Reaching out to young Muslims through social networks
In order for parents to understand the kind of effects of freedom-seeking, vulnerable and inquisitive minds possessed by children nowadays and which should not be taken for granted, the following real life situation will convey the message:
A father screamed and his son of just about four years asked him: ‘Daddy, what happened?’
The man answered: ‘That uncle that came sometime ago is dead.’
The boy asked: ‘Who killed him?’ and the man replied: ‘God, of course.’
Now, bewildered, the boy asked: ‘Why did God kill him?’
The father had to start thinking of what to tell the boy that will not make him have an impression that the Almighty God is wicked.
Someone may want to say that the level of ‘Whys’ can continue until the stage of self-evident truth is reached.
However, the point is: God save you if you dare ask your own parents such questions in the past!
The incident described above shows the audacity children of nowadays have to ask any question under the earth and if they are not satisfied, they pick answers on the street, the Internet, television, and so on.
Indeed, no matter the absurdity or incorrect ends of such answer, little wonder why it is easy for some youths to fall prey to terrorist recruiters.
As regards the issue of religion, which seems to be falling victim to bad propagation due to lack of proper ways of making the it attractive to youths, many think that having born them into Islam makes it compulsory for the children to practice the religion without questioning.
However, it is the prayer and wish of any parent that his children inherit all his cherished values, including his practiced religion while he was on earth.
With the present situation between Muslim parents and their children, it is obvious that there are increasingly different world views occasioned by so many factors, which invariably affect the orientation of the present crop of youths.
The chief factor is the effect of Information Communication Technology (ICT) on youths.
Today, the youths have access to ‘free’ and unhindered torrent of information on the Internet without their knowing how to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Other factors include the youths’ possession of independent-mind tendencies, obsession for aesthetics rather than functionality, among others.
However, we need to ask this pertinent question: ‘When did we get it wrong?
We got it wrong when we failed to realise that there are new frontiers in dawah (religious propagation).
For long, we have continued with the old method of showcasing our Din (religion) to our young ones.
We got it wrong when we start taking our young ones for granted by refusing to communicate with them and by having the feeling of possessing universal knowledge and refusing to adopt a strategy said to have been recommended by one of our foremost leaders, Sayidina Ali (RA), even though, the writer is still trying to confirm the authenticity of this saying.
Yet, this writer finds in Sayidina Ali’s saying a strong correlation between it and the statement of the holy Prophet Muhammed (SAW) that says: “Order your wards to pray salaat at the age of seven years….”.
“The fourth Khalifah, Ali (RA) advised us to play with our children till the age of seven, to discipline and teach them from the age of seven to 14 and to befriend them at the age of 14 years and above.”
We got it wrong when we started feeling that we have the same world views with our youths when this is absolutely untrue!
We got it wrong when we felt that their voices are not necessary, instead of asking them what their needs and aspirations are and, consequently, find ways of making them do our biddings by using elderly wisdoms or , at times, coercive means of whipping them into line.
A poet /writer reportedly says: “If your child takes things that do not belong to him or her, it is because, when you buy them things, you don’t let them choose what they want.” (Tirukkural by Tiruvalluvar (a Tamil poet/writer)
We got it wrong when we did not realise that gone are the days when a big Sheikh would be reported to have said something about religion and not be challenged. Nowadays, no name is big for our youths for his view not to be questioned.
It does not end there. We got it wrong when we started having little time for our children to teach them the moral values of our religion and we got it wrong when we never bothered to create fora for our children to interact with their muslim peers.
We got it wrong when we did not create avenues for our youth to have access to scholars in their environment and the youth have to resort to contacting the now popular “Sheikh Googles.”
As a matter of fact, we need to realise that now, those children are at our mercy by Allah’s permission and grace. We may end up being at their mercy at our old age and that religion we cherish and practice will not be easily facilitated for us to practice and eventually after death, who will be there to send Suratul Ikhlas to us?.
Therefore, the time is now to correct the anomaly by making our religion attractive to our children.
A popular aphorism among the Yorubas that “Oro t’omode o base, koni pe ku” meaning: “Any festival done with the youth excluded will not last,” aptly underscores the urgency with which we should address the issue at hand.
However, as part of efforts to correct the situation, NASFAT organised a camp programmed tagged: Reloading the Din for Young Muslims last March Peninsular Resort, Lekki-Ajjah Expressway, Lagos.
The lead facilitator of the camp, which was targeted at Muslim children, was the erudite scholar, Mallam Nurudeen Lemu of Islamic Education Trust/Dawah Institute of Nigeria, Minna, Niger State of Nigeria.
Three courses – Doubt-clearing and Intellectual Vaccination; From Islam by Chance to Muslims by Choice; and Living Islam with Purpose – were held in addition to the adapted version of a popular book on motivation and leadership titled: “Seven Habits of Highly Successful People” by Stephen Covey.
Some of the objectives of the programme included: to instill confidence in the children about their choice of Islam as a matter of intellectual choice, thereby, making them Muslims by choice and not by chance; to make Islam more attractive to them by letting them see the flavour of Islam as a religion that is rationally sound and purpose-driven; to provide them answers to some of the misconceptions that some of their peers, Muslims and non-Muslims alike have about Islam; to provide answers to critical issues, concepts and questions, which they may find to be faith-shaking , conscience-disturbing, irrational about Islam; to give them intellectual vaccination against some of the concepts of Islam that have been deliberately distorted and misconceived by some Muslims and non-Muslims like Jihad, terrorism, gender equity; to create interactive forum for them with their Muslim peers to share thoughts, ideas, views and ultimately network and to increase their capacity in leadership and general personal development.
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