There are different views on the perception of youth. Some are of the opinion that the period of youth never really leaves an individual. This means that an eighty-year-old, who is still active and agile, can be considered as a youth. They claim that it is a state of the mind. Some see this stage as a transition from a dependent age to an age of awareness of societal norms, taboos, rules, and regulations, as well as independence.
Yet, some others say that youth is a period between childhood and full adulthood. Whatever the view on the concept of being a youth, it is generally accepted that it is an important and critical period in the life of an individual. It represents the formative years in which an individual who had hitherto needed permission to do things now has the right to drive a vehicle, vote, work legally, and be married.
A youthful age is characterized by vigor, increase in societal challenges and the need to be accepted in social groups, emotional challenges, and increased self-awareness. It is also characterized by increased desires as a result of sexual development and dreams of achieving success and greatness.
How a person spends his youthful age is a great determinant of his future. This is because, at this stage, youths get involved with many things, and always find a way to assure themselves that there is still time to live. They might get involved in some activities that would come back to haunt them. Nevertheless, as Muslim youth, there are some responsibilities that are expected with the coming of age.
Youthful exuberance is a necessary stage in the growth of an individual. At this stage, youths mostly think that they have the answer to all questions. Coupled with the feeling of freedom, and their supposed level of exposure, they feel the older generation is ill-equipped to solve the problems of their time.
Hence, they tend to keep matters to themselves, or seek friends among themselves who they think can help solve their problems. It could be from the same social group or same religious group, and most often than not, they get misled. In having friends, there is a tradition of the prophet, related by Ibn Majah that says “A man may often copy the ways of his friend, so let each one of you look at whom he befriends”. So, in choosing a friend, one must look at the deen, family, and characteristics of an individual.
To a Muslim youth, this is a time that if he has to sacrifice his desires. He can become a future role model for Muslims. While one is still young, the thought of being old might seem like a lifetime away. One forgets easily, that just as fast, time passes. The Muslim youth is enjoined to strive in the cause of Allah in his youth, as this is a rewarding act of worship. A hadith of the Prophet related by Ibn Majah says “Jundub Ibn Abdullah said; ‘We were with the prophet (SAW) and we were strong youths, so we learned Iman before we learned Quran. Then we learned the Quran and our faith increased thereby”. To be a youth is to be challenged, to have vigor and the energy to do things. Most especially, it is to have enough time to do things.
When one gets married, as a male, one is occupied with earning a living and catering for the family. If one is a woman, she takes care of her home and brings up her children. As one matures, responsibilities increase, and so there is less time to indulge in acts of ibadah. Growing up, there is less expectation from children, so if a child dedicates his time to Allah, Allah loves him.
Peer pressure and the need to be accepted into social groups have led the Muslim youth to forego some Islamic principles. Faith has been compromised for the sake of social pleasure. We find the Muslim youth breaking the Islamic dressing code as opposed to the injunction to cover up.
The rule of dressing applies to both the male and female. While the emphasis is on the female dressing, the male is not to wear any clothing of the female and is prohibited from wearing gold and silk. Nowadays, the Muslim male wears torn jeans, earrings, and gold chain, and wears un-Islamic hairstyle all in the name of fashion. The females wear skin tight clothes, and a cap thinking they have fulfilled the injunctions of the Islamic dressing.
It is a popular thing among the youth to go on outings and visit each other playing video games and watching movies. Islam teaches the importance of checking up on friends, but it should be with the confines stipulated by the Sharia.
Socializing is a key factor to encouraging healthy association between the male and female, of which Islam frowns at. As stated earlier, Muslim youths can make friends and have conversations with people, particularly from the Ummah. There is always an avenue for discussions at programmes, symposiums, and conferences.
The Muslim youth should be proud of Islam where ever they find themselves. To bow to the words of others unquestionably amounts to flouting the injunctions of Allah. All that Allah has laid down for us to follow is to safeguard us from evil and to make sure that we attain good in this life and the next.
The religion of Islam has made it easy for us in that, we are allowed to do anything, as long as it does not antagonize the instructions of Allah. For instance, Muslims are required to eat with their right hand, but the western etiquette is to hold the knife on the right and hold the fork on the left. In whatever situation we find ourselves, we should uphold the tenets of Islam and eat with our right hand. Finishing every grain and morsel of food on our serving plate should also be done. Also, it is compulsory to obey the call to prayer, whatever we are doing; be it playing video games, doing assignments, washing dishes, even in our places of work.
It is related that the prophet (SAW) said to Abu Dharr, “Oh Abu Dharr! Take advantage of five things before five things seize you; your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before poverty, your spare time before your being busy, and your life before your death”.
Spending in the cause of Allah helps an individual on the path of righteousness. A person truly serves Allah when one spends his wealth, health, youth, time and life in the way of Allah. Spending in the cause of Allah also entails spending one’s knowledge, however little for the progress of Islam.
A lot of Muslim youths are confused regarding their identity and life’s ambition. Most become drifters and just go along with whatever life throws at them. As Muslims, we should learn to trust in Allah and strive for our portion on earth like in the Afterlife. The way to achieve this is to follow Allah’s injunctions and the Sunnah, be in the company of good people, and to keep worshiping Allah always. It is also the belief that whatever happened has been ordained by Allah, and to be patient in all circumstances, negative or positive. Just like it is said in Quran 94 verse 6, “with hardship comes ease”.