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Young Hearts & Minds (Counseling Live Session)

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

Thank you for participating in the counseling session with your questions!

Due to the counselor’s limited capacity of answering questions, here are the 4 questions that our counselor has provided an answer for. We apologize for not responding all the other questions.

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If you have not received an answer below at this time, please submit your question to one of our upcoming Live Sessions. Thank you for your understanding.

Question 1. How to have a positive and healthy relationship with teenagers?

Salam. I don’t if it’s related to this session. But growing up, our adults were quite traditional.  Their relationship with us was a blend of affection and judgment. More criticism than kindness, but now we’re the adults, and these times are not like our childhood and teenage. So, not having seen an affective role model, i wonder how to have a good relationship with the younger ones.I’m unmarried and don’t have kids. But i am seeing that the teenagers now abhor judgment and interface more than ever. They’re ambitious and are sure of themselves. Sometimes even intimidating. So, i was wondering how to we navigate our relationship with youth beyond judgment and preachiness? How to kind and effective adults in their lives without stealing away the space they need? How can we be a part of their world within the natural boundaries that do exist between the different age groups?

Answer:

Salam Aleikom,

Thank you for writing to us.

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What I understood from your message is that you feel a barrier in communication between you and the youth of today who seem to be more “ ambitious and sure of themselves.” You ask: “How can we be a part of their world? How to we navigate our relationship with youth beyond judgment and preachiness? Basically, what you feel, according to my understanding, is a generation gap that you wonder how to bridge.

First of all, I am wondering of the circumstances you felt you have difficulty connecting with the youth, and why you want to connect with them anyway. Are you a teacher? You have teenager groups at the mosque you wish to feel more connected? Examples would have helped me understand your question in a deeper level and thus help you further, but nonetheless, I believe the most important is that we always stay open-hearted to people’s words whom we want to connect.

We live in different worlds

People see life through different lenses. In fact, there are many interesting researches about these differences. For example, Berkeley’s Greater Good Magazine writes:

“If you are holding something that extends your reach—like a grabber—things appear closer to you, too. In sports, successful baseball batters literally see bigger balls coming at them from the pitcher, and golfers who putt well see bigger holes.”

We may notice things differently, we mean different things when we say the word “love”, “respect” (check out the 5 love language book), and we might have different reactions to different situations. So, we can be really different, even if we are from the same generation.

 Generation gap: similarities and differences

Older generation often wail about today’s youth. Imagine that “The Boomers” are saying the exact same things about Millennials (like you), like you say about Generation Z. (born 1997 and afterword). The truth is that these similarities we feel among these generations are only stereotypes – an oversimplified idea of a particular person or thing.

An example of generations that Psychology Today states: “ the current generational kerfuffle is around a Gen Z/Millenial meme that portrays Boomers as politically incorrect and technologically incompetent, and promotes a norm of dismissing them with “Ok Boomer.” The flip side: the “Ok Boomer” meme appears to be a reaction to videos of Boomer rants about young people being terrible and articles about Gen Z/Millenial narcissism, entitlement, and how they’re responsible for the demise of industries, malls, etc”.

This phenomenon is called ingroup-outgroup bias; we tend to feel that the outgroup members are more similar to each other than they are. For example: Think of what “non-Muslims” say about “Muslims”, and how true they are if you consider the huge cultural differences between them.

There might be some truth to these stereotypes, but we need to keep in mind that every group is diverse as far as their past, present, and future social, economic, and political power. Thus, these young people, if you get to know them better, they might be similar to you more than you think.

Keep an open heart

What makes you want to connect with the youth anyway?

I am asking this because in general, we do not want to connect to everyone. We neither have the time or the energy to connect. We look for people who are similar to our worldview, simply because it is more pleasant and less conflicting to be among them. We like people who are similar to us; these are the people we befriend in deeper levels, or get married, or wish to work with.

So, if for any reason you want to connect with them because they are your colleagues at work, for example, then you need to keep an open heart and ask the question “why” frequently. Why do they think this way? Why did they did this or that? Here them out, have conversations with them.

Here are some tips that inshallah will help you to create a healthy relationship with the younger generation:

Try looking at each person individually and not as part of a group that you stereotype.

