Muslim societies should take special care of the youth and their needs in order to raise a generation of good citizens who are capable of shouldering the huge future responsibilities. This is because the youth present the image of faith, purity of life, courage, sincerity, courtesy, kindness, and bravery.
Sheikh `Atiyyah Saqr, former head of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, states the following: The teachings of Islam as clarified in both the Qur’an and the Sunnah aim at getting people out from darkness into light and guiding them to the right path. These teachings comprise all activities that bring happiness and satisfaction to man both in this world and in the Hereafter, and thus, they are applicable to all times and places. we are to bear in mind that the description of youth applies to the stage of man’s life that is between childhood and maturity. This stage is characterized by clarity of mind, physical strength, vivid passions, great hopes, and enthusiasm to get the best in all fields of life. With these characteristics, youth embody matchless energies that can be used to the benefit of man’s life and its progress. In fact, youth are the source of power and pride in all ages and cultures.
Hence, through the ages it has been one of the top priorities to make use of the energies of the youth; to this purpose the wise people paid attention and religions encouraged them in this regard. Many pedagogy books were written on this subject, too. Islam, in particular, does have a great role to play in this field. The following are the main guidelines of Islam in this respect:
1. Comprehensive Teaching: Youth care is to comprise physical, mental, spiritual, and moral aspects so that it helps in developing the characters of the youth comprehensively and directs them to the right behaviour.
- The Physical Aspect: There is a hadith to the effect that one’s Lord has a right upon one and one’s body has a right upon one, too. A revision of sports’ place in Islam clarifies that Islam pays attention to both the physical and spiritual aspects of man’s life. Luqman’s advice to his son depicts a comprehensive picture in this respect. These include one���s relation to Almighty Allah through associating no other gods with Him, offering Him prayer, and being mindful of Him in all walks of life; one’s relation to parents, as this is a sign of true worship of Almighty Allah; and one’s relation to mankind in general via spreading true knowledge to them. Luqman’s advice comprises also the importance of having patience, and being modest, of good behaviour, and serene. (See Luqman 31:13-19.)
- The Mental, Moral and Spiritual Aspects: These aspects must receive much attention, too. They positively affect the previous aspect and are considered as a protective means against many dangers that may face youth. In this respect, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was reported to have said “The best gift that a parent may give to his [/her] child is [to teach him/her] good morals” (Reported by At-Tirmidhi). In addition, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was reported to have said that the righteous young man will be given shade from Almighty Allah on the Day Judgement when there will be no shade but His (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim). That is why the Prophets who beseeched Almighty Allah to give them offspring asked Him for righteous ones. For example, Prophet Abraham said, according to the Qur’an, (My Lord! Vouchsafe me of the righteous) (As-Saffat 37:100) and Zachariah prayed, (My Lord! Bestow upon me of Thy bounty goodly offspring) (Aal `Imran 3:38).
2. Early Beginning of Teaching: In order for the previously mentioned aspects to be effectively developed, they should be inculcated in the youths’ minds from the very beginning of their childhood. According to Ibn `Abbas, he who teaches his son [or daughter] good morals in childhood will be satisfied with his child’s behaviour in (the latter’s) youth.
3. Cooperative Efforts: Teaching the youth is a serious responsibility that is too difficult for an individual to bear alone. The different aspects that should be developed in youths’ character need to be dealt with by specialized and concerned parties. Hence, families, schools, clubs, organizations, media, and even the political, economic, and social programs of countries are to combine their efforts together so that they can bring up wise and useful generations of youth. The shortcomings in one of these parties will negatively affect the hoped-for results. There are two further points that should be stressed here:
- Each party should be sincere in fulfilling its required duties.
- There must be a spirit of teamwork, with every sign of selfishness and indifference put aside.
These are the main guidelines to be taken into consideration when it comes to dealing with youth care in light of the teachings of Islam.