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The Problems of Today's Young
Jan 1, 1997

When the problems of the young are talked about, some turn away with indifference, supposing that many useless things already discussed many times before will be repeated. In their view, what should be done with the young is to seal up their mouths, to shut them up, and to fetter their heads and minds, and compel them to obey social rules. Whenever they show signs of rebellion, they should be severely punished, either by imprisonment or exile or beating or, when necessary, by hanging on the gallows. There are some others, on the other hand, who are tired of dealing with this vital issue in the face of the continuing indiscretions of the young and their bad behaviour.

Danilevsky’s view that the transference of civilizations from one country to another is impossible has received a general welcome from sociologists. Bediuzzaman Said Nursi expressed another excellent view that since Islam is the last religion which encompasses all the truths contained by the previous Divinely revealed religions, one who gives up Islam is like the butter spoilt, while one who gives up either of the other religions is like the milk spoilt, as those religions were already corrupted. As is known, the butter spoilt cannot be eaten, where as the milk spoilt can be. The youth of Muslim countries are victims of both the useless efforts to import Western civilization into their countries and the rejection of Islam on a large scale, while the youth of the West suffer from the corruption and denunciation of Christianity and from suffocating materialism.

Some of our intellectuals have preferred to weep in the face of the pitiful condition of the young. Pained to witness the collapse of a once glorious state, some sighed; 

I have become like the owl which laments over ruins,

When I have seen this once paradise-like land in it’s autumn.

If I lived in the time of roses I’d become the nightingale to celebrate it;

O Lord! I wish you had sent me to the world earlier!

However, lamenting without doing anything practical will be of no use. In order to solve the problems of the young, what must be done first is to diagnose those problems well. What is the origin of those problems? Are the young responsible for them? Why are those problems so grave today, graver than in any other period of history? Did the young come to the world as they are, or were they not, rather, brought up and educated in our homes and schools? Are the problems which we see as originating from the young really their problems or are we ourselves responsible for them?

Man comes to the world like a raw metal to be wrought, without knowing anything about life. When an animal comes to the world, it comes equipped with all it will need during its life. Some of them learn and are adapted to the conditions of life in a few minutes or hours. A sparrow or a bee acquires in so short a time as twenty days all the faculties it needs to be fully active and mature; a human by contrast needs about twenty years. This means that the main life tasks of an animal and a human are quite different. Man’s basic duty in life is to find the true way in thinking and believing and, by using his outer and inner faculties like the five external senses and the intellect, the heart and feelings, to attain physical, intellectual, spiritual and moral perfection. Unless this can be done, it is inevitable that we must face many problems in life. We should not forget that all problems originate in man and end in him.

In order to diagnose the problems of the young, we must discover the character of man and know it very well. As long as man remains unknown, the problems concerning him will remain unsolved. To know man requires being able to answer the vital questions every individual asks himself: ‘Who am I? Where do I come from? Who has sent me to this world and why? What is the purpose for my life? What does death ask of me? What is my final destination in life? Unless man can find convincing answers to such questions, answers which will make him at peace man can neither find true happiness nor will it be possible to solve his problems.

The first school where man receives the necessary education in order to be perfected and find the answers to the questions above is the home. Both for the raising of a healthy generation and the continuation of a healthy social system or structure, the home is of vital importance. However important a good school is for the education of man, the responsibility of home cannot be restricted to the period before school, rather, it continues throughout a whole life. A man receives the first impressions in his family. Those impressions cannot be easily deleted in later phases of life, rather, they are of a kind to show their effect throughout life. Further, the control of the family over the child exerted in the garden, among other children and toys, is to be continued at school among friends, among books and in the places he visits. The function of the parents in bringing up their children is like the duty of a shepherd to his flock: as a shepherd may be regarded as having done his duty so long as he finds good pastures for his flock, prevents them from grazing in fields belonging to others and protects them against dangers, so also the parents must keep their children within lawful courses, shape them in good manners and virtues prepare them for the future phases of their lives and educate them to be useful members of the society: and enable them to seek eternal happiness in the eternal world.

For a man to receive a good education at home, a healthy family life should be established and preserved. For this reason, marriage should not be seen as something to enter into for mere pleasure. One should marry to form a healthy family life and thereby contribute to the permanence of one’s nation in particular and the human population in general, and to restrain one’s carnal desires. Since the first condition of peace, happiness and security at home is mutual accord between the spouses, the accord in thinking, morals and belief, the couples who have decided to marry should know each other very well and consider, rather than wealth and physical charm, the purity of feelings, chastity, morality, and being virtuous. The condition of the children who grow up in a house where the parents repel each other like the particles charged with the same sort of electricity, is truly heart-rending. Discord between the parents causes the children to grow up unable to get on well with others.

There are many families founded on sound logic and reasoning in reliance upon God. They function like a good school during a whole life and secure the future of their nation by means of the ‘students’ they educate. For this reason, the nations which have succeeded in making homes into schools and schools into homes have guaranteed the peace and happiness of future generations. A building deserves to be called a ‘home’ only if its inhabitants have the necessary human values. 

Man comes to the world like a raw metal to be wrought, without knowing anything about life. When an animal comes to the world, it comes equipped with all it will need during its life. Some of them learn and are adapted to the conditions of life in a few minutes or hours. A sparrow or a bee acquires in so short a time as twenty days all the faculties it needs to be fully active and mature; a human by contrast needs about twenty years. This means that the main life tasks of an animal and a human are quite different. Man's basic duty in life is to find the true way in thinking and believing and, by using his outer and inner faculties like the five external senses and the intellect, the heart and feelings, to attain physical, intellectual, spiritual and moral perfection.In the family, the elders should behave toward those younger than them with compassion and the younger ones should show respect for their elders. Especially the parents should love and respect each other and treat their children with compassion and due consideration of their feelings. Without compassion, which envelops the universe warmly and resonates in man as a melody of creation, it is impossible to raise the children to true humanity. The parents should also treat their children justly and should not discriminate between them. They should not bring up their children jealous of one another. They should never shake their children’s trust and confidence in them.

