By: by Ahmad Ahmad and Adel Al Qadi
Translated and abridged by: Fatema Makki
“And it moved on with them amid waves like mountains; and Nuh called out to his son, and he was aloof: O my son! Embark with us and be not with the unbelievers. He said: I will betake myself for refuge to a mountain that shall protect me from the water. Nuh said: There is no protector today from Allah's punishment but He Who has mercy; and a wave intervened between them, so he was of the drowned.” (11:42-43)
How many parent and educator took notice of this magnificent will which the Prophet (p) asked of them?
Even those who did, were they successful in dealing with this age category which represents the most fertile and critical stage of one’s life?
Psychiatrists and educators have all agreed upon the following: the teen years represent a prolonged state of psychological turmoil in which several factors play a role. Psychiatrists use all sorts of terminology that is related to depression, emotional burst outs, confusion, and anxiety.
Educators believe that the issue, if we might say that one exists, that the youth suffer from during this stage lies in the mission of building one’s character. The responsibility of such a mission should be shouldered by the different educational institutions since they are endowed with the responsibility of setting the bases and the tools of development.
Sociologists regard the youth from a perspective that limits them to the issue of identity, behavior, and compatibility. Are the youth actually a crisis? We tend to believe that they are not.
If we are to say that they there is a crisis in the first place, then it is definitely not the youth. After all, they have the softest of hearts; they are kind, loving, and filled with good intentions. In addition, they are flexible enough to open up the world around them. Thus, the youth are, by no means, to be regarded as the crisis. The issue lies in how to reach the youth, understand them, and communicate with them.
A young girl or a young guy are not innately violent nor are they rebellious in nature. However, they are surrounded with an environment, or happen to live in a home, or learn at a school which are capable of dealing with them on a certain level of sensitivity, and the issue then would take a violent stance. The environment would not deal appropriately with the susceptible teenager who stands midway between childhood and adulthood. He would be regarded as a little child who has not yet reached adulthood.
We ask all the concerned parents, educators, consultants to check the sections in newspapers and magazines which are dedicated for the public to voice their issues and ask for resolutions, you would definitely find that all the reasons behind all the issues regarding the youth are misunderstanding and misbehaving.
What happens in such cases? The young girl or guy would resort to those who are closet to them, maybe a peer or a friend. The youth would then be seeking advice from an a friend’s immature experience, a movie, or a novel, or even a radio or a TV show. The advice would normally be insufficient and might even create more issues for the young teen seeking advice as the advice happens to be un-Islamic.
The young teen would lock himself up in his room as an objection to those who misunderstood and mistreated them. The teen would lock himself up in his room and resort to images, ideas, and fantasies which would be provide an outlet for his anger and all sorts of repressed emotions. He would either fantasize about a more complacent world of understanding and acceptance or his alones would stoke his anger and push him to act violently, and express resentment.
Why do we push them to take such negative stances?
Would not it be more helpful if we opened our hearts and minds and embraced them lovingly telling them: “we love you warmly and we are worried about you. We do not want to make any wrong choices that would leave you in regret and despair. We want you to lead a life of light because as you tread down the dark path, you would need a guiding light to show you the way or else you will end up lost. We do not want to dictate your steps and control your moves. We are only these for you as a sanctuary and a source of advices and consultation. We are the closet to you and your happiness is our main concern. Thus, let us be friends.”
When dealing with our youth, girls and boys, we must aspire to a relationship where understanding reigns supreme. We need to question ourselves: does our environment provide with such a friendly way of communication? If yes, then we and our children will live happily ever after.
Does the common style of communication at our schools, clubs, and institution involve openness to the young spirits who are filled with ambition, hope, vitality, and confidence? If yes, then we have loyally delivered the trust we had in our hands; a genuine trust delivered by genuine hands.
Moreover, we do not support the youth who are corrupt, perverted, degenerate, and those who lack critical abilities, but rather support those who are insightful, wise, progressive, and ambitious. We support the youth who celebrate modernity and yet maintain and nourish their profound roots, those who strive to eradicate corruption, and work for a better future.
Islam understands that the teenage and adolescent years represent a critical period as they stand midway between childhood and adulthood. During these years, the young man or lady become more and more prepared to commit themselves to religious obligations such as praying or fasting. It is then when they become of age and they will be judged in accordance to their deeds not age on the Day of Judgment.
Nonetheless, as we parent our children, instead of following the Prophetic advice that says: “Let your child be free to play until they reach the age of seven. For the next seven years, keep a watchful eye on him, and finally befriend him for another seven year. Then if he succeeds; otherwise, there is no good in him.” However, we leave our children during all the three stages without giving him a proper upbringing by either keeping a watchful eye on him or befriending him.
We tend to turn a blind eye to the fact that the preparatory period that proceeds adulthood is the one during which the child starts to establish his character. It is essential that we provide for him an educational environment that also gives him comfort and ease whenever he needs them. We need to unburden them whenever they feel loaded because soon, life will definitely afflict them with all sorts of trouble. Thus, we have to prepare them for what is yet to come.
In addition, we still suffer from an issue of double standards when it comes to raising boys and girls. The issue is that parents regard their female children as delicate, yet inferior creatures. And this fact governs the means parents use in bringing up their female children and the way they deal with them.
Despite the fact that several scholar and religious authorities have previously discussed issues related to the youth, however, only His Eminence, Sayyed Fadlullah discussed the matter in a straightforward and open manner. We tend to believe that obscuring the truth or concealing parts of it is a crime as it weakens the youth themselves, who are our main concern. It takes away some of their strength to stand tall and stands in their path for a better tomorrow.
With Fadlullah, we stand face to face with the truth; we discuss even the smallest details openly. We star with the Prophet (p)’s words and verses from the Holy Quran that touch upon the issue of children and parenting.
We pray Allah to accept this feat that would benefit us on the day on which property will not avail, nor sons; except he who comes to Allah with a heart free (from evil).
An edited excerpt of the introduction to “Dunya Ash-Shabab”