Author(s): Muhammad Ali Chenarani
Translator(s): Mahdi Azadi
Publisher(s): ABWA Publishing and Printing Center
Category: Education Youth Prophet Muhammad Ethics Miscellaneous information: The Prophet’s Attitude towards Children and Youth
Author: Muhammad ‘Ali Chenarani
Translator: Mahdi Azadi
Project supervisor: Translation Unit, Cultural Affairs Department / The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) World Assembly (ABWA)
Editor: Hazel Haneef
Publisher: ABWA Publishing and Printing Center
First Printing: 2012
Printed by: E. Press
© Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) World Assembly (ABWA)
All rights reserved
Featured Category: Introducing Islam
A text on Prophet Muhammad’s (S) attitude towards children and youth. The book is divided into two distinct parts, dealing with the Prophet’s attitude towards children and towards youth separately. The subject is presented using sayings from the Infallibles, historical accounts and the occasional findings from scientific research.
In the Name of Allah, the All-Beneficent, the All-Merciful
The invaluable legacy of the Household [Ahl al-Bayt] of the Prophet (may peace be upon them all), as preserved by their followers, is a comprehensive school of thought that embraces all branches of Islamic knowledge. This school has produced many brilliant scholars who have drawn inspiration from this rich and pure resource. It has given many scholars to the Muslim ummah who, following in the footsteps of Imams of the Prophet’s Household (‘a), have done their best to clear up the doubts raised by various creeds and currents within and without Muslim society and to answer their questions. Throughout the past centuries, they have given
well-reasoned answers and clarifications concerning these questions and doubts.
To meet the responsibilities assigned to it, the Ahl al-Bayt World Assembly (ABWA) has embarked on a defense of the sanctity of the Islamic message and its verities, often obscured by the partisans of various sects and creeds as well as by currents hostile to Islam. The Assembly follows in the footsteps of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) and the disciples of their school of thought in its readiness to confront these challenges and tries to be on the frontline in consonance with the demands of every age.
The arguments contained in the works of the scholars belonging to the School of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) are of unique significance. That is because they are based on genuine scholarship and appeal to reason, and avoid prejudice and bias. These arguments address scholars and thinkers in a manner that appeals to healthy minds and wholesome human nature.
To assist the seekers of truth, the Ahl al-Bayt World Assembly has endeavored to present a new phase of these arguments contained in the studies and translations of the works of contemporary Shi‘ah writers and those who have embraced this sublime school of thought through divine blessing.
The Assembly is also engaged in edition and publication of the valuable works of leading Shi‘ah scholars of earlier ages to assist the seekers of the truth in discovering the truths which the School of the Prophet’s Household (‘a) has offered to the entire world.
The Ahl al-Bayt World Assembly looks forward to benefit
from the opinions of the readers and their suggestions and constructive criticism in this area.
We also invite scholars, translators and other institutions to assist us in propagating the genuine Islamic teachings as preached by the Prophet Muhammad (s).
We beseech God, the Most High, to accept our humble efforts and to enable us to enhance them under the auspices of Imam al-Mahdi, His vicegerent on the earth (may Allah expedite his advent).
We express our gratitude to Mr. Muhammad ‘Ali Chenarani, the author of the present book, and Mr. Mahdi Azadi, its translator. We also thank our colleagues who have participated in producing this work, especially the staff of the Translation Office.
Cultural Affairs Department
The Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) World Assembly
In today’s world, the instruction and upbringing of children are among the most basic social issues and important elements for the happiness of humanity. Therefore, scientists have carried out deep psychological and educational studies and research and have written an infinite number of books on this subject.
In addition, countries have formed extensive organizations for the proper physical and psychological upbringing of children and have put children under theoretical and practical monitoring in every respect.
14 centuries ago, however, when people were engulfed in an age of darkness and ignorance, the great leader of Islam paid full attention to the value and importance of children’s upbringing and provided the necessary teachings to his followers.
If scientists today pay attention to the instruction of children after birth, Islam has provided step-by-step specifications for marriage, conditions of
spouses, having pure children, breastfeeding, and the physical and psychological upbringing of children.
If scientists today include precise psychological and instructional points in their books about children, the leaders of Islam noted the same in their sayings and demonstrated the same in their practices long ago.
Our purpose in writing this book is two-fold:
One: It is hoped that all the Muslims, especially educated young people, who constitute a large part of the society, will become aware of the comprehensive programs and orders of Islam and the practical value of this religion while relying on their solid faith and beliefs in order not to be deceived by the programs of others.
Two: It is also hoped that parents will become aware of their religious and national duty in the upbringing of their children. In order to help parents carry out this great responsibility, for doubtless a great part of the social problems and moral pollutions experienced today are due to ignorance and unawareness about how to perform one’s duties, we decided to provide a practical model for those who want to bring up physically and psychologically healthy children. The best model for Muslims is the great leader of Islam, Prophet Muhammad and his rightful heirs, who can be our reliable models throughout life, as they did not commit any mistakes. It is hoped that humanity will become aware of the true models to follow and will surrender the false satanic models in order to achieve happiness in this world and the next.
This book consists
of two parts:
1. The Prophet’s attitude towards children, consisting of five chapters, each having its own subject heading.
2. The Prophet’s attitude towards youth, consisting of four chapters, each chapter having several subtitles.
Finally, I would like to express thanks, especially to Hujjat al-Islam wal-Muslimin Ilahi Khorasani, managing director of the Foundation, and my beloved children Majid, Muhsin, Ihsan and Sa‘id, who helped me organize the notes for the book, and to Messrs Ja‘far Shari‘atmadari the editor, Ridha Arghiyani the compiler, Ridha Wahdati the proofreader and Muhammad ‘Ali ‘Alaqemand, the typesetter, all of whom played a significant role in the preparation of this book. I wish all of them increasing success.
Kindness towards children was one of the Prophet’s special characteristics.
The Noble Prophet (s) said:
“Respect your children and treat them with good manners.”
From the time a child is born until he separates from the family to establish a shared life with others, he passes through two phases in his upbringing.
1. Childhood, from birth until the age of seven, is the time when the child is not well prepared for direct instruction as he does not know his world.
2. From the age of seven to the age of fourteen is the time when the intellect grows gradually, in preparation for intellectual activities. In this stage the child can learn and be instructed.
In the first period, instruction has to be indirect without commands and psychological pressure. Rather, the child becomes familiar with good manners and is instructed by the people surrounding him. In
fact, the moral foundation of his character is laid and good memories and proper treatment become etched in his mind.
In the second phase, the child should not be left free to behave and do as he pleases and his faults should not be ignored. Rather, his ill manner should be discouraged and he should be taught order and discipline, while emphasizing the proper use of time and he should be encouraged to perform religious worship and do good things.(1)
Unfortunately, most people do not know when to begin to train their children. Some parents believe that instruction should begin after the age of six and some say that instruction should begin at the age of three.
Nevertheless, such beliefs are incorrect because when a child has completed the third year of his life, 75% of good and bad characteristics have already become formed in him.
A number of psychologists believe that the training of a child begins from the moment of birth. However, some others are cautious and say that the training of a child begins on the first day of the second month after his birth. In depth practical research at the University of Chicago has reached the conclusion that:
“Any healthy child gains 50% of his intelligence by the age of four, 30% by the age of 8 and 20% by the age of 17. Then, any 4-year old child has 50% intelligence and the changes between the ages of 2 and 3 are far more important than the changes between the
ages of 8 and 9.”(1)
For training to be effective, one has to begin much sooner than is generally thought nowadays, i.e. from the very first weeks after birth. First, one has to consider the physiological issues and from the first year, the psychological issues.
One point to consider is that the value of time is not the same for a child as for an adult. One day at the age of 1 is much longer than the same period of time at the age of 30 and it perhaps includes six times the physiological and psychological occurrences. Therefore, one should not leave such a fruitful period of childhood unused, for in the first six years of life, the outcome of the performance of the rules of life is more definitive.(2)
It is because of this that Imam ‘Ali said, “He who does not learn in childhood, cannot progress in adulthood.”(3)
Therefore, childhood is the best time for learning the right way of living because the child is very apt to imitate, adopt and learn. At this time, the child records in himself all the movement, speech and behavior of the people surrounding him, with the utmost care, as if recorded on film.
Therefore, the child’s psyche needs to be guided to the right path simultaneously with his physical growth and development because it becomes very difficult at the adult stage to change the character of one who was not properly instructed in childhood.
The happiest people are those who have been reared in a correct
and healthy manner from the very beginning and who have adopted good characteristics.
According to some psychologists, a child is like a sapling that the gardener can easily change according to his own plans. Yet, correcting those who are like old trees and have grown accustomed to bad ways, is very difficult indeed. One who intends to change the attitudes of such individuals must endure many hardships(1).
God says in the Qur’an,
“You have had a good example in God’s Messenger.”(2)
The Prophet of Islam has been the greatest example for humanity throughout history because, in addition to teaching and guiding the people with his words, he instructed them with his personal behavior.
The Prophet’s personality is not an example for a specific period, generation, nation, religion or place. Rather, he is a lasting global symbol for all peoples of all times.
With reference to reliable evidence and documents, the Prophet’s attitude towards and behavior with respect to children and youth shall now be considered.
In today’s world, children are considered to be very important. Full attention is given by societies and governments to their upbringing and respecting their personality in the family and the society. In spite of this, people today do not pay as much attention to children’s instruction as the Leader of the Muslims did.
Although sometimes statesmen in industrialized countries visit orphanages and kindergartens, sometimes hugging children for photo ops and media publicity, demonstrating their love and respect for children, to date no individual can be compared with the Prophet of Islam. With
the utmost simplicity and kindness, he passed through the alleys and streets, expressing his love and kindness towards children and hugging them. The Prophet had a special love of children, whether they were his own children or those of others. It has been written about him: “Kindness towards children was one of the special practices of the Prophet.”(1)
This same practice was continued by Shi‘ite religious leaders and Imams. They respected children’s personalities. Some examples have been provided below.
Imam ‘Ali asked his children intellectual questions in the presence of others and in some cases, he would let his children answer the questions of others.
Once Imam ‘Ali asked his children, Imam Hasan and Imam Husain some questions. The latter responded wisely and briefly. Then Imam ‘Ali turned to someone known as Harith A‘war, who was present in the gathering and said: “Teach these wise words to your children to improve their reasoning and thinking abilities.”(2)
Thus Imam ‘Ali expressed his respect for his children in the best possible way and contributed to the creation of the greatest personality and independence in them.
One of the most basic factors in the development of a child’s personality is sociability and proper treatment. Prophet Muhammad clearly advised his followers concerning this. He told them: “Respect your children and treat them with good manners and in an acceptable way.”(3)
Therefore, those who want to have children with a strong personality must guide them with good training and avoid treating them improperly as an improper practice cannot lead to the
upbringing of worthy children who have a strong personality.
Fulfillment of promises towards children contributes to the development of their self-confidence and affects their personality. The true leaders of Islam have given much advice about the fulfillment of promises to children. Some examples are as follows:
Imam ‘Ali said: “It is not appropriate to tell lies, whether seriously or jokingly. It is not appropriate to make a promise to one’s children and fail to fulfill it.”(1)
Imam ‘Ali also said: “The Prophet said, ‘If any of you makes a promise to his child, he must fulfill it.”(2)
Numerous sayings have been recounted in Shi‘ite sources from the Shi‘ite Imams about the necessity of parents, fulfilling their promises.
