Youth: Are We Winning or Losing?


Asalamu alaykum,

Western Muslim Youth, are we succeeding? If yes, why? If no, why?

I would really appreciate your responses. I’ve noticed a big change in this generation, both young men and women. However, I’ll wait and elaborate later inshaAllah.

SDW

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15 Comments

  1. Abu Adam says:

    I am no longer a youth as I have quickly discovered. However, my summer visiting the US has led me to one happy conclusion. The knowledge base, the classes and programs are much better than when I was younger. So there must be many success stories – but I am also sure there are many failures.

  2. Safi says:

    What is the measurement for success?

    If we judge ourselves compared to the youth sahaabah (Radiy Allahu ‘anhum) then we are no where near that status.

    But are we closer than we were 20 years ago? I think so.

    In that sense I say we are Improving.

    I think that when we are at the point where we are continually improving, despite all odds, will we truly attaining sucess.
    In Surah Al-’Asr, Allah defines for us those who are NOT losing….
    Do we pass the test?

    Allah Knows Best.

    May Allah give us success in this life and in the next.

  3. Danya says:

    Alhamdulillah I think overall we are progressing and moving further. I think more and more youth are finding their places and peace within Islam.

    But as Safi points out, what is our measure of succession? In terms of dunya, I think overall, we are some of the most educated (or working to get there). In terms of akhira, of course only Allah ta’ala really knows, but from what I can see, we are moving forward. I think progression, albeit slow, is a form of success. We still have a ways to go.

  4. GOMEZ says:

    Salaamu Alaikum,

    Ustadh, I think you will find various answers because of the dynamics’ of the situation in America. I am sure you will agree that the Muslim youth is suffering worldwide along with non-Muslim youth.

    Many people blame the parents as being ultra liberal with their kids and not being Islamic enough. I partially agree this assessment because a lot of the parents either trust their kids too much to question them or do not have enough experience with the American culture and do not feel the necessity to address any signs of misguidances.

    How our kids are shape is due to many components; parents, school, teachers, friends, and American lifestyle in general.

    Converts and first generation Muslims will have a better chance with their youth because we have the experience and we know (Inshallah) how to maneuver in a non-Muslim environment.

    Unfortunately, a lot the youth have to go through tribulations and that’s the reality of things But Alhamdulillah a lot of them make it through and they end up becoming leaders in our communities (I have seen so many of them). As parents we have to know our kids and remember what we (ourselves) went through and be there for them with love and firmness, Inshallah we will not fail our youth.

  5. Anonymous says:

    it depends on how u define ‘winning’ and ‘losing’…

    more youth seem to have been motivated to work for Islam… but are they motivated in seeking the truth?

  6. Mahin F Islam says:

    Assalaamu alaikum Ustadh Suhaib,

    First of all, it was a pleasure meeting you this weekend in Ohio. I hope you made it to Chicago safely and w/o hassles and we hope to see you sometime next year in Ohio for the AlMaghrib Seerah course insha’Allaah.

    As for your questions, in some ways the youth have succeeded and in some ways they have failed. Compared to past generations, there are more youth committed to deen, the serious study of deen and a commitment to engage in a career that would benefit the Ummah. I heard a lecture that Dr. Ali At-Timimi (may Allaah hasten his release) did some time back where he referred to the extreme dark state the youth were in during his own youth.

    They have also fallen victim to Shaytaan in the name of deen with the involvement of biased partisanship in regards to their own groups and whatnot. Additionally, there is seems to be a lack of adab or avenues to learn it while learning basic knowledge seems to be quite accessible. From what I’ve seen and this only from living in my bubble in Columbus, OH is that one of the things that the youth lack most is adab and akhlaaq. Some of our teachers have excelled in those two regards. but we don’t live with them. Shaykh Yaser Birjas is an excellent example; when asked he acknowledges that this is something he learned from Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Saalih Al-Uthaymeen (rahimahullaah). One also hears the stories of other great ulemaa like Shaykhs Murabit Al-Hajj, Ibn Baaz, and Muhammad as-Saalim wal Udood Ash-Shanqeetee in regards to their adab upon when we hear them, there is almost an aura that these are people from the time of the Salaf actually living in our time. So there definitely is a need for learning the adab and akhlaaq and I think this really can be learned only if brothers and sisters can learn it directly from their teachers. Perhaps it can be institutionalized for kids to go during high school to benefit in this regards for a time up to a year.

    That is what can be said at least with the practicing youth; Alhamdulilaah things are progressing I believe with them while still far from perfect.

