On Saturday October 18th, 2014, Muslim Family Services (MFS) held an interactive youth workshop for the benefit of all Metro-Detroit youth. The workshop was scheduled from 11:00 am-3:00 pm. The workshop, entitled “Stronger Youth, Greater Tomorrow”, was composed of six segments led by different speakers and professionals. Gracing the stage was none other than our very own Sheikh Ali Suleiman Ali followed by Dr. Halim Naeem, Br. Omar Malik, Br. Osama Odeh, Sr. Tahira Khalid and Sr. Jumana Abusalah. These six speakers engaged the audience about various issues plaguing the youth. Subjects like substance abuse, parent-youth relationships, romantic relationships and social diseases, good character, leadership skills development and brotherhood-sisterhood were all part of the workshops discourse.
First up was our director Sheikh Ali Suleiman Ali who welcomed all guest and discussed the need for brotherhood and sisterhood. He reminded all in attendance that “…none of [us] truly believe until [we] want for [our] brother (or sister) what we want for ourselves”, a hadith from our beloved messenger (pbuh). This is a reminder to every one about the importance of respecting and wishing well for our brothers and sisters in humanity. Sheikh Ali made the distinction that all of humanity are our brothers and sisters saying that there are three types of brotherhoods: blood brotherhood, brotherhood of faith and brotherhood in humanity. We should wish all well and pray for the guidance of all people. If practiced widely, this mindset could change the world. Every human being can be an agent of that change for the sake of pleasing our Maker.
Following Sheikh Ali was Dr. Halim Naeem a Limited License Psychologist specializing in Substance Abuse and Youth counseling. Dr. Halim was the perfect candidate to discuss ‘why we use’ to youth. Having seen addiction first hand through his treatments with his clients, he was able to give a realistic portrayal of addiction and how it comes about. He asked the youth what drugs were and various answers spurted across the room. Some said that it was something needed to help you function while others maintained that it was something that makes you feel better. Dr. Halim stressed that drugs are things that trigger a chemical response in a person that alters their state of reality making them feel temporarily better. He mentioned that drugs and substance abuse are a cry for help from a person who is failing to deal with other real issues in their life. He ended by advising the youth to turn to Allah swt for counsel first and foremost because a sincere relationship with our Lord can protect us from falling into addiction and despair.
Br. Osama Odeh, the brothers Youth Director for MCWS in Canton, MI was up next. Br. Osama’s segment was about ‘Relationships and Social Diseases’. Being a Youth himself, Br. Osama was able to speak to the youth about the dangers of illegitimate relationships and sex outside of marriage. He started by sharing the story of Prophet Yusuf (AS). With Prophet Yusuf being an incredibly beautiful and attractive man, he faced a many trials that he overcame due to his sincere iman (faith) in Allah (swt). He faced one of the most difficult test that a young attractive man could face—that was the advances of a seductress. The gorgeous, powerful queen of their city came to his sleeping quarters and locked the door behind herself. She invited Yusuf to come to her and that she was his. With the circumstances being as they were: a beautiful woman and private quarters with just the two of them, many men may have fallen into the sin of fornication (zin’aa). Nevertheless, Allah (swt) saved Yusuf (AS) through his deep faith and taqwa (God-consciousness; balance of fear and hope in Allah (swt)). Yusuf (AS) sought refuge in Allah (swt) from the evil of what this seductress queen was inviting him to and was in the end triumphant. He also reminded all youth to be careful about the messages regarding life and relationships that we take in through media forms such as movies, music and television. Though seemingly harmless, many of these forms of media implant subconscious messages in our heart and minds. If we listen to and watch things that tell us that dating and premarital sex are ok, then we will eventually become desensitized to these acts. Br. Osama showed the youth that staying strong, even in times of severe difficulty, is the way towards a happy and beneficial future relationship. Allah (swt) wants happiness, love and blessings for us; we just have to seek these things in the right way and inshAllah, Allah (swt) will bless our relationships.
Next up was Br. Omar Malik of Youth of Ummah-Hamtramck and IONA Youth. Br. Omar’s segment was on Youth Leadership. He started his segment off by having all youth write down their Strengths and goals. He then shared a story in which the shaytan led some enemies of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) further into their evil plot of killing RasulAllah. He mentioned that the goals that you set for your self will inspire you toward good leadership of bad leadership. If we set a good plan for ourselves and make every step a good one towards fulfillment of our plans, then we are more likely to be successful. The way to do this is to study the lives of successful leaders like our blessed prophet (pbuh). Emulating the best will help us become better.
Sr. Tahira Khalid, the Head Counselor at MFS, spoke about ‘building a lasting bond and good relationship with parents’. She stated that Allah swt has blessed each and every one of us to be born to a specific set of parents. It is therefore our duty to respect, love and cherish these parents that were given to us as protectors and teachers. She acknowledged that some homes do not have parents their but stressed the importance of building a good relationship with one’s guardian as well. An open, honest and loving relationship with parents or guardians makes for more well-rounded youth. This is due to the fact that youth know that they have someone, whom they trust, that they can go to for advice when they are confused about something. Respecting and honoring ones parents is ordered in the Quran and the Sunnah. She ended encouraging youth to get to really know their parents and where they are coming from. This understanding will lead to more respect and mercy between parent and child.
Last but not least was Sr. Jumana Abusalah, MCWS Canton’s Sisters Youth Coordinator. Jumana was speaking on the subject of Good Character and Manners. No doubt about it, good character will get any individual further in life. The way that we behave and interact with others determines how we are treated in return, our reputation with others and with Allah (swt). The Prophet (pbuh) urged us to deal with our brothers and sisters with compassion. This goes back to the reminder that Sheikh Ali gave us from our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) ‘want for your brother and sister what you want for yourself’. Jumana stated the importance of following the advice of the Quran and Sunnah in regards to our dealings with people. What we give eventually comes back to us.
Overall, this workshop was a success, Alhamdulilah. The guest enjoyed a lovely breakfast and lunch in good company in a gather intent on remembering Allah swt. If all youth and adults alike took the advice from these wonderful speakers, then inshAllah we could improve our ummah. MFS intends to hold more workshops like this in the future, inshAllah. If you are a community organizer or speaker and would like to partner with MFS on a workshop, please contact us with more details.
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