If you notice a phenomena that interest you, then use the internet to get more information about it. For example, you mentioned that today’s generation seem to be more “ambitious” then your generation. Look at what makes them ambitious. What it takes for a person to become ambitious? Are you interested in this because you want to be ambitious like them?

We can always learn from each other something, and younger generation can teach just as many great qualities to elder people as elders to the youth.

The Quran supports this idea as well:

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another.” (49:13)

Look at your own past. You mentioned you have grew up with lots of criticism and less kindness. I am so sorry to read this. Read about how criticism affect people’s behavior. You might even want to seek out help with a professional to understand your past and present in more depth in order to grow into the person you wish to be.

Show interest in their interest. This will indicate for them that you are open to their world and want to connect.

The Prophet Muhammad used to show much kindness and compassion to young people. You can read about it at Aboutislam.net

Any child or young person who would encounter the Prophet would be deeply affected by his merciful conduct. Usama bin Zaid narrated:

“Allah’s Messenger used to put me on (one of) his thighs and put Al-Ḥasan bin ‘Ali on his other thigh, and then embrace us and say, “O Allah! Please be Merciful to them as I am merciful to them.” 

There is another hadeeth that states:

Allah’s Messenger kissed Al-Ḥasan bin `Ali while Al-Aqra` bin Ḥabis At-Tamimi was sitting beside him.

Al-Aqra` said, “I have ten children and I have never kissed anyone of them.” Allah’s Messenger cast a look at him and said, “Whoever is not merciful to others, will not be treated mercifully.” 

If they are not opened to you, despite all your effort you cannot have a good relationship with them, then let it be. No need to force people to change their view. Just have an open heart and inshallah connect with people who also have one.

 I hope you find my answer helpful,

Question 2.

Salam, I know that this is very weird and you may even think bad of me. But I really do feel psychologically traumatised after I started learning more about Islam. It became a source of fear, filling me with hatred towards myself and I just can’t find peace. It just makes me cry alot as I can’t see any peace or tranquillity in the religion but only see fear, degradation and feeling like I am worthless and just there to be oppressed by men , be severely punished in hell and even be punished in paradise by being deprived if everything I desire and in paradise will be made unto an object for a man. What can I do to overcome this? As even thr concept of paradise really hurts me. I just can’t find any peace in Islam and just feel psychological traumatised by the religion as a whole.

Answer:

Wa Aleikom Salam dear sister,

Thank you for writing to us. I am so sorry to read that instead of finding peace, you find much anxiety in learning about Islam. You are not alone sister: somehow there are so many Muslims out there who have a very twisted idea about what Islam teaches. Some even left Islam, temporarily or permanently. SubhanAllah, I always wonder how this can happen while so many non-Muslims have been actually converting to Islam in the West, mainly women!

However, you have written to us, which means that you do want to connect with Allah and find the truth about these problematic questions. You cannot believe Islam really teaches the oppression of women, and want to understand how to solve this conflict inside you. This is a really good sign sister that you are seeking the true path to Allah. Mashallah, keep your heart pure and always open to the truth. And May Allah grant you the wisdom to see through the lies or misunderstandings about Islam.

Learn from authentic sources

Sister, the stereotype that women are oppressed in Islam is a common one, often brought up by non Muslims. This means, you have plenty of source that help you clear the misconceptions. I would strongly advice you to take one troubling thought at a time to search for the answers IN DEPTH. Look for authentic sources, videos, articles and researches from learned Muslims, who look at an issue in its complexity.

Aboutislam is a great source to increase your knowledge. We have many articles on different topics from certified scholars. If you have a specific question, feel free to submit it to our Ask about Islam section. Your first question to them might be this one you stated: “As even thr concept of paradise really hurts me.”

Women in Islam are Oppressed?

We also have a very good video on the 6 Facts that Will Challenge Your Views On Women in Islam

And another article: Did Prophet Muhammad Really Oppress Women?!

Other sources are highly recommend are:

International Open University

Bayyinah TV

Yaqeen Institute

But there are many more. Learn critically about Islam step by step as if you would learn about any other topic.