One of the ways to strengthen a child’s personality, especially in the case of boys, is to familiarize them with the difficulties of life so as to prepare them for the future; children must understand in practice that one has to work hard to obtain anything. If a child is not familiar with the problems and difficulties of life, when he does face difficulties, he will become easily frustrated. This has been discussed in the sayings of religious leaders as well.
Imam Musa ibn Ja‘far has said, “It is better for a child to become familiarized with the unavoidable difficulties of life, which are the toll of life, during childhood so that he can be patient during youth and adulthood.(3)
It must be remembered that familiarizing the child with the difficulties of life should not bother the child, i.e. the
jobs given to him to do should not be beyond his capabilities. Therefore, the child’s abilities must be taken into consideration as well.
The Prophet reminded us of four points in this respect:
1. What the child has been able to do should be accepted.
2. The child should not be asked to perform difficult tasks beyond his abilities.
3. The child should not be persuaded to commit sins or be rebellious.
4. The child should not be told lies and silly things should not be done in front of him.(1)
It has been narrated elsewhere that, “One day, when the Messenger of God was seven years old, he asked his nanny (Halimah Sa‘diyah): ‘Where are my brothers?’ (The Prophet lived in Halimah’s house and he called her sons as brothers.) She answered: “Dear child, they have gone to graze the sheep with which God has blessed us.’ The child responded: ‘O Mum, you did not treat me justly.’ ‘Why?’ she asked. ‘Is it right that I should stay in the shade of the tent and drink milk while my brothers are in the hot desert sun?’”(2)
The Prophet himself practiced all that he advised his followers concerning the upbringing of children and respecting their personality. One of the things he often did was to give a high value to actions performed by children.
‘Amr ibn Harith has been quoted as saying: “The Prophet passed by ‘Abdullah ibn Ja‘far ibn Abu Ṭalib, while the latter was a little child. The Prophet thus prayed for him, ‘O God, bless
him in his dealings and commerce.’”(1)
In order to show respect to his own children, the Prophet would either lengthen his prostration during prayer or would end the prayer quickly (depending on the circumstances). In all occasions he respected children and he would teach the people in practical terms how to train the personalities of their children.
One day, Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn arrived while the Prophet was sitting. The Prophet rose to show respect to them and waited for them. As they were little children and weak, this took some time. The Prophet went towards them to welcome them. He opened his arms, took them both, put them on his shoulders and walked, while saying, “What a good ride you are having and what good riders you are!”(2)
The Prophet would also stand in the presence of his daughter, Fatimah Zahra.(3)
One day Imam Mujtaba called his children and his nephews and said to them, “You are the children of the society. It is hoped that in the future you will be great members of the society and that you will strive to acquire knowledge. Any of you, who cannot memorize scholarly material, should write it down, keep the written material at home and refer to it whenever necessary.(4)
As you see, Imam Mujtaba thought of the future of children and familiarized parents with this reality. It was reported that:
“A man from among the Helpers died. He had a small amount of capital which he had lost towards the end of his life
in worship and in seeking God’s pleasure. On the same day he died, his children were forced to ask the people for help. This story was told to the Prophet. He asked, ‘What did you do with his body?’ They replied: ‘We buried it.’ ‘If I knew this earlier,’ said the Prophet, ‘I would not have allowed you bury him in the Muslim cemetery, because he lost his wealth and properties and left his children to beg among the people.’”(1)
If children practice praying and other acts of worship, these activities will have a bright effect on their internal characters. Although a child may not understand the meaning of the words and sentences in the prayer for example, he will no doubt begin to understand the need to focus attention on God and this will enable him to have a close relationship with God, experience peace of mind in times of hardship and obtain His infinite mercy and support. God says:
“Who have believed and whose hearts have rest in the remembrance of Allah. Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.”(2)
In order to bring up pious, God-fearing children, there needs to be harmony between their bodies and their souls. To this end, Islam has obligated parents to draw the attention of their children to God and to teach them to worship Him and the knowledge of religious precepts. Islam has ordered parents to make their children pray.
Mu‘awiah ibn Wahab asked Imam Sadiq, “At what age should we make
children pray?” “Between the ages of six to seven years, make them pray.” Imam said.(1)
The Prophet is quoted as saying, “Make your children pray at the age of seven.”(2)
In another narration about parental duties with respect to children’s faith, Imam Baqir is quoted as saying, “At the age of three, teach the child the words of monotheism, i.e. La ilaha ill-Allah. At the age of four, teach the child to say Muhammad rasul Allah (Muhammad is God’s Prophet). At the age of five, make him face the kiblah and order him to prostrate before God. At the age of six, make him bow before God and teach him the right method of prostration. At the age of seven, tell the child to wash his hands and face (ablution) and pray.”(3)
Parents and instructors should be aware that religion is of the greatest help to them because faith is like a burning torch that lights up the way and awakens the conscience. It can easily show the right path wherever there is deviation.
Properly instructing children can enable them to have independence of will and self-confidence and respecting them gives them a strong personality and the awareness of their true value and when they grow up, they are less likely to experience humiliation. According to Islamic sayings, “The child and his heart are like a land with no seeds or plants. Whatever seed one casts therein, it will take root.(4)
For example, the character of Imam ‘Ali blossomed as a result of being instructed
by the Prophet. Although Imam ‘Ali was not a normal child physically or psychologically, and he had special merits in himself, yet one should not ignore the special care that the Prophet took of him.
An effect of proper instruction of a child is that he will be brave. This can well be seen in the case of Imam Husayn.
Ibn Shahab says, “On a Friday, the second Muslim caliph was at the pulpit in the mosque. Imam Husayn, who was only a little child, entered the mosque and said, ‘O ‘Umar, come down from my grandfather’s pulpit!’ ‘Umar cried: ‘You have spoken the truth. This belongs to your grandfather. Wait nephew!’ Imam Husayn grasped ‘Umar’s clothes and tugged at them, saying, ‘Come down from my grandfather’s pulpit.’ ‘Umar was forced to stop his speech. He descended the pulpit and began praying. After the prayer, ‘Umar sent someone to fetch Imam Husayn. When he arrived, ‘Umar asked him, ‘Nephew, who told you to do this to me?’ ‘No one.’ replied Imam Husayn. Imam Husayn repeated this three times even though he had not yet come of age.”(1)
It has been quoted about Imam Jawad, that after Imam Ridha passed away, Ma‘mun, the Caliph at the time, came to Baghdad. One day, he went hunting. On his way, he reached a place where some children were playing. Imam Jawad, Imam Ridha’s son, who was 11 years old at that time, was among the children. When Ma‘mun and his company arrived there, all the children
ran away except Imam Jawad. When the Caliph approached, he looked at him and was strongly attracted to his appearance. He stopped and asked, “Why didn’t you run away along with the other children?”
Imam Jawad responded immediately, “O Caliph of the Muslims, the way was not so narrow that I should widen it for the Caliph to pass by running off. I haven’t done anything wrong that I should try to run away. I am optimistic about the Caliph and think that he will not harm the innocent. This was the reason why I did not leave.” Ma‘mun was surprised by his logical reply and his attractive appearance and asked, “What is your name?” “Muhammad,” he answered. “Whose son are you?” Ma‘mun asked. He replied, “‘Ali ibn Musa ar-Ridha.”(1)
“Love children and be kind to them.”
As a child needs food and water, he also needs to be caressed and to be treated with love and affection which is the best food for a child’s psyche. Children love to be kissed and hugged. The one, who from early childhood receives an adequate amount of love from his parents, is likely to have a pleasant disposition.
In many of the narrations of our religious leaders, affection for children is expressed and advised in various forms, some of which are as follows:
In the Sermon of Sha‘baniyyah, while outlining various duties, the Prophet advised: “Respect your elderly and be kind towards children.(2)
The Prophet is quoted elsewhere as saying, “He who does not have affection for
children and does not respect the elderly is not one of us.”(1)
According to a narration, the Prophet also said, “Love the children and be kind to them.”(2)
Just before his martyrdom, ‘Ali thus advised, “In your family, be kind to children and respect the elderly.”(3)
In another account, he said to his followers, “The child must follow the elderly in his behavior and the elderly must be kind to children. Be careful not to behave like the oppressors of the Age of Ignorance.(4)
Imam Sadiq said, “A man who has much affection for his child will receive special mercy and attention from God.”(5)
‘Ali said, “When I was a little child, the Prophet would sit me on his lap, hug me and sometimes let me sleep in his bed. He would kindly put his face on mine and let me smell his fragrant body.”(6)
Yes, a child needs to be caressed. He should be stroked gently and lovingly on the head and looked at with affection. Looking at a child warmly and kindly will make him happy.(7)
The Prophet was so kind to children that it was said that on the occasion of his trip to Ta’if, the Prophet did not react to the children who threw stones at him. Rather, it was ‘Ali who chased them away.(8)
When the Prophet saw the children of the Helpers, he would stroke their heads, give them salams and pray for them.(9)
Anas ibn Malik said: I saw no one kinder to his family than the Prophet.(10)
Every day, he would caress
One day, the Prophet and his companions were passing by a place where children were playing. The Prophet sat next to one of them, kissed him on the forehead and treated him kindly. Someone asked the Prophet about the reason for his behavior and he said, “One day, I saw this child play with my child Husayn. He took earth from under Husayn’s feet and rubbed it on his face. Therefore, since he is a friend of Husayn’s, I like him too. Gabriel told me that this child would be one of the companions of Husayn in Karbala.”(3)
Imam Sadiq said, “Musa ibn ‘Imran asked in his prayer, ‘O God, what deeds are the best ones to Thee?’ It was revealed to him, ‘Friendship with children is the best of all deeds to me, as children are god-fearing in essence and love me. When a child dies, I will mercifully make him enter Paradise.’”(4)
However, one should not show excessive affection for children as this will be harmful. There are many Islamic narrations which forbid such excess.
The prophet had much affection for his children, Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn. Some examples of this fact as verified in various documents are listed below:
Sunni books quote ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar as saying, “The Prophet said, ‘Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn are my sweet-smelling flowers in the world.”(5)
Anas ibn Malik is quoted as saying, “The Prophet was asked, ‘Which member
of your family do you like the most?’ The Prophet said, ‘I like Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn more than the others.’”(1)
In another account, Sa‘id ibn Rashid says, “Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn ran towards the Prophet. He embraced them and said, ‘These two are my sweet-smelling flowers in the world.’”(2)
Imam Hasan said, “The Prophet told me, ‘O my child, you are like part of my body, good for those who love you and your children and woe to the one who kills you.”(3)
The Prophet’s affection for Husayn was so much that he could not bear his crying.
Yazid ibn Abu Ziyad said, “The Prophet left ‘Aishah’s house and passed by Fatimah’s house. He heard Husayn crying and said to Fatimah, ‘Do you not know that Husayn’s crying hurts me?’”(4)
The Muslims would bring their children to the Prophet and ask him to pray for them.
