Beautified for men is the love of things they covet; women… [Sûrah Âl-ʿImrân, 3:14]

It works vice versa too.

When I was young, I used to barf at stories that ended in a romantic setting. Yep, Cinderella, Snow White, The Little Mermaid—they were all too syrupy for me. I was more into horror and mystery fiction, which kept me on my toes.

As I grew older, every novel and movie, whatever the genre, almost always had a subplot involving two individuals falling in love. I seemed to mind less, as long as the story line was captivating. I now think that is where I went wrong.

No, do not get the wrong picture. This is not a confession, per se. All I am saying is that I do feel that I know more about romance than I should. That what I have seen and read is something that I shouldn’t have seen or read. And the worst part is that I am not alone. We live in a culture that encourages sex education to such an extent that innocence is no longer there. It is this bottomless moral abyss we are sinking into and there is nothing between it and us.

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The other day, I went on a spree of cartoon watching, which I thought was perhaps the safest thing to see on the box. Every other cartoon I saw had to have the hero with a girl, even if the hero was an animal! Kids watch this. They absorb it. We don’t give them enough credit, but, boy, they are smart. It’s about time we learnt that. And, high time we became smarter.

These same children grow up into teenagers, cultivated with that message that love’s not all bad. And, if you couple that with the sex ‘awareness’ education that they receive at school, you can pretty much calculate the whole equation of what is happening to our youth today.

This is not an exaggeration, as most parents are probably thinking right now. It is not uncommon to find, in Muslim societies, girls or boys standing outside the masjid or in Islamic conventions with the sole purpose of flirting with those of the opposite sex. And, in Muslim countries, where that would be considered a taboo to be done in public, just visit chatrooms and the filthy talk going on there should convert you to my assessment.

Parents, I was a teenager. I know. Your children are not those ingenuous young babies of yours anymore. In those same bodies and under those innocent faces, there is a soul, a mind that you just may not recognize if you look deep enough.

They are changing, not just physically, but mentally as well. The problem is that while physical change may or may not require that much of your concern, the mental picture they have of the whole world, especially love, surely necessitates at least some intervention.

Alright, so I am not suggesting you sneak behind your teenager’s back, rummaging his drawers for anything incriminating or have a panic attack because your daughter seems to be acting a bit suspiciously tonight. Just keep the channel open, give them some space and make sure they know they are welcome to ask you anything they may be confused about.

If, however, you do spot that they are going in the wrong direction, a little bit of confrontation will be necessary. Yet, make sure it does not go violent; be stern, but loving, disciplined but open. Do not shout at or blame them at the first instant.

Reason with them and show them you think they are mature enough for the two of you to talk. Let them know the limits and why. Study the Quran with them; discuss adîth relating to your subject. Give examples from the Companions’ lives. Most of all, remind them that even if you are not around, Allah is All-Watchful of everything they do.

Here is another tip from the other side of the generation gap:  Perhaps the worst chastisement for a lost teenager is his parents telling him they trust in him, when he knows he is betraying them and doing something wrong. The most sickening feeling for a young girl is when her mother and father tell her they are proud of her, when she is completely aware of all her sins, day in and day out. Parents, this is one of your best weapons; use it sincerely and aim it well.

Oh, and a note to those youths who are reading this—yeah, so I know you are fuming and seething. Well, I am not that self-righteous snob you think. I never said I did not do anything wrong ever or that Satan never pulled me away from the right path. I mean, who hasn’t fantasized about that perfect man, one’s very own prince charming? Who has not dreamed of a strong, caring, popular, rich, religious and handsome guy to –one day– be hers?

But the moment we take that fantasy further, attempting to turn it into a reality, thinking there is actually an impeccable man out there or chatting to strangers on the Net to find the love of your life or going out on dates to bring yourself closer to a man you call your boyfriend; that is when we should realize that we are running after nothing but a pipe dream.

We cannot find happiness and love through wrong, and after all these years, if there is one thing I have learnt, it is that every time I did something wrong, I felt it. And I know you do too. Deep down in my heart that I thought had died a long time ago, there would be this nagging feeling, something tugging me, as if telling me that all I need to do is say I am sorry to Allah and beg Him to forgive me. Because I know, that if He lets it go, there is nothing better for me in the whole universe, not a guy, not a date, not an anniversary and certainly not love.

Love is a tricky thing—infatuating and wild. Who doesn’t want it? Islam does not tell us to hate love. Just to make sure we do it in the right way through marriage. In that, there will be love and satisfaction to a degree you can never otherwise experience. At the end of the day, though, a fairy tale ending is not really our purpose in life now, is it?

Beautified for men is the love of things they covet; women… This is the pleasure of the present world’s life; but Allah has the excellent return (Paradise with flowing rivers, etc.) with Him. [Sûrat Âl-ʿImrân, 3:14]


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