I am not sure where have you learned about Islam, who told you all those information that has traumatized you, but it must have been something distorted. Unfortunately, Muslims in certain regions mix Islamic teachings with cultural practices, which on one hand is a natural phenomena as Islam came to only purify cultures from the dangerous practices, but not to completely demolish cultures.

{O men! Behold, We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another. (49:13)

Culture or ‘urf plays an important role when it comes to understanding certain issues to announce a fatwa, but it can be a completely acceptable practice as well that is within the frame of Islam such as the culturally different type of hijabs and clothes. However, sometimes misunderstandings happen, the local culture twist Islamic teachings according to their interest. Some examples of this might be the phenomena that parents force their daughter or son into a marriage, cutting the clitoris out of a woman, forcing a woman to wear niqab, or accept to live in polygamy. Usually anything that involves force should be a strong indicator that something is very wrong as Allah has granted the free will to all His creatures.

{Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error […]} (Quran 2:256)

Once you do that, you will start finding inshallah that Islam is beautiful. There is so much wisdom behind each and every teachings and every real haram thing is of our benefit, if you understand it correctly. None of these teachings want to oppress women.

Seek the truth, one question at a time, and May Allah guide you on the straight path,

Question 3. My parents won’t approve of the man I love.

What can I do- my parents won’t approve of the man I love and wish to marry?

I’ve known this man for two years now. At the end of last year we planned to meet as we live in different countries but in the end my parents were disappointed and I didn’t go. This made him upset because he made many sacrifices for me and I think I betrayed him.

We stopped talking after that, and I made Dua for us to talk again and for us to get married. We started talking again, and we know each other’s intentions. We would like to meet and get married. I would have to go to see him because of some personal problems he can’t come to see me.

My parents are not Muslim and I haven’t told them I am a revert/convert. Only my mum knows about him. She doesn’t approve of him because of where he comes from and how he looks, because he has a beard. In their religion is not favourable.
Also, their religion forbids marrying someone who’s not in their faith and they will be really disappointed however I love him and want to marry him.


What can I do? I feel really lost.

Answer:

Salam Aleikom sister,

Thank you for writing us with your concern.

I am so sorry to hear of the difficulties you have with getting married. From what you have written, I understand that you have converted to Islam, and now have been talking to a man for two years who lives in another country. This is an online relationship so far. Your parents disapproved that you travel to him, and he cannot travel to you due to personal issues. Due to this problem, you already stopped talking to each other as he got mad at you, but then you started talking again and now the both of you are still wishing to get married. You are wondering of your next move now.

Online relationship and getting married

First of all, congratulate on your conversion to Islam. May Allah keep your heart always open, and direct you on the right path. As a fellow revert, I encourage you to keep learning about Islam, applying its teachings step by step, and keeping a strong relationship with other Muslim ladies. May Allah strengthen your faith and give you a beautiful life here and in the Hereafter, inshallah.

I would first disregard for a moment this man and the feelings you have toward him, and have the spotlight on you because everything starts with knowing yourself first; your personality, where you are coming from, what are your weaknesses, and where you are headed. The more you know the better choice you can make when it comes to finding someone who completes you.

  • So, what do you dream of in life? Where are you living in this dream, what do you do? Let your fantasy go wild.
  • What values and standards are the most important for you? List 4-5 maximum. What do these values mean to you? How do they manifest? For example, As you are a convert, Islam and being a Muslim seem to be important to you. Why did you chose Islam? What does it mean to you to be a Muslim? Or loyalty. Respect. Love and care. Openness. How do you know someone loves you or cares for you? What does he or she do exactly?
  • Why do you want to get married? “By 23, it is high time to get married” social pressure? Or something is missing in your life that you want to fill with a marriage? Or you are fine alone, but feel ready to step up to the next level of your life. What do you expect, what will a marriage give you?
  • What would you expect from a husband in a marriage? And what can you offer to him as wife?
  • What are the situations that make you angry, upset, or stressed? These are issues you need more in depth reflection about so that inshallah they do not cause you much unnecessary conflicts in a marriage. These are your weaknesses, which does not mean anything bad. We all have a weak part or “shadow-self”, but we need to make efforts to be aware of it because it affect whom we can connect to what level and whom we cannot.

