30th April. Every year, the day Adolph Hitler committed suicide rolls around. This happens to be this writer’s birthday as well. It makes me think, how can we avoid ever subjecting our youth to such evil and such infamy as those Hitler years?
The tricky part is there were a lot of signs that Hitler really was some sort of genius who would bring advancement to humankind. Alas, he fell over that thin line between genius and madness.
As of 9/11, we Muslims too fell over that line. So our first hope for the future is that the damage caused by that event will be repaired, and that such mischief-making (as condemned in the Qur’an) will never occur again. We are living in a world of fear and distress far greater than anything since Hitler himself. How to overcome our “Age of Anxiety”?
Firstly, an old psychological maxim goes that nothing can be avoided that is not honestly faced first. So we pray our youth can learn to distinguish between the different forms of jihad and the real possibilities of shahid (when you are REALLY a martyr, not just because some false leaders say you are). And then we wish for them the strength to REJECT strongly all the false jihads, such as public suicide, that are really not in any way sure to result in martyrdom.
Secondly, there is no better time to take a break from our busy schedules for just a few moments than now. Muslim youth everywhere in this world are clearly hurting, even as they strive to preserve their faith. The statistics we see every day suggest us the evidence we’ve long needed but often did not find to prove the painful anecdotes we have heard over the years: young Muslims using drugs, drinking, smoking or engaging in other vices to fit in with their peers; in more serious cases, young Muslims who have engaged in gangsterism or commit suicide; Muslim youths who have run away from home due to miscommunication with parents. We face baby dumping every day in Malaysia; this is indeed a sign of youth neglect on our side.
We don’t listen to their problems, we don’t empathize. Our young generation needs us. It is our duty, as parents, older siblings and cousins, etc. to step in and really engage with them. We must take whatever time is necessary, even if it is a few minutes after a hectic day at work, to really be in their company and rebuild that relationship lost by years of our own preoccupation with work and daily chores. We should not merely just “talk” to them in the ineffective ways many of us continue to do. We must convey that we deeply care about them, even as we struggle to balance our own and our family’s myriad needs, and navigate our own struggles as a Muslim in this transitory world.
Next, we pray for them a much more responsive leadership, Muslim leaders who themselves are not confused and hesitant to speak the truth about suicide or any other of the many issues we face as a result of our confrontation with the West. Why did it take some of our scholars more than ten years after 9/11 to travel our Ummah to enunciate such teachings, and condemn those acts?
More down to earth, we hope for them to have honest labor. We need to re-design the global economy, which still runs along 1950’s lines when there were only 2 billion people on earth, to accommodate the seven billion we have now produced. Whether and how this means Islamizing our economies remains to be seen. But surely the unemployment rate among youth as it now exists is one of the major causes of terrorism. These products of the wrong education system restricted to training in only certain areas of the religion of Islam often do not seem to have any idea how to find decent jobs and form families. Then some false “religious teacher” convinces them to blow themselves up in public. We note that the teachers themselves do not follow their own advice.
Next, we need desperately to stop telling our youth to postpone marriage until they graduate, until they have a job, until they travel the world, or whatever. Our “human nature”, or fitrah in Islam, decrees through the hormones in our blood that we find our partners and form our families in our twenties, if not before.
The act of postponing that hormonal schedule can only lead to serious sin and distress among our youth. It can only lead to apostasy, clubbing, drug and alcohol use, exposing the male and female’s aurats, and so on. War itself, the curse that Hitler brought upon us, has been correlated by sociologists with shorter and shorter hemlines on women’s skirts, in other words, too much exposing the aurat. The men have a passion aroused without sexual relief, and so they go to war.
Tun Dr. Mahathir and his Perdana Leadership Foundation have recently been issuing the strongest warnings here in Malaysia, against the criminal nature of war, and yet they do not tell us how to avoid it. They do not speak clearly of its causes. They do not honestly face the changes in our social structures and habits that lead so easily to human bloodshed.
So we pray for our youth the reality of “life on the ground”, as some people would say, not more “pie-in-the-sky” such as we so often preach while our young people fall asleep in learning sessions.
There is no way to understand where we came from or where we are going without birthing our own children. Being single is NOT an option in Islam, and our final prayer in this short list of hopes for the future is that every one of our children will have the blessed opportunity to parent children as a holy act, and that they may indeed learn the really important ultimate secrets from their parenting. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “If Allah grants a Muslim a righteous wife, this helps him preserve half of his religion (faith). He should, therefore, fear Allah as regards the other half.” (At-Tabarani and Al-Hakim)
Azril Mohd Amin is a lawyer by profession and has his writings archived at www.azrilmohdamin.com.