Muslim Youth experiencing identity crisis

Answered according to Shafi'i Fiqh by

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, SunniPath Academy Teacher

I feel that pakistani & indian muslim youth in USA are experiencing some sort of an identity crisis. They identify themselves similar to the Hispanic &/or Black gangsters, & then as Muslims. The language they speak is unislamic. I came across various web pages on the internet belonging to muslim youth, and I was shocked at the content they have written about themselves. They say that they belong to MSA (Muslim Student Association), and they write profanity, extremely unislamic things. I came across a website belonging to someone. I know those teenagers’ parents, but not so well. Is there something I can do to help or maybe inform those teenagers’ parents? The problem is that their parents don’t quite understand English, and they may not even realize that their kids are headed in the wrong direction, which could end (at least for the son) one day in prison. The worst thing si that their parents seems to be very religious people, and I don’t know just about how to approach this….

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

In the Name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful.

Dear Questioner,

I pray this message finds you well.

In this situation, it is best to give the person the benefit of the doubt. What you have observed on this person’s webpage may not be an accurate representation of how this person behaves in “real life.” Unless these teenagers are involved in gangs or violent activities, then it’s probably better not to talk to their parents.

What is your relationship to these youth? If you are on good terms with them, why not befriend them and give them some brotherly/sisterly advice? Commanding the good and giving sincere counsel to our fellow Muslims is an important part of our deen.

If you feel that they may listen to the Imam, then you can bring it up with him. Perhaps he can address the issue in a khutba.

Also, this may be a good time to think about getting active with the MSA. Why not help them set up some functions for teens? It sounds like these youth need positive role models. The best way to learn Islamic adab, or etiquette, is to keep company with people who are upright, knowledgeable, and pious. Make an effort to expose these youth to a better environment.

Last but not least, if you are certain that these teens are involved in something dangerous, then you should go to their parents.

And Allah knows best.