Is Youth the Problem?
A short discussion on duty and attitudes
Sayyid Ali Raza Naqvi. Sayyid Ali is a lecturer in Arabic at the Institute and was formerly the headmaster of the Muhammadi Madrassah, Birmingham. He is a graduate of the Madrassah Syed al-Khoei, London. A tradition from Imam Ali (a.s) states that, ‘groom your child in (to suit) his time.’
By this we mean that the children of today should not, necessarily, be expected to rigidly follow a system of different cultures and beliefs as they existed 50 years ago, whether or not these temporal practices are right or wrong. The only exception here being the divine principles of Islamic Values and the fundamental Creed of Islam that the Prophet brought 1400 years ago, for these will not undergo change until the day of Judgement. To clarify the point, further – The 3 Principles of Religion – Tawhid (Incorporating Adalat), Nabuwat (Incorporating Imamat), Qiyamat – will remain the same. Similarly the doctrinal branches of Religion, which are 10 in number, namely: Salat, Sawm, Haj, Zakat, Khums, Amr bil Ma’aruf, Nahy anil Munkar, Jihad, Tawalla and Tabarra – will remain the same, but, in the application of these roots and branches things may change in accordance to the demands of the time, for example the methods of Jihad applied 200 years ago would be very different in 2003. It can also be seen that the ‘Five Pillars of Islam’ are included in this list of principles and are integrated with the basic ideological framework required of a Muslim. Having said this, we see in our society that the youth is expected to do much that he would not before have been required to do and we have to take into consideration that Parents do have a major role to play in the upbringing of a child.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w) has said: “I counsel you to be good to youths, for they have the softest hearts.”
If Parents listened to this advice of the Prophet (saw) today, faith would not have been equated to crisis. Rather we would have a generation of youth who would be hopeful, ambitious, confident, dynamic, constructive, developmental and above all filled with Iman (faith).
Some psychologists view the stage of Youth as one of long personal crisis; they regard youth as a stage, which brings worry, confusion, depression, agitation etc.
Communities talk nothing but Youth; “They are in a crisis!”, ” They don’t behave well!”, “They don’t talk but in vain!”
But let us ponder on this deeply:
Are they really in a crisis? Are they from another Planet? Are they not our own flesh and blood? Don’t we see people who have no children, going to great lengths to have them? Hasn’t the Prophet said ‘to look at your child with love equals worship?’ Then, why do we see youth as a problem?
It is no part of Islamic belief that youth is an oppressive problem; rather the young are the apples of our eyes, the beat of our hearts. So where does the problem lie? If indeed there is a problem, then it is not in the youth themselves, but rather in the way we, as adults, tackle the problem and this would be solved by knowing and finding out sincerely how to get closer to and working with them on it.
A youth is made to become a crisis by the environment around him, be it in the house, school, street, institution or even the mosque, we may not be interacting with them properly despite knowing how sensitive this age group may be. Instead we treat them with severity and harshness, using insults and finally branding them as a ‘problems’. The youth may be looked upon as that small child who did not grow up, but we should not put more pressure on them by prohibiting things, which God has never made haram. In such circumstances, the boy or girl falls back on the people closest to them and here he/she may receive insufficient or deficient understanding. The child who is denied affectionate contact may become withdrawn, keeping himself aloof and in solitude where the possibility of creating an imaginary world of fantasy and violence becomes very real because of the belief that they were either mistreated or misunderstood.
The Holy Prophet (s.a.w) has said:
“The Parents must not be stubborn with their child, just as the child must not disobey the parents.” What parents need to do is to read and understand the Holy Qur’an with the intention of learning how to bring up a child.
The words of exhortation used in the Qur’an wherein Luqman counsels his son, are designed to expand our horizons on matters of doctrine and life. Therefore, we see the method of encouragement in the Holy Qur’an is to articulate life issues, and thus it pushes the idea closer to experiences retained in the mind. On the same note there is a saying that ‘he who does not have an exhorter within himself cannot benefit from an exhorter.’ This means that a person can be encouraged only through himself.
As Imam Ali (‘a.s) has said in Nahjul Balagha:
“The best of what you experience is that which encourages you.” On this basis, we therefore find that one type of lesson is given by personal actions. The Holy Qur’an says:
“Why do you preach that which you do not do?”http://www.alqaem.org