Saturday, November 25, 2006

Inspiring Teenagers - How Do You Do It?!

The time has come. In my old city, it was something I only speculated about with my wise mentors and friends... I looked at it as something that would occur in the future, after graduation or something. But no, it seems that is not what Allah has planned for me.

The time has come for me to take on the mantle of leadership: My role is that of dealing with the young Muslimahs here in this new city of mine.

It's something I look upon with a mixture of anticipation and dread, of hope and of fear. It's a chance for me to start doing something for this Ummah, however small a thing it may be.

But... what if I fail? What if I make terrible mistakes, horrible blunders - in short, what if I screw up?!
Yes, yes, I know what I'm supposed to do... close my eyes, take a deep breath, and put my trust in Allah. Yet those doubts and fears remain... it's only human, I guess.

Anyway... aside from all the insecurities, I have a bigger question: How am I going to do it?! How do you inspire teenagers? How do you inspire them to dedicate themselves to their religion, to concentrate their efforts on learning about Islam, understanding it, applying it, and then doing whatever they can to help the Muslim Ummah (which needs all the help it can get)?

There's another problem, too. Even though I'm a teenager, I'm on a completely different wavelength than them, and I can't relate to them. The things they're interested in are totally different from my own hobbies and fields of interests.
It's basically boys, gossip, and movies vs. religion, politics, and randomness.

See the difference?

The first time I met the teen girls at the Masjid, I was immediately uncomfortable. First, by the fact that they were teen girls. Sounds weird, I know, seeing as how I'm a teen girl myself. But at home, in my old city, I had only a few friends my age, and I feel infinitely more comfortable around adults, because I practically grew up with them and they're who I grew up hanging out with anyway.

The conversation was awkward, too. Music, movies, boys, and gossiping about girls at school... that's all they talked about. Nothing else. So there I was, sitting against the wall all alone, wishing desperately that I was back home with my beloved mentors discussing something serious.

So that's the big problem... we're totally different from each other. They're typical teenage girls; whereas it seems that I am very atypical indeed. I've no idea how to make them interested in the stuff I am interested in; how to... well, recruit them, as it were.

Then there's also the issue of commitment: from past experiences, I know very well how people will say something, promise to do something - and then not do it at all, their excuses being "I was busy". And the thing is, they are busy... they go to public school, they've got their own friends and lives outside of the masjid and madrasah... whereas I don't, and therefore have plenty of time to dream about fixing up the Ummah, starting with the city I'm in right now.

:(

Really, what am I to do? I know what I want to do, I know how to do what I want to do... but I'll require people to help me out, and that's the problem: how to get those people to help out.

When I posted this on Eteraz.org, the responses I got basically said two things: make things fun, and then just wait for them to grow up enough to care.

I get the first point - and it's what we were going to do, anyway - but the second thing frustrates me... I hate waiting, and besides, who's to say that they'll care even when they grow up? Isn't the time to teach them about the important stuff NOW, not later? What if they get distracted later, or forget about Islam until it fades away to something cultural for them? I have seen it happen before, and it's something that scares me to death.
And, of course, how do we know we're even going to live long enough to grow up?

Perhaps the answer IS to just work slowly for now and focus on how fun Islam can be, and then sit and wait...but I find the prospect of having to wait for them to grow up frustrating. I need to be able to do something NOW. I honestly feel like I'm going to go crazy if I can't do anything intellectually stimulating anytime soon...

I need your advice, people!

Your little sister in Islam,
'Mouse

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey Princess Mouse,
I really, really feel for you sister. The fact is you are in a tiny, tiny minority.(and unfortunately, probably always will be). You are a really rare,and uncommonly kind, courageous, and caring person.
One thing kept popping up regarding ways to reach teenagers.
We live in such a media obsessed
world of tv, movies,CDs, ipods,etc.
It seems that if you could work on different kinds of media presentations it could reach teens in the media modalities they are already spending most of their time in.
For example, did you see that link that CS and Layla both posted this week called "Gaza's Reality"?
It's on informationclearinghouse.info
It just knocked me out in a way that dozens of articles and essays never have.
You could get a bunch of clips and speeches from the net and youtube or googlevideo and put them together in your own way
that would be geared for a teen audience. I can't tell you how to do that stuff but surely someone on As'ad's blog could.(Virgil probably could.)
I really wish you the best and will always try to respond to your
requests.
good luck
Datta

Anonymous said...

Mouse one more thing,

The reason I talk to you about Tariq Ramadan is because he has a big youth following. I don't know if that includes junior high school or even high school, but he definitely does at the university level. One of the big reasons for this is that he wants to be very contemporary and modern, even post-modern, as opposed to conservative and ultra orthodox and traditional. That really seems to be the wave of the future,(catch that wave sister!)
When I was 15 I had to go to a conservative protestant church that was so boring I'd literally fall asleep every week!
Anyhoo, post a comment to one of his essays and I'm sure, or at least hopeful, that someone will respond to your predicament.
keep up the good work
best of luck
datta

anon2 said...

Yeah, it's tough to find common ground many times. I think the most important thing is to just become friends with them first and gain their confidence otherwise you'll just be the 'some girl' calling them to Islam.

But if you become friends with them first, then you are someone worth listening to.

Tis' a tricky business, this dawah thing but insha Allah, it will be all worth it when Allah rewards ppl with Paradise for striving in His way :-)

Anonymous said...

