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Why Muslim Youth Need Guiding Mentorship

In this memoir, a student speaks about how having knowledgeable, concerned mentorship in his teenage years helped him take the right path.

My Two Mentors

One day in my late teens, I remember being out all day with my brothers and younger cousins. We engaged in all kinds of activities, such as football, laser tag, and then going to a restaurant to eat.

We had fun all day. My father simply took us to where we wanted to go and would watch us have fun, until we were ready to go to the next one. When we got home that evening, I began talking to my cousins about the next activity my dad could take us to.

At this, my two older cousins, Umar and Ali, approached me. They both pointed out quite bluntly that I needed to be more grateful to my parents and appreciate how much effort and sacrifice they’d made for me. Only then did I realize how much I was taking them for granted.

I benefitted a lot through Umar and Ali, who served as my mentors through my teenage years. Both about ten years older than me, they had been through the same education system as me, and had been brought up in the West just like me. They’d seen the same challenges to their faith that I was going through. I knew I could speak to them whenever I needed.

I didn’t have the benefit of having learnt sacred knowledge from a young age. As a result, for the first twenty years of my life, my knowledge of Islam was quite basic. Like the other Muslims in my school, I had to figure it out largely on my own. I remember being in school at age 12, where the teacher was asking the students how many of them believed in God. Despite their age, many answered that they did not.

In most subjects there was either an anti-God, anti-religious, or anti-Islamic narrative. In history classes, the Islamic nations were always the bad guys, whether it was the Ottoman armies or the successful “kicking out” of the Muslims from Spain. Religious study lessons would include philosophical challenges to the existence of God, such as the so-called “Problem of Evil,” without mentioning the vast contributions and proofs of the great Muslim thinkers.

And of course, biology lessons always featured evolution in biased ways. When speaking about animals that were well adapted to their environments, the teacher would attribute it to the genius of evolution. But when there were apparent biological flaws in an animal, the teacher would say that a Creator would not have let that flaw to exist.

This environment impacted me greatly. I felt very insecure about not having clear answers. I’d find myself around the age of 14 and 15 lying in bed at night for hours thinking about how the universe began, whether evolution existed, and everything else.

By the grace of Allah, I always remained a Muslim in belief. However, I had fundamental questions that needed answering. During this period, I benefited immensely from Umar and Ali, who would answer my questions. They would explain how there is no problem believing in the Big Bang as long one believes it is God that caused it to happen. They explained the problems with evolution from a scientific perspective, and that explaining how science and Islam are compatible. Their mentorship was so effective because they had gone through the same journey that I had. Because of this, they were able to help me in a way that parents, aunties and uncles were not.

Battling Ideology

But my troubles weren’t over. When I began university I got involved with the Muslim student groups. Their arguments seemed logical and straightforward, and I got caught up in them. After all, why did we need to follow a school of thought, if we had the Qur’an and sunna? And why were we introducing innovations if our religion was already clear?

Alhamdulillah, yet again, there were Umar and Ali. They tried their best to gently explain the issues with textual literalism, and the importance of schools of thought and following traditional Islam. It wasn’t an overnight process, nor was it an easy one.

They would patiently tolerate me debating with them on religious issues, but would not argue with me. “Don’t worry,” I heard Umar say to Ali. “He’ll figure it out for himself one day.” With wisdom and kindness, they gave me the space to explore for myself, while also advising me at the right moments when I most needed it.

A few years later, when I was ready, Ali very generously paid for me to study some Sunni Path courses (now Qibla), including an Aqida al-Tahawi course taught by Shaykh Hamza Karamali, and a course that covered the sources of Islamic law, taught by Shaykh Farid Dingle.

I remembered how I told a brother from university that I was about to take these classes. “Be careful,” he warned. “They may be Asharis!” “What are Asharis?” I asked. “They interpret some parts of the Qur’an figuratively,” he replied. “For example, when the Qur’an refers to ‘Allah’s hand,’ they say it’s a metaphor for His power, because He does not resemble created things.”

I personally couldn’t see what was wrong with that. He gave me a CD and told me to listen to it instead. I tried, but the speaker was just bashing the other methodologies without actually proving his own points.

I decided to go ahead with the Sunni Path courses. They were detailed and well-taught, and confirmed to me the truth of traditional Sunni Islam in a clear, factual manner. The Aqida course included some articles written by Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller about the Sunni Aqida. I sent them to the brother from university.
When he finally responded, he told me that the articles were not backed up by sources from the Qur’an and Sunna.

“What do you mean?” I asked. “The whole article is based on hadith!” “Yes, but they need to be verified.” “They are sahih, what more do you want?” I was frustrated with the lack of response. Learning from Shaykh Hamza and Shaykh Farid gave me the inspiration to study more. Alhamdulillah, Ali also introduced me to the spiritual teachings of Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller, who I now learn from and do not ever want to look back.

However, their work was not yet over. When the time came for me to start searching for a spouse, it was time for them to help me again, as some of my family members, although they wanted nothing but the best for me, weren’t on the same page as me when it came to what to look for in a spouse. My cousins themselves had gone through the same challenges while looking for a spouse. By now, they were both married and starting families, and through their advice I eventually did find a wife who had the same religious perspective and goals as me.

To this day, Umar and Ali continue to guide me with their calm influence, wisdom and life experience. To me, my story is an example of the importance of Muslim youth having role models, who are older than them but not too old, and well-grounded in their own faith.

By Amjad Shaykh


This piece was written by a SeekersHub student. Looking to inspire? Consider writing for our Compass Blog! We are looking for individuals willing to submit feature pieces for publication. Share your stories with us. Contact [email protected] with your pitch and inspire and motivate hundreds – if not thousands – of others.


