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Staying True to Yourself.

By Abdullah Tariq

It is often said that this new generation, of which we consider ourselves to be a part of, sometimes even with a certain degree of pride, has to face different challenges than the previous ones. As a part of this new generation, often referred to as the ‘Millennials’, we face a unique challenge because of our Muslim identity which is to preserve it and still thrive in a world whose norms and values are often contradicting with what we’re supposed to value, feel and do as a Muslim. 

As young human beings, we are instinctively pushed to try to feel as a part of a whole, a valued member of a community and being recognized as someone who has successfully ‘blended in’ among our peers. This sounds not so difficult to do so, right? Well, not so right when the people around you, specially your family and friends don’t share the same values and ideals as you. This can happen to you or to anyone who is trying to or wants to preserve his/her Muslim identity in the meantime. This happens when things that are considered fun, entertainment, cool, normal or okay are in a head on collusion with the Islamic values and principles. And when you’re surrounded in an atmosphere like that, you might start to feel that nearly everything out there is haram or ‘not right’. You might forget that it’s not that everything is forbidden or haram, rather what little is forbidden/haram has been spread everywhere. Couple your strong temptations with this external pressure, you might start to feel weak, question your approach and even start to budge and completely fail to comply to the Islamic values you hold scared deep down. How to whether this internal storm?

Here are a few basic tips which can help you navigate the challenges you might face:

Know Allah Almighty

Sounds cliché, right? We already know Him, believe in Him and worship Him, then what does this mean? Knowing Allah means knowing His divine attributes. It helps you determine what He wants from you and why. Knowing Allah will help you discover how much He loves you and how He wants the best for you, how He is not hard on you and how He is not there to get you and punish you, as He says in the Quran: 

“What would Allah do with your punishment if you are grateful and believe? And ever is Allah Appreciative and Knowing.” (Surah an-Nisa, 4:147)

Once you have this frame of mind, the dos and don’ts of the Shariah start to appear as a blessing and a means to a greater end instead of a burden.

Know Your Enemy

Allah is on your side but Shaytan isn’t. Make it a purpose to know the tactics of Shaytan which he uses to weaken you and lure you into sins. Allah says:

”Indeed, Satan is an enemy to you; so take him as an enemy…” (Surah al-Fatir, 35:6)

Once you are able to learn how Shaytan ties you down emotionally and psychologically, you will be at a better position to navigate his threat.

Allah SWT has better!

What’s in store for the one who avoids all the glitter and glamour for the sake of His Lord? Know that Allah is considerate and fully acknowledges and rewards the effort done for His sake. We just have to have a little patience and not expect all the rewards to come to us in this dunya. Allah says: 

Say, “What is with Allah is better than sport/entertainment and a transaction, and Allah is the best of providers.” (Surah al-Jumu’ah, 62:11)

Have a ‘Band of Brothers’

Or sisters, if you are a sister yourself. Find company of practicing individuals and stick with them. You have no idea how much it helps. It serves the need of you needing somewhere to belong to, to relate to and someone to have fun with. A good friend is just like a perfume seller. Once you start frequenting his shop, you will evidently start smelling great and that will happen without you doing much effort. Practicing friends will impact you and make subtle positive changes in your personality, behavior and demeanor. They will stir you towards good, they will lift you up when you are spiritually down and they will serve as an anchor which will keep you stable in the face of temptations and desires. My own life is a testimony to that. And after years of being involved with such people, I look back and witness that how such a company directly and indirectly played a role in me preserving whatever little deen I have. I realized that practicing deen is so much more easier and fulfilling while being with a good company as compared to being a lone warrior. 

They lied to you!

When they told you YOLO (You only live once!). They lied to you. These four letters represent an entire philosophy of life. Rather it’s YOLT (You only live twice). This life and the life after that. Realize that no matter how colorful and comprehensive this life appears, we are not here to stay. We are answerable and this life is only a test. Nothing more, nothing less. We are not free to do whatever, we won’t be left alone to do what we may, Allah says:

“Does man think that he will be left alone?” (Surah al-Qiyamah, 75:36)

Do you know that these proponents of YOLO will have a painful realization on the day of resurrection and they will finally realize that the only true life is what is now in front of them and the worldly life was just a short flash as compared to what is now to follow. Hence the ones who led a hedonistic lifestyle and ‘lived it up’ at the expense of faith will say on that day:

“Oh! How I wish I had sent forth (good deeds) for this life of mine.” (Surah al-Fajr, 89:24)

Once, this realization sets in during this life, it will become much easier for us to avoid haram temptations no matter how attractive they appear.

May Allah allow us to remain steadfast on His Deen (faith) and may He allow us to hold on to the Islamic values and ideals above and beyond all worldly charms.

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