Guiding the Youth of the New Generation

Guiding the Youth of the New Generation0%

Guiding the Youth of the New Generation Author:
Translator: Shaykh Saleem Bhimji
Publisher: www.alhassanain.org/english
Category: Family and Child

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Guiding the Youth of the New Generation

Guiding the Youth of the New Generation

Author:
Publisher: www.alhassanain.org/english
English

This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought

Two Types of Responsibilities

In the speech that I had given in this same venue under the topic of “Amr bil Maʿruf wa Nahi ʿAnil Munkar” (commanding to that which is right and forbidding from that which is evil), I alluded to a point which I will repeat here and that is: our religious responsibilities are of two types - some responsibilities are related to our performance of a task which takes shape in one particular form and shape. All of the particular aspects of the specified task and its individual facets have been explained by the religion of Islam and we have been told that we must perform a particular act in its specified form adhering to the specific conditions.

Of course, that particular action has been ordered to be performed (by Allah (s.w.t.)) and there is a reason for it, however we are not responsible for the outcome or the result of the action. These sorts of actions are referred to as Taʿabudiyat (issues that have been legislated which we must follow as acts of worship). It is these sorts of actions which we can also refer to as those which are the “Responsibility of the Form and Shape of the Actions”.

For example, the Salat is an act which has a specified introductory act related to it (Wudhu, Tayammum, Ghusl) and conditions (relating to it); it has certain particular provisions and parts to it; there are also specified things which must not be performed and certain things which invalidate the prayers. We have been commanded to perform the Salat regardless of the circumstances, and in its particular shape and form it is the purest form of obeying the orders of Allah (s.w.t.). Of course though, this act of the Salat in its’ particular form has been ordered for a result or outcome - there is a direct corollary in the performance of this act:

) إِنَّ الصَّلاَةَ تَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَ الْمُنكَرِ (

“Surely the Salat keeps a person away from evil and wickedness.”1

We are simply accountable for carrying out this act and are not responsible for the outcome that this act will produce. If we perform the act in the correct and complete way as it has been shown to us and how we have been ordered to perform it, then naturally the outcome (distancing ourselves from evil and wickedness) will follow.

The second type of responsibility which we have within the faith of Islam is referred to as the “Responsibility of the Outcome.” By this we mean that the outcome or end result of the act is also the responsibility of the person. Just like a person sometimes says, ‘I want such and such of an outcome for this act of mine.’

However as for how that outcome will come about - through what channels and preliminary steps, by what conditions and how these will all be carried out - we must state that they should be carried out in the best possible way, however there is not one single, firm and describable way that it must be done. Rather, the ways, methods and through what channels this outcome can come about changes with time and place.

Let me give you an example. Let us suppose that you have a difficulty - for example, one of your friends is in prison. There is a time where you expect a specific task to be completed from a specific person in relation to this trouble that you and your friend are in. For example, your friend gives another person a letter and tells him to make sure that he gives this letter to a particular person - and that too at a certain time. Obviously we can say that this letter was written for a purpose and goal, however the other party is only responsible to deliver the letter to the person whom you specified.

Another time, you want to reach the outcome by yourself directly and thus, have no need for the preliminary steps. You tell your friend that you want him to help you get out of prison - however through what ways and means should be used - these are not specified by you. The person himself must go and see what the best way is to carry out this task.

Usually, these sorts of responsibilities take form where the means to carry out the task is not of one type - meaning that the mode varies. In one instance, the person must make use of a particular way and method, and at another time, he must make use of another method - the specialties of the time and place that he is in and in addition, the other particulars, may differ. In these sorts of instances, the person must sit down, ponder, think and come up with the best possible means to reach an outcome.

