“Allah is He who created you of weakness, then He appointed after weakness strength, then after strength He appointed weakness and grey hair” [Qur’an 30/54]. “The above verse clearly highlights the age of strength, namely, the youth. Mankind is at its peak, intellectually and physically, during the age of youth. These energies have to be harnessed otherwise we will be left with a ‘lost generation”; in the youth of today lies our destiny. Depending on what values we instill in our children today, the future of our community and society will either be a dismal failure or a resounding success. We need to encourage our children to pursue their studies & be world class in their efforts and regain the Golden Age of Islam and the Muslims. Nuclear families of today are having an impact on the lost values of the community. In extended families, the parents & grandparents transmit moral, ethical values, respect and good manners to the children. In contrast, today’s youth are trained by the 24 hour babysitter, namely the Television and they learn their manners & language from the TV.”
The formative youth years are critical to the development of the youth into confident adults. As with other aspects of youth development, the development of a youths religion is also particularly sensitive during the teenage and early twenties ages. This age bracket presents both risks and opportunities for development and strengthening their Islamic character.
For the youth growing up in New Zealand there are unique challenges in terms of holding strong to Islam’s values. The New Zealand values of honesty and kindness are a pleasure to pick up while traits such as secularism and lack of faith are serious threats to growing Muslim identities. A typical week may be made up of attending school and after school activities such as sports and extra lessons. Free time may be passed with friends often whom are non-Muslims or in front of a screen. Only a fraction of the time is spent towards strengthening the belief in Allah (SWT) and learning the practises of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). With this in mind the community tries to catch up with the changing needs of this age group who are experiencing great technological change during their lifetimes. Traditional youth activities may no longer hold the same appeal as they did for previous generations. Despite this, at the core of many community based activities the primary goal is to bring young Muslims together.
By engaging with one another in a clean environment, away from the distractions of daily life, they can ‘get connected’ with others and gain a sense of pride towards Islam. Being a Muslim is not something that one is particularly proud of this day in age but it is something that needs to be fostered. By gathering and teaching a new generation of Kiwi Muslims about the great depth of wealth in their religion, the giants of history to look up to and the unbreakable faith that connects us with Allah (SWT) inshaAllah (God willing) the youth in New Zealand will grow to be valuable, contributing members to society and humanity as a whole. “Truly, they were young men who believed in their Lord (Allâh), and We increased them in guidance.” [Qur’an 18/13].
Sheik Rafat Najam & Sameer Youssef, Al Hikmah Trust, Auckland