By Leena Abedin (Grade 9) UK

There’s always going to be someone more pious than you. Someone who always prays on time, someone who never watches anything but educational TV, and someone who still frowns, and goes “Eww,” when discussing the opposite gender. Because you are around these people everyday, you might feel you aren’t as religious as you should be. Compared to your peers you might feel insecure about your strength as a Muslim.

Should I stop listening to music? Should I talk more about Islam? Maybe Islam should be all I ever talk about with my friends. Maybe I should’ve, I don’t know, set up a charity organization, converted all my non-Muslim friends, and started wearing hijab when I was ten years old.

Maybe I’m not doing Islam right.

I don’t know about you, but these thoughts occur to me almost daily. Often, you meet people your own age whose lives seemed to be overwhelmed with Islam. They’re wearing it on t-shirts and badges, proclaiming their Muslim identity to the world, whereas I just cover up my limbs. Is that really good enough? If these teenagers are making everything in their lives about Islam, shouldn’t I?

I’ve been doing some thinking, and I feel that not everything you do and say has to be about Islam. At the same time, Islam should be in everything you do and say. God is with you in every move you make. He’s watching over the entire world, but at the same time, He’s looking right over your shoulder. That’s the great thing about Allah (SWT)*, He’s watching the whole world and everybody in it, yet somehow He’s with you personally. He knows what’s in your heart when you do things, and how you mean them.

With Islam you don’t have to be religious, because Islam isn’t just a religion; it’s a way of life. You have to liveIslam. Islam is when you smile to cheer someone up. Islam is when you stand up for someone being bullied. Islam is explaining your beliefs to non-Muslim friends with such care that they rightfully see Muslims as peaceful, passionate people. Yes, Islam is about praying, and Quran recitation, but it’s also about being a genuinely kind and sincere person.

The most important thing is doing good deeds. An impressive display of your Muslim identity doesn’t mean anything to Allah (SWT) if your actions are not respectable. You have to do Islam properly, but in your own way.

Carry your Muslim standards everywhere and in everything. Don’t feel obliged to immerse yourself in mainstream content if you think it’s inappropriate, or you feel uncomfortable absorbing it. You want principled TV shows, and books with beautiful morals. You want the beat of a drummer and a lovely voice in your music, not swearing. You want to associate with people of the highest integrity in your school, Muslim or not. You want to talk about meaningful things with your friends, laugh, and just have a good time. You can have fun without falling from the right path. Islam doesn’t mean the end of everything else. It just means a better way of living life until the day we Insha’Allah get the ultimate reward.

*SWT: Subhanahu Wa Ta’Ala (Glory to Him, The Exalted)

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