Looking around, I have realized a stark distinction between non-Muslim teenagers and Muslim teenagers, especially in the way they react to certain situations. I know that sometimes it's difficult to stand your ground being a Muslim, but here are some relatable experiences shared by many Muslim teens and their solutions found in the Quran and Hadith.
1. You're at your high school graduation and your name is called. You walk up that stage bathed in applause. As you look out at the crowd you see your family beaming with pride, as well as around a thousand other people with bright smiles. Suddenly you look ahead and see that your male teacher and male principle are waiting to give you your diploma and shake your hand. Your nerves take control and you kinda want to stop moving, but with the thousands of eyes on you, your legs can't stop. You can't possibly have time to refuse the handshake, explain why, get the certificate and walk off stage in time for the next person. Everyone will definitely judge you and wonder why you're being so rude and not shaking their hands.
Possible solution: Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Prime Minister, set an expectation for respecting Muslim women. Instead of keeping his hand outstretched he puts a hand on his chest and gives a curt nod. In this way, he is not disrespecting the other individual while simultaneously making a bold statement.
"Come, let us give you our pledge, O Messenger of Allah! The Messenger of Allah said: 'I do not shake hands with women. Rather my word to a hundred women is like my word to one woman." (Sunan an-Nasa'i 4181)
The reason for this is that in Islam, a woman's value is that of a Queen. It's not every day and everyone that Queen Elizabeth comes out and shakes hands. Similarly, a Muslim woman doesn't go out and shake the hands of a random non-mahram dude.
2. Your best friend since birth is hosting a birthday party at the pool. She's Muslim and this is like your one shot at socialization. But the thing is, she's not really a practicing Muslim and you know that you will be the only one there wearing a burkini. Plus you don't even celebrate birthdays. What a moral dilemma! But didn't Allah also tell you to enjoy yourself? Can't you just go and ignore everyone else?
Possible Solution: First of all, if you "go and ignore everyone else" then what's the point of going and socializing? Second of all, Allah does tell you to enjoy yourself, but in a way that is beneficial to you and your hereafter. In this case, even if you go and try to not pay attention to what other people are wearing, you are still making yourself prone to a lot of thoughts and ideas from Shaytan. And by showing up, you're letting your Muslim friends know that what she is doing is acceptable. Instead, you can tell her in advance that you can't come because you don't celebrate birthdays and neither are you comfortable in that environment. If she is truly your friend she'll understand and maybe she'll change her party. Besides, even if you go to the party knowing that it wasn't right, you'll have to live through it with a guilty subconscious.
"Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another ... like the example of a rain whose [resulting] plant growth pleases the tillers; then it dries and you see it turned yellow; then it becomes [scattered] debris. And in the Hereafter is severe punishment and forgiveness from Allah and approval. And what is the worldly life except the enjoyment of delusion." (57:20)
The party might be the best one that you've ever had the opportunity to attend, but remember that the reward in the Hereafter will be far greater. Shaytan might delude you into thinking that you're missing out, but you're not. Like the plant's growth that pleases the tiller, your attendance might please your friend. But know that in the end, just as the plant became "scattered debris", so will your efforts in pleasing your friend.
3. Walking around the mall is your favorite kill time. You've been there since 12:00 PM and the colorful clothing the warm buttery pretzels have carried you away. Wow, what a day! Suddenly you get a call from your mom. Whatever, she can wait. She calls again a second time and your friend gives you a look, so you finally pick up. "Did you pray Dhuhr?" she asks. Whoops, and you only have twenty minutes left. Do you ditch your friends who have no idea what you're doing or just pray later cause ain't nobody got time? And even if you did ditch everyone to pray, where would you pray? At Victoria secret?!
Possible Solution: Would you rather ditch your friends now to go pray or ditch them on the day of judgment when it's already too late? If they don't know what you're doing, this is a perfect opportunity to let them know, but maybe after you pray. Also, there are a ton of places you can pray in the mall. Personally, I have prayed in a changing room and the parking lot. Especially if you go to the expensive and legitimate stores you'll find that their changing rooms are great. They have no music and sufficient privacy. Keep a prayer app or compass, find the Qiblah, make your wudhu and pray. Doing the right thing even if it looks weird will make you gain uncountable rewards and by respecting Allah, he will make everyone else respect you.
