Does Practicing Islam Mean Losing Friends?

(Part 1)

There are two groups of people who may be considering Islam, but have some major hesitations!

The first group may be the younger Muslim population belonging to Muslim families, and the other, may be one who is considering Islam for the first time.

The youth who are raised in the West, according to their understandable logic, are concerned that Islam and secular life just do not mix, and most of their friends are secular.

One side invites to piety, avoidance of the prohibited and more restriction and the other side leaves the door wide open to indulge in all that the heart desires. Who would want to give up the later for the former?

It is true that once there is closeness between friends, it would take a very powerful element to break this bond. Also, when Islam has not penetrated the heart, there is no motivation to give up what one likes for something that is not even on the priority list.

It is quite easy for someone who is outside of this entanglement to make a judgment against the one who is unwilling to give up fun and friends for something that they do not have a strong conviction about.

Let us be honest and try to put ourselves in their place. How would you feel about losing friends whom you value for something less valuable and tangible according to your own judgment?

Coming from this level of understanding, then one can address the issue more objectively.

Addressing Parents

What does it mean when one says: “you can’t have the cake and eat it too?”

It usually means that you cannot have the cake sitting in front of you untouched, so you can enjoy looking at the whole cake and at the same time eat it too!

This is the case with the parents who raise their kids in the West. Some have migrated and some have come to Islam in the West and started raising their family there.

For most part the reason for living in the West for many parents is the greater opportunity in all aspects of life including education, jobs, comfort and security. Yet, the price paid for all this is much greater than the gain.

We want all the comfort of the West and at the same time, we would like to see pious kids to practice Islam, do not date, dance, listen to music and attend the mosque regularly! This may be a great example of having the cake and eating it too. We want two opposites at the same time. Is there a solution?

Kids’ Thoughts

As for the kids, let us now address them directly.

If you were raised in a Muslim home, most likely your conscious or even subconscious is aware of any wrong doing that you are committing that goes against your religion.

You can come up with any reason, excuse or lay blame to justify your position of carelessness about the religion, but for most part, something inside you is telling that your lifestyle is really displeasing God. The conscious mind keeps putting it under the mat and the subconscious mind keeps nagging at you. Depending on which side wins, the person falls into that mindset.

Causes

It is natural for the mind to make a logical conclusion that losing friends whom they like, or at least the types of mentality, could be traumatic. Changing the lifestyle to accommodate Islamic values might be more traumatic even though the nagging of the subconscious mind is still there. So, there is an active attempt to bury the nagging and feel fully justified to continue living the lifestyle one likes – a secular life with beloved friends!

We understand where you come from, and some of us may have been where you are now! So, what is the cause of some people making the shift from secularism to a more religious life?

Many testimonies indicate that the shift occurred many times with maturation and once the person realized the shallowness of secular life as well as the mindset of those who follow it. Unless this realization is set in place, there is no motivation to make the change.

Advice to Parents

One may ask: “how can we motivate out kids to make the shift?”

Well, you are in a very frustrating and difficult task. The first thing you can do is to ask yourself, was the benefits of living in the West worth losing your kids from Islam to secularism?

You must take responsibility that you are the first cause of their diversion. So, please do not take it too hard on them, but take an objective look at your own actions and decisions as a parent or parents.

Yet, it is not all hopeless for such parents. The advice to them is to maintain a good relationship with the kids, be open to hear, even what you don’t like to hear, be friends to them, rather than scolding and most of all, try to be a good example for them.

Also, the power of parents supplicating God for their kids’ guidance cannot be overstated. Parents do all that they can, and at the end put their trust in God to guide their kids. If there is a possibility to relocate to a Muslim country, it may solve some of the problem, but you may face stern resistance from more grown kids.

It might be helpful to invite Muslim families with kids of similar ages and find activities that your kids like. Let the kids get to know other Muslim kids in a fun environment rather than at a mosque to start with. Take fun trips with them and get involved with them, but not more than they would like.

Read Part 2.

About Raya Shokatfard
Raya Shokatfard¬†holds an MA in Journalism/Mass Communications and an M.A.D. in TV journalism. BA in Communication and BA in Islamic Studies. She has been Islamic propagator in the U.S and Egypt for many years and academic lecturer, writer, international presenter, consultant, foreign correspondent. She can be reached at:¬†[email protected]