These are just some of the questions a pre/marital counseling would ask you. (There are books and courses online even, I would recommend sister Haleh Banani’s course. ) Looking at the statistic of divorce, I sincerely believe the best you can do right now before getting married is going through some of these questions in order to set for a successful marriage by the help of Allah. The most ideal would be that the both of you participate in a pre-marital course.

Your relationship with this man

Once you went through some of these questions, look at your relationship with this man. Is he someone that you feel would fit you?

The fact that you live in different countries is a huge barrier to get to know each other properly. Online platforms can be great tools, but you must spend some time with each other in real life in order to get the full picture of the other person. How does he interact in real life with others? How is his relationship with his parents, friends? You cannot only depend on his words when it comes to getting married.

Here is a good article from Psychology Today on online relationships.

“When we would eventually meet, sometimes it was pure magic, one of these rare times in a life when everything finally seemed to fit together and I felt I’d met my other half. Other times it was… well, less magic, because the spark in person didn’t match the connection we made online.”

You will also need to find solution to the challenge that he lives in another country. Someone, or the both of you, need to move eventually. Are you ready to live in his country, or somewhere else? What does it take for him to come to your country? It is very hard to advice based on a short message, but the fact that he does not want to travel to you “due to personal issues” sounds like a red flag to me. If someone is serious of a marriage, he does his best to get to know the other person and her family.

I am not trying to say he lies to you, or even that he is a bad man who wants to take advantage of you. I am just saying it is better to not only go with the flow but actually get to know each other in a more conscious way because oftentimes it happens that there are two Muslim people who are good individually, but get the worst out of themselves if they get married. Match matters!

Your family

Maybe your family would have a different opinion of him and would eventually approve the marriage even if they met him in real life. You say they are religious people, so I can imagine how difficult is for them to swallow this whole online relationship thing.

So if you want their approval because they are important to you, I would encourage this young man to make his very best to travel to you and meet your parents.

In case your parents disapprove him only because he is from a particular country or has beard (and not disapprove because they feel he is not a good person or a good match), then, of course, there is no obligation to you to follow their words.

“Be grateful to Me and to your parents, for unto Me is the final destination. If they strive to make you associate with Me that for which you have no knowledge, do not obey them but still accompany in the world with good conduct.”  (Surat Luqman 31:14:15)

Islamic Etiquette of Getting Married

I would also encourage you to learn about the Islamic way of getting married. As a Muslimah, you need to learn about the conditions of marriage, your Islamic rights as wife and the rights of the husband prior to marriage so that you enter with knowledge. Again, there are many course on these or articles on our website such as:

How Does a Muslim Get Married?

Responsibilities of Husbands & Responsibilities of Wives (Khutbah by Nouman Ali Khan)

I hope I was able to help you with your issue.

Question 4. I don’t know how to deal with this situation, I feel like I’m going crazy

