Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Garbled Mental Odds & Ends

Reading through a few books on psychology - my latest amateur interest - various facts popped out at me and I've had more than a few "aha!" moments. What often happens to me is that I'll try to link what I'm learning with what I already know, seeing where it applies to real life situations.

Right now one of the issues I'm observing and concerned with is that of Muslim youth (more so than usual, I should say, and particularly with younger teens). My mum's handling a few cases of anxious parents with rebellious kids in tow, mostly girls who've started trying to wear makeup on the sly, hanging out with the less-savoury female characters at school, that kinda thing. In frustration and annoyance, I've become an advocate of locking the kids up at home and banning them from most, if not all, forms of media and communication.

In all seriousness, however, the ultimate issue is that of integration and assimilation of Muslims into Western culture. The topic has been discussed to death, along with that of the challenges of maintaining an Islamic identity in an unIslamic environment - but despite the seemingly obvious answer(s) to the solution (establishing a firmly Islamic household that educates its members about the Deen and how to interact appropriately with nonMuslim society), the same problems persist. Muslim kids continue to get screwed up in this society and fall away from the Deen, no matter how much their parents insist "But it's good for them, it'll make them stronger and open their minds up to other horizons and they'll be able to think critically about other ideologies while maintaining their Islam!"

Yah, sure, 'cuz your daughter who wants to dress like a stripper and your son whose greatest ambition is to be a rapper are such epitomes of strong Islamic identities and intellect.

I've just given up on the strength and intelligence of our youth. They have none. The majority of them are as ignorant, vision-less, and mindless as the stupid white kids they hang out with (yes, I know I'm being rude, but I don't have the energy to be politically correct and state things precisely).

Of course it's the parents' fault, most of it. But when the parents are blind to what their kids are up to, and place way too much trust in them, then what do you do?!

I'm someone who grew up in a bubble - literally. I don't remember the last nonMuslim friend, or indeed acquaintance, that I've had since oh, about grade four. My life has always revolved around my family and my Islamic centre/ Masjid/ Madrasah. Yet contrary to what many people protest - that such an environment leads to a stunt in intellectual growth, problems with communication and socialization, etc., I don't think that's happened. Sure, I might be clueless about a lot of things, but those are usually the things that don't matter anyway.

Anyway, while I've had my own rough times, I think I turned out semi-decent overall. So could the real solution be insulation over integration? Isolation (to a certain degree) instead of assimilation?

It seems a bit drastic, maybe, but I'm fed up with everyone insisting that integration is the key to a successful Muslim presence in the West. We lose more kids than we keep. There are more 'Muslim' teens who don't pray, don't fast, don't wear hijaab/ Islamically appropriate clothing, listen to music, have girlfriends/ boyfriends, etc. than there are those who start caring about Islam and attend Al-Maghrib or Al-Kauthar or whatever.

So yes. Lock up your children. Isolate them, insulate them, protect them from the society that we're stuck in. We do need to create our own culture - as savvy, intellectual, and appealing as non-Muslim culture, but superior in that it's ultimately based upon Islam. I'm not calling for a return to 7th century Arabian life, but something that's just... modern but Islamic. 21st century based upon ancient, divine principles. Utopia.

And eventually let this bubble culture of ours change until it is radically different in many ways from Western societal norms. Let's raise kids who mentally and emotionally mature a lot faster than adolescents do now - and then we can marry them off at an early age without worrying about how immature they are. My psychology book says that puberty indicates the beginning of sexual maturation; girls subconciously start looking for a mate by the age of 13 and reach their peak before their 20s. Guys take a bit longer emotionally but are sexually aware just as quickly. Those ancient cultures were right when they married their kids off the moment they reached puberty - it sure saved them a lot of trouble. If a guy is already attached to a girl and has more than a vague understanding about the concept of responsibility, and if a girl knows that she's already got a guy to impress, then there won't be as much of a problem with guys trying to get their hands on the first girl to walk by them and girls won't be obsessing about how to attract a guy's attention. Not that it'll eradicate all the problems, I understand, but it seems a hell of a lot better than what we have now.

