The Rights and Reponsibilities of the Youth

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all worlds, Who says in His Ever Glorious Book, “They were young men who believed in their Lord, and We gave them more and more guidance.” I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger. May Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him, his Household, Companions and upon those who follow their path to the Day of Judgment.

The stage of youngness is one of the most important periods in one’s life. It is the stage of physical strength, maturity, vitality, activity, giving, hope and openness. There is no doubt that young people are the basic element of any nation. They are its heart and power, and no one can deny their important role in building homelands, and in the renaissance of nations and their progress.

The Glorious Qur’an has described that the stage of youngness as the stage of strength that comes between two stages of weaknesses, namely childhood, and elderly. The Almighty Allah said, “It is Allah Who creates you weak, then gives you strength, then weakness after strength, together with your grey hair:” This is why Prophets were always sent when they were young. The Almighty Allah said about Prophet Joseph “When he reached maturity, We gave him judgement and knowledge: this is how We reward those who do good.” He, The Exalted, also said about Prophet Moses “When Moses reached full maturity and manhood, We gave him wisdom and knowledge: this is how We reward those who do good.” Ibn Abbas said, “Allah send not a prophet except he is a young; and no scholar acquires knowledge except in his youngness.”  We know that when Prophet Abraham confronted idolaters, he was young. The Qur’an reports this saying, “Some said, ‘We heard a young man called Abraham talking about them.” The Qur’an also spoke about the acumen and intelligence of Prophet Solomon when he was still young saying, “And made Solomon understand the case [better].” In the story of Prophet Moses, the daughter of the righteous man said, “Father, hire him: a strong, trustworthy man is the best to hire.” Also, about Prophet John, the Almighty Allah said, “[We said], ‘John, hold on to the Scripture firmly.’ While he was still a boy, We granted him wisdom.”

Because of the importance of this period in a person’s life, the Prophet (PBUH) showed that Allah, the Exalted, will ask every servant about it on the Day of Resurrection. This is to encourage people to best exploit this period in a way that benefits him. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “The feet of the son of Adam shall not move from before his Lord on the Day of Judgement, until he is asked about four things: about his life and what he did with it, about his youth and how he spent it, about his wealth and how he earned it and spent it upon, and about his knowledge and what he did with what he knew.”

Islam has paid great care for the young people and stipulated their rights, and their duties. They have the right to education, guidance, and good preparation. The Glorious Qur’an reported the dialogue between Luqman and with his son, in which Luqman taught his son religious values, and urged him to promote reform and giving. The Qur’an says, “Luqman counselled his son, ‘My son, do not attribute any partners to Allah: attributing partners to Him is a terrible wrong.’” The Qur’n also says, “[And Luqman continued], ‘My son, if even the weight of a mustard seed were hidden in a rock or anywhere in the heavens or earth, Allah would bring it [to light], for He is all subtle and all aware. Keep up the prayer, my son; command what is right; forbid what is wrong; bear anything that happens to you steadfastly: these are things to be aspired to. Do not turn your nose up at people, nor walk about the place arrogantly, for Allahdoes not love arrogant or boastful people. Go at a moderate pace and lower your voice, for the ugliest of all voices is the braying of asses.’”

This was what the Prophet (PBUH) used to do with the young people. He (PBUH) would pay them great care and was so keen to teach them and implant in their hearts and minds the great principles of religion, love of knowledge, and excellence. Ibn Abbas said, “I was with the Prophet (PBUH) one day when he said: ‘O young men! I will teach you a statement: Be mindful of Allah and He will protect you. Be mindful of Allah and you will find Him before you. When you ask, ask Allah, and when you seek aid, seek Allah’s aid. Know that if the entire creation were to gather together to do something to benefit you- you would never get any benefit except that Allah had written for you. And if they were to gather to do something to harm you- you would never be harmed except that Allah had written for you. The pens are lifted and the pages are dried.’”

