Muslim Youth today

(in-progress draft of initial chapter of a proposed monograph; comments are most welcome)

1. Modern Youth – With and Without Islam

Muslim youth – all youth – need facilities. They need a “high-energy space” to grow up in, to borrow a term from telemarketing. Look at the richness of educational and intellectual possibilities for Malaysia’s Muslim youth compared to so many other Muslim countries. And look at how eagerly they “take the bull of modern technology by the horn”, as it were. One must admire them for so bravely embracing their “growing pains”. They seem well aware that they are the vanguard of a new Renaissance of the Muslim Ummah that is occurring throughout the human race.

At the same time, these young people are pursuing their religious skills and scholarship with great seriousness. There is no shortage of “Hafizul Qur’an”, those who can recite Qur’an cover-to-cover from memory, a type of feat simply unimaginable to western youth, clever as they may be. But then, our Muslim youth feel something with great sensitivity that the western youth obviously do not, the supreme importance of transmitting our Islamic “oral culture” unadulterated to future generations. Recitation of Al Qur’an is the sum-and-substance of all “oral cultures” developed by human beings so far. It must never be lost.

These “young pioneers of Islam” are also developing ancillary Islamic entertainments with gusto, with young Nasyid groups proliferating everywhere. Only Egypt can match Malaysia in this attention to the Islamic popular culture. The competition from the much longer established western entertainment forms is still tight, yet a number of factors in the western entertainment menu turn more and more of us away from them and toward our own..

Among these factors are the endless repetition of five or six basic story lines or song themes coming out of Hollywood, the out-of-control American gun-culture (frightening in both entertainment and reality!), obsession with violence, the sight of human blood (we never USED to see all this blood to enjoy a good show!), reduction of ostensibly spiritual matters to the most gross forms of material expression (Mr. Bean falling as an angel out of the sky), and so on.

Where do western youth fit in all this? Twenty years ago, there was a comedy out of Hollywood, based on the story line of two mid-teenage girls in summer camp, having a race to see who could lose her virginity first. More recently, on one of Malaysia’s public bus videos, the preview of an American movie was shown that treated marriage as a license for the wife to treat her husband with an obscene disrespect while she held up her finger in the well-known dirty gesture, saying, “We’re married now, remember?” In Malaysia? Where are our censors when we need them!

As tourists or even sincere students of American culture, you might not notice so many such examples, however, they virtually saturate American TV and movie media, and they appear well in line with that portion of the “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion” that specifically targets the moral life of the “goyim” (non-Jews) through secular entertainment forms that make the abnormal or sinful seem quite normal, or, as in the above examples, even amusing. If our Muslim youth do not take a firmly jihadic exception to these developments, what is to become of us? Let us step back a moment and consider the exceptionally rich Islamic lore pertaining to the courage, sincerity, kindness, courtesy, and lofty ambitions of our youth.

Abu Qulabah reported that Imam Malik said: “We were some young people of similar age. We stayed with the Prophet (s.a.w.) for twenty days and nights. He was a very compassionate and kind person. When he felt our homesickness, he asked us whom we left behind. We told him. He said, ‘Go to your people, stay with them, teach them, and give them my orders.’ He mentioned some things that I remember and some I do not remember. He said, ‘Pray as you have seen me praying. When the time of prayer comes, let one of you give Azan and let the older among you lead the prayer’ (Al Bukhari, 595).

Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.) is mentioned in Qur’an as “fata”, or a young man who, when he learned the truth, accepted it without any hesitation, although he had to go through a lot of suffering and pain. He was very respectful to his father, but in matters of truth he did not compromise. He did not bow down to the idols of his people. He left his home and his town. He sacrificed everything, yet he did not give up his faith in One God (tawheed).

As a young man, Prophet Ismail (a.s.) was also an example of true obedience and submission to Allah and to the way of his father. When his father told him Allah swt had ordered him to be sacrificed, he said, “My father, do what you are commanded and you shall find me, God willing, among the steadfast” (As-Saffat, 37:102). Later, he helped his old father build Ka’bah.

Prophet Yusuf was a most handsome young man and lived in a prosperous situation. Although tried by temptation (from Pharoah’s wife), he kept himself pure. Rather than succumb to evil desires, he preferred to go to prison. He prayed to Allah, “My Lord, the prison is more dear to me than that which they urge me to do…” (Yusuf, 12:33).

Prophet Yahya (a.s.) is another example of a youth in Qur’an who, from an early age, was pious, righteous, kind, and thoughtful towards his parents.