Jamarah, ‘Abdullah’s daughter, quotes a girl as saying, “My father took me to the Prophet and asked him to pray for me. The Prophet sat me on his lap, put his hand on my head and prayed for me.”(5)
Umm al-Fadhl, ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Mutallib’s wife, who was Imam Husayn’s nanny, says, “One day, when Husayn was still a nursing baby, the Prophet took him from me and hugged him. The baby wet the Prophet’s clothes. I took the baby back hastily and he began crying. The Prophet told me, ‘Do not rush! My clothes can be cleaned with water, but what can remove the memory of pain
from the heart of my child Husayn?’”(1)
It has been narrated that, when a child was taken to the Prophet either for prayers or to be named, the Prophet would open his arms to take the child and put the child on his lap. Sometimes the child would wet the Prophet’s clothes and those present would scold the child and would treat him harshly in order to stop him from urinating. The Prophet would stop them and say, “Do not stop a child from urinating by being harsh.” Then he would allow the child finish.
When the praying and naming ceremony was finished, the child’s relatives would happily take their child and the Prophet would not be the least bit upset with the child for wetting him. After the relatives left, the Prophet would wash his clothes.(2)
One of the practices of the Prophet towards children was giving gifts to them.
‘Aishah reported, “Najashi, the king of Abyssinia, sent a golden ring to the Prophet, which had been made in Abyssinia. The Prophet called Umamah, the daughter of Abu al-‘AS (the Prophet’s stepdaughter) and said, ‘My dear little daughter, adorn yourself with this gift.’”(3)
There is a story quoted from ‘Aishah: “A gold necklace was brought to the Prophet as a present. All the wives of the Prophet were present and Umamah the daughter of Abu al-‘As, who was a child, was playing in the house. The Prophet showed the necklace and asked, ‘What do you think of this?’ All of us looked at it
and said, ‘We have never seen anything more beautiful than this!’ The Prophet said, ‘Give it to me.’ It seemed as if everywhere around me became dark. I was deathly afraid that he might put it around someone else’s neck and everyone else thought the same. All of us were silent until Umamah came to the Prophet and the Prophet put it around her neck and left.”(1)
It was reported that an Arab man came to the Prophet and said, “O Prophet, I have hunted a fawn, which I present to you for your children, Hasan and Husayn.” The Prophet accepted the present and prayed for the hunter. Then he gave the fawn to Imam Hasan. He took it and showed it to his mother, Fatimah. Imam Hasan was very happy with this gift and he would play with the fawn.(2)
Bashir, son of ‘Aqriyah ibn Jahni, says, “On the day of the Battle of Uhud, I asked the Prophet, ‘How was my father martyred?’ The Prophet said, ‘He was martyred in God’s way, may God’s mercy be upon him.’ I cried. The Prophet hugged me, stroked my head and put me on his steed and said, ‘Do you not like me to be like your father?’(3)
In the month of Jumadi al-Awwal of the 7th year after the Hijra, the battle of Mawtah occurred, in which three of the commanders of Islam namely, Zayd ibn Harithah, Ja‘far ibn Abu Ṭalib and ‘Abdullah ibn Rawahah were killed. The army returned to Madinah.(4) The
Prophet and the Muslims went to welcome them, chanting hymns. The Prophet was riding on an animal. He said, “Take the children for a ride. Give Ja‘far’s child to me.” They brought ‘Ubayd Allah, son of Ja‘far ibn Abu Ṭalib. The Prophet took him and put him to ride in front of himself.(1)
Ibn Hisham wrote: “Asma’, the daughter of ‘Umays, the wife of ‘Abdullah ibn Ja‘far said, ‘The day when Ja‘far was martyred in the battle of Mu’tah, the Prophet came to our house. I had just finished the housework and grooming the children. The Prophet told me, ‘Bring me Ja‘far’s children.’ I took the children to him. He embraced them and began caressing them while shedding tears.
I asked, ‘O Prophet, why do you cry? Has there been any news of Ja‘far and his companions?’ The Prophet said, ‘Yes, they were martyred today.’”(2)
Other children were also not deprived of this kind and fatherly attitude by the Prophet. It has been told that the Prophet would embrace the children and would carry some of them on his shoulders and back. (He told his companions, “Embrace the children and put them on your shoulders.”) The children loved such displays of kindness and would be endlessly happy and would never forget such sweet memories. After a while, they would get together to recount the event for each other. Some would proudly say, “The Prophet took me on his back.” And another would say, “The Prophet ordered his companion to take you on his
Shaddad ibn Had said, “The Prophet had one of his two children, either Hasan or Husayn, with him during prayer. He stood in front of the rows and had his child stand on his right side. He lengthened his prostration.”
The narrator quoted from his father, “I raised my head and saw the Prophet with the child sitting on his back. I returned to my prostration. When the prayer was finished, the people said to the Prophet, ‘The prostration was so long in today’s prayer. Has there been an order to you about this or has there been a revelation to you?’ The Prophet said, ‘None of these. Rather, my son was sitting on my back and I did not want to bother him. I let him do what he wanted.’”(2)
There is a narration by Abu Bakr, “I saw Hasan and Husayn while the Prophet was saying his prayer. They jumped on his back. The Prophet held them when he was standing up so as to let them smoothly stand on the ground. He would put them on his lap and caress their heads and say, ‘These two boys are my two sweet-smelling flowers in this world.’” According to another saying, the Prophet said, “A child is a sweet-smelling flower and my sweet-smelling flowers are Hasan and Husayn.”(3)
In another narration, it is said that, “One day, the Prophet was saying prayers with a group of Muslims. When the Prophet prostrated, Husayn, who was a little child, mounted on the Prophet’s back
and move his legs as if urging his steed forward.
“When the Prophet wanted to sit up from prostration, he took him and put him at his side. This continued to the end of the prayer.”
A Jew witnessed this event. After the prayer, he said to the Prophet, “You treat children in a way we have never done before.”
The Prophet said, “If you believed in God and his messenger, you would be kind to your children.” The Prophet’s kindness strongly impressed the Jew and he converted to Islam.(1)
“A child is a sweet smelling flower.”
The Noble Prophet
When a parent kisses his child, such behavior strengthens the affection between the parent and the child and it is the best way to quench a child’s thirst for love. A kiss shows that parents are kind to their children. It feeds the seedling of love in the child’s soul while it makes him aware of his parents’ love for him and it stimulates the creation of a new force within the child.
The Prophet also kissed children. Interestingly, his love for children was publicly displayed. This has two advantages:
Firstly, a child’s personality is radically reinforced by being respected in public.
Secondly, the Prophet thus taught the people how to strengthen and encourage their children.
Islam often emphasizes kissing children.
The Prophet said, “One who kisses his child does a pious deed and one who makes his child happy will be made happy by God on the day of Resurrection.(2)
‘Aishah said, “A man came to the Prophet and said, ‘Do
you kiss children? I have never done so!’ The Prophet responded: ‘What can I do when God has taken his mercy from your heart?’”(1)
It has also been reported that a man came to the Prophet and said, “I have never kissed a child!” Later the Prophet said, “I think this man is one who will end up in the fire of hell.”(2)
There is another saying that, “The Prophet kissed Hasan and Husayn. Aqra‘ bin Habis said, ‘I have ten children, none of whom I have kissed.’ The Prophet turned to him and said: ‘What can I do when God has taken his mercy from you?!’(3)”
‘Ali said, “Kiss your children because there is a rank and position for you in every kiss you give.”(4)
Imam Sadiq said, “Kiss your children often because every time you kiss them, God gives you a rank.”(5)
Ibn ‘Abbas reported: “I was with the Prophet. Ibrahim, his son, was on his left knee and Imam Husayn was on his right. The Prophet sometimes kissed Ibrahim and sometimes Husayn.”(6)
One thing that parents have to consider about their children is establishing justice among them. Children should taste the flavor of and feel justice from the very beginning, become familiar with it and consider it as a necessity for the society and for their lives, while avoiding any injustice and oppression. Therefore, the smallest matter should be treated with importance and administered with justice.
‘Ali said, “The Prophet saw a man with two children, one of whom he kissed and the other
he did not. The Prophet said, ‘Why do you not treat them with justice?’”(1)
Abu Sa‘id Khidri said, “One day, the Prophet went to his daughter’s house.
‘Ali was sleeping in bed and the children Hasan and Husayn were beside him. The children asked for water. The Prophet fetched them water. Husayn came forward first. The Prophet said, ‘Hasan asked for water first.’ Fatimah asked, ‘Do you like Hasan more?’ The Prophet answered, ‘Both are equal to me [but justice demands that each one takes his turn to drink water].’”(2)
Anas said, “A man was sitting with the Prophet. The man’s son entered the room. The father kissed him and sat him on his lap. Then the man’s daughter came and [without kissing her], he sat her next to himself. The Prophet said, ‘Why did you not treat them with justice?’”(3)
‘Ali said, “Do justice to your children as you yourself wish to be treated with justice.”(4)
The Prophet loved his daughter Fatimah and still kissed her even when she had a husband and children.
Aban ibn Taghlab said, “The Prophet often kissed his daughter Fatimah.”(5)
Imam Baqir and Imam Sadiq have said, “The Prophet kissed Fatimah at night, when she was asleep and put his face on her chest and prayer for her.(6)
‘Aishah said, “The Prophet once kissed Fatimah on the neck. I told him, ‘O Prophet, you treat Fatimah in a way that you do not treat others.’ The Prophet said, ‘O ‘Aishah, whenever I take interest in the Paradise, I kiss her on the
One may ask, at what age should one stop kissing children. To answer this, we have referred to the words of the religious leaders.
Islam pays special attention to the ages of 6 to 10 in the upbringing of children and gives special instructions to its followers while taking into consideration the divine laws and the physical and spiritual conditions of children. Therefore, with practical applications, it has controlled the sexual urges of children so as to prevent the development of immoral practices in them.
Islam keeps children 6 years of age or older away from any sexual provocation and instructs parents to provide a favorable environment in order to control their children’s sexual tendencies.
The Prophet said, “A 6-year-old girl should not be kissed by a 6-year-old boy and women should avoid kissing boys 6 to 7 years of age.”(2)
In addition to kissing his daughter, the Prophet loved her children Imams Hasan and Husayn and kissed them.
Abu Hurayrah said, “The Prophet was kissing Hasan and Husayn when one of the Helpers said, ‘I have ten children none of whom I have ever kissed.’ The Prophet responded, ‘One who shows no mercy will be shown no mercy.’”(3)
Salman Farsi (Salman the Persian) said, “I came to the Prophet and saw that he had put Husayn on his lap and was kissing him on the forehead and lips.”(4)
Ibn Abu ad-Dunya’ said, “Zayd ibn Arqam saw in ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziad’s court that the latter was hitting the lips of Imam Husayn’s severed head with his
“Zayd ibn Arqam said to ‘Ubayd Allah, ‘Take away your cane. I swear by Allah that I saw the Prophet kiss these two lips many times.’ He said this and he began to cry. ‘Ubayd Allah ibn Ziyad replied, ‘May God make you cry. If you were not a senile old man, I would order you to be beheaded!’”(1)
Zamakhshari said, “The Prophet embraced Hasan and kissed him. Then he put him on his knee and said, ‘My meekness, patience and dignity I have given to him.’ Then he embraced Husayn, kissed him, put him on his left knee and said, “I have given him my bravery, generosity and magnanimity.’”(2)
“Anyone with whom there is a child shall treat him as a child.”
The Noble Prophet
One thing that affects a child’s personality is adult participation in children’s games. A child tends to imitate adult behavior firstly because of his physical weakness and secondly because of the force and power he sees in adults and the love that he naturally has for growth and development.
When parents descend to the level of children and take part in their games, children will indeed be happy, excited and feel inside that what they do is very important.
Therefore, it is very important to play with children as part of their upbringing. This is considered by psychologists to be a parental duty.
