In part 1, I explored the reasons why Muslim teenagers lose their connection to Islam due to their parents/grandparents emigrating from a Muslim country. The detrimental effects of ‘immigrant assimilation’ on our kids, can easily go undetected, I only realised it when I began studying the topic. In this post, I want to explore some other factors that are contributing to making our kids think and behave more liberally.
A lack of Muslim friends or good Muslim friends
Alhamdulilah, globally the Muslim population is enormous. According to a study in 2015, Islam has 1.9 billion adherents, making up about 24.8% of the world population. www.pewresearch.org. This data is four years old, as you know, we Muslims love having babies, so the figure is probably 2 billion now!
Although we are huge, in Europe and the US, we are a minority. If you don’t live near a masjid or have a Muslim community nearby then your kids can’t attend Quran classes/ Islamic studies classes where they can become friends with other Muslim teenagers. Whether you like it or not your teenager’s friends have a bigger influence on them then you do.
Hadith about friends
Abu Huraira reported: The Prophet, (saw), said, “A man is upon the religion of his best friend, so let one of you look at whom he befriends.”
Abu Musa reported: The Prophet, (saw), said, “Verily, the parable of good company and a bad company is only that of a seller of musk and a blacksmith. The seller of musk will give you some perfume, you will buy some, or you will notice a good smell. As for the blacksmith, he will burn your clothes, or you will notice a bad smell.” Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhāri
As a high school teacher, I noticed the different cliques that formed in year groups. These friendship groups would have the same ‘look’, speak the same, go to the same parties, listen to similar music. Basically, follow a set of unwritten rules, if you wanted to be part of the group you would have to conform. But I think we all know this; we’ve watched the movies and once upon a time we were teenagers.
So, if our kids don’t have good Muslim friends then unfortunately, they end up mimicking (in varying degrees) their non-Muslim friends’ behaviour. i.e. gossiping, dating, swearing, disrespecting their parents and teachers, dressing immodestly, experimenting with marijuana. Our kids are under a lot of pressure to behave like an average non-Muslim teenager. Maybe you’re thinking, my child doesn’t do that, and inshallah I hope you’re right, and I am wrong. However, again as a high school teacher I witnessed the chameleonic behaviour of Muslim teenagers when they came to parents evening with their family. It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic.
Are European, UK and US governments openly Islamophobic?
Successive UK governments, both Labour and Conservative, have targeted Muslims through endless ‘anti-terror’ laws. There have been around 10 pieces of legislation since the year 2000, all giving huge powers to the state, which have fuelled a media hysteria even though in most cases no crime was committed. This has created a distressing and harmful backlash towards Muslims, especially women and children.
The so-called ‘unbiased free press’ and the government raise Muslim issues and the ‘terror threat’ for political capital, in particular in the run-up to a general election. Exploiting public fears about security and immigration. Both deflect attention from crises in the economy and health service but are crude and divisive tactics, where the big parties inevitably try to outdo each other in their offensiveness.
Do Muslims get a lot of unjustified negative press?
“Why does this happen though? Let us not kid ourselves. Stories that play on the public’s fears and feed their prejudices are popular, especially at a time when more than half of British people see Islam as a threat to western liberal democracy. These sentiments might well be shared by journalists at the newspapers concerned.
Of course, it is almost impossible to know for sure the motivations behind the coverage. Yet it is hard to explain away front-page news stories such as the Sun’s “One in five Brit Muslims’ sympathy for jihadis” (ruled “significantly misleading” by the press regulator Ipso). The Times’s “Muslims ‘silent on terror'” (a view not shared by senior counter-terrorism and police officers). The Daily Mail’s “MPs’ anger as Christian girl forced into Muslim foster care”, a story accompanied on Mail Online by a doctored photo. How are we supposed to understand the fake “Islamic plot” to take over schools in Birmingham in many papers; and the Telegraph and the Sun falsely suggesting that two Muslims were responsible for a “Trojan horse” plot in Oldham?” Miqdaad Versi
The net result is that Muslim teenagers are bombarded with negative news about Muslims and that knocks their confidence.
Liberalism is presented as a nice easy-going, alternative way of life
Previously I spoke about secularism, Liberalism is another all-encompassing idea that is subtly changing the way our children think. Let me give you a little background information about Liberalism. It’s an overarching philosophical system which came about 300 years ago in Europe. Liberalism sought to replace the corrupt laws of hereditary privilege, Christianity, absolute monarchy, the divine right of kings and traditional conservatism.
Liberals believe morality, being good or bad depends on maximising freedom and maximising personal choice. This became the predominant system within Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. The founding fathers of Liberalism were secular and began arguing that we do not need religion and God to tell us what’s right and wrong, we can figure it out on our own. We can use a rational means; we can use scientific means to determine what’s going to maximize our freedom and what is going to maximize liberty. So, this became the dominant thought system or worldview within Europe at the time. All of the politico-economic, moral philosophies that came later are heavily influenced or are in fact a part of Liberalism.
For example, Capitalism is a liberal philosophy, why because it also wants to maximize human liberty and human choice. So, all the different ideologies that we see today i.e. Feminism, Modernism stem from this all-embracing doctrine. Globally, every non- Muslim country has adopted and promotes liberal values.
The effects of liberalism on Muslim teenagers
“Liberalism is a political and moral philosophy based on liberty, consent of the governed, and equality before the law. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but they generally support limited government, individual rights (including civil rights and human rights), capitalism (free markets), democracy, secularism, gender equality, racial equality and freedom of religion.” Liberalism Defined
Superficially, the definition above makes being liberal and holding liberal views sound pretty good. After all, it stands for freedom of religion. It’s tolerant. It advocates equal rights for men and women. It’s against racism. It’s pro-choice. However, on closer inspection, liberalism is telling our kids they have the freedom to believe in Allah, but they are also free to choose to obey Him or disobey Him: it’s their choice.
Open-minded liberal laws include…
- Legalising drugs
- Freedom of speech includes the right for a cartoonist to draw derogatory cartoons of our beloved prophet Muhammad (saw)
- Euthanasia and suicide is a personal choice
- Prochoice means women have the right to abort their 24-week-old fetuses.
- Making prostitution acceptable
- Gender equality doesn’t just include equal pay for men and women but also LGBT rights. So, if your child wants to change their gender identity then you should support them.
I could keep adding examples, but I think you get the idea. As far as Muslim teenagers are concerned, I believe liberal ideas are confusing and influencing them massively. European Christians have wholeheartedly embraced liberalism and their teenagers are disenchanted with religion. Inevitably this leads them to becoming agnostics or atheists.
As Muslim parents, we need to wise up to the fact that liberalism isn’t some academic topic only relevant in the university classroom. It is THE central viewpoint of the societies we live in. It’s impacting our teenagers spiritually, morally, socially, and intellectually and we need to counteract it.