my teenage years haven’t been over for that long I turned 20 just a few months ago. Meaning that I do remember what it was like being a teenage boy living in two countries, that are quite different but on the whole really the same. I thought I write a post a little about what it was like for me growing up as a Teenage Muslim.
This post came about through yesterdays prompt at the dailypost : Sweet Sixteen, write a post inspired by your sixteenth birthday.
The gap between generations has been extensively talked, discussed, essayed, and researched about. While mentioned it really isn’t the main focus point of the following few paragraphs.
When we talk about our relationships to our parents, we often mention how they do not understand us or put in the effort to try and understand us. I’ve been blessed alhamdulillah, with parents that tried their best at all times to talk to us to try and discern what is going on with us and give us advice. That doesn’t mean I was never upset about them or they frustrated and angry with me, my parents are Nigerian, need I say more?
Still, this was and is a relationship between Muslim parents and Muslim children a relationship based on respect and love, where God and His messenger have the highest place. In Islam, parents deserve absolute respect, this is something we are raised with, especially as I come from a Nigerian background. But the love to God and His Messenger is supposed to be more than that of the one between parents and children.
Everything in this world is a test, I have no doubt that I am and was a trial for my parents in terms of distraction for example as mentioned in the Qur’an. The same as I know that my relationship, my manners, my behaviours to my parents is a test.
Growing up, I guess we were like any other 08/15 German family. Both of my parents educated, my Dad working, my mother due to my sisters still studying. We children went to school then to an after school care centre till 4-6pm after which we were collected. The main differences were we only ate halal, prayed 5 times a day, fasted in Ramadan and as mentioned before went to the mosque on Friday evenings.
Due to my being one of the very few Muslims in my year group at primary school, (Montessori) my projects often had something to do with Islam. When we had a few weeks on the main religions in yr. 5, my schoolmates asked me questions upon questions, I never minded them asking though and still don’t. We visited a church, a synagogue and the sehitlik mosque, where I and the only other Muslim in my class (yr. 4,5,6) at the time prayed in front of the whole class. I mention all this to show that being a Muslim was not only part of my identity but also a defining factor, while also showing that my Nigerian-German upbringing also has a lot to do with the way I was in my teenage years as well as to how I am today.
This was also the time of my first crush, which I with nerves racking and a racing heart managed to tell my mother. Over the years I’ve taken this crush as a further excuse not to date. Something that has always been a concious decision of mine, of course based on my upbringing including the various talks with my mother and Islam, but most importantly because I could see what its effects were.
With 14-15 I had my first contact with drugs, a friend, who has since committed suicide, may Allah forgive him, brought them into the school showing them off, till now I’m not really sure if it really was cannabis. I was made aware of various gangs especially those made up of “immigrants” I often heard about various frays that had taken place.
At 14 years of age we moved not just houses but countries, I wouldn’t say I was clinically depressed but I did have bouts of it for quite some time. I just couldn’t make up with the fact that we moved away. Till this day almost 7 years after the fact I sometimes still find it kind of surreal that I’m sitting here in England looking out of the window instead of standing on the veranda in our old apartment staring out into the darkness.
The past 7 years seemed to have passed in a rush, it was only supposed to be a year then we were going to move to Africa. The company my dad worked for wanted to expand their business in Africa, in the end it took them 3 years to not go through with it.
So life went on, I went to a new school and made new friends. Friends that were in many ways quite similar to the ones I had in Germany. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to pass time with and be friends to all kinds of people. Friends that in some cases were and are total opposites of me and some of my other mates, and also people that I have a lot in common with. My friends were and are colourful in all kinds of aspects from their skin tone to their character, behaviour or their beliefs. I cherish them and thank you all for being there.
There were some people throughout my life that guided me through it, and some that got me off the path. May Allah Guide and forgive them and myself. All were and are important for me to be and become who I am, my many mistakes as well as the few things that I did correct.
While I did feel quite bitter about the move to England, and a lot of things happened that could be seen as a bad result of moving. I realised that things might still have been this way or worse had we stayed in Germany. That I should be and am grateful for the time I’ve been living here in England.
In the end I know and I always did know that in my heart that this all was and is a test, whether I passed or not I don’t know and won’t know until the end, until I take my last breath. I pray however that I will.
#January – Being Thankful