T.H. Morris wrote in Lessons for Parents, “Be friends with your children and play with them. Tell them stories and have friendly chats with them. Parents should especially
know that they have to come to the same level as that of children and speak to them in the language they understand”(1)
Another psychologist stated, “It is necessary for the father to take part in his children’s entertainment and games. This mutual understanding seems necessary. Indeed, there are different times, places and chapters in life. A father who takes part in his children’s games indeed does not spend much time for this, but he is aware of the great importance for the child of the fact that the father descends to a child’s level to take part in children’s games, however little the time may be that the father spends for this.”(2)
One of the instincts that God has endowed children with is the interest in playing. Children run, jump, are sometimes entertained by toys and take pleasure in moving them around. Although such movements may appear useless in the beginning, they are necessary for the development of their tender bodies and souls and improve their abilities of thought and innovation. This is perhaps one of the reasons why Islamic narrations advise playing with children.
Playing with children is a practice that is important in the development of independence of will and the stimulation of creativity and innovation. When a child makes a structure with his toys, his thought mechanism functions like that of a construction engineer and he takes pleasure in his successes. When he faces a problem in his task, he thinks of a solution. As a result, all his
actions strongly affect his personality.
The Prophet said, “One who has a child with him has to treat him like a child.”(1)
The Prophet also said, “God’s mercy be upon the father who helps his child for good purposes, treats him well, is his friend and educates him well.”(2)
‘Ali said: “Let your child be free, until the age of 7, to play.”(3)
Imam Sadiq said, “The child plays in the first seven years of his life, spends his time learning in the second seven years and learns about religious permissions and prohibitions in the third seven years.”(4)
‘Ali also said, “One who has a child has to behave in a childlike manner in training his child.”(5)
The Prophet played with his children, Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn. There are many narrations in this respect, some examples of which are provided below.
It has been reported that the Prophet caressed his children and his grandchildren on the head lovingly every morning and that he played with Husayn.(6)
Ya‘la ibn Marrah said, “The Prophet had been invited to lunch. We were with him, when all of a sudden we saw Hasan playing in the alley. The Prophet saw him and ran towards him with arms outstretched to catch him. However, the child ran this way and that, escaping from the Prophet and making him laugh. Then the Prophet caught Hasan. He put one hand under his chin and the other on his head. He brought his face close to the child’s and kissed him, saying, ‘Hasan is a part
of me and I am a part of him. God will love those who love him.’”(1)
Many narrations report that this incident was about Imam Husayn [rather than Imam Hasan].(2)
Imam Sadiq said, “One day, Imam Husayn was sitting on the Prophet’s lap and the Prophet was playing with him and laughing. ‘Aishah said, ‘O Prophet, you play so much with this child.’ The Prophet said, ‘O no, how can I fail to love him when he is the fruit of my heart and the apple of my eyes?!’”(3)
Jubair ibn ‘Abdullah said, “The Prophet played with the children of his companions and comrades and let them sit beside him.”(4)
Anas ibn Malik said, “The Prophet had the best manners among the people. I had a little brother who had just been weaned and of whom I took care. His nickname was Abu ‘Umayr. When the Prophet saw him, he would say, ‘See what weaning has done to you!’ and he would begin playing with him.’”(5)
There is a saying that, “The Prophet would call the children of ‘Abbas. They were young and still loved to play. Then he would tell them, ‘He who comes to me the fastest will be rewarded.’ The children would race towards the Prophet. He would embrace and kiss them.(6) Sometimes, he would give them a ride on his back and he would caress them on the head.”(7)
The Prophet would give rides to the children, seating them in front of or behind himself while riding. This had a very positive
psychological effect on the children as they would consider this to be a very valuable and an unforgettable experience.
It is worth noting that the Prophet would sometimes carry children on his back and sometimes on his shoulders. Examples of these are provided in this chapter.
Jabir, a companion of the Prophet, said, “I came to the Prophet while Hasan and Husayn were on his back. The Prophet was walking on hands and feet and saying, ‘You are having a good ride and you are good riders!’”(1)
Ibn Mas‘ud says, “The Prophet was carrying Hasan and Husayn on his back, with Hasan on his right and Husayn on his left side while saying, “You are having a good ride and you are good riders. Your dad is better than you.’”(2)
The Prophet treated the children of his companions just like his own and he would let them ride on his steed. Some examples of this are as follows:
‘Abdullah, the son of Ja‘far ibn Abu Talib, said: “One day, the Prophet let me ride behind him and told me something that I will not tell anyone.”(3)
It has been said that whenever the Prophet returned from a trip and saw children, he would stop and order the others to pick the children up and he would let one of them ride in front of him and another behind him. After a while, the children would say to each other, “The Prophet let me ride in front but you rode behind.” Others would say, “The Prophet ordered
his companions to let you ride behind them.”(1)
Fudayl ibn Yasar said: “I heard Imam Baqir say, ‘The Prophet was going somewhere when he saw Fadhl ibn ‘Abbas. He told his companions, ‘Let this child ride behind me.’ They put the child behind the Prophet and he was very careful with him.”(2)
‘Abdullah, the son of Ja‘far said: “I was with Qutham and ‘Ubayd Allah, the children of ‘Abbas and we were playing. The Prophet passed by and said, ‘Lift this child and let him ride.’ They lifted ‘Abdullah and put him in front of the Prophet. Then the Prophet said, ‘Bring this child too!’ They lifted Qutham and put him behind the Prophet.”(3)
Certain things have been said about the way the Prophet carried children on his shoulders:
1. He put the children on his shoulders in such a way that they faced each other.
2. He put them on his shoulders in such a way that one’s back faced that of the other.
3. He put one on his right shoulder and the other on his left shoulder.
4. He put one on his right shoulder, facing the front and the other on his left shoulder, facing the back.(4)
It has been said of the Prophet:
“He would greet both children and adults.”
One of the great requirements in the education of children is to maintain justice among them. Therefore, parents with more than one child should treat them with justice, fairness and equality and in practice, include all of them so that none feels humiliated. This was
how the Prophet treated his children. In accordance with this, the following has been cited.
‘Ali said, “The Prophet came to our house while Hasan, Husayn and I were sleeping under a blanket. Hasan asked for water. The Prophet rose and fetched a dish of water. At the same time, Husayn woke up and asked for water, but the Prophet did not give him water first.
Fatimah said, “Apparently you love Hasan more than Husayn.” The Prophet said, “Hasan asked for water before Husayn did. You, Hasan and Husayn and this one who is sleeping [i.e. ‘Ali] and I will be in the same place on the Resurrection Day.”(1)
The Prophet also fed his children. This shows how fully he paid attention to his children’s needs.
Salman said, “I entered the Prophet’s house. Hasan and Husayn were eating food with him. The Prophet would put some food in Hasan’s mouth and some in Husayn's mouth. When they had finished eating, the Prophet put Hasan on his shoulder and Husayn on his lap. Then he faced me and said, ‘O Salman, do you like them?’ I said, ‘O Prophet, how can I not like them while I see their position and value to you?’”(2)
One of the good practices of the Prophet was greeting children. Even though they are young, playful and free from responsibilities, they are very clever and well understand the meaning of kindness and love.
This practice of the Prophet contradicts the view of some short-sighted ignorant people, who have no place for children
and consider them to be separate from themselves and of no importance. However, in Islam, it has been advised that they are worthy of the same respect as an adult. Yes, the Prophet respected children and acknowledged their presence in the society. Concerning greeting children, there is an infinite number of narrations.
Anas ibn Malik said, “The Prophet passed by some little children, greeted them and gave them food.”(1)
He says in another narration, “While we were children, the Prophet came to us and greeted us.”(2)
Imam Baqir said, “The Prophet said, ‘There are five things that I will not give up to the moment of my death. One of these is greeting children.’”(3)
There is another saying that, “The Prophet greeted the people, young and old alike.(4) He was the first one to greet others, even children.(5) Whomever he saw, he would greet first and shake his hands.(6)”
In another saying, he [the Prophet] said, “I am very careful about greeting children, so as to make it a tradition among Muslims and to make it a practice for all.”(7)
Did the Prophet punish children physically as part of their training?
A careful study of the Prophet’s practice reveals that he never punished children physically. Punishment of some sort is inevitable. One can hardly find a child who has never been punished or faced strict behavior during his upbringing. What is to be discussed here is whether or not one can punish a child physically.
A study of Islamic traditions and the behavior of the religious leaders reveals
that one should never punish children physically. In today’s world, beating a child or harming him for purposes of behavioral correction is deemed to be scientifically and pedagogically incorrect and almost all countries prevent such beating and physical punishment.
However, some people who are ignorant and uninformed about the practice of the leaders of Islam have been negligent and do not pay attention to the traditions concerning the beating of children.
Imam Kazim explicitly told a man who was complaining about his child, “Do not beat your child, simply refuse to talk to him in order to punish him. However, be careful not to refuse to talk to him for a long period of time and reconcile with him as soon as possible.(1)
The Prophet of Islam never punished his children physically and would strongly oppose anyone who did so. Many examples of this are recorded in Islamic history.
Abu Mas‘ud Ansari said: “I had a slave whom I beat. I heard a voice from behind me, saying, ‘Abu Mas‘ud, Allah has given you power over him [has made him your slave].’ I turned around and saw the Prophet.”
“I said to the Prophet, ‘I freed him for God.’ The Prophet replied, ‘If you had not done this, the flames of the fire of hell would have engulfed you.’”(2)
Imam Sadiq said, “The Prophet saw a man of the Bani Fahad [tribe], who was beating his slave and the slave was crying aloud, ‘O God, help me!’ However, the man was not paying attention. When the
slave saw the Prophet, he said to himself, ‘I will get help from him [the Prophet]. The master desisted from beating him.’
“The Prophet told the master, ‘Fear God, stop beating him! Forgive him for God.’ Yet the man refused to free him. The Prophet said, ‘Give him away for Muhammad, but it is better to free someone for God than for Muhammad.’”
“The man said, ‘I freed the slave for God.’ The Prophet said, ‘I swear by God who chose me as a prophet that if you had refused to free him, the heat of the fire of hell would embrace you.’”(1)
A study of history reveals that the Prophet did not punish even delinquent children and he had a kind attitude towards them. It has been reported that when the army of Islam left for the Battle of Uhud, there were children among them who were eager to take part in the war. The Prophet pitied them and made them return. Among them was a child by the name of Rafi‘ ibn Khadij. The Prophet was told that the child was a good bowman. The Prophet therefore gave him permission to accompany the army.
There was another child who cried out that he was stronger than Rafi‘. The Prophet told them to wrestle. Rafi‘ was defeated. Then the Prophet allowed them both to take part in the war.(2)
Physical punishment should never be considered as a determining factor in the upbringing of children. Particularly, if this practice continues for a long time, it
could harm the child’s personality while it ceases to be effective. In addition, the child could consider it to be normal practice, do nothing to avoid it and not feel inhibited when subjected to it.
Imam ‘Ali said: “Wise people accept advice through good manners and training. It is the beasts who are corrected by flogging”.(1)
Abstaining from the use of physical punishment is so important that there have been orders concerning those under the age of adulthood who violate the law. In such cases they shall not be subject to flogging; rather, they shall receive correction.(2)
Therefore, there is no trace in the history of the Prophet of Islam or the other leaders of the religion of the need to beat children as part of their training. They were always kind friends and loving leaders who were sympathetic to children. This method of conduct should open the way for the followers of Islam in various times and places as the religion of Islam is not for a particular time, place, sect or group. Rather, it is for all times and places and for all humanity.
