Tick! Tick!! Tick!!!
Just as seconds tick into minutes and gradually into hours; so does childhood tick into youth and eventually old age. There’s no doubt, youth is a period of great physical, psychological and social changes. Psychologists over time have studied these changes and their resulting consequences.
Prophet Muhammad in his wisdom advised over 1000 years ago that the period of youth should be utilized before old age. And this advice is still relevant today. As a parent, educator, mentor or caller to Islam, it is important to utilize productive ways for engaging the youth.
With the right engagement, they will get connected to Allah and learn more about Islam. It is not rocket science. Rather, it is about using wisdom, patience and building positive relationships as found in the Qur’an and exemplified in the sunnah of our Prophet .
It is also about channeling the right effort and energy into a productive approach, while remembering that all help and guidance comes from Allah alone.
“Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction.” (An – Nahl, 16:125)
Below are some productive ways of engaging the youth:
Have sincere interest
Your intention for engaging the youth should be pure and directed towards Allah’s pleasure – whether it is in a group or one-on-one situation . It should not be for fame or material rewards; and not to belittle or spread gossip about their issues. Your focus should always be geared towards renewing your intention. Because your level of interest in them will manifest easily through your words and/or actions.
Have friendly hands-on interactions
Use a regular line up of productive halal activities to engage the youth. These may include: competitive sports, recreational games, healthy lunch/ buffet, aerobics, self defense, creative competitions, painting, debates, walks/ trips, discussion forums, etc.
You should actively participate in these activities with them, and make it an opportunity to build rapport while getting to know them better on a personal level.
Set aside quality time for good listening and giving counsel
Most youth need someone to listen to them genuinely and show an understanding of their situation beyond the hype of the likes and follows on social media. You have that opportunity to show the youth that you truly care, love and respect them. Having empathy and being non-judgmental will go a long way in building a healthy rapport, engagement and long lasting relationship with the youth. With an open trusting relationship, you can offer advice and counsel based on Islamic guidance. So, make an effort to create quality uninterrupted time for private talks and good listening.
Take time to understand their different personalities
Allah created us with unique skills, strengths and nature. When you understand what those special strengths, skills and personality types of the youth are, you can learn to deal with them at their unique level. And also, use the knowledge to guide their goals, attitudes, manners, well being and daily interactions. Why not take a lesson from the life of the Prophet and his companions? They each had different personalities but were able to contribute in their special way.
Have a productive goal
Your ultimate goal should be to connect the youth to Allah , and not make them become attached and fully dependent on you. Similarly, guide them to having productive goals and the means of reaching those goals so they can feel empowered and make it through the issues of everyday life. Encourage them to read the Qur’an, supplicate to Allah , fast and pray regularly. Let them understand that all help is from Allah alone and the ultimate return is to Him.
Nurture brother/sisterhood ties
Strive to be a true brother/sister and not a preachy scholar or a know-it-all senior. Share personal stories, anecdotes and knowledge they can relate to. This will help establish a common ground between you and them. Simply be a brother/ sister-in-need. And just as the Prophet paired an Ansar and Muhajirun in a life long relationship, you can become a source of lifelong support and help.
Be tech/ media savvy
Team up with them. Tackle a tech. project, game or course together. Put them in a position of trust and ask them to show you or teach you something they are good at during the game or course task. Listen to their point of view and opinions. Employ good communication skills so you can listen more and talk less, validate their feelings and ensure understanding of the fine points of discussion.When you become tech/media savvy, you will have a lot in common and feel connected in many ways.
Be a good role model
Be there. And always walk your talk. It isn’t about what you say, but rather what you do and how you do it. Therefore, embrace the sunnah and keep learning about the noble life of the rasul . Remember to say what you mean and mean what you say.
Its time for engaging the youth productively! Youth is the best time for striving to become like the young companions of Prophet Muhammad . They had a glowing Islamic identity and lived Islam practically in every aspect of their lives. They were also full of energy for doing good, had passion for Islam and ever ready to model the sunnah.
They enjoyed the best form of engagement from a great model, mentor, leader and brother-in-Islam, one who showed he cared, empathized and listened to them, and always gave good counsel.
Let’s learn to follow in his steps – giving small but consistent support to the youth – and the positive results will showcase itself in their day-to-day life.
Utilize these productive means of engagement so the youth can study, work and thrive better.
Over to you – what other productive ways can be utilized for engaging the youth? Please share below.