Inspired by The Young Muslims UK (YMUK)  

If we are to change anything – our youth group, our community, our society – we have to start with ourselves. What then should be our day to day behaviour, our characteristics and our conduct? Accepting our responsibility and developing as individuals is the first step, but we have to take it as seriously as we do everything else. Below are a few ideas about Islamic behaviour and attitudes that we should strive to inculcate. These, insha-Allaah, will aid us in our all round development.

Punctuality

Punctuality in Islamic life and work is as important as the fulfilment of religious and moral duties. This cannot be over emphasised to Muslims the world over, who are notorious in their neglect of this prime Islamic virtue. If you are in the habit of arriving late, advance your watch enough to counter your habit. There is no excuse from your having to break this unworthy habit. In training programmes, as well as in the Islamic movement, every member or worker must be aware of time and must be absolutely serious in his utilisation of it. Whatever the activity, Muslims must be bound to its precise time. Life is purposeful and man is responsible for every moment of time. So, whether the time calls for food or Salaah, you should be there not only on time, but before time. Failure to start your duty on time is failure in your Islamicity, in your very eeman or faith.

Generosity

Readiness to give aid is an Islamic virtue par excellence. The Muslim is always ready to come to the assistance of other Muslims in need. He does not wait to be asked to extend assistance. He is always on the lookout for the situation where he can actualise his benevolence. As far as doing good (al mar’uf) is concerned, or stopping or prohibiting an evil (al munkar), the Muslim must even be aggressive at times. This readiness to jump into any situation in order to be of service to fellow humans is the highest, the noblest expression of eeman.

Doing Good

In our training programmes, a person’s eeman is rightly measured by his active ihsan, his doing of good on all occasions. If he enters a meeting room and finds a table dirty, he wipes it clean. If the chairs are not properly arranged, he arranges them in an orderly fashion. If the blackboard is full of writing, he wipes it and makes it ready for use. In the bathroom, the gym, the dining room, the athletic field, the mosque, walkways, everywhere, the Muslim is the first one to set right that which is not right. If a service calls for volunteers, he is the first to offer his service. The Muslim thus makes himself worthy of his Prophet who said: ‘And the beginning of ihsan is removing refuse from the public highway’. (Bayhaqi)

Amiability

Amiability is a pre-requisite of falaah or success. The Muslim struggles as hard as he can to make himself amiable, loveable, befriendable, and trustworthy. The smile ever present on his face is the index of a tenderness of a heart towards other Muslims. When they talk, he listens; when they cry, he cries with them, when they are in a good mood, he joins in their joyfulness. He is generous, good, and permanently concerned with their welfare. He is also determined by their good, and so inclined towards realising it by his personal efforts that he can never be said to be neutral where questions of good and welfare arise. If he is not neutral, how can he ever be antagonistic, alienated, hateful, contemptuous, unconcerned? The Muslim is responsive to the Creator, the goodness of the All-Mighty, with a similar benevolence toward all creatures and paramountly toward humans.

Optimism

Optimism is the highest principle of Islamic ethics. Islam implies the conviction that Allaah, is Beneficent and Merciful, Just and willing our welfare. He committed Himself to have mercy on us (6:12,54) to give the mu’minoon or believers victory over their enemies (22:40) and generally to harm no one (4:39,10:44). This world is His theatre. It cannot be evil; nor can its outcome be evil. Certainly, it is an arena for action, for testing our piety and morality. But it is a world in which the good will always preponderate. That is because Allaah is indeed Allaah, and there is none else beside Him.

The potential contribution of Muslim youth in the United Kingdom is a direct relation to their Islamic character. The realisation of the full possibilities of Muslim youth demands an investment in training motivation and preparation of the youth through meaningful activities.

Developing Myself and Others

‘Successful indeed is the one who purifies his whole self’. [Ash-Shams 91:9]

‘Every one of you is a shepherd and every one is responsible for what he is shepherd of’. (Bukhaari)

Self-development is imperative to the process of becoming a better Muslim. One cannot excel and improve without development. Nor can one gain greater nearness to Allaah without constantly assessing and improving oneself. Developing the self is a responsibility we all shoulder and alongside it comes the need and obligation of helping others.

Developing the self cannot be divorced from the responsibility of developing others. One would be wrong in assuming that one must develop oneself before proceeding to develop others or that development of others is not within your jurisdiction. The two are interdependent, both must proceed together.

‘No man is an island,’ said John Donne. The self is not alone in this world, you are at the centre of complex social relationships. Soorah AI-‘Asr instructs the enjoining of patience and truth upon the self and others. The self cannot be detached from the social structure of familial relationships and therefore, preclude oneself from the development of others. The two are inherently intertwined and each supports the other.

Furthermore, some tasks cannot wait for others. One cannot state that one needs to develop oneself before developing others. This is categorically wrong. There is no point in time when one can proclaim oneself ‘developed’ and now in a position to develop others. This is not only deceiving oneself, but is an arrogant exclamation. Development of the self is a continual and interactive process. We are all sinners and are all in need of development.

Just as developing the self requires you to assume responsibility for the self, so does the development of others require you to accept responsibility for others. Each of you is a shepherd responsible for his flock and each of you will be questioned as to your trust. If we do not develop ourselves, we shall never attain paradise. Nor shall we attain paradise if we fail to develop others. And admonish thy nearest kinsmen and lower thy wing to the believers who follow thee’ (6:214-215)

Each and every one of us has a claim on another: husband on wife, wife on husband, child on parent and parent to child. These relationships form the crux of developing the self and others.
Developing a Self-Development Programme

The primary objective of a self-development programme is to help develop a daily routine of devotions, study and reflection. Try and set aside some periods each day so that you can devote yourself completely to these tasks, and do not allow anything to interfere with them. Spending even a small amount of time each day will bring you a feeling of closeness with Allaah and familiarity with His Deen.

Begin the day with some dhikr (remembrance of Allaah) after Salaatul Fajr, and make the intention that your whole day will be spent in serving Him. Follow up the dhikr with some du`aa’ (supplications), seeking provisions for the day.

“0 you who believe, celebrate the praises of Allaah and do so often; Glorify Him in the morning and the evening” (33:41).

“And when my servants ask you concerning Me, (tell them) I am indeed close to them: I listen to the prayer of every supplicant that calls on Me” (2:186).

After the dhikr and du`aa’ spend some time reciting the Qur`aan and studying the passages you recite. Also, try to do some reading on a regular basis, from the syllabus aiming to progress to the next course:

“Indeed the reading at Fajr is witnessed” (17:78).

