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West London Islamic Centre & Jamia Masjid

Islamic Articles::Muslim Youth

Muslim Youth: Torchbearers of Islam

In the early days of Islam, when Prophet Muhammad (saws) called his people to embrace Islam, they did not accept it easily. The tribe of Quraysh, to which the Prophet belonged, was reluctant to leave the religion of its forefathers, and the unbelievers spared no effort in trying to eliminate the religion from existence. They resorted to every conceivable means and method of torture and persecution. They ridiculed the new converts and subjected them to all kinds of hardships in order to force them to renounce their faith. This situation continued for thirteen years in Makkah. Then Allah (Subhanahu wa ta'laa) instructed His Prophet to migrate from Makkah to Madinah, However, the Hijrah itself was overshadowed by all kinds of dangers. The Quraysh conspired to kill the Prophet before he left Makkah, and they contrived a master plan to assassinate him. But Allah (swt) protected His Prophet from their conspiracy. As the group selected to carry out the plot gathered outside the Prophet's home, he asked his young cousin, Ali ibn Abi Talib, to sleep in his bed. Then the Prophet left silently under the cover of darkness

The Prophet went to his close companion, Abu Bakr (ra), and they left Makkah secretly, accompanied by Abu Bakr's servant, Amir ibn Fuhayrah, and a guide who had good knowledge of the way. The group left in a direction other than the one usually taken to Madinah so as to escape the pursuit of their adversaries. The Prophet and Abu Bakr hid in the cave of Thawr, near Makkah, to wait for the frantic search of the unbelievers to subside.

It is worth noting here the role played by Muslim youth in this crucial journey, which required much planning, secrecy and courage. Four young people who stood up to this task were Ali ibn Abi Talib, Amir ibn Fuhayrah, Abdullah ibn Abi Bakr and Asma' bint Abi Bakr. The role of Ali on the night of the Prophet's escape from assassination has already been mentioned. Abdullah sneaked out each night to inform his father and the Prophet of what was transpiring in Makkah among the unbelievers, and of the relentless search they were undertaking.

Amir, on the other hand, drove his sheep to graze over and wipe out any footprints leading to the cave where the Prophet and Abu Bakr were hiding. Asma' took food and water to them. She stood firm in the face of close scrutiny by the leaders of Quraysh, such that one of them even hit her hard to extract from her information of the whereabouts of the Prophet and Abu Bakr. One day, Asma' could not carry the food and water with her bare hands, so she tore her waist band into two sashes and used them to tie and carry the provisions on her shoulders. When she reached the cave and the Prophet saw what she had done, he said to her, "Surely, Allah has exchanged your two sashes with two sashes in Paradise."

Indeed, the story of the circumstances surrounding the Prophet's migration serves as an inspiration for Muslim youth in all generations. These young individuals realised the significance of the Message of the Prophet and importance of his personal safety for the survival of Islam. They therefore made the decision to contribute to the success of the Islamic message with all the means at their disposal.

The sacrifice each one of them made reveals the love and loyalty that they had for the Prophet. They along with Muslim heroes from the past such as Tariq bin Ziyad, the namesake of Spain's most famous landmark, Jabral Tariq (Gibralter) the rock of Tariq and Muhammed bin Qasim the champion of South Asia, who were both 19 and 17 respectively when they achieved their military conquests and forever attained their historic status.

Youth is the most vigorous and dynamic stage in an individual's life. In ones youth a person is at the height of their mental and physical prowess, you think you know it all and you also think that you have all the time in the world to fix up and sought yourself out. At the same time your always hearing the classic line, 'You're only young once, or you only live once!', if only people knew, that we aren’t only young once and that we don’t only live once, for Allah has promised his righteous servants another eternal life where all the inhabitants of Paradise will be young and no one will age. Still it is talk like this which leads some Muslim youth to think that they will pray, wear hijaab and go on Hajj etc, when they are older, as if they have a guarantee of longevity from Allah!  How well we would do to heed the Prophet's advice when he said:

'Take benefit of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied and your life before your death.'

