Adolescence and young adulthood have always been difficult times to navigate in a person’s life. Many of these difficulties are universal and timeless.
However, today’s Muslim youth are also facing a unique and unprecedented set of influences and challenges; these factors greatly impact the way their religious identity is developed. Here are some of the major ways that the young Muslims of today are receiving their religious guidance:
The influence that parents have over their children should never be underestimated, religiously or otherwise.
Parents have the power and responsibility to set a strong religious foundation for their children, especially through their own example. As these children and adolescents grow up, their character and religious practices are often a result of what they have observed at home.
This is another part of every young person’s life which will always have a huge affect on them, regardless of how the times change. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look at whom you befriend” [Tirmidhi].
When an adult looks back at their time growing up, the friends they had can be a source of pride for them, or a point of regret.
Google has a bad rap for being a place where some people go “fatwa shopping.”
But to be fair, many young people genuinely need answers or guidance and don’t know who else to turn to. Or they’re used to turning to the internet for answers about everything else, so they do the same for Islamic guidance.
Although not every youth has access to a masjid, many do — and it often contributes to fostering their religiosity.
The mosque, or masjid, can act as a school, community center, and place of worship. Youth groups, Sunday school, and religious leadership (such as the imam) can all have a tremendous impact on the religious mindset of a child or young adult.
This is the most recent contributor, but it has a dominant presence in the lives of most adolescents and young adults.
For the first time, anybody can access even the most prominent Muslim scholars, leaders, and speakers from the comfort of their bedroom.
However, as with Sheikh Google, the information uploaded on these platforms should be taken with a grain of salt. Young and impressionable minds should be guided and supervised as they navigate the massive online world.
What do you think are/were the main sources of religious guidance for you during your youth?