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KEEPING MUSLIM TEENS MUSLIM:

How One Imam Changed a Teenager's life

Shabir Ally was 14 when an Imam helped him make a life-changing decision.

“I came from a family that didn't put Islam on the top of the ladder,” he explains of his background.

It was an Imam who helped Ally put Islam at the top. He was going around Ally's village of Annendale in Guyana, encouraging Muslims to come to the Masjid. When the Imam got to Ally's house he catered his invitation to his father and older brother.

But Ally says it was he who really picked up the message.

Following that visit, Ally began going to the Masjid regularly to pray, attend classes, and some of the brothers there lent him books to read about Islam.

“The more I read the more I saw the beauty of Islam and I realized [it] requires a life commitment, not a peripheral one,” he tells Sound Vision in an interview. “For the first time I came to realize Islam was more than a traditional practice.”

Today Ally is the president of the Islamic Information and Dawa Centre International in Toronto, Canada, which promotes this message he decided to embrace fully as a teenager.

That's the power of one Imam to bring a Muslim youth closer to Islam.

While the role of parents and the family is unmistakably the first in helping Muslim youth keep their Islam and practice it throughout their lives, Imams and community leaders play a role as well. Their actions and relationship with the youth in their communities can generate love, pride and a commitment to not just know and emotionally attach themselves to Islam, but to really live it.

Imams and Muslim youth-the gap

The gap between the Muslim youth in the West and many Imams is something often complained about by both.

Young Muslims who have grown up here complain Imams follow a dictatorial style of leadership, talking down to them because they are younger, and expecting a “hear and obey” reverence with no respect for them in return. Or they just never acknowledge the special needs of the youth who have grown up here.

Imams on the other hand complain youth in the West are immoral, disrespectful, and do not follow proper Adab [etiquette] in dress and behavior.

The complaints on both sides are often valid. However, as leaders, the Imams seem to forget the very important role they can play in helping Muslim youth in the West maintain their Islamic practice in a context where all religion is virtually shunned, and many Muslims are being swept away by forces of materialism, family breakdown and Christian missionary activity, to name just a few problems.

Farrakhan is bold and straight: can our Imams be like that?

“Sometimes I look at Louis Farrakhan and how loud he is and the strong positions he takes and I wonder why Muslim leaders don't do that,” says Kamran Memon, referring to the leader of the Nation of Islam, an African-American nationalist and spiritual movement in the United States. “Louis Farrakhan generates a lot of pride among his followers because he is perceived as being strong.”

Memon grew up in the Washington, D.C. area and was involved as a counselor at Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA) conferences in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He is currently an attorney specializing in discrimination cases in Chicago.

“Whenever there's a major issue on the radar screen of public life, young Muslims hear many voices, they hear many people sharing their perspectives on each of these issues.....but one voice that's hardly ever there is the Muslim voice,” he tells Sound Vision.

Muslim leaders' silence in the public arena on issues of local concern such as racism and homelessness, means more than just the misperception that Muslims have no voice on these issues.

It also means many Muslim youth, in particular, end up seeing Islam as irrelevant to the issues of the day and by extension, themselves as Muslims living in the West.

“Because young Muslims have the impression that their religion does not have anything to say about issues like poverty and violence and racism, it's easy for them to put Islam in a box and just put it away, because it's not like they've lost anything by doing that.”

“These young people have to see the value of Islam with their eyes,” Memon notes.

Imported and local Imams

Adding to the problem is what some have described as the incessant “importing of Imams” from abroad, who may have the Islamic knowledge, but little to no experience of the needs and realities of Muslims in the West.

”They're like first generation Imams, what we need is second generation Imams,” says Sheema Khan, a former MYNA Advisor for eastern Canada.

Seeking an Imam familiar with the local culture, Khan says, is something grounded in Islamic teachings.

“When you look at the Quran, and you look at the Prophets, they were already part of the society,” she notes. They were familiar with the culture and customs of the people, and the people were familiar with them.

Khan says the people who are really able to talk to the youth are people like Imam Siraj Wahhaj of Brooklyn, New York, an African-American convert who grew up in the U.S. He is a favorite speaker amongst Muslim youth in North America, and at MYNA and Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) conferences, for example.

Khan says it is really the “convert Imams” who have gone back to authentic centers of learning in the Islamic world “who are going to be effective”.

