- Malika is a sixteen-year-old high school student from Atlanta, Georgia
- She, like many other teenagers, often finds herself caught in between two very different worlds
- She is a high school student struggling to find her place in an environment that often contradicts her values and way of life.
In the age of Snapchat and Instagram, stories of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) are nearly non-existent in the lives of our youth. Even during times of celebration, many of our youth struggle to disengage from their typical daily routines to reflect upon the life of our beloved Messenger.
The celebration, more formally known as Mawlid al-Nabi, is the yearly occasion marking the birth of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
The mawlid provides the opportunity for families to come together to honor and send peace and blessings on the messenger while creating a space for the youth to cultivate a relationship with the Prophet beyond the typical Sunday school stories.
The mawlid is celebrated around the world around the 12th of the Islamic month; Rabi’ al-Awwal. It marks a significant time for Muslims to study the Prophet’s (PBUH) life and send an abundance of peace on him and his family.
“Indeed, Allah and His angels shower blessings on the Prophet. O you who believe! Ask blessings on him and salute him with a worthy salutation (Qu’ran 33:56).”
Malika is a sixteen-year-old high school student from Atlanta, Georgia. She, like many other teenagers, often finds herself caught in between two very different worlds. She is a high school student struggling to find her place in an environment that often contradicts her values and way of life.
“I remember hearing a lot about the Prophet when I was younger. He always sounded like an unrealistic superhero. He seemed so unreachable to me and eventually, the conversations about his life stopped in our home,” Malika told AboutIslam.net.
Learning His Tradition
Malika’s experience is not a unique one.
Teenagers across this nation struggle to cultivate a true connection with the Prophet, as conversations about his life are often limited to Sunday school lessons and Friday prayer conversations.
This void in the lives of our children has a direct impact on how they engage in programs dedicated to honoring the life of our Prophet.
“Recently, my father asked me to attend a children’s celebration of the life of the Prophet. I didn’t understand why this event was relevant to me as a sixteen-year-old girl. Honestly, I wanted to spend time with my friends instead of attending this event but I didn’t have much of a choice,” Malika told AboutIslam.com.
During a recent mawlid celebration, targeted for young Muslim youth in the community, Malika and her peers were asked to complete a particular task by the group facilitators. They were asked to write a love letter to the Prophet.
“I never imagined writing a love letter to someone that wasn’t physically here with me. Yes, I love our prophet but I had a hard time putting that into writing. I stared at my blank paper for about ten minutes before one of the facilitators noticed my struggle, asked to join me, and silently placed a stream of photographs in front of me,” Malika informed AboutIslam.net.
The event was facilitated by a group of young Muslim moms who had a growing frustration with the lack of children’s programs related to cultivating a love for the Prophet.
When children’s programs are offered in the community, there is always an emphasis on learning the rules and requirements of being a Muslim.
Moreover, children learn about the Prophet through stories of his kindness and example but they often are rarely allowed opportunities to directly connect to the Prophet.
“My facilitator placed an array of pictures in front of me. One of the photos was of a Muslim woman standing with her Muslim daughters. The girls were smiling and stood close to their mother. There was something about their faces that struck me intensely and I felt myself feeling extremely emotional,” Malika stated to Aboutislam.net
During the time of the Prophet, families were so ashamed of having daughters that they buried their baby girls alive. To cope with the pain and devastation of such a traumatic custom, members of this society were driven to indulge in drinking and killing over small matters.
Each photograph presented to Malika represented the Prophet’s profound impact on the transformation of society.
Honoring the Prophet goes far beyond reading hadiths and following the way he dressed. Our implementation of his Sunna begins with learning how to love him. Love is a personal choice and can’t be forced. Therefore, commanding our children to love the Prophet because it’s the rule, is simply not enough.
The Prophet said to his companion, Umar ibn al-Khattab, the second caliph in Islam, “By Him in whose hands my soul is, (you will not have complete faith) until I am dearer to you than your own self.” [Bukhari].
“The picture of the smiling girls represented the Prophet’s influence on banning the shameful custom of burying girls alive. He was the first to introduce the concept of equality between men and women. He made it possible for a family of girls to grow, thrive, and be happy. At that moment, it became possible for me to pick up my pen to write my letter,” Malika spoke intently to AboutIslam.net.
The Love Letter
Dear Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him),
I write this letter through silent tears and a broken heart. I have struggled with not being able to honor you nor being able to know you. I only heard stories of your greatness but never understood how you impacted me directly.
At the age of eight, I lost my mother to cancer. She was an amazing mother to me. She was devoutly religious and I always remember her referencing you every time she spoke. Throughout my life, I’ve always been told I look like my mom and I have some big shoes to fill. This has always saddened me because I’ve never felt capable of living up to such an amazing woman. I remember her telling me the story of how she fell in love with Islam. She told me that she was given a book about your life and she couldn’t believe such a human being ever existed. She would spend many nights speaking to me about this story and sending prayers and peace upon you.
I will admit that I avoided you after her passing. Remembering you meant remembering her and that was simply too painful. I didn’t know how to thank you for giving her ease in her last moments on this earth. When I would see her aching in pain, she would whisper a dua (prayer) and send salaams to you. I have never had the strength to honor you before this but I can honestly say I love you.
I love you for being there as an example of how we should live our lives. Thank you for giving my mother hope through the final stages of her demise, for liberating humanity through your precious example, for allowing girls like me to be born to mothers like mine. Thank you dear beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him).
The day you were born means so much to me because it’s the day humanity was gifted with your presence. It’s the day when our world changed through your ability to touch the hearts of so many people. We honor and love you immensely, Ya Rasoolullah.
It is clear that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was more than a reformer. He brought real change and impact on our ever-changing world. The Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) impact should never be limited to only adults. Teenagers need the Prophet as a relevant model and a beautiful example of patience, triumph, and resilience. His life cannot be truly be honored in the absence of love. Authentic love for the Prophet is the central focus of the mawlid. Our children are the primary gatekeepers of this tradition.