By Rahma Uneeb
“Do you want to go watch The Avengers?” asks one of her friends. She replies: “No, my mother won’t let me go alone.” Her friend nudges her and says: “Oh, come on! Who is going to tell her? Don’t you want to relax during the vacations?” The girl soon agrees to join the group and also goes for a party, where she is enticed to smoke.
This is a usual occurrence, when teenagers face peer pressure. Confronted with a choice, they may stand up to this pressure or let the dark cloud of ignorance overpower them. Peer pressure is a serious problem for all age groups across the world. Teenagers often find themselves in situations, where standing out seems ridiculous. They are surrounded with peers, who mock other people, make fun of Islam, listen to music, drink, smoke, cheat and have forbidden relationships. Those, who have less exposure to such environments, find peer pressure from cousins and their relatives equally distressing.
The Quran says: “Help you one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Severe in punishment.” (Al-Maidah 5:2) When teenagers face peer pressure, they feel repulsive to Islam. Some may become conscious, if people around them will make fun of their Hijab or of them following Islam. Waking up for Fajr and going for Islamic lectures just seems alien, as nobody is doing it. In extreme cases, peer pressure can lead to teenagers lying to parents, taking drugs and having illegal relationships.
If you are a victim, is there a way to solve this problem? Before searching for a solution, you must first answer the following questions:
- Are you offended, when your friends crack a joke about you?
- Do you feel obliged to listen to people around you?
- Have you ever lied to others because of peer pressure?
- Have you worn clothes to impress others?
- Are you conscious of others, when you speak?
- Have you done something just because everybody was doing it?
If your answer to most of them is yes, then you must take the following steps:
1. Look at the group of your friends. Have they ever stopped you from doing your prayers, listening to your parents or from voicing your own opinion? If so, you must immediately change your circle of friends. They are not your true friends and will never acknowledge you for who you are. If it is possible, change your school or educational institution. It is narrated by Abu Musa (ra) that Allah’s Apostle (sa) said: “The example of a good companion (who sits with you) in comparison with a bad one, is like that of the musk seller and the blacksmith’s bellows (or furnace); from the first you would either buy musk or enjoy its good smell while the bellows would either burn your clothes or your house, or you get a bad nasty smell thereof.” (Bukhari)
2. Never feel under-confident, If you want to wear Hijab or follow Islam, do it openly. Allah (swt) will reward those more favourably, who held their ground through the peer pressures, rather than those, who didn’t have to face such problems at all. It is said in the Quran: “And those who remain patient, seeking their Lord’s Countenance, perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat), and spend out of that which We have bestowed on them, secretly and openly, and defend evil with good, for such there is a good end.” (Ar-Rad 13:22)
3. Don’t become something which you are not. Don’t try to change your appearance or behaviour in order to fit into a group. You are who you are – never doubt yourself because somebody said something about you. Don’t take part in bullying either. Many people tease others and mock them to fit in. You will be accountable for such evil deeds. Besides, as it is said: “What goes around comes around.”
4. Don’t get carried away with peer pressure. If you do, realize your mistake and repent to Allah (swt). Establish prayers – it will help in keeping away from misleading thoughts. The Quran says: “O you who believe! Take care of your own selves, [do righteous deeds, fear Allah much (abstain from all kinds of sins and evil deeds which He has forbidden) and love Allah much (perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained)]. If you follow the right guidance and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong no hurt can come to you from those who are in error.” (Al-Maidah 5:105)
5. Be a good communicator. If you have good public speaking skills, you are likely to give witty replies and answer back. Also, make sure you learn how to be humorous and make people laugh. Such an asset can really help you combat peer pressure. Having good communication skills can also ensure that you’re assertive with others. Saying ‘no’ might be difficult, but if you say it politely and at the same time firmly, you make it clear to the other person that they must respect your boundaries.
6. Excel. Many people find it easier to gather support for their opinion if they have certain skills to offer. If you are good at studies and such other activities as, for example, sports, people will eventually be attracted to your personality and will not try to undermine you.
7. Never lose hope. The Quran says: “Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. He gets reward for that (good) which he has earned, and he is punished for that (evil) which he has earned…” (Al-Baqarah 2:286) So even though you’ve tried all the ways above and you still can’t handle the pressure, it will end one day, and you will surely learn how to influence people. It’s not the world’s system that if you work hard, you don’t get its reward.
8. Seek help. If the pressure is too much, don’t feel shy to talk to your parents or siblings about it. If that’s not possible, ask advice from a close friend or relative, because you may end up in a really bad condition, if the problem is not solved.
(to be continued)