As salaamu alaikum wa rahmatu Allahi wa barakatuh sis Mouse :)

my very wise uncle told me the same thing as the above: you need to get to know the people before you start preaching.

in my opinion here are some extra ideas:

-develop some common interests
-give them leadership positions
-make them feel important and not stupid
-let them answer their own questions once in a while--instead of saying, "it's like this, this and this" say "what is the purpose of life..." and let them answer what they can. then later, bring up how in surah Dhariaat Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala says :

"wa maa khalaqtul jinna wal Insaa ilaa lee ya'boodoon"
(I have only created jinn and humans so that they may worship Me)

-fun activities/volunteering

-getting to know them can involve just general talking sessions. but let them know that backbiting won't be allowed but if they need advice about something at school to open up and then some can give sound islamic advice.

-give them the true sense of the world modernity. some people think modernity means new, as time goes on, ideas change, etc........but what really is modernity? i think Islam is the epitome of modernity, the Qur'an and sunnah are the epitome of truth and modernity, and that true modernity lies in rejecting idolatry and realizing our true purpose in life: to worship Allah alone..

let them know this :)

take care sis,

RoH04

meee said...

ah man u sound so mature.. mashallah... i think if i tried to make a blog id be mistaken 4 a 10 yr old... but u, u sound like ur 30... *sighs*
u know u should just.........
AHA brilliant
ur very welcome =D

Faraz said...

Assalamu'alaykum,

I think RoH04 offered some great advice. It's very important to come off as a friend first, and nothing else. This doesn't mean that you need to start discussing boys or fashion or whatever; you just need to perhaps start with asking about the other sisters themselves. I'm sure a lot of these young sisters will be more than happy to talk about themselves. Find some common ground from their interests, and elaborate on that. Don't focus on the differences.

You don't want to come off as "that new religious girl", you want them to know you as the good person you are insha-Allah. And just be patient. I know you want results now, but that's not the way things work unfortunately. Patience is not easy, but it's a quality we must all develop if we are to introduce any change.

And keep up your du'as insha-Allah, for the other sisters and for yourself, that Allah helps you in your mission. Read Surah Taha for the du'a Musa AlayhisSalam made before meeting with Fir'awn, and practice it yourself regularly.

All the best, insha-Allah!

M2Timechange said...

Assala mu 'alaikum warah matullahi waba raka tuh

Anonymouse

Always remember by (zikir) Allah where ever you are

Motivation from Quran versus
Surah Ta-Ha 20.20 to 20.28 after your prayer daily. Insha Allah, after reading the above versus, it shall enable you to remember what you have learned, apply and exhibit in your daily live.

قَالَ رَبِّ اشْرَحْ لِي صَدْرِي

20.25 . ( Moses ) said : My Lord! Relieve my

وَيَسِّرْ لِي أَمْرِي

20.26 . And ease my task for me ;


وَاحْلُلْ عُقْدَةً مِّن لِّسَانِي

20.27 . And loose a knot from my tongue ,

يَفْقَهُوا قَوْلِي

20.28 . That they may understand my saying .


Respect people around you regardles of their race, religion, status and position.

Assess our weaknesses and make an effort by removing negative thought in our little voice. Allah love people who is tawaduq'. Be humble at all times in any situation.

Anonymous said...

You should organise a reading group and read Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni.

Marion Delgado said...

what do you think of muslim girl magazine? it's american, i think.

http://www.muslimgirlmagazine.com/mg/website/

AnonyMouse said...

As-salaamu 'alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatu,

First of all, I just wanna send out a biggggggg virtual hug to all the SISTERS who posted here and an even bigger jazaakumullaahu khairan to y'all for the awesome advice!
I really needed it... Subhan'Allah, it feels really good to know that I've got such awesome people advising me on this stuff... may Allah reward you all and give you the greatest of success in this world and in the Hereafter!
(Yeah, I know I'm getting mushy on y'all... ;) :P :D)

Anyway, shukran jazeelan for the excellent words... I shall gird my loins and prepare myself for this jihad of mine, and I ask that you all make du'aa for me, that I may have patience and that I may be successful, insha'Allah! :)

Your little sister in Islam,
'Mouse

M2Timechange said...

Assala mu 'alaikum warah matullahi waba raka tuh

Anonymouse

Link Surah Taha

ayat 20.25 - 20.28

http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=31858079&postID=116406468844736932

M2Timechange said...

Anonymouse

sorry

correct url

http://thetruereligion.org/modules/Quran/index.php?op=viewayat&surano=20&min=20&show=10

sweden1975 said...

As Mouse's hermetic and allusive speech is non-trivial to many, I offer an interpretion!

To gird your loins during the Roman Era was a soldier term, meant to draw-up and tie your lower garment between your legs as to increase your mobility and agility.

The Spiritual meaning:
"To secure anything that will cause you to stumble and fall down when moving about quickly in the spiritual battle."

Muslimah said...

Assalaamu alaikum,

As for your Inspiring Teenagers post- Check out www.shabab.ca/forums
--> Under National Projects --> you'll find a post for Youth Mentorship

There's another sister from BC who's helping to organise the project, she posted her e-mail in the thread, so why don't you post and tell her that you'll email her, insha Allah

shabab means 'youth' in Arabic, and the organisation is wonderful!

this past summer they organised an umrah trip for about 100 active (volunteer-wise) Canadian Muslim youth who applied to reward them for their hard work

i would definitely encourage you to think bigger, and even if you are a teenager- you can definitely make a profound difference if you work with like-minded people!

sincerely,
your sister