The Gift of Youth
The Holy Prophet (saw) has told us to appreciate five things before they go, one of which is youth before old age. Youth possess phenomenal amount of energy, and if this energy is channeled in the correct way it can guarantee a place in Paradise. A person is physically and mentally the most active when they are young. It is during this stage in life that they can greatly benefit society around them. The great Mohammad Bin Qasim-Al-Thaqafi, a 19 year-old Arab general from Basra (Iraq) marched into Pakistan by way of Persia and Balochistan with an army of 60,000 men. It was because of him that Sindh came under the authority of Islam. Prophet Ibrahim, his son Isma`il, Yusuf, Yahya, Maryam, the Ashab Al-Kahf or the People of the Cave, may peace and blessings of Allah be upon all of them, were great examples of youths mentioned in the Qur’an.
Unfortunately, instead of aspiring to follow in the footsteps of great personalities such as Muhammad Bin Qasim many youngsters believe in breaking all the laws ordained by Allah (swt) and then later calming down and getting serious about religion and living their lives as good Muslims.
‘I’ll change in the future’ is a common procrastination employed by many of us which helps us to self-justify why we aren’t living our lives according to the limits ordained by Allah (swt). After all, most of our grandparents turned to Islam in their old age, after living their lives according to their own whims and desires. We tell ourselves that we’ll enjoy our life to the max, get married, go to Hajj, ask for forgiveness for our sins and then live the rest of our lives according to the teachings of Islam.
The problem with this mentality is that, people die at all ages. We associate death with old age, but I’m sure we all know of young people who were killed in fatal accidents. Imagine if a boyfriend and girlfriend were killed in a car accident, would the excuse “We did intend to repent, get married and change in the future-but we died before we could do all that” be valid in the Court of Allah (swt)?
Furthermore, how can one intentionally sin with the intention of repenting later on in life? Such repentance isn’t even valid in Islam.
In addition, if one is used to sinning how can they assume that they will change and give up their ways in the future, aren’t old habits hard to break?
When a person enters old age his needs, whims, desires and demands begin to diminish. The things that used to bring him delight and pleasure do not appeal to him any more, so due to obvious reasons the worship of a teenager is worth more then the worship of an elderly person. Furthermore, the punishment of an old man who commits adultery is harsher then the young man who commits the same sin, this is because it is easier for him to keep away from wrong actions.
Negative characteristics such as pride, arrogance, and being shameless etc, are most prominent when an individual is neither too old nor too young. These unlawful needs, whims, and desires are most prominent when one is in his youth.
It is difficult to commit oneself to the laws and commands of Allah (swt) when an individual is young; this is because of all the temptations that surround us. When we look at society around us, we can see that most of the worldly distractions, such as music, relationships, clubs, magazines, fashion, media etc, are all specifically targeted at the young.
However, the benefit of living in a country and not giving in to the temptation that’s in your face 24/7, results in Muslims who are of higher Iman (belief) and Taqwa (piety) as opposed to those who live in an Islamic country with little or no opportunities to be tempted. If one reject’s something that isn’t even offered to them or isn’t even in their face, where’s the difficulty in that?
When an individual is young it is extremely difficult to stay on the straight path. This stage in indeed both difficult and hazardous and this is why Allah (swt) has promised seven people His shade on the Day of Judgment, as a mark of distinction and honour. Youth who spend their years as devout and conscious Muslims in the face of overwhelming temptations and seductions are one of the seven people. The fact that Allah (swt) grants such a distinguished position to them shows how difficult these challenges are.
In order to taste the sweetness of faith, we must refrain from succumbing to temptations. Yes, it is difficult because we live in morally degenerate society and yes, it does demand a lot of self-control and discipline. However we should realise that difficulties, hardship and inconvenience suffered for the sake of Allah (swt) will bring us immeasurable rewards and a multitude of spiritual benefits.
We are the future of Islam. We have a great role to play in society and must emulate the examples of our great predecessors in order to positively benefit society. The reward and status of one who sacrifices his youth for the pleasure of Allah (swt) are immense. May Allah (swt) give us the tawfeeq to do so, Ameen.
By Alveena Salim