The great scholar, Ayyoob as-Sakhtiyaanee (d.131H) said, 'From the success of a youth is that Allah guides him to a scholar of the Sunnah.' Indeed, it is a great blessing from Allah for a youth to be guided towards worship and be befriended by the righteous, since it is in youth that a person is most vulnerable to the temptations of life and liable to drift away from the Islamic Path. This becomes apparent when we look at society around us and we see that most of the worldly distractions, such as music, games, clubs, alcohol, drugs, gangs, fashion etc all specifically targeting the young. Because of the great sacrifice that a sincere Muslim youth makes for the sake of His Lord, Allah (swt) has prepared for him great status and protection on the Day of Terror, as explained by the Prophet (saws) that:

"There are seven whom Allah will shade in His Shade on the Day when there is no shade except His Shade: a just ruler; a man whose heart is attached to the mosques; two men who love each other for Allah's sake, meeting for that and parting upon that; a man who is called by a woman of beauty and position [for unlawful relations], but he says: 'I fear Allah'; a man who gives in charity and hides it, such that his left hand does not know what his right hand gives; a man who remembered Allah in private so much so that his eyes shed tears and a youth who grew up in the worship of Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic; "

As countries do not prosper except with the help of their citizens, religion does not gain strength except with the Emaan and practice of its followers. Sociologists have performed experiments to determine which societies will fragment and fail and which ones will continue to thrive in the future. They have been able to pinpoint the time at which some societies would fall or prosper. Their findings have proven to be correct every time the research has been performed. The research has included visiting universities and asking the young people what they hope to achieve in life?. Through their answers they are able to determine the future of each country. Some have high ambitions of becoming a scholar, scientist, doctor, lawyer or statesman and some are not in the least bothered about their future and they don’t have any plans.

This research is not a new idea. It existed since history began. It also existed when Muslims used to be in Andalusia, Spain. Sociologists back then used to be Portuguese. They used to be sent to the Muslim lands of Andalusia under the decoy of researchers, to analyse the young Muslims of Andalus. They knew that youth of a country are its hope for the future, so they wanted to enquire if the young Muslims were serious in life or if they had an objective in life. At first they used to find examples like; a young Muslim telling them about their education and that they had started memorising Al’Quran or Sahih Muslim after having already memorized Sahih Bukhari. Another one would be training hard to excel in archery and another one would tell them that he is the best knight in the country and no one would dare challenge him.

So, the Portuguese spies would tell their army not to attack the Muslims because of the will and the earnestness of the youth. Until one day, a Portuguese spy approached two young Muslims one of whom was crying. He asked him: 'Why are you crying?' The young man answered: My girlfriend has left me. Then the Portuguese knew that the time was approaching for them to launch an offensive. The equitable and just Muslim rein in Andalusia lasted for 800 years but the withdrawl took just over one month.

Our pious predecessors admonished and warned us that disobeying Allah brings about defeat. Jubayr ibn Nufayr once said: ‘When Cyprus was conquered and its people were divided and they used to cry to each other, I saw Abud-Dardaa sitting alone crying. So I said: 'O Abud-Dardaa! What makes you cry on this day in which Allah has strengthened Islam and its people?' So he said: “Woe be to you O Jubayr. How insignificant the creation is to Allah when they abandon His commands. Between us is a nation, who were evidently strong and had dominion, they abandoned the commands of Allah, so see what has become of them today!”

The lessons derived from the above incident is that when we uphold the commandments of Allah, victory or success in any given situation are bestowed, no matter how weak we are or how less in number and Allah gives defeat to those who abandon His commands, no matter how strong or powerful they might be.

Today, our wider community and our Ummah are facing  social afflictions and pain, our society and parts of our community are not free from social ills and vices, like cheating, stealing, lying, lewdness, immorality, arrogance, crime and murder. We all agree that our society and community need reformation, but where will this improvement begin? Brothers and sisters you are the catalysts for social change and the Islamic renaissance, which has all the answers to the dilemmas of society. Muslim youth are the future of this Ummah, the torchbearers and flag bearers of this Deen. When the Muslim youth are rightly guided then by default future society is also on correct guidance.