Within the religion of Islam, we have both types of responsibilities. The Salat (prayers) and Sawm (fasting) and all other acts of worship make up the first form of responsibility; and things such as Jihad (the sacred defense of Muslims and the Muslim territory) form the second type of responsibility. In relation to Jihad, the Muslims have an obligation to defend the nucleus of Islam and to protect the freedom of the Muslims - however through what means? Do they defend the cause with a sword, gun or something else? These things have not been specified and in principle, these sorts of things are not able to be specified and generalized! In each and every age, the Muslims are obligated to choose the best ways and methods to carry out this task (of defence):

) وَأَعِدُّوا لَهُمْ مَّا اسْتَطَعْـتُمْ مِّنْ قُوَّةٍ وَ مِنْ رِّبَاطِ الْخَيْلِ تُرْهِبُونَ بِهِ عَدُوَّ اللٌّهِ وَعَدُوَّكُمْ وَآخَرِينَ مِنْ دُونِهِمْ لاَ تَعْلَمُونَهُمُ اللٌّهُ يَعْلَمُهُمْ وَمَا تُنفِقُوا مِنْ شَيْءٍ فِي سَبِيلِ اللٌّهِ يُوَفَّ إِلَيْكُمْ وَ أَنْـتُمْ لاَ تُظْلَمُونَ (

“Make ready your strength against them to the utmost of your power including steeds of war to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies of Allah and your enemies and others besides whom you may not know but whom Allah does know. Whatever you shall spend in the cause of Allah will be repaid back to you and you shall not be treated unjustly”2

Thus we must see - what is the best form or method of guidance in each and every time and era?

The issue of guidance and leadership is related to the second form of responsibility mentioned. The Muslims are responsible for the guidance of one another. Each generation is responsible for the guidance of the next generation - especially those people who are officially recognized as the leaders of the society - they have a much greater duty.

In any case, this outcome - meaning that of finding the mode and way of guidance - must be realized. However as for the ways and methods which should be used to reach to this goal, these have not been specified or earmarked for specific times and or for eternity.

The noble verse of the Qurʾan states:

) يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ وَأَهْلِيكُمْ نَاراً وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَ الْحِجَارَةُ (

“O’ you who possess true faith! Save yourselves and your families from the fire of hell whose fuel is that of mankind and stones!”3

This verse means that we must protect ourselves and our families from the fire of hell whose fuel is men and stones. Thus, we see that there is an outcome that we must reach which is to save ourselves and our families, however the way to reach this outcome has not been specified.

In Islam, there is no complete, 100% correct method of guidance and leadership that has been specified in which all of the parts - including the introductory steps, forms, conditions and things which must be performed have been mentioned. In principle these things cannot be specified and brought forth since they differ (according to the time and place that one is living in).

The (general) leadership of the people is not like the Salat which is a matter of obedience to Allah (s.w.t.) or for example the recitation of incantations and spells in which the person would simply memorize that which he wishes to recite to charm and control scorpions or snakes where any time a scorpion or snake would come around the person, he would recite the things which he has memorized to keep away or to tame the predator - meaning that there is no specific method which can be employed in these regards.

Notes

1. Suratul `Ankabut (29), Verse 45

2. Suratul Anfal (8), Verse 60

3. Suratul Tahrim (66), Verse 6

Methods of Leadership are Relative and Temporary

At a certain time and place, it may be through one thing that people receive guidance, however it is possible that in another time and place, that same thing may lead to misguidance and being led astray!

If the same logic that causes an old, illiterate woman to become a true believer is used by an intelligent, learned person, then it may actually cause him to being led astray. Furthermore, it is possible that a book that is in agreement with the thoughts of a particular time and which is in conjunction with the opinions of a specific era and at the level of their thinking, and which would lead to the guidance of the people (of that time), may actually be classified as a book of misguidance in another time period!

We have books that, in their own time period, fulfilled the requirements and responsibilities for when they were written and hundreds and thousands of people received guidance through such a book; however those same books - in our time period - would not guide anybody! These books are deemed too simple and could lead to the misguidance and cause doubts and confusion in the minds of the people and thus, would be classified as books of misguidance - such a book whose buying and selling, printing and distributing would not be free of doubt!

It is amazing! A book that had led thousands - rather hundreds of thousands of people to the path of true guidance in the past may now be classified as a book of misguidance? Yes! With the exception of the Heavenly Book (the Noble Qurʾan) and the true words of the Maʿsumins (a.s.), any other book we speak about has a particular message that is aimed at a specific and limited time period. When that era is over, the book is then of no use.

