, but it has to engage and that means interaction. This interaction also has to be seen to take place in the community, that is, outside of the Mosque. This is how the youth will see local role models, and it is a way to inspire the youth. It does seem, to this writer at least, that the Mosques have to offer interactive programmes for the youth.

What can be done: Many Imams are imported. Either their English is not good enough to engage with the youth or, their training and experience are not relevant to the cultural climate of the West and they cannot interact with the youth. What is needed is for the Imams to show a link between faith and modernity, how the youth need to find their way.

Many imported Imams do not know Western civil law and are not in a position to be able to counsel parents. Either they should be educated for this, or qualified people should be appointed through the mosques for this function and should run regular clinics. A similar function is required for the youth. In addition, many Muslims, especially females are becoming teachers, yet this resource is overlooked by the mosques – could they be utilised? Does the Imam need helpers e.g. Youth Leader/Counsellor and an Alimah/Counsellor for the women?

To Be Continued…

And Allah knows best.

I hope this helps.

Salam and please keep in touch.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Muslim Youth Survival Kit

4 Reasons Why Muslim Youth Are Confused

The Prophet’s Guidance for New Muslim Youth

 

About Daud Matthews
Daud Matthews was born in 1938, he embraced Islam in 1970, and got married in Pakistan in 1973.
Matthews studied physics and subsequently achieved Chartered Engineer, Fellow of both the British Computer Society and the Institute of Management.He was working initially in physics research labs, he then moved to computer management in 1971. He lived and worked in Saudi Arabia from 1974 to 1997 first with the University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran,and then with King Saud University in Riyadh. He's been involved in da'wah since 1986.