Having been given good education and proper training, they should be given the right to empowerment in the positions of authority; each according to his knowledge, abilities and efficiency. This is actually how the Prophet (PBUH) did, for he (PBUH) made use of youth’s energies and even gave them the chance to take the responsibility of challenging tasks, to the extent that he (PBUH) entrusted the affairs of his Message to a young man whose age does not exceed twenty, that is, Al-Arqam Ibn Abi Al-Arqam (Allah be pleased with him) whose house was the headquarter of the Prophet and his honorable companions in the very beginning of the Islamic Da’wah. In addition, he (PBUH) made Usamah Ibn Zayd (Allah be pleased with him) the leader of the Muslim army even though he was under 18.

Following the footsteps of the Prophet (PBUH), ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (Allah be pleased with him) used to ask young men to attend the sessions he used to hold for the elderly; he even used to consult them about all matters, saying: “Even though you are young, this should not prevent you from offering your opinions, for knowledge is not confined to the elderly, yet Allah, Most High, grants it to whom He wills.” So, it is reported that many youths used to attend his sessions. ‘Abd Allah Ibn ‘Abbas is a case in point; he used to attend ‘Umar’s session and give his opinion on different matters that ‘Umar said about him, “he has a truthful tongue and a judicious heart.”

This was not restricted only to young men; rather, young women have also played an important role in making the Islamic civilization at times of war and peace. For example, Asma’ Bint Abi Bakr Al-Siddiq (Allah be pleased with her) played a very outstanding role in the Prophetic Hijra, as she used to provide the Prophet (PBUH) and her father (Allah be pleased with him) with food and drink. Even at times of war, their role was very important. In the battlefields, they used to water soldiers and give them medical aids. For example, Anas Ibn Malik (Allah be pleased with him) is reported to have said, “On the day (of the battle) of Uhad when (some) people retreated and left the Prophet, I saw `Aisha bint Abu Bakr and Um Sulaim, with their robes tucked up so that the bangles around their ankles were visible hurrying with their water skins (in another narration it is said, “carrying the water skins on their backs”). Then they would pour the water in the mouths of the people, and return to fill the water skins again and came back again to pour water in the mouths of the people.”

With that said, I ask Allah to forgive me and you

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All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the Worlds; I bear witness that there is no god but Allah; and I bear witness that our master Prophet Muhammad is His slave and Messenger; may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him, his family, companions and whoever follows their guidance to the Day of Judgment.

Muslim brothers,

In truth, the duties imposed on young people are many including fortifying themselves with knowledge and culture; they should not stop learning, for science continuously advances, so our youth have to cope with the latest developments and activities. They should also take into account the requirements of the labor market and the needs of the country through receiving training courses and acquiring the necessary experience, so that they would be qualified to face challenges. They should understand that Allah did not order his Prophet (PBUH) to increase from any worldly matters but knowledge. He, Most High, addresses His Prophet (PBUH) saying, “O Allah! Increase me in knowledge.”

Third, they should be keen on benefiting from previous experiences and beware of self-conceitedness. So, they should make use of the wisdom and expertise of people of long experience. In fact, relations among successive generations should not be based on exclusion or conflict; rather, thry should be based on integration and mutual advice. So, our youth beware of destruction and corruption in fulfillment of the Divine Order, “And do not go about in the land exultingly, for you cannot cut through the earth nor reach the mountains in height.”

Fourth, they should renew their intention for serving religion and nation. Man is actually rewarded for his sincere intentions and sincerity in doing his duties. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “(The value of) an action depends on the intention behind it. A man will be rewarded only for what he intended.”

Fifth, they should seize any opportunity to exert more efforts to realize their goals, taking into account the fact that the reaching one’s goal needs considerable efforts and that the trust is heavy. That is because the society we live in rapidly changes, thus it has no place but for those who exert their utmost and properly carry out the duties assigned to them. So, if we want to turn our ambitions into reality and reach the status we aspire for ourselves and our country, we should exert our utmost.

Sixth, they should repay the debt to the country that provides them with education and from its provision they eat. We should be qualified with determination, insistence, knowledge and creativity. We should raise the motto of bringing and giving to serve this country and defend his land.

O Allah! Bless our youth; protect them from all evil; guide them to construct this country and to what realizes the interest of people and the country. O Allah! Protect Egypt and all the world’s countries.