This issue that I have just spoken about is a very important, societal issue and even today is still regarded as an unknown, strange and unfamiliar issue that we must overcome, however this issue has never been discussed nor brought up. I do not anticipate that this issue will be made completely clear in this gathering of ours, however it must continuously be stated that we must accept that the ways to guidance are specific for their own time periods.

With this said, it is necessary that we now bring forth proofs from the Islamic texts in relation to this topic so that may be known that what we discuss here is the view expressed in the Islamic works.

I started out my discussion with a verse of the Qurʾan which states:

] أُدْعُ إِلـى سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَ الْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ وَجَادِلْهُم بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ [

“Call others to the path of your Lord through wisdom and good exhortation and argue with them in the best possible manner.”1

According to the unanimous opinion of the commentators of the Qurʾan, this verse presents us with three different ways to invite people and offers us three distinct ways of guiding the people. Each of these three ways of guidance must be used in their own specific instances.

This verse tells us that we must call people to the way of our Lord. The word Lord (رب ) is a special term meaning one who is responsible for upbringing and nurturing. Since this level of guidance is a level of invitation as well as upbringing and nurturing, the word used here is Lord (رب ). Therefore, we are told to invite people to the path of our Lord - the path which people must be nurtured and trained upon - but through what means?

We must use wisdom (الحكمة ). Wisdom is in the meaning of persuasive, firm speech which has neither marks of alteration in it, nor one in which doubts can occur. In the terminology of the people of logic and the philosophers, this is speech whose preamble is 100% based on pure certainty. By this we mean that the people must be called to the path of the Lord with proof, wisdom and knowledge that is 100% pure and which is completely unadulterated. The commentators of the Qurʾan have mentioned that inviting people through the use of logical, intellectual wisdom, proofs and evidence is limited to one particular group of people who have the ability to make use of this method.

The second method is through good exhortation (والموعظة الحسنة ) meaning that we must call the people to their Lord through good words, advice and warnings which their heart and soul will be in agreement with. There are some people who do not possess the ability to express their beliefs through the use of their intelligence and academic proofs, and if an intellectual issue is presented to them, they immediately become confused.

Thus, the way to guide them is through good council and warnings. Such people must be guided through employing stories, narratives and wisdom-based anecdotes and anything that would bring ease and comfort to their hearts. The responsibility of exhortation and good council is to work on the heart of a person, whereas the job of intellectual and logical proofs deal with the brain and thinking ability of a person. A majority of the people are still at a level of basing issues which they believe in on their heart, soul and emotions and are not at a level of using their intellect and thoughts.

The third stage is that of arguing with the people in the best possible way (و جادلهم بالتي هي أحسن ). Thus, if a person is put face to face with someone else whose purpose is not to arrive at the truth and whose goal is not to understand what the actual facts are - rather he has come and is ready to speak, argue and bring up points of contention - then the other one too must dispute with that person as he is quarreling with.

However, we must argue with such a person in the best possible manner such that the argument does not stray from the path of the truth and reality. Therefore, we must not resort to unfairness or injustice in arguments, nor can we resort to lying or other similar things.

This verse gives us many different ways through which we can guide people and each way has been put in place for a particular instance in time. Thus, it is clear that the ways through which we can guide people are not all the same, nor are they equal!

Note

1. Suratul Nahl (16), Verse 125

Reasons for the Differences Among the Miracles of the Messengers

There is a hadith which is somewhat well-known which backs up our claim of differences in the methods of guidance as seen in the reasons for the differences among the miracles of the various Messengers sent. Although this hadith is in relation to the various miracles of the Prophets which were of a different nature to coincide with different time periods, however it still backs up our claims (in relation to the methods of guiding the youth). This hadith is actually the response that Ibn Sikkiyt (r.d.a.) received from Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) - the tenth Divinely appointed religious guide.