If it is not possible to do any study just after your Fajr prayer then you may do it later, but you should make an effort to ensure that no day passes by without at least some reading of the Qur`aan.

As night falls just after the Maghrib prayer, it is recommended to make another round of dhikr, seeking protection for the coming night. And then to complete the day, just before retiring, reflect on what you have accomplished: where you have succeeded and where you have failed. As for your successes thank Allaah that He has enabled you to do whatever you may have accomplished. But for you failures, you must ask for His forgiveness, with humility and sincerity. Close the day with prayers for help and guidance, to overcome your weaknesses and to develop your strengths.

Personal Evaluation

As Muslims and workers of the Deen, we must realise first and foremost, that all of us are going to be accountable for our deeds on the Day of Judgement. It is thus wise that we continuously assess ourselves in this world and make amends before that final judgement by Allaah when we will not be given another opportunity to make up for our misdeeds. The Prophet sall Allaahu`alayhi wa sallam said: ‘Everyone starts his day and is a vendor of his soul, either freeing it or bringing about its ruin.’ (Muslim). ‘Umar ibn al Khattab, in one of his famous sayings said ‘Judge yourselves before you are judged, evaluate yourselves before you are evaluated and be ready for the greatest investigation [the Day of Judgement].’

We therefore suggest to all our brothers and sisters, whether beginners, illustrious workers, or responsible leaders, that they should have a daily period put aside for self-evaluation and scrutiny.

Sister Huma Ahmad1. Carpe Islam! – Work for Islam while you have the opportunity.

Ever hear of that Latin phrase ‘Carpe Diem!’ (Seize the Day)? Well as a Muslim college student your slogan should be ‘Carpe Islam!’ College is the best time to do Dawah in your life. It is the biggest opportunity for Muslims in this country to spread the truth about Islam. The college age comprises the largest chunk of the American population. This year’s freshman class was the largest incoming class in history. Remember all of your fellow students on campus will be future journalists, teachers, policy makers, voters, etc. This is the time to teach people about real Islam and dispel misconceptions. You have the freedom to publicize whatever you want, use the technology at your disposal and the ability to make your own programs and ideas come to life.

Even if you are late for class in order to pray, skip a class for IAW, stay up late planning for MSA, put up fliers in the freezing cold, you’ll never regret it! Years after, you’ll regret not doing these things when you can’t even remember that 5-point difference on that Bio test you were so worried about. Also, believe me when I tell you GPA is just one of a ton of things employers look at.

After college, your Islamic activities become very restricted and limited. There are corporate restrictions, time restrictions, Masjid board restrictions. You may be married or have other obligations. You may be too tired or can’t reach the people you want to. Mark Twain once said ‘Youth is wasted on the young’ but in Islam youth is a time to really work for Islam. Our history is rich with 16 year old Generals, 18 year old women Hadith narrators, 20 year old Sahabah who taught and spread Islam to the ends of the known world.

2. Study SMART – It’s not about the length of time, It’s how you do it.

You can maximize your studying if you go about it the right way. They say that for every hour you spend in class, you will probably need to study two hours outside class. Study includes more than just doing your homework. You will need to go over your notes from class, labeling, editing, and making sure you understand them. Review your notes. Read ahead. Always take a lot of notes in class, I mean a lot of copious notes, writing down as much as you can of what the professor says. These are invaluable when it comes time to study. Sometimes professors tend to give a lot of reading as well. Don’t read everything word for word. Take notes from your reading and use these to study from.

Go to every class! Do not skip unnecessarily – grades often have an inverse relationship to missed classes. Establish a good time and place to study. A quiet place where there are no distractions like a corner of a library is a good place. Study your syllabus daily to see where you are going and where you have been. Be sure to do reading assignments. Find out about and use labs, tutors, videos, computer programs, and alternate texts. Sign up for an orientation session in the campus library and computer facilities so you know how to use them.

Eat some good food! Studying on four hours of sleep and an empty stomach or junk-food diet is a waste of time. Avoid food and drink containing caffeine just before or just after studying. Before an exam try to get at least some sleep, studies show those who have 1 hour of sleep do better than those on 0!

Don’t study with other people until you’ve studied on your own then are getting together to discuss and review what’s important or quiz each other.
3. Bling Blingin’ with the right crowd – The influence of friends Psych 101.

A general rule of thumb is to hang out with friends you want to be like. The Prophet (saw) said that in paradise ‘everyone will be with those whom he or she loves’. So ask yourself who your friends are. Are they people you want to be like? Do you want to be where they are in the Hereafter? Are they people who remind you of Allah, help you to be a better Muslim? Or do you find you tend to miss prayer when you are with them and neglect your Islam?

Make sure to find Muslim roommates. This makes a huge difference in college life.

One thing to remember is that the only reason you are in school in the first place is for the sake of Allah, to educate yourself, become a better person, provide for your families, help the Muslim community and eventually build a good Islamic life. How is Allah going to help and support you if you don’t keep up in your Islam? What’s the point to everything then if school is what is stopping you from being a good Muslim – so how then can we expect Allah to bless us in it. How can there be Barakah in something where you neglect Allah?

One thing we can use to remind ourselves of how short this life is, is by thinking about how when a baby is born, the Athan is given in his/her ear, and then when a person dies Iqama is given and the prayer begins without any Athan. The time between that Athan and Iqama is the person’s life. Then just think about any regular prayer and the time between it’s Athan and Iqama. It goes by so fast we don’t even realize it!

Sometimes people get so caught up in school, they neglect their regular prayers and Salat-ul-Jumuah. They don’t have a true understanding of success. Even friends seem so scared to be late for class or skip Jumah, but you should turn around and say, “BROTHER!!! What are you going to say on the Day of Judgement?”
4. Stay in contact with your professors and other students in your classes.

Always go to your professor when you need help. Office hours are usually empty time for professors. Visit professors twice a month. They always remember your name when grading. They’ll always give you a break and help you out. But it’s also important for the professors to remember you so that they can write a letter of recommendation for you when you go look for a job or graduate school.

Other students can help you out with notes if you miss class, homework, and in comparing notes and ideas. All of the above is also good for Dawah. It shows Muslim students want to be successful.

5. Don’t compromise your Deen.

Don’t go to that bar, party or event or hang out with certain people, when you know those people don’t pray, will be drinking, doing unislamic things, where there is temptation. Don’t say to yourself it’s OK I’m not going to drink. Allah promises to send tests for you and they’re never easy tests.

