Naseeha Muslim Youth Helpline

The worst possible combination when living in North America is being Muslim and being a youth. As if one or the other wasn’t hard enough, the combination of the two is lethal. Parents don’t get you and you have a hard time making and keeping friends. You’re always battling between culture and religion, and no matter how hard you try, you never completely “fit in” anywhere. If you’re “too Canadian” you’re going to get ongoing looks of disapproval from masjid aunties. And if you’re a little too religious, forget RCMP, your own classmates will be looking at you funny! So what’s a teen to do? And who do you turn to if you just want to talk?

Naseeha has done an incredible job with attempting to answer these questions and more. A youth helpline started in 2005 by students who had grown up in Canada and gone through similar challenges that youth are going through today. In 2007, Naseeha emerged as a formal organization, with a small group of six counsellors. The initial days were spent with incredible emphasis on policy and set up. This dynamic group was insistent that if they were going to provide something for the Muslim youth, it had to be better than other helplines. With their strict guidelines and qualification requirements, a Naseeha counsellor didn’t just have to have the academic know how, but also a sound understanding of the Islamic tradition of advice and guidance.

Today, the organization boasts 30 professionally trained counsellors who take shifts between Monday and Friday from 6-9pm. You can reach out in complete confidence knowing that you’re going to be in safe hands. Not only are they willing to talk to you about your issues, but also offer resources who can assist without compromising Islamic values. For the youth, struggling to strengthen their faith while juggling a Canadian identity, this may be the first and only solution to a slew of overwhelming issues they face while growing up in North America.

Critics of the organization claim that Muslims aren’t “affected” by North American issues, and don’t need a specialized outlet. But teenagers today will verify that everything Naseeha is trying to do, is much needed. Muslim youth aren’t exempt from social issues. They face the same challenges, maybe even more, when it comes to growing up in North America. When faced with the overwhelming amount of feelings and socio-cultural pressures, it’s necessary to have support from someone who “gets you”. That’s the kind of environment offered at Naseeha. Trained professionals who are living the same life you are, and can offer help when you need it most.

The founders of Naseeha want to help Muslim youth overcome the stigma of speaking out. They want to create a “safe space” for those who need to have an unbiased – non-judgmental conversation in a supportive Islamic environment. If we don’t provide our children with an outlet that lets them seek advice from a Muslim source, then they will automatically turn to non-Muslim sources and become vulnerable to advice that isn’t rooted in Islamic values. We are losing our youth to a culture that isn’t conducive to a balanced Islamic upbringing. In order to help them strengthen their own identity they need to speak openly about issues they may have or experiences they might be going through. Naseeha provides a beautiful balance of both, where Muslim youth can turn to for help and advice.

In preparation for their upcoming training program and their desire to expand, Naseeha is reaching out to the community to help fund their initiatives. If you would like to contribute to Naseeha Muslim Youth Helpline, visit their website and see how you can help.

 

Help them help Muslim youth feel empowered and accepted in Canada.

 

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About ISNA Canada

ISNA Canada is an Islamic organization committed to the mission and movement of Islam: nurturing a way of life in the light of the guidance from the Qur’an and Sunnah for establishing a vibrant presence of Muslims in Canada. ISNA exists as a platform for all Muslims who share its mission and are dedicated to serving the needs of Muslims and Muslim communities.

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