Ibn Sikkiyt (r.d.a.) is well known among the experts of ʿArabic grammar. His name is mentioned quite frequently in the books of ʿArabic syntax and it is stated that he lived around the time of Imam ʿAlie ibn Muhammad al-Hadi (a.s.) - thus, it was around the same time as the political leadership of Mutawwakil. Ibn Sikkiyt (r.d.a.) was also a follower of the Shiʾa faith and was killed at the hands of Mutawwakil. It has been said that the reason why he was killed was because he had a strong love for Imam ʿAli (a.s.) and his family (a.s.).

One day Ibn Sikkiyt (r.d.a.) was in the presence of Mutawwakil when two of the sons of Mutawwakil came into the gathering. Mutawwakil, about whom it has been proverbially stated that he was one who possessed a sword that was always in search of blood turned towards Ibn Sikkiyt (r.d.a.) and said to him, “Are my (two) sons better or are the sons of ʿAli - meaning al-Hasan and al-Husain - better?”

This knowledgeable man (Ibn Sikkiyt (r.d.a.) was so surprised at Mutawwakil that he immediately replied to him, “In my opinion, Qambar (r.d.a.), the servant of ʿAli was better than your two sons and he (Qambar (r.d.a.)) is even better than your two sons’ father.” At this point, Mutawwakil gave the order for his Turkish slave to come into the room and cut the tongue of Ibn Sikkiyt (r.d.a.) out - and it is in this state that he died.

In any case, this man asked Imam al-Hadi (a.s.) “O’ Son of the Messenger of Allah! Why is it that when Prophet Musa (a.s.) was raised as a Prophet, his signs and the ways and miracles that he employed to invite the people and to bring guidance to them was through his staff being transformed into a serpent, and his hand that radiated with Divine light and other things such as this.

However when Prophet ʿIsa (a.s.) was raised as a Prophet, we see that his method and the miracles which he used to invite the people was something different. He cured people who were born blind; he healed the lepers; he brought the dead back to life and other things such as this. However our Prophet (S) - when he was appointed as a Messenger, his form of miracle were none of these - meaning his miracle was through expression and words - the Noble Qurʾan.”

The Imam (a.s.) replied to him that, “This was due to the difference in times when these Prophets were raised. During the time of Prophet Musa (a.s.), people were amazed by magic and trickery, thus, the miracles of Musa (a.s.) resembled the things that the others were performing, but the difference was that Prophet Musa (a.s.) brought a miracle with substance to it, whereas the other people had magic and witchcraft.

As for the time of Prophet ʿIsa (a.s.), his era was one in which doctors were in abundance and they were able to cure the most serious of sicknesses and this brought amazement and bewilderment to the masses. Thus, Allah (s.w.t.) gave ʿIsa (a.s.) miracles that would be in line with what the people of his time were performing.

As for the time of the seal of the Prophets (S), his time was that of speech and verbal communication and the attention that people paid to oratory powers was very high. It is for this reason that the greatest teaching of Islam was brought forth through the noble words clothed in the perfect garment of eloquence and expression (the Noble Qurʾan).”

Ibn Sikkiyt (r.d.a.) thoroughly benefited from the answer given to him by the Imam (a.s.) and now that he understood this issue, he said to the Imam, “O’ Son of the Messenger of Allah! What is the Hujjah of Allah right now?” The Imam (a.s.) replied to him, “Intelligence” and said to him:

هٌذَا وَاللٌّهِ هُوَالْجَوٌابِ

“This, by Allah is the answer.”

Thus, it is clear that the reason for the difference in miracles of the Prophets was that through each of them, they were able to guide the people in different time periods. If this was not the case, then it is possible that from Adam (a.s.) till Muhammad (S) - if Prophet Adam (a.s.) had any miracles and if he was a Prophet (since there are some people who say that he was not a Prophet) - there would have only been one type of miracle. However we see that this is not the case and that each and every Prophet brought along with him his own specific miracle that was fit for his time and age.

The Method of the Prophets

There is a well-known hadith of the Prophet (S) which has been preserved in the book al-Kafi and in these last few days, through some of our friends who have the books of the Ahlus Sunnah at their disposal and have done research through these books, it is clear that this hadith also exists in their books. The Noble Prophet (S) has said:

إِنٌّـا مَعٌاشِرَ الأَنْبِيٌاءِ أُمِرْنٌا أَنْ نُكَلِّمَ النٌّاسَ عَلى قَدَرِ عُقُولِهِمْ

“We, the assembly of Prophets have been commanded to speak to the people according to their level of intelligence”1 .

