Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Youth and Religion

Subhanallah, it's great to see such a young Muslim so educated and convinced about the truth of Islam and belief in Allah! Mashallah Tabarakallah!

By Hadiyah Stephens
The 16 year old author of The Written Word Blog

~ Why do you believe what you believe? ~

How could I not? I’ve read about other religions in depth and I’ve studied Islam extensively. Through my research I’ve always found myself drawn to Islam. It’s ‘right’ for me. Any issue or question or problem I face I can be sure to find the answer in Islam; whether it is in the Qur’an or in the Hadith and Sunnah. I’m confident in my beliefs and I know that they will continue to serve me in my everyday life.

~ Who has influenced your beliefs? ~

My parents have played a huge part in developing my belief in Islam. They started me in the path of Islam and have also encouraged and cultivated a deep love of reading, researching and exploring not only Islam, but other religions such as Christianity. Because of this I would say that I’m stronger in my faith than I ever would have been on my own. I’m thankful for this every day.

~ Have you always believed this or were you ‘converted’? ~

All children are born innocent and as a Muslim. They grow up yearning for a chance to learn about God. It’s their parents, guardians and role models that shape them into any particular religion. My parents converted shortly after I was born and as a result they were particularly dedicated in my siblings and my religious education. As far as I’m concerned I’ve always practiced Islam, I’ve always been a Muslim and I’ve always believed in my religion.

~ Why do you think young people are losing interest in religion? ~

I think the reason that the youth are losing interest in religion because there has been less of a focus in teaching religion in children than there was say 40 years ago. During that time religion was taught in school, practicing religion was allowed freely and most of all it was respected. Religion was a socially accepted life choice.
     Now strict laws have been passed in order ‘to protect children’s rights and prevent indoctrination’. These laws inhibit the practice of religion, the discovery of faiths and their cultures and almost shun away the idea of a religion and a god. Perhaps even more devastating is the loss of self-awareness. Children and youth these days don’t have an idea for how they are, and what their purpose is. You can see repercussions of this in the youth of today. There is no interest in religion, no knowledge of respect and no desire to learn. Because of this the discipline and world knowledge that comes with religion has fallen away. I do believe the problems with the youth today stems from the lack of religion and the sense that every action has a consequence that will affect them.

~ Is there more that religions can do to increase Gen Y (youth) involvement? ~

To attract the younger generation’s religion could take itself out of the church or the temple or the mosque and specifically target the youth. Although these buildings are extremely important I believe their place is in the second stage of someone’s religious journey. Firstly they need to feel like this religion has something for them. In order to get the youth interested in religion it needs to appeal to them, it needs to speak to them in their ‘language’ as such.
     Some examples would be interactive workshops, tours of religious youth centres, meetings with some age-relevant people from different faiths and through mediums that specifically target them as the youth. I really feel that to attract the younger generations religious establishments need to speak to the youth’s interests and likes, not just the wider community as a whole.

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