Hi, I am contacting you because I need help, I am a 20 year old girl, and I had suicidal instincts since I was 14 years, now not anymore, because I know it’s haram.
recently i found my way into islam so i changed a lot, i wear hijab, i always think and act thinking about allah. but as I became an adult I realized that the relationship with my parents is not one of the best known and, they too are Muslims, but they do not follow Islam entirely, so when I changed so much for them it was a shock, it took me much to convince them that I want to wear the hijab, and in doing so I have heard a lot of insults from them.
I suffer from anxiety and depression since I was a child, I was bullied at school and at home I was insulted / ignored / beaten by my parents, since I was 11 years old I have noticed that my parents treat my siblings differently, they think that I as an elder sister I have to educate my brothers and take care , and if there are quarrels between me and my brothers it is always I who have to sacrifice myself and not create problems, my little brothers can be very rude they say offensive thing and think the didn’t do anything wrong, and recently my parents started to use Islam against me.
I tried to confide in my father, because I decided that I no longer wanted to take responsibility that was actually theirs (educating my brothers) and for the umpteenth time I asked him if they could take into account my feelings and my mental health , after I confided in him, my mother changed her attitude again.
I started doing volunteer ramadan, and I wanted to do them on weekends too, but they got angry saying that I can’t do ramadan, and stay the weekend without doing anything at home, that I have to cook and help around the house in the weekend (and I said that I can cook, and I always clean ), so I didn’t know what was the problem, in the end I told him that I don’t do ramadan anymore on weekends.
my dad and i have always had a bad relationship, as a child he would raise his hands to us, saying we had to be polite as we were raised by grandparents up to 8-9 years old, and we were rude and wild, now i seek the way of not provoking him and he hardly hits anymore, even if he has sometimes threatened to do so.
with my mother instead as a child I thought that our relationship was normal, but growing up I noticed that she doesn’t care about my feelings or opinion, she says in any case that it is I who should change, she ignores how my brothers behave (unless whether she has suffered them), and uses my weaknesses to hurt or insult me, uses guilt to control me, when I try to talk to her about these problems, she told me to go to a therapist or to shut up because she didn’t have the health to listen, she plays the victim very often and my father too, my doctor diagnosed me with anxiety and depression, but everyone pretended nothing happened, but when they diagnosed it to her after me, she uses this “weapon” to control and victimize herself , I do not deny that she is ill, but I cannot be an adult / parents to them, they always put their needs and feelings first, both economically and sentimentally, and I would like to put some boundaries with my family, because if I continue like this I risk going crazy.
I understand that as a daughter I should help and understand them, but I cannot neglect myself and always put my family’s needs first.
my questions are: how can I set boundaries with my parents?
What are the responsibilities that I have as an elder sister towards my brothers in the Islamic sphere?
can i move and visit sometime? (my father is 52 and my mother is 44).
do i have to give all the money i have to my parents? (most of my clothes are from when I was 14-17 and I only have a few modest clothes, not too tight clothes that I can wear, even though they criticize my wardrobe for having broken or old shoes, they won’t let me buy anything but my brothers buy branded clothes every year)
i tried to suppress and put up with everything because allah azzawajal said to always respect and obey parents, and to be patient with other people, but i don’t know what to do because if i continue like this i risk having more serious mental health problems later on, and I don’t want my children or husband to have repercussions because of my trauma, the thought that I am the problem and that I am disappointing allah azzawajal is scaring me, I don’t want to cut off relations with my family, but I would like to think more about myself and put my needs first, because that way I can’t go on in a healthy way, I need your help please.

Answer:

Salam Aleikom sister,

I am so sorry to read all your issues with suicidal thoughts, depression, and issues with your parents. You have been facing severe difficulties and traumas. I am so happy that you decided to write us. This shows that you want to work on yourself. Believe me, you will be grateful for all the difficulties once you have overcome them. You will learn so much of the beautiful soul you have, and will live a truly wonderful life you enjoy every moment of it biznillah.

The issues of suicidal thoughts, depression and anxiety are the symptoms of deeper traumas, some of them you already mentioned, others are yet to discover inshallah. I am going to shed some light on each issue I felt red flag and need you to think deeper about it, possibly with a professional therapist because due to the complexity of mental health issues, at the end, the solution will be one to all: seek face to face help. Seek help from therapy, while doing other activities that support you on the way such as reading books, socializing with people who have been through the same issues, and doing things that makes you healthy and happy.  

I do not know where you live so I cannot advice further of therapy, but here are some online help from Muslim institutes for suicidal thoughts, depression and anxiety.

Institute for Muslim Mental Health

Khalil Center: A Psychological and Spiritual Community Wellness Center

Of course, most importantly you will receive help from Allah. Strengthening the connection with Him through prayer, understanding His Guide, the Quran, talking to Him and sharing all your troubles is the number one step every Muslim must work on. He is the one who turns hearts, and can open your heart to the ways you need in order to heal.

The symptoms:

Suicidal thoughts

I think I do not need to write much about it that reaching the level of having such thoughts is dangerous. This is why it is haram: Allah wants people to not even consider it as an option for solution. Because it does not solve ANYTHING but cause much pain for everyone. So take it as an indication that you must reach out for help, maybe to a therapist, or if you feel the thoughts are too overwhelming and you really cannot see light at the end of the tunnel, then please do not hesitate to immediately call a suicidal hotline. Love yourself dear sister, even more than how you love your best friends, and take care of the precious gift Allah has given you.