However, she does not blame Imams who have come from abroad to their communities for the fact that most of them cannot solve problems relating to youth who have grown up here. “I think that is unrealistic,” she says.

For Shabir Ally, the action of an Imam led to a turning point in his life as a Muslim youth, and in the long-run as someone devoted to Islam.This was in a non-Muslim country. Perhaps Imams in the West can also help change the life course of so many Muslim youth who are either ignorant, searching or struggling with Islam.

 


Your Comments

fazal, Mississauga - wrote on 4/13/2012 4:57:20 AM
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Comment: Instead of Koranic teaching --Man made book teaching can destroy Muslims's beliefs and in fact insult the Quran also --Does Buhkari Explain the Quran? The advocates of hadith are fond of saying that the hadith explains the Quran without which, they say the Quran cannot be understood. In other words without hadith they will have to reject the Quran or at least ignore it. The scholars also say that the hadith they call "Sahih Bukhary" is the best hadith. It can be easily proved that the hadith does not in any way explain the Quran and that the "Sahih Bukhari" is not worth the papers it is printed on. For evidence please refer to, and check all references of "Sahih Al-Bukhary" by Dr. Muhammed Muhsin Khan, Islamic University, Medina Al-Munawwara. Publisher "Kitab Bhavan, New Delhi, which is the Nine volume encyclopedia. Vol. 6 of "Sahih Al-Bukhary" is devoted to the explanation of the Quran (Tafsir). The other eight volumes prescribe things like drinking camels urine to cure fevers (vol 7, hadith no 590), burning people first and then their houses if they do not go the mosque on time, (vol.1, hadith no.626), dreaming of undressing women (vol 9, hadith no.139 and 140), using shoes to garland camels (Vol 2, hadith no 763), and other such non-sense. But let us focus on vol. 6: the explanation of the Quran by Imam Bukhary. Although the Quran has 114 suras or chapters, Bukhari does not explain all the verses in all the suras. Sura 2, Al Baqarah has 286 verses, but Bukhari only provides hadith for about 50 verses. This is slightly over 20% of Al Baqarah. Bukhari has left the Ulamma groping the dark over the remaining 80%. Sura AL Kauther (Sura 108) is the shortest sura in the Quran, only 3 verses. However Bukhari "attempts" to explain the meaning of just one word "Kauther" as sufficient to explain this whole Sura. Bukhari says; "Kauther" is a river in heaven. But simply, "Kauther" means "good in abundance". (Translation by President of Islamic research, IFAT, Saudi Arabia). This also suggests that Imam Bukhari did not know Arabic. It is a fact that Bukhari was a Persian from Bukhara and his mother tongue was Farsi. The scholars have no records to show when Bukhari learned Arabic. More about this later. The greatest surprise of all is that 28 suras of the Quran are NOT "explained" at all. The sura numbers are as follows; 23, 27, 29, 35, 51, 57, 58, 64, 67, 69, 70, 73, 76, 81, 82, 86, 88, 89, 90, 94, 100, 101, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, and 109. Bukhari explains this away as follows "no hadith were mentioned here." According to the scholars only the Prophet is supposed to be the source of the hadith. The hadith is supposed to explain the Quran. The BIG question is, "Who went on un authorized holiday for 28 WHOLE SURAS of the Quran ?!!! The scholars insist that the hadith explains the Quran. Hence the scholars have to do away with 28 SURAS of the Quran because Bukhari did not explain these 28 SURAS.. Therefore the boast by the scholars that those who uphold the QURAN ALONE and do NOT depend on the hadith at all, cannot understand the Quran, falls FLAT on its face. The scholars are in a far worse situation. 28 Suras are missing and none of the other suras are explained in full by Bukhari. To revert to the earlier point that the Persian Bukhari may not have known Arabic, this is suggested by the way Bukhari has changed the names of certain SURAS. By itself this is a strange phenomenon. The scholars themselves do NOT know why Bukhary did this. Non-Arabs sometimes refer to a Sura by its first verse. This is because they may not have known the Arabic name for the SURA because they are not scholars of the Quran or simply because they are not Arabs. Bukhari displays the same characteristics. Sura Al Naba (Sura 68) is labelled as Sura "Amma yatasa'alun", this is actually part of the first verse of the sura.. Sura Al Baiyina (Sura 98) is labelled as Sura "Lam Yakun". Again the beginning verses. Sura Al Takwir (Sura 81) is labelled Sura "Idhash Shamsu Kuwirat". This is