There were 1.2 billion youth aged 15-24 years globally in 2015 accounting for one out of every six people worldwide, (UN Population Division Report, 2015). The report further states that youth can be a positive force for development when provided with the knowledge and opportunities they need to thrive. On April 6, 2017, the Nation.com.pk reported that Pakistan’s youth cohort makes up over 60 percent of the population. This provides the country an opportunity to leverage their strategic position in order to enhance economic growth.
Tareq Al-Suwaidan, a Kuwaiti writer, historian, and Muslim scholar in his video lecture on the future of Islam, and Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi, an Indian born Muslim scholar, in his speech delivered in 1967 to the students and teachers of Punjub University argue that the future of every nation depends on its youths. Imam Amin in particular, adds that successful nations give importance to the education and training of its youths. It therefore, appears to be universally agreed upon fact that the future belongs to the well prepared youths. That is why parents globally, endeavor to take their children to good schools, colleges, and tertiary institutions in order to secure their bright future.
Today, one might pose very provocative but genuine questions—do the contemporary youths know their worth? Are they prepared to carry the mantle in the near future? Are their behaviors reflecting a responsible generation that will push forward the vicegerence role that Allah entrusted to the son of Adam? You and I can answer those questions using a sample of youths observed on a daily basis. Some are materialistic; individualistic; entertainment driven; pursue easy tasks; careless about their health; morally challenged; and academically deficient. But, you also have a considerable number who are mindful of their value, make use of their time, eager to acquire new skills and knowledge, take up challenging tasks, and are spiritually resolute.
In Uganda, this concern rhymes with a general theme currently being led by a mass communication department lecturer at the Islamic University in Uganda, Swaib K Nsereko under the banner: “Moral Reform Movement-MRM” that seeks to redress effects of moral decadency in society by rallying families, religious bodies, the academia, the political class and media toward this cause.
Therefore, families and education institutions have a heavy responsibility to prepare this young generation that is looked at as savior of nations’ future. Mustafa Mash-hoor, an Egyptian great Islamic scholar and reformist says; “be good and then benefit others”. Another common proverb states; “the one who lacks something can never give it to others”. The youths of today, need several attributes that Imam Hassan Al-Banna and Imam Amin Ahsan allude to, for an individual desired to build the bright future. These attributes include; strong and healthy body; strong moral fabric; high intellectual thought; sound belief in Allah; pure worship; keenness about time; ability to earn a living; readiness to overcome all defects; organized in all affairs; and usefulness to others.
Socialization agents like homes, colleges, universities, media, etc. must enhance the moral uprightness and academic excellence of the young. Avail opportunities to students to practice leadership and execute tasks with minimum supervision. At the university level, youths can begin to fix community challenges as volunteers through societies and clubs. They can sensitize parents on the value of education, can visit high schools to inspire the youngsters, and should raise community awareness on the dangers of environmental degradation, disease, and provide medical solutions through primary health care programmes. Once universities provide community based education, the youths will obviously be part of the solution to societal challenges.
Islamic history has adequate role models. Prophet Ibrahim (A.S) is remembered as a young man, who struggled to put idol worshipping to an end. A full chapter (Al-Kahf, 18) in Qur’an is named before a cluster of resolute youngsters who stood firm before a tyrant to defend their faith. Abdallah Ibn Abbas (R.A) is a model to male students, whereas Sayyidat Aisha Bint Abubakr (R.A) can suffice for the females. The two were custodians of knowledge and wisdom at their teenage age. And the best models to emulate are the dead ones because; they have no room to change their character.