Interview with Ustadh Kashif Naseem Dilkusha

azan-logoKashif Naseem Dilkusha is the founding member, lead instructor and project head of Azan. His passion for teaching is evident in his energetic approach and engaging style. He also heads an NGO, Mushkeeza, and is a valuable member of his family business setup. At present, Usdath Kashif is involved in various Dawah projects and activities held in Karachi, some of which include- LiveDeen and the delivery of Friday Khutbahs and lectures at numerous Masajid and other religious social gatherings. His articles have been published on MuslimMatters.org

1.      What is it about Islam that attracts a young man or woman today?

Islam is not only about faith; it is a complete and comprehensive way of life leading to a balanced way of living. Islam is a comprehensive system for all life affairs and human behaviour.

Youth is the prime time of your life; it is very precious to Allah (swt). Islam specifically addresses the youth, urging them to make the best use of this valuable period of their life.

Allah (swt) promises extra reward for the youth, if they are sincerely devoted to Islam. For example, the Prophet (sa) said that on the Day of Judgement, there will be seven types of people to whom Allah (swt) will give shade. As we all know, on the Day of Judgement, there will be no shade except for Allah’s (swt) shade. From amongst the seven groups who will have shade on that Day? One group is of those who spent their youth in the worship of Allah (swt). (Bukhari)

Islam puts a lot of significance on the grooming of our youth.

A few features that attract the youth of today to Islam are:

  1. The hope Islam gives.
  2. The fact that Islam is a permissive Faith. It allows us to have fun within some parameters.
  3. The fact that that there is no hierarchy. The care and concern for and the promotion of human rights, the importance of delivering justice to all. The upholding of the rights of the oppressed.
  4. This point is especially for the young Muslimahs of today. Women in Islam have a very special place, status and dignity that was unknown to humanity before the advent of Islam.

2.      Do you consider Muslim youth confused about their identity and future?

Yes, I think the Muslim youth is confused. The reason behind this confusion is the absence of Islamic material in our educational curriculum and false depiction of Islamic teachings. In addition to that, there are no specific activities from Dawah organizations to cater to the youth and bring them back to Islam. We need to encourage the youth to see Islam in a positive light and not as a burden, as it is often portrayed. Currently, no or very few organizations address the diverse and complex needs of the Muslim youth.

We need to encourage the youth to see Islam in a positive light and not as a burden, as it is often portrayed.

3.      Which qualities of our youth make you hopeful that, if they mend their ways and get connected to the Creator, our Ummah will improve?

Youth is the most energetic stage of life, worthy to make the best use of and a time to strive towards excellence. Youngsters are full of energy and passion. Their road is paved with hope, persistence and enlightened thinking. Indeed, it is a period of productivity. Muslim youth must be aware of the importance and value of their lives. To achieve the best outcome, they should be directed towards the right path. The age of adolescence is a very sensitive period that requires caring, reinforcement of good guidance to Allah’s (swt) way and good ethics.

We should teach our youngsters about Islamic history, which has a myriad of examples of great Muslim youth who were luminaries of humanity. Young people gathered around Prophet Muhammad (sa) to carry his call of Islam forward. To name a few, Zaid bin Thabet (rta), who collected the whole text of the Holy Quran, and Musab bin Umair (rta), who was the first ambassador in Islam. He was asked by Prophet Muhammad (sa) to go to Madinah to teach the Quran; through him and his teachings the people of Madinah converted to Islam. This young prince of Makkah sacrificed every luxury of the world when he embraced Islam, only for Allah (swt) and His Messenger Muhammad (sa).

The biography of Muhammad Bin Qasim should be part of our curriculum. We should teach to our youth, how he conquered Sindh and governed it in such a manner that even the non-Muslims wanted him to stay with them instead of moving on.

We should teach our youngsters about Islamic history, which has a myriad of examples of great Muslim youth who were luminaries of humanity.

They should be taught about Aisha (rta), a young woman, who was an extremely accomplished young woman and who fulfilled all her responsibilities as a wife as well. Teach them about the bravery of Asma (rta) and the firm faith of Sumayyah (rta) who gave her life for the truth.

If our youth connects to the Deen and make the Prophets (sa) their companions and the rightly guided people as their true role models, the affairs of our Ummah will definitely change positively.

4.      What is the best way for elders to treat the young? There seems to be much mistrust between them and the elders often don’t treat the youth with respect.

Elders must be open with them, listen to them and learn to do some of ‘their stuff’. They should accept that times have changed, and thus, the youth should be nurtured and groomed according to the standards of this time, not the past times that the elders experienced. One of the most effective mental exercises that a parent, teacher or youth mentor can undertake in order to enhance their empathy and compassion towards youngsters is to allow themselves to see things from the perspective of the youth.

5.      As a family, what is the positive role that parents must play in the lives of the youth?

Be a role model for them. Be proactive. Don’t just sit back and leave everything to the school and Maulvi sahib to teach them. Always remember: children listen with their eyes and not with their ears. So watch your life. Be the change you wish to see! Parents should keep a critical eye on their own behaviour and personal conduct.

6.      What advice would you give to the young and spirited?

Always be in the company of pious people who remind you of Allah (swt) and the Day of Judgement. If you have good company, you will be prosperous in your life.

In Surah Al Furqan, Allah (swt) says, “And (remember) the Day when the Zalim (wrong-doer, oppressor, polytheist, etc.) will bite at his hands, he will say: “Oh! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger (Muhammad (sa)). Ah! Woe to me! Would that I had never taken so-and-so as a friend! He indeed led me astray from the Reminder (this Qur’an) after it had come to me. And Shaytan (Satan) is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need.” ” (Al-Furqan 25: 27-29)

Be proactive. Don’t just sit back and leave everything to the school and Maulvi sahib to teach them.

The Prophet (sa) reminds us of the importance of good company in the following Hadeeth: “A good friend and a bad friend are like a perfume-seller and a blacksmith: The perfume-seller might give you some perfume as a gift, or you might buy some from him, or at least you might smell its fragrance. As for the blacksmith, he might singe your clothes, and at the very least, you will breathe in the fumes of the furnace.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

I believe that companionship is the most important thing after Iman. If they have good companionship, all the other good things will automatically be part of their personality.

Youngsters, nowadays, have all the fundamental elements of success and excellence. Schools, colleges, universities, cultural and scientific centers strive to offer the best education. They have the potential to play an important role in the advancement of Islam. The period of adolescence is a very important period in a Muslim’s life. If spent the right way, a person’s youth will not only benefit him, but others as well. They must realize their value and importance for the fate of the Ummah lies in their hands.

May Allah (swt) guide and protect us all on the Day of Judgement. Ameen.