I really believe they’re 50% vs 50% tests. Meaning you have the chance of going a certain way…otherwise it’s not really a test right. If you’re someone who always prays every prayer you may be tested with how much you mix with the opposite sex. If you’re someone who tries to keep their Haya’ you may be someone who will be tested with cheating on a test, etc. How scary is that…

So it’s best just to stay away from things that may lead you to compromise your Deen. Drinking, committing Zina, lying to cover up the things you do are all major sins, which are not forgiveable unless you repent. Be straight up from the beginning with people and your roommates with the things you can and can’t do.

6. Early bird gets the best worms! – Start early for everything.

By now you’ve realized that your university is one huge bureaucracy. Those who get ahead are the ones that do everything early.

Register early to get in classes you want. Get the schedule you want so you don’t miss Jumah or the weekly meetings! Get passcodes to enter closed classes early.

Buy books early to get the used books

99% of people do everything last minute. You can be part of the 1% that get ahead by doing things early!

7. Make fun Islamic alternatives for yourself.

Ever hear those people who say ‘Oh sister I don’t have time for MSA, you know I just come to school go to classes and go home and study’… and then later that semester you see them heading up some cultural club? (President no less? )

It happens because it’s not normal for someone to say I’m just going to study and that’s it. We’re all human and we need a balance between being serious and having fun.

You’ll end up falling into the wrong things if you don’t channel yourself now. Going to a party just to let off steam etc.

Try to do fun activities with other Muslims…sports. Sisters parties..

As an MSA you should have social activities and do fun important things like poetry readings, cultural foods, etc

8. Keep your Imaan up continuously.

We all know the Hadith that says that Iman goes up and down based upon our actions. If you aren’t doing anything to increase your iman then it is GUARANTEED that it will go down.

Examine your life right now. What are you doing every day to be a better Muslim? Are you reading books, going to Islamic classes, learning Arabic, reading Quran, listening to tapes?

If you’re not your Iman is going down because Iman must be maintained to stay at a level or increase.
9. Don’t take classes in something you have no interest in.

Trust me, if you plan on going to grad/post-grad school, the specific courses you take as an under-grad matter a lot less than how well you did in classes you enjoyed and got something out of. And in most cases, you can major in just about anything and still pursue something completely different after you graduate (re: grad school, work, etc).

Undergrad is a great time for building a stronger foundation (Islamically, socially), but grad school is more interesting in terms of coursework, since by its very nature, you’re concentrating on your interest.

Don’t take more than 3 technical courses at one time. Be balanced in your course selections. You know that the right part of your brain is specialized for creative-related stuff, whereas the left side is specialized for the more hard sciences. Keep a well balanced schedule so that both parts are your brain are doing an equal amount of work during the semester. That helps.

Make sure every semester you register early to get into at least 1 class that you will really like/enjoy like world religions or art or social psychology whatever you would find cool and interesting.
10. Balance learning in college with learning deen.

And just because you’re overloaded with classes and exams, etc doesn’t mean you can’t put time into furthering your Deen. Some excellent advice I remember receiving was to put aside set time to learn more Quran, Ahadith, etc. Balance is key; think of how many hours ur studying secular knowledge?

Arabic classes – in two months we’ve learned what people learn in 2 years, we can read the Quran and understand simple sentences ourselves.. how wild is that.

Islam classes- every time we go to conferences people are so envious that we are learning truly high level things.

Islam has a quality of being an ocean, the more small things you learn about it the more you realize how vast and huge it is.

Remember studying at college is Fard Kifayah meaning it’s an obligation on the community, but studying knowledge of the Deen what’s right and wrong is a Fard Ayn, obligatory on you. You are still responsible for things, you can’t plead ignorance because you didn’t know. It’s your duty to know. Just like when a police officer stops you for turning at a stop sign, are you going to say”Gee officer I didn’t know.” He’ll say, “You’re supposed to know!!.. too bad.. and here’s your ticket. Have a nice day! ”

The whole purpose of MSA is at LEAST to maintain the level of Islam you are at, if not increase it while you are here.

All of my Ummah will enter Paradise except those that refuse.

Those who were with him (the Sahaabah) said, “And who will refuse?”

He (SAW) said: Whoever obeys me will enter Paradise and whoever disobeys me will have refused.

(Al- Bukhaaree)
I pray Allah keeps you all steadfast on the Siratul Mustaqeem and one day steadfast on another Sirat. Ameen.

Anthea Davis

Sometimes we get so busy with life that we fail to imagine how people will remember us after we are gone. That’s not exactly a pleasant thought, but it is important to think about. Too often, we are experts at assessing other people but cannot really evaluate ourselves properly. How will people remember you?

A lot of time is wasted thinking we are going to be here on this planet forever. Because we have the illusion of eternity when it comes to our lives, we put off doing good and useful things, fixing up broken relationships and developing ourselves in a good way. All this is done in the name of having fun or thinking that doing these good things would be boring.

How much time do you sit watching TV and videos or playing computer games? How much time do you spend with your family? How much time do you spend trying to develop yourself? How much time do you spend just thinking and pondering over the meaning of your own life?

If you don’t know or don’t really care about the answers to these questions, chances are you have a problem. People differ in so many ways; we look different, have different social economic situations, and come from different backgrounds. Yet, we all have one thing in common. We all have an allotted time on this earth and time is ticking away for each of us and driving us toward our final destination – the hereafter.

Since death and accountability are inescapable, it is logical that we prepare ourselves now and think about where we are heading in life. Perhaps a good place to start is to think about how people see us. When people see you coming, what goes through their minds? Do they see someone who is,

bossy
kind
hard working
a user
always ready to help
a pompous fool
What would you like to add to this list?

Be honest with yourself and think of the answer. Every heart knows itself if it is honest. Then if you come up with a negative or half and half conclusion, ask yourself the following questions:

When is the last time you did something for someone else?
When is the last time you made real, clear-cut goals for yourself?
When is the last time you cried with a friend and shared someone else’s joy or sorrow?
What do you do in your free time?

Spend time with family and friends
Watch TV
Do volunteer work
Help out at home
Read books
Useful things
Useless things
Is there anything you would like to add?

Where are you heading in your life?

I don’t know.
I don’t care.
I’m still making my goals – not sure.
I am working step by step toward my goals.
I keep changing my mind.
There is no easy way to find your life goals or to know yourself well enough to make those goals. But one thing is certain, the people around us, especially those who care about us, can act as a mirror to who we are, not who we think we are.
It might be an interesting exercise to get a group of your good friends together and pass out a piece of paper to each one. Write down the name of one of the people in your group on top of a piece of paper. In the end, every person in the group will have their name written on top of a piece of paper.

