The Ashab-e-Kahf For Today’s Youth

Ashab e Kahf

Transcribed for hiba by Asma Imran

I would like to highlight some lessons from the story of the Ashab-e-Kahf (People of the Cave) which I feel are significantly missing in Muslim discourse especially those related to our youth.

Withdrawal from Mainstream Culture

The first thing I want to talk about is the cultural onslaught. The People of the Cave drew themselves away from the dominant culture when they observed that it was overwhelmingly evil. Actually, a verdict was passed against them according to which they were to be executed as a result of their faith; so they pulled themselves out.

One of the most important lessons to draw from this is that until our lives are in danger, we have to engage with the society. As Muslims, we cannot have the attitude that we are not going to mingle in the society because everything outside is a Fitnah from which we have to protect and shelter ourselves, and the only way we are going to preserve our faith is by totally shutting ourselves out from the outside world. This means that we’ve already accepted defeat. It says that everybody else is attacking us, and we’ve got to save ourselves by pulling back and staying strong within our fort.

However, the entire idea of Islam and the imagery that Allah (swt) presents of Islam is that of truth being hurled against falsehood. Allah (swt) gives the image of truth being like a weapon and falsehood being the victim and running away. Thus, the truth is attacking falsehood, and falsehood is on the run. So who’s on the offense and who’s on the defence? Who’s actually questioning the wrong happening in our society and engaging with it and saying: “We are here to change things?” That’s the truth. And who’s actually supposed to go into hiding? That’s supposed to be falsehood.

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Harnessing Your Element

harnessing your element

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” is a question asked of children from a very early age. As they grow and mature, their choices and, more importantly, the motivation for choosing a future profession change. When I put this question to young kids aged three to seven, I was taken aback by their courage. I had in front of me an astronaut, a policeman, a van driver, two pilots, an aircraft engineer, a gardener, a mechanical engineer, and a chef. Interestingly, the smallest children (under age of three) chose to be ‘baba’ and ‘mummy’ – undeniably smart choices, which define the right priorities in life! However, when I posed the same question to A’ level girls at a prestigious local school, the list, unsurprisingly, consisted mainly of doctors, lawyers, and engineers, with a social worker and a writer the only dissidents. Do they all truly want to be doctors and lawyers? Where have the astronauts and the chefs disappeared?

It seems that today our youngsters tend to pursue the road to success, as defined by parents, teachers, and society at large, instead of following their own dreams. More often than not, they themselves believe that financial stability is the most crucial building block of their future, leaving their passions and personal aspirations ‘for a later time’, if they consider giving them a chance at all. It is hard to blame them, as they have to make space for themselves in an increasingly materialistic world which emphasizes the rat-race above personal fulfilment. Often, they choose ‘successful’ professions for the status, prestige and, of course, the money involved, even if that means dragging themselves to work every morning. Can we help our youth to have more fulfilling work lives? Sir Ken Robinson says that we can.

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Face it or Fake it

face it or fake it

People don’t fret too much about the amount of fabric covering their bodies. But they do worry sick about the make-up that conceals their face.

The billion dollar industry of cosmetics and dermatology products rests on the self-consciousness of women in particular but men are fast catching up as well. What are the common tag lines?

  • “Enhance your beauty.” (If I am beautiful, why do I need to enhance it?)
  • “Look naturally beautiful.” (So you mean to say I am ugly otherwise?)
  • “Feel confident.” (My confidence is wired to your shampoo and lipstick? Heaven help me!)

But the problem is that the standards of the world keep changing. Light is in, dark is out. Ultra-thin is in, normal thin is out. Wavy is in, straight is out. Phew! It’s impossible to catch up, let alone enjoy the moment.

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Muslim Youth: Active, Aware, and Able

Muslim youth

Youth: a word that carries a thousand different connotations. It is a word that reminds us of strength, change, and potential.

Everyone is well-aware of the value of youth and its significance in a society. They are in that period of life when they believe almost anything is possible. The youth hold the power to change the world because they will be the leaders tomorrow.

The youth are full of dreams and desires, and they possess enough physical strength and will power to actively struggle through the process of achieving great things.

Benjamin Disraeli once said: “Almost everything great has been done by the youth.”

The youth of today are presented with much better life opportunities than their parents. We live in a world that preaches the message of meritocracy. You can get anywhere you want, anywhere you aspire to, if you try hard enough. This, in itself, is inspiration enough.

In Islam, great value is placed upon our youth. The Prophet (sa) is reported to have 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 five things: how he lived his life, how he utilized his youth, with what means he earned his wealth, how he spent his wealth, and what he did with his knowledge.” (Tirmidhi)

One cannot even hope to bring about a change in the world and most importantly, in the thinking of others, without any knowledge of how the world works. Education plays a vital role in understanding the ways of the world. Only when we identify the problems can we go about addressing them.

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