    We still have the majority in the youth however not in the masaajid and obsessed with the dunya; and it would have been a blessing if it was the mu’bah of the dunya but it is not. Serious damage has been done on that end; and hikmah and love must be shown to bring these kids to reality. The two elements of hikmah and love are not just learned overnight; one has to learn them and train himself in them. That is a major challenge.

    Anyways, those are my .02.

  7. mghayyur says:

    I think we have come a long way, but we wtill have a long way to go…

    Sometimes it’s very easy to get cought up in how many youth attend ‘our’ programs, and we forget that this is still a minority, compared to the vast number of Muslim youth in North America, Alhamdulillah.

  8. Mohamed Soliman says:

    The population of Muslims is growing and that is an added factor and I think it is more on the momentum and the more derives the more. Also, we or “I” had begun to see the vast opennesses of Islam and the views. I think our sh-yookh should keep on working to clarify the vast openness or this Deen to all . . . We need to work more closely with our fellow Americans and be every where there is a need to help and give hand. . Our community is rich by all measures, we just need to get there and use the right tools of reaching out to all . . . The prophet Mohammed PBUH did not stop to help only the Muslims. . He came to all and helped all. . This is how we are. . and this is how we can make a difference. . Look at Ummah clinic and look at other similar programs out there this is Islam as I “al-hamdu lilah” I know. .
    Abu-Sohaiyb :)

  9. Dawud Israel says:

    Wa aleikum as salam!

    I think we are getting there. There has been a paradigm shift. I think we are in the middle of a transformation. I think this is largely connected to the flow of Islamic media on the web, pirated or unpirated, which is getting the deen into our hearts, Insha Allah.

    Society in general has changed drastically that it is only natural for a counterpoint to be established. People need a balance, in all times, and since Islam is the middle way, things will always tip to that side of the scale, one way or another.

    We need to go further though. In short, we need leaders and fewer followers.

    I fear that by pointing this change out we may jinx or retard it.The world is an exciting place, only Allah knows what the Ummah will look like 10 years from now.

  10. Adam Soltani says:

    Bismillah,

    I would like to agree with Safi’s response above. What is the measurement of success, as the term is quite relative.

    I think in terms of many things we have advanced. There are now more programs for youth (MAS Youth, Young Muslims, etc.) that act as a refuge for many Muslim youth these days that were not quite so wide spread or existent 10 – 20 years ago.

    Secondly, there is also a growing refuge for youth from Western pop culture in the rise of popularity, quality, and availablity of English language nasheeds, comedy, etc. I for one, wish that I had such a thing growing up.

    Third, I have seen more and more that as the generations progress there are more American Muslims are raising children, as opposed to immigrant parents (who we no doubt love and care for, but it is not the issue), who were not so aware of the struggles and difficulties we used to go through in middle and highschool. Now, bad parenting is not an “immigrant” problem, but a human problem, so this is not an attack on immigrant Muslims as bad parents. Merely a realization that immigrant parents have many struggles in raising their children as proper American Muslims such as cultural baggage, cultural gap, etc.

    That being said, I have seen that we are moving in a positive direction, however we are by no means perfect. I think we still have a long ways to go in terms of “dealing with” the Muslim Youth. Unfortunately, our masajid are still very unwelcoming to youth. There are not proper education programs for Muslim Youth in many smaller or majority immigrant communities. And, perhaps most importantly, parents are the key to raising good American Muslims in this country, although I am perhaps speaking out of my bounds by saying that as I am myself not a parent yet.

    Allahu Aalim.

  11. Salam saahibul faadhil Suhaib and my dear brothers and sisters.

    I don’t want to write the translation of the voluminous Quranic ayaat that talk about al falaah. I’m sure Sh. Suhaib can expound further.

    Perhaps one of the best way to measure success is to personalize it. The success that is achieved by one muslim in his obedience towards God is much easier to appreciate compared to the success of a group of people. In addition, appreciating success in terms of being mindful of God boosts self-esteem and in accordance to Allah’s proclamation “and do not worry nor sad for you are esteemed if you are believers” (Ali Imraan).

    The criteria that Allah has set forth in the chapter Al Mu’minoon are collective personalized achievements. If that is the case, I wonder why Allah didn’t say, “Qad aflahal mu’min” yet he said “Al mu’minoon” but in soorah As Shams Allah made success a one person’s effort, in saying, “Qad aflaha man zakaaha” and in similarly in Al A’la, “Qad aflaha man tazakaa”.

