It’s time for the Muslim youth to end mediocrity and to shine. From the squalid inferiority complex must arise a generation that stands for what is right. This generation must be erudite, judicious, expansive in thought and must have the will to sail in rough seas in order to say and do what is humanly correct. John A. Shedd made a distinction between the true function of a ship and its owners desire to keep it safe, he said: “A ship in the harbor is safe but that is not what ships are for.” The Muslim youth has to realize early on that if they are to have a magnificent journey, know that there will be times of turbulence and high seas.
The youth have shackled themselves to toxic environments that breed lethargy and contempt for hard work and due diligence. They have become lazy, and entrapped by the corporate tentacles–unable to discern, and not able to see that the instruments that purport to give them freedom and greatness are the very instruments that will destroy their lives and decimate their souls. From emerging technologies [iPhones, iPods, the latest electrical gadget] to the new modes of inhuman communications [Facebook, twitter, MySpace and the raft of others] have made true human understanding almost impossible.
The new generation has to have clairvoyance, meaning, exceptional capabilities to see things others cannot. The youth can no longer take a dejected stance, a humiliated posture. Eleanor Roosevelt said: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” This lucid statement should be at the core of the Muslim youth and every human that deserves and desires respect and dignity for themselves.
The problem is not the use of these ubiquitous technologies but it is in the clutches of its bottomless dungeon. One program onto another, one SMS to another, one video game after another, one movie ends into another, one chat room to the next, one phone call to the next and therefore – where is the time to read? When will there be an occasion for greatness? When will there be a moment to develop the human mind and to nurture the soul? The most successful propaganda is when one has bought it wholesale and then denies that it has any effect on them–this is the ultimate dream of corporations that pontificate their product is the best and the most conducive to human living.
Muslim youth have to wake up and take a stance against this morally trenchant war being waged upon them; they are oblivious to the detrimental effects of its constant onslaught. Is it not time to see this intractable, unruly, decadent, ruse for what it is–a danger and menace to the individual. How much more violence is needed to be dosed upon them before they become prone to violence? The data are through the roof depicting TV violence, movie violence, video game violence and music violence. The youth have to shut out violent episodes from their lives if they want to become caring citizens with bright futures. It is not a foible, a minor fault, that while ‘democratic governments’, with corporations running their show, loftily sing songs of peace, love and security from their lips and yet are fervent supporters of violence of all sorts in the media. It would make sense that these institutions, if there were ardent and fervid proponents of peace, that they would create laws to curtail and truncate the glorification of violence in the media which permeates the lives of most of humanity. You need to be patriotic to fathom this point. Likewise, the promotion of pornography and the abject status of women in these sick, ‘sexually laced’ media are yet another example of moral decay within society. Extrapolate any of the increases in sickness and you will see greed at the bottom. It’s time for the youth to say “NO MORE” and to cleanse themselves in their most formative years, rather than waiting until decrepitude and old age set in for the cleansing process to take place.
What should the Muslim youth do?
1) It requires a paradigm shift in thinking.
They have to rid themselves from the vices that give instant gratification [pornography, sick music, violent videos games, obsession with Facebook, SMS, cell phones and you name it] to the detriment of their own well-being. Depression cases are skyrocketing; how do you build great people with depressed lives? While acknowledging the cases in medical terms, however, the vast majority of cases are due to lifestyle. Hence, shut off the depression! Become human beings, learn to live again. Learn to use technologies but never learn to be abused by them. This wretched, miserable, degraded environment cannot produce the greats of tomorrow. The youth must change the way they think in order to have a fresh start.
2) When the environment is cleaner and the value of time is a concern, than one can act on life rather than life acting on them.
The Muslim youth has to value good education, not morbid schooling. At this junction I cannot elucidate the salient points of distinction between the concept of education and schooling, God willing, at a later point. However some of the Muslim youth who have reached the first degree program in university must continue on in their fields to become specialists. The ummah needs vibrant youth, educated, eloquent, pious who can speak from the same educational standard as the best in the country. Remember: like what you study and study what you like. Many people are confused as to what profession they must take up; they wander into the wilderness of mass confusion, but they never think to find out what is their penchant in life and what they would love to do for the rest of their lives. This requires some thought rather than changing course after course, degree program after degree program. It would be a worthwhile investment to take an aptitude test, perhaps, and talk to someone who knows in order to arrive to the point of studying at the university level.
3) Some of the Muslim youth need to study Islam [male and female] in-depth.
