Bint Assalaam – Cii Radio | 4 June 2014/5 Shabaan 1435
Leading a double life means being Muslim at home and being someone else at school or university, at work or in other circles. Those who can relate to leading a double life have probably done it or do it to varying degrees. Being raised a Muslim does not always translate into being a Muslim all of the time, especially if one’s approach is to adapt to the un-Islamic environment that surrounds them. This is something millions of Muslims experience around the world, particularly the Muslim youth.
Often there is a guilt associated with living a life against the teachings of Islam. Sometimes the guilt can be so overwhelming that it pushes you over the edge to accept the “other” life. In many cases it is purely by the infinite mercy of Allah SWT that you are saved from falling into an eternal abyss or you are pulled out of it. Three Muslims spoke to us about their “return” to Islam and how building a commitment to Allah SWT at a young age is important to prevent children from becoming slaves to their environment and peers.
“I grew up in Pakistan and received an upbringing of “secular” education and Deen,” says a 24 year old student who immigrated to Canada when he was 10. “Canada is a strange place. You have the freedom to express your faith… Unfortunately, Canada also offers its citizens the freedom to do much wrong.”
“In my passion to learn about Deen I started writing Islamic Poetry. When I became senior in the field, I did not find many Muslim venues that appreciated my style of poetry, and was being invited to many non-Muslim events. I started performing at non-Muslim venues for “Dawah” purposes, venues which showcased new and upcoming artists, alongside musicians and dancers. Some shows would even serve alcohol and go on until two ‘o clock in the morning. I even joined a community radio station which discussed music, and other forms of entertainment. There was a time when I could not even understand the fast paced rap lyrics, but I found myself memorizing and free styling my own. Even though deep down inside I knew this was impure, I assured myself this was for Dawah and for a good cause, as I mostly performed for community and charity events.”
An entrepreneur told about how she lived a life of music and dance. “There was no dance routine I didn’t master. There was no song (I liked) that I didn’t sing to perfection. I adorned provocative dress and exuded sex appeal in my persona all because it was cool! I rolled my eyes at people who spoke openly about God and religion, but I would also console myself with those who seemed “too much” as far as inappropriate behaviour was concerned. This continued for years…”
“The saying “old habits die hard” comes to mind; this means someone may find it particularly difficult to change their behaviour after doing something for a certain length of time. If you live a life of social extravagance, alcohol, drugs, gambling and fornication, it will be difficult to imagine a life without them. But once you receive Hidayatfrom Allah, you become determined to change come what may. Don’t think that just because you want to change the enemy will leave you alone. No! He’ll use every trick in the book to remind you of THAT life, he’ll still make attempts to beautify it so that you defy Allah SWT.”
“When I began university it was difficult for me to fit in. My shyness never left me, I was very quiet and I found it extremely difficult to socialise. I joined a writing club thinking it would help me break out of my shell. And it did,” says a 28 year old writer. “I met people who didn’t think me weird. I made Muslim and non-Muslim friends. When we were together you couldn’t even tell the difference. But just because people accept you, it doesn’t mean they’re good for you. My friends used to tease me when I wore the headscarf, ‘you look like a good Muslim girl’, they’d say. Going to a bar and not drinking is just as bad as going in the first place. My outlook on life and Islam changed to the point where I wasn’t two people any more. The other me was starting to show at home, with family. It reached a point where my mum told me she didn’t know who I was anymore.”
This isn’t far from the reality of many young Muslims today. The changes often begin at school or University where almost a third of one’s day is spent in the company of those who lead lives different to a Muslim’s, to those who are often accepting of things a Muslim isn’t. But this is not always the case. Even people who attended an Islamic school or who were brought up knowing what’s permissible and what isn’t, have experienced the “double life”.
Those who shared their stories all agreed that parents play a huge role in not losing our youth spiritually and morally and building strong Muslim identities. They all also agreed that we as parents, friends, families, and leaders in society need not only educate about the laws of shariah. More stress needs to be placed on encouraging a deep love for Almighty Allah SWT, a love for our blessed Rasulullah SAW and his sunnah, a love for the Quraan and Sahaabah RA, and an acknowledgment of the reality of aakhirah.
Often the other life and its pursuits take precedence. Getting good grades in school and studying exams are seen as more important. Parents and society in general pay more attention to the external successes of youth and those are readily encouraged rather than encouraging the pursuit of Islamic knowledge and work in the community.
“I guess it was the drunkenness of fame, or the thirst for having a voice which allowed me to continually justify what I did,” says the poet. “I wish I had an explanation for what happens next. I had always wanted to become an Aalim, and for some reason Allah (subhanahu wataalah) accepted me to study His Deen in South Africa. Since then I have really found my habits changing, and my false ideals being flushed out of me. I was later discovered by a teacher of the Madrassah who encouraged my writing interests, and have just finished writing the preface of our first translation. May Allah forgive our insolence and guide us to the right path. Ameen.”
“You have to be determined to win the battle against shaytaan’s plots,” says the entrepreneur, “You have to give him as little ammunition as possible. If you dabble in sin long enough to make it a habit, you have a tough job ahead of you trying to reverse it!”
“Sometimes the bad effects are noticeable physically and other times it may be a question of morals and integrity. So by sticking to what’s Permissible can save you years of “cleaning up”… You must have Sabr (patience) and make Shukr (thanks) to Allah for allowing you the opportunity to prove to Him, that you WILL change! You WILL win!”
“The trick is not escaping the dark, it is in following the Light. So remain steadfast, fill your day with as many productive things as possible to prevent you from entertaining temptation. I hear music everywhere I go and once in a while I break out into dance (in private). But as soon as I reprimand myself, I make Shukr to Allah that In Sha Allah one day, I will be immune to it. I see myself as better off now then before. Be Allah conscious from as young as possible!”
“Parents always say ‘their kids will grow out of it, let them be, it’s just while they’re young so let them make their mistakes’,” says the writer, “But we don’t grow out of bad, you either get ripped out from it or it swallows you up whole. Kids are like seeds and Islam must be used to root and nourish those seeds so that what grow are good Muslim trees that bear wholesome fruit and fragrant flowers.”
“You have a lot of gratitude when you realise that Allah SWT pulled you out from a never-ending hole, Alhamdulillah, Allah SWT is Most Merciful. You wish you could go back and love Allah SWT and Nabi Muhammad SAW and commit completely, give all of yourself to our beautiful Deen from day one. It’s easy to say we all make mistakes and that’s how we learn. But what if you don’t get a second chance? The young also leave this world.”
The advice of a mother of five, all huffaaz of the Quraan and studying Deen, the youngest who recently also completed his hifz at the age of seven, “Don’t let your kids become too attached to things in this world. Surround them with Islam. You can’t expose them to things like TV, music, cartoons and inappropriate books and let them enjoy it at a young age and then expect them to stop once they become answerable for themselves. You can’t expect them to suddenly dislike the things you helped them like. We have two evils – shaytaan and our nafs – and one good angel. We have to help make the good stronger than the evil.”