The Islamic Attitude towards the Upbringing of the Youth
Al-Azhar Magazine – September 1975
In order to bring up the youth on exemplary lines Islam laid down the following two methods:
- To develop and reform the three natural powers laid down by the Almighty God in the human being. These are mind, will power and conscience.
- To regulate the relations between youth and others.
The three powers that God laid in man are the main weapons to raise youth to heights of virtue and to ideals of noble life. They are also the basis for their improvement and the teaching of good conduct.
The human mind will be developed and reformed by the means of proper culture and education. Islam provides the youth with a kind of culture that has a strong influence upon the mind, developing character and arousing spiritual consciousness in the hearts. By this kind of culture the man realises the greatness of the Creator of the universe and believes strongly that the Almighty God is the Possessor of everything. This belief leads him to seek the help and guidance from Him alone.
The Quran draws the attention of the youth and their observations to the power of God in creating things and the worlds system. When they compare between this and whatever instructions they receive in physics, natural science, botany and zoology, they may realise the power of God and His great creation.
Regarding the will power it can be defined as the directive and protective power against the looseness and deviation from the right Path. The Quran refers to genuine will-power as follows:
فَٱصۡبِرۡ كَمَا صَبَرَ أُوْلُواْ ٱلۡعَزۡمِ مِنَ ٱلرُّسُلِ وَلَا تَسۡتَعۡجِل لَّهُمۡۚ كَأَنَّہُمۡ يَوۡمَ يَرَوۡنَ مَا يُوعَدُونَ لَمۡ يَلۡبَثُوٓاْ إِلَّا سَاعَةً۬ مِّن نَّہَارِۭۚ بَلَـٰغٌ۬ۚ فَهَلۡ يُهۡلَكُ إِلَّا ٱلۡقَوۡمُ ٱلۡفَـٰسِقُونَ
(Then have patience (O Muhammad) even as the stout of heart among the messengers (of old) had patience, and seek not to hasten on the doom for them. On the day when they see that which they are promised (it will seem to them) as though they had tarried but an hour of daylight. A clear message. Shall any be destroyed save evil-living folk? ) (46 : 35)
لَتُبۡلَوُنَّ فِىٓ أَمۡوَٲلِڪُمۡ وَأَنفُسِڪُمۡ وَلَتَسۡمَعُنَّ مِنَ ٱلَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبَ مِن قَبۡلِڪُمۡ وَمِنَ ٱلَّذِينَ أَشۡرَكُوٓاْ أَذً۬ى كَثِيرً۬اۚ وَإِن تَصۡبِرُواْ وَتَتَّقُواْ فَإِنَّ ذَٲلِكَ مِنۡ عَزۡمِ ٱلۡأُمُورِ
(Assuredly ye will be tried in your property and in your persons, and ye will hear much wrong from those who were given the Scripture before you, and from the idolaters. But if ye persevere and ward off (evil), then that is of the steadfast heart of things.)(3 : 186)
وَإِذَا تُتۡلَىٰ عَلَيۡهِ ءَايَـٰتُنَا وَلَّىٰ مُسۡتَڪۡبِرً۬ا كَأَن لَّمۡ يَسۡمَعۡهَا كَأَنَّ فِىٓ أُذُنَيۡهِ وَقۡرً۬اۖ فَبَشِّرۡهُ بِعَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ
(And when Our revelations are recited unto him he turneth away in his pride as if he heard them not, as if there were a deafness in his ears. So give him tidings of a painful doom). (31 : 7)
There also exist in the history of the prophets, their followers and the leaders of Islam wonderful examples of the strong will and staunch adherence to truth with patience and steadfastness.
The third power that raises youth to the exemplary life is conscience or the sound heart. This is the inmate motive drive that directs to goodness and leads to correctness. The clear conscience or the sound heart is the light that guides man through his life and fills his soul with ease and contentment. Successful and reforming education of youth revolves on the axis of the conscience.
The Holy Quran refers to the sound heart and explains the positive means for its upbringing and also to the hindrance that lie in its way. Referring to the sound heart the Quran says:
يَوۡمَ لَا يَنفَعُ مَالٌ۬ وَلَا بَنُونَ (٨٨) إِلَّا مَنۡ أَتَى ٱللَّهَ بِقَلۡبٍ۬ سَلِيمٍ۬ (٨٩)
(The day when wealth and sons avail not (any man) (88) Save him who bringeth unto Allah a whole heart.) ( 26 : 88-89)
The Prophet says: there is an organ in the human body which if sound the whole body will be sound; That is the heart.
Islam follows an effective plan in bringing up the youth according to the principles of good behaviour and honourable life. This plan goes through two methods. The first resorts to positive means to elevate the sane heart to the highest standards of goodness. The second deals with the obstacles that block the way to perfect conduct and prevent the heart from the straight path. The Quran refers to four main positive means which lead to upbringing of the youth according to the principles of righteousness and correctness. These means are piety, sincerity, belief and worship.
Piety is the safe-guarding of the soul from evil deeds by abandoning what is forbidden. The Quran contains many verses which clearly shows the effect of piety upon the individuals and groups, and urges the people by different was to adhere to it. The piety provides a strong basis for victory in both this and the other world.
Sincerity means seeking God’s favours through his work with the no hypocrisy or self-pretence to please the people. The Prophet (peacebe upon him) says of sincerity: God tells that sincerity is part of my secret which I encloses in the hearts of my favourite servants.
Faith is strong foundation for the peaceful life. Belief in God alone is the light of life and it leads to the best ways: it guides the heart and prevents it from deviation. The hearts overflowing with belief and depending on God are closed to the devil.
True and correct belief dominates strongly over the heart and orient man to the good. The Quran aims at directing people’s mind to God’s signs on earth and in the heavens. For, mentioning God’s name with piety makes man remember his duty towards God and towards himself.
One of the most important suggested by the Quran to purify the youth’s hearts and bind them to the worldly sights and to what god created at proofs of his power and glorious wisdom. This is one of the soundest means of guidance and education. The Quran draws the attention to these aspects of glorious nature as it says :
سَنُرِيهِمۡ ءَايَـٰتِنَا فِى ٱلۡأَفَاقِ وَفِىٓ أَنفُسِہِمۡ حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَهُمۡ أَنَّهُ ٱلۡحَقُّۗ أَوَلَمۡ يَكۡفِ بِرَبِّكَ أَنَّهُ ۥ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَىۡءٍ۬ شَہِيدٌ
(We shall show them Our portents on the horizons and within themselves until it will be manifest unto them that it is the Truth. Doth not thy Lord suffice, since He is Witness over all things?) (41: 53)
The worship prescribed by God, prayers are at the top, have many psychological and social secrets and vital purposes that aim at the goodness of man and the upbringing if his heart.
The Quran refers to three aspects of obstacles that block the way to perfect conduct and lead the heart astray from the straight path:
The first obstacle is the different of heart-sins; grudge, jealousy, hatred, cruelty, hypocrisy and lust. Sick hearts are blinded by the devil’s temptations and suffer through the evils they incurred.
Regarding the relations between youth and the other, Islam explains this relation in all its aspects: between relatives, between neighbours, and between others. In all these bonds there lies a strong basis of social system that ensures the spread of human relationship, justice, tolerance and respect for both the individual and his property despite all differences of creeds, colour or country. This realises the ideal set by Islam for a good and honourable life.
Through the above mentioned two methods Islam laid the strongest base for the upbringing of the youth, who are good at heart, benevolent and truthful.