Whenever the Prophets wished to speak to people, they spoke to them according to their individual level of intelligence and also took into account the level of their aptitude and spoke to them in the way that best suited the people’s intelligence. We must keep in mind that the intelligence of the Prophets E is much higher than all other people and the people around them have a lower level of understanding. Thus, the Prophets would not speak high nor use grand concepts to the ‘common people’ as this would only make the people more confused. Similarly, the Prophets would not answer the questions of a wise person in the same method which they would answer an old, inerudite person.

Mawlawi alludes to the concept mentioned in the above hadith in his poem which states:

پست می گويم به اندازه عقول

عيب نبودي اين، بود كار رسول

“They say it is bad to speak to the intelligence of the people. This is a not a shortcoming, rather, it is the job of the Messenger.”

The one difference that lies between the method of the Prophets and that of the philosophers is that the philosophers employ one frame of logic and one style of speech at all times. The philosophers only have one type of merchandise ‘for sale’ in their proverbial shop. Those who come to them to ‘buy things’ are only one class of people - and this is the shortcoming of the philosopher as they do not see their aim and purpose in life except to cover themselves with a series of (philosophical) terminologies. Thus, philosophers are forced to only go to one particular segment of the society who are aware of the way that they speak and who understand their words.

It has been mentioned that above the door of the well-known school of Plato - which was actually a garden outside the city of Athens whose name was the “Academy” and which even today, due to the scientific gatherings that took place there, is still known by the name, Academy, that there was a poem written which states, “Whoever has not studied geometry must not enter into this school.”

In the school and methodology that the Prophets used, all types of students would be able to benefit from that which was being said. It is here that all sorts of people could be found - from the highest of the (academically) high whom even the likes of Plato would need to study under, to the lowest of the low such that not even an elderly, simple person would have any use for such a person! It was not written in any of the schools of the Prophets that if anyone wanted to come and make use of their teachings, that they must have studied to such and such a level.

Rather, the more that they have studied, the more talented and ready they would have been - thus enabling them to make more use of the teachings of the Prophets. If they were less mentally prepared, then they would only be able to make use of the teachings to their own capability, as it is stated:

إِنٌّـا مَعٌاشِرَ الأَنْبِيٌاءِ أُمِرْنٌا أَنْ نُكَلِّمَ النٌّاسَ عَلى قَدَرِ عُقُولِهِمْ

“We, the assembly of Prophets have been commanded to speak to the people according to their level of intelligence.”2

Notes

1. al-Kafi, Volume 1, Page 23

2. Ibid.

The Best Students

From this point, we realize that there is another issue which we are able to understand which is that the best students of the philosophers are the same people who lived at their time and saw them - which is at variance with the best students of the Prophets and the intimate friends of Allah (the Awliya).

The best students of Plato, Aristotle or Abu ʿAli Sina were those who were directly in their study circle. The person who best understand the thoughts of Abu ʿAli were people such as Bahmanyar or Abu ʿAbid Jawzjani.

However, who were the best students of the Noble Prophet (S), Amirul Moʾminin ʿAli ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) or Imam Jaʿfar ibn Muhammad as-Sadiq (a.s.)? Are their best students only those people who lived at their time and who lived with them? No, this is not the case!

There is a point which the Noble Prophet (S) himself had alluded to in one of his speeches. It is possible that those people who lived at the Prophet’s (S) time did not correctly understand the true meaning of these words (with the exception of people such as Salman (r.d.a.), Abu Dharr (r.d.a.) and Miqdad (r.d.a.), others may not have completely understood his words). The Prophet (S) had said:

نَصَرَ اللٌّهُ عَبْدً سَمِعَ مَقٌالــَتِي فَوَعٌاهٌا وَ بَلَّغَهٌا مَنْ لَمْ يَبْلُغْهُ

“May Allah assist that servant who hears my words, understands them and then conveys them to those who have not been informed of them.”1

In other narrations, this hadith has been mentioned as:

نَصَّرَ اللٌّهُ عَبْدً سَمِعَ مَقٌالَتِي

“May Allah show kindness to that servant who hears my words...”

