Outcast. Boring. Restrictive. Uptight. Unfashionable. Words often associated with Muslim teenagers, particularly the girls. Personally, I feel like the ages between 14-18 are possibly the most difficult time for all Muslims and a major part of this difficulty is the fact that many adults refuse to spend time addressing this issue as they toss these problems under the term “phase”, leaving the teenager to get on with their life, as they expect them to magically once again find the road of righteousness.
Unfortunately, this “phase” is where many regrets are stored, many sins are committed and many faiths are lost. I as a 16 year old, do not have any solutions nor do I have any answers, I am yet a lost soul clinging on to my faith as I slip and trip upon sins but all I have to offer right now, is an insight to the difficulties that we are facing today.
After my GCSEs I was separated from my friends as some of us went to a sixth form, some to college and some to private institutions, yet weirdly enough we all struggle fitting in, some more than others but we generally find comfort around Muslims. I understand how it feels When every single teenager around you is partying on weekends, speaking about getting “high”, when every day the girls at your school change their hairstyles, looking incredibly good in their shorts, skirts, tights, and when everyone around you goes out just as your curfew begins.
I understand. I understand how it feels when you sneak make up into your bag, start listening to trivial music, and desperately try to find a mutual topic to speak about with your classmates. I understand that feeling of disappointment when you get invited to go out late and you know that you must put your parents’ wishes and your religion first. I understand how frustrating it is to be asked constant questions about your scarf “how long is your hair” “do you always wear…that?”. I understand how awkward it is when someone says terrorist and everyone slyly looks at you and awaits for a reaction and I most certainly understand how crappy it feels when your parents, elder siblings, aunts and uncles fail to understand you.
The biggest struggle, however, In a century where kissing, dating and experiencing has become a crucial part of the cultural milieu, is that it has become increasingly difficult to stay grounded, discover yourself independently and most importantly to hold on to the sacredness of love. Suddenly not giving your number to the opposite gender makes you seem “weird” and “uptight”, people begin to back off because they feel as though you are unapproachable and “too religious”. Although you may believe that everyone fails to understand your pure intentions let me tell you something, everyone in fact can see through the purity of your intentions however these very intentions are the fuel that ignites their guilty conscience and so to suppress their embarrassment they resort to alienating you.
Nonetheless, I appreciate your courage to stand by your religion, to hold firmly on to your scarf although you’re confused as to why you must wear it. I appreciate your obedience to your parents, and most importantly your obedience to the laws that Allah has laid, that although following the right path is deemed “uncool” and “not fun” and the lingering thoughts of you “missing out on prime teenage years” you still swallowed back your disappointments, insecurities and frustration determined to keep going. I want to let you know that you are truly worth of admiration because I understand how this world of twerking, making out and a strong backdrop of atheism is not where you belong. The fact that you are struggling the same way I struggle every morning gives me hope that one day – together – we will find comfort and contentment in what we believe in. Well done.