How to Counsel a Teenager with Religious Shortcomings?

Answered by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari
Question: What is the best way, the prophetic way to deal with a teenager (17 of age) who’s going through a crisis of faith? Can you recommend books to read on such a topic?
Answer: In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Dear Sister,
Assalamu alaikum,
I pray you and your family are well.
Thank you for your question.
With the advent of Ramadan, now is a wonderful time to ask Allah Ta’ala to bring hearts together and replace the young person’s doubt with yaqin (certainty of faith).
The proper response is compassion and patience, not harshness or ostracism.
God Most High says in the Qur’an, “And it was by God’s grace that thou [O Prophet] did deal gently with your followers: for if you had been harsh and hard of heart, they would indeed have broken away from you. Pardon them, then, and pray that they be forgiven. And take counsel with them in all matters of public concern; then, when you have decided upon a course of action, place your trust in God: for, verily, God loves those who place their trust in Him.” (3:159)
Crises of faith can beset anyone, young or old, male or female, strong religious background or otherwise. Sometimes there is an obvious trigger like a traumatic event or an illness, but sometimes a crisis can be precipitated by the everyday wearing down of the faith that can occur under a barrage of negative media reports about Islam and Muslims and a difficulty on our part to connect with the beauty of our Creator in the midst of such ugliness.
My advice is to seize whatever opportunity you can to reach out to your teenager on any level–it doesn’t have to be a religious discussion per se. Also, involving a trusted counselor or youth director might be helpful, particularly if your teenager is likelier to open up in a more neutral setting.
As far as books are concerned, a good starting point might be Mohamed Rida and Ekram Beshir’s Parenting in the West.
May Allah grant ease.
Zaynab Ansari
Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani