Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. They fall in love. Boy is Muslim. Girl is Christian. Boy proposes. Girl says yes. So what now? Where do they go from here?
I wish to protect their identity, but one of the beloved people in my life proposed to his Christian girlfriend recently. Tonight we all hung out and we asked them questions, all of us obviously happy for their engagement but also concerned. Were they serious? What’s the next step? Will she practise Islam? How will he guide her? Do they realise what a big step this is? It’s a hugeeeeee life decision.
I can honestly say once they started opening up, we all became closer. A half hour conversation tonight suddenly turned into a 3-hour one and we learned so much about each other. She asked us questions like what is Ramadhan, how come you only pray Terawih in Ramadhan, why do we pray 5 times a day, how come she has to convert to Islam but he can’t convert to Christianity, do we even know what we read in the Quran since it’s in Arabic and we don’t speak it, how come this how come that. She couldn’t understand some of the things we do, and she opened up and was honest about how she doesn’t know how to accept Islam. And quite honestly, we all started reflecting too because we couldn’t give her spot on answers. We take it for granted that we’ve just been born Muslims and we do it because well… our parents do it!
We asked her questions about Christianity too. She’s a devout one, she goes to church a lot and she speaks of her church with love. She showed us photos of it and how there are 3000 (three thousand!!) people there every session, and how they discuss issues, they sing, they pray, they donate to the church, they eat after and how they would willingly do activities after just to hang out as a community. I have my disagreements on some of the activities she explained, but honestly, it generally sounded really nice and welcoming. She even told us there is this group of “underground Christians” who are actually Muslim but attend church because they enjoy it more. They said Islam is just about rules (can’t do this, can’t do that) and the pressure of being a Muslim was too big for them to shoulder. I personally feel they were taught Islam in the traditional conservative manner, and because they had no one to talk to, we lost them. How dangerous is this for Islam? Us youths aren’t like generations before; we won’t just take cold instructions, we question, we ask, we want to see the logic in everything.
I started thinking about my own religion. Where do we hang out with our community? We all know how important community meetings are; schools have weekly assembly, companies have weekly meetings and town halls. What about religious meets? Sure, the men meet once a week for Friday prayers and listen to the sermons. But where do the women go to learn? Where do the youth go to learn about Islam every week? It has to be our own initiative to join classes here and there of course, and let’s be honest; not many people do it or even know about it. We just pray and fast, and call ourselves good Muslims. My mom’s agama classes are filled with mostly elderly women and I find the talks very preachy and unrelatable to the youth when I attend sometimes. Yes, we have those big fancy annual Islamic conventions once a year, but Christians have big meets three times a week. Their meets are fun and lively, filled with eager and supportive youths, volunteering and helping. Where are all the Muslim youth? Do we really make it interesting for youth to come? Come where, even?
Us Muslim youths are the future of our religion, and if we can’t even explain certain reasons or certain Islamic history, how are we going to drive the Muslim community? With that in mind, we started researching English Islamic classes for her and watched YouTube videos of converts Sheikh Hussain Yee and Imam Suhaib Webb (because she said she wants to start learning about Islam) and we all vowed to go through this journey with her. To support her, and honestly, it was for us too.
Do these thoughts ever cross your mind?
P/S: If I’m wrong about us not having weekly community meets, that is my own ignorance. Please do let me (and everyone here) know the activities and how to spread the word to make Islam more appealing to the youth especially.