A common misconception surrounding historical religious figures is that the lessons they offer are no longer applicable to today’s society.
What many people fail to take into consideration is while the exact circumstances may have changed and evolved over the years, the teachings embedded within the acclaimed stories remain relevant and valuable. The ones taught through the exemplary behavior of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) are the epitome of relevance and inspiration.
As Maryam al-Jibaly, a high school junior from California explains, “the revelation of Islam came when it did because Allah knew the world and the societies after that time would be able to follow it.”
I asked two Muslim girls ages 16 and 17 to tell me what inspires them most about the Prophet (PBUH) and which of the hadiths really resonate with them. Their responses offer insight into the minds of Muslim teens. Contrary to what some adults think, many youths actually do take their faith to heart and implement it in their daily lives.
An Inspiration to Muslim Youth
Maryam says one hadith particularly influences her:
“The worst person is someone who is two-faced. He is the person who comes to one group of people with one face and another group of people with another face.” Sahih (Al-Albani)
“This hadith is really important to me”, Maryam explains,“ because I try to be as genuine as possible in all situations, as that is how I would like others to be with me and that is how we have been taught by the Prophet (PBUH).”
For 16-year-old Zayna Ahmed, the hadith that spoke to her the most is “the [one] where the Prophet (PBUH) gave advice on the concept of feeling content. He taught people who feel discontent with what Allah has blessed them with, they should look at people who have less than them so that they may be grateful with what Allah gave them.”
“Look at those who stand at a lower level than you but don’t look at those who stand at a higher level than you, for this would make the favors (conferred upon you by Allah) insignificant (in your eyes). Abu Mu’awiya said: Upon you.” Muslim
According to her, this particular hadith is always in her mind. With the huge increase of social media usage, she feels the repercussions of the ceaseless comparisons people make to each other. Whether their wealth is in the form of money, beauty, status, or success, Zayna feels sharply the impacts of constant exposure to social media in her everyday life.
For this reason, she finds the reminder of how much she does have and the countless blessings bestowed on her by Allah to be very beneficial and appealing.
The Role Model
When asked which characteristics of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) she admires the most, Zayna responded that she most admires his patience and his limitless kindness, even when people took advantage of his virtues.
She says, “The Prophet (PBUH) was always patient to people who would speak harshly towards him when they knew nothing about him at all. He was kind throughout his life when many people wanted to break him down.”
Maryam had a similar opinion concerning this topic, gushing about how she aspires to be as grateful and patient as the person whom she describes as “the best role model.”
There are many potential role models for youth today. Muslims are not immune to the temptation to follow the crowd and make celebrities, athletes, or influencers their heroes. Some of those famous people do have admirable traits, but others do not.
When families teach their children about Prophet Muhammad at an early age, they would grow wise enough to distinguish between worthy role models and unworthy ones. They will always have the Prophet (PBUH) as their first and most important role model.
Maryam and Zayna harbor a deep reverence for Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and find comfort in doing their utmost to mimic his attitude and actions.
A quote from Zayna sums it up:
“The lessons are timeless and transcend beyond his life, as his words and truths are so profound that they can be applied to almost every situation and difficulty that a Muslim might face.”