Then pass each paper (representing each person) to everyone in the group and ask them to write down how they see that person. Ask them to be honest but kind in how they say things. I am sure you will find a lot of interesting perceptions that will help each person to know themselves better. Then you can ask each person to write down on their paper how they see themselves.

By doing such activities it is hoped that each person will look for ways to put more quality activities into their lives.

Altaf Husain

You cannot escape it. The discussion about habits is all around you: Mom and Dad are constantly telling you to break your bad habits; your teachers are telling you to develop good habits; your friends are pressuring you to adopt their habits; and the television and media are influencing you to explore new and supposedly cool habits. “You will never be successful,” the constant refrain goes, “unless you drop your bad habits and develop some good habits.” In the end, it’s all up to you. You have to decide what your habits are going to be. Have you given this matter some thought?
If you are alive and breathing, you should constantly be engaged in an inner struggle to develop habits which draw you closer to Allah Most High. Success in this world is directly related to the strength of your relationship with Allah. The farther one is from Allah and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), the less likely one is to achieve success in this world and, for sure, even less likely to achieve success in the hereafter. Is it not time for us to reflect upon Islamic teachings to discern the necessary habits of highly successful Muslim youth?

Here are at least seven habits indispensable for highly successful Muslim youth, derived entirely from the Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

Be Truthful

Being truthful is not always easy, especially when we make a mistake. We fret over whether or not to disclose exactly what happened. We sweat, we are afraid, we feel nervous and anxious. We are often afraid that if we tell the truth about what we have done or said, we will be in trouble with our parents or friends. What we forget is that whether we tell the truth or not, Allah Most High knows exactly what took place, even those things that were never manifest or visible to people around us. Despite how burdensome telling the truth might seem, all of us are aware of the feeling of relief we experience when we tell the truth, even if the consequence of telling the truth is punishment. Casting the telling of truth and the fate of the truthful in terms of profit and loss, Allah Most High tells us in the Qur’an

[This is a day on which the truthful will profit from their truth: theirs are gardens, with rivers flowing beneath – their eternal Home: Allah well-pleased with them, and they with Allah. That is the great salvation, (the fulfillment of all desires).] (Al-Ma’idah 5:119)

So much is to be gained from being truthful as opposed to escaping punishment or blame because of not being truthful. Not being truthful, in fact, leads us down a slippery slope, guaranteeing that with one lie, more lies must be told. Being truthful is not an option for Muslims, but rather an obligation, because our goal in being truthful is Paradise. The beloved of Allah, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), said, as narrated by `Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him),

Truthfulness leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to Paradise. And a man keeps on telling the truth until he becomes a truthful person. Falsehood leads to al-fujur [wickedness, evil-doing], and al-fujur leads to the (Hell) Fire, and a man may keep on telling lies till he is witten before Allah, a liar.” (Sahih Bukhari, Book #73, Hadith #116)

Ultimate success is therefore achieved by living one’s entire life – the youthful years, the adult years, and the elderly years – being truthful.

Be Trustworthy

Who do you rely on? Of course, Allah. He is indeed the Most Trustworthy. But among humans, who do you rely on? Who can you trust to come through for you all the time? Do people rely on you? Are you considered trustworthy?Moving ahead in life, achieving ultimate success, requires that people consider you trustworthy and reliable. Being trustworthy should not be an arbitrary activity but rather a habit so that you can be relied upon in all instances, big or small, convenient or inconvenient, easy or difficult.

In colloquial terms, we often hear “I’ve got your back,” implying, in the most literal sense, that people cannot see what is behind them so they need to rely on their friends to cover that angle, just in case a threat occurs from the back. Just imagine what it would be like if a friend were climbing a tree and was heading out onto a very thin branch to get a kite that got stuck there. She asks you if you “have her back.” In this instance, she is relying on you entirely to hold on to her in case the branch breaks. There is no room for joking around or for being distracted: your friend is trusting you with her life.

When we say Allah is the Most Trustworthy, we are coming to terms with the fact that Allah Most High will never let us down, will never leave our side. He, Most High, says about someone who willingly accepts Islam,

[Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah Heareth and Knoweth all things.] (Al-Baqarah 2:256)

Indeed, the prophets of Allah were all trustworthy people and Allah attested to the trustworthiness of those who were doubted by their communities. Prophet Hud, appealing to his community, declared to them,

[I but fulfill towards you the duties of my Lord’s mission: I am to you a sincere and trustworthy adviser.] (Al-A`raf 7:68)

Practice daily developing the habit of being trustworthy. Accept responsibility and then fulfill it. When others trust you, do not betray their trust.

You can read in the beautiful biography of our Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) how people used to entrust him with their valuables, knowing that upon their return they would find their valuables safe and unharmed. His personal and business practices were commendable to the degree that he was known for it in his community, even before he became aware that he was the Prophet of Allah, literally one who is most truthful and trustworthy.

Have Self-Restraint and Be God-Conscious

Perhaps the most difficult challenge while navigating adolescence is to restrain oneself from falling victim to one’s desires – especially one’s lower desires.

Our success in life depends to a great extent on how well we are able to restrain ourselves and to be moderate in what is permissible, as well as how capable we are of distancing ourselves from what is impermissible.

Why is self-restraint so critical? Satan’s goal is to make you a slave of your desires to the extent that you eat until you are actually uncomfortable; that you consume without restraint beverages made of caffeine, sugar, and artificial flavors; that you find yourself longing for sleep more than prayer; and that you yearn to satisfy your sexual desires. Developing self-restraint as a habit entails making self-restraint your second nature – something which is done almost without thought, without too much effort. We are reminded by Allah Most High,

[And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint, – none but persons of the greatest good fortune.] (Fussilat 41:5)

In seeking to be highly successful Muslim youth, that is, youth deserving of the greatest fortune, it is imperative that you develop self-restraint.

An interesting parallel is that, throughout his Qur’an translation, the late Abdullah Yusuf Ali translates taqwa as self-restraint. While taqwa is most commonly translated as “God-consciousness,” one realizes without much effort that the height of self-restraint is full and complete understanding that one is indeed conscious of one’s duty to one’s Lord. How awesome will it be if you can look back at your life and say to yourself, all praise is due to Allah that I did not succumb to my lower desires and instead exercised self-restraint consistently!

Be Thorough

Look around your room. How many unfinished projects do you have? When you work on homework, are you likely to rush through the assignment just so you can be done with it or are you more likely to take your time, to check your work, and most importantly, to be thorough?