Youth is one of the valuable gifts of God and a great asset for the happiness of human life.
“I advise you to be good to adolescents and youth.”
The Noble Prophet
In Part 1, the Prophet’s attitude towards children was briefly introduced. In Part II, consideration will be given to the Prophet’s attitude towards the youth. It is hoped that this may be a guideline for Muslims and
the society in general. Manpower is one of the greatest assets of any country and the most important part of this asset is the youth, for it is a force that can overcome the problems of life and progress beyond the difficult and rough pathways.
If the farms are green and the big wheels of heavy industries are functioning properly, if underground deposits are mined from the depths of the earth, if there are grand palaces that ascend to the sky, if cities are developed and the economic bases of countries flourish, if the borders of countries are protected against foreign invasion and there is complete security, all these are due to the effects of the valuable activities of young people. These indefatigable forces are the reason for hope among all nations.
One ends childhood by entering into the phase of youth, the phase of personal responsibilities and social and public duties. Therefore, the world today pays special attention to young people and they have gained a special position in all affairs, including political, social, economic, industrial and moral.
For the last fourteen centuries, the holy religion of Islam, within its comprehensive, revivalist program, has paid special, unique attention to the young generation. Islam makes provision for young people in all material, spiritual, psychological, educational, moral, social, worldly and otherworldly matters while other religions and cultures only consider certain aspects of the world of the young.
As was mentioned, in today’s world young people and their value is noted by all nations and
peoples and everywhere there is talk of the young generation. Therefore, researchers, thinkers and writers have discussed the subject of the young generation from various intellectual perspectives.
The religious leaders have considered youth to be one of the valuable blessings of God and a great asset for happiness in life. Muslims have been reminded of this in various ways.
The Prophet said, “I advise you to do good to young people as they have a tender heart that is keen to learn. God chose me as a prophet to make people aware of the divine mercy and to warn them of his chastisement. Young people accepted my words and pledged allegiance to me but the old refused to do so and rose to oppose me.(1)
‘Ali said, “There are two things whose size and price are unknown except to one who has lost them: One is youth and the other, health.”(2)
When Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Hasan rose up and got the people’s allegiance, he went to Imam Sadiq and asked for his allegiance. The Imam refused and reminded him of certain things, one of which was advice about young people. The Imam said, “You have to keep young people close and keep old people far away from yourself.”(3)
This advice of Imam Sadiq shows the value and importance of young people and calls attention to this great divine blessing. The Prophet told Abu Dhar:
“Appreciate five things before you lose them. One is youth, which you must learn to appreciate before you get old…”(4)
leaders of Islam have given valuable advice about the pure spirit of young people and their interest in moral and humane principles. They have constantly reminded teachers and guides to make good use of this valuable investment through the proper training of the young generation.
A man by the name of Abu Ja‘far Ahwal, who was a friend of Imam Sadiq, spent some time promoting Shi‘ism and transmitting the teachings of the Prophet’s family. One day, he came to Imam Sadiq. The Imam asked him, “How did you find the people of Basrah in accepting the practice of the Prophet’s Household and what was the pace at which they adopted Shi‘ite beliefs?”
He answered, “A small number of them adopted the teachings of the Prophet’s Household.” The Imam told him, “Focus your promotional activities on the young people and concentrate your energies in guiding them as they accept the truth faster and incline towards good things sooner.”(1)
Isma‘il, the son of Fadhl Hashimi, asked Imam Sadiq, “Why did Jacob, delay in forgiving Joseph’s brothers who had thrown Joseph into the well but Joseph himself forgave his brothers immediately and prayed for them?”
Imam Sadiq said, “Because the hearts of the young people accept the truth sooner than those of the old people.”(2)
These two narrations show that young people love virtue and good and naturally incline towards and are keen in the performance of gentlemanly acts, speaking the truth, fulfilling promises, returning items that have been entrusted to them, serving the people, devotion and other
similar virtues and they despise and turn away from undesirable characteristics.
According to religious leaders, youth is a great asset. If there are those who seek happiness and want to make good use of this valuable force, they have to pay full attention to some points:
1. Youth is one of the best, most valuable and fruitful opportunities in one’s life.
2. A basic condition for success is using the strength of youthfulness and putting it in action.
3. The happiness and misery of any person is based in his youth. He can guarantee his happiness by making good use of his abilities and opportunities.(1)
The Prophet said, on the Day of Resurrection, no one can take a step unless he answers the following questions:
First, for what did he live his life?
Second, how did he spend his youth?(2)
These words of the Prophet well indicate how Islam has appreciated and paid attention to the life force of youth. This valuable asset is so important that one will be asked about it on the Day of Resurrection.
The worth of young people with moral virtues is like a flower with a sweet perfume which, in addition to freshness, has natural beauty and a pleasant smell. However, if youth is not accompanied by divine values, it is like a thorn that will never be loved by others.
The Prophet said, “A faithful person has to use his abilities for his own good and has to make use of this world for the afterworld and has to make use of his
youth before becoming old.”(1)
He also said, “Every night, the divine angel tells the 20-year-old young people to be hard-working and serious in order to achieve perfection and happiness.”(2)
Therefore, the period of youth is the period of individual responsibility, awareness, preparedness and hard work. Those who do not make use of this divine gift will be blamed.
“Did not We grant a life long enough for him who reflected to reflect therein?”(3)
Imam Sadiq said, “This verse blames the negligent young people who have reached the age of eighteen and do not make use of their youth.”(4)
“If a faithful young person reads the Qur’an, the Qur’an will be mixed with his flesh and blood and will affect all the members of his body.”
Imam Ja‘far Sadiq
Interest in religion is one of the intrinsic human inclinations that emerge in young people as they mature and like other natural inclinations, it urges them to make certain efforts.
Young people by nature are strongly interested in understanding religious issues. Therefore, they openly accept discourses on religion with love and interest. This opinion is held by many great thinkers and educational psychologists.
John B. Cyzyl said, “According to tests that have been carried out, generally the force of faith in religion begins at the age of twelve.”(5) According to most scientists, at the age of twelve, i.e. the beginning of youth, another interest emerges in young people and this is love of and interest in religion.
This tendency develops along with the other natural interests and inclinations in
young people and increases until it reaches its peak at the age of sixteen.(1) As a result, young people are troubled by the wrongdoings and bad conduct of others and lament the deviations of others while always seeking the development of moral virtues throughout the world and attempting to promote true values.
The teaching of religious precepts and the development of faith and moral virtues among young people have two great effects:
1. The intrinsic religious feelings in youth are thus satisfied.
2. The force of belief and religion controls the other natural and instinctive feelings in young people and prevents them from going to extremes or becoming rebellious. Consequently, they are saved and protected against misfortune and misery.
It is important to note that Islam has developed programs for training and for increasing faith and morals as essential aspects of the most basic elements for the development of young people in harmony with their intrinsic needs.
Therefore, when the desire to learn more about religion is aroused in the youth and they become interested in learning religious precepts, without wasting this opportunity, religious leaders must offer them constructive religious programs and encourage them to learn the Qur’an, religious precepts, ways of serving [God], ways of preventing violations and concentrating on doing good.
Imam Sadiq said, “One who reads the Qur’an, if he is a faithful young person, the Qur’an will become mixed with his flesh and blood and will affect all the members of his body.”(2)
He also said, “Boys play to the age of seven,
learn writing for seven years and learn the religious permissions and prohibitions for seven years.”(1)
Imam Baqir said, “If I see a young Shi‘ite, who is not learning religious precepts and who compromises this responsibility, I will punish him.”(2)
Therefore, young people who want to grow up with valuable moral and human qualities and who want to acquire the brightest spiritual personalities, exercise control over their personal desires in normal and critical conditions and spend their lives in purity and righteousness, must pay attention to religious beliefs from the beginning of youth and, by applying practical programs and following religious orders, consolidate their spiritual commitment with God and always remember Him.
Inattention to the feelings of adolescents and young people contradicts the nature of creation. Refusing the orders and regulations of creation will not remain unpunished because the result of these refusals will be increased perversities and the uncontrollability of the youth throughout the world. Statistics show that crimes committed by youth are increasing in the western world and in countries that are away from religion and religious beliefs. Such tendencies towards violations, theft, breaking laws, inattention to education and the acquisition of knowledge, drug addiction and promiscuity are the outcome of a faithless upbringing and violating the laws of creation because sins and impurity are the result of irreligiousness which makes life undesirable for young people and difficult for all.
Therefore, in modern countries today, the issue of young people is one of the biggest social problems which occupy the minds of scholars.
3rd United Nations Congress for the Prevention of Crimes and Control of Criminals, which was held in Stockholm with the participation of thousands of judges, sociologists and police, ended after one week of meetings. In this Congress, all the countries of the world were asked to rise up against juvenile delinquency and take the necessary steps for the prevention of such crimes of which the world has grown tired.(1)
The National Crime Prevention Committee (Canada), Annual Report, 1991, stated:(2)
“In 1991, 1,200,000 children lived in poverty, 500,000 of whom were less than 7 years old, and who had the highest delinquency rate. The cause of the crimes of these children was parental inattention and watching violent TV programs and movies.
“Children growing up in highly violent families are seven times more likely to commit suicide than those growing up in other families. This group is 24 times more prone than their peers to sexual violation and 76% of delinquent children in the United States are from among such families.
“The cause of murder of 63% of the fathers killed by their children who were between the ages of 11 to 20 was that these children had witnessed domestic violence in the home, i.e. their fathers beating their mothers.”
The 1993 report by the National Advisory Council for the Status of Women in Canada stated:(3)
“Every 17 minutes, one woman in Canada is sexually assaulted and 25% of Canadian women are surely sexually assaulted once in their lifetime while 50% of the men assaulting women are so-called
respectable married men of the Canadian society and 49% of such assaults are done in daylight. 80% of assaulted women are between the ages of 14 and 24.
“In 1993, 26.8% of female students in Canadian universities and colleges were sexually assaulted by male students and 13.6% of these assaults were committed while intoxicated.
One out of three females and one out of six males were sexually violated by the age of 18 and 98% of the criminals were young people.
“80% of children less than 10 years of age, whether male or female, are sexually violated by their fathers and therefore, sexual relations between fathers and daughters are increasing.
“It is worthy of note that 80% of incarcerated juveniles have confessed that they were sexually assaulted by their parents or other men in childhood.”
Young people are by nature, fond of truth, piety and salvation. Therefore, they are very keen to do right and good. They take pleasure in doing so and always think of piety and divine values while trying to base their words and deeds on righteousness and true values.
Young people regret when they see that others are not following the right path and they suffer on seeing people doing wrong. They also think that they should gain the power to prevent such unrighteousness.
When the Prophet publicly invited the people to Islam, the first people who followed him were young people. The important point to note is that these youth were the sons and daughters of the nobles, rich and renowned families
of the Quraysh.
The youth who were tired of the miserable conditions of the backward Arab nation, and the outdated superstitious practices of the Age of Ignorance, warmly welcomed the spiritually liberating invitation of the Prophet of Islam.
