Dear Muslim youth,
You are going through some of the toughest years of your lives right now. I am not many years past your age, so I vividly remember the struggles and want to acknowledge them.
Things can get confusing. School, friends, crushes, temptations, family, mental health, and self-esteem issues… I know it can get overwhelming at times. You might feel like nobody understands you, but that’s not true. All of us have been there to some extent, although some may have forgotten what it was like.
You are not less of a Muslim if you mess up. You are not less worthy of respect if you struggle or fall. Allah doesn’t expect you to be perfect, and neither should the people around you.
Never give up on your faith or on yourself. This age can suck at times, but it’s also beautiful in a way. Some things are out of your control, yes. But every day, you are making choices that are shaping who you will be in the future. The best choice that you can make is to stay firm on the path of Islam. You will thank yourself for it later, I promise.
The Prophet (saws) said that one of the categories of people who will be shaded on the Day of Judgment are young people who grew up in the worship and obedience of Allah. The easiest way to be from that category is to keep up your connection with Allah and have good Muslim friends.
What helps me keep a consistent relationship with Allah is salah, Qur’an, and especially heartfelt du’a. I wish I had made Allah my best friend when I was growing up and realized that He is the only one who will always be there for me no matter what. He is the only one who always understands what you and I are going through.
Remember that you will only be this young once. You will never have a chance to re-live your youth. There are two ways that this can be taken: Some see it as a reason to “live it up” and adopt the YOLO mentality; these people regret this decision later on in life, in one way or another. Others try to live in such a way that they will look back on their youth fondly when they are older. When you are 30, 40, or 50, will you look back at the person you are at your current age and be proud of the choices you are making every day? Will you be able to proudly tell your children that you spent your youth trying to please Allah (swt)?
Try your best not to fall into temptations like dating, alcohol & drugs, clubbing, etc. If you feel the need to do so, know that something is wrong. The only way to deal with it is to acknowledge the root of the problem, which is often that we feel something is missing. If you chase happiness through these means, the empty feeling will not go away — it usually just gets worse. Go for contentment and stability, not fleeting moments of happiness. And the way to attain contentment is to live each moment for your Creator.
If you are struggling with something serious like body image and/or self-esteem issues, mental health problems, self-harm, addictions, or suicidal thoughts, please reach out for support . It’s not easy; it actually takes a lot of courage to do so. But it’s worth it to be brave and get help. Life can get better inshaAllah. You don’t have to deal with it all by yourself.
Realize that even though you are young, you are still a servant of God and will return to Him. None of us know when He will take us, but when we are young, we often forget that the Afterlife is the ultimate reality. When I finally realized the weight of this truth, I wondered why I hadn’t thought about it before. Happiness and success are great (if acquired through halal means), but they are not the purpose of this life. After a person dies, it doesn’t matter how many friends they had, how cool or fashionable they were, or what their salary was. What will count is whether they were conscious of God, tried their best to please Him, and were good to His creation.
I also want to let you know that if you are going through a hardship, it does not mean that Allah doesn’t love you or that He is punishing you. This whole life is a test and even though it may not seem like it at times, every single person has problems. Personally, hardships just increase my desire to get to Jennah (Paradise). I look forward to being in a place where there will be everlasting peace after all of the struggles of this temporary life.
If you ever find yourself comparing your life to someone else’s, realize that there is no point in doing that. Even a person who seems like they have everything is dealing with issues that other people may not know about. Nobody’s life is perfect. Sometimes the people who seem like they have the best lives are falling apart inside. We should be grateful for what we do have rather than constantly thinking about what we wish we had.
Lastly, I want to give you guys major props for how amazing you are. You give me hope. When I see one of you praying in the masjid, helping your parents around the house, saying “no” to something haram, or just being a kind human being, I am amazed. I think it’s admirable that even in this day and age, you are strong enough to do things like that. And Allah sees you and your efforts and won’t let them go to waste. Keep being awesome.
Your big sister in Islam,
To contribute to the “Letters to the Ummah” series: Visit the “Contribute to MM” page for more information, and submit your letters to MostlyMuslim@gmail.com.