Often teachers will grade a report based on how well and to what extent the student covered the topic at hand. Being thorough is not a habit that is developed overnight. The opposite of being thorough is being incomplete, being rushed, and working in haste without any regard for accuracy or quality. The most perfect is Allah Most High, Who perfected creation, Who perfected our religion, and Who guided His Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) to be the most perfect among humans in behavior and in character.

We read in the Muwatta of Imam Malik “Yahya related to me from Malik that he had heard that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘I was sent to perfect good character'” (Book #47, Hadith #47.1.8).

To be thorough stems from a desire to be perfect to the extent that this is humanly possible. Seeking perfection in our actions and speech from an early age helps us to develop a keen eye, not only for thoroughness in our own life, but also for thoroughness in the lives of those around us. Being thorough in prayer, for example, teaches us to be patient and to concentrate upon the words we are reciting and the different positions of the prayer.

Be Focused

One thousand ideas go through your head the moment you stand up for prayer. Is that you? Really? What do you make of those ideas? Do you process them? What about when you are sitting in class? Do you find your mind wandering, daydreaming, and unable to focus on the lecture at hand? Are you likely to use any excuse whatsoever to leave what you are doing?

Developing the habit of being focused ensures that you are awake, alert, and totally motivated to work on and complete the task at hand, whatever it may be. Being distracted early on in childhood by video games, fast-paced imagery, and constantly changing scenes on television shows contributes to an inability to concentrate, to focus. Among the best ways to develop focus is to practice praying with deep concentration to the extent that you are almost unaware of your surroundings. Allah Most High tells us in the Qur’an that the believers are

[those who humble themselves in their prayers] (Al-Mu’minun 23:2)

The humility referred to here results from total focus and concentration on the fact that one is in the presence of Allah, standing before Him, Most High. Do your best to develop focus, no matter what activity you are engaged in – whether in prayer, in academics, in athletics, or some other pastime.

Be Punctual

Stop saying over and over again that you are late because of “Muslim standard time,” or the “standard time” of your particular ethnicity. The last thing we should attribute to Islam is the notion that its teachings somehow make us late, slow, slugging, and anything but punctual. What a sad state of affairs, indeed, that we attribute our own weaknesses to our religion or ethnicity!

Highly successful individuals, be they Muslim or not, understand and appreciate the value of not only their time but the time of everyone else with whom they interact. Keeping people waiting for hours on end is neither something to be proud of nor a habit that has a place in the mindset of a person who tries to be successful.

One of the central pillars of Islam is prayer, and Allah and the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) have given us clear reminders that we are to establish prayers at their due times.

When `Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) asked “which deed is the dearest to Allah?” the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) replied, “To offer the prayers at their early stated fixed times” (Sahih Bukhari, Book #10, Hadith #505).

If indeed your day is to be considered successful, you must have prayed all the obligatory prayers at their established times and as many voluntary prayers as possible. If your day is planned around the times of prayer, you should not pray exactly at the time when you are to pray but then come late to all other appointments. Being punctual is a habit which, when perfected, demonstrates to others the tremendous value that Islam places on time – not only ours but that of everyone else with whom we interact.

Be Consistent

Apart from all the habits listed above, perhaps the one that is sure to help you become a highly successful Muslim youth is that of being consistent. One cannot be truthful one day and a liar the next; one cannot be trustworthy in one instance and totally unreliable in the next; and so on for each of the other habits. A Muslim understands from an early age that it is easier to do something once or whenever we feel like it but much harder to do something regularly and consistently.

Indeed, the Mother of the Believers `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) narrates that “the most beloved action to Allah’s Apostle was that which is done continuously and regularly” (Sahih Bukhari, Book #76, Hadith #469).

Regular and consist actions show that a person has thought about it, has intended to do it, has planned to do it, and therefore does it.

We urge you to be as consistent as possible, especially in those areas of your life which need constant improvement, such as your prayers, your fasting, your manners, your studying habits, etc. Do not say, I am going to pray all day every day, or fast voluntarily all of the days of every month, or study all night every night, because such actions cannot be humanly sustained over a long period of time. Say on the other hand, I am going to be sure to read at least one part of the Qur’an every day, or I will strive to help my parents with at least one household chore every day, or I will try to study at least one new item every week so that I can be ahead of the lesson plan.

Conclusion

Finally, Muslims aspire to develop all of these habits because, in doing so, we draw nearer to Allah Most High. If you are intent on being a highly successful Muslim youth, then you owe it to yourself to reflect upon your own life and see how many of these habits are already a part of who you are and how many you need to further develop or acquire.

We end with a reminder that developing these habits will help you to emulate the life of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). His message and his life are summarized well in a narration of `Abdullah ibn `Abbas:

Abu Sufyan told me that Heraclius said to him, “When I enquired of you what he (Muhammad) ordered you, you replied that he ordered you to establish the prayer, to speak the truth, to be chaste, to keep promises, and to pay back trusts.” Then Heraclius added, “These are really the qualities of a prophet.” (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Book #48, Hadith #846)

Strive to develop the seven habits listed above and many others from the Islamic teachings so that you will be among the highly successful Muslim youth.

Umm Rashid

Big city, bright lights. Cars flash in fast lanes. Young Muslims are getting ready to hit the “night scene”. Branded shoes and designer clothes in place, clutching the latest mobile gizmos and sporting the trendiest watches, their perfume smells — more than anything else – of money.

You can see them “hanging out” in groups, lolling in the bright lights of a megamall, lingering aimlessly in hypershops, buying a knick knack to drive away the boredom; even if it’s just for a second.

You can see them sipping cappucino at a Starbucks café …watching people go by, sharing a joke and laughing raucously; vacant eyes straying over to huge tv screens for the latest football score.

You can see them racing cars dangerously late into the night, music blasting from the stereos, startling passersby while they laugh in their faces. A standard sight.

Each time I see this all-too familiar scene, I find myself thinking of someone. Someone who lies buried in the blood-wet earth of ‘Uhud, feet covered by scented grass and his body covered only by a square woollen sheet that was not even sufficient to cover him completely. Someone who was his mother’s pampered son, he wore the best clothes his rich mother’s money could buy, his perfume scented the streets he walked through. The talk of Makkan matrons and maidens in their plush salons, the toast of his peers in the city’s clubs, the most flamboyant young man of the Quraysh, who left a life of pleasuring the Self to gain the pleasure of Allaah: Mus’ab bin Umair bin Hashim bin Abd Munaf who was also known as Mus’ab al Khair.