the start of the first verse again. Sura Al Maarij (sura 70) is labelled Sura "Sa'ala Sa'ilun". Some SURAS have been given two names. Sura Al Insan (Sura 76) is labelled Sura "Hal-Ata-insani" or Sura "Dahr". But this is a revealing point because such labeling is more akin to reciters who are not Arabs, who do not know the Arabic language. Apart from the fact that Bukhari was Persian from Bukhara many scholars believe that he was also blind. The next question is "WHO WROTE the Sahih Bukhari?!" It will also be pertinent to see how Bukhari handles some of the explanations of the verses-if and when he cares to explain them. For example some explanations end with a blank space.: Vol 6, Hadith number 50 seeks to explain Sura 2:223. After some narration it continues like this; Nafi' added regarding the verse: "So go to your tilth when or how you will. Ibn Umar said; " It means one should approach his wife in........" The explanation ends with a blank space. But not to worry. A footnote completes the picture. The footnote says "Al Bukhary left a blank space here because he was not sure of what Ibn Umar had said !." And yet this called "Sahih Al Bukhary" Perhaps this is why some scholars have much problems in this department. There is also one of the most foolish and incredible explanation by Bukhari for Sura 11:5. The beautiful meaning of the verse is actually :11:4 "To God is your return and He has power over all things." 11:5 "Behold ! They fold up their hearts, that they may be hid from him. Ah! Even when they cover themselves with their garments. He knows what they conceal, and what they reveal. For He knows well the (innermost secrets) of the hearts." 11:6 There is no moving creature on earth but its substance depends on God; He knows its resting place and its temporary deposit. All is in a clear Record." Translation by Presidency of Islamic Research, IFTA, Saudi Arabia.. This meaning is crystal clear. We all answer to God. There is nothing we can conceal from God. Every single thing that we do is in a clear Record. "Kitaab-un Maubeen". So do not think you can hide anything from God. NOW, Here is Bukhari's ridiculous explanation of the same verse in 11:5. Vol. 6 Hadith no. 203: Narrated Muhammed bin Abbad bin Jaafar that he heard Ibn Abbas reciting: " No doubt! they fold up their breasts." 11:5 and asked him about the explanation. He said, "Some people used to hide themselves while answering the call of nature in an open space lest they be exposed to the sky, so the above revelation was sent down regarding them. According to Bukhari, the whole purpose of this narration was to tell the Sahaba that God could see them defecating and sleeping in the desert!. According to Bukhari's logic then, after this verse was revealed, the Sahaba who travelled with their wives in the desert lost all their inhibitions, since God could see them anyway. No need to hide anything. Similarly Bukhari twists sura 5:87. To explain "5:87" Bukhari first quotes it partially only, not in full, as follows : "O you who believe DO NOT make unlawful the good things which God has made for you" 5:87 The explanation by Bukhari (Vol.6 Hadith no. 139) is as follows : Narrated Abdullah "We used to participate in holy wars conducted by the prophet and we had no women with us. So, we said (to the prophet) "Shall we castrate ourselves "? But the prophet forbade us to do that and therefore he allowed us to marry a woman temporarily) by giving her even a garment, and then the prophet recited. "O you who believe ! Do not make unlawful for you...."There is a footnote "Temporary marriage (Mut'a) was allowed in the early days of Islam., but later, at the time of the Khaibar Battle, it was prohibited (God knows it better)." The uncertainty in the footnote lends support to the fact that this is an evil lie against God and the prophet by Bukhari. Sura 5:87 is actually as follows : "O you who believe, do not prohibit good things that are made lawful by GOD, and do not aggress; GOD dislikes the aggressors." Is prostitution an excess ? Worse than that it is an evil. Which Muslim scholar will allow his daughter to receive "even a garment" as a payment for temporarily servicing the lusts of some Sahaba ? Note how the Bukhari has the sahaba coolly suggesting "Shall we castrate ourselves ?" as though it is done every morning after breakfast. In Sura 24:33 God and the messenger told us: "Let those who find not the means for marriage keep themselves chaste, until God gives them means out of His grace. And if any of your slaves ask for a deed in writing, (for freedom) give them something yourselves out of the means which God has given you. But force NOT your girls into prostitution when they desire