Anxiety and Depression

Eventually, recovering from anxiety and depression will need professional help, as I mentioned, but besides therapy, you can do the following to cope:

  • Socialize with people you love spending time with, who recharge you. Have fun with them on a regular basis.
  • Avoid people for a while who create troubled feelings for you.
  • Be more active: exercise. It is scientifically proven that exercising lifts up your mood, give you energies that will make you feel strong and motivated.
  • Eat healthy: drink lots of water so that your mind and body can function properly. Eat lots of vegetables, eat regular meals, without disruption of your mobile or the TV. Healthy food gives you energy for the long run. Avoid chocolate and snacks that only feds diseases if you at them to get some quick happiness boast. Not a good idea for compensation.
  • Have a routine: “When people feel down, they can get into poor sleep patterns, staying up late and sleeping during the day. Try to get up at your normal time and stick to your routine as much as possible.”

Red flags – things that might be the cause of your symptoms.

Read more about these issues, and inshallah work on them with a therapist.

Bullied at school

NICHD research studies show that anyone involved with bullying—those who bully others, those who are bullied, and those who bully and are bullied—are at increased risk for depression.”

I was 11 years old I have noticed that my parents treat my siblings differently….

What are the effects of favoritism on the children?

According to Mallory Williams, a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), there are serious long-term effects to growing up in a household of parental favouritism.

“The biggest long-term dangers are depression, anxiety, unstable or even traumatic reactions in personal relationships, and performance anxiety for both the favoured and non-favoured children,” says Williams.

with my mother instead as a child I thought that our relationship was normal, but growing up I noticed that she doesn’t care about my feelings or opinion, she says in any case that it is I who should change, she ignores how my brothers behave (unless whether she has suffered them), and uses my weaknesses to hurt or insult me, uses guilt to control me, when I try to talk to her about these problems, she told me to go to a therapist or to shut up”

These all might be signs of an emotionally immature adult. This is not to say that it is all your parents’ fault. I am only encouraging you to read more about it because it might help you understand their actions better and thus cope with them. Inshallah you will get in better terms with your parents, what you can expect from them and what you cannot.

Lindsay C. Gibson writes in her book “Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents:

“What happens when these immature parents lack the emotional responsiveness necessary to meet their children’s emotional needs? 

The result is emotional neglect, a phenomenon as real as any physical deprivation. Emotional neglect in childhood leads to a painful emotional loneliness that can have a long-term negative impact on a person’s choices regarding relationships and intimate partners. 

Emotionally immature parents fear genuine emotion and pull back from emotional closeness. They use coping mechanisms that resist reality rather than dealing with it. They don’t welcome self-reflection, so they rarely accept blame or apologize. Their immaturity makes them inconsistent and emotionally unreliable, and they’re blind to their children’s needs once their own agenda comes into play.”

“i seek the way of not provoking him and he hardly hits anymore”

It is NOT Ok for a parents to hit their child or as a matter of fact anyone. It is called abuse, and you must take it serious. Thee are even child abuse hotlines to call in case your father hits you again.

Office on Women’s Health writes: “Children who witness or are victims of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse are at higher risk for health problems as adults. These can include mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety. They may also include diabetes, obesity, heart disease, poor self-esteem, and other problems.

I know in some countries and communities physical and mental abuse are accepted and part of every day life, but it is not – not even islamically!

Aboutislam has a nice article on how the Prophet dealt with children. He has never hit them!

“I understand that as a daughter I should help and understand them, but I cannot neglect myself and always put my family’s needs first.”

I cannot agree to you more. As in an airplane, we take the oxygen mask first before helping others, you need to do this as well in life: know your needs. Love yourself first to be able to form healthy rlationships with others that require no harm or dangerous compromises.

Please sister stay close to Allah, and seek help from a professional to heal your traumas. You deserve it. May Allah save you from all harm and guide you on the right path, amen. 

Thursday, Jul. 21, 2022 | 14:00 - 15:00 GMT

Session is over.
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