"But after them there followed a posterity who missed Prayers and followed after lusts soon, then, will they face destruction, except those who repent and believe, and work righteousness." ( 19: 59-60)
The scary reality of the situation is that if you show preference to the "colorful clothing the warm buttery pretzels ", you aren't going anywhere except a path of self-destruction and severe punishment, Wherever you go, make time for your salah and plan your day based on your Salahs, otherwise you will surely be amongst the losers.
4. You're sitting in class and you're head-on ready for the malfunctioned bell to ring. Fortunately, your gifted with a teacher who couldn't care less about what you do in class. While your waiting, Heidi, the new girl who you've been trying to get really close to comes up to you. The thing about Heidi is she is firm in her belief that everyone is very sensitive about race and religion and she always uses it as a way to get out of things. Anyways, she comes up to you like she is about to die with whatever energy is broiling in her stomach. She suddenly blurts out an inappropriate joke about your religion. Wo-ah that was unexpected, on top of that she can't stop laughing! You're close enough to her that you know she's only joking, but should you say something or laugh it off so you don't look sensitive?
Possible Solution: Knowing myself, I would probably laugh it off or offer a smart retort. But don't do what I would've done because that'll get you nowhere, trust me. When faced in a situation like this, just don't laugh. It'll make the other person quickly realize that what they said is not funny, even if it's sarcastic. Sometimes asking them to explain it will make them so queasy that they will realize the mistake themselves. And if they question your "religious sensitivity", say that it's not a matter of being a sensitive person rather it is a matter of mutual respect. Also, know that this person may not be the right person to hang out with. There is a fat chance that if she's making fun of your religion, even sarcastically, she will also make fun of someone else's beliefs.
"And if you ask them, they will surely say, "We were only conversing and playing." Say, "Is it Allah and His verses and His Messenger that you were mocking?" (9:65)
"And it has already come down to you in the Book that when you hear the verses of Allah [recited], they are denied [by them] and ridiculed; so do not sit with them until they enter into another conversation. Indeed, you would then be like them. Indeed Allah will gather the hypocrites and disbelievers in Hell all together " (4:140)
While it may not mean that you have to be overly sensitive, you should draw a line at what is acceptably funny and what isn't. Stand your ground because if you don't, then who will?
5. You're that one person who has created a timeline for their life after high school. For you, it's imperative to start college as soon as you can without taking a gap year. But your parents won't let you, because the only way you can possibly do that is by getting an interest. Ugh, what are you supposed to do?
Possible solution: If you sacrifice for the sake of Allah then Allah will make it worth your sacrifice and perhaps even more. You may plan something, but Allah is the best of planners. He can see what's in your future when you can't. So just trust his wisdom. If you have to, take a gap year and get some experience working somewhere or even doing deen related things to save up for college. A tip might be to also give as much charity as you can because Allah will reward you with even more money.
"The Messenger of Allah (SWT) cursed the one who consumed Riba, and the one who charged it, those who witnessed it, and the one who recorded it." Jami` at-Tirmidhi 1206
"...The Book of Allah, the Mighty and Sublime testifies to that: 'He accepts repentance from His worshipers, and accepts charity.'And: 'Allah will destroy Riba and give increase for charity."Jami` at-Tirmidhi 662
Don't wreck yourself and your future in both this world and the hereafter by chasing after something that is prohibited in Islam. Surely, Allah will put barakah, or blessings, in your time and efforts in and outside of college if you strive to achieve something in a Halal manner.
6. You're going to Bali for a family vacation. You're excited, but also kinda nervous. You're not nervous about the trip, rather you're nervous about the journey there. The thing is, all the women in your family wear hijab. You know that Muslim women, in particular, get it the worst at airports. And because you're trailing along with them, people are going to give you weird looks. As a man, people will look at you as if you are responsible for the modest clothing choices your sister and mom wear. You also can't go incognito Muslim anymore because you're stuck with the whole family, who is very apparently Muslim.
Possible Solution: The truth is that it's only embarrassing because you made it that way. In your mind, you already have misconceptions about the deen and what everyone else is thinking about you. If you don't want people to judge you and your family, don't judge them. And here is a tip: use this opportunity to get a feel for what the women in your family have to go through.
