Why should you, a young Muslim, be helping to bring your friends closer to Allah? After all, you’ve got your own struggles to deal with: trying to explain to hostile teachers why you pray, Hijab discrimination, standing up in class when the professor attacks Islam, dealing with parents who think you’ve gone nuts because you’re growing a beard, or all the other difficulties faced by a number of practicing Muslim youth?
Islam was never meant to be an individualistic faith, reserved for the “chosen few”. Muslims have a duty to spread the Deen; and practicing Muslim youth, whether beginners, activists or leaders, have a crucial role to play.
Allah has put you in a position that perhaps no one else is in,you have the means to communicate with peers, and have an understanding of what they’re going through plus you have the guidance of Islam.
Who is your childhood friend going to listen to? Who is your childhood friend, who would rather spend Fridays at McDonalds’s than the Masjid, or your classmate who is Muslim in name and only knows that “Muslims don’t eat pork” going to listen to: the nice Imam of the Masjid who would freak out if he saw the way they were dressed and talked or you who may have grown up with them, joked with them, or see them everyday in school?
The answer is obvious: You.Don’t panic. Here are some tips and advice which can help. These are advises from other Muslims, many of whom have been there and done that:
Make Your Intention Sincere
All work we do should ideally be for the sake of Allah. That includes the task of bringing someone closer to Allah. That of course means this should not be connected to arrogance, thinking you’re the teacher and everyone else should be lucky you’ve embarked on a crusade to save them. Guidance is from Allah. Make Dua and make sincere efforts and remember Allah.
Practice What You Preach
Not practicing what you preach is wrong and you will lose the confidence of anyone, young or old, once they figure you out. Don’t do it.
Talk To People As If You Really Don’t Know Them
Don’t assume you know someone just by looking at them. You don’t know that the Muslim girl in your homeroom who walks through the school’s hallways as if they were fashion show catwalks, is not someone you can talk to about Allah because she looks like a snob. Or that the Muslim guy who you’ve never seen at Jummuah at your university is a “bad Muslim”. Maybe he was never really taught Islam and has no idea what importance Friday prayers have in Islam.
Did you know the Prophet was big on smiling? But many “practicing” Muslims seem to have “their faces on upside down” as one speaker once said-frowning and serious. Smiling, being polite and kind are all part of the manners of the Prophet, which we must exercise in our daily lives. If we want to approach others with Islam, we have to make ourselves approachable. Smiling is key to this.
But note that being approachable does not mean being flirtations with the other gender. There are Islamic rules for how men and women should deal with each other which have to be respected. Tabligh is no excuse to have long and private meetings with the opposite, for example set up a system where someone expressing an interest in Islam is referred to someone of the same gender.
Take The Initiative & Hang Out With Them
Take the first step and invite someone you may have spoken to a couple of times to sit at lunch together,pray together in the prayer room, or invite them over for Iftaar in Ramadan.
Also, share difficulties, sorrows and frustrations. Help with homework, be a shoulder to cry on when depression hits, or just plain listen when your friend is upset, discuss common problems and KEEP THEIR SECRETS. There are few things as annoying as a snitch and backstabber. But an important note: if the problem is of a serious nature, (i.e. your friend is thinking of committing suicide or is taking drugs), notify and consult an adult immediately.
Show Them Islam Is Relevant Today, Right Here, Right Now
Young people may think Islam is too “old fashioned” and not in tune with the modern age.
Prove this wrong. Show how Islam is really about relating to Allah, which any human being can do, anywhere, anytime. Allah is always closer to you than your jugular vein and He hears and knows everything. Encourage friends to ask Allah’s help during tests, exams, and in dealing with problems at home with parents and siblings. Also point out how Islam relates to teenagers: Islam gives you focus and an understanding of who you are and where you are going, which most of “teen culture” does not.
Get Them Involved In Volunteer Work With You
If you are already involved in the community, get your friend to help out. Ask them to make a flyer for one of your youth group’s events or brainstorm for ideas about activities to hold this school year. This involvement makes them feel part of the Muslim community and deepens your friendship, since you are now working together on something beneficial for both of you. Make sure you thank them for their contribution.
Ask Them 4 Fundamental Questions
As your friendship develops, you will notice the topics you discuss may become more serious. You may be discussing, for instance, future goals and plans. Khan recommends four questions to ask that can steer the topic to Allah and Islam:
a. Where am I going in life and what would make me really happy deep down inside?
b. What do I believe?
c. Who should I be grateful to?
d. Did I get to where I am today without the help of anyone?
Emphasize Praying 5 Times A Day Before Any Other Aspect Of Islam
A person’s main connection with Allah, on a daily basis, is through the prayer five times a day. Don’t emphasize any other aspect of Islam until your friend starts making a real effort to pray five times a day. Emphasize the direct connection one has with Allah in prayer. If they are facing a problem, tell them to pray, and to ask Allah for help in Salah and outside this time. When possible, make it a point to pray together during your “hang out time”. If your friend begins to pray, that is the first step to other aspects of Islam like giving up swearing, treating parents with respect or dressing Islamically.
Support Them Even When They Become More Practicing
Remember, just because a person starts practicing Islam more regularly, this does not mean everything will be okay from this point onwards. There will still be hard times, difficulties. There may be times when your friend may have doubts about his or her newfound practice of Islam. Be there to reassure them.