The valuable words of the Prophet were effective for all walks of life but the young people expressed more interest than others. The Prophet’s words responded to their internal thoughts and nourished their spirits. When Mus‘ab ibn ‘Umayr, the Prophet’s special representative for teaching the Qur’an and propagating Islamic teachings arrived in Madinah, the number of young people who accepted his teachings was larger than that of the elderly. Mus‘ab resided in As‘ad ibn Zararah’s house. During the day, he would go to where the Khazraj tribes gathered and invite them to Islam and mostly young people accepted his invitation.(1)
As we have already mentioned, the valuable words of the Prophet of Islam made a great impact on the youth, to the extent that they would defend their religion and religious beliefs at all times and in all places and would resist the ideas of the Age of Ignorance.
Sa‘d ibn Malik was one of the passionate young Muslims during the early period of Islam. He converted to Islam at the age of seventeen, expressed his faithfulness to Islam and his opposition to ignorant ideas everywhere. This caused the polytheists to persecute him. In order to be safe from persecution, young people would pray during the day in the mountain passes of Meccan so as not
be seen by the Quraysh infidels.
One day a group of infidels saw some young people engaged in worship. They began deriding them and insulting their beliefs.
This made Sa‘d ibn Malik very angry. He took a camel’s chin bone and struck one of the polytheists on the head so hard that it began to bleed. This was the first bloodshed in defense of Islam.
On another occasion Sa‘d said, “I loved my mother very much and was very kind to her. When she found out about my conversion to Islam, she said to me, ‘O son, what religion is this that you have adopted? You shall give it up and remain an idol-worshipper or else I will stop eating and drinking until I die!’
Sa‘d, who loved her mother very much, told her politely and kindly, “I will not give up my faith and I ask you not to stop eating and drinking.” But his mother did not pay any attention and did not eat for one whole day and night. She thought Sa‘d would give up his faith, rather he told her, “I swear by God, if you have one thousand souls and you lose them one by one, I still will not give up my faith!” When his mother realized that he would not abandon his faith under any circumstances, she began eating again.”(1)
Sa‘d fought against the mode of thinking prevalent during the Age of Ignorance and the other young people joined him and broke the idols, destroyed idol temples, eliminated
oppression and founded a new society based on faith, knowledge, piety and moral values. In this way they brought the most backward nation to the highest degree of spiritual perfection and moral values.
“Wise young people make use of their transient youth, make good their deeds and work hard to acquire knowledge”
In developed countries, full attention is paid to respecting young people and acknowledging their worthwhile employing their tremendous energies. In various instances, sensitive state jobs have been entrusted to them and their youthful energies employed in the interest of country and nation.
Fourteen centuries ago, the leader of Islam paid special attention to this important social issue and, in his established state, he employed worthy young people in important, sensitive state jobs and supported them with his words as well as his actions.(1)
Such conduct was hardly acceptable in the ignorant and prejudiced atmosphere of that time, for the elderly were not willing to follow the youth. When the Prophet appointed a young person to a high position, the old people became upset and openly complained to him. Such was the case in the incident of the first invitation to his family.(2)
The Prophet always insisted on solidifying his practice and resisted ignorant prejudices and false ideas. He would finally convince the people with his wise words and infinite reminders or they would have nothing to say. In addition to this, from the pulpit he would praise and express support for deserving young people and would establish them in high state positions.
should also be noted that the basic condition for selecting young people was their qualifications and merit. This can be well understood by examining the Prophet’s words. Young people chosen by the Prophet to basic state positions were wise, thoughtful, intelligent, faithful, moral, provident and deserving.
Provided are some examples of youth chosen by the Prophet for executive state jobs. In this way there will be no mistake in recognizing the true right of youth for the criterion in the selection of youth was their faith and spiritual values.
One of the young people who served by the side of the Prophet to the end of his life was ‘Ali. He actively participated in all events and was a favorite of the Prophet and from the beginning of Islam was a soldier for the cause.
‘Ali, the son of Abu Talib, was from the biggest and the noblest tribe, i.e. The Quraish. His mother, Fatimah, the daughter of Asad ibn ‘Abd Manaf, was a great woman of the Bani Hashim family. Therefore, ‘Ali was a Hashimi from both his father’s and his mother’s side.(1)
‘Ali was miraculously born in the Ka‘bah. This was an honor that was not bestowed on anyone else. He was in the Ka‘bah for three days and then left it in his mother’s arms.(2)
Abu Talib, ‘Ali’s father, had been the Prophet’s guardian since he was eight years old. He defended the Prophet in the critical days of Islam, when all were mobilized against him. In the 10th year of appointment
to prophecy, Abu Talib and Khadijah, the Prophet’s wife, both died. This year was known as the ‘Year of Sadness’.(1)
When ‘Ali was a young boy, the Prophet took him to his own home. Therefore, ‘Ali grew up in the Prophet’s house and under his guardianship.
After Gabriel revealed himself to Muhammad in the cave of Hira and informed him of his appointment as a prophet, the Prophet went home and told ‘Ali of the revelation. In spite of his young age, ‘Ali accepted the Prophet’s invitation to Islam and became the first male Muslim.(2)
After being appointed as prophet, Muhammad did not openly reveal his appointment for three years. In the third year, he was ordered by God to reveal his appointment and he made the first invitation to his relatives. He invited them to a feast, in which he told them, “O children of ‘Abd al-Muttallib, God has sent me to lead all people and especially you, my relatives and has told me, ‘First warn your nearest relatives of refusing to obey [God].’”(3)
He repeated this twice more and no one responded to his call except ‘Ali who was only thirteen at that time. The Prophet said, “O ‘Ali, you will be my brother and substitute, inheritor and minister.”(4)
In the 13th year after the appointment to prophecy, the leaders of the Quraish plotted to kill the Prophet. One person was selected from each tribe and it was decided that as a group they would attack and kill the Prophet one night. The
Prophet was made aware of their evil plan and he asked ‘Ali to sleep in his bed so that the enemies would not find out about his absence from the house.
‘Ali was 23 years old at that time. He responded positively to the Prophet’s request and slept in his bed. The Prophet left the city and hid in the Thur cave close to Mecca. At the end of the night, forty conspirators raided the Prophet’s house and found ‘Ali asleep in the bed.(1)
Badr was the first battle fought in the history of Islam. In this battle, the army of Truth faced the polytheists, the army of Falsehood. It occurred in the second year after the Hijrah between the leaders of the Meccan infidels and the army of Islam, in a place known as the Badr Wells, some 168 km. away from Madinah and 6 km. away from the Red Sea.
The army of the infidels consisted of more than 1,000 well-equipped fighting men. The Prophet, however, had only 313 soldiers. Three well-known heroes of the infidelity army, namely ‘Atabah, his brother Shaybah and his son Walid were killed by ‘Ali, Hamzah and ‘Ubaydah. ‘Ali was 25 years old in this battle.(2)
One year after the Battle of Badr, the infidels replenished their armies and remobilized them under the command of Abu Sufyan. With three thousand fighting men from various tribes armed with adequate weaponry, they gathered to face the Muslims at the foot of Mount Uhud, 6 km. from Madinah. The
Prophet’s army consisted of only 700 soldiers. He sent 50 archers under ‘Abdullah ibn Jubayr’s command to a mountain pass behind the Muslims and ordered them not to abandon their post under any circumstance.
Heroes such as Ṭalhah ibn Abu Ṭalhah, Abu Sa‘id ibn Ṭalhah, Harath ibn Abu Ṭalhah, Abu ‘Aziz ibn Ṭalhah, ‘Abdullah Abu Jamilah and Irtat ibn Sharhabil came to the battlefield one after the other and all of them were killed by a brave 26-year-old young man named ‘Ali. The army of Islam was winning in the beginning but, as the mountain pass was abandoned by the archers, Khalid ibn Walid and his horsemen attacked the Muslims from behind and defeated them. 70 Muslims, including Hamzah, were martyred. ‘Ali, the Prophet and a few others fought bravely. ‘Ali was wounded 90 times and in this battle a voice from the sky was heard saying, “There is no young man like ‘Ali and no sword like Dhu’l-Faqar.”(1)
In the month of Shawwal, the 5th year A.H., the Meccan infidels in cooperation with the remaining Jews in Madinah and with the help of other tribes, prepared for war with over 10,000 fighting men, in order to destroy the Muslims. ‘Amru ibn ‘Abdawadd, an 80-year-old Arabian champion, was also present. He had been wounded in the battle of Badr and sought revenge on the Muslims. He had vowed not to rub oil on his body until he took revenge on the Prophet and the Muslims.
When the Meccan army reached Madinah, the Jewish
tribe of Bani Qurayzah, which had previously made a contract with the Prophet, broke its promise and prepared to fight in the company of the infidels. Following the advice of Salman Farsi, a ditch was dug around Madinah so that the enemies would not be able to enter the city. The Muslims were under siege for 28 days until the infidel hero, ‘Amru ibn ‘Abdawadd crossed the ditch and challenged them to fight. No one but ‘Ali volunteered to fight him as ‘Amru was a renowned, brave and valiant man. As ‘Ali walked courageously to the battlefield the Prophet remarked, “All of faith is facing all of polytheism.”
After some moments of intense fighting, ‘Ali killed ‘Amru ibn ‘Abdawadd and threw his head in front of the Prophet. The Prophet said, “The blow of ‘Ali’s sword in the battle of Khandaq is superior to the worship of all humans and Jinn.”
‘Ali, who did such great service for Islam and the Muslims on that day, was a 27-year-old young man. After this battle, the Prophet along with an army under ‘Ali’s command, set out for the Jewish tribe of Bani Qurayzah. When the Jewish elder, Huyy ibn Akhtab was killed, the people of Madinah were safe from the danger of the Jews and Jewish properties and women were possessed by the Muslims.(1)
In the year 7 A.H., the Jews of Khaybar plotted against the Muslims. In keeping with this, they filled some of the 7 castles of Khaybar 200 km. to the northwest
of Madinah with arms. 14,000 Jews lived in these castles. The Prophet went to Khaybar with 1,400 foot soldiers and 200 horsemen. ‘Ali, who was a 30-year-old young man, was the flag bearer.
In this battle, ‘Umar and Abu Bakr were defeated. ‘Ali entered the battle upon the Prophet’s order. He struck Marhab, the Jewish hero, with a thunderous blow and threw him to the ground. Then the Muslims attacked and ‘Ali removed the iron gate of Khaybar and held it on his hand like a shield. In this battle, Murhab, Harith and Yasir were killed by ‘Ali and Khaybar was conquered. Afterwards, forty people were needed to help in returning the gate to its original place.(1)
In the year 8 A.H., Mecca was conquered by the Prophet without a fight. The Prophet entered Mecca with 12,000 troops and he himself broke and threw down many of the idols in the Ka‘bah. Then he ordered ‘Ali to put his feet upon his shoulders in order to climb the wall and break the remaining idols. ‘Ali obeyed the order but when he was finished, he jumped down.
The Prophet asked, “Why did you not put your feet on my shoulders?” ‘Ali responded, “To climb up, you ordered me to step on your shoulders and I complied, but while climbing down, you said nothing and therefore, I jumped down rather than rudely step on your shoulders. Thanks to God nothing happened to me!”(2)
This great hero of Islam was present on all occasions against the
enemies and infidels in their attempts to wipe out Islam and the Muslims. ‘Ali defended Islam with all his power and might and was honored with many great and singular achievements.