Mus’ab was only a youth when he heard of the new Prophet who had arisen among the Quraysh and his Message of monotheism; Makkah talked of very little else in those days. His curiosity piqued by all the talk, Mus’ab decided to approach the Prophet sall Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam on his own to determine the truth of his Message.

One night, instead of joining his friends in their customary revelry, Mus’ab made his way to the house of Al-Arqaam Ibn Al-Arqaam which came to be known as Daar al Arqaam among the Muslims. It was here that the Prophet met with the growing band of Muslims, away from the eyes of the Quraysh. It was here that the Companions talked over the future of their faith, heard and recited newly revealed portions of the Qur’aan and prayed behind the Prophet sall Allaahu ‘alayhi wassallam to Allaah.

That night, Mus’ab sat down among the gathering of the faithful and heard the Prophet sall Allaahu ‘alayhi wassallam recite verses of the Qur’aan. From that moment on he forgot for ever his life of luxury and indolence, in the ecstasy of discovering the key to eternal life.

Mus’ab’s path to the faith was not easy – his mother, Khunnas bint Maalik, a strong willed woman infamous for her sharp temper and sharper tongue – was his chief opponent. In order to avoid an unpleasant confrontation with his mother, Mus’ab initially avoided telling her about his new faith. However, people found him frequenting Daar Al-Arqaam more than his usual haunts and saw him coming under the influence of the Prophet sall Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam. It wasn’t long before news of his conversion reached his mother.

Reacting with the imperiousness of her nature, her pride in her lineage and her age-old allegiance to the gods, she commanded Mus’ab to return and repent to the gods he had abandoned in his “foolishness”; and when he refused, she had him shackled and imprisoned in a corner of the house.

Somehow, news of the first emigration of some Muslims to Abyssinia reached Mus’ab in his incarceration and his heart longed to join his brothers in the faith. Using his ingenuity, he managed to delude his mother and his guards and escaped to Abyssinia with other emigrants. Later, he returned to Makkah with them for a short while and emigrated a second time, this time as the Prophet [SAW]’s chosen envoy to the new centre of faith: Yathrib.

When Mus’ab returned from Abyssinia, his mother sought to imprison him yet again. But this time he vowed that if she attempted that, he would kill all those who came to her aid to lock him up. She knew the intensity of his determination better than anyone else and so she bade him a final farewell, crying bitterly: Go away, I am no longer your mother.

At this, Mus’ab went close to her and said: O Mother, I am advising you and my heart is with you, please bear witness that there is no God but Allaah and that Muhammad is His servant and messenger.

Enraged, she swore: By the stars, I will never enter your religion, to degrade my
status and weaken my senses!

But Mus’ab entered Islaam in the spirit of the Qur’aan when it says: udkhuloo fi silme kaafah [enter into Islaam completely]. He forsook every semblance of satisfaction of the Self for the sake of Allaah – his dress was tattered, his food was simple, the bare earth was his bed.

One day he went out to meet some Muslims while they were sitting around the Prophet sall Allaahu alayhi wassallam, and when they saw him they lowered their heads and shed silent tears at the sight of the pampered youth of their memory , moving about in wornout patches held together by thorns, which barely covered him. After Mus’ab moved away from the gathering, the Prophet sall Allaahu alayhi wassallam recalled: I saw Mus’ab, and there was no youth in Makkah more petted by his parents than he. Then he
abandoned all that for the love of Allaah and His Prophet.

Recognizing Mus’ab’s noble manners and patience, the Prophet [SAW] commissioned him to instruct the people of Yathrib who had pledged their allegiance to the Prophet at ‘Aqabah, to call others to Islaam and to prepare the city for the eventual migration of the Prophet [SAW].

At that time, there were among the Companions men of sterling character and nerves of steel, men who were older and more experienced in the ways of the world; yet he [SAW] chose Mus’ab as his representative. And Mus’ab proved worthy of the Prophet’s choice many times over, dealing with detractors with patience and sagacity.

Mus’ab entered Yathrib as a guest of Sa’ad ibn Zurarah of the Khazraj tribe. Together they went approached the citizens of Yathrib, explaining the message of Monotheism and reciting the Qur’aan. Once Musa’ab and Sa’ad were sitting near a well in an orchard of Banee Zafar, when they were approached by Usayd ibn Khudayr brandishing a spear in obvious rage. Sa’ad whispered to Mus’ab: This is a chieftain of his people. May Allaah place the truth in his heart.

Mus’ab replied calmly: If he sits down, I will speak to him.

Usayd was angry at the success of Mus’ab’s mission and shouted angrily: Why have you both come to us to corrupt the weak among us? Keep away from us if you want to stay alive. At this, Musa’ab smiled and said softly: Won’t you sit down and listen? If you are pleased and satisfied with our mission, accept it; and if you dislike it we will stop telling you what you dislike and leave. Sticking his spear into the ground, Usayd sat down to hear them out. As Musa’ab began telling him about Islaam and

reciting portions of the Qur’aan to Usayd’s expression changed. The first words he uttered were : How beautiful are these words and how true! What does a person do if he wants to enter this religion?

Mus’ab explained: Have a bath, purify yourself and your clothes. Then utter the testimony of Truth (shahadah), and perform prayers. Usayd testified that there is no god but Allaah and that Muhammad is His Messenger, prayed two rakaats of salaah and was followed by another influential man: Sa’ad ibn Muaadh.

By the time the Prophet [SAW] emigrated, there was not a single household in Yathrib in which Mus’ab had not endeared himself and the Message of Islaam. In the subsequent pilgrimage, he led a company of 70 people went from Yathrib to pledge allegiance to the Prophet.

In a famous incident after the victory at Badr, the Muslims captured some Makkans and sought to ransom them. Mus’ab was passing by the ranks of prisoners and stopped when saw his brother, Abu Azeez ibn Umayr among them. However, instead of interceding on his behalf, he instructed his brother’s captor to bind him securely and to extract a large ransom for the prisoner, because “his mother is a very rich woman” When the brother sought to remind Mus’ab of his relationship, Mus’ab replied: I only recognize brotherhood of the faith, this man is my brother, not you!

At ‘Uhud, the Prophet sall Allaahu alayhi wassallam chose Mus’ab to bear the battle standard. In the melee that followed the archers descent from the hill where they were stationed, in violation of the Prophet [SAW]’s orders, the Makkans fought back fiercely. Taken unawares by the cavalry of the Quraysh attacking from the rear, the Muslim ranks scattered. Intent on harming the Prophet [SAW], the Makkans searched for him while he was being guarded only by a handful of companions. Suddenly, someone shouted that the Prophet [SAW] was no more.

It was at this juncture that Mus’ab’s glorious life reached a fitting culmination: Ibrahim ibn Muhammad related from his father, who said: Mus’ab ibn ‘Umair carried the standard on the Day of Uhud. When the Muslims were scattered, he stood fast until he met Ibn Qaami’ah who was a knight. He struck him on his right hand and cut it off, but Mus’ab said:And Muhammad is but a Messenger. Messengers have passed away before him . He carried the standard with his left hand and leaned on it, when
his left hand was cut off, he leaned on the standard and held it with his upper arms to his chest, all the while saying: And Muhammad is but a Messenger. Messengers have passed away before him. Then a third soldier
struck Mus’ab with his spear, and the spear went through him.

After the battle, the Prophet and his companions came to the plain of ‘Uhud to bury the martyrs, some of whose bodies had been mutilated by the marauding women of the Qur’aysh. Pausing when he saw Mus’ab, the Prophet [SAW] recited: Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah. Then he [SAW] looked at the remains of his companions in the battlefield and said: The Prophet of Allaah witnesses that you are martyrs to Allaah on the Day of Resurrection.

There wasn’t enough material to serve as a shroud for Mus’ab. Khabbaab ibn Al-Arat narrated: We emigrated with the Prophet for Allaah’s cause, so our reward became due with Allaah. Some of us passed away without enjoying anything in this life of his reward, and of them was Mus’ab ibn ‘Umair, who was martyred on the Day of Uhud. He did not leave behind anything except a sheet of shredded woollen cloth. If we covered his feet with it, his head was uncovered, and if
we covered his feet with it, his head was uncovered. The Prophet [SAW] said to us: Cover his head with it and put lemon grass over his feet.

It was this memory of Mus’ab in his martyr’s grave, that caused companions like Abdur Rahmaan ibn ‘Awf to cry in fear of having no share in the Hereafter, because they had been granted a life of plenty and ease right here in this world. Once his servant brought him a meal to break his fast and ibn ‘Awf burst into tears, remembering Mus’ab who had passed away without tasting the good of this world, to the certainty of eternal pleasure in the Hereafter.

As night falls, I think of the shadows lengthening across ‘Uhud where the martyrs lie buried, when visitors drive off leaving the plain quiet, dark and peaceful. I think of the graves of the shuhadaa, resplendent with the dazzling light of the truly fortunate: those who are pleasing to Allaah and are pleased with Him.

In the neon dazzle of malls, where countless young Muslims strive daily in the trivial pursuit of pleasure, we would do well to bear the memory of Mus’ab radiyy Allaahu anhu in mind. It may keep us from getting lost in the light.

Showkat AliIt’s that time of year
When I’m full of fear
Scared and unable to sleep
I keep these thoughts near
Afraid to share
Or show my fears

Revising hard
Like it’s a bigger fard
Than following Islam
Which keeps me calm

My final exams are nigh
End of an era
But my mind is full of terror
Grade eleven
Final year
Have to do well
A few A*’s and maybe
A couple of A’s
That is If I’m lucky
If not how do I tell my family
That I failed miserably?

My mum crying
My dad staring
Into space
With an empty face
Sombre dark frame of mind
Takes hold like somebody died

I let down the family
What will people say?
Relatives boasting
Their kids done outstanding
Whilst my parents hide their shame
In isolation
Holding me for the blame
My life aint worth living
And I think about myself deeply
I think about suicide
Ending this pain and worry
With escape to break free

Expectations so high
My older siblings are flying
In their careers
Doctors and engineers

I’m expected
To go higher
Maintain the tradition
To succeed in education

Qualifications
Job applications
Working hard
Lots of money
Fame and success
Is everything

Getting married
Having kids
Retirement
And that’s the end!

That’s the plan my parents got
But I find my mind
Thinking and asking
Is their more to life than this?
Following the society
or following my Creator?

Where does happiness and success lie?
This life or the next?
You decide.

Exams can be retaken
But if I waste my life
Will I get the chance to come back and re-take?

Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood 

Most of my readers will know that I grew up outside a Muslim environment, just part of the ‘normal’ everyday world of the West. So, my experiences were probably very different from those faced by Muslim readers. However, it is important to realise that Muslim or non-Muslim, all human beings suffer from rather similar problems, difficulties and temptations. As human beings, we are all born with hearts that can easily flutter, get upset, or get carried away by various stimuli. There is no point in being silly about this – it is the way Allah made us. We do not know His reasons why, we just have to get on with the way we are.

And it is a fact that human beings, (for they are all still part of the animal kingdom, even though they have a few important extra features), can all be seriously affected by hormones (look them up!), phases of the moon, time of the month, and what the weather is doing. This comes on top of what your parents are doing (or, more important, where they are at the time), what possibilities you have for a private life where no-one can see what you are up to, and what your friends get up to.

So far, I have not even mentioned the words ‘sexual attraction’. And I certainly haven’t mentioned ‘love’.

I first fell in love when I was eight years old. The only things I can remember now about this nine-year-old that so affected me in the playground were that his name was Roy and that he used to wear wellington boots with the tops turned down. This was considered to be very macho at the time. To be honest, there was nothing very fetching about Roy and he used to take my sweet-money and eat the sweets I was prepared to sacrifice for him, but the boots had a serious effect on me. I adored him.

My next ‘real love,’ a playmate aged ten, got caught pinching other things than sweet-money, and I was so aghast that he could have stolen from my own family that it took some time to get over the shock. Then, at around thirteen years old, I remember being crazy about the forty-five year old man in the Post Office where I had a Saturday job – in his case, it was the way a lock of black hair hung down over the counter when he bent over pension books that attracted me. He used to flick it back in such a film-star way.

Now, why should I tell you all this? Well, you will see that these ‘affairs of the heart’ were all pretty innocent, but they illustrate two important things – even at the age of eight my heart was quite capable of storming passion, and that the objects of my desire were not actually the males themselves but some feature of their looks, or even their clothing. Their characters did not come into it.

I don’t suppose I was all that different from most of you. Even if young people are kept in total separation from members of the opposite sex, it makes no difference to what goes on in the urges and feelings department. It is frequently the case that for many women, they never get to ‘love’ any human being anywhere near as much as they do/did some highly attractive pop-star, film-star, football-star.

