Need for Meaningful Activities for Youth

runSixteen-year-old Ahmed has great inspiration and passion for writing stories, drawing cartoons and making landscape. “That’s what I love to do!” he says, while making a sketch of a village life. He expresses his feelings in form of art and story writing. He engages himself in such activities to make his life exciting and meaningful.

Meaningful activities are often done for enjoyment, pleasure and fun. Simultaneously, it is imperative that these leisure time activities must be meaningful and enjoyable. The scholars of Islam have emphasized the importance of lawful recreation to the healthy development of a person’s character. Al-Ghazali writes:

If the child is forbidden to engage in play and forced to spend his time in perpetual study, this will result in his heart dying, his intelligence waning and his manner of living becoming so wretched that he will seek from it any escape he can find.”

“After completing his bookwork, a child should be allowed to play in a nice manner, so that he can relax from the fatigue of his studies. His play should not tire him out. If the child is forbidden to engage in play and forced to spend his time in perpetual study, this will result in his heart dying, his intelligence waning and his manner of living becoming so wretched that he will seek from it any escape he can find.”

Our youth is lagging behind in knowledge, enterprise and productivity. Teenagers are not making fruitful use of their time – due to unproductive habits, they are suffering from such psychological disorders as anxiety, depression, insecurity, fear, anger and aggression. These anti- social behaviours compel a frustrated person either to commit suicide or engage in violent acts.  Furthermore, the increasing immorality and vulgarity of youth is pushing them towards anarchy and darkness.

The question is: how can a frustrated person relieve his stress? What kind of activities will facilitate mental and physical health and improving the quality of life?

Engaging in recreational activities not only helps in staying healthy but also relieves psychological stress and develops a bright and healthy personality.

Effective and Revitalizing Activities:

  • Morning walk and exercise help to relax, give a soothing effect to nerves and reduce stress. These are the best activities which refresh one’s senses and make one feel light again.
  • Good reading habits include reading newspapers, magazines and books. Reading an interesting book motivates a teenager to develop reading habit and enhances their learning and vocabulary.
  • Through writing articles, stories and diary entries, one can convey his emotions and sentiments.
  • Both indoor and outdoor games and sports, such as swimming, skating, cricket, football, hockey, volleyball, squash, tennis and badminton, help to maintain physical health as well as emotional and psychological stability of an individual.                      In the Sunnah, we see the companions of Prophet Muhammad (sa) participating in many different forms of activities. They engaged in such sports as running races, horse racing, wrestling and archery. They spent time in telling jokes and enjoyed lighthearted conversations. This helps to build up an active, positive personality and improve interpersonal relations.
  • Many teenagers are engaged in arts and crafts activities. Hobbies, such as drawing, sketching, painting, knitting, making artificial jewelry and other items from clay, are excellent for utilizing time effectively. Arts and crafts activities also enhance the self-confidence of a young person.
  • Teenagers in emotional distress should take an adult education class or a course at any institution. Participation in education classes motivates and inspires them to be optimistic and to adopt a positive way of thinking. These types of social gatherings give them opportunities to relieve stress and build new relationships.
  • Young people can engage in long and short term training for honing their skills. They will not only learn but also gain motivation for utilizing their skills.
  • Gardening has many benefits – it can ease stress for people, who have been diagnosed with depression and persistent low mood. Being surrounded by fresh flowers and plants helps in achieving peace of mind.

There is a dire need for young people to stop engaging in unproductive habits, which waste their time. Engaging in recreational activities not only helps in staying healthy but also relieves psychological stress and develops a bright and healthy personality.

Mini-Garden in the City

Vol 1-Issue 2  Mini-GardenMany city dwellers would be familiar with this sentiment due to lack of experience in gardening, shortage of space for starting a garden, or simply because of not enough time or money for making such a major effort. Well, there is good news for you out there! Micro-gardening is the answer to your dreams.

