12 Tips for Muslim Youth
Why should you, a young Muslim, be helping to bring your friends
closer to Allah?
After all, you've got your own struggles to deal with: trying to
explain why you pray to hostile teachers, Hijab discrimination,
standing up in class when the professor attacks Islam, dealing with
parents who think you've gone nuts because you're growing a beard, or
all the other difficulties faced by a number of practicing Muslim
Islam was never meant to be an individualistic faith, reserved for
the "chosen few". Muslims have a duty to spread the Deen, and
practicing Muslim youth, whether beginners, activists or leaders have
a crucial role to play.
"Allah has put them in a position that perhaps no one else is in,"
notes Sheema Khan, former Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA)
advisor for eastern Canada. "They have the means to communicate with
their peers, they have an understanding of what they're going through
plus they have the guidance of Islam."
Who is your childhood friend, who would rather spend Fridays at
MacDonald's than the Masjid, or your classmate who is Muslim in name
and only knows that "Muslims don't eat pork" going to listen to: the
nice Imam of the Masjid who would freak out if he saw the way they
were dressed and talked or you who may have grown up with them, joked
with them, or see them everyday in school?
The answer is obvious: you.
Don't panic. Here are some tips and advice which can help from other
Muslims, many of whom have been there and done that:
Tip #1: Make your intention sincere
All work we do should ideally be for the sake of Allah. That includes
the task of bringing someone closer to Allah. That of course means
this should not be connected to arrogance, thinking you're the
teacher and everyone else should be lucky you've embarked on a
crusade to save them. Guidance is from Allah. Make Dua and make
sincere efforts and remember Allah can also misguide you if He wills
(we seek refuge in Allah from that).
Tip #2: Practice what you preach
Not practicing what you preach is wrong and you will lose the
confidence of anyone, young or old, once they figure you out. Don't
Tip #3: Use the Quran and Seerah (biography of the Prophet) as Dawa
Read and understand those chapters of the Quran which talk about how
the Prophets presented the message of Islam to their people. Read the
Seerah (for some good Seerah books)to see especially how the Prophet
Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) brought Islam to so many
different people, including young people.
As well, talk to Dawa workers, and check out manuals they may have
written, like Yahiya Emerick's How to Tell Others About Islam.
Tip #4: Talk to people as if you really don't know them
Don't assume you know someone just by looking at them. You don't know
that the Muslim girl in your homeroom who walks through the school's
hallways as if they were fashion show catwalks (see Ambe Rehman's
perspective on this) is not someone you can talk to about Allah
because she looks like a snob. Or that the Muslim guy who you've
never seen at Juma at your university is a "bad Muslim". Maybe he was
never really taught Islam and has no idea what importance Friday
prayers have in Islam, especially for Muslim men.
Tip #5: Smile
Did you know the Prophet was big on smiling? But many "practicing"
Muslims seem to have "their faces on upside down" as one speaker once
said-frowning and serious.
Smiling, being polite and kind are all part of the manners of the
Prophet, which we must exercise in our daily lives. If we want to
approach others with Islam, we have to make ourselves approachable.
Smiling is key to this.
But note that being approachable does not mean being flirtations with
the other gender. There are Islamic rules for how men and women
should deal with each other which have to be respected. Dawa is no
excuse to have long and private conversations and meetings with the
other sex, for example. Set up a system where someone expressing an
interest in Islam is referred to someone of the same sex.
Tip #6: Take the initiative and hang out with them
Take the first step and invite someone you may have spoken to a
couple of times to sit at lunch together, to check out a hockey game
or invite them over for Iftar in Ramadan. Also, share difficulties,
sorrows and frustrations. Help with homework, be a shoulder to cry on
when depression hits, or just plain listen when your friend is upset,
discuss common problems and KEEP THEIR SECRETS. There are few things
as annoying as a snitch and backstabber. But an important note: if
the problem is of a serious nature,(i.e. your friend is thinking of
committing suicide or is taking drugs), notify and consult an adult
Tip #7: Show them Islam is relevant today, right here, right now
Young people may think Islam is too "old fashioned" and not in tune
with the modern age. Prove this wrong. Show how Islam is really about
relating to Allah, which any human being can do, anywhere, anytime.
Allah is always closer to you than your jugular vein and He hears and
knows everything. Encourage friends to ask Allah's help during tests,
exams, and in dealing with problems at home with parents and
siblings. Also point out how Islam relates to teenagers: Islam gives
you focus and an understanding of who you are and where you are
going, which most of "teen culture" does not.
Tip #8: Get them involved in volunteer work with you
If you are already involved in the community, get your friend to help
out. Ask them to make a flyer for one of your youth group's events or
brainstorm for ideas about activities to hold this school year. This
involvement makes them feel part of the Muslim community and deepens
your friendship, since you are now working together on something
beneficial for both of you. Make sure you thank them for their
Tip #9: Ask them 4 fundamental questions
As your friendship develops, you will notice the topics you discuss
may become more serious. You may be discussing, for instance, future
goals and plans. Khan recommends four questions to ask that can steer
the topic to Allah and Islam:
a. Where am I going in life and what would make me really happy deep
b. What do I believe?
c. Who should I be grateful to?
d. Did I get to where I am today without the help of anyone?
Tip #10: Emphasize praying five times a day before any other aspect
A person's main connection with Allah, on a daily basis, is through
the prayer five times a day. Don't emphasize any other aspect of
Islam until your friend starts making a real effort to pray five
times a day. Emphasize the direct connection one has with Allah in
prayer. If they are facing a problem, tell them to pray, and to ask
Allah for help in Salah and outside this time. When possible, make it
a point to pray together during your "hang out time". If your friend
begins to pray, that is the first step to other aspects of Islam like
giving up swearing, treating parents with respect or dressing
Tip# 11: Help instill confidence in adults
Adults, like Bart Simpson's dad Homer, are considered bumbling idiots
in the eyes of "teen culture". Your job as a young Muslim is to help
turn the tables on this false and unIslamic belief. All you have to
do is this: when a Muslim adult does something good (i.e. saving
someone's life, donating money to a worthy cause, the Imam gives a
good speech, taking good care of his/her family) bring it up in the
course of your conversations with your friend and praise the adult in
question. Doing this regularly may not only change your friend's
perspective, but could lead to them seeing their own parents in a
more respectful way.
Tip #12: Support them even when they become more practicing
Remember, just because a person starts practicing Islam more
regularly, this does not mean everything will be okay from this point
onwards. There will still be hard times, difficulties. There may be
times when your friend may have doubts about his or her newfound
practice of Islam. Be there to reassure them.