Ja‘far ibn Abu Talib was a companion of the Prophet and ‘Ali’s older brother by 10 years. He was a brave man and one of the pioneering Muslims. He is also known as Ja‘far Tayyar (‘the flying Ja‘far’) as he lost both his arms in battle and the Prophet said, “God gave him two wings in heaven.”(1)
The Prophet liked him very much. In the year 5 A.H., he migrated to Abyssinia with the other Muslims and was chosen as the spokesman of the migrating delegation while he was only a 24-year-old young man. The Muslims were in Abyssinia until the year 7 A.H. and then they returned to Madinah. Their return to Madinah coincided with the Prophet’s victorious return from Khaybar.
Once the Prophet saw them, he went towards his strong cousin, put his arms around his neck, kissed him on the forehead and cried. Then he said, “I do not know for which event I should be more happy; the arrival of Ja‘far or the conquest of Khaybar.”(2)
In 8 A.H.—i.e. one year after the return from Abyssinia, he was selected by the Prophet to command an army of 3,000 soldiers on its way to fight the Romans. The army of Islam departed from Madinah and faced the Romans in Mu’tah in Syria.
Ja‘far fought with unparalleled valor. He lost his two
hands. In spite of this, he still managed to hold the flag of Islam to his chest rather than let it fall to the ground. He was martyred after having sustained over 70 wounds to his body.(1) When the Prophet heard of Ja‘far’s martyrdom, he burst into tears and then he remarked, “One has to cry for a person like Ja‘far.”
Mus‘ab ibn ‘Umayr was a bright, well-built young man. He was very handsome, chaste, determined and noble. His parents loved him very much and he was respected by everyone in Mecca. He wore the most beautiful clothes and enjoyed a high standard of living.(2)
He became fond of the Prophet’s words and, after spending some time in the Prophet’s company and hearing the verses of the Qur’an, he embraced Islam. In Mecca conversion to Islam was considered to be the biggest crime. Therefore, many people hid their belief in Islam. One such person was Mus‘ab ibn ‘Umayr, until his parents found out and he was imprisoned. He escaped however, and went to Abyssinia with the other migrants and after a while, he returned.
On the occasion of ‘Aqabah Awla’ one moonlit night, 12 important persons from Madinah met the Prophet and converted to Islam. When they wanted to return to Madinah, two people by the names of As‘ad ibn Zararah and Zakwan ibn ‘Abd Qays asked the Prophet to send a representative to Madinah in order to teach the Qur’an to the people and call them to Islam.
Madinah was then one of
the most important cities in the Arabian Peninsula and two large tribes, Aws and Khazraj lived there. They were sworn enemies of each other and had been at war for several years.
From among all the Muslims and his companions, the Prophet chose none other than the young Mus‘ab ibn ‘Umayr. He sent him along with As‘ad ibn Zararah to Madinah for this important mission.
Mus‘ab, who had learnt the recitation of the Qur’an very well, entered Madinah and passionately began the promotion of Islam, with pure intentions and hard work. He resided in the house of As‘ad, who was among the seniors of the Khazraj tribe. In the company of his host, he went to the house of Sa‘d ibn Mu‘adh, the leader and chief of the Aws tribe, and called them to Islam, which they accepted. In addition, Asid ibn Hudayr also converted to Islam with Mus‘ab. Mus‘ab, the well-built young man, carried out his mission in Madinah in the best way possible. He was the first one who performed communal and the Friday prayer in Madinah and he made honorable achievements.(1)
The effective promotional activities by Mus‘ab prepared the ground for the Prophet’s arrival in the city of Madinah and the people warmly welcomed the leader of Islam and his followers. This was but for the providence, piety, virtues, knowledge and insight of Mus‘ab as he was the one who attracted the attention of women, men, the elderly and the young people as well as the leaders of the tribes
and the common people of Madinah to Islam. They learned the Qur’an, converted to Islam and drove away from their hearts all the old enmities and became brothers to each other and took part in Friday and communal prayers in a friendly atmosphere.
After the arrival of the Prophet in Madinah, Mus‘ab took part in the battles of Badr and Uhud. In the battle of Uhud, he held the Prophet’s flag and was finally martyred. He was buried next to Hamzah, the Prophet’s uncle, the renowned champion of the army of Islam.(1)
In the year 8 A.H., Mecca was conquered by the army of Islam without any bloodshed. After this conquest, the battle of Hunayn took place within a short period. The Prophet and his companions had to leave Mecca to go to the warfront.
On the other hand, a competent person had to be appointed as governor to administer the city of Mecca, which had just been taken away from the infidels and polytheists. The governor had to be able to manage the people’s affairs and to impede any action by the enemies.
From among all the Muslims, the Prophet chose a 21-year-old young man by the name of ‘Atab ibn Usayd, and issued him an order to pray with the people. He was the first amir to hold communal prayers in Mecca after the conquest.(2)
The Prophet told ‘Atab, his selected governor, “Do you know what a position I have appointed you to and for which people I made you the governor? I
chose you as the emir of the people of God’s shrine, the residents of holy Mecca. If I knew a more worthy person than you among the Muslims, I would surely appoint him to the position. When ‘Atab was appointed as the governor of Mecca by the Prophet, he was about 21 years old.”(1)
The selection of this young man to such a great position strongly upset some Arab elders and the heads of Mecca. They objected and complained, saying, “The Prophet wants us always to be humiliated. This is why he made a young man governor over us, the elders of the Arabs and the seniors of Mecca.”
These words reached the Prophet’s ears. He therefore wrote a long letter to the people of Mecca, in which he reminded them of ‘Atab’s merits and emphasized that the people should obey his orders.
In the final part of the letter, he thus responded to the inappropriate objection of the people:
“None of you shall object to a young man like ‘Atab as superiority among people is not to be judged by age. Rather, it is virtue and spiritual perfection that must be considered.”(2)
‘Atab remained governor of Mecca even after the death of the Prophet until he died in early 23 A.H.(3)
Mu‘adh ibn Jabal ibn ‘Amru Ansari was from the Khazraj tribe and was known by the nickname of Abu ‘Abd ar-Rahman. He was one of the well-known companions of the Prophet and was very wise, handsome, generous and well-mannered. He converted to Islam at
the age of 18 and took part in all the battles during the Prophet’s lifetime.(1)
Mu‘adh learned the Islamic sciences with hard work and natural talent; he was able to learn a considerable amount of Islamic teachings within a few years and became one of the outstanding companions.
He was 26 during the conquest of Mecca. A merited person was needed to be appointed to that city at that time to teach the people the orders and regulations of Islam concerning worship and transactions.(2) Mu‘adh was selected for the intellectual affairs of Mecca and for teaching religious precepts. In fact, he was chosen as the cultural head of the city.
After the Tabuk campaign, the Prophet sent Mu‘adh to Yemen to be a judge and governor there. In a letter to the people of Yemen, the Prophet wrote, “I have sent you one of my best men.”
The Prophet ordered Mu‘adh to teach the members of the army the Qur’an and the religious precepts and to collect the religious tax (zakat) which was to be sent to Mecca for the Muslims.(3)
When the Prophet wanted to send this young man to Yemen, he asked him, “O Mu‘adh, if there is a quarrel, how will you judge?” He replied, “I will judge based on what is in God’s book.”
The Prophet then asked, “If there is no order in the Qur’an, what will you do?” He answered, “I will judge according to the Prophet’s practice.” The Prophet continued, “If you do not find any order according to
my practice, what will you do?” Mu‘adh said, “Then I will judge according to my own opinion.” Then the Prophet put his hand on Mu‘adh’s chest and said, “Thanks to God for you have satisfied the Prophet with that with which prophets are satisfied.”(1)
When the Prophet died in the year 11 A.H., Mu‘adh was in Yemen. Abu Bakr reinstated him in his position. Then, during ‘Umar’s caliphate, he went to Sham and died in ‘Imwas(2), in 18 A.H., at the age of 34 due to the plague.(3)
One thing that proves Mu‘adh’s merits is that during the Prophet’s lifetime, he was authorized to issue fatwas and would infer religious precepts according to the Qur’an, Sunnah (the tradition) and reason. This shows the outstanding qualifications of this young man at the dawn of Islam.(4)
Usamah ibn Zayd was a Christian child of Arab origins from Syria. His nickname was Abu Muhammad and he was one of the respected companions of the Prophet. He was born in Mecca 7 years before the Hijrah. The Prophet loved him very much. He was a clever, worthy and intelligent person.(5)
His father Zayd, was killed in the war against the Romans in Mu’tah. He had been the second commander after Ja‘far ibn Abu Talib. The Prophet therefore decided to appoint Usamah, who was only 18, as the commander of the army of Islam to fight the Romans, in spite of the fact that all the high-ranked commanders of Islam, all the senior Immigrants, Helpers and prominent Arabs were
present in the army. The Prophet went out of the city of Madinah to visit the army. He saw that all the senior Muslims were prepared to fight.(1)
The selection of the 18-year-old commander by the Prophet surprised many people and this practice made them look at each other with astonishment. As a result, some companions of the Prophet expressed their objection, saying, “Why was this young man selected as the commander of experienced Immigrants and pioneers of Islam?”
The Prophet was upset on hearing the sarcastic remarks of some officers. Therefore, he ascended the pulpit and after praising God, he said, “O people, what do you mean by the words that I have heard about the commandership of Usamah? Your sarcastic remarks today are not new. A few years ago, when I appointed Zayd, Usamah’s father, as the army commander in the Mu’tah war, you also made blaming remarks.
“I swear by Allah that yesterday Zayd ibn Harithah deserved to command the army and today his son Usamah deserves the same and all of you must obey him.”(2)
Such insistence by the Prophet in support of worthy young people had a deep effect on the thoughts of the Muslims in general and those who had incorrect thoughts about young people gradually became aware of their wrong attitudes. The selection of an 18-year-old person is rare in the military history of the world.
The story of Usamah’s commandership and the Prophet’s insistence that everyone should follow orders under his flag is an interesting story in
the history of Islam. When the Prophet was sick and on his deathbed, Abu Bakr and ‘Umar went to his bedside; once the Prophet saw them, he said to them, “Go to Usamah’s army. O God, damn the one who is prepared to fight but refuses to join Usamah’s army.”(1)
After the Prophet passed away, Usamah awaited further orders in the camp that he had arranged outside Madinah. When Abu Bakr became the caliph, he sent Usamah to the same place that the Prophet had ordered. Usamah left for Syria but, when he arrived there, Abu Bakr deposed him and appointed Yazid ibn Abu Sufyan instead.
When the young commander was deposed, he went to Madinah and stood next to the Prophet’s mosque, shouting, “O Muslims, it is surprising that the man whom yesterday the Prophet had appointed me as his commander is today commanding me and deposing me as the commander of the army.”(2)
Usamah lived in Madinah until the year 54 A.H. He died in a place known as “Jurf” during the rule of Mu‘awiah.(3)
These historical examples indicate the true value of young people in Islam.
“If a person is pious and worships in his youth, in the future his spiritual value will be increased several times”
The fact is that one needs guidance and advice from others throughout one’s life. Even elders whose powers of reasoning have reached the ultimate degree of maturity and those who have had a great deal of experience in their lives are likely to deviate and
need the advice of others, let alone young people whose thoughts are not yet well-developed. They, therefore, need more guidance. The following story is a confirmation of this fact.
Muhammad ibn Muslim Zahri was a great scholar in his time. His love of wealth and power led him away from the right path and he became miserable in his old age.
