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Saturday 2nd of March 2024
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The Generation of the Youth or the Mind Set of the Youth?

The Generation of the Youth or the Mind Set of the Youth?

I should state this point here that when we use the phrase the “generation of the youth,” our aim is not to specify the level or age of the youth.  Rather, our aim is to speak to that level or group of people who, due to the effects of their own studies and acquaintance with the new civilizations, have developed a specific way of thought and intellect – whether these people happen to be old or young.  However most of these people are from the younger generation and it is because of this that we refer to it as the “generation of the youth,” whereas we see that there are also a great number of “older people” who possess this new way of thinking and there are also many “youth” whose thought pattern and beliefs resemble the older, past generations. 

In any case, our intention is to speak in regards to that category of people who possess this specific mode of thinking – something which is increasing day by day.  This is a mode of thinking which both the older and younger individuals are beginning to possess and in the future, if God forbid, the correct ways and methods to guide and lead this generation are not put into practice, then we will lose complete control of the future generations.

This issue is a very important issue in our country (Iran) – and even in other Islāmic countries where it is still an important issue – however these countries realized this issue earlier than we did and thus, they put forth this issue with great seriousness, while we still have not taken this matter to be very important. 

Generally speaking - in our eyes – the younger generation is simply a generation of people who are infatuated with themselves and who merely worship their lower desires. 

We think that when they speak to us, we can simply make faces at them, pass a few sarcastic jokes off of the Mimbar or that we can resort to cursing them (for their errors) and speak bad things to them.  We think that we can talk to them and make them listen to that which we are saying, make them laugh at what we tell them and then everything will be alright.  We think that we can exclaim and cry out to them: “O’ you from such-and-such a (bad) school” and we think that this will solve all of our problems.  These are all simply lullabies that we are saying and are only there to keep us in our sleep and prevent us from actually thinking about a way out and a better route to take.  In an instant, we will wake up and realize that it is now too late to go back.

Become a Scholar For The Time in Which You Are Living In


There is a speech from Imām Jaʿfar ibne Muammad as-ādiq (a.s.) which is a very lofty speech.  This ādīth has been narrated in al-Kāfī[17]

in which the following sentence is mentioned in a (long) ādīth:

   أَلْعٌالِمُ بِزَمٌانِهِ لاٌ تَهْجُمُ عَلَيْهِ اللَّوٌابِسُ

“The person who is fully aware of the time in which he is living, will never be overcome with bewilderment (of the things around him).”

This means that the person who knows, recognizes and understands the time in which he is living will never fall prey to confusion or perplexity about the things occurring around him. 

The word “confused” used in this ādīth is commonly used in Fārsī in the meaning of a strong or forceful attack that is launched against another person.  However in the ʿArabic language it is in the meaning of a person who is carrying something and all of a sudden, out of his own inability or unawareness, becomes negligent of his surroundings. 

In this ādīth the Imām (a.s.) has told us that, “If a person is fully aware of his own surroundings, then he will never fall prey or victim to the confusion and bewilderment of those things around him, such that one time he looks and forgets even his own hands and feet and he is not able to make use of his own strength and energy nor is he able to gather together his thoughts to solve a problem.”  This is truly a great saying.

There are many such important phrases in this same ādīth, although I have not memorized all of them, however another line states:

لاٌ يُفْلِحُ مَنْ لاٌ يَعْقِلُ وَ لاٌ يَعْقِلُ مَنْ لاٌ يَعْلَمُ

“That person who does not use his intellect will not be successful, and that person who does not have knowledge will not be able to use his intellect.”

The meaning of intellect (عقل) is the power or ability to deduce and rationalize something and to establish a relationship between two arguments – meaning to bring about the prerequisites for an issue and then come to a conclusion.  The intellect takes its source of inspiration from knowledge and thus, intellect is the lamp whose oil which it runs upon is knowledge.  The ādīth then goes on to say:

وَ سَوْفَ يَنْجُبُ مَنْ يَفْهَمُ

This means that whoever understands (something), then his outcome will be that he will possess a virtuous, honourable character since the outcome of a treasure or priceless good is through the work which it puts forth.  By this it means that we should not be afraid of knowledge and we must not think of knowledge as being something that is dangerous.

However in reality, we are the complete opposite meaning and manifestation of this ādīth that states:

أَلْعٌالِمُ بِزَمٌانِهِ لاٌ تَهْجُمُ عَلَيْهِ اللَّوٌابِسُ

From the beginning to the end, from the top to the bottom, from the door (of the Masjid) to the Mirāb, all of us are unaware of the times in which we are living.  We are simply sitting down, unaware of our surroundings, dozing off.  One time we are accosted that, for example, this land must be divided up and that the land must be cleaned and tilled (to make use of it).  Unknowingly, it is as if this issue (in relation to the cleaning and tilling of the land) launches an offensive upon us since we are completely unaware of the time in which we are living.  We do not have the foresight or speculation of what would happen in the future and have not planned anything to determine what our responsibilities will be or what we should be doing.

