- Teenage years are a difficult period for an individual struggling to find his place in the family and in society. He has to grapple with the physical, mental and emotional stress of pubescence, together with the ensuing demands of unbridled passion, and peer- pressure. It is an extremely sensitive stage of development, which parents have to nurture with care and discretion. Failing which, our great dreams for our children could suddenly turn into nightmares if they succumb to drugs, and booze, not to mention the grim prospect of contracting AIDS. It is therefore important that their energies and aspirations are channelled and expressed within a well-defined Islamic framework.
- We can either choose to ignore reality and simply wish that it never happens to our children or commit ourselves to a constructive form of engagement with them. The latter would require more than just good intentions and noble aspirations. The youth are getting excessive doses of immoral behaviour, violence, sex, and drugs, not only from television, chat rooms, and video games, but also from peer networks,and enticing social trends.
- The Qu'ran gives a graphic demonstration of how Yusuf (alayhis salaam) as a youth responded to the overwhelming social vices of his society. He was betrayed by his elder brothers, sold as a slave, rescued to a royal household, and enticed by the lady of the house. He shunned the sexual advances of the royal countess, and instead opted for a harsh prison life. Despite his youthful vigour, and enchanting beauty, he did not succumb or loose faith. He spoke to his prison inmates about the greatness of Allah Ta’ala, he remained upright and engaged in Da'wah. He rose to the highest rank of the kingdom for his management skills, and forgave his brothers when they came begging for help. He was a victim of jealousy, conspiracy, slavery, beauty, and tyranny. His humility, determination, faith, and courage provide invaluable lessons for the youth of today .
- Islamic history is replete with instances that display the heroic character of Muslim youth. A combination of belief and impeccable character not only helped them preserve their own identity; it also changed the lives of others around them.What drove these youth to such unparalleled sacrifices and accomplishments in the course of Islam ? What did they possess that is patently lacking in the youth of today? Why have our youth become such self-centered individuals occupied with fickle expressions of bravado and delusive pretensions? We see the youth of today and understand the potentially horrifying consequences for the world of tomorrow.
- We lack meaningful programs for our youth, which is further aggravated by shocking levels of ignorance and appalling parental indifference. The most conspicuous lapse among the youth is a total lack of Islamic knowledge. We hope to be the guardians of a noble religion, yet we know so little of it. We appeal to others to embrace it through our Dawah, yet little do we realize that we have not truly embraced it ourselves. At our fingertips lies a wealth of invaluable books and resources, yet we refuse to read or understand our Din.
- Youth at their most impressionable years leave Madrasah, equipped only with a profound misunderstanding of their Din. How can we develop, maintain and model our Islamic identity without understanding our Din? How will we bring Islam to non- Muslims unless we ourselves are confident of its teachings? Why will non-Muslims give up their lifestyle and beliefs if we present ourselves as reckless, ignorant, and confused about our own beliefs? Through knowledge of our religion, we can become the light, rather than mere shadows of Islam.
- The school environment that seems to be moulding a hollow culture of arrogance and vanity further aggravates their estrangement from Madrasah.
"The real world of school discipline is a rough and tumble place where students practice newly learned vulgarities, erupt with anger, tease and embarrass each other, share offensive notes, flirt, push and shove in the halls, grab and offend."
(Justice A.M. Kennedy)
- Our schools have become breeding grounds for vulgarity, and indecency, which is symptomatic of the 'absent parent syndrome'. Parents have become strangers to their own children. They have little or no time to befriend them, talk to them, and spend time with them. The home has become a cold institute that simply houses disinterested individuals together.
- We need to create a supportive environment within the home. We need to be sensitive to the youth developmental process and avoid stigmatization. Harsh words against them or nit picking on innocent mistakes will lead to cementing their rebellious tendencies. The youth/ parent partnership has to go beyond the supper table, Madrasah education has to evolve beyond the primary level, and our programs need more than just bayaans. We need to initiate community based activities that will channel the aspirations of our youth within a well-defined context.
- Thriving as a Muslim youth must not be a passive ambition but rather an active goal, which requires the determination and resolve of Yusuf (alayhis salaam). The first requirement for the achievement of this goal is good company. Remember, you are known by the type of people you befriend!
May Allâh Ta’ala give us the strength to respond appropriately to the demands of our age, may He protect our Imân and help us develop strong family ties that can withstand the strains of present-day trends.