The Prophet (S) then said:

رُبَّ حٌامِلٍ فِقْهٍ غَيْرَ فَقِيهٍ وَ رُبَّ حٌامِلٍ فِقْهٍ إِلـى مَنْ هُوَ أَفْقَهُ مِنْهُ

“How possible it is that sometimes a person possesses a deep understanding of the religion whereas he himself is not a Faqihi (one firmly grounded in the Islamic sciences) and how possible it is that sometimes one would transfer his knowledge to another person but that other person is actually more knowledgeable than the one transferring the knowledge.”2

The lexical meaning of the word Fiqh (فقه ) in the religion of Islam actually refers to the reality and the true wisdom of the din (religion) which must be achieved through deep study and thought and thus, the meaning in this hadith is the truth and the words which people hear directly from the Imam (a.s.).

This hadith tells us that there are many people who hear these words and hear the truth of the religion directly from the Imam (a.s.) and memorize it, but they are not people of understanding and analysis. There are also many people who take the words and truths of the religion and pass them on to other people, but the people whom they pass this knowledge on to are much more worthy and are much better at understanding and comprehending this knowledge.

For example, a person heard the words of the Prophet (S) when he said:

لاٌ ضَرَرَ وَ لاٌ ضِرٌارَ

“Do not do anything that causes harm to yourself or to others.”

However the person who heard these words did not have the ability to understand how deep or profound this sentence was. Nonetheless, he memorized it and then passed it on to the next generation, and the next generation understood it better than he did - and this generation too passed it on to the next generation. It is possible that this will continue on until the twentieth generation and they will understand it better than the first, second and third generation, as this twentieth generation will be better equipped to understand it.

The Qurʾan is the same. We cannot say that the people who were in the past understood the Qurʾan better (than others) - rather, it is the opposite of this. The miracle of the Qurʾan lies in the fact that the Qurʾan is always one step ahead of the commentaries which are written about it - meaning that in each and every time period in which the Qurʾan has been explained, when the knowledge and understanding of the people increases, they will go forth to re-interpret and re-understand the Qurʾan and they will see that the Qurʾan has far surpassed their commentary and is much more advanced than what they had written.

We do not need to go far in this discussion - simply look at the Science of Jurisprudence (ʿIlmul Usul). Without doubt, the companions of the Noble Prophet (S), the companions of Amirul Moʾminin ʿAli ibn Abi Talib (a.s.), the companions of Imam Jaʿfar ibn Muhammad as-Sadiq (a.s.) and even companions such as Zurarah (r.d.a.) and Hisham ibn al-Hakam (r.d.a.) were people who had learnt the laws of Fiqh either directly from the Prophet (S) or from one of the A’immah (a.s.), however they did not understand, analyze and examine the rules of jurisprudence as Muhaqqiq al-Hilli (q.d.s.), ʿAllamah al-Hilli (q.d.s.), Shaykh Murtaḍa (q.d.s.) and Shaykh Ansari (q.d.s.) did.

Therefore, as we mentioned - in the ways of the philosophers, which person is better at understanding the meanings of his teacher? It is that person who goes the furthest back (to his teacher). However in the school of the Prophets and the intimate friends of Allah (s.w.t.), who would be better apt to understanding the meanings and words of these noble personalities? It is those people who come in the future and possess more knowledge and understanding and this is one of the miracles of prophethood.

In a hadith which is found in the section on Tawhid, it is mentioned that since Allah (s.w.t.) knew that in the end of time, people would come forth who would go deep in thought and delve deep in deliberation on a subject, He revealed Suratul Ikhlas and the first few verses of Suratul Hadid which include the greatest and most precise issues in relation to Tawhid.

