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The pressure of being a Muslim teen – 7 Tips

The pressure of being a Muslim teen – 7 Tips

The pressure of being a Muslim teen - 7 tips
How to navigate interactions with non-Muslims at school.

A Muslim teen asked: “I’m Muslim and I go to a non-Muslim school, and everyone thinks I know everything about Islam. It’s annoying. What should I do?”

Thank you for asking this very important question! Here is the reality that many Muslim teens do not like to hear: once it becomes known that we are Muslim (wearing the hijab, having a name that *sounds* Islamic, etc.) whether we like it or not, we are representatives of Islam wherever we go.

This means that whatever we do or say – good or bad – will likely be interpreted as part of the Islamic creed, even when it is not. While you might think that this is not fair or that it is too heavy of a burden, it is still our reality. 

Therefore, accepting this reality is the first step in making this easier on you insha’Allah, because you cannot change reality, you can only change yourself. And then, what? Keep reading for some practical tips!

The pressure of being a Muslim teen – 7 Tips

Here are some tips to help you out:

1. Make dua

Ask Allah SWT to increase you in patience, in understanding, in strength, in knowledge. At the end of the day, we cannot achieve anything without Allah’s SWT will, might and power. As we always say, never underestimate the power of dua!

2. Educate yourself about your deen

No one on this earth can possibly know everything about Islam, even the greatest scholar – let alone a Muslim teen. So, it’s always okay to humble ourselves and say “I don’t know” even when we fear we might be laughed at. But we should also always be progressing in our knowledge of the deen. Listen to lectures, sign up for an Arabic or Quran class, go to your local mosque when they have lectures, ask your imam when you have questions. The point is to follow the command of Allah SWT by asking Him to increase you in knowledge (20:114).

By the way, we should all be doing this, no matter what age we are or whether people are asking us questions about Islam or not. This is just part of our duty towards ourselves as Muslims. The point about educating yourself about your deen is not to become a Shaykh and have answers for all questions asked. There will still be questions that you can’t answer and that’s totally fine. 

3. Be patient with others and ask Allah SWT to guide them

We know that this will be extremely difficult at times, especially when you can definitely tell that their question is not genuine. But try to understand where they are coming from. Many people ask questions or mock others when they are afraid. And they are often afraid when they are ignorant about a given topic. Or possibly when they have had a previous negative experience with a Muslim teen or person in general. Sometimes, they think they know and they want to prove a point.

Either way, getting annoyed with them will serve no good. However, it is okay to politely ignore them if they are just trying to be mean or insult you. If this is happening on a regular basis, this is called bullying and you should immediately report it to an adult you trust.

4. Be mindful of your words

If you don’t know the answer to a question that someone has asked you, it is better to just say that. It is better to tell them that you will ask a knowledgeable person and get back to them with the appropriate answer. If you do know the answer, realize that while some things are normal for us as Muslims, it might not be normal for someone who doesn’t follow our creed. They might therefore be confused, shocked or have another strong reaction.

5. Be even more mindful of your actions

You might have heard the phrase “actions speak louder than words” – well, it’s definitely true! You can use words all day long to talk about Islam and answer questions. But if your behavior, your actions, your attitude don’t align with what you say or preach, then it’s better to keep silent in the first place.

Think about small things: listening when someone speaks and not interrupting and turning in your assignments on time. Additionally, not cheating during tests, not using foul language, keeping your emotions in control, advocating for others, helping someone who is struggling, greeting and thanking people. No one is perfect, but, as Muslims, we have to try our best to be a good example in society. Chances are, if your attitude is good, your classmates will be less tempted to ask you annoying questions and become more genuinely interested in Islam.

6. Don’t make things too hard on yourself

We don’t want you to walk away from this article thinking that the weight of our entire ummah rests on your shoulders! We are only responsible for our own actions within our own perimeters. And, as long as we try our best and are sincere with Allah SWT, that’s all that matters.

“Trying one’s best” will look different from person to person. Maybe for someone, it will be to keep calm when someone asks them an annoying question about Islam. Perhaps for someone else, it will be to direct the person to someone else to ask the question. For yet another person, the very fact of having to interact with the questioner will be beyond what they can do.

Find what works for you. For instance, if you are more of an introvert and communicating with others on these topics makes you very uncomfortable, think about having a pamphlet with you with some frequently asked questions about Islam that you could give when someone asks you something.

7. Do the same with Muslims

While the question here was specifically about a Muslim teen in a non-Muslim environment. Remember that we should also apply these rules in our interactions with our Muslim brothers and sisters. Especially those who are looking up to us (think about your little sister, brother, your younger cousins, or the Muslim kid who happens to be your neighbor).

This is not about showing off to others or trying to impress them with our good character. Striving to be the best version of ourselves in all situations is what is pleasing to Allah SWT. So let’s try and apply these principles in all of our interactions, whether with non-Muslims or Muslims insha’Allah.

What are the challenges faced by Muslim youth today?

Some of the main challenges that Muslim youth face today include: Cultural Challenges, not being understood, temptations, identity issues, bullying or harassment, and trouble fitting in.

May Allah SWT make your school life easy on you and guide you in your deen, Ameen!

Got questions? We’ve got answers! Reach out to us at magazine@studioarabiya.com to ask a question about Islam and keep an eye out for a response in a future magazine issue insha’Allah!

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This article was originally published in our Studio Arabiya Times magazine (Fall 2023). CLICK HERE to read the whole magazine!

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