The parents should not neglect to give their children good, meaningful names, say greetings to them when they come in and go out of the house, assign to their children certain things like particular rooms, beds and so on, follow their games and work with sincerity, frequently ask about their health and problems, share their joys and sorrows, and sometimes embrace and kiss them. Although they should make their children feel that they are aware of the wrong they do and sometimes punish them lightly, the children should also feel that the breeze of forgiveness and tolerance blows in their home.


After home, the school is so vital a part of the making of human beings that it may be considered as a laboratory in which an elixir is offered which can prevent or heal the ills of life, and teachers are the masters by whose skills and wisdom the elixir is prepared and administered.

The school is a place of learning where everything related to this life and the next can be learnt. It can shed light on vital ideas and events and enable its students to understand their natural and human environment. It can also quickly open the way to unveiling the meaning of things and events, which leads man to wholeness of thought and contemplation. In essence the school is a kind of place of worship whose ‘holy men’ are teachers.

Good schools worthy of the name are pavilions of angels, which develop feelings of virtue in their pupils and lead them to achieve nobility of mind and spirit. As to the others, however soundly built they may appear they are in fact ruins - they instil false ideas into their pupils turning out monsters. Such schools are nests of snakes, and we should be consumed with shame that they are called places of learning.

As it is in the school that life, flowing outside in so many different directions, acquires a stable character and identity so too it is in the school that a child is cast in his or her true mould and attains to the mysteries of personality. Just as a wide, full river gains force as it flows in a narrow channel, so too, the flowing of life in undirected ways is channelled into unity by means of the school. In like manner, a fruit is a manifestation of unity growing out of the fruit-tree’s diversity.

School is thought to be relevant only in a particular phase of life. However, it is much more than that. It is essentially the ‘theatre’ in which all the scattered things of the universe are displayed together. It provides its pupils with the possibilities of continuous reading and speaks even when it is silent. Because of that, although it seems to occupy one phase of life, actually the school dominates all times and events. Every pupil re-enacts during the rest of life what he or she has learnt at school and derives continuous influence therefrom. What is learned or acquired at school may either be imagination and aspirations, or specific skills and realities. But what is of importance here is that everything acquired must, in some mysterious way be the key to closed doors, and a guidance to the ways to virtue.

Information rightly acquired at school and fully internalized by the self, is a means by which the individual rises beyond the clouds of this gross world of matter and reaches to the borders of eternity. Information not fully internalized by the self is no more than a burden loaded upon the pupil’s back. It is a burden of responsibility on its owner, and a devil which confuses the mind. That kind of information which has been memorized but not fully digested does not provide light to the mind and elevation to the spirit, but remains simply a nuisance to the self.

The best sort of knowledge to be acquired in the school must be such that it enables pupils to connect happenings in the outer world to their inner experience. The teacher must be a guide who can give insight into what is experienced. No doubt the best guide (and one that continually repeats its lessons) is life itself. Nevertheless, those who do not know how to take a lesson directly from life need some intermediaries. These intermediaries are the teachers- it is they who provide the link between life and the self, and interpret the manifestations of life’s happenings.

The mass media can communicate information to human beings, but they can never teach real life. Teachers are irreplaceable in this respect. It is the teachers alone who find a way to the heart of the pupil and leave indelible imprints upon his or her mind. Teachers who reflect deeply upon, and impart the truths will be able to provide good examples for their pupils and teach them the aims of the sciences. They will test the information they are going to pass on to their pupils through the refinement of their own minds, not by such Western methods as are today thought to provide facile answers to everything.

The students of the Prophet Jesus, upon him be peace, learnt from him how to risk their lives for the sake of their cause and were able to endure being thrown into the mouths of lions: they knew that their master had persisted with his teachings even in the face of death threats. Those who put their hopes on, and gave their hearts to, the Prophet Muhammad, the greatest exemplar of humanity, upon him be peace and blessings, realized that suffering for the sake of truth resulted in peace and salvation. His students observed their master wish peace and felicity for his enemies even when he had been severely injured by them.

A good lesson is what is taught at the school by the real teacher. This lesson not only provides the pupil with something, but it also elevates him or her into the presence of the unknown. The pupil thus acquires a penetrating vision into the reality of things and sees each event as a sign of the unseen worlds.

At such a school one is tired of neither learning nor teaching, because the pupils, through the increasing zeal of their teacher, sometimes rise to the stars. Sometimes their consciousness overflows the boundaries of ordinary life, brimming with wonder at what they have thought or felt or experienced.

The real teacher seizes the landmarks of events and happenings and tries to identify the truth in everything, expounding it by using every possibility.

Rousseau’s teacher was conscience; Kant’s was conscience together with reason... In the school of the Mawlana and Yunus, the teacher was the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings. The Qur’an is the recitation, its words are Divine lessons - they are not ordinary words but mysterious ones surpassing all others, and they manifest the highest unity in multiplicity.

The good school is the holy place where the light of the Qur’an will be focused, and the teacher is the magic master of this mysterious laboratory. The only true master is one who will save us from centuries-old pains, and, by the strength of his wisdom, remove the darkness covering our horizon.