Young Muslims on Twitter: Hijabis, ‘Akhis’, Marriage and Showing Off

imgres-15There are many interesting phenomena taking place on Twitter, especially when one observes young Muslims. Never in history have young Muslims around the world interacted in such a way: forming friendships, learning from each other, attacking each other, turning into communities and trying to outdo and impress one another.

What we are seeing is a new generation of Muslims on Twitter. Many who are young and have never been married, with a great percentage of whom, it seems, are eager to get married. Their need to get married is arguably heightened because of the hyper-sexualised society in which we live. Because Muslims are not allowed to have sex outside of marriage, the natural outlet they seek in response to our hyper-sexualised society is often marriage.

I’ve been carefully observing many trends over the past two years and found a series of interesting findings about young Muslims on Twitter. None of this, of course, can be backed up by rigorous statistics or figures as no comprehensive academic research has been done into it, as far as I know.

  • Hijabi girls, especially ones who are very pretty, have a LOT of followers. It’s quite interesting. Many of them don’t even tweet anything particularly interesting. But the ones who tweet a lot about Islam, generally have even more followers. The majority of their followers seem to be young Muslim boys and girls. The boys could be following the hijabis to hopefully get a follow back and then, see, err, how things go from there.
  • Many young Muslims use Twitter as a means to spread their religion. Many do a good job and allow non-muslims to see Islam through a new lens, one that isn’t always portrayed by the mainstream media. In this piece, Steve Rose, a young British journalist, talks about how social media helped give him a greater insight into Islam.
  • However, there are downsides for young Muslims who spread their religion on Twitter. Many come up against ardent atheists, many of whom have greater intellects than the young Muslims, and inevitably force the young Muslims to question their beliefs or what they’ve just tweeted. Before Twitter, young Muslim’s beliefs wouldn’t be as closely scrutinised and challenged.
  • Nobody can claim to know other people’s intentions. But what is likely taking place is young, single Muslims, in an attempt to attract the opposite sex, often put on a religious pretence. There is one example on Youtube – and I won’t share the link out of respect for the Muslim boy – where he is talking about the need to respect hijabis but is wearing a sleeveless tight vest with his muscles popping out. He is not to be blamed for his body, but it makes the video and his intentions slightly dubious. Especially when one Muslim girl commented underneath: “The top you are wearing kind of makes it hard for me to concentrate on what you are saying :p.” The question that arises is: are you making the video to educate people, or to impress girls? However, it is important to remember that there are many Muslim guys who have pure intentions.

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  • Many Muslim girls, however – and this shows how much they want to get married – go on about their “Prince Charming” and what they want in a husband. Sorry to break it but…the Prince Charming you are looking for probably doesn’t exist.
  • Recently, a hijabi girl with almost 18,000 followers, tweeted that her future husband “must be intelligent”. What was interesting is that while the majority of retweets came from girls, the majority of people who favourited the tweet were boys. Why on earth would boys want to favourite that tweet? Is a girl wanting an intelligent husband so surprising that a boy would feel the need to favourite it? Obviously, a guy retweeting that tweet would look silly. But it seems one of the reasons boys favourite tweets like that is so that the girl, when looking at who favourited it, will notice them and hopefully look at their profile. Or it could be an indirect signal to the girl saying: hey, you know you just tweeted that you’d like an intelligent husband, well, I’m intelligent 🙂 So click on my profile, check me out and follow me.
  • Many Muslims also define themselves by certain religious symbols. You might come across someone’s name on Twitter being: “BrotherWithABeard” or “ThatHijabiChick” (not sure these names exist, I made them up). This is something quite exclusive to the Muslim community, other people of other religions don’t seem to feel the need to define themselves in such ways. Perhaps because of the increased attention and the attacks on Muslims since 9/11, it has led to young Muslims responding in a kind of “reactive defiance”, to borrow a term from Tariq Madood, a Bristol University academic.
  • A hijabi girl with loads and loads of followers, turned 18 recently. Quite immaturely, she decided to retweet hundreds of people who wished her happy birthday on Twitter. Many people complained that this clogged up their timeline. Her response was simply: “Block me if you don’t like it.” The contradictory part of it all is that the majority of her tweets, generally speaking, are all about spreading Islam and its message. Not only would she have lost a lot of non-Muslim followers because of her immaturity in retweeting all her birthday messages. But Islam, in its essence, is about worshipping God and not the ego. What the retweets showed, however, is that she perhaps thinks of herself really highly to willingly clog up everyone’s timeline. In fact, she is not the first Muslim girl to do this, there have been others.

