by Jalal Khalid Siddiqui
Muslim teenagers in America are confused. They live in two worlds: one of Islam and one of their un-Islamic, or at least non-Muslim surroundings. In these two worlds, clashes are inevitable. It can be difficult to maintain an Islamic identity as a teenager in America because of many surrounding factors that prevent us from practicing our Deen.
Some factors come from the American educational system. In my high school, during physical education classes, students are required to participate in activities that include swimming and square dancing. Swimming requires students to wear bathing suits, which forces our Muslim sisters to dress in an immodest way. Square dancing includes activities such as swinging, in which the boy and the girl are close together and touching in inappropriate and immodest ways, prohibited by our Deen. Students who do not wish to participate risk a failing grade.
The media also causes clashes between Islam and our surroundings. The media portrays the teen in a world where not only boyfriend-girlfriend relations are permissible, but also pre-marital sex (usually not showing sad effects such as teen pregnancy which can lead to dropping out of high school). Soap operas such as Friends and Alley McBeal and teen magazines are corrupting our brothers and sisters. The media, through advertising, portrays teens with the latest revealing fashions, making other teens believe that in order to be "popular", they need to purchase and wear such Islamically detested clothing.
A huge cause of culture clash is peer pressure. The friends we attend school with! All of them are going to the next dance! Everyone wearing the latest fashion! He or she is asking us out! Going to (alcohol) drinking parties! Our fellow classmates engage in such activities, most of the time allowed by their own parents, that are Islamically detested. In such an environment where most adults are giving the green light for these activities, we Muslim teenagers can't help becoming confused.
Sadly Muslim teens are being corrupted into conforming to non-Muslim ways. We as Muslim teenagers should try to teach our Muslim friends not to blindly imitate those around us.
Unfortunately, some Muslim parents give the green light for these activities in the name of "modernization". Muslim parents need to become friends to their children and explain to them the path that Allah (S.W.T.) has chosen for us and the teachings of our Holy Prophet Mohammed (Peace and Blessings be Showered Upon Him). Muslim parents and educators should not leave the Muslim teen ever confused. They should allow them to consult their elders and not follow them blindly. Confusion must be ended in the youth. Otherwise, our American Muslim community may disappear in the next generation as it had in earlier times.
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