Where are the Muslim youths?

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In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

Surah Al- Rad (13:11) “Verily, Allah does not change the condition of a people until they (first) change their ways and their mind.”

Few days ago, I listened to a sermon by Yasir Qadhi titled “Mobilising the Muslim Youth: Strengthening Faith, Fostering Action” on the after effects of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Muslim ummah. The sermon touched on how Islam suddenly became a whipping dog of the West based on the actions of few Muslims who have decided to interprete the Quran as it suits them.

That discussion will be saved for another day as it exposes the “religious profiling” stance of the West.

While we are aware of the number of Muslims in the world today and the continuous growth of Islam (actually the fastest growing religion in the world), there is the immediate need to groom knowledgeable Muslims. Most of us today, who are Muslims, were handed the Muslim badge by our parents. We are actually following what our parents did without studying Islam as we are expected to.

While it is noteworthy and reassuring that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, there is the need to create a new breed of Muslims with knowledge. Islam is an intellectual religion and it will be difficult to be out there if we do not strive for Islamic education and knowledge. A process is incomplete until value has been handed to what is being passed down a chain.

How many of us has sought knowledge about what we recite every day during Salah? How many of us are aware about the etiquettes of Islam as regards association with members of the ummah? Do we have answers to questions like “Islam supports terrorism” aside the meaning of Islam being peace as our only defence? Do we even know the root meaning of the word “Islam”?

Recently, I watched a movie titled “Dagger”. A beautiful movie with an interesting story line which was well interpreted by the casts especially Suara who played the role of Baba Wahid. Kindly pause before we all get carried away by the storyline of the movie. The movie centered around a drug lord, Baba Wahid, whose main source of livelihood was the sale of Indian hemp which we call “Igbo” in this clime. What I found riveting was that most of the names used in the movie were Muslim names. Names like Wasiu, Wahid and Tajudeen were the kind of names that were bandied in the movie.

Sadly and truly, the movie captures the current situation we find many of our Muslim youths today. In Lagos today, if you take a stroll and count ten street urchins, seven or more will end up being Muslims.

Then this takes us to the way forward.

For me, education, knowledge and publicity for the Muslim youth is a way out of the quagmire that we find ourselves. We need to seek knowledge, listen more, research more and publicise ourselves no matter the career path we have chosen. We need to work towards fighting the tag associated with Muslims as backward, dirty looking and uneducated set of individuals. We need to create a common front that exhibits the knowledge that the Muslim youth carries. We need to ride on the number that we have to create a mass movement of change towards portraying Islam the way it really is.

The elderly Ulamahs and Sheiks have carried the banner for long. It’s hightime we all began to show interests in spreading the beautifiul message of Islam. We should begin to create a new front of “Professional Sheiks” amongst us.

I look forward to the day we have our own young knowledgeable Sheik Yasir Qadhi, inspiring Mufti Ismail Menk, confident and incredible Sheik Hamza Yusuf, appealing Yasmine Mogahed and result oriented Haleh Banani.
I trust that we can make the change, add value to what we have learnt and permeate Nigeria with the beautiful message of Islam.

As for me, I am tired of being told I do not look like a Muslim. Don’t get me wrong. Invariably, what you are being told is “you don’t look or speak like those backward people.”

May Allah ease our affairs and make things easy for us.

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