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  • Final thing. For the first time in Islam’s history, access to Islamic knowledge is now extremely accessible. Some of the world’s greatest Islamic scholars are on Twitter, many regularly update their Twitter with Islamic reminders, can be asked questions and tweet links to reliable information. The inevitable consequence of the flourishing of authentic Islamic knowledge is that the young generation of Muslims, as compared to their parents who largely didn’t have a wide access to authentic knowledge, will be better educated about their tradition. Screen shot 2013-08-12 at 00.58.09

Twitter can be used to waste time but can also provide a wealth of knowledge and be an encouragement to do good. It is also a great fitna, a test, for young Muslims: Twitter somehow encourages a type of self-importance and narcissism, where people feel the need to tell everyone else intimate details about their lives. This is antithetical to the Islamic tradition. How Twitter and social media in general will shape the new generation of Muslims is not clear but the amount of information, access to knowledge and encouragement to do good, will only spur young Muslims to revive the Islamic tradition and recapture it from the hands of its modern hijackers.

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24 Comments

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  1. humbledmuslimah October 2, 2013 — 5:07 am

    I always felt this way about social networking..thank you for molding my thoughts into words.

  2. @Nadeine94 – wrote a response to this article, she did not like this one bit 🙂

    Perhaps to balance things out, write an article called ‘beard, marriage and showing off’ next time 😉

  3. Thank you for writing this! It will take sometime to literally be modest in the “virtual” world as much as we could be in our visual lives. Hopefully you are not generalizing, may Allah SWT help us all purify our hearts, and grant us more eye-openers like these.

  4. Great article. Very good reminder..

    — I don’t like your photograph though,, *for me it’s the same as tweeting a pic of non mahram to thousands of followers.. (Just reminder for myself, sorry for being so straight forward..)

  5. Reblogged this on Reminisces & Reflections and commented:
    Really interesting to read! It’s high time to reposition our presence on the internet & select the right intentions that are worthy of our presence.

  6. This article made me think twice more (which is good). All points you pointed out are all excellent and something to ponder about. These are all great reminder not only to myself but to others also. Nothing but a painful truth. Jazakallahu Khairan!

  7. This is what is wrong with young muslims. We have forgotten the sunnah way of doing things. Yes twitter can be used to give da’wah but its the lazy, easy and less beneficial way. If Almighty Allah who has the ability to do anything and nothing is impossible felt that twitter ie. technology was the best way to give da’wah. Allah wouldve given the Prophet pbuh all the technology in the world. But it aint, meeting someone face to face, shaking hands, and talking is the sunnah way. The knowlegde available on the web could easily be tampered with so muslims should not get used to gaining knowledge of the net because it is dangerous and not a sunnah. Gaining knowledge should also be done, by sitting in halqas with ulama. Alhamdulillah Allah has given me the ability to realise where us young muslims are slacking. InshaAllah brothers and a sisters see this as a wake up call to be a bit more eager in bringing this deen in to our lives and become more active in giving da’wah and gaining knowledge the sunnah way

  8. Yes he is a sinner but so are we all! I think this highlights exactly what goes on on twitter, instagram and even facebook!
    To me I think people who read this will think twice about what they do on social media and how others view it.
    Wake up people we are no longer in the dark ages where no one talks about issues which need to be highlighted. We are so lucky we have all this technology but we need to use it wisely. Also Kadijah yes he is not God but who said he was!!! I suggest if you dont like the article 1 dont read it and 2 leave it be. Islam is peaceful dont make it a mockery.

  9. You shouldn’t even b encouraging the stuff….y should young muslims who are supposed to be reading the holy Quran be tweeting……errrrm addiction or boredom.you just want to make it legal to tweet I get buh remember you only see their tweets and replys you never get to see there DMs… Don’t get me wrong I tweet buh if I could stop today Allah knows I would their are millions of young muslims who wunt waste their time on a stupid social network cos they have responsiblities we should talk more abt them not abt the jobless Us on twitter….

  10. Brilliantly put. Ignore the negative comments people will always become uber defensive when they don’t like what they see. Your article is not stupid and pointless what is pointless is another person accusing you of being a sinner when they know nothing about you and they’re sinning themselves trying to put you down. Nothing wrong with positive criticism but that comment is unnecessary. Anyway forget that. I particularly liked how you highlighted the point of people trying to impress other people it’s true I think some not all do do it for their own reasons such as to gain popularity and I apologise if I come across as judgemental but really I’m only trying to say that not everyone does things with the best intentions but at the end of the day Allah knows and sees all and only His judgement will matter so we should all be mindful of what we do I’m starting to state the obvious now -_- so I’ll stop. Anyhoo keep up the good work (:

  11. Whilst you have made some excellent points and I agree with you, I think the way in which you have approached it could have been better. For one we can only judge people based on their external actions but in noway could we know their internal intentions. Secondly some of the people could have just jumped on deen & after reading this you possibly could have ruined their interest and made them go back to old habits… Just something to think about.

    • Thanks for your comment. I haven’t claimed to know anybody’s intentions. Really, it is all a matter of speculation, but these things need to be raised. Should we let people just carry on with what they are doing? I deliberately didn’t name anybody so that nobody is put under pressure and hopefully won’t “return to old habits” if that’s true.

  12. I thought this was a really stupid and pointless article. You shouldn’t claim to know someone’s intentions of what anyone was doing, neither should you accuse someone of thinking they have a big ego. You are not God, you are nothing but a sinner, bear that in mind before writing such rubbish.

  13. I hope many teenagers out there read this post.

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