MV: The age of Youth in Islam, is crucial. A turning point for many, and the years where you find your identity-or loose it. The hardest part of all, is making the right friends and having the right influences. This post is probably one of the most personal reflections I will have ever posted. Its basically a reflection of my past and how I became who I am today. How I found my identity.
I wasn’t too social as a child. Being an only child for 9 years and not to mention, I was bullied in school. I didn’t have too many good friends or you could “real” friends besides a couple. Because of those reasons, I had almost no confidence, I considered myself a loser at times and thought that others thought the same. It was hard growing up, alhumdollilah though, it could have been a lot worse.
It was then that my Mom decided to put me into a madarsa (or Quran education classes) at Medford Masjid, New York. I can’t thank Allah (swt) enough to bless me with my mother, as it was then that I started to build more confidence, good friends and my identity. At first, it may be extremely obvious, but I was really against going (as most likely any other 12 year old would be). The whole thought just bugged the heck out of me. It wasn’t the whole idea of learning the Qu’ran, it was the whole “meeting new people” and having to deal with them almost everyday (Monday-Thursday) deal that turned me down. Most of all, like any kid, I thought it be boring. However, your mother is almost never wrong. It was a clear factor of changing my life and it was the beginning of the whole new world I was going to be introduced to.
Most of the kids at the madarsa were from really good environments and so they were of really good nature. The friends I made at Medford madarsa are still one of my good friends of today. I was slowly building confidence but there was still one thing I had left to find, and that was my identity. After a few years, it was then that one of my good friends approached me about joining an “Islamic Youth Group” or better known as, the Muslim Boys Youth Group. “We have these youth group meetings at Selden Masjid Fridays at 6, you should come.” At that point in time, I was more confident and I did have more courage, but one of my biggest enemies was laziness. I just didn’t feel like going, or taking my time out to join the group. My friend asked every week, and my response was always, “Yeah I’ll try to come.” On a fair note though, I did want to go, but it just never crossed my mind sometimes and I would forget. In around the 6th time he asked me to come, I told myself, “Don’t be a jerk, just go, see how it is, don’t let your friend down again.” And so I went and just like that my life changed.
I remember the first meeting was just pure awesome. Each week we would meet for around 2 hours and we would have a small Islamic talk that would relate to the youth with a toast of basketball. My friend, who was also the ameer (leader) of the group did amazing lessons that he would always somehow relate to the youth. Slowly, I felt myself build a solid confidence in myself. The one thing I loved about the group was that no matter who you were, or how much of a nerd you were (in this case, being me) you were never made fun of. Everyone was treated as equals, no one laughed at you if you said something stupid or acted a certain way. I found really good friends (some of the members were the same from the madarsa) who started out as being friends and then became my brothers. I also learned a really important lesson, you could still have fun and be a good Muslim (not that I’m honoring myself, but from observing the other youth). In an Islamic thought, I was saved from making bad friends and being pulled into a bad environment. Many of the youth these days are into drugs, alcohol, adultery and God knows what else, but alhumdollilah I was saved because of the Muslim Boys Youth Group. Without it, I would have been lost.
After a few years, I was alhumdollilah given the position of leading the group. In the years following to my leadership, I was almost in grasp of my identity, but not completely. For those who have been in a leadership role, you know its a lot different then just being a member. You see the group in a broad sense, almost like looking at the vast sea from far away, instead of being the fish that swims in the ocean. I faced many hardships and learned that being the leader was not easy. But the best thing was, I found my identity. I learned from my past and leadership role that I had a duty to play, a part of the whole. I wanted to be a person who could help other youth come to the Masjid and help build confidence in them. I wanted them to find a solution and help find their identity.
After moving from the city I grew up in, in New York, I moved to the Dallas area just last year. In order to help further achieve my goals, with the help of the community and Allah (swt), I was alhumdollilah able to establish a youth group in Frisco, Texas. May Allah (swt) help other youth find their identity, Ameen.
I found my identity.