In order to live a fulfilling life, we must pay attention to maintaining healthy relationships with people around us, ourselves, and Allah (swt). For teenagers, this is not easy to achieve because with the changes happening within us and the fact that nobody prepares us for them, we are unable to understand ourselves, let alone others. If we do not maintain a relationship with ourselves and others, then the relationship with Allah becomes endangered, too. Yes, lack of faith is on the rise among the teenagers of today. Let us look into why and how this happens.
Most of us will agree that the most important reason for this lack of faith is that Islam has become merely the name of a couple of obligations, rather than a way of life. Even these obligations are not fulfilled with excellence – do we wake children up for Fajr like we wake them up for school? Why is it that we feel sorry for the person when waking him up for prayer and not when waking him up for a TV show?
Secondly, many adults of today hold questionable religious views – they do not have sufficient knowledge regarding religion and how one should live everyday life by it. Teens have questions and need wise adults for answering them – explaining with logic. When teens get answers like ‘because it is so, that’s it’, they do tend to question religion. Looking into the Quran and the Sunnah, we can get logical answers for all rules and regulations Islam establishes – teens need to be able to reach more of learned scholars, who could explain the practical application.
Scholars agree that the essence of Quran can only be found when it is read in Arabic; however, most of us are neither fluent in Arabic ourselves, nor do we push our children towards this goal. Reading Islamic texts can be a cure to this problem but teenagers do not find it interesting. And let’s be honest – there is a lack of interesting Islamic literature available in Pakistan. However, authors like Umera Ahmed and Nemrah Ahmed are writing stories, which cover Quranic Ayahs beautifully, giving an insight into the beauty of Islamic obligations. But often parents do not let their teens read these, as they feel they are too young for serious plots. This takes us to my third point of concern.
Parents tend to wait for the ‘right time’ to tell us a lot of things about us, the world, and our religion. They fail to realize that in today’s global world and its opportunities of exposure, it is possible for us to get to know everything before they tell us. Parents agree that it better be them, who tell us about important things in life than anybody else. If Aisha (rtaf) got married at 9, and Usama Bin Zaid (rtam) led a war at the tender age of seventeen, could it be that they did not know about themselves and their religion? Parents and teachers get worried when we start asking questions about religion and culture. It is said ‘the best person to ask about me is me’ so I, as a teenager, am telling you that we usually do not have anything ‘wrong’ going on in our heads when we are asking you something. And in the rare cases when we do, when we are questioning a religious belief, a question is still a good sign, because it shows we want to know and check if our thoughts are going the right way.
On top of that, adults around us will take part of Islam not all of it. They will know about their Islamic rights but not about their obligations. Only the other day a relative was questioning my decision to wear a Hijab in front of my male cousins, as they are my brothers after all, right? And how will I ever get a good suitor like this? Some of us actually think that all Quranic teachings do not apply to the modern lifestyle today. Tell me: who should we look up to in times like these? The Prophet (sa) is supposed to be our role model, but how many people today actually know so much about him? All of us teens and adults alike need to redefine what religion means to us. Mothers and fathers have to enroll in Islamic courses together with their daughters and sons respectively and learn the Quran for themselves. The Quran was compiled in a book form for our convenience, so we could refer to it for our day to day issues. Today our goal is to finish it; understanding it has become secondary, even tertiary in most cases.
In conclusion, there is just one more thing I would like to request adults; don’t lecture us. Mentally and emotionally we are adults, and you, as an adult, would not like to be lectured either. Discussions and questions should be encouraged, because they achieve more than a full-on lecture. Questions are proof of active listening and, hence, of learning, too. Also, please, do not hide yourselves from us – let us know your mistakes and what you learnt from them, as it will help us reach out to you and grow up with the values you want to give us. Remember even Adam (as) made a mistake, which the world knows about. What makes it worth knowing is that he learnt something from it and repented. Today nobody holds it against him. The Quran encourages Qiyas, thought, and analogy – so why do you restrict us and discourage it? Let us equip ourselves with values and tools like the Arabic language and Hadeeth, so we can connect with religion on a whole new level. And let me tell you that most of us really want to do that.