Embracing Islam can be a life-changing experience.
Some new Muslims come to Islam alone, whereas others revert together with their whole family.
If a couple decides to embrace Islam and have young children, it is most likely that their children will also become Muslims. For those with older children, especially those well in their teens, the transition can be trickier.
Some teenagers may very well follow their parents footsteps wholeheartedly, others may embrace Islam with a certain amount of wariness and there are probably many others who would prefer not to make the change.
However for family members who decide to come to Islam and who join them on their journey in becoming observing Muslims, it is worth to note the Sunnah on how Prophet Muhammad treated the youth. This will enable the transition to become smoother and more of a positive challenge for the family as a whole.
When Prophet Muhammad was given the first revelation in the cave of Mount Hira’, he was 40 years old. As many men at that age, he had reached a certain pinnacle of leadership qualities.
What differentiates the Prophet’s leadership qualities was that an important majority of followers were at the time new Muslim youth.
Prophet Muhammad was commanded to change the mindset of the pagan Arabs, to do away with waylay practices, oppressive behavior, corrupted attitudes and to embrace Islam as their comprehensive way of life.
Youth Around the Prophet
Islamic history relays that this was a grueling attempt at changing the culture of stone-cold pagan traditions. Prophet Muhammad came through with the message of Islam, and his target audience revolved around the youth of the time.
Anas ibn Malik was one of the young men who grew very close to the Prophet. Anas mentioned that the Prophet never once uttered a word of disgrace upon him, neither any other member of the youth of society.
He had worked for the Prophet and grew up observing and learning through his actions and behavior. Anas was recognized as one of the most fluent narrators of Hadiths of his time.
Prophet Muhammad had other young companions who flocked with him like feathers of a bird. He often joked with them… He was also very close to his family members, in particular his youngest daughter Fatimah, and was known to show his affection for her in public.
On several occasions, when Fatimah entered a room where the Prophet was, he would rush over to her, take her by her hands, kiss her and offer her his seat.
Read: Muslim Youth Survival Kit
As much as the Prophet kept affectionate and jovial relations with the youth, he continuously molded them to be the leaders of the future.
There is no doubt that Aisha rose to the ranks of leadership at a very young age. As she outlived her husband for half a century, she became a teacher like no other woman seen in history. Until this very day, Muslims around the world read of her narrations and regard her with the highest respect as one of the feistiest women of the companions.
Another young wife, Hafsa was appointed as the keeper of the Holy Quran, a grave responsibility for any youth. This shows that though many companions were teens during the Prophet’s lifetime, adulthood was only a stone-throw away.
How Did the Prophet Do it?
Ali once narrated that youth between the age of fourteen and twenty-one needed to be befriended – treated as friends.
Do we teach the Muslim youth the same way?
Can we earn their trust by befriending them, respecting their opinions and helping them through difficulty?
Or do we continue to berate them for their mistakes, and ignore them with the excuse of “troubled teenagers?”
The youth face a plethora of social ills today. From drugs to prostitution, from school drop-outs to poor qualifications; from obsession with pop culture to over-indulgences in peer pressure. It can be difficult for the Muslim youth to stand by Islamic principles with so many distractions surrounding them.
As parents of the youth of this chosen religion, we have to realize that education spans further than the walls of the classroom. The youth surrounding the Prophet were continuously surrounded by adults, not by their peers. They learned hands on how to deal with business transactions, traveling for dawah, teaching and engaged in household chores the way adults would do.
Read: 5 Lessons From the Story of the Youth of the Cave
The Prophet would have frowned at those who removed the autonomy of the youth in making their own decisions, partaking in society, learning from real life scenarios…
He was also adamant in protecting the youth in public, honoring their opinions during debates. The youth surrounding the Prophet were definitely very involved in society.
Parents nowadays should not just categorize their teens as hormonal teenagers. For new Muslims, it is vital to read up on how Prophet Muhammad kept the teenagers around him in good company. He always enjoined them in doing good deeds and encouraging them gently to ward off evil.
Embracing Islam as a family may be difficult, especially with elder children in tow. But showing how well they are appreciated within the realm of Islam, reinforces individualism, independence and autonomy in making decisions.
The upside of a Muslim family coming together to Islam is that parents and children can learn together. They can teach each other as they journey along to becoming better Muslims.
Prophet Muhammad recognized the youth as important individuals of society. They were encouraged to learn and grow by participating in business trades, scholarly discussions, and negotiations…
Powerful Female Youths
The female youth of the time were not excluded from such responsibility. Ruqayyah co-lead the first emigration to Abyssinia during the worst chapter of oppression upon the Muslims.
Asma daughter of Abu Bakr risked her life when the Prophet and Abu Bakr migrated to Madinah. She could have been killed… But she took it upon her duty to protect the Prophet and her father when they were being hunted down by the Quraysh.
Becoming a Muslim family, together, changes a person’s mindset on how they view teenagers. Instead of individuals who are either too young to make their own decision; or individuals who should be doing homework…, the youth should be encouraged to be strong and active members of society.
Read: 5 Challenges of Raising Righteous Youth in the West
The youth of today do not face the challenges of the youth of the companions. But they do definitely face a whole suite of temptations and conflicting identities in their own right.
There are plenty of ways for the youth to become active members in the community.
Prophet Muhammad always perused kindness and patience in dealing with youngsters. He treated them with respect, valued their opinions and allowed them autonomy to make their own decisions.
For new Muslims, it is also important for their teenagers to find comrades of a feather, regardless of age and culture.
As long as the new Muslim youth find a strong sense of belonging in Islam and a thriving Muslim community, their priorities as Muslims will be set on the right track. They will be able to achieve the same glory as the youth who surrounded Prophet Muhammad in the golden years of Islam.
(From Reading Islam’s archive.)