Becoming a Teenage Jihadi: a Conversation on Joining ISIS
Im a young muslim, I live in xxxxx, I come from a large immigrant family although I was born here, I have lots of siblings. My mum is a housewife and my dad works part time in a local shop. My dad has some health issues and I worry about the future.


I don’t feel like I have much of a future here, I don't have much prospects, its hard enough trying to get an education, it's a depressing thought to not having prospects. I cant really focus on school because I feel confused about my place. Im not sure where I fit in. I don't feel like I belong. I worry about how my life is going to turn out. Im not sure how I am going to survive. I look at my life and I think its tough, but then I look at what is happening in the world and I want to help.

My life is not that great, I'm tempted by everything, everywhere I look. I want the nice things in life, but I doubt I am going to get them. I want to go to heaven because I don't want to go to hell. I don't know if I can resist temptation for much longer, I want to help others but I don't know how. My fear of failure is only made worse by my fear of hell.

I don’t like my life, I don't like how I am living, I don't have prospects, I don't know what is going to happen to me, My life is filled with uncertainty. I don't sleep well, I'm scared, I'm confused, I look around me and think, there must be a better place than here. I don't know if I can cope with my situation. I think that earning a place in heaven in battle might be my only way to get into heaven, I look around me and I really don't feel right, what should I do?”

The advice to you is to look at your situation and tell yourself this: You are no different from any other teenage boy or girl trying to find their place in society. The innocence of childhood, security and certainty is slowly being removed. Your mind is changing your body is growing, you're confused and lonely because you're having trouble managing the process of change thats occurring within you and what you're learning. You're looking at the world around you with what seems like a new view, it's a world that is not as safe and secure as you thought it was.

You have one real choice; That choice is to try to live your life as a peaceful contributor to your society. Your society is where you live. Your duty is to your family and your neighbours (Muslim and non-muslim).

You cannot affect the outcome of a civil war where there politics behind it is shrouded in falsehood and misdirection. There will be many more chancers that claim to lead Islam’s return to the time of the caliph. There will be many more individuals who say that they are following the true path of Islam, thats why there are so many factions vying for supremacy.

One faction claiming that the other are heretics is a recipe for more infighting and endless innocents suffering and dying. This is why they are at loggerheads with each other. This is why they are killing each other. Its tit for tat with no other outcome but that of more pain, more suffering, more innocents dying, for no other reason that one man said that his way is better than yours.

Trying to be a good muslim at home, going to school, learning, understanding, becoming a better human being by trying to deal with your reality and maturing in the process. To be humble, and respectful to your family and do your civic duty is a better proposition. You will earn more in living a lifetime as a decent human being and doing right by your family, friends and society in the eyes of those that observe. Put your faith in good and pursue good deeds over lifetime of dedication and hard work.

Its through learning and understanding that you will find your true path to peace, understanding, and security of self. During times of change and upheaval, in fluid situations where the circumstances change from one day to the next. Its that time when the safety and security of family, friends, school and learning to understand the changes is your only jihad. You are not equipped, emotionally, intellectually or physically to be able to process the complexities of such situations such as the geo-political landscape of the world. Understand your world and get to grips with your life first.

In answer to your assertion that you don't like who you are or where you live or how you're living. You are a blessed child. We say child because you are a child. You don't realise that the changes you are going through are the changes every child makes in his or her journey through adolescence in to adulthood and maturity. Just because you may become an adult does not mean you will become mature. Maturity comes from managing the change and understanding the change. Creating more upset during a time of change is not a sign of maturity but a sign of stupidity.

You live in what is regarded by many as the greatest city in the modern world. You have free healthcare, free meals, free schooling, freedom to live in peace, freedom to learn, free from fear of being bombed or killed in a war zone. You are free to focus on yourself, your education, and the opportunities afforded to you by the mere fact that you were born here, and now you are confused about your position in life, in society, in the world? Its shows you don't fully understand yourself or just how lucky you are.

There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, possibly billions of people that would give anything to be in your shoes, and you think you have it tough? Your duty to yourself is to be grateful for what you have. Your duty is to improve your understanding of the world by continuing your education, becoming a decent human being, who was born raised and educated in a free and fair society where you are free to practice your religion.

Your freedoms are enshrined in law. Your protections are there for you to see every day you wake up in your cosy home. You have the opportunity to improve yourself, your situation, the situation of your family by education and employment or starting a business. You can grow and become an example to others. That is your jihad, that is your duty, that is your obligation. Not running off to fight a war that will only claim your life and more than likely earn yourself eternal damnation as opposed to utilising the opportunities of education and self improvement then help others less fortunate than yourself. Being able to give charity and or educating others and leading by example is your opportunity. The best of humanity are the ones that lead by example instead of attacking others for not being the same as you.

The freedoms that have afforded you these opportunities are afforded to everyone else too. So you have to leave others to decide for themselves whether they wish to follow your faith, another faith, or no faith.

“To you be your religion, and to me my religion”.

There should be no confusion about being a Jihadi. All muslims are Jihadis. A rightly guided Jihadi is the one that understands the first Jihad is the Jihad he or she faces within. To make the right choices at the right time, with all the information and facts in front of them. Not only that, they just be of sound mind and understanding of the facts in order to come to the right conclusion. Anything that strays from that principle is risking their souls.

If you have any doubts about your place in the world, you are not able to process the reality of your situation, either because of emotional issues or possible mental health issues, either way, it leaves you insufficiently equipped to come to an informed decision.

Obey the laws of the land of your birth and residence first. There is no compulsion in Islam. No one can force anyone to become muslim, and if you were, which sect is the correct one?

Learn and understand first. Any decision you make before 18, is a decision made before you have the right to vote. In other words you have not reached the age of majority and therefore not able in law to vote let alone decide on complex issues of faith, governance, society and civilisation without an educated, mature, and sound mindset.

For help and advice on dealing with extremism please see links for further information:

http://www.ascl.org.uk/help-and-advice/help-and-advice.extremism-and-radicalisation.html

http://safe.met.police.uk/terrorist_or_extremist_activity/get_the_facts.html

http://www.lgfl.net/esafety/Pages/counter-extremism.aspx

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