    Imagine someone who hasn’t prayed for 16 years but with Allah’s guidance he finally prays and someone who has been praying for all his life but now he’s actively involved in the community, unlike before. Who do we regard as successful? Now imagine if these tow individuals go to the same masjid and belong to the same community, can we say that THEY are successful?

  12. Affad Shaikh says:

    Salaam,

    Jazaka-Allahkhair for asking us this interesting question. I find myself thinking whether we are doing either at this time- winning or loosing? It might not be as easy to say given there might not be any means to really asses the the validity of an answer. We will know if we have success or failure when we see dramatic changes, for now I think it is quite subtle.

    Dear Imam, I know given the work I do, you are probably better in tune with answering this in any specific way. From my experience, it is much like my Iman, a roller coaster ride, where some days I feel yes we are doing well as a community, then there are days where I am horrified and afraid to even contemplate where my ummah stands.

    For example, just today I spoke to my friend from the masjid. He was telling me his summer was one that was full of growth and spiritual connection, considering that before he didnt come to the masjid, was not attached to the ummah and did not worship Allah on a regular basis. He started his senior year of high school today, and I asked him how it went. He told me it was the most horrible day yet and he is depressed that he will spend the year in such a horrible state where his Iman will be affected and he fears growing distant from Allah. This is a kid who plays varsity football and is popular and has all these things going for him. So when I hear him I feel we are succeeding because Allah is bringing Muslims back. We are developing the institutions and people to continue to support this effort. I hear people coming back to Islam after years and years of being away and truly wanting Allah.

    This is Allah’s success nothing for us to take pride in. We are failing when i hear of hijabi sister’s living double lives where they develop portfolio’s for modeling, or ones who drink and party, the sister who is a hijabi and comes to ask if she can get an abortion. Or how about a Palestinian brother dating an Israeli IDF soldier? The list goes on to many social issues faced in the greater American society.

    Its much like the Jewish dilemma. As we get closer and closer to becoming part of the greater society we loose much of what sets us apart and makes us Muslim. Then we begin to find ways to tribalism and to ghettoize our experience in order to protect and nourish our Muslim identity. We might not be as bad when it comes to this social development as the Jewish community but many of the issues faced by that community are as related to us, if only three or four generations ahead.

    Given this I do believe we need to examine the issue of winning or losing in terms of our structure and development. Are we as a community about to implode or are we growing steadily meeting the many demands that we face, addressing them with an appropriate degree of understanding and maturity.

    I can only speak for where I am from and that is Southern California. I see our community’s heart- the masjid- still cloaked in darkness by the ego’s and narrow political minds of those who run the masjids some days I think the paradigm needs to shift and maybe we need to develop Community recreation centers less focused on prayer halls so that way we provide a place for kids to come and hang out, sisters to swim and work out, halls for lectures and classes, rather then just prayer space.

    Where there are bright lights you can tell the stark differences by the programs and the astronomical growth of the youth groups, school attendance and level of professional events. You see masjid participating in Open Mosque events, working with Interfaith communities and bringing a Muslim perspective to the table so that “progressive and appologists” Muslims do not represent the large majority of Muslims.

    I see the schools that are trying to build better programs to educate our kids. But they suffer and are caught in this level of stagnation that doesnt really help in addressing our need of creating future leaders with strong Islamic foundation.

    I see organizations popping up to support Muslim refugee’s transition into American society, i see domestic violence centers open to help Muslim women and kids faced with this issue or the issue of foster care for Muslim kids so our kids do not get lost in the state run foster care system; as well as social service organization helping with the mental and social assistance needed by our Muslim community members. I see youth groups developing stronger programs focused on developing character, social responsibility and civic engagement I see youth basketball leagues, soccer tournaments and institutitions like Al-Maghrib and Hikma creating the tools for people to seek further education of our religion.

    I see the MSA’s and I know that for better or for worse they are struggling to do something. That is what I see and how I gauge it is that its success when people carry on the struggle. It took 20 years to open the Masjid Billal school in downtown LA on the cross streets of El-Hajj Malik al Shabazz and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenues. 20 years of an inner city community struggling to open a school and its open, they struggled and they opened a school- that is success.

    I think back to all the things I deal with, civil rights violations, discrimination and ill treatment and it makes me angry and makes me want to help my brothers and sisters even though there is so little i can do for them- and I do whatever i can because they struggle to maintain their dignity but most of all their faith.

    Imam you know better about the hadith but I think of the Prophet SAW saying that as long as there is a believer Allah SWT will keep this world going, I like to think that means as long as there is a slave who struggles to maintain that there is “Allah and Allah alone, who sent Prophet Muhammad SAW” as the last messenger, then we struggle through it all and keep going even when it gets down to just one.

