The second generation of American Muslim youth are facing additional challenges than their American peers. They feel unsecure and their voices are unheard from their family and communities. Many of them at young age stop practicing Islam and assimilate in the society.
“When we talked about the Islamic civilizations and my 9th grade social studies class I thought okay
I’m gonna learn something about my faith and instead and it was actually the first time that I learned how to pray with so that I could demonstrate it for my class,” said Edina Lekovic in her speech to the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding addressing identity crisis. She is the director of policy and programming in Muslim Public Affairs Council.
Sameera Ahmed and Maha Ezzeddine published a paper researching the topic. The paper title is, “Challenges and opportunities facing American Muslim Youth,” and published in Journal of Muslim Mental Health. They stated that the preliminary studies have reported that alcohol use among Muslim youth ranged from 47% to 71%. Drinking alcohol is prohibited in Islam.
Family and mosque are the main sources of the religious knowledge and spirituality. Lack of communication between them and the young people is a major problem. The American Muslim youth reported that their immigrant parents usually have culture clashes with the new society. Even the children of Muslim converts, who are Americans, reported that their parents cannot understand them because they were not raised as Muslims.
“Climate of fear exists, when people don’t know us,” Lekovic said. Islam is an active religion and Muslims believe that they are encountered for the belief strength and the good actions. Many Islamic scholars and educators focus only on enriching the belief and spirituality aspects and ignore the aspect of civic and political actions.
Peer pressure during adolescence pushes some Muslim to violate their beliefs. Some participate in school dances, drugs, and dating to feel belonging. Some protect themselves by isolation from the society in an unhealthy way. Many reported discrimination cases from school teachers and bullying from their peers.
“Young people do not know much about their faith, in to be grappling with your identity and then to be confronted with questions about terrorism or bin Laden or Sony Shia or what’s happening in Iraq or Syria or you name it, and to be made into a mouthpiece first time, whether you like it or not, is an overwhelming,” Lekovic concluded.