Maryam (a.s.), the mother of Prophet Isa (a.s.), was a noble and pious girl who kept her purity and dignity to such an extent that Allah swt bestowed on her a great honor. She became one of the noblest women in all history.

The “People of the Cave” (Ashab Al-Kahf) were not prophets or messengers, yet they were youths who were deeply committed to their religion. They refused the pressure of evil rulers who wanted to turn them away from the path of righteousness. Allah swt says about them: “We relate to you their story in truth. They were youths who believed in their Lord, and We advanced them in guidance. We gave strength to their hearts. Behold, they stood up and said, ‘Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and of the earth. Never shall we call upon any other than Him. If we did, we should indeed have uttered an enormity!” (Al-Kahf, 18:13-14).

Among the Companions (a.s.) of the Prophet (s.a.w.), many were youth when they accepted Islam, and many of these later made great contributions to Islamic history: Ali, Fatimah, Asma, Sumayyah, Aisha, Abdullah ibn Umar, Abdullah ibn Abbas, Talha, Zubair, and many others. Indeed, the “fresh wind of youth” blows freely throughout the early days of Islam, and might like to blow again, if only we elders guide them properly and are able to build them into a strong generation of the future.

2. Building a Strong Generation: Bridging the Gap

The Islamic Vision for a contemporary Malaysia must take into consideration the realities and changes that are affecting the youth so drastically today. Among these difficulties and threats are creeping secularism, universalist “human rights” attacks on Islamic values, the liberal-progressive “reformation” Muslims (emanating from Indonesia and the West), and the irresistible allure of materialistic “progress” masquerading as easy credit or excessive dependence on non-renewable oil reserves.

The secularist agenda is empowered by the weakening of Faith in most of the world’s religions. After 9/11, there was, in addition to a backlash of Islamophobia, a more widespread and somewhat hidden disillusionment with ALL organized religion. A significant portion of Americans and Europeans (not to mention the formerly communist Europeans in Russia) consider organized religion and its sacraments (especially, marriage) increasingly irrelevant. Conservative Americans now embrace so-called “liberal humanist” values, such as tolerance for pregnancy outside marriage, homosexuality, and so on, rather than fiercely resisting them as they always had.

Churches began buying office and residential properties so as to avoid “looking like” churches. Immigrant Muslims, whose cash flow for assisting their families abroad was seriously impeded by US government “anti-terrorist” policies, began putting all their hard-earned money into building high-exposure mosques in big cities, a form of architectural da’wah the Christians were turning away from. Muslims are even beginning to be perceived as the sincere bearers of values and commitment to their faith at the same time as these are on the rapid decline among Christians.

Muslims need to understand this secularization process, resist its emasculation of Islamic values and authority in their lives, and above all, to maximize the propaganda advantage this gives them vis-a-vis the other religious communities who are succumbing almost completely to “the secular dream” of situational ethics and other non-revealed value systems. Adolescents seem to know that there is a deeper reality than easy-credit secularism, and it is our duty to present this reality to them in utmost clarity. It is the reality of the Afterlife, the Day-of-Judgment, and all that follows.

The young are highly sensitive to this “search for reality” in their lives, and they are capable, especially in their adolescent years, of understanding what is going on in the world they face. We need to appeal to this sensitivity, and to help them place the building blocks of the Islamic vision before them. In order to do this, we need to rigorously “de-construct” the secularization process.

Let us first try to be fair and historically accurate. The secular system was never intended to replace or minimize religion. There were periods in the Islamic “Golden Age” when the rulers, despotic though they may have been, gave full and unrestrained support and respect to their scholars and artists. Much of what we value in our Islamic heritage comes from such times, when the secular principle of non-interference in matters of spirit and intellect was functioning.

History’s first explicit formulation of the secular system took place after the American Revolution of 1776. In this setting, the term “secular” was defined as referring to principles of governance in the dunya, or material world, and at the same time included a “hands-off” policy toward all organized religion. Those American forefathers had suffered firsthand from interference of the British Crown and other European royalties in the practices of their chosen religious and intellectual lives. They therefore tended to feel that the individual could be trusted to seek out and define his or her own religious commitments.

Revealed Religion, of course, cannot fully agree with this “faith in human nature” to make their own choices of religious values and beliefs, and so the secular policy of “hands off” of organized religion is not, for Muslims, the complete answer. Nevertheless, it must be acknowledged that “secular freedoms” appeal very strongly to the emerging personalities and value-structures of adolescent youth worldwide.