We in reality, do not know what is going on in this world and what is being done beyond the curtains. We have suddenly faced the issue of womens’ social rights.  Here, we don’t have enough time to think over it and analyze all of its aspects in order to determine its importance. Are those who are defending the social rights of women really serious?  Do they really want to attract more fans?  Or is there another benefit that they intend to gain from arousing such questions?  Along with these, there will come other doubtful and unknown matters that we do not know.

Some sixty to one hundred years ago among the other Islāmic countries, the issue of guiding and leading the youth had been brought up, but they have been busier in pondering and discussing this issue than we were.


Notes:

[17] Al-Kāfī, Volume 1, Pages 26 and 27

What Must be Done?


That which is even more important than charting a program for the leadership of this generation is that we must strengthen the belief in our own minds that the issue of leadership and guidance of this generation is different in its methods and techniques throughout the various time periods, and differs according to the groups or people whom we are working with.  Thus, we must completely remove the thought from our heads that this new generation must be guided by following the methods used by the previous generations.

First of all, we must fully understand this young generation and comprehend what sorts of peculiarities and distinctions they possess.  In relation to this generation, there are two modes of thought that are common, and usually, there are two ways that they can be dealt with.

From the point of view of some people, these youth are an insensitive and rude group of people who have been deluded and enraptured by their own lower desires.  They are worshippers of the self and possess thousands of (other) deficiencies.  These people (who think this of the younger generation) are constantly making faces at them and are always speaking bad of this new generation.

However, the youth see themselves as the complete opposite of this picture.  The youth do not see themselves as having any deficiencies.  They imagine themselves to be the effigy of intelligence, the effigy of sagacity, the effigy of higher qualities.  The older generation thinks that this group have fallen into disbelief and that they are plunged in to sin, while the new generation think that the older generation are simple minded and ignorant.

The older generation tells the newer ones that they have lowered themselves to the worship of their own selves and have become disbelievers, while the new generation tells the older one that they do not know what they are talking about and that they do not understand them!  Generally speaking of course, it is possible that one generation may consider the previous generation as being righteous people but it is also possible that they may consider them as being misguided.

An Example of Two Generations


There is a verse in Sūratul Aqāf that was recited before I began my discussion.  In my opinion, this verse actually portrays the scene of two generations – that of a righteous generation and the other of a generation that has gone astray.  We cannot say that without a doubt every proceeding generation would be more corrupt than the previous generation and that the world is going closer towards corruption day after day.  At the same time, we also cannot say that the future generations will be more perfect than the previous generations and will never fall into error.

The verses that we wanted to look at are as follows:

 وَوَصَّيْنَا  الإِنسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ إِحْسَانًا حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ كُرْهًا وَوَضَعَتْهُ كُرْهًا وَحَمْلُهُ وَفِصَالُهُ ثَلاَثُونَ شَهْرًا حَتَّى إِذَا بَلَغَ أَشُدَّهُ وَبَلَغَ أَرْبَعِينَ سَنَةً قَالَ رَبِّ أَوْزِعْنِي أَنْ أَشْكُرَ نِعْمَتَكَ  الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيَّ وَعَلَى وَ الِدَيَّ وَأَنْ أَعْمَلَ صَالِحًا تَرْضَاهُ وَأَصْلِحْ لِي فِي ذُرِّيَّتِي إِنِّي تُبْتُ إِلَيْكَ وَإِنِّي مِنَ  الْمُسْلِمِينَ

“And We have enjoined on mankind kindness to his parents.  In pain did his mother bear him and in pain she gave him bith.  The carrying of the (child) to his weaning is (a period of) thirty months.  At length when the child reaches the age of full strength and attains forty years he says: ‘O my Lord! grant me that I may be grateful for Your favours which You have bestowed upon me and upon both my parents and that I may work righteousness such as You may approve; and be gracious to me in my progeny.  Truly I have turned to You and truly I am of the Muslims.”[18]

This verse of the Qurʾān presents us with one of the ways of thinking and understanding of a righteous generation.  It has been said that this verse was revealed in relation to Sayyid ash-Shuhadā Imām usain ibne ʿAlī (a.s.) - of course, he is simply the most perfect testimony of this verse, however the verse is a general all-encompassing verse.

In this verse, there are five characteristics which have been mentioned for a righteous generation. 

The first characteristic is that of a soul which is thankful and realizes the importance and worth of the blessing and gift of creation:

) رَبِّ أَوْزِعْنِي أَنْ أَشْكُرَ نِعْمَتَكَ  الَّتِي (

“…’O my Lord! grant me that I may be grateful for Your favours which You have bestowed upon me…”

Such a person looks at all of the blessings and bounties that Allāh (s.w.t.) has given to both of them (the mother and father) and the previous generations and then says, “O’ Allāh!  Give me the strength to be able to discern the truth and realize its true worth.  Give me the strength to be able to make the best use of the blessings that You have showered upon us such that would earn Your pleasure.”  To be thankful for any blessing means that we make use of that blessing as it should be used.

