Sunday, November 15, 2015

Youth Activism for a Better Society

Youth is an invaluable asset for a nation since it guarantees their safety and hope. Unfortunately, today, we find that the Muslim youths, especially in Mauritius are too focused on themselves. If you ask them what they do during the holidays, they will answer unanimously: Tuitions, TV, Facebook, going out with friends in shopping malls etc.

Does youth comes down to this? Rare are the people who practice other activities. Similarly, in colleges, there are a significant number of absentees on the day when the school decides for example, to do a charitable activity as students prefer to stay home to work out test papers, to do their tuition homework, or worse, to go out and have fun with friends. They do not realize what they are losing because precisely our Islamic training recommends us to be generous and to help one another, to defend just causes and to work for the good of humanity. The Muslim youth must share and affirm the values ​​he believes in by taking part voluntarily and actively in community life.

Social engagement has countless benefits on the psychological level. There is first a better understanding among people from different backgrounds. Today, the youth with material wealth remains in a (too protected/spoiled) cocoon with his studies, his latest mobile, gadgets and connection on social networks (Facebook, Twitter etc.) without having an idea of ​​the difficulties faced by others who are worse off, like the poor, the sick, the disabled, the illiterate, the orphan, and the list is long. It is by putting himself at their service that he can mature both physically and emotionally.

Researchers in this field have noted a change in attitude among the young social workers; they observed only positive results. Research indicates indeed a positive correlation between social commitment and mental health. It is demonstrated that social commitment gives way to: tolerance, openness, improved self-confidence, self-esteem, personal satisfaction and psychological well-being. They also observed an improvement in the stress level of the youths; they are more motivated in their studies. 

They also manage to maintain healthy behaviours for example, many are moving away from cigarettes, alcohol and drugs. We note less depression and suicide among youths who are engaged in social works because they feel being helpful in relieving the suffering of others. That wonderful feeling is of paramount importance as this helps them to fight many scourges. Arguably humanitarian work in general allows us to grow, to go beyond ourselves, to discover ourselves and to discover each other. Social engagement is about safeguarding (those good) values, seeking one’s place (in society) and being useful to one another.

Youths at the time of the best generation, that is to say, that of the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had this deep desire to engage themselves in good works. The young companion of the Holy Prophet (pbuh), Abu Said Al Khudri, barely 14 years old at the time was eager to participate in the battle of Uhud. He asked permission of the Messenger of Allah who refused him because he was too young! Allah’s reward is obviously huge for young people especially, as mentioned in the following Hadith. The Prophet (pbuh) said:

“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 youth who grew up in the worship of Allah ...” (Hadith narrated by Abu Huraira and collected in Sahih Bukhari).

Each youth must make it a must to tread on the right path and accomplish good deeds as these are certainly blessings from Allah (swt), and because it is in his youth that a person is more susceptible to fall prey to temptation, he is more selfish, wishes to taste all kinds of pleasures and forgets (to accomplish) the good deeds.

 We often hear young people say: “We are young only once, so let’s make the most out of it to have fun, and when we grow old we’ll have ample time to approach Allah.” But do we know if we shall get old? 

Therefore, follow the counsel of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) in that which he said: “Take advantage of five things before five ones: your youth before your old age, your health before sickness, your wealth before poverty, your free time before you become too busy, and your life before your death.” (Hadith narrated by Ibn Abbas and collected by Al-Hakim).

O youths! Ponder over this Hadith. Benefit the most of your energy, your courage, your enthusiasm, your free time by putting yourselves at the service of humanity for the sake of Allah. Do not waste your precious youth in futile activities that will useless for you in the hereafter.

The various institutions must encourage young people and even children in this regard. It is the responsibility of parents, schools, and the Madrasas (and all Islamic institutions) also. It is not enough for schools to make a trip once a year in the centres for the disabled in order to raise awareness among students.

Concrete associations and organizations should be established to promote their sense of responsibility, but above all to develop their sense of commitment and autonomy. At this price we can hope that our young people are committed to becoming responsible people conscientiously. Those who engage themselves in serving humanity say that the emotion they feel on seeing the smile of a person that they could help is simply priceless!

May Allah (swt) support all those who are on this path, may He reward them abundantly and guide others in this right path, Ameen! Summa Ameen!

---Special Speech delivered by the Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius on the occasion of the Jalsa Salana,  11 November 2015 (29 Muharram 1437 Hijri)