What is micro-gardening? Maggie Heeger, a micro-gardening enthusiast from Alabama, defines it as “growing your own plants-food or flowers-in containers rather than in a plot of ground”. It is as simple as that! You can make your micro-garden as big or small as you wish with no major investments and no exhausting time commitments., offers three easy steps for getting started:

1- Making or finding the right containers

Containers should be able to hold enough (1) growing mixture and (2) water for the plants and should have (3) good drainage. You can use barrels, baskets, concrete urns, crocks and glazed ceramic pots, plastic pots, sacks, tires, tubs, wheel barrows, wire baskets, wooden boxes (caution-susceptible to rot). The size of the container must meet the requirements of the veggies you intend to plant.

Generally, containers for vegetables need to be between 15 and 120 qt. capacity (15 qt. = 866 cubic inches or a 12″x 12″x 6″ high container; 120 qt. = 6930 cubic inches or a 24″x 24″x 12″ high or 20″x 20″x 18″ high container).

2- Preparing Growing Mixture

The happiness, health, and successful growth of your veggies will greatly depend on planting them into a good growing mixture. “Soils for containers need to have three key elements. They must be well drained, have good aeration (pore spaces for air), and retain enough water to maintain good growth”.

The easiest way to go is to buy ready-made container mixes. A wide variety of selections are available in the market; however, the ones to look out for are those referred to as ‘soilless’ mixes or synthetic soils, as they are “best suited for vegetable container gardening”. Note, however, that the soilless mixes require you to make some extra effort on watering and fertilizing your veggies.

If you wish to have a mixture that does have a part of soil in it, then “mix together one part good garden soil, one part peat moss, and one part perlite or coarse builders sand” (Soil Mixes). This 1:1:1 combination is more forgiving regarding watering and fertilizing.

Now, it is time to get down to planting. As you fill your containers with the growing mixture, make sure to leave about one inch from the top for the needs of water. Also, just before planting your veggies, wet the growing mixture thoroughly.

3- Choosing Vegetables

 It might be surprising to find out that just about any vegetable is suitable for growing in a container. The ideal ones are those with a quick maturing period. Some suitable ones are tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, leaf lettuce, green onions, green beans, radishes, parsley, and cucumbers.

Before selecting the place for bigger size fixed containers, you should note that most vegetables would need quite a long stretch of sunlight-at least 6 hours per day. If you intend to plant tomatoes or cucumbers, you should count on up to 8 hours of required sunlight. In this case, a good idea would be smaller and more mobile containers, which you would be able to move along with the sun during the day. On the other hand, root crops, such as beets and carrots, are easier to please-they will do well with only 4 to 5 hours of sunlight. Cabbage, lettuce, and other leafy vegetables are the most modest in their requirements-they can tolerate the most shade.

Container Tips

  • Avoid containers with narrow openings.
  • Adequate drainage holes should be ½ inch.
  • Cover the drainage holes with chards (broken pot pieces), screen material, or 2 to 4 layers of newspaper to keep the plant material from seeping out but still allow adequate drainage.
  • Set containers on bricks or blocks to allow free drainage.
  • Light-colored containers lessen heat absorption in hot climates and discourage uneven root growth.
  • Keep baskets away from the afternoon sun.
  • Metal or thin plastic containers may allow the sun to heat up the plant mixture. If you use these consider putting or setting something around the pot to block direct sunlight”


Planting together companion vegetables can significantly increase your harvest

Vegetables Companions Enemies
1. Beans Celery, cucumbers Onions, fennel
2. Beets Bush beans, lettuce, onions, kohlrabi, cabbage Pole beans, mustard
3. Cabbage Celery, dill, onions, potatoes Strawberries, tomatoes, pole beans
4. Carrots Leaf lettuce, radish, onions, tomatoes Dill
5. Corn Pumpkins, peas, beans, cucumbers, potatoes Tomatoes
6. Cucumbers Corn, peas, radishes, beans, sunflowers Aromatic herbs, potatoes
7. Lettuce Onions, strawberries, carrots, radishes, cucumbers
8. Onions Lettuce, beets, strawberries, tomatoes Peas, beans
9. Peas Carrots, cucumbers, corn, turnips, radishes, beans, potatoes, aromatic herbs Onions, garlic, leek, shallots
10. Radishes Beets, carrots, spinach, parsnips, cucumbers, beans Cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kohlrabi, turnips
11.Squash Icicle radishes, cucumbers, corn
12.Tomatoes Carrots, onions, parsley Cabbage, cauliflower