By this we mean that the people at the time of the Prophet (S) were not worthy of such verses. However in the future, such people would surely come who would be worthy of receiving these verses of the Qurʾan. These verses are what will provide spiritual nourishment to the people of the future time. Of course since these verses express the final utmost limits of elucidating on the concept of Tawhid, if a person was to rebel and go against these verses, he would definitely be destroyed. This is the miracle of prophethood and the miracle of the Qurʾan which is:

لاٌ تَنْقضى عَجٌائِبُهُ وَ لاٌ تَفْنـى غَرٌائِبُهُ

“It’s (the Qurʾan) points of amazement never cease to end and its amazement will never pass away.”3

All that we have stated up until this point was for this purpose that: when we wish to discuss the issue and speak about the guidance of the youth, we should not have someone stand up and say, “Sir! As if there is a difference between the guidance of the youth and the guidance of the older generation?! As if the Salat that the youth perform and the Salat that we the older people perform is different, such that their guidance should also be something different? Just as how in the past we did things, so too we should continue in that same way today.

In the past, the way we interacted with our elders and our mothers and fathers and just as we sat together in the Majlis (gathering) and related incidents about the trials and tribulations that faced the Ahlul Bait E and the ways in which we recognized Allah (s.w.t.) and received guidance - the youth of today too must close their eyes (to the realities) and must go to those same places that we went to and learn and be guided just as we were taught and guided!”

Notes

1. Al-Amali of Shaykh al-Mufid, Sitting 23, Page 186

2. Furu` al-Kafi, Volume 5, Page 293

3. Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 150

The Generation of the Youth or the Mind Set of the Youth?

I should state this point here that when we use the phrase the “generation of the youth,” our aim is not to specify the level or age of the youth. Rather, our aim is to speak to that level or group of people who, due to the effects of their own studies and acquaintance with the new civilizations, have developed a specific way of thought and intellect - whether these people happen to be old or young.

However most of these people are from the younger generation and it is because of this that we refer to it as the “generation of the youth,” whereas we see that there are also a great number of “older people” who possess this new way of thinking and there are also many “youth” whose thought pattern and beliefs resemble the older, past generations.

In any case, our intention is to speak in regards to that category of people who possess this specific mode of thinking - something which is increasing day by day. This is a mode of thinking which both the older and younger individuals are beginning to possess and in the future, if God forbid, the correct ways and methods to guide and lead this generation are not put into practice, then we will lose complete control of the future generations.

This issue is a very important issue in our country (Iran) - and even in other Islamic countries where it is still an important issue - however these countries realized this issue earlier than we did and thus, they put forth this issue with great seriousness, while we still have not taken this matter to be very important.

Generally speaking - in our eyes - the younger generation is simply a generation of people who are infatuated with themselves and who merely worship their lower desires.

We think that when they speak to us, we can simply make faces at them, pass a few sarcastic jokes off of the Mimbar or that we can resort to cursing them (for their errors) and speak bad things to them. We think that we can talk to them and make them listen to that which we are saying, make them laugh at what we tell them and then everything will be alright. We think that we can exclaim and cry out to them: “O’ you from such-and-such a (bad) school” and we think that this will solve all of our problems. These are all simply lullabies that we are saying and are only there to keep us in our sleep and prevent us from actually thinking about a way out and a better route to take. In an instant, we will wake up and realize that it is now too late to go back.

Become a Scholar For The Time in Which You Are Living In

There is a speech from Imam Jaʿfar ibn Muhammad as-Sadiq (a.s.) which is a very lofty speech. This hadith has been narrated in al-Kafi1 in which the following sentence is mentioned in a (long) hadith:

أَلْعٌالِمُ بِزَمٌانِهِ لاٌ تَهْجُمُ عَلَيْهِ اللَّوٌابِسُ

“The person who is fully aware of the time in which he is living, will never be overcome with bewilderment (of the things around him).”

This means that the person who knows, recognizes and understands the time in which he is living will never fall prey to confusion or perplexity about the things occurring around him.

The word “confused” used in this hadith is commonly used in Farsi in the meaning of a strong or forceful attack that is launched against another person. However in the ʿArabic language it is in the meaning of a person who is carrying something and all of a sudden, out of his own inability or unawareness, becomes negligent of his surroundings.

In this hadith the Imam (a.s.) has told us that, “If a person is fully aware of his own surroundings, then he will never fall prey or victim to the confusion and bewilderment of those things around him, such that one time he looks and forgets even his own hands and feet and he is not able to make use of his own strength and energy nor is he able to gather together his thoughts to solve a problem.” This is truly a great saying.

There are many such important phrases in this same hadith, although I have not memorized all of them, however another line states:

لاٌ يُفْلِحُ مَنْ لاٌ يَعْقِلُ وَ لاٌ يَعْقِلُ مَنْ لاٌ يَعْلَمُ

“That person who does not use his intellect will not be successful, and that person who does not have knowledge will not be able to use his intellect.”

The meaning of intellect (عقل ) is the power or ability to deduce and rationalize something and to establish a relationship between two arguments - meaning to bring about the prerequisites for an issue and then come to a conclusion. The intellect takes its source of inspiration from knowledge and thus, intellect is the lamp whose oil which it runs upon is knowledge. The hadith then goes on to say:

وَ سَوْفَ يَنْجُبُ مَنْ يَفْهَمُ

This means that whoever understands (something), then his outcome will be that he will possess a virtuous, honourable character since the outcome of a treasure or priceless good is through the work which it puts forth. By this it means that we should not be afraid of knowledge and we must not think of knowledge as being something that is dangerous.

However in reality, we are the complete opposite meaning and manifestation of this hadith that states:

أَلْعٌالِمُ بِزَمٌانِهِ لاٌ تَهْجُمُ عَلَيْهِ اللَّوٌابِسُ

From the beginning to the end, from the top to the bottom, from the door (of the Masjid) to the Mihrab, all of us are unaware of the times in which we are living. We are simply sitting down, unaware of our surroundings, dozing off. One time we are accosted that, for example, this land must be divided up and that the land must be cleaned and tilled (to make use of it).

Unknowingly, it is as if this issue (in relation to the cleaning and tilling of the land) launches an offensive upon us since we are completely unaware of the time in which we are living. We do not have the foresight or speculation of what would happen in the future and have not planned anything to determine what our responsibilities will be or what we should be doing.

We in reality, do not know what is going on in this world and what is being done beyond the curtains. We have suddenly faced the issue of womens’ social rights. Here, we don’t have enough time to think over it and analyze all of its aspects in order to determine its importance. Are those who are defending the social rights of women really serious? Do they really want to attract more fans? Or is there another benefit that they intend to gain from arousing such questions? Along with these, there will come other doubtful and unknown matters that we do not know.

Some sixty to one hundred years ago among the other Islamic countries, the issue of guiding and leading the youth had been brought up, but they have been busier in pondering and discussing this issue than we were.

Note

1. Al-Kafi, Volume 1, Pages 26 and 27

What Must be Done?

That which is even more important than charting a program for the leadership of this generation is that we must strengthen the belief in our own minds that the issue of leadership and guidance of this generation is different in its methods and techniques throughout the various time periods, and differs according to the groups or people whom we are working with. Thus, we must completely remove the thought from our heads that this new generation must be guided by following the methods used by the previous generations.

First of all, we must fully understand this young generation and comprehend what sorts of peculiarities and distinctions they possess. In relation to this generation, there are two modes of thought that are common, and usually, there are two ways that they can be dealt with.

From the point of view of some people, these youth are an insensitive and rude group of people who have been deluded and enraptured by their own lower desires. They are worshippers of the self and possess thousands of (other) deficiencies. These people (who think this of the younger generation) are constantly making faces at them and are always speaking bad of this new generation.

However, the youth see themselves as the complete opposite of this picture. The youth do not see themselves as having any deficiencies. They imagine themselves to be the effigy of intelligence, the effigy of sagacity, the effigy of higher qualities. The older generation thinks that this group have fallen into disbelief and that they are plunged in to sin, while the new generation think that the older generation are simple minded and ignorant.

The older generation tells the newer ones that they have lowered themselves to the worship of their own selves and have become disbelievers, while the new generation tells the older one that they do not know what they are talking about and that they do not understand them! Generally speaking of course, it is possible that one generation may consider the previous generation as being righteous people but it is also possible that they may consider them as being misguided.