“Mama, you remember Mo’min don’t you?” Zayd asks me with wide eyes one night before we pray ‘Isha.
“Yeah,” I nod as I recall the image of the well-mannered, pleasant boy who was Zayd’s friend in elementary school. He moved to another school after a couple of years and we only saw him and his family occasionally after that at local community events.
“Well he goes to my high school now but Mama, he’s different now. I mean really different.”
I look at Zayd’s unusual facial expression. I see disillusion, shock and perhaps a bit of hurt in his eyes.
“What do you mean ‘different’?” I ask earnestly.
“He says his mom kicked him out of the house and now he lives with his dad.”
“Kicked out? Lives with his dad?” I wasn’t even aware the couple had separated. “Are you sure this is the same Mo’min?” I ask stunned.
“Yeah, he told me what happened. He told his mom he was going out for a smoke and would be back in 5 minutes. Well, he ran into some old friends, took off with them, smoked with them and got drunk. His mom called the police who found him and took him home. But the next morning his mom packed up his things and told him he’s going to live with his dad.”
My stomach churns. Smoking…drinking… this surely isn’t the Mo’min I remember.
Zayd proceeds to tell me more.
“He says his dad threw him out too but his grandmother begged him to take him back because he has nowhere to go.”
Now I’m the one with wide eyes, staring at Zayd with disbelief. He nods to tell me this is in fact a true story.
“I saw him at school right before Jum’a so I asked him if he was coming to pray but he told me he’s not Muslim anymore.”
“What?” I blurt out utterly confused.
“That’s what he said.” More disillusion burns forth from his sad brown eyes. “I asked him if I should still call him Mo’min and he said, ‘Well that’s my name. Some call me Mo. Others call me Mo-man.’”
I shiver thinking about how his parents named their baby “Mo’min” i.e. “believer”. And now, 14 years later he stands before them and declares he is no longer that.
I feel sick to my stomach, stand in shock in front of Zayd and nonsensically ask a few times, “Are you sure this is the same Mo’min?” Then I search for the right response but discover none and my only words of comfort to Zayd are: “Make du’aa for him. He can get into some serious trouble. Make du’aa for him.”
And then we stand to pray ‘Isha and I feel tremendous gratefulness for the Guidance Allah (SWT) has blessed my family with and I pray that it is never taken away.
Afterwards I reflect on how blessed we are to have this guidance. I also feel a sense of fear too, not only for my own children but the other Muslim youth out there who will follow in Mo’min’s footsteps. What went wrong? How can we stop this? How can we help teens like Mo’min?
Mayce Ibraheem lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and two sons.