Along with the usual myriad of family, work and educative duties, our youth should have a 4-fold plan of action, which will assist them in fulfilling their role in today’s society.

To begin with individual spiritual revival, purification of the soul and embracing one’s own Islamic identity is necessary. Society is nothing but a collection of individuals and we have been informed in Quran ul kareem that:  

Allah will never change a condition bestowed upon a people until they change what is in their own selves.”  Al-Qur’an 8:53

He who is unable to change even himself, will not be able to change his family, not to mention changing the society or community. The servant of Allah strives to achieve the sweetness of faith and purification of the self by continually evaluating the condition of his heart, his intentions, remembering Allah in times of hardship and ease with gratitude and dhikr, seeking repentance and the forgiveness of Allah’s Wajal, supplicating profusely whilst in prostration, standing in prayer during the still of the night, reciting Al’Quran at any given opportunity, voluntarily fasting as was the Sunan of the Prophet (pbuh) on Mondays and Thursdays, nurturing love, taqwa/fear and hope of Allah whilst striving to attain Allah’s pleasure in all actions,  and most importantly observing and never neglecting the obligatory prayers at their prescribed times.

We know that our Deen is a Deen of action, practice and example, we shouldn’t only talk the talk, but we should also walk the walk. The Messenger of Allah said,

‘During the night of my Ascension to the heavens, I passed by  a group of people. Their lips were being severed with scissors of fire. I said, O Jibreel! Who are these people? He said: They are the preachers from your Ummah who used to say other than what they did themselves.’

Secondly we should give much priority to acquiring the knowledge, which will then blossom into actions and good deeds. The Prophet (pbuh) said ‘To seek knowledge is compulsory on every man and woman’ Ibn Masood (ra) said, ‘Learn, Learn and once you have learnt, act.’ Though preference here is given to Islamic knowledge, which should always take precedence, this should not be at the expense of worldly knowledge and education. The modus operandi or methodology of the individual Islamic awakening, requires our youth to be educated, intelligent and with professional vocations underpinned by academic excellence. The role of our youth requires them to engage with society at all levels, at college, university, local and national government, in healthcare, the voluntary sector, the business and corporate arena, policing and criminal justice etc. It is here that we can serve our country whilst discussing, debating and relay our knowledge, ideas, example and message.

This message is our third and currently most decisive topic for the Muslim youth of today. Dawah'tullah, calling humanity to the path of Allah was the honored profession of all the Prophets of God, their aim being to guide people out of the darkness and into the light whilst saving them from the fire and from the Anger of Allah (swt). Allah (swt) Himself raises the status of the daa’ees and has praised them in the Qur’an, Allah Says

'Who is better in speech than the one who calls to Allah, does righteous deeds and says indeed I am from the Muslims.'

The Prophet (pbuh) said: ‘Whoever directs someone to do good, he obtains the same reward as the one who does the good’

These words should act as a great encouragement and motivation for brothers and sisters, to patiently persevere in calling people to the truth. Bearing in mind the hadith of Allah’s Messenger that,

'Islam began as something strange, and it will return as something strange, so give glad tidings to the strangers, the strangers being those who are steadfast in righteousness at a time when the people become neglectful’

The da’ee should be mindful that his morals, manners and characteristics will effect his efforts, as will sincerity of purpose, amount of knowledge and certainty, his kindness and understanding, his wisdom of words and approach, his dress and scent, his level of activity and regularity in giving dawah, his making supplications for guidance for those whom he is calling, consulting with the people of knowledge on issues which are uncertain and appreciating that the cornerstone of this call, is at-Tawheed (Islamic monotheism), the single most important issue in all of Islam and the very first issue that the Prophet (saws) began with when he began to call the people to the religion of the truth. Allah said,

