American Teenager: “Help Me Cut Down My Terrible Habits”

20 April, 2020
Q Assalamualaikum,

My mother is a white American Muslim and my dad converted to Islam just to marry her. I live in a community where it's the norm to do whatever you want, and my parents don't interfere with whatever I am doing so long as I am happy. And that’s what ruined me.

On the first day of university they sat us down and told us that no matter what, no matter how drunk or sick we got, if we called an ambulance, were picked up by a University Police Department, were taken to the University Health Services infirmary or even to the hospital, we would not get in trouble. We would have to attend a meeting with our Resident Dean, but our parents would not be notified.

They told us that they realize that we’re in a college environment and that people are going to abuse these things, and so we’re here to basically reduce the harm. Since then my friends have called me about 6 times. I am a heavy drinker in parties and twice of the 6 times they called I was also on drugs.

I need advice/help about drinking and smoking weed (I'm not addicted I just do it sometimes with my boyfriend and our friends).

Secondly, I have an amazing boyfriend who is admired throughout the whole university. I have been with him 6 months after I entered university. We often engage in sexual intercourse and I know as Muslims adultery is forbidden but I cannot seem to resist, and I am starting to love him.

Last year we got tattoos together, back when I didn’t know it was forbidden. I really think I love him, and I think that we will get married a couple of years after college. We are trying to limit our intimate relations but neither of us can.

I also have a huge problem with clothing. During the summer I tend to wear quite revealing clothing like in the summer I wear bralettes and booty shorts. I have a twin brother who is with me in college and he knows about everything going on and he once called the ambulance for me while we were in a party. So, it’s not like I am hiding anything from my parents.

Someone had told me that all the above is okay if the parents approve and both my mom and dad know about this and are totally okay with it (except my dad told me not to smoke weed unless either my brother or boyfriend is there to take care of me in case anything were to happen).

I want to cut down my terrible habits, please advise me on what to do.


In this counseling answer:

There is a much more beautiful life in store for you if you are willing to put in the efforts and energy to change.

Your parents have provided little guidance; thus, you will have to gain the strength within yourself to set your own boundaries and make your own changes.

I think you need to decide whether or not you want to actually practice Islam and have a closeness with Allah.

Should you choose to straighten your life out and get on the path of Islam, there would be many blessings in it for you and your life.

You will find much more love, peace, and contentment than with the life you are living now.

As Salam Alaykum sister,

Thank you for writing to us with your questions and concerns. You stated that you live in the US and you’re 19 years old. Your mom is a Muslim and your dad reverted to Islam to marry her.

The community where you live in is rather liberal and it is normal to do whatever you want, and your parents don’t interfere as long as you’re happy.

American Teenager: "Help Me Cut Down My Terrible Habits" - About Islam

Sister, I’m a bit confused, you stated that your mom is a Muslim and your dad reverted to Islam, yet they don’t interfere with anything that you’re doing?

It is odd that they did not provide any guidance whatsoever when you were growing up. Perhaps I misunderstood what you wrote, but that is the way that it seems.

Now you are at a university which holds similar values, or rather a lack of values –meaning that no matter what happens (getting drunk, getting arrested by university police, etc) your parents will not be notified.

As a result of your liberal upbringing without any Islamic guidance or values (seemingly), and way too much freedom, it seems that now you are in a university which is continuing to over-look negative and destructive behaviors.

This is confusing as well because most reputable universities do have ethics, rules and a reputation to uphold. It is sad that you are going from one situation to another where nothing is said or done about your current behaviors or a stated concern for your future.

You stated that you are a heavy drinker and you were also on drugs. You are also having sex with your boyfriend even though you state that you know Muslims should not have sex before marriage, but you “cannot resist him”.

You also discuss your dress habits of wearing revealing clothing as well as detailing other haram behaviors.

Your twin brother is also with you in college, and he observes what’s going on, but it appears he doesn’t say much either.

You are then advised by somebody that all the above is okay if your parents approve and that both your mom and dad know about what’s going on and are okay with it. Well, it is not okay.

Wake Up!

I don’t understand how your parents can be okay with this lifestyle sister, even parents who are not Muslim and who are very liberal usually do not condone a lot of this behavior.

I do not know of your parents’ lifestyle, maybe they feel that you are mature enough to handle yourself and the outcomes. However, the outcomes are extremely detrimental in many ways.