Therefore, that “secularization process” that is perceived as a MAJOR OBSTACLE to building a strong generation of Muslim youth is not the “good secularism” that brought the Americans to the forefront of educational, economic, technological, and military progress in the twentieth century.

The “process of secularization” against which we must guard our youth has been analyzed in detail by Professor Syed Naquib al-Attas, who equates secularization with de-Islamization. His analysis is worthy of respect and study. The challenge that we face is that young people will never give up certain elements that they wish to emulate from what they see of the “good secular world”, and we must understand when and how to support them in such emulation, and in discriminating away from the “bad secularity”.

Let us begin with Professor al-Attas’ warnings about “de-Islamization”, in our efforts to de-construct secularity into its constituent positive and negative aspects:

“Deislamization is the infusion of alien concepts into the minds of Muslims, where they remain and influence thought and reasoning. It is the causing of forgetfulness of Islam and of the Muslim’s duty to God and to His Prophet, which is the real duty assigned to his true self; and hence it is also injustice (zulm) to the self. It is tenacious adherence to the pre-Islamic beliefs and superstitions, and obstinate pride and ideologization of one’s own pre- Islamic cultural traditions; or it is also secularization.” — al-Attas, “Islam and Secularism”

Al-Attas links the use of the word “secularization” with his concept of de-islamization. It is my humble view that de-islamization is multi-determined, not caused or accompanied by secularization alone. We need to identify the contributors to de-islamization internal to the Muslim Ummah, and reduce our blaming of the West for those weaknesses. Too much blame suggests the possibility of “projection” of one’s own faults on to the external “other”, which inhibits effective correction. The essence of maturity is the capacity to recognize and re-absorb one’s projections of blame, and then to take full responsibility for one’s own contribution to the blamed feeling or thought.

Nevertheless, let us mention some of the difficulties actually caused by the exposure of Islamic mentality to the processes of secularization, since there remain real and dangerous cross-purposes between them. These cross-purposes are at the heart of al-Attas’ description of the relationship between Islamization and secularization, clearly implying the impossibility of reconciliation between the two processes now most dominant in the modern world.

Young people’s idealism consists to a large extent of reality-testing for consistency, or sincerity in the older generation. The young people described in the hadith quoted above had not the slightest doubt that Rasulullah (s.a.w.) was sincere. They had not the slightest doubt that he understood their condition and spoke from the true reality of things. There was, in short, not one speck of generation gap between the Prophet (s.a.w.) and the young people who visited him for twenty days and nights.

The secularization of human society is a cause of irreligion through creating the generation gap. Those American forefathers of the eighteenth century saw it, on the other hand, as the safeguard of their religious commitments and worship. They had seen the governing forces abroad as increasingly irreligious due to factors such as unearned wealth and undeserved political power. One aspect of undeserved political power arose from the system of noble titles, in other words, from the European aristocracy in which power and status resulted entirely from circumstances of birth rather than from any superiority of performance.

Hence the US Constitution outlawed the use of any titles of nobility whatsoever. This by itself, however, did not solve the problem of corruption of rulership or interference in the people’s chosen religious custom and belief. Along with noble titles went inherited wealth, and this wealth was also not subject to accountability, was not, in short, transparent. So the American forefathers began to develop free-market economics, which was a system completely in line with their Protestant beliefs. Europe was almost entirely Catholic in those days, and although the British began the industrial revolution with the invention of the steam engine and other labor-saving devices, this “spirit of invention” became the single most compelling evidence for the success of the American secular system.

That aspect of the secular system which concerns us here is the unparalleled freedom of thought which the Americans experienced upon release from the oppression of unprincipled religious authority in their lives. Having no popes or kings to tell them what to do, they immediately developed an educational system free for everyone until the end of adolescence, a system which remains the envy of many in the world today.

Youth are inherently free in their thinking; they demand logic and accountability from their elders. This used to be the secular contribution to youth culture, through the secular educational system that was entirely divorced from religious training. The European Catholics had failed for a thousand years to reconcile their system of priestly authority with the freedom-of-thought needed for a proper scientific development, and secular America achieved that freedom-of-thought “overnight”.

