Friday, September 01, 2006


As you know, I'm a teenager. And that means one word: rebellion. Yeah, I know, I seem like a good kid. My passions are religion (Islam), politics, and solving the world's problems, and there aren't many teenagers who can say that (I think... am I being too presumptuous and arrogant?). But that doesn't mean that I'm an exception to every rule. Especially the rebellion one.

I'm not going into any details though, so there. Muahaha.

But anyway, I started thinking about rebellion in general, not just teenage rebellion.

Rebellion is something that is part of human nature. We all rebel - against our parents, the standards we're held to, the restrictions and taboos of society. Pretty much every form of authority there is, we rebel against, in some way or another.

But rebellion is one of those things that, I think, we need to keep in check. It is so easy to slip and end up committing haraam. And the absolute worst thing that we could ever do is rebel against Allah. Against God. And that is totally scary.

I totally understand why we rebel. We hate having all these rules and regulations, restricting us, stopping us from doing whatever we want to do. It's something that we were created with, a part of us. But it is one of those 'parts of us' that we need to do Jihad against. Jihad an-Nafs. The Jihad of the Self. Fighting those whims and desires that threaten to plunge us into haraam, and (may Allah protect us all) into shirk.

There are many examples of rebellion amongst us. In the West, it's almost a culture in and of itself - Gothic punks seem to be the very epitome of rebellion in this society. It starts with changing your wardrobe so that you look totally different from everyone else... and then your behaviour changes. Rudeness, crudeness, total lack of respect, constant pushing of the boundaries. What do they get out of it? An adrenaline rush, maybe, from the thrill of not doing what everyone tells them to, of doing whatever they want. Of power.
But other than that? Nothing, really. They hurt themselves more than anyone else. A lot of them, who started out relatively innocent, get sucked into the big stuff. The bad stuff.

But it's not just the West. Rebellion is now becoming much more common in the East - the Middle East. Oh yes... the Arab world, the Muslim world, is not spared from this. They may want to think so, they may like to think that it's not happening to them, but it is. And they better face reality, soon, so that they can deal with it the right way before it gets worse, before it gets out of control.

For example: Just the other day I read an article about young people, especially teen girls, in Iran getting tattoos in secret, as a way to rebel against familial and societal restrictions and taboos. Because they disagree with the way their families and society dictate things, they try to rebel by doing exactly what they're told NOT to do. And you can read about the stuff Saudi teens get into, as a form of rebellion. Not just Saudi or Iran, either; I'm sure this is happening all over the Arab world. The next generation is not content with the state of things as they are,
and they're determined to fight against it.

This sort of thing really bothers me. I know that there are issues in the culture, in the society, and I know they need to be dealt with. But the things people are doing now isn't the right way to do it. Instead of dealing with these issues in a pro-active manner, they are rebelling to the extent of doing haraam.
The tattoos, the hidden booze, the secret girlfriends/boyfriends... no way. They are HARAAM, and NOTHING good will come of it. The change they want in their societies is not going to come about that way. Once again, they only harm themselves.

If they think that their society has major issues that need to be dealt with, they need to do it the right way, by raising awareness, by bringing these things out in public, so that no one can pretend it's not happening. Then go to the Qur'an and Sunnah and prove that these cultural practices are wrong.

Awareness and activism. That's the way to do it.

Or so I think, anyway.
For example, if I were in, say, Saudi, and I wanted to address issues such as racism, or sexism, then what I'd to is take stuff from the Qur'an and Sunnah and show them that racism and sexism are wrong in Islam. I would also perhaps bring these issues to the attention of those in power, and enlist their aid in raising awareness of these issues and working to combat them. (But then, maybe I'm just being too optimistic and idealistic... I dunno. Would that approach even work in the Middle East? But whatever. That's what I'd do.)

Don't give up. Stuff like this won't be solved in one night. Positive change isn't going to come about quickly. Simply persevere, be determined, don't give up, and ALWAYS have faith in Allah. Ask Him to grant you strength, and success, and above all: PATIENCE! (Of which we are all in short supply, I think...)

In every culture, there are issues. There are problems. Things are done that are wrong. And these things need to have attention brought to them, and the people of that society need to work to combat those issues.

Challenge stereotypes, challenge cultural expectations, but don't fall into haraam while doing so. Always, always, stay within the boundaries of Islam.

And... that's it for now, I think. If I've missed anything, or made an error, or if you have something to add, please do point it out!


Faraz said...


Rebellion is not necessarily a bad concept; it's just that it needs to be channeled in the right direction. Some people have rebellion in their blood; if they were guided correctly, they'd use that inspiration to speak out against societal injustice and make a difference. Instead, they'll wear white makeup and black clothing while listening to death metal. So much potential gone to waste.

By all definitions, we are rebels in this country if we choose to put the demands of our Creator above the demands and expectations of others. I am rebelling by not drinking or smoking. I am rebelling by praying every day at the office. But that's a good rebellion, because we are rebelling against a status quo which is not conducive to our deen.

At the risk of shameless self-promotion, I would like to direct you to something I wrote a few months ago on this same topic: Bugs in my cereal. It summarizes my thoughts on your post, so it's easier to just link to that rather than repeat everything here.

(Don't ask about the title about that post, it's irrelevant.)

Elizabeth said...

Things you should NOT do as a teenager: Drugs. Skipping school. Tattoos (you can get hepatitis). Sex with someone you don't love. Unprotected sex.

Things you SHOULD do: Masturbation (it's good for your circulation and immune system). Kissing members of the opposite sex (you need to learn how). Going on a road trip with friends--bond with them and share secrets.

What counts as "rebellion" varies among different people. My parents always supported my political views 100 percent, so there was nothing to rebel against there...being a teenager means testing out what it means to be an adult, without going too far. If you follow the rules 100 percent of the time, you won't establish your own identity.

Taysiir said...

Pampered kids/Rebellious kids, only grow up, when they find themselves on their own. No more money from the parent, no more security from the comfort of a home, see my point ...

When I see how a lot of kids live their lives, specially secondary school kids (High school etc ...), I don't really know what to think, being reckless and stupid, seems to be the new trend.

And elizabeth is 100% right ;).

AnonyMouse said...

I think you said it better than I did, Faraz! Rebel against the haraam by sticking to the halal. Thumb your nose at the Shaytaan by obeying Allah's commands! :D

Elizabeth: I agree with all of the "what you shouldn't do", but I disagree on the first two of "What you should do"...

For me, rebellion is thinking differently from my parents, having different opinions than them on certain religious issues and on political viewpoints (heh, sounds sort of tame, doesn't it?). Of course, there are some other things, but I shan't go into detail...

Faraz said...

I also kinda jumped when I saw the "things you should do" list. I'm really curious as to how the first item in particular is justified.

Mouse, I was just watching the animated movie about the life of the Prophet salallaho'alayhi wa salam. (You can watch it on my blog if you haven't seen it already; great film masha-Allah.) When you think about, all those early Makkan Muslims were rebels. Many of the most important revolutionaries in the history of humanity were rebels, be they Muslim or otherwise. But they channeled their urge of rebellion in the right direction. That's what we need to figure out how to do.