"Amazing is the affair of the believer, verily all of his affair is good and this is not for no one except the believer. If something of good/happiness befalls him he is grateful and that is good for him. If something of harm befalls him he is patient and that is good for him" Sahih Muslim #2999
Be thankful that Allah has made you amongst the believers and has allowed you and your family to represent Islam. Even if you feel embarrassed, seek forgiveness and stay patient and Allah will show you the fruits of your efforts.
7. You go to a restaurant with some of your friends and you stick with the vegetarian menu. But as you see your friends receiving aroma filled dishes, you can't help but drool a little. One friend then asks you if you want to try or order your own meat platter. You consider it, because what's really the harm? It's just a quick taste...
Possible Solution: Remember Allah is watching you. There is wisdom in not even eating a little bit. Shaytan will take that opportunity, make you get a little taste and then you'll want more and it'll snowball into something bigger.
And do not eat of that upon which the name of Allah has not been mentioned, for indeed, it is grave disobedience. And indeed do the devils inspire their allies [among men] to dispute with you. And if you were to obey them, indeed, you would be associators [of others with Him].6:121)
Don't fall into the same trap that your greatest father and mother, Adam and Hawa, fell into. It was just a small taste of what Allah had made unlawful for them that allowed Shaytan to take control.
8. As a Muslim girl, everyone is always associating you with oppression. All of your non-Muslim friends encourage you to break the stereotype. They empower you to do more. And to be honest, some of them are better than your Muslim friends. You want their lifestyle. Sometimes you kinda wonder, what if? What if I could wear their clothes even if they are a little snug? What if I put on a whole ton of makeup? What if I was a little more like them?
Possible Solution: You don't have to assimilate into a culture to feel empowered. There are ways to fight stereotypes, and one of them is to continue what you're doing and take a bold stance. Going against the basic principles of modesty in Islam does anything but empower you as a Muslim woman. Rather it is contrary to the basic teachings and your basic morals.
"And among the people there is he who sells himself for the pleasure of Allah, and Allah is kind to His worshippers." (2:207)
Don't sell your self short on what other people expect from you (beauty, clothes and attractiveness), but rather buy yourself into things that will please Allah (SWT), (charity, zakat, time well spent and etc). As a Muslim, you are representing every other Muslim out there. So yes you will stand out, and that's because you're making a statement. Don't let Shaytan win, instead let your Eeman take control.
9. You're done. Done with what exactly? People. Your friends want you to be more chill and not so uptight and focused on religion and school, while on the other hand, your parents want you to do the exact opposite? Everyone wants something from you and there is only so much you can give. You don't see a solution. And quite honestly, you can't keep living two different lives.
Possible Solution: Then don't. Sounds simple enough right? The thing to realize is that the reason that you're experiencing so much pressure is that you want to please both sides. You really have to identify all your goals and cross out the ones that don't match with what your religion tells you to do. Don't be uptight. But at the same time balance out your religion and your school. Because in the end if you focus on what really matters (your religion), everything else will eventually fall into place.
By which Allah guides those who pursue His pleasure to the ways of peace and brings them out from darknesses into the light, by His permission, and guides them to a straight path.(5:16)
10. Lately, you have noticed that the basic Muslim teachings that your parents have raised you with aren't what a majority of your Muslim friends follow. Some listen to Music and are allowed to do things that your parents would kill you for. But Islam back then is different from Islam now. The environment is changing so things have to be different as well, right?
Possible Solution: Islam is a religion that never changes. The beauty of this religion is that it stays the same despite the changing atmosphere. And especially because of the changing environment, it is important to stick to the thing you know is unchanging and not lean towards what other people are doing. As hard as it sounds, even if someone is offering you listen to music, stand your ground. You will not only gain more respect, but it will also be a form of Dawah to your friends.
And among them are those who listen to you, but We have placed over their hearts coverings, lest they understand it, and in their ears deafness. And if they should see every sign, they will not believe in it. Even when they come to you arguing with you, those who disbelieve say, "This is not but legends of the former peoples."(6:25)
Those who claim that Islam is too rigid and strict and was only followed by "former peoples" are surely the ones whom Allah has placed a covering over their heart. If you feel Islam is too hard then you're probably doing something wrong. Be sure to check your spiritual connection and how often you remember your lord. Islam stays the same and so does the word of Allah, regardless of it being 1832 or 3018.