chastity, in order that you make a gain in the goods of this life. If anyone compels them, (on them) God is forgiving, Merciful." In other words, do not look for sex outside marriage. If you cannot marry, it is better to keep chaste. Control your lust. The messenger said do not force anyone into prostitution, but instead Bukhari says the messenger set the price for hanky panky at merely a piece of garment. This is Bukhari's malicious lie against the Messenger. In truth the messenger told his men to control their lusts : Sura 24:30 "Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty, that will be better purity for them, and God knows all that they do." If anyone insisted on following their lusts, the Messenger would have told them " God doth wish to turn to you, but the wish of those who follow their lusts is that you should turn away from them, far away " Sura 4:27 (All translation from Presidency of Islamic Research, IFTA- Saudi Arabia). The Quran is crystal clear. But Bukhari says you can but a woman for a price of cloth. Perhaps the scholars are gleeful at this suggestion also. Here is another hadith that has neither head nor tail, It is started under "The book of the Virtues of the Quran". May God saves us. Vol 6, hadith No 503. Narrated Valium Utham. "I was informed that Gabriel came to the prophet while Um Salma was with him. Gabriel started talking (to the prophet). Then the prophet asked Um Salma, "Who is this ? " She replied "He is Dihya (Al Kalbi). When Gabriel had left Um Salma said; "By God, I did not take him for anybody other than him ( i.e. Dihya) till I heard the sermon of the prophet wherein he informed about the news of Gabriel." The subnarrator asked Utham : From whom have you heard that ? Utham said "From Usama Binzaid". God sent Gabriel with the revelations to be delivered to Muhammed. Therefore Gabriel delivered the revelations to Muhammed. But here Bukhari says the prophet did not know Gabriel had come to him. Instead he asks his wife !!. Was the prophet's wife a Messenger also, such that she could hear Gabriel?And she calls him strange names like Dihya and Al Kalbi. There is some confusion. Is God that inefficient that His angel Gabriel is called Dihya and Kalbi, all in the course of duty of delivering revelations to His messenger Muhammed ? Let us see 2:97-98: "Say, who is an enemy to Gabriel for he brings the revelation to thy heart by God's will, a confirmation of what went before. And Guidance and glad tidings for those who believe. Who ever is an enemy to God and His angels and prophets, to Gabriel and Michael, Lo..! God is an enemy to those who reject faith. " Gabriel brings the revelation straight into the prophet's heart (alaiqa Qalbika bi idhnillah) with God's permission. But Bukhary says Gabriel just started talking and the Prophet did not know who it was. He had to ask his wife...! "This is a revelation from the Lord of the universe. The Honest Spirit (Gabriel) came down with it. To reveal it into your heart, that you may be one of the warners. In a perfect Arabic tongue." (26:192-195) Gabriel brought the revelation straight to the Prophet's heart . But Bukhari says the prophet had to ask his wife of Gabriel : "WHO IS THIS ?" It is easy to refute the Christian argument by referring to his own Bible. In a similar way the "muslim" scholar who insists on giving eminence to fabricated hadith can be countered by referring to his own books written by the hands of their leaders like Imam Bukhari, without God's permission. In Sura Al Baqarah, God says : "Therefore, woe to those who distort the scripture with their own hands, then say, "This is what GOD has revealed," seeking a cheap material gain. Woe to them for such distortion, and woe to them for their illicit gains." (2:79) As stated earlier the hadith of Bukhari is not worth the paper it is printed on. By following such ludicrous hadith which clearly taint the good name of the Prophet Muhammed, the Muslims have been lost for over 1000 years now. They can only recall the glorious days of the Prophet. Little do they realize that during the glorious days there was no hadith. There was only the Quran.


Quran Tutoring Online, Rawalpindi / Islamabad - wrote on 3/2/2011 1:35:33 PM
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Comment: A imam can change the life by teaching and guiding by proper way., Quran reading and understanding can also make a man perfect and change the life...


bisma, london - wrote on 5/5/2005 4:01:02 PM
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Comment: salaamz wow! like i never knew these kind of stuff realy happened. mashallah brother ally keep it up!


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