They need to be intellectually sharp and religiously sublime. Again, given the brevity of the article and its scope, I cannot explain in detail. But what can be said is that scholarly study of Islam has to be achieved with a vision and hard work. Know that one does not become an Alim [knowledgeable person] after an Alim course and not a mufti after a mufti course. Imam Abu Hanifa (R.A) stated to his student Abu Yusuf, who was a scholar himself, that: “Have you turned into a raisin before you were a grape.” By this one can understand that a grape [student with a variety of knowledge] has to go through much training, perseverance, patience, thoughtfulness, and time before it is wizened like an old man living his life in the sun – dried due to the extreme rigor of environment. The Muslim youth intending to be scholars must have intentions that are correct – it is not to gain fame nor should it be for worldly matters – it should only be for the sake of Allah with the intent of helping humanity. The ancient Egyptian and Greek maxims state: know thyself and the unexamined life is not worth living. Ralph Waldo Emerson stated that: “The scholar must be a university of knowledges.” There is something extremely attractive about knowledge but repulsive when used insincerely. W.E.B Du Bois, a great champion for the African-American stated in his magnificent work,The Souls of Black folk: “… To make men we must have ideals, broad, pure, and inspiring ends of living–not sordid money getting, not apples of gold. The worker must work for the glory of his handiwork, not simply for pay; the thinker must think for truth, not for fame. And all this is gained only by human strife and longing; by ceaseless training and education; by founding Right on righteousness and Truth on unhampered search for truth.”
The thrust should be to look for endowments, aptitudes of students [this will require leadership which is at an all-time low in the Muslim world] to see if students have what it takes to make it. This idea of filling the application and if you meet the age requirement, then welcome, is an impressively broken system. There has to be an interviewing process, stages of analysis of the student to be, before being thrust in to scholarly studies. Yes, no one should be denied the study of Islam but the higher studies and specializations requires recruitment ability and the diligent sifting process.
4) Some of the youth need to focus in areas where the Muslim world is in dire need, for instance, media.
The Muslims have been beaten and bludgeoned on a daily basis, in fact on an hourly basis, marring their reputation as law-abiding and decent citizens of society. The Muslim is rare in the media landscape. If it was not for some upright and caring non-Muslims, we would have very little representation, if any. With all the riches of the world under the feet of the Muslims, they cannot voice an opinion. In numbers we are one fourth of humanity and we are nowhere to be found, a dismal and bleak picture. Why are the Muslims voiceless? It is an inscrutable thought that while the numbers are great, why are the vocal cords strangulated. Hence if the leadership of communities can argue over petty positions on the board, can they not concentrate on giving valuable scholarships to credible candidates that can, in the very near future, represent the Muslim side of the narrative. Need I say more on this issue?
5) Some youth need to develop business acumen so that they can be successful and hence support valuable projects to give life, vibrancy and dignity to the Muslims other than donating for the building of domes and minarets.
6) Some of the youth have to delve into fields of law, especially human rights law.
Since the majority of the humiliation and degradation around the globe has been shovelled on top of the Muslim unjustly, the need for human rights lawyers becomes essential and crucial to the dignity of Muslims. It is imperative to expose injustice, intolerance, bigotry, torture, and violation of the rule of law and hence the human rights lawyers need to expose such deficiencies and disinfect this disease that some are above the law while the majority of others deserve none. This has to stop. As it is said, that the sagacious one needs only a hint. Prophet Mohammed peace and blessings be upon him stated: “The intelligent one is he who has subdued his lower self and who has worked for what comes after death [hereafter] and the incapacitated one, the weak one, is the one who has put his lower self in pursuance of its desires and who has vain hopes about Allah. (Tirmidhi, Ibn Maja)
Martin Luther King said: “Silence in troubled times is betrayal.” What I say is that not doing the right thing in troubled times is betrayal. I say, not giving of oneself in troubled times is treachery. I say, not coming forward to help in troubled times is dead half-heartedness. I say, not working earnestly in troubled times is selfishness and I say, keeping silent in troubled times is lacking faith. Only how the youth can act shall provide the truest answers. How many say they want to change their lives but in reality their lives are governed by TV programs, video games, and social sites. Many say they want to be great people but spend no time in reading, reflecting, thinking and writing. These pursuits have almost become a joke to the youth of today. They want great dreams but put very little effort in accomplishing them. The youth are told “You can’t do it” and hence they accept and comply. Many others purport values but their integrity shrivels under the slightest opposition. The youth have energy, spirit, vigor, vitality. What needs to go along with these attributes are selflessness, devotion, discipline, education, manners, wisdom and God consciousness. As Plato said: “the beginning is the hardest part”– Let the youth begin and let them shine.