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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Moving Past Adversities: #1 Dealing with Isolation

It's not easy being a girl in any society despite what the American media would like us to believe.  From body issues to drugs to bullying to teen pregnancies, navigating adolescence  presents the type of challenges that are monumental.  And many decisions that young girls make in the time it takes to type a text message have long lasting negative repercussions even though our young girls haven't even reached fully maturity and understanding. So now let's pour Islam into the mix ......can you feel the tension, the misunderstandings, the tears (of parents), and the never ending questions and fears?   I do because I went through it too as a young Muslima! How do we as mothers, sisters, friends, and elders help our daughters move past so many adversities that are apart of  the tests and trials of life and develop their Islamic identities to become confident Muslim women?? Sheesh, Umm Juwayriyah, that's a tall order! Rocky Road ahead, any takers? Today we are going to discuss isolation and some tips to alleviate it.

Enter The Unknown: Isolation

Check the scenario: There are a couple of girls hanging out in the local masjid's lobby. They're laughing and joking and just chillin' with each other. Another young Muslima comes into the masjid's lobby and spots the group of girls. The all politely smile and offer the salam. The young girls walks off to make wudu then goes into the musallah to offer Asr prayer. When she completes her prayer she sits inside the musallah waiting on her family. The group of girls enter and offer salatul Asr as well. They  finish their prayer and leave right out of the musallah. Never extending an invite to the young sister sitting alone......

Point: Isolation hurts!

When our daughters feel isolated by their peers, it can cause an erosion of their self esteem. Unfortunately, today many Muslim youth are dealing with isolation. Yet,  Muslim families and communities have not devoted much, if any energies into addressing this serious issue. Some Muslim families don't even value companionship for their children. They overwhelm them with Islamic lectures, Qur'an and hadeeth memorizations, and tagging along to various conferences hoping enshallah to fill up their void with something seemingly beneficial - yet often they are causing more harm. Sometimes parents throw Islam on so thick, it suffocates their children and  they begin to resent some of the most beautiful aspects of Islam, if not Islam in its entirety.

We don't want that! Islam is not a punishment or  a billy club either. It is a complete way of LIFE (you know, for the LIVING) and our daughters have to see it lived: with joy, love, fun, companionship, honesty, and all the real things that bring fulfillment to our lives. Companionship is a huge part of life, especially for young girls battling their way  through puberty. Girls are hard wired social beings. Our daughters NEED to fit in some where, to share and to be encouraged with good.

However, the reality is, even when we as Muslim parents are on board with the understanding that all of our children (Yes, including your sons) need social lives, the town or city that will live in just may not have enough Muslim youth for our children to form bonds with.

What then?  I've compiled a short list of really simple - common sense ideas that I really hope some of you will try out and let me know how it goes:

#1 Dua (Supplication) - Yep, it is the best weapon for the believers and Allah has instructed us saying (what means):  "You Alone we worship and You alone do we seek for help" Qur'an 1:5 
Pray for your daughters that Allah grants them good companionship and that He makes them good companions for others as well. In every salat and in the last third of the night, invoke Allah and ask Him to give to us and them that which is better for us. And even more important is that we encourage our daughters to do the same for themselves. 

#2 Travel  - It doesn't have to be a long journey. Often traveling 30 minutes to an hour to another community where there are more young Muslim girls and teens the same age as your daughter will suffice.  Allah says (what means): Say (O Muhammad ): "O My slaves who believe (in the Oneness of Allah Islamic Monotheism), be afraid of your Lord (Allah) and keep your duty to Him. Good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world, and Allah's earth is spacious (so if you cannot worship Allah at a place, then go to another)! Only those who are patient shall receive their rewards in full, without reckoning." Qur'an 39:10 Monthly activities with a welcoming and vibrant group of youth might not seem like a big deal to you, but it could mean the world to your daughter in developing a positive outlook on Islam and Muslims in general.The idea is build positive associations with Islam and Muslims by cooperating and interacting with Muslims who remind us of Allah and all of His great bounties. If Allah has blessed you with the ability to get your daughters out of a isolation or worse, a toxic community - do it, even if it is just once a month! You might find a new friend too!

#3 Pen Pals - It's old fashion and may seem a little corny to preteen and teens in the beginning, but I'm telling you that once they find a good match and they start receiving letters from their pen pals, it will soften their heart, enshallah! Who doesn't like good news? Exactly! And you can encourage them to spruce it up by not only sending emails or texts on their cellphones, but to write real snail mail letters on pretty stationary! Ask around to your own companions in your town and online, and even put an ad at your local masjid to bring in a larger pool of pen pals. 

 Enshallah, try all three simple ideas to alleviate isolation in your daughters. If it seems like none of the ideas are working quick enough, go back to #1 and increase other ebadah, right? And don't forget to be  friendly and loving with your daughters! Teens needs hugs and kisses too. Keep their spirits up and remind them to trust in Allah to send aid! Please do let me know how things work out and if you have any other tips leave them in the comments sections and I will add them to the blog!

Next post in the M.P.A series: Mean Muslim Girls....