The physician of the soul of that time, i.e. Imam Sajjad, wrote him a letter in order to give him advice, in which he reminded him of the dangers to which young people are exposed because of their unproven ideas:
“When the love of the world can lead a person like you to such a low level, despite the long life that you have lived and the scientific education that you have received and you are so close to death, then how can one expect a young person to remain unharmed by his sensual desires? A young person who has just come of age and is void of knowledge, while on the other hand he has weak opinions and his reason is insufficient and deviant.”(1)
Imam ‘Ali said, “The young person’s excuse that he did not know is acceptable because his knowledge is limited and insufficient.”(2)
Therefore, inexperience and ignorance are characteristics of youth. This should be considered in their upbringing. Therefore, God has left open the way of remorse for all his creatures and has advised young people more than others to resort to repentance because ignorance and madness in youth may be
the cause of many errors and mistakes and the only way to be saved is to repent, turn to God and follow the religious orders.
Young people are not stable in the various issues they face and their views keep changing. Sometimes they tend to go this way and sometimes that way while they are under various threats at any given moment. Thus, the enemies take advantage of this characteristic in young people in order to achieve their goals.
Another characteristic of young people is their power, ability, liveliness, dynamism and activeness, which if not used for the right purposes, will make them subject to many mistakes that cannot be easily corrected. Therefore, this power and ability has to be coordinated with experience, knowledge and thought in order to achieve the desired result.
Imam ‘Ali said, “The clear thoughts of old people are more lovable to me than the strength and force of youth.”(1)
Faithful young people have certain characteristics, some of which are briefly stated below.
The most basic and the most important knowledge that a young person has to acquire is religious knowledge. Young people alienated from religion will destroy themselves. An understanding of religious precepts will lead to happiness for young people.
Imam Baqir said, “If I see a young Shi‘ite, who is not learning religious precepts and has no knowledge of religion, I will punish him.”(2)
Musa ibn Ja‘far said, “If I find a young Shi‘ite who does not seek to know the religion, I will give him 20 lashes.”(3)
The Qur’an is the
word of God, the eternal miracle of the God’s Messenger and a valuable book that contains the message for leading humanity to the right path and providing him with divine teachings. It is the duty of every Muslim to be familiar with the Qur’an and Qur’anic sciences.
When a child becomes familiar with the Qur’an in his youth and reads it continuously, he will gain more spirituality from the Qur’an and it becomes mixed with his flesh and blood and affects all parts of his being.(1)
Adolescents and youth must become familiar with the teachings of the Shi‘ite Imams and the religious leaders, in order to keep their hearts clean and in order for their hearts to be adorned with such valuable gems. There is a saying about this:
“Young people have to brighten their hearts with the sayings of the religious leaders in order to make their speech and expressions tender and give merit to their ears by hearing those words.”(2)
Imam ‘Ali said, “The experimental sciences, which provide for the material needs of young people and serve the needs of the society; the literary sciences and the humanities, each of which will be needed by the individual as well as the society, are all suitable to be learned by young people.”(3)
The other characteristics of a worthy young person is that he pays attention to worshipping God, thus keeping his soul clean from any rust. It has been said, “If someone is pious in his youth, in the future his spiritual value will
be increased several times.”(1)
Another characteristic of faithful young people is that they repent of their errors and mistakes. Young people are constantly developing and sometimes have spiritual inclinations and at other times they may act foolishly. Therefore, it would not be wrong to call youth the period of instability. Thus, believing young people are constantly repentant. This practice will save them from falling into misery.
The Prophet said, “The most beloved of God is the youth who repents his sin and asks God for forgiveness.”(2)
The period of youth, which begins around the age of 18, is the period of hard work. Any feebleness and laziness will result in a well-rooted lack of will in him. There is a saying in this regard.
“If one does not control one’s desires in youth (when one has an infinite source of physical and spiritual energy), how can one perfect his character in old age? One should not waste one’s sources of energy as it would be very hard in old age to correct one’s character.”(3)
Islam pays special attention to beauty and the religious leaders have noted many points about beauty, which indicate the importance of this issue in one’s life. The desire for beauty is stronger in young people and the leaders of Islam have not rejected this; rather, they have approved it in practice.
While rubbing oil on his hair, Imam Sadiq said, “O God, I ask you for beauty.”(4)
He is also quoted as saying, “A man invited the Prophet to his house. When the
Prophet was preparing to leave home to go and visit him, the Prophet stood in front of a mirror or a big dish of water and tidied up his hair and face.
‘Aishah was surprised by this. When the Prophet returned, she asked, ‘O Prophet, why did you stand up in front of the dish of water and tidy your hair and face?’
The Prophet said, ‘God would like, if a Muslim is going to see his Muslim brother, he prepares a pleasant appearance.’”(1)
Islam has paid attention to beauty of the appearance and the clothes, but this should not overshadow spiritual values and spiritual beauty which is the essential true beauty. A beautiful appearance is good if it is accompanied by beauty of the soul and conduct.
Although youth is one of the great blessings of God, it is under certain threat, some of which are provided below.
One of the threats against youth is failing to use the power of youthfulness or wasting it. This has been mentioned in many of the Islamic narrations.
The young person who has failed to use opportunities appropriately, when he reaches old age, he finds that he is no longer able to follow God’s orders. (2)
Another threat to youth is procrastination.
Imam ‘Ali said, “An intelligent young person will make the best use of his youth as much as possible and will improve upon his good conduct while trying to acquire knowledge.”(3)
As we noted, the Prophet showed special respect to young people and was always interested in them. However,
a careful examination of the Prophet’s conduct also reveals the way he dealt with violating and sinful young people. Some examples have been provided below.
Imam Baqir said, “On the Feast of Qurban, Fadhl ibn ‘Abbas, who was a handsome youth, was riding alongside the Prophet. A beautiful woman and her brother from the Khath‘am tribe came to the Prophet to ask about religious precepts. The woman’s brother was asking questions while Fadhl ibn ‘Abbas was looking at the woman.
The Prophet took Fadhl by the chin and turned his face away from the woman so that he would not look at her anymore. The young man, however, was looking from the other direction, until the Prophet turned his face again.
When the Prophet finished answering the questions, he took Fadhl ibn ‘Abbas by the shoulder and told him, ‘Do you not know that time is passing and the one who protects his eyes and tongue will be rewarded by God as if he had performed the hajj pilgrimage?’”(1)
In another narration it is reported that, “‘Abbas, the Prophet’s uncle, said, ‘Why did you turn your cousin’s face?’ the Prophet replied, ‘I saw a young man and a young woman who were not safe from trouble and sin.’”(2)
It has been reported that one day a young man went to the Prophet and said, “O Prophet, allow me to commit fornication.” The people became angry and objected to him aloud. However, the Prophet said mildly, “Come close.” The young man went close and sat before
the Prophet. The Prophet asked him kindly, “Would you like if people do it to your mother?” He said, “No, dear Prophet.” The Prophet said, “The people do not like it the same way.”
Then the Prophet asked the young man, “Would you like if people do it to your sister?” He said, “No.” The Prophet said, “The people feel the same way.” Then the Prophet asked, “Would you like if people do it to your daughter?” He said, “No.” The Prophet said, “The people would also get upset if someone does it to their daughter.”
After this conversation, the Prophet put his hand on the young man’s chest and said, “O God, clean his heart of sin, forgive his sins and keep him away from fornication.” After this event, fornication was the most undesirable thing to the young man.(1)
The Prophet’s behavior towards sinful young people is itself the best example for Muslims. However, one point worthy of careful consideration is that the commission of sins should be prevented according to the principle of encouraging good deeds and forbidding bad actions.
Imam Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, made recommendations about young people on various occasions, including the following remarks:
“We need our young people to be brought up in the right way, i.e. with an Islamic upbringing. These young people who have to protect the future of this country, who have to run this country, have to be brought up in the right way and have to be corrected. Islam
has not paid more attention to anything than to the edification of our children and youth.”
“I ask the young people, girls and boys not to give up their independence, freedom and human values, even if they have to work hard for them, in return for luxury, pleasure, irresponsibility and attending centers of corruption that are offered by the West and their agents. Those who want to plunder us have tried throughout history and especially in the last fifty years or so to make our youth indifferent.”
“You, young Muslims, have to consider Islamic principles in researching and studying the truths of Islam from political, economic, social and other perspectives and should not fail to consider the advantages that distinguish Islam from the other schools of thought. The youth should know that if someone does not have spirituality and belief in monotheism and the Resurrection, he will be unlikely to give himself for the nation.”
“You, dear youth, do not despair. Truth will be the victor. This country has to be formed and shaped by your strength young people. How fortunate we are that strong young people in our country are serving Islam. You, young people, who are my hope, maintain unity in your speech.”
“You, the young generation, must awaken the followers of the West and expose the crimes of the inhuman governments of the West.”
“Some of our youth gave up their national pride for the West. This was a spiritual defeat which was the most significant of our defeats. Our youth should
not think that the West has everything and they have nothing.”
“Be diligent now that you are young and have the strength of youth within you to tackle the sinful desires of your soul. The spring of repentance is youth, when the load of sin is light and the heart is less dark, the soul is less defective and the conditions for repenting easier.”(1)
Let us hope for a day when adolescents and youth will listen to this fatherly advice of the late Leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, follow his path and shatter the hopes of all the enemies of Islam.
In the name of Allah
Are those who know equal to those who do not know?
Ghaemiyeh Computer Research Institute of Isfahan, from 2007, under the authority of Ayatollah Haj SayyedHasanFaqihImami (God blesses his soul), by sincere and daily efforts of university and seminary elites and sophisticated groups began its activities in religious, cultural and scientific fields.
Ghaemiyeh Computer Research Institute of Isfahan in order to facilitate and accelerate the accessibility of researchers to the books and tools of research, in the field of Islamic science, and regarding the multiplicity and dispersion of active centers in this field
and numerous and inaccessible sources by a mere scientific intention and far from any kind of social, political, tribal and personal prejudices and currents, based on performing a project in the shape of (management of produced and published works from all Shia centers) tries to provide a rich and free collection of books and research papers for the experts, and helpful contents and discussions for the educated generation and all classes of people interested in reading, with various formats in the cyberspace.
Our Goals are:
-propagating the culture and teachings of Thaqalayn (Quran and Ahlulbayt p.b.u.t)
-encouraging the populace particularly the youth in investigating the religious issues
-replacing useful contents with useless ones in the cellphones, tablets and computers
-providing services for seminary and university researchers
-spreading culture study in the publich
-paving the way for the publications and authors to digitize their works
-acting according to the legal licenses
-relationship with similar centers
-avoiding parallel working
-merely presenting scientific contents
-mentioning the sources
It’s obvious that all the responsibilities are due to the author.
Other activities of the institute:
-Publication of books, booklets and other editions
-Holding book reading competitions
-Producing virtual, three dimensional exhibitions, panoramas of religious and tourism places
-Producing animations, computer games and etc.
-Launching the website with this address: www.ghaemiyeh.com
-Fabricatingdramatic and speech works
-Launching the system of answering religious, ethical and doctrinal questions
-Designing systems of accounting, media and mobile, automatic and handy systems, web kiosks
-Holding virtual educational courses for the public
-Holding virtual teacher-training courses
-Producing thousands of research software in three languages (Persian, Arabic and English) which can be performed in computers, tablets and cellphones and available and downloadable with eight international formats: JAVA, ANDROID, EPUB, CHM, PDF, HTML, CHM, GHB on the website
-Also producