I had a sobering conversation with a fellow Muslim mom yesterday on the topic of Muslim teenagers falling into homosexuality.
We had been talking about our eldest sons and how they are both fast approaching adolescence, with her eldest son being 11 and mine almost 9. We were both reflecting on how it feels like the kids had just zoomed through their first decade of life so fast, and were now on the cusp of the dreaded teenage years. As they say, “the days are long but the years are short.”
I said, “We are moving into new territory with a new set of challenges. It used to be the challenge of constantly changing diapers, daily nap wars, toddler temper tantrums, and fights with siblings over toys. Soon inshaAllah, it will be talking about driving safe, hanging out with good friends who don’t smoke or do drugs or curse, not getting addicted to video games, and being careful with the opposite gender.”
“Or…the same gender,” my friend said. “That LGBT stuff is happening in the Muslim community too. Just most Muslim parents have no idea what their kids are up to.”
My friend told me about a case she had recently stumbled upon two Muslim girls from very religious practicing Muslim families who came out as lesbian lovers. These two girls had been a couple for a while right under their parents’ noses, way before anyone noticed anything.
They had both been born to very practicing Muslim families in a large American city with a big Muslim community. Both girls grew up praying five times a day, wearing hijab, going to Islamic school. One girl was even homeschooled by her mom for the four years of high school in Saudi Arabia, where the family had relocated to try to live in a wholesome Muslim country. Both girls had memorized a good portion of the Quran and had teachers they would recite it to daily.
But they still became lesbian as teenagers, a couple of years after they first met and became friends. Then it escalated into something else.
One girl had always been a bit of a tomboy, wearing oversized hoodies and cargo pants with her hijab instead of the abaya. The other girl was more feminine. They met through their families because their mothers were friends and both were active in the community. The two girls, around 18 years old, clicked and started hanging out as friends. Soon they became inseparable, doing almost everything together. It didn’t raise any red flags because best friends of the same gender are always together.
Then the girls decided to travel to Egypt for a year to study Arabic. Their parents allowed them to go there together, thinking that learning Arabic in an Arab country was a good thing. The two young women, now in their early twenties, lived together in their own little apartment in Egypt and were alone together for a year.
A while after they came back home to the US, the nature of their relationship was accidentally discovered when a family member of one of the girls stumbled upon some explicit text messages. Then all heck broke loose.
The families of both girls were shocked, stunned, and speechless. Their mothers cried. The families were wracked with grief, debilitated by depression and confusion, and guilt. The girls felt a bit guilty but thought they really had nothing to apologize for and were almost relieved because the secret was finally out.
The two young women, now in their mid-twenties, are living together on their own in a new state, far away from their parents. They have a “baby,” a pet dog who lives with them in the apartment. They are content creators on social media, making posts and videos about being unapologetically “queer and Muslim.”
Muslim parents, nurture your relationship with your children from a young age. Pave the way for a deep, real, meaningful parent-child relationship. Set the tone for the relationship early, establishing open lines of communication from childhood. Nothing can replace this foundation that only you can build.
Don’t rely on popular western “daees” or celebrity speakers to educate your children about this sensitive topic. This is a subject that these celeb Muslim speakers don’t broach because they are too much in the spotlight and don’t want to be seen as bigoted homophobes. Some of the biggest celebrity “shaykhs” even make statements confusing the issues, implying that there’s nothing incompatible with Islam and LGBTQ. Famous American Muslim activists and social justice warriors push, blatantly and brazenly, the liberal LGBTQ agenda of “tolerance and acceptance” for “all genders” and “all sexes orientations” because Allah is merciful. Virtually no one corrects them.
Is it any wonder that, in this mess of confusion, young Muslim teenagers are utterly confused?
Parents, rely on Allah first and foremost and then do your best in the realm of parental efforts. Nothing can replace your love and attention for your own. There is no good substitute for your genuine care about the details of your child’s inner life, thoughts, and feelings. There is no adequate replacement for the bond you should have with your children, where the kids know they can come to you with literally anything.
Have frank conversations about sensitive topics even if you feel kind of uncomfortable. Let your young kids ask you endless questions, and answer them patiently. Allow your children to mess up and then come to you to admit their mistakes, without you flying into a rage. Let your kids, from their toddlerhood and early childhood, express their real thoughts and genuine feelings to you and find a calm safe haven in you.
You need to be a soft place for your kids to land.
This starts very, very early on in the child’s life.
The preparation for the tumultuous teen years is in early childhood years, well before the start of adolescence. The window in which parents have to instill character and habits and righteousness into their children is jarringly short–and then that window closes.
May Allah grant us all protection against the fitna of the times we live in, and safeguard our children and the youth of the Muslim Ummah, ameen.