Dear young Muslim (or anyone else reading this), I wish to here offer a few words of advice which I hope will be of benefit to you.
First of all, it is essential that you read a lot. And not just read a lot, but to read widely so that you expose yourself to a variety of perspectives and worldviews.
In my own life, I have read a lot of books on a variety of topics, but I feel that my reading has been quite narrow and thus my worldview has, as a result, remained limited in scope.
It is equally important that you expose yourself to ideas that you may not agree with. For if you limit yourself to only those ideas or perspectives with which you agree and insulate your mind from all other opinions, your worldview will not only be very limited, but you will develop a high level of intolerance towards those with whom you disagree. This is not a good place to be.
You must come to the realization that not everyone will agree with you. Furthermore, no matter how much knowledge you acquire in life, you will never have all of the answers. This realization should keep you in a state of humility.
If you can, and while you’re still young, learn another language. In fact, if you can learn more than two that is even better for you. For to be able to speak, read, communicate, and think in other languages will be very enriching for you and will open up the world and make it a much wider place than if you only know one language. The best time to acquire another language is when one is young for youth are able to absorb new information much more effectively than when they are older.
I also want to remind you here that it is important to establish a foundation of belief and conviction so as to anchor your mind and heart when you are exposed to different philosophies and teachings. Without this anchor, you will have no criteria by which to judge the veracity of what you’re being exposed to and thus become very confused.
As a fellow Muslim, I want to tell you that the best anchor that you can have is the teachings of Islam as found within the Quran and the life example of the prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Once you have a good and solid grasp of the Islamic faith, you will be able to assess and judge other worldviews through that lens.
Many of the ideas that you will be exposed to in life will sound very convincing and you may be tempted to actually embrace those ideas and consider them to be the truth. But you must be careful before taking that route because many ideas may sound convincing on the surface but once you analyze them more carefully and reflect upon their real message, you may find those opinions and perspectives to be not as strong as they appear to be. This is why it is important to have the solid foundation and anchor that I spoke about above, as well as a strong critical mind.
I also advise you not to waste your time on useless video games and other trivial forms of entertainment, but learn instead to cultivate your mind so that you become a more well-rounded and educated person who can defend your position in an articulate and convincing way. You should know that as a Muslim education and reading are very important.
In addition, those who seek to educate themselves and become more knowledgeable about the world around them are in a better position to make a positive contribution to not only their specific community but to the world at large.
When I say education, I don’t simply mean those people who have the opportunity to go to college or university, but to anyone who takes the time to educate themselves regardless of what station they are in life.
Dear young Muslim, learn to guard the integrity of your mind because the ability to think critically and to engage with the world around you is one of the greatest gifts that you have been given by your creator. Thus exposing yourself to those things which potentially harm your mind, such as drugs, alcohol, etc., should be something that you avoid at all costs. These things may seem appealing on the surface but many people have been destroyed as a result of indulging in them.
Before I complete my comments, I wish to remind you of one more thing. Islam is not merely a set of do’s and don’ts. Islam is a complete way of life which is centered around pleasing Allah. You may not always understand the wisdom behind everything that Islam teaches, but be patient and it will come to you in time if you are sincere and persistent. Do not be disheartened if you do not understand everything all at once, for the acquisition of both knowledge and wisdom is a lifelong quest that is both fulfilling and rewarding.
You are young and filled with energy and abilities that an old man like me no longer has. Use that energy and those wonderful talents for the sake of good and in doing so you will have a much more rich and more fulfilling life.
Be not like the son of prophet Nuh (pbuh) who thought he could take to the mountain in order to save himself from the flood. Prophet Nuh (pbuh) told him there was no salvation other than in Allah, but the son, who thought he knew who better, resorted to his own line of reasoning in order to save himself but at the end perished in the deluge.
Know, my young Muslim reader, that there is no salvation outside of Allah. No matter what you do in life if you keep this in mind you will be on a safe and secure path.
True success is not found in the possessions or status that you acquire in life, but is found in living a life that is pleasing to Allah and leaving this life as a believing and practicing Muslim.