YOUNG Muslims - Role Models

While reading up on linguistics, I happened to come across an interesting article written by a Muslim linguist, Dr. Omar Afzal. The article is entitled “Rethinking America's Muslim Youth” but I believe that the article is relevant beyond the United States. I have seen evidence that the same ills which afflict American Muslim youth are also a significant threat in South Asia. After all, they are exposed to the same TV shows and music. They are both living in societies which increasingly look down upon traditional values.

“The real world of school discipline is a rough and tumble place where students practice newly learned vulgarities, erupt with anger, tease and embarrass each other, share offensive notes, flirt, push and shove in the halls, grab and offend.”

U.S. Supreme Court Justice A.M. Kennedy

Dr. Afzal’s article lists “a few tips for the Muslim parents and community elders” but what I especially liked about the article was that he included a list of Muslim role models for our youth to emulate, two of which I have listed below:

Ali (RA) was very young when he accepted Islam. He was assigned the task of arranging for a feast for the elders of the tribe. The strategy was to feed them first and then introduce them to Islam. Ali remained in the forefront all his life despite extreme poverty and lack of resources. He did not worry about his own life in difficult circumstances. When the Messenger (PBUH) asked him to occupy his bed for the night he left Makkah for Medinah, Ali was fully aware of the danger. The enemies had decided to kill the Messenger. Sleeping in his bed meant almost certain death, but he was willing to take the risk.

Mus'ab b. Umair was a handsome young man, son of rich parents, who enjoyed all the comforts of a wealthy life. Islam made so deep an impression on him that he abandoned the advantages of his social position and comforts. Those who saw him in earlier days of his youth could not believe the depth of his commitment to Allah that made him go through the rigors of hunger and poverty. It was he who was deputed by the Messenger (PBUH) to go to Medinah add teach Islam to the newly converts of Aws and Khazraj.

Dr. Afzal listed several young role models, but having included limited information about some of them and because of his use of the word “conquer” I was reluctant to list the last three. I think he should have provided more of a context for their military actions. It is not enough to say they are heroes because they conquered lands or people. Between television, playstation and dysfunctional families, our children see enough violence. They need to learn when violence is acceptable and necessary.

In addition to Ali (RA) and Mus'ab b. Umair, he listed:
• Usama b. Zaid “conquest of Syria”
• Muhammad b. Qasim “led the Muslim army to India’s gateway”
• Musa b. Nusair “conquests in N. Africa. He conquered Spain”

Dr. Afzal also noted that “Rafi’ b. Khudaij was another young kid who tried to look taller and was given the chance to participate in the most crucial battle of Islamic history.”

As a teacher and a mother, I would greatly appreciate links to further information about the last three on the list.

Furthermore, I would like to invite YOU to suggest more young Muslim role models, from our glorious past and from modern times.

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