Well dear sister, I am not going to join the above choir of those who are silent while you go further down the rabbit hole into self-destruction. Forgive my abruptness, but I am just going to keep it real with you.

The route that you are on now is going to lead to nothing but pain, heartache, and destruction- physically, mentally and spiritually.

I am sure you have seen what this lifestyle has done to other people and how they have ended up. If you haven’t, go visit your local prison, go visit a rehab center and sit in on some of the meetings to hear the real deal.

I’m sure you do not want to end up like that. I am the sure sister that you have visions of a wonderful life somewhere down the road beyond all this partying and illicit behavior.

If you had a little sister who wrote you this letter, what would you advise her? Would you be worried about her? Would you try to guide her in the right direction, or would you just turn away “as long as she was happy”? Are you happy? 

Check out this counseling video:

There is a much more beautiful life in store for you if you are willing to put in the efforts and energy to change.

Your parents have provided little guidance; thus, you will have to gain the strength within yourself to set your own boundaries and make your own changes. It comes down to you loving yourself.

Your parents love you very much yes, however, they failed to provide any useful instructions, guidance or boundaries for your life, and this is the outcome.

Do You Need Islam in Your Life?

Firstly, you are writing to us for advice. You know that this is an Islamic forum. While you did not state whether you wish to practice Islam or not, even though you referred to yourself as Muslim, you did say you want to stop your bad habits.

I think you need to decide whether or not you want to actually practice Islam and have a closeness with Allah. It seems that your thinking patterns are all over the place.

Based on your writing, and I may be wrong so forgive me if I am, it does appear that at this point in your life you may be feeling very emotional and possibly scared, and very naturally so.

This is a sign of you waking up, Alhumdulilah. Two things come to mind. The first I already asked you, and that was if you want to repair your relationship with Allah. The second is: do you want to get clean and stop all the drugs alcohol and sex?

The two questions are actually one because if you want to follow the path of Islam, you will need to give up all of these bad habits anyhow.

You wrote to an Islamic forum; thus, I can conclude that you do care about your Islam and you do desire to follow the path of Islam.

Maybe you feel tired of this lifestyle, maybe confused, maybe this is Allah’s way of saving you from a disaster and setting you on the right path.

As you know, Allah loves you and He is most merciful. When we take a few steps towards Allah, He takes 100 steps towards us.  That’s deep, profoundly so, just think about it for a minute or so.

I’m not sure how much you know about Islam or the depths and beauty of being a Muslim, as well as the dire consequences of disobeying Allah. Allah loves to forgive, and He is also very merciful.

Should you choose to straighten your life out and get on the path of Islam, there would be many blessings in it for you and your life.

You will find much more love, peace, and contentment than with the life you are living now.

 Reading your question, I can’t help but get the feeling that you’re looking for some boundaries and guidelines that you never had.

I kindly suggest sister that you get in touch with a substance abuse counselor outside of your university and begin substance abuse counseling as well as mental health counseling.

I also kindly suggest insha’Allah, that if you’re serious about returning to Islam, that you get involved with a Masjid near the university.

Promise yourself that you will love yourself enough to want to give yourself the best possible life, and as you know, that lies within Islam.

I encourage you to think deeply about this. In order to produce different results in life, we must change things up.

That may mean transferring to a new university, getting new Muslim friends who care about you and your future.

Cutting off old “friends” who are self-destructing and are encouraging you to do so as well. It means ending your haram relationship with your boyfriend.

All begins with Allah

Start viewing yourself as a pearl, a valuable, beloved, respected young woman. Shed the image of the wild party girl and realize you cannot numb your pain through drinking and drugs.

Only sobriety, coming to terms, and healing will bring you freedom. Self-love begins with self-healing. And all things begin with Allah.

This will be a radical life change and the journey should you decide to make these changes dear sister. You are worth it, I believe so.

I also believe you have the strength to do it. I feel that you also know that by not making these changes, something bad will happen. It is only a matter of time. Allah’s time is perfect-and here you are. I encourage you to join our family.

We have boundaries, but we also have love and support. You are valued, precious and loved. Allah loves you He is waiting for your few steps towards Him. I pray that you find strength and take your steps in the right direction.



Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Aisha Mohammad
Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach.
Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.