Today, we are constantly amazed at the ingenious antics of the young people in their precocious computer literacy. The best “hackers” are kids. Even Einstein discovered his General and Special Theories of Relativity in his early twenties. As for the previous several hundred years of American history under the secular system, even a short list of the inventions and discoveries achieved is impressive. Most of these inventions and discoveries had not, to our knowledge, been achieved in any previous period of human history. They are ALL elements of what most people consider their absolute human right to possess and use, as needed, in daily life.

The short list include the steam engine, the steam locomotive, the cotton gin, the discovery of electricity (Benjamin Franklin, late 18th century), the bicycle, governmental postal services, city libraries, the popular vote, the telephone, the light bulb, the assembly line (which made the German invention of the automobile available to millions), the tin can, the airplane, radio, telegraph, television, refrigerators, microwave ovens, air conditioning, FAX, computers, laser technologies, CD players, nuclear medicine, space rocketry, communications satellites (handphones, internet), satellite TV, and so on.

This list is still ongoing. Over twenty countries, none of them Muslim, have cooperated in building the world’s largest nuclear research facility, which is now in the process of finding proof for the existence of “Higg’s boson”, a sub-atomic particle that would explain the emergence of the entire physical universe from total nothingness. Muslims have not even begun to invest their riches in such scientific research and development, while the West continues full-speed-ahead in all these areas, including, sadly, military weapons technologies.

The huge challenge therefore is to see beyond the definition of secularity as some diabolical plan to defeat Islam.

And here is the deep and sad truth of the generation gap. Technological advancement, unrestrained by religious or revealed values, has given the young so much knowledge and experience that their parents haven’t had, that the poor parents can no longer advise and guide their own children. And here, the secular system has broken down completely. All the dangers of the modern “youth culture”, with its children’s secret lives (unknown to the parents) and peer reviewing (instead of parental advice) have invaded the Muslim world because the Muslims have thrown their priceless store of Revealed Knowledge onto the garbage heap.

For Muslims, the speed of technological development becomes benign only if moderated by Revealed Knowledge. Other merely human knowledge cannot stop it, and in this respect, mention must be made of various attempts of the Muslim governing elite to substitute their own ideologies for those of Revealed Knowledge, i.e., Indonesian “Pancasila”, Malaysian “Islam Hadhari”, and others, which have utterly failed to bridge the generation gap or solve any of the other problems created by unbridled technological change. Middle-eastern-style oligarchies and other basically fascist despotisms also display appalling degrees of generation gap, because they demand obeisance to ruling powers rather than Revealed Knowledge. All youth know instinctively that such leaders require them to LIE, even to themselves.

An entire series of monographs could be written regarding these degrees of generation gap in various Muslim cultures, except that the Muslims themselves do not want to face this reality. The real danger of secularity is not its basic intention to safeguard religious freedom (although under a model of cultural pluralism not acceptable to Muslim teaching), but rather the alacrity with which it invades this gap between older and younger generations, without the elders being aware of it or even being willing to face it.

Consequently, modern-day Muslim youth profess Islam yet practice completely contradictory social habits that they do not even care to relinquish, at least not on their elders’ or Imams’ say so. Indeed, many of their elders also practice such contradictory habits, which is where the longing of the young for SINCERITY in their elders is completely disappointed.

Due to the vulnerability of the generation gap to infestation by secular life-values and practices, Muslims are being brought back to the pre-Islamic era, including hero-worship, anti-rational symbolism, feudal mentalities, and worshipping idols such as football (Australia), problem solving by the use of violence (USA), “enlightened” communism (China), surrogate Muslim ideologies (Indonesia), liberal humanism (Europe), and nationalism (most places).

Another major element in the secularization of Muslim peoples is the loss of their self-esteem. The secular agenda brainwashes them with a contradictory value system and forces them to make traumatic choices. Muslim youth are no longer confident of the Islamic knowledge which they had previously absorbed almost without question from their elders. Although history is identity, Muslim youth have forgotten the struggles of past Muslim people and their heros. They have forgotten the history of races who were destroyed by God due to their unjust and sinful behavior.

Muslim youth drown in mystical belief, in deviation, or in totally secularized popular psychology (in which the very existence of the Almighty is totally ignored – the “how-to-succeed”, “get-rich-quick”, “how-to-be-happy”, “visualize-your-own-future” types of books). They do not know who their role models should be. They can no longer adhere to a value system which places religion at the top. They find that success in life depends more on cleverness in bowing to the wants of those in power, than on conducting an unrelenting struggle for justice. They see the role of Islam itself belittled or obliterated in favor of legislating and executing the policies of the ruler or ruling party. Muslim young people, lacking any precise evaluation system based on Revealed Knowledge, remain in anarchy – a chaos of never-ending disputes and arguments. Technology itself takes over leadership of the human race. Can technology by itself develop an outstanding civilization and a noble society?