The ‘stars’ of this world have attractive features that are extraordinary. It may be their faces, their bodies, their legs, their hair, their clothes. We know virtually nothing about their real lives – what we know is the story in the film or book, the longings expressed on their pop-videos. We don’t see them in slobby gear, or sick and weak, or first thing in the morning. We don’t witness their bad habits, their bad tempers, their meanness, their hurtfulness, their infidelity. We think that even if we did, we would love them just the same.

But let us turn to real life – the things that happen in the classroom, lecture-hall or at work. As Muslims, we know we have a few rules to keep, and they are not easy ones. The most important on the subject of this article is – no sex outside the marriage relationship.

However, you are not a married adult, but a youngster. So what should you do? Really, what we want you to do is to think like an adult and have the awareness of an adult – and not just any old adult, for there are many stupid and ignorant and weak ones. We want you to start practising being a wise, careful, prudent and sensible adult. You need ‘people skills’ and, of course, these are not easily acquired without experience and practice.

Firstly, let’s think about the romance that is churned out on TV, in films, magazines, romance-paperbacks, and so on. These things give us fuel to our secret fires, our secret longings. They wind us up. They can even become like a drug, and those who are ‘turned on’ by them go back for more and more, like a ‘fix’. In real life, we may be experiencing nothing like it at all, but the romancing appeals to those deep urges in us. Is that harmful? Yes, it is, in a way. Supposing you are a chubby or fat person. You want to eat foods with sugar and fat in them. You desperately want them, you probably cannot give them up – but you know they are bad for you. Filling yourself up with romantic notions is rather similar.

Suppose you are suffering from the unwanted attentions of someone at school or college or in the workplace. Someone else has been stirred up by your charms, but you are not interested and wish to keep away. Islam is very clear – you have the responsibility to do your best to protect your honour and your good name. This is best done by never putting yourself into a position where you could be compromised, or taken advantage of. If you are in a public place with someone, or have a trustworthy witness with you – well and good. But if you are in private, alone in a room, behind a bike-shed – then even if nothing happens and you do not give in to any temptation, there is nothing to stop tongues flapping. Bad boys (and girls) boast. They tell lies. And then, how can you convince others of the truth? Don’t forget, once you have been caught out in a lie, nobody can ever be completely sure that you will not lie again. The trust has gone. If you allow someone to do something once, nobody can ever be completely sure that you will not do it again.

One of the hardest and most hurtful things for a parent is to discover that their child has lied. If you have already gone past this situation – don’t panic. You can do things about it. Firstly, you must feel sorry in your heart, and feel the need for forgiveness. If you don’t, then I’m afraid my words are not going to mean very much to you. If you do feel sorry, then be absolutely sure that Allah will forgive you. Allah always does, even if the humans involved may not. Then, you have to resolve not to get yourself into that kind of situation again, and do your best. This is not to say it will not happen again – but you have to do your best. Really.

You have to be streetwise. You have to try to see things coming and take evasive action. Islam teaches that when a male and female are alone together, Shaytan soon comes along and is the third party – moreover, the one who will gossip! Don’t put yourself in a compromising position. Keep in public, keep someone else with you – and I don’t mean a crony of the person trying to be alone with you!

Supposing you have been smitten – it is you who are the one suffering from longings and urges. Again, be streetwise. I foolishly wrote a note to somebody once, only to find later that the boy had shown all his friends and eventually pinned it up on the wall! Ouch – that was a hard lesson. Others write diaries, and they get seen by the wrong eyes too.

But supposing it is Real Love? Then, this is serious. Love is real. It isn’t always just young lust. It can strike at any time. It can strike even when you are old, or married to someone else. Sometimes it involves enormous sacrifices. Sometimes you will never be able to ‘have’ the person you love. Big tragedies occur when youngsters fall seriously in love when they are just too young. The sad thing is that they may never again fall in love with anyone else the way they loved that person then. First real love is always huge, and remembered until you die. It might turn out happily, but almost always does not. You will learn painful lessons, and this is all part of what we call ‘growing up’. You learn how to cope with pain and loss. Listen to the words of those pop songs – one minute it is ‘moon’ and ‘June’, and the next comes all the suffering and heartbreak.

You need to learn that true love is not just getting someone who will fulfil your needs and fantasies. Every time I hear those song-words ‘I need you’, it makes me worry. Yes, of course we have needs, huge needs, and huge fantasies – but true love is not so much about what you need, but about sharing a life together. It means loving the partner, warts and all. If the emphasis is on what you need, the relationship is not going to work for long – it will end in tears.

Actually, this is an important factor in the great love-stories and films. Usually the couple start off not at all attracted to each other, even antagonistic. They may even hate and loathe each other. Then they begin to get under each other’s skins, and as the story unfolds – bingo! – they suddenly realise the good points and what they mean to each other, and their lives together begin. That’s usually the end of the film, of course – when it should be the start of the reality story.

You have to learn how to give love. The more you can love and give, the more you will be loved. You have to learn how to look beyond the surface. I often tell people that this is one of the great advantages of being blind – you get to know people by what they are, and not by how they look.

You have to realise that sexual attraction is not the same thing as love. If you are ‘in love’, stop and think whether you actually like the person you love. Think of the things they do and say. If it was anyone else doing it or saying it, would you really like that person? Try and work out why it is that your parents would not like that person. If you are at the stage of contemplating marriage, try to imagine what your intended partner is going to be like ten years down the line, at the parents’ evening.

‘Love’ is a very strong intoxicant. It can make people do silly things. It can seriously cloud their judgement. Islam, and your parents, will do all they can to protect you from it for as long as possible, but they know you will not escape it. No-one does.

It can make people very weak and unprincipled. ‘I would do anything for love’, says the song. This is put over as if it was a good thing – but is it? Think about it. Here’s another one – ‘Love conquers everything’. Does it? Of course not.

‘Well, he/she may have a few faults, but my love will enable him/her to change.’ Dream on – bad habits only get worse, irritants only get more irritating.

There is a huge problem in the Muslim communities here in the UK of finding and getting the right partner, and achieving the happiness in a husband/wife relationship that should be ‘half the faith.’ Use the years of your youth to observe and learn, and find wisdom. Use your time to make yourself as talented and useful a partner to someone as you could possibly be. Try to see your young years as the right time to be doing the training – then, when you are the right age for marriage, hopefully you will be able to choose wisely and be happy.

May our dear Lord, who is the Turner of Hearts, bless you and guide you in the right way. Ruqaiyyah.

(With acknowledgements to Reflect, the magazine of the Muslim Educational Trust).