Peer pressure isn't a recent phenomenon that belongs only to our generation. Peer pressure is as old as the creation of human beings. Just the term "peer pressure" has been publicized lately.
As young Submitters (Muslims in Arabic), we experience peer pressure when our moral values clash with the actions, practices or behavior of other youth who live around us, whether we're at school or in a neighborhood. Therefore, peer pressure usually comes from non-Submitters (non-Muslims), or from youth who call themselves Muslims but don't practice any moral values encouraged by the Quran.
To understand why there's a clash between our values as young Submitters and others' values, we have to realize that our values come from God in His book, the Quran, which represents the highest moral values of our life. The others' moral values are derived from other people who have indulged in immoral lifestyle derived from a desire to achieve quick pleasure or impress people. This fame and popularity doesn't last. These people have usually lost their faith or the trust or understanding of their faith, and they desire temporary world pleasure that has been proven dangerous, sick and demoralizing.
While peer pressure, even in a small circle of friends, happens because the majority agrees on doing something that contradicts the moral value of the minority, it is exactly what the Quran describes. God reminds us that the majority of the people in this life will not be believers and accordingly would not and cannot follow the great moral values presented in the scripture.
[12:103] Most people, no matter what you do, will not believe.
The Quran even tells us about peer pressure and gives detailed stories of some of the prophets and early believers who suffered from such pressure. But they persevered and held tight to their belief and they ended up being the winners. That peer pressure included ridicule and making fun of the believers for their righteous behavior and choices.
[83:29] The wicked used to laugh at those who believed. When they passed by them, they used to poke fun. When they got together with their people, they used to joke.
[83:34] Today, those who believed are laughing at the disbelievers.
[83:35] On luxurious furnishings they watch.
The Quran even explains the reason why some people fall for peer pressure and desert their righteous behavior:
[29:25] He said, "You worship beside GOD powerless idols due to peer pressure, just to preserve some friendship among you in this worldly life. But then, on the Day of Resurrection, you will disown one another, and curse one another. Your destiny is Hell, wherein you cannot help one another."
Of the many prophets mentioned in the Quran , the story of Noah is a clear example of peer pressure. The people of Noah refused to believe in God, made fun of Noah and ridiculed him and the few believers who believed with him. Their ridicule got even worse when Noah started building the ark in the middle of nowhere as God ordered him to get ready for the great flood.
[11:38] While he was building the ark, whenever some of his people passed by him they laughed at him. He said, "You may be laughing at us, but we are laughing at you, just as you are laughing.
God, however, assures us again and again that the believers will be the last ones to laugh.
[2:212] This worldly life is adorned in the eyes of the disbelievers, and they ridicule those who believe. However, the righteous will be far above them on the Day of Resurrection. GOD blesses whomever He wills, without limits.
More than once, the pressure to do drugs, smoke, or drink befalls the average teenager, especially Submitters (Muslims). The pressure to fit in and be "cool" always competes with our want to be righteous. If we are strong, and persevere in the cause of God, we will pull through with the right decision, God willing. Even though you might lose a friend you could've had, you will feel the reward once you just say "no."
Some of the things we encounter everyday and are pressured about are:
Making fun of others
Having intense relationships
Disobeying the dress code to look like everyone else
Not being "smart"
To be someone else
Being "popular" at the expense of losing righteousness
Being rude/disobedient to parents
Peer pressuring others
[2:219] They ask you about intoxicants and gambling: say, "In them there is a gross sin, and some benefits for the people. But their sinfulness far outweighs their benefit." They also ask you what to give to charity: say, "The excess." GOD thus clarifies the revelations for you, that you may reflect,
As righteous, young Submitters, God expects us to follow the highest moral values given throughout the Quran and feel proud of our values, our faith and our strength in the face of any peer pressure or any blame.
[5:54] O you who believe, if you revert from your religion, then GOD will substitute in your place people whom He loves and who love Him. They will be kind with the believers, stern with the disbelievers, and will strive in the cause of GOD without fear of any blame. Such is GOD's blessing; He bestows it upon whomever He wills. GOD is Bounteous, Omniscient.
Most of those who fall for peer pressure are insecure youth who lack self confidence, who are ignorant with their religion, and have such a weak faith that the great values given in the scripture are never on their minds. On the contrary, a true young Submitter is armed with knowledge and understanding of his/her religion, is self confident, and stands tall and proud of being on God's side. A good self-confident Submitter will be the strength and focus of their circle of friends. These friends will admire and try to move up to the Submitter's level of moral excellency. The Submitter will not try to lower his or herself down to match the moral values of the circle of friends. That is what we can call an admirable reverse of peer pressure.
Managing peer pressure:
- Move away from certain circles of friends. Befriending the right people is an essential means for staying on the straight path and avoiding unnecessary peer pressure. In choosing our friends we should be looking for friends who believe in God and His scriptures. Living in a society where Submitters (Muslims) are a minority is a challenge by itself that is fully rewarded by God. In such a society, finding a righteous friend may not be easy at the beginning but insisting on them and looking for them is a sign to God that you are sincere in your search and He will direct you in the right path.
- Don't ever feel that you are missing out or living a boring life just because you don't give in to peer pressure. Accepting the bad behavior prohibited in the Quran will end in more misery than the temporary pleasure that it starts with in the beginning.
- Study the Qur'an . Learn what behavior is pleasing to God, and what kind of lifestyle is discouraged in Islam, Submission.
Whenever peer pressure befalls us, remembering God is the best thing we can do. When God is with us, we can resist anything, as Joseph did when the lady of the house seduced him.
[12:23] The lady of the house where he lived tried to seduce him. She closed the doors and said, "I am all yours." He said, "May GOD protect me. He is my Lord, who gave me a good home. The transgressors never succeed."
- You should be armed with knowledge about your religion Submission (Islam in Arabic). Have knowledge about the risk of unrighteous behavior that is encouraged by people around you. Such knowledge will help you to resist the temptation of peer pressure and know how to stand for the righteous behavior.
As a young youth holding to your faith and all the beautiful moral values you should be assured that God will be your supporter and help you as He did for Joseph.
[3:150] GOD alone is your Lord and Master, and He is the best supporter.
As a Submitter youth, you are so lucky, because not only you have parents who care, But, God our Lord and Master is your supporter and helper to get over these difficulties. You are lucky because you have the Quran, a book that gives you the right answer and draw for you the righteous map to avoid all the misachievements caused by peer pressure during the difficult time. You should be happy and rejoice in having, God, Quran, your parents and your good friends , all on your side.