Civic Engagement: Every Voice Has Value
The first thing I believe in this world is Allah subhuna wa’ ta: Allah (Arabic for God) created us and brought us into this world.
There is meaning behind our coming into this world, and as Muslim women, living and dying shouldn’t be the only thing we do. Islam teaches us the politics, science, economics, psychology, and philosophy of our lives — and most importantly, the way we should lead our lives day to day.
Our Prophet Mohammed (Peace and Blessings Upon Him) served people, helped his community, and taught people to correct things that were wrong. He gave us the chance to share our talents and our knowledge, and one way to do so is through civic engagement.
I define civic engagement as sharing the knowledge that we have, going out of our comfort zone to stand for people and their rights, and correcting wrongdoings. We as young people can become civically engaged not only by voting but also by being active in our communities. There are so many things that concern us in this world, and there are so many things that we are passionate about improving. By taking our passion and helping improve the lives of others, we can get this work done.
I am very much interested in improving public health, especially through advocacy. I strongly believe that public policy should advance our health.
I have seen so many young people addicted to tobacco, which breaks my heart because research shows that 95% of smokers start before the age of 21. Saving people from tobacco could prevent them from developing cancer and other health problems. It’s something we shouldn’t be ignoring.
I started getting involved in outreach by educating people. I advocated that we should raise the age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21, which would reduce the number of young smokers. I also taught that e-cigarettes aren’t any better than actual tobacco, and menthol is very bad for one’s health.
As a young person I did feel ignored sometimes, but I saw through this experience that we really can bring change. Day-to-day I saw young people smoking less, and I have hope that the problem will continue to improve in the future. We might not see results right away, but eventually, they will come.
We can start by engaging in our school, in our community, in any public space by making change, by not being silent, and by speaking up for people’s rights. There are so many things we can do to improve our communities, and if we don’t get out and speak out, nobody else will do it.
Our Prophet PBUH said, “It is better to sit alone than in company with bad: and it is better still to sit with the good than alone. It is better to speak to a seeker of knowledge than to remain silent.”
As young people we might feel that people underestimate us sometimes or don’t pay attention to us, but every voice has value.