Q: Based on your observation of and experiences dealing with Muslim youth in North America, what challenges do you find them to be confronted with, and why?
A: Our youth are facing many hurdles in life that can be solved easily if they focus on the principles of life correctly. To promote good and forbid evil based on the real purpose of existence is fundamental and essential knowledge that all youth should grasp. The understanding of our purpose in life is usually not articulated clearly by our leaders and adults and our youth therefore gravitate towards what is apparent materially to secure themselves. Those seen to represent Islam will often pass judgment on others, using religion as a means to control them, but we do not explain reasonably how we come to such conclusions. This leads to further confusion and a dislike for religion in general [in the youth].
Growing up in a society where negative social pressures are prevalent, our next generation gets confused about their duties in life, and they pursue matters that are trivial and mundane. They grow up with false securities and realize in time that there is no real happiness and stability and they are left with no clear outlook on life. This feeling of helplessness leads them to believe that life is purposeless, thus they develop apathy towards religion and God. In the process of such confusion and frustration, our youth indulge in activities that are destructive for their future, such as experimenting with drugs, alcohol and indecencies. Our society has adapted to accept the consumption of alcohol and drugs and there is minimal effort to prevent our youth from such acts. The collective misdirection of the overall social structure tacitly promotes our next generation to live a life of false dreams and to feel secure with short-term goals.
Q: What specific solutions could you offer to these problems faced by Muslim youth?
A: We need to explain the real purpose in life and to live by example. We need to provide good environments for our next generation where they can interact with visionary believers, and to empower them to be independent thinkers and innovators. This requires time from our community leaders and adults to mentor, guide and redirect the negative energy of our youth to positive actions. We need to encourage them to be more proactive and they need to be prevented from indulging in destructive behaviors and habits. If we present the solution of the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet to them in practical and logical ways, they will embrace the truth with certainty and their change will cause other youth to follow their paths.
Q: Considering the limitations that Muslim youth face in selecting from among the leisure opportunities available to them in the West, what religiously acceptable and yet pleasurable activities could you suggest that would supplement their free time?
A: They should keep good friends so that whatever they indulge in will be within good reason and decency. They need to be creative to find the positive actions in leisure opportunities and to indulge in activities that are progressive, such as sports and fitness and good social activities. If they spend time acquiring knowledge and they spend time sharing it with others, it will help foster a reflective lifestyle that will lead to higher understanding and a happier atmosphere. In due time, they should come up with action plans and projects that will help alleviate the lack of good facilities and activities.
Q: Please provide some information about the camps that you organize for the Muslim youth.
A: We have been running youth camps for the past 25 years and after much experience and growth in our activities, we decided to purchase and establish a permanent 106-acre camp facility in Michigan, called Camp Taha. We have successfully completed our 10 year plan in 8 years, and have provided programs that are holistic in nature: mind, body, spirit. We provide a wide variety of amenities such as swimming, basketball, soccer, tennis, jet skiing and a lot more at Camp Taha. Our camper population averages around 700 per summer, and we are blessed to host a variety of participants from all over the US, Canada and the world. We are open to all ages and encourage families to attend too because our facility has cabins to house them. Our programs are designed to attract our next generation to indulge in grassroots activities that nurtures the essential social skills needed to succeed in life. We provide a coherent vision to our youth that defines the real purpose of life and we live by example to show them how to go about fulfilling this essential goal for the pleasure of Allah. Our website is www.tawheedcamp.org and we are planning to launch our new interactive site soon. We encourage all to attend and we will be happy to be of service to anyone who needs our help. Our 2106 camp dates are available on the website; we will commence the camp right after Ramadhan and we encourage you all to participate insha’Allah.