“Say (O Muhammad ): "Verily, my Salât (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the 'Alamîn (mankind, jinns and all that exists). He has no partner. And of this I have been commanded, and I am the first of the Muslims.”   [Al-Qur’an 6:162-163]

Fourthly and finally we have the gel or adhesive which allow our previous three goals of self-purification, knowledge attainment and Dawah to be accomplished, and this is Jama’ah (the collective). Without collective effort or Jama’ah , achieving comprehensive objectives becomes difficult, inefficient and sometimes impossible. This is why Allah(swt) has given special reference to the virtues of working together under the authority of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Allah says:

'And hold fast, all of you together to the rope of Allah and be not divided among yourselves'

Building an organised, God-conscious, cohesive and disciplined movement was a major component of the work of Allah’s Messenger. Similarly today’s Islamic Movements, act as organisational hubs, providing universal membership, a balanced, moderate (ummah tau wasta) ethos, competent leadership, infra-structure and co-ordination. The infra-structure is our Masjids, small islands of purity, loved by Allah (swt), Prophet Muhammed said that as we see the stars on a clear sky night, it is so that Allah looks down on the earth and the stars to Him are the Masjids in which he is worshipped. Hence our Muslim youth need to be involved in all aspects of their Masjids, to become proficient in community dealing, to ensure the Masjids are administered openly, effectively and efficiently.

Bother & sisters in the not so distant future, you will reach old age, unless Allah has decreed otherwise, you will then be faced with one of two states of being, either you will be sad and regretful that you did nothing or very little for your Deen and wider community or you will be satisfied and content that you made a contribution and played your part in sincerely assisting your friends and colleagues, in the welfare of your neighbourhoods and in preserving and uplifting Allah’s Deen. 

In today’s society there are 3 different types of youth:

1) The one group who are totally satisfied with their Deen and see Emaan as a blessing from Almighty Allah and losing it is a big loss. They fulfill obligatory acts of worship with love, hope and mercy and strive hard for their communities.

2) The second group are convinced about their Deen and know very well that it is the truth but due to lack of knowledge and bad influence they are drifting away, into a mundane life repitition and eventual remorse at the loss of time and age.

3) The third group are those who have inadvertently or purposefully made a lifetime commitment with Iblees (Shaytaan) the accursed. They have no faith in the Deen, nor do they believe in the Hereafter. For them this worldly life is everything, they eat, drink, enjoy and die.

Let us pray that we fall into the first group and at worst the second. The Islamic awakening is gathering pace, Alhamdulillah more and more young Muslims are returning to the Deen, we should advise our brothers and sisters to read up on the revival of the Islamic movement, its dynamics and focus. At the same time we should be genuinely concerned for society and country, acting justly and equitably at all times, we should never look at our non-Muslim friends and neighbours with suspicion or disdain, we shouldn’t ever use derogatory or hurtful terms to address anyone, on the contrary we should work hard at building friendly, constructive, affectionate relations in which we can impart a better understanding of our Way of Life.

Importantly our reaction to those who seek to divide, incite hate or call to distorted and violent methodolgies which contravene the very basis of the Sharia (Law) of Allah (swt), which is to preserve life, wealth, family, property and religion, should be firmly and unequivocally rejected and denounced. We should also fervenlty resist and oppose those who seek to alter, amend, re-interpret and manipulate the cornerstones and fundamentals of our faith. The Prophet (pbuh) said:

'This religion is easy. No one becomes harsh and extreme in the religion without it overwhelming him. So fulfill your duties as best you can and rejoice. Rely upon the efforts of the morning and the evening and a little at night and you will reach your goal.' [Al Bukhari]

Our community will be facing some serious challenges in the coming years, I pray that Allah (swt) makes you from amongst those who establish strong ties of brotherly love, who courageously uphold the banner of Islam, and whom have the enthusiasm, understanding, wisdom and foresight to help shape a brighter future for our home towns, country and the Muslim Ummah. Ameen.

"O those of My servants who have transgressed against your own selves, despair not of God's mercy. God does forgive all sins, for surely He is the most forgiving most merciful." [Al-Qur'an 53]