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The Youth Outreach Program of Muhammad (sal-Allahu ‘alayhi was-Sallam) Part 4

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Please read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 before proceeding. Also there is a post on MM from a few months ago about best practices for youth outreach. Please contribute your ideas to that thread, especially if this series gives you some new inspirations :)

At the end of Part 3, we saw clearly who the youth at the time of the Prophet (saw) loved and admired – these were their role models in every sense of the word. They followed and emulated them.

In the case of children, especially young ones, the example they emulate most is that of their parents.

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Children learn mostly by example. You cannot teach your child to fast while brushing crumbs from a Krispy Kreme donut off of your beard. You cannot teach your child to be honest, while running a ‘cash only’ business and cheating the government. And of course, you cannot teach them to pray while being neglectful of it yourself.

In Saheeh Muslim, the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said:

“A man will be brought on the Day of Resurrection and be thrown into Hellfire. The inhabitants of Hellfire shall gather around him and say, ‘O so and so! What is wrong? Were you not the one that would tell people to do good and tell them to stay away from doing bad?’ He shall say, ‘Yes, I used to command people to do good but I would not do it myself, and I would command people to stay away from bad and I myself would commit it.'”

The severity of this warning stems from the harmful scars that cut into a child’s personality when he sees his role models doing wrong and not doing what’s right. By us not following what we claim to believe in, we could be causing the destruction of dozens of lives on the Day of Resurrection.

Now, if this is the case for children when they are young, what about when they are older? The answer to this question is something I did not realize until I was married, living on my own, and had my own kid. Only then did I get the ‘yaqeen’ of the situation. Despite a child’s (or youth’s) utmost attempt to differ from their parents they will inevitably revert to the example of their parents – especially when faced with a situation they have never before encountered. How to handle family finances? How to run your household? The only example you have is the example you were intimately raised with. Whether you like it or not, at some point you will follow it.

Therefore, there is a huge onus on the parents of our ummah to understand their role as a role model, and to make sure they not only set a good example, but point out other role models for their children to look up to. Anas (ra) was brought up in the household of the Prophet (saw), but had an intense love also for people like Abu Bakr (ra) and Umar (ra).

Most Muslims now will say, well obviously, our role model is Rasoolullah (saw)! Duh!

Indeed, Allah (swt) says in the Quran (the meaning of which is):

There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent example for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah often.

So yes, he is our role model, but he only serves as a role model for someone who has this belief, and awareness of the hereafter, and taqwa of Allah(swt).

We need to familiarize ourselves and our children with our true role models – the Sahabah. Take the stories of Abu Bakr, or the stories of Umar – they are full of examples for us. [I highly recommend Anwar al-Awlaki’s CD sets on both of their lives, they are indispensible.]

They are full of stories of belief, of how to act, how to give charity, how to deal with hardship, how to honor the deen, how to persevere, how to have patience, almost anything you can think of, we have examples from the Companions.

Take this story of Ibn Umar (ra) for example,

Allah’s Apostle said, “Amongst the trees, there is a tree, the leaves of which do not fall and is like a Muslim. Tell me the name of that tree.” Everybody started thinking about the trees of the desert areas. And I thought of the date-palm tree but felt shy to answer the others then asked, “What is that tree, O Allah’s Apostle ?” He replied, “It is the date-palm tree.” Umar said that if he had answered it would have been the most beloved thing to him!

Here we see an example of a dynamic parent/child relationship. We see the focus of this household, and who this youth was sitting with and emulating.

What about now? Who do our children emulate? Obviously, it is celebrities and musicians and other entertainers. The fact that our kids (and maybe most of us) know more about Britney Spears and her sister’s illegitimate child then we do about Musab bin Umair or AbdurRahman ibn Awf speaks volumes about where our attention is.

If you want to know who Muslim kids in general take as role models then do this: Go to a big Islamic conference, and just take a sampling of the jerseys the youth are wearing, and which athlete’s shoes. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize the real role models of our youth are Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Carmelo Anthony, and until recently, Michael Vick.

Just a jersey? Maybe. But it speaks volumes that a Muslim will go into the blessed position of sujood to come close to Allah, while at the same time honoring the name of a Non-Muslim living the epitome of the excessive hedonistic big baller lifestyle.

Want to know who your kids look up to? What posters are up on their walls, what artists are in their ipods, and which celebrity’s news do they look up most on the internet? There’s your answer.

These are people who are enslaved by their desires and worshipped by society for their money. When parents even tacitly approve of this, we are sending them that same message.

Youth do have it tough in society, parents need to focus on showing our children the examples of our righteous predecessors. Teach them solid values that will stick with them throughout their lives. I still to this day remember talks my father had with me when I was barely 5 years old about the evils of alcohol whenever a beer ad came on TV. It had an effect. I remember my mother dragging me to Quran class 3 times a week so I could learn to read Quran despite wanting to go play basketball with my friends instead. It paid off.

Take care of your kids. Take them out of school to attend Juma prayer. Don’t let them learn Shakespeare at the expense of Quran. Teach them how to deal with societal pressures. Teach them that Allah (swt) will not overburden them with more they can handle. Teach them how to persevere through their tough times.

Teach your children that you will be there for them as a parent no matter what, and that as long as they do their best to be a good Muslim you will be pleased with them whether they become a cashier or a brain surgeon.

Most of all though, be the example you want them to follow.

This concludes the series. I should mention here the primary inspirations for this set of articles:

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Omar Usman is a founding member of MuslimMatters and Qalam Institute. He teaches Islamic seminars across the US including Khateeb Workshop and Fiqh of Social Media. He has served in varying administrative capacities for multiple national and local Islamic organizations. You can follow his work at ibnabeeomar.com.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. ExEx Blogger

    January 3, 2008 at 1:46 PM

    Father kills 2 daughters in Dallas.

    Click here:

    http://synkronyzer.wordpress.com/2008/01/03/father-kills-2-daughters/

  2. Aboo Uthmaan

    January 3, 2008 at 1:58 PM

    Man, you kept us waiting six weeks for this final instalment and I have not been able to file the previous parts away since I have been waiting on this one in order to do so, I am fussy like that… LOL!

    May Allaah reward you for these highly beneficial articles!

  3. ibnabeeomar

    January 3, 2008 at 2:03 PM

    lol sorry it took a while to get posted.. december is always a crazy month :)

    jazakallahu khayr and looking forward to your comments and thoughts

  4. SH

    January 9, 2008 at 5:12 PM

    Assalamu Alikum,

    Mashalla a great article and i want to say great series. I recently got married and now I am looking at these articles at a whole new light ….and I’d like to implement all these techniques inshallah with my kids. Once again Jazakallahu Khayir for all your efforts on compiling this and may allah SWt reward you with the highest of rewards…janat-ul-firdous. Ameen!!!

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