Basically, we need to develop a culture and a society that is insular without being utterly isolated; that integrates both natural, evolutionary biological urges with religious recommendations.

The Amish know what they're doing.


illuminatingfaith said...

I've been thinking about this.

Will let you know my conclusion later.

That is all.


(WaAllahu a'lam)

Arif Kabir said...

I've just taken a psychology class at college, so this has also been one of my latest interests :) One of the things that we studied, and was of great interest to me as a Muslim youth, was the idea of integration and assimilation. Over here, I slightly differ from your idea of isolation vs. integration.

While studying the stress of adapting to a new culture (acculturative stress), we were shown a chart in our book, Psychology by Hockenbury and Hockenbury, and it was kind of like a multiplication table of two factors. Factor 1: Should I seek positive relations with the dominant society and Factor 2: Is my original cultural identity of value to me, and should I try to maintain it.

1. If one answered no to both questions, then they're considered marginalized people, who don't care about their original identity, but don't really try to go learn the new culture and thus have the highest level of stress.

2. If one answers no to having their original identity but want to have positive relations, that is the assimilation that you were decrying and which I fullheartedly agree with.

3. If one answers yes that having the original identity is important but answers no to having positive relations with the new culture, then that is the separatist attitude and that is what I believe you were originally advocating when you said "Lock up your children".

4. The fourth type of people are those that say yes, both are important and those people are integrationists, which isn't exactly assimilation. See, in assimilation, you are actively trying your best to be accepted and part of that culture, and are willing to throw away your original identity at a moment's notice. That's plainly wrong, but integrating into society, making that American Islam, is perfectly fine, and Shaykh Yasir Qadhi has full lectures on this idea of having an American Islam. I actually think that's what you were trying to get to when you mentioned: "Basically, we need to develop a culture and a society that is insular without being utterly isolated; that integrates both natural, evolutionary biological urges with religious recommendations."

...and that is exactly what that integration is about. I believe it is Ibn Hajar Al-Askalani who mentioned that when one studies philosophy, to not soak it in like a sponge so it becomes a part of you, but to view the subject like looking through a glass mirror; you're merely studying it, but you're not inherently taking it in yourself. That is exactly the approach that I believe that we should have as Western Muslims.

I have also lived in a semi-bubble (I say semi since I do remember my last non-Muslim acquaintance:) I have gone to a Muslim school and later Hifzh School my whole life except for this year, when I began college. I used to always attend the homeschool vs. public school debates, take the homeschool side, shower the other team with stats, and walk off victorious. However, one thing that I quickly realized was that most of the statistics would mention that most homeschoolers were involved in 4-6 outdoor activities in a week, which is far higher than a public school student. I think that's what most people don't realize, that homeschoolers (and Muslims who want to stay dear to their faith) are not separatists, but still actively care about their identity.

We have a Muslim Youth blog over at http://youthmusings.wordpress.com. I was wondering if you would be interested in writing a few posts for us as all of the writers are teenagers (I prefer the word youth as the word teenager imposes a 'psychological' stigma:) We would gladly appreciate it if you would contribute some of your writings to our blog. Jazaakillahu Khayran!

Scorpius said...

Wow, this post is equal parts racist "stupid white kids", fascist "lock them up in a bubble" and really dumb "society we are stuck in"

If you don't like the West and all it's associated parts then you are welcome to leave. You need us, we don't need you; Islam brings absolutely nothing to the west.

Valencia said...

"So yes. Lock up your children. Isolate them, insulate them, protect them from the society that we're stuck in."

Ah...now its "stuck in"?
How very sad coming from a young woman. You, my dear, are "stuck" here because you and those who believe as you do, are parasites. You want to simultaneously enjoy and denigrate the freedoms and opportunities of Canada. I have nothing but pity for you and your version of your religion.
When you commented at the angryarab site you sounded like a bright, curious, and interesting young person. Now, you merely sound like a an old and frightened caged bird. Too sad for words!