All teenagers face similar challenges as they begin to move from the security and stability of childhood into the complexity and uncertainty of the adult world. Muslim teens are no exception, especially in a society like the United States where the media and other teenagers constantly present messages contrary to Islamic values. The life of a dedicated Muslim teenager requires discipline in the face of temptation.
The Pillars of Islam
The religion of Islam is based on a daily practice of spirituality. A dedicated Muslim teen would follow the five principles known as the pillars of Islam. The first is a personal declaration of faith that there is no God except Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's messenger. The second is to pray five times every day. The third is to give to charity. The fourth is to fast every day until sunset during the month of Ramadan by abstaining from food or drink. Muslims who smoke are also expected not to smoke until sunset during Ramadan. The fifth pillar is to make a pilgrimage to the city of Mecca at least once in life.
Relationships are one of the most significant concerns in life for any teen, and this is one of the areas where a dedicated Muslim teen is expected to follow a very different set of rules than a typical American teenager. According to the Islamic Ed Foundation's "Guide to Islam for New Muslims," unmarried men and women can never touch each other, be alone together or talk to each other in soft voices. A dedicated Muslim teen would interact with the opposite sex in a much more polite and formal way than most other teens.
Muslims are expected to avoid "haram" or forbidden activities and substances according to the "Guide to Islam for New Muslims." Alcohol of any kind is haram, so if other teens were drinking, a devout Muslim teen would definitely not participate. Some foods are "halal," or permitted, while other foods such as pork are haram. Making money by selling haram items is also haram, so a Muslim teen could not take a summer job at a fast-food restaurant that offered pork products. Gambling or making money through interest are also haram.
Calling and Struggling
Along with the five pillars of Islam, Muslims are expected to follow two other principles known as Da'wah and Jihad. Da'wah is the practice of calling others to Islam. Although the word Jihad is often translated as "holy war," most Muslims interpret it as an inner spiritual struggle rather than a literal war. According to an article on the Al-Madinah Academy website, there is a great deal of concern in the Muslim community in the United States that many Muslim teens are becoming secularized and apathetic about their religion under the influence of American society. A devout Muslim teen would seek to call fellow Muslim teenagers back to focus on their faith.
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