After this, we pray that Allāh (s.w.t.) should give us the ability to perform actions that He is pleased with.  We pray that we too should be given the chance to act in a way that is beneficial to ourselves, to others and perform those things which would earn the pleasure of Allāh (s.w.t.):

 ) وَأَنْ أَعْمَلَ صَالِحًا تَرْضَاهُ (

“…and that I may work righteousness such as You may approve…”

The third prayer is that we turn our attention to the future generation and ask Allāh (s.w.t.) for their goodness and for them to be righteous:

) وَأَصْلِحْ لِي فِي ذُرِّيَّتِي  (

“…and be gracious to through my progeny…”

The fourth request made is that we are permitted to turn back towards Allāh (s.w.t.) for the mistakes, slips and shortcomings which we performed in the past:

) إِنِّي تُبْتُ إِلَيْكَ (

“…Truly I have turned to You…”

The fifth and final prayer in this verse is that we ask to be granted the state of submission to the Truth and those things which Allāh (s.w.t.) has specified for us in relation to the natural world and the Islāmic legislations.  It is through transgressing the limits set by Allāh (s.w.t.) that leads to our destruction and annihilation:

) وَإِنِّي مِنَ  الْمُسْلِمِينَ (

“…and truly I am of the Muslims.”[19]

In relation to this generation mentioned above, it is then mentioned in the Qurʾān:

) أُوْلَئِكَ  الَّذِينَ نَتَقَبَّلُ عَنْهُمْ أَحْسَنَ مَا عَمِلُوا وَنَتَجاوَزُ عَن سَيِّئَاتِهِمْ فِي أَصْحَابِ  الْجَنَّةِ وَعْدَ  الصِّدْقِ  الَّذِي كَانُوا يُوعَدُونَ (

“These are they from whom We accept the best of what they have done and pass over their evil deeds, among the dwellers of the garden; the promise of truth which they were promised.”   [20]

 

In this part of the verse, the tense changes to the plural form and thus it is clear that it is not in reference to one individual.  In this verse, it is stated that, “Such are they from whom We shall accept the best of their deeds and pass by their ill deeds: (they shall be) among the Companions of the Garden: a promise of truth which was made to them (in this life).”

However the following verse is in relation to the corrupt, misled generation, and it states:

) وَ الَّذِي قَالَ لِوَالِدَيْهِ أُفٍّ لَّكُمَا أَتَعِدَانِنِي أَنْ أُخْرَجَ وَقَدْ خَلَتْ  الْقُرُونُ مِنْ قَبْلِي وَهُمَا يَسْتَغِيثَانِ  اللَّهَ وَيْلَكَ آمِنْ إِنَّ وَعْدَ  اللَّهِ حَقٌّ فَيَقُولُ مَا هَذَا إِلاَّ أَسَاطِيرُ  الأََوَّلِينَ (

“But (there is one) who says to his parents ‘Woe on you!  Do you hold out the promise to me that I shall be raised up even though generations have passed before me (without rising again)?’  And the two of them (the mother and father) seek Allāh’s aid (and rebuke the son saying): ‘Woe to you!  Have faith for the promise of Allāh is true.’  But he says ‘This is nothing but tales of the ancients!’”[21]

A conceited, perplexed and mentally undeveloped generation would learn a few things, and then would not believe anything else that they hear; thus they would cease being servants of Allāh (s.w.t.).  They would say to their father and mother, “Woe upon you!”  They would make fun of their parents and would resort to laughing at their thoughts and beliefs.  Such a generation would say to their them!

)             أَتَعِدَانِنِي أَنْ أُخْرَجَ (

“Do you hold out the promise to me that I shall be raised up?”

Such a generation exclaims: “Do you expect me to believe that there is another world after this one or that there is another life after this one whereas we see that previous generations came, lived, died and that is it!?” 

The father and mother are religious and are not prepared to hear anything that goes against their religion and faith, however at the same time, they see that the dearest of people to them is speaking to them in such a way that it makes them upset and forces them to say to their child:

) وَيْلَكَ آمِنْ إِنَّ وَعْدَ  اللَّهِ حَقٌّ (

“Woe to you!  Have faith for the promise of Allāh is true!”

One of the most painful things for a religious father and mother to see is their dear child drifting towards disbelief of the religion, or to see him or her deny the beliefs and go towards Kufr (complete disbelief). 

) وَهُمَا يَسْتَغِيثَانِ اللَّهَ (

“…and the two of them (the mother and father) seek Allāh’s aid…”

It is at this time that the cry for help can be heard in the heavens when both the father and mother call upon Allāh (s.w.t.).  However, the child replies to their pleas by saying that:

) مَا هَذَا إِلاَّ أَسَاطِيرُ الأََوَّلِينَ (

“This is nothing but the tales of the ancients!”

This verse gives us a picture of two completely different generations.  One verse shows us a righteous generation, while the other verse gives us the image of a corrupt generation. 

With this said, let us see which group our young generation falls under.


Notes:

[18] Sūrah al-Aqāf (46), Verse 15

[19] Sūratul Aqāf (46), Verse 15

[20] Sūratul Aqāf (46), Verse 16

[21] Ibid., Verse 17

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