This Ramadan, Arbaz Khatib said he’s working on being more respectful to his parents and being more prompt about starting his five-times-daily prayers. After professing yourself a Muslim, praying on time is the second most-important thing, he said.
Idiris Mohamed, 16, of Hyattsville said he’ll work this Ramadan on memorizing more of the Koran — a feat particularly valued in certain Muslim communities, including Mohamed’s native Somalia.
“It’s cultural, but it’s really for God. At the end of the day, whatever you do is for the sake of God,” Mohamed said. “[Memorizing] makes you more involved in your prayer. Once you get more involved in your prayer, everything falls into place in your life. I’ve found that, definitely.”
Mohamed goes to Dar Us-
Salaam private school in College Park and says going to a school with other Muslims doesn’t necessarily make it easier to deal with peer pressure and other things that can challenge a teen’s self-image.
“At the end of the day I’m human,” he said. “As a Muslim, usually if you can realize you’re doing something wrong you can still feel you have a good heart. ”
He made it to the national semifinals for improv comedy and took first place in the regionals for a graphic design image of an unproductive painter.
Teens at MIST talk a lot about how to stick to traditional Islamic values and resist having boyfriends or girlfriends. They also talk about family problems and what to do if a sibling or friend “is going astray,” he said. “Muslims understand it’s wrong [to have physical relationships outside marriage] but still do it anyway.”
One of the most powerful moments at the national competition, he said, was a spoken word piece by a teen who is, like Mohamed, from Somalia. The piece was about the boy’s father leaving him. The other teens chanted the boy’s name at the end.
“That’s to me the whole point [of art], to use your own life story to change others,” he said. After the other youth’s performance at nationals, “everyone became more grateful for their lives.”