A Shoutout To Young Muslims: Let Us Be Strange

Assalamualaikum w.b.t

This article of mine was actually featured on a certain website, but for some reason all the entries got taken down. Therefore I am re-posting.

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On February the 10th, 2015, there was great uproar when three Muslims were tragically killed in their own home. After the Chapel Hill Shooting, the names Yusor Abu-Salha (21), Razan Abu-Salha (19), and Deah Barakat (23) were constantly being mentioned by both Muslims and non-Muslims from all over the world.

These precious souls were so much more than just three random Muslims who happened to be shot dead by a white American atheist. He could have killed any hijab-clad woman or any guy with a turban and a beard, but it was fate that he chose them in particular.

Yusor and Razan devoted their free time to good causes and strived hard in school. They proudly wore the hijab and volunteered for soup kitchens – they left an inspiring legacy. People from all walks of life out there now see them as role models. At the funeral, their father was said to have spoken the words, “Raise your kids in a manner that you won’t feel sad when they die, but proud and happy.”

And what are the odds of a murder victim’s last Facebook update being a photo of him and his team providing free dental supplies and food to homeless people in downtown Durham? Incredibly low, but Deah nailed it! He put a modest goal of $20,000 for his fundraiser, but I am positive that many Syrian refugees in Turkey and others will benefit from the $530,001 (as of 26 May 2015) successfully collected for the Project Refugee Smiles. Subhanallah – reaping rewards even after death!

Our three winners were so young, and to the naked eye, they died in a state of goodness. They put us to shame. Could we say the same for ourselves if we were in their place instead on that day?

Many people attribute the youth to being distant from the Deen, as there are so many distractions and temptations calling out to us, taking us by the hand. But we, young members of society, we are powerful. We are future leaders, and we have the potential and passionate energy to burn bright. Should we truly embrace the teachings of Islam, we can help to spread positivity and hope to the ummah.

But there’s one huge problem – we’re terrified of not fitting in with the crowd.

I mean, come on. Why would you want to spend a Saturday night reciting Arabic nonsense you don’t even understand, when you could be at your favourite pop star’s concert? Why would you cover up your body modestly when wearing a miniskirt could probably get you a thousand likes? Why would you bother to go through the embarrassment of excusing yourself from class to do yoga movements on a mat? It does not make sense.

I would highly recommend watching Nouman Ali Khan speak about Three Reasons Make Some Born Muslims Atheists to help the ummah detect why the youth not only have no interest in Islam, but are creeped out by it and try to distance themselves as much as possible from bearded men. It’s a very insightful video, plus Ustadh refers to his own experience as a Muslim youth who was wary of Islam.

But remember, mankind was put on this earth to become khalifah and to worship Him. That is our main purpose.

Rasulullah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Islam initiated as something strange, and it will revert to its (old position) of being strange. So, glad tidings to the stranger.”  [Muslim]

Being young, we are very self-conscious of what other people think of us. We desperately follow the latest trends and embarrassingly refresh our latest selfie to see how many comments it got in the past three minutes. It’s extremely messed up, if you think about it. Face it, one day we will all be in our graves completely alone. Without our family and friends, enemies, clothes, cars, gadgets, or likes. So why do we care so much what humans think of us? Why do we give our souls away to unimportant, worldly things?

There are 2.1 billion Muslims on this earth today, but most of us are like the foam of the sea – we follow the flow mindlessly.

Sometimes we genuinely do want to get closer to Allah, but we are put down by our own family, friends, teachers, co-workers, and etc. It’s even more depressing when they are Muslims themselves.

The solution to that is to have a strong sense of individualism inside us, at the very core. Firstly, we have to really get to know Allah, our Creator. When we dive into the depths of the knowledge of Islam, we gain an understanding of His rules and the hikmah behind them. Once we truly love Allah, we would do anything for him, including humiliating ourselves in the public eye. We’ll find the strength to turn down temptations such as parties, smoking, and drinking, etc. But we actually wouldn’t care about that much if we imagine ourselves reaping the fruit of our good deeds!

We should also surround ourselves with people who are strange, and by strange I mean willing to defy social norms to please Allah and only Allah. Don’t birds of a feather flock together? Once you find your flock, you will feel an almost impossible amount of happiness – that you are befriending people with ultimate sincerity and with the hope that you will enter Paradise with them. They will motivate you to do good, and you have to motivate them to do good also. Politely decline social gatherings which aren’t that important. Stop hanging out so much with friends who love involving themselves in the haram, but be nice to them and give them advice.

Lastly, invite others to do good. Be the thing that pushes them to Islam, and not away from it. Don’t be judgemental and arrogant just because Allah hasn’t shown them the light yet, or because they sin in a different way than you do. If a friend criticizes you for worrying about wanting to complete your prayers early, patiently explain to them the benefits of doing so. If an auntie makes fun of you for reading du’aa before meals, tell her that the food comes from Allah and you wish to obtain the barakah of the meal, not just a full stomach. If a non-hijabi asks why you would cover your beautiful hair, smile and tell them how Islam treats its women like royalty. You have to slowly but surely learn the art of doing this, because isn’t dakwah an obligation to all Muslims?

So to you who is reading this, let us not conform to society’s ridiculous expectations. Let us defy the worldly status quo. Let us be strange.

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