    I can continue, and I am sure there are many more things to say on how the youth of the Muslim world are doing, what i hear from my family in their respective diaspora; however it is a thesis for a PhD and I am sure you are not looking for that.

  13. Azeem says:

    I found a response I had posted on a discussion board some time ago. People were complaining about how Muslim Youth are messed up, the Ummah is doomed etc… So I wrote this:

    I think that Muslim youth should not be judged according to their current state and where they are at in relation to Islam. I say this because I believe we should look at their potential instead. After working with the youth for several years, I believe that if we just act as a catalyst for change Allah (S) will put blessings in our work/efforts in his way. Of course every single kid won’t become the best Muslim over night. But we just need to plant seeds of change. Its not enough to just analyze the situation and come to conclusions (just talk, complain etc- what uncles do when they talk about the youth). We need to do practical work in educating and then mobilizing youth to work for the cause of Islam. Many of us would not have been into it, if we didn’t have someone who came and influenced us. And most of our influences were peers (no not those kids of peers- the ones you pay to pray for you) . So in conclusion; get busy in bringing people closer to the Deen! Remember the hadith of Prophet Muhammad (S) where he described how he is trying to hold someone back, while they are trying to jump into the (hell) fire.

    I wrote the above paragraph a few years ago. Now after moving on from being a youth organizer (PS all you 40 year old Phds trying to be youth leaders need to stop fooling yourselves! and let the youth handle their own business!)

    When an outsider says something about young people I’m the first to defend them. But when I’m with the young people I am encouraging, but still skeptical about how far they are going to take it. I hope the growth continues and increases and increases. I also wonder if they will feel burned out, like I do sometimes after facing the harsh reality that the amount of change you witness in youth work will never be witnessed again dealing with older people.

  14. Anonymous says:

    PLEASE DO NOT POST THIS ONE (AT LEAST NOT THE WHOLE ARTICLE PLEASE :

    Asalam aleikum shaikh suhaib .

    I was wondering if you could help me with this one.

    “Marry if you have the means”
    Based on this statement what would we consider as the means here in the west?

    Take an example .The brother is a fulltime student with no J O B and so no source of income as for the sister she works plus goes to school. The best she can do is Have him move to the shared housing she lives in. (as for our parents while one is a convert the others parents are not in the country hence both have no family support).They where introduced to each other Alhamdullilah by a family that happens to know both of them and thought they would be suitable for each other. Both strive to be good Muslims alhamdullilah. Big question from the sister is can we start a family like this? Would this be irresponsibility from their side based on the fact that “one cannot completely rely on wife support knowing that things can happen that might cause her to give up her JOB. The brother says he finds it hard to wait till he is done with school and so thinks they should at least do the nikha ASAP. Plus they both are concerned with on going communication in the sense that this could be fitnah for them.

    Note: They are 25 plus in age and live in different states too so far the sister asked him to at least find a job (part-time is fine ) as long as at least they will have a roof to live under. but she feels like she could be wrong in the sense that she doesn’t want to make him wait because of the fact that he has no JOB at the moment.

    What’s your opinion on this?

    jazakAllah kheir.

    May Allah reward you .

  15. maymunaa says:

    PLEASE DO NOT POST !!

    Asalam aleikum shaikh suhaib .

    I was wondering if you could help me with this one.

    “Marry if you have the means”
    Based on this statement what would we considered as the means here in the west?

    Take an example .The brother is a fulltime student with no J O B and so no source of income as for the sister she works plus goes to school. The best she can do is Have him move to the shared housing she lives in. (as for our parents while one is a convert the others parents are not in the country hence both have no family support).They where introduced to each other Alhamdullilah by a family that happens to know both of them and thought they would be suitable for each other. Both strive to be good Muslims alhamdullilah. Big question from the sister is can we start a family like this? Would this be irresponsibility from their side based on the fact that “one cannot completely rely on wife support knowing that things can happen that might cause her to give up her JOB. The brother says he finds it hard to wait till he is done with school and so thinks they should at least do the nikha ASAP. Plus they both are concerned with on going communication in the sense that this could be fitnah for them.

    Note: They are 25 plus in age and live in different states too so far the sister asked him to at least find a job (part-time is fine ) as long as at least they will have a roof to live under but she feels like she could be wrong in the sense that she doesn’t want to make him wait because of the fact that he has no JOB at the moment.

    What’s your opinion on this?

    jazakAllah kheir.

    May Allah reward you .

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