Dear Muslim millennial,
I know how you feel. As a Muslim millennial in the West, it’s harder than ever to define who you are, what worldly success means to you, and the role Islam should play in your life. Once in a while, you just want to fit in.
There is a dizzying array of options and plenty of distractions in the world. Your friends keep talking about that TV show they just binged on Netflix and you don’t want to be left out, but it has haram scenes in it. Everyone seems to be wearing choker necklaces and looking cute, but you can’t because your hijab would cover it. You know why you can’t do these things and you are totally okay with it, yet you can’t help but feel a little sad sometimes.
It gets trickier when it comes to your career. You work really hard get one of those internships that are supposed to jump-start your career, and everything is great until you realize you have to mix with the opposite sex and attend “networking events” in order to get the job. When you eventually get the job, you discover that you have to go for “drinks” with your teammates in order to feel like an actual part of the team.
It all started when you were in high school and starting to realize the value of fitting in. Everybody was doing one activity or another – drama, music etc – but you couldn’t join in because they were either haram or too close to haram. You decided to try sports until you realized that you have to wear extra clothing in order to cover your awrah and you would end up looking different from everybody else.
You leave the outside world and try to find solace on the internet. Everybody is posting selfies of some kind but you were told picture-making is haram. But if you don’t put up a picture, your friends keep asking you why you don’t have a profile picture. If you do post one, it never feels good enough in the ultra-competitive social media world.
Not to mention, everybody you know is in a relationship and posting “cute” pictures on social media but you have to wait till you are financially established or old enough to get married – and even then, you won’t be allowed to date, especially not without a mahram to chaperone. All the while, your classmates won’t stop talking about how “in love” they are.
You are not alone. I am a millennial too, and I feel these exact temptations.
You were hoping to be a graphic designer/game developer/sculptor one day until you were told that these career paths could be possibly haram because you will be developing images. You also have to stay away from careers like banking or VR development, even though they are high-paying, seemingly exciting careers.
Eventually, you get to college and everybody is wearing makeup and looking “lit”, even some hijabi sisters. You get seriously tempted – after all, it is not totally haram, right? And you sometimes have acne that embarrasses you. You end up realizing the acne is the real you and the makeup isn’t.
When you go for conferences or seminars, you have to make sure to ask if the drinks are alcoholic and if the food has pork before consuming anything – even if everyone else is eating the same thing. You also have to keep track of time, so you can excuse yourself for Salah – even if your favorite speaker is about to take the stage – because in the end, we return to Allah.
(And let’s be honest, despite the fact that you know why pork is haram, it gets so much attention that you sometimes want to try it – though you plan to never eat it, in sha Allah.)
And the list goes on and on…
But you are not alone. I am a millennial too, and I feel these exact temptations.
I don’t know that it gets any easier. I don’t know how to make it easier. It’s just the world we live in today. It’s not easy feeling like you have so many different expectations to fulfill from different circles, especially because many of them conflict with one another.
Our time will come too, in sha Allah. The difficult sacrifices of this life are temporary, and there is a beautiful light waiting at the end of the tunnel. Jannah (Paradise) is for those who patiently persevere.
Allow your daily prayers to be a source of refuge from the continuous onslaught of a world that’s trying to crush and change you.
In the meantime, the only advice I do have is: Don’t give up your Salah (5 daily prayers). It’s easy to think it’s just Salah and, “I’ll pray after I’m done watching this movie,” but don’t. Even if you compromise everything, don’t compromise your Salah.
The Prophet (S.A.W.) said, the only distinction between “us” and “them” is Salah. Salah is the defining action of believers. Don’t give in to the Shaytaan’s whispers. Hold on to your prayer. Allow your daily prayers to be a source of refuge from the continuous onslaught of a world that’s trying to crush and change you.
“Relieve us with prayer, o Bilal” – Prophet Muhammed (S.A.W.)
And don’t forget, actions will be judged according to intentions. Let us keep our intentions as pure as possible, and may Allah forgive our mistakes and accepts our acts of ibaadah. Ameen.
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