By Aisha Hyder (Grade 11) and Amira Zubairi (2nd year University)
Have you ever decided to take action and make a difference in the world, only to later push that thought aside? You are not alone. The youth of today have potential to initiate change in their communities but lack sources of inspiration. To become inspired, youth can turn to examples of young individuals who are making a difference in their communities. Mohamed Zeyara; a public speaker, filmmaker, medical student and a youth activist, is a great example of an individual making his mark on this world. MY Voice had the chance to interview Zeyara about his work.
Zeyara, aged 20, grew up in Gaza, Palestine. He moved to Canada at the age of 12 and frequently travels back and forth between Mississauga, Ont. and Gaza. As an emerging leader, Zeyara says, “To become a great leader is to be a great follower.” He says that society does not just depend on youth to lead, but advises them to know how to follow great leaders effectively in order to become charismatic leaders in their own community.
As someone who has lived in both Gaza and Canada, Zeyara realized that growing up in the West doesn’t give people a real glimpse of the rough times that exist around the world. Travelling showed him that there are greater problems in the world than worrying about having the next Apple product. It inspired him to speak up for the rights of those who suffer from distressful situations, such as those in Gaza. “I have seen, therefore I am responsible. If I just saw what I saw and stayed quiet, Allah (SWT) (Glorified and Exulted is He) would hold me accountable for not speaking,” says Zeyara. He hopes to share his observations with the world and inspire people to become more aware of world issues.
Zeyara believes that education is essential for creating any change. Education gives youth the credibility to speak in front of the masses and express their opinions confidently.
Furthermore, Zeyara says youth should benefit the community through their skills and passions. He gives examples of the Prophet’s (PBUH)* companions that excelled greatly in one aspect and used it to make a positive difference in their communities; Khalid bin Waleed was the best in military planning and Abu Bakr was the best in knowledge. Through their passions, these individuals were able to bring prosperity into their communities.
Similarly, Zeyara uses his hobbies such as filmmaking to make his mark in the world. Making YouTube videos helps him reach a larger audience. Over a few years, Zeyara’s videos have jumped from 1,000 views to 100 million views. Zeyara has also acted in the Inspiration Series with Br. Omar Suleiman, which takes lessons from the Prophet Muhammad PBUH’s life and applies them to the current situations individuals experience in the West. Zeyara is also developing his skills in the sciences, aspiring to become a doctor to help people. He says, “The youth should search for something that they are good at. If you love something and you’re successful, people will like it and they will support you.”
Youth often face challenges and criticisms when trying to make a difference. Zeyara states that as a leader who faces criticisms through social media, he has become immune to it. But he acknowledges that sometimes advice and criticisms are essential to reshaping and improving one’s goals as an activist. Thus he turns to his father as well as his mentor Br. Omar Suleiman for constructive criticism. Zeyara says, “Every single person who will become successful will hear negative comments, but when they have surpassed that stage of taking it badly, they will hit success.”
*PBUH = Peace be upon him