The major obstacle to generation-building among Muslims is simply this, that they are misguided by a superficially imposed “official religious education” that puts more emphasis on memorizing than giving students a true understanding of the proper world view of Islam that results in the inculcation of adab.

3. Future Directions

The most immediate need of Muslim youth today is to experience, for themselves, EVIDENCE-BASED exposure to the principles and applications of Islamic Revealed Knowledge.

For example, there is strong statistical evidence from the West that married students make better students. Their marks go up and their stress levels go down. To begin with, then, we must challenge and overcome the shibboleths of traditional thinking about the relationship between education and marriage.

Students, who marry at the biologically normal ages of 19 and up, do NOT lose their powers of concentration in their studies. It is also not much more expensive, if at all, for married couples to live together while completing their education. Therefore, the Ministries of Education such as that of Malaysia must support, rather than forbid, the building of facilities for married students at the university level. It is simply absurd that the Malaysian Ministry forbids such support.

Students who do NOT marry at the biologically suitable ages are often utterly broken in their Iman and their morality. There is plenty of statistical support for this assertion as well, still being ignored and “swept under the rug” by Muslim educational administrators. And who else resists the idea of encouraging college students to marry? Their parents. When one NGO who supported many Indonesian college students in their studies offered to help them marry while studying, the parents objected strenuously. They almost unanimously cried out, “graduate first!” The PARENTS, not their children, had to be re-educated according to the findings of modern research as to the benefits of college marriages.

Support for college marriages is only a small part of the educational effort (“consciousness raising”, as westerners put it) that must be mounted among modern Muslim youth and their parents. The crisis of loss of adab amongst Muslim youth involves many consequences of great danger for their future lives, both in this world and the next. The challenges of secularity have led to many of the social ills now plaguing Malaysia and other Muslim-majority countries – hedonism, sexual freedom, homosexuality, drug addiction, deviant teachings, apostasy, illegitimate babies, exploitation of the poor and helpless, and so on.

Mentioning these issues to “think tanks” and research NGOs more often than not results in a rejection of any consideration of such issues. Prestigious Muslims prefer to discuss theories of non-controversial issues than, for example, the fact that 80% of illegitimate births in Malaysia occur among Malay Muslim girls, or that 80% of Malay Muslim college males conduct active sexual lives throughout their university years.

Many of the social ills besting young people today would disappear were they allowed and encouraged to marry at the age Allah intended them to marry, by hard-wiring into their fitra sexual hormone peaks at ages 19 or 20 for both men and women. So the first the first need of our modern Ummah is to recognize the scientific reality of this hard-wiring, and stop trying to ignore it for other priorities.

At the very least, programs on Islamic university campuses everywhere should have plenty of programs available to students ON A CREDIT BASIS, in the areas of artistic and athletic training, as these may to a certain extent sublimate the sexual needs of the young until they can actually marry. But to forbid marriage during college study and then, on top of that, deprive the young of curricular and co-curricular coursework that might help manage the hormonal needs of these children is both needlessly cruel and woefully ignorant. We cannot go against fitra like this without paying a terrible price, and that price is to widen, rather than decrease, the generation gap, since the youth are being forced to find their own secret, peer-reviewed solutions to their universal hormonal pressures at the very time they are expected to perform academically in the most competitive manner.

In addition to exaggerating job-search priorities among the young without regard to their psychological development needs, an educational system that remains COMMERCIALLY driven cannot serve the Ummah of the future. It is true that lack of a sound Islamic financial infrastructure breeds many problems, however, we must at least try to establish a tertiary educational system that truly inculcates love of learning, and leaves its students with habits of lifelong learning as well. The almost total emphasis on job acquisition is killing the future of Islam throughout the world.

For one thing, even among teachers and administrators, nobody talks to anybody outside their own narrow department or major discipline. Intellectual networking may take place at weekend conferences that cost a great deal and lead to almost no results, but on campus, where it really matters, it usually cannot be found at all. Therefore, forging links among Muslim youth locally, nationally, and internationally must be a part of building their sense of community involvement. Without such links, there will NEVER be an actual Ummah among Muslims. Youth love to participate in such global networking. It is only the parents and economic pressure which interfere.