Prophetic Parenting: Q&A – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

The Prophetic Parenting series, taught by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani,  covers 40 Hadiths on raising righteous Muslim children. This segment of the Prophetic Parenting series covers some commonly asked questions and answers.

What are the three aspects of parenting?

They are tarbiya (upbringing) ta’deeb (instilling of adab) and ta’leem (teaching). These must come in order, and parents must have a plan for what they want for their children, and have goals. By raising them with concern, children will be led to have good character.

To what extent are we responsible for the choices of our children when they grow up?

We are responsible for taking the means that we can, but we cannot control outcomes. Normally, if the right means are taken with the right intentions, we can be reasonably sure to expect the right results. However, if you took the means but yet they drift, your responsibility remains to advise, and be of sincere concern.  You can do this without imposing on them or being overbearing.

If two parents do not agree, what should they do?

All affairs have to be through mutual consultation, with each other and with trusted elders and scholars. They should agree to have a healthy marriage, and how to discuss issues that come up in a respectful and safe manner.

About the Series

As Muslims, we take family and our children seriously. We seek clarity and guidance to raise upright, righteous, successful Muslim children who love Allah and His Messenger, peace be upon him. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani will cover 40 hadiths on parenting.

Beginning with how to choose a spouse while keeping in mind future parenting, to raising and educating children from when they’re small to when they are young adults. We will also see beautiful, faith-inspiring examples of the Prophet’s mercy, gentleness, wisdom, and excellence in his own parenting and dealing with children–while inculcating in them the highest of aspiration, discipline, curiosity, intelligence, and spiritual resolve.


Anse Tamara Gray Answers Your Aqida Questions

Anse Tamara Gray recently spent over two hours answering some of the most pertinent contemporary aqida questions, as a background to understanding modernism and how it has affected us. Worth watching in the Rabata video below.

The Need to Know – A live event in Amman with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

The Need To Know: What A Concerned Muslim Needs to Learn, and How

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani is currently in Jordan. On Monday, 15th August, he will be giving a brief talk and having an open question and answer session on seeking knowledge. The event will also be LIVE online.

Location: The Madarik Amman Centre (opposite Mokhtar Mall in the Hajj building on the 3rd floor)

Time: Monday at 5.30 pm (Amman time) Convert to your timezone

Hajj – A Reader – For Those Blessed With The Pilgrimage

Dhul Hijja, the month of Hajj, is fast approaching. Hundreds and thousands of blessed Muslims are packing their bags, checking their travel documents and flocking to airports around the world, to make the journey to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
This brief document is a resource for those travelling for Hajj this year, or any year. It provides links to questions that have been answered by SeekersGuidance scholars, blog posts written about the pilgrimage, and relevant information pertaining to Hajj.
Videos and Blog Posts:
Video: Preparing for Hajj – Habib Faisal-Alkaff – Radical Middle Way
Hajj Handbook – Shaykh Husain Abdul Sattar …
Video: Hajj Reflections – Radical Middle Way …
The Hajj Collection – Shaykh Abdal Hakim …
Ten Good Manners for Hajj by Imam al-Ghazali …
The Gifts of Hajj – Radical Middle Way – Blog
Imam al-Haddad’s Counsels on Hajj and `Umrah – Muwasala
Video: Fast the 9th (‘Arafa) and Live for Another Year – Mufti Abdur Rahman ibn Yusuf
On the Path to a Sacred Journey: The Courtesies (Adab) of Hajj – Nur Sacred Sciences
From Our Answers Page:
Removing Hair and Wearing Scents: Expiations for Accidental Violations of Ihram during Hajj
Does Allah Forgive Marital Infidelity When You Make Hajj?
Missing the Farewell Tawaf Due to Menstruation
Calculating Zakat and Going on Hajj with a Student Loan
Is It Valid to Make Hajj or Umrah Before One’s Parents?
Seeking Forgiveness from Others Before Hajj
Hajj Tamattu`: Does an Invalid Umra Affect the Hajj?
What is the Wisdom Behind Doing Certain Hajj and Umrah Rituals 7 Times?
Reciting Sura al-Baraqara for Protection and Cutting One’s Hair for Hajj and Umrah
What Are the Rulings of Performing Tawaf, Sa’y, and Prayer While Carrying a Baby With Dirty Diapers (Nappies)?
Question on Hajj Violations
Going On Hajj While in Debt
Can a Man Perform Hajj on Behalf of a Non-Mahram Woman?
Is Foreplay a Violation On Hajj?
Wearing Stitched Clothing in Ihram: What Kind of Expiation is Due?
Should I Delay Hajj to Help Fund a Sibling’s Wedding?
Doubts About Having Committed a Contravention at Hajj
Chronic Excuse: Can I Combine Prayers with a Single Ablution?
What is the Minimum Amount of Hair that Must Be Cut to Exit the State of Ihram After Hajj or Umrah?
The Day of `Arafah: The 9th of Dhu’l Hijjah and the Takbirs of Eid
Removing Hair and Wearing Scents: Expiations for Accidental Violations of Ihram during Hajj
Appointing Someone to Perform Hajj on Someone’s Behalf
Can I Wear Stitched Footgear, Belts, or a Backpack While in Ihram?
Can Women Wear Ornaments While Performing Umrah?
How Long Must One Stay at Arafat During Hajj?
The Tawafs of Hajj

Recommended Viewing:

Imam Tahir’s DVD / CD set on Hajj http://www.falahproductions.com/dvd.php