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Sunday, November 28, 2004

So what they got that Islam don't got?

What's the lure? What type of carrot is at the end of that stick? In as
much as our Ummah is growing, via converts and immigrants, we seem to
be losing our youth: those born into "Muslim households." The disease is
easy to identify. Sisters and brothers, let me present to you the new
Muslim youth, strutting down "society don't understand me" avenue. The
image is all too common: low slung pants, over-sized shirts, a slouchy
walk and an ear full of (fill in ubiquitous music group here).

Sounds harsh? Over exaggerated? Too paranoid? How about this: Muslim
children cutting high school, being thrown out for carrying knives,
thinking beer is halal! Now, I know that this sounds like another "Brother,
lend me your ear so that I can tell you about our children"
introduction. Nope. This message goes out to all of you "don't nobody be
understandin' what I be goin' through, cause don't nobody be knowin' 'bout me on
the real tip!" teens.

Whether you know it or not, slick, your soul is in a struggle between
this world and the next. I'm here to ask a simple question: "So what
they got that Islam don't got?" What is this great elixir that Puff Daddy
promises? Oh, Puffy is for punks? Maybe you be likin' Nas instead.
Tha's dope right? Question: "What have any of them done for you? What will
they do for you?" Any answers? Really? Let's check them out, together.

1) "These people really know where I'm coming from. They know exactly
what I feel." Thrilling. Some guy or girl whom you've never met, may
never meet, knows exactly what you're all about. The only thing these
"entertainers" care about is money. Dr. Dre, when asked about being a role
model, had stated: "Man, I'm here to get paid." You have to realize
that it's easier to manipulate someone when you know what it is that that
person needs. And for teenagers, that's easy. Talk about the pressures
about being too young for real responsibilities yet too old to be told
what to do, and you've pretty much described the universal dilemma.
Once you know what a person needs, you feed into that. There are people
who capitalize on others, those who feel the need to take advantage of
someone. For such people, love and understanding is conditional. "Get to
know more about me if you buy my records, see my concerts, rent my
films, wear my t-shirts..." You need to relate to someone who doesn't ask
anything from you in return except respect. You need a love that's
unconditional: "It was We who created man, and We know what dark
suggestions his soul makes to him: for We are nearer to him than (his) jugular
vein." Surah 50:16 Imagine that. Imagine someone knowing something
about you because they actually know you! Actually care about you! And
the one condition? Respect. That's easy enough, right? The funny thing
is, this Someone deserves respect. "For what?!" you may ask. "For
creating records?" No. "For creating videos?" No. Try...for creating
you. And you are worth something, right? You need to steer away from
image and focus on substance.

2) "These are my peeps. They gots my back and all." So let me get this
straight. You'd rather belong to a GANG of fifty or so rather than an
UMMAH of 1.5 BILLION? Nice odds, huh? Let's see. I'd have to go through
some initiation, learn secret handshakes and/or just aqueous to trivial
gossip about nonsense just so that I could flash a few "signs." That's
down right ignorant. When you really think about it, there really is no
basis for such trivial garbage. Realistically, most of your "peeps" are
not going to get "your back and all" because they'll either be in jail,
heading towards the penitentiary, dead or just wasting their life with
no real chance for growth in the future. Is this the end all be all for
such people? Of course not.

The problem lies when you place such a heavy responsibility on a person
who (9 out of 10) can't even take care of themselves. "If they become
Muslims they shall be rightly guided but if they turn back, you need not
worry, because your sole responsibility is to convey the Message. Allah
is watching all His servants very closely." (Surah 3:20) Do you
understand that? We have a responsibility to ourselves and our Creator. We're
talking about a connection with anyone in the world based on faith! Not
nationality. Not gender. Not regional area. Faith! A faith that
transcends time. Your Islamic history goes back over 1400 years. 1400
years! And you know what? It's going to keep on growing. So while you'll
hearing about all of the gangs that have come and gone, ask yourself:
"What mark have they left? Who have they salvaged?" Let me break
something down for you. You're going to die one day. It's inevitable.
When it's your turn to stand before the Creator of the Universe, who's
gonna get your back then?

3) "They be keepin' it real, yo. They 'bout it, 'bout it." How real is
the pathetic acquisition of a car when Allah (swt) has promised you the
world? The world!! The problem with a lot of people (adults included)
is that they fall in love with things. Liking an object isn't so bad.
We're human, after all. However, when your happiness is based on an
object that can be destroyed, stolen or become obsolete, there is a problem.
The only thing that is worth investing time in is knowledge. Think
about it; as you grow, so does your knowledge. No one can take away what
you've learned, but it can be twisted. That's why you have to focus
yourself on nourishing thoughts. Keeping it real is being aware of your
place in this world and the next. It does not mean wearing big clothing!
You wanna be a man, and you can't fit into your own clothes. You ain't
even grown! Explain your gear...one pant leg up, one pant leg down?!
Walkin' with a limp, tryin' to show people that you're "bad." It's
stupid! The need to establish an identity is understandable. However,
when your individuality is based on looking like others, it's
degrading. You're keeping up with the Jones' as opposed to keeping up with the

4) "This is the real me. They know my come from." For all of your cry
for a sense of individuality, you look just like every other kid who
shaves the sides of his head and wears big pants. There is no real
individuality in the way one looks. If someone hasn't already come up with the
idea, they're doing it some place else in another part of the world.
That's the real you. Strip away your facade about being hip, and you have
a boy or a girl who's, inshallah, trying to do the best with what Allah
(swt) has dealt them. That's right: dealt you. You have a purpose in
this world. There are many people in life who have no clue what they want
to do with their lives. Be aware that as a Muslim you have a role to
play. You have ready made jobs waiting for you. You can heal people:
doctor, counselor. You can guide people: teacher, a good parent, political
leader. You can make advances within science, technology, business,
etc. And your foundation? The moral values and determination found in
Islam. Now, are you going to try your best in this "test," or are you
going to struggle? Think about what's waiting for you: Paradise! The
real you is the manner in which you handle, approach and use the life
that Allah (swt) has given you, not the clothes you wear or the lyrics you

5) "Man, it's just plain fun. Straight up, son. No doubt." Hanging out
with your "dogs" getting the "digits " from the "honey's" and running
away from authority is "mad dope," right? If this is the case, you're
just another hoodlum. Typical. Always trying to fit in with people who or
may not accept you the next day. Your Creator will always except you.
"And if he draws near to Me an arm's length, I draw near to him a
fathom's length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed."
Hadith Qudsi 15. However, you have dues to pay. When you pass away, and
you will, there are only three ways to continue to earn blessings: build
a place where people can continue to learn (school, Masjid), write
something that will teach people about living an Islamic life (novel, text
book, computer program) or raise a good Muslim child who will pray for
you. It doesn't get easier than this. If you have money and a good
heart, build a school. If you're poor but have knowledge, educate others.
you have neither of those traits, at least raise a good Muslim child.
Is that "plain fun"? It can be. When you know that you've accomplished
something more in life than just "hanging out," it's worth it.

Some teens who read this might feel: "Huh, this guy doesn't know what
he's talking about. It's not like that at all. I'm not like that at
all." But how far away are any of us from such temptations? I could go on
and describe those teens that are completely lost, but I'm sure that
you are familiar with a least one of these people. Next, you think I'll
say, "It'll be alright. Inshallah, there is hope for all of our kids.
It's just a phase they're going through." Well, you're wrong. Sorry
to be the one to tell you this. Not all of us are going to make it.
It's a wild world out there.

"And if he draws near to Me an arm's length, I draw near to him a
fathom's length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed."
Hadith Qudsi 15



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