As for political preparation, there is no chance at all of conducting proper Muslim leadership training under legislation that forbids students from participating in political life and debate. The obstacle, once again, is legislative, not social. There is not one single daily newspaper among Malaysian universities, no hands-on experience available in this crucial area of future development of the Muslim Ummah.

Where is the Muslim leadership training that focuses on strategically and brilliantly coping with global realities? Even parents cannot cope with these realities, much less their children whose only purpose in college is to find jobs. One global reality is that many Muslims living in western lands are doing very, very well for themselves and their families – far better than they could in their own homelands. Muslim youth in America, for example, are far more active socially and politically than those in Muslim lands whose only target is to “get a job”. Why is this?

Understanding major issues of concern, either religious or non-faith-based (such as human rights, environmental issues, free trade agreements, draconian legislation, corruption, increasing convenience for the electorate, etc.) must involve strategic and selective work with non-Muslim counterparts in all these issue of common concern, as ordered in Al Qur’an for the Muslims, Christians, and Jews. Therefore, young people must be invited to inter-racial and inter-cultural engagement and dialogue, and they must learn to be willing to work with non-Muslim friends. AND SO MUST THEIR PARENTS AND LEADERS. As the twig is bent, the tree will grow.

How do Muslim youth meet such challenges, with or without their parents’ enlightened cooperation? In Islamic history, there were a people known as fata or fityan, who established the futuwwah movement. Futuwwah goes back to a very early period. Its purpose was to cultivate high moral and spiritual qualities among youth. They were known as brave, generous, and faithful. The fata was one who hated no one and who cared for everyone. Some people said that the real fata was “…one who honors those senior to him, who shows compassion to those who are junior or under him, and who prefers over his own self those who are his peers.” The role model for these fata youth was the Prophet’s own son-in-law, Ali (a.s.).

With regard to discovering suitable role-models to produce truly noble results among the young, Professor Syed Naquib al-Attas has some suggestions:

  • Use the guidance and experience derived from knowledge of the past and past personages sincerely and justly;
  • Scrutinize earnestly the thinking of Islamic scholars who have been proven in their struggle for Islam;
  • Share the grandeur of past thinking with the spirit of the present era, with the clear intention of contributing toward the development of the present human civilization;
  • Recognize and celebrate sincerely the authorities in the history of Islam and those who have gone through difficult struggle.

The challenge now is that the charisma of truly inspiring Islamic leaders will usually find followings quite spontaneously. Asking young people to look around for such leaders is a little unrealistic. If the leaders a) are not generally known and loved, and b) have not produced any real changes in recent Muslim history, then how can we find solutions by looking in the direction of the past? This is precisely what Muslim youth have stopped doing, for LACK OF EVIDENCE that their recent elders have solved very many problems in point of fact.

So what can the young Muslims do? This is a very tough question to answer without calling the competence of recent Muslim leadership, or world leadership for that matter, into serious question. It may be closer to the truth to say that this modern generation gap that causes us so many problems is in fact produced more by the actions of the elders than of the young. This is why merely preaching at the young, exhorting them to do this or that, or to improve their adab, is not very effective. What we have to do is look for the weaknesses and mistakes of their parents that have created this gap between them. Youth do not usually care to imitate the behavior, however mannerly, of parents and elders between whom and themselves there is such a gap.

One simple expedient that might help to re-establish communication and reduce the generation gap would be for the elders to practice equal forgiveness rituals at the end of Ramadhan. The fact is that modern parents are often mistaken in their guidance to their children, make many mistakes in their own lives, and are also caught up in sinful behavior themselves. Therefore, it is only honest for the elders to ask forgiveness from the youth exactly as the youth have done so from their elders for many generations now, especially among the Malay and Javanese. Any older Muslim reading these lines who balks and hears a voice of resistance upon reading these lines is caught in the trap of elderly arrogance that tends to create a generation gap, for arrogance is what it is and how it is perceived by the young. Interestingly, many American Muslims and their children have exchanged equal pleas for forgiveness at Ramadan’s end for some time now. Perhaps traditional Muslims have something to learn from their more recent convert friends.

It is clear from the above that there is an important role for Muslim youth to play. With a rich legacy demonstrated throughout history, it is incumbent upon Muslim youth to emulate the example of their predecessors. Our focus on youth does not negate the old from sharing these responsibilities, as with concerted effort, young and old alike may hold high hopes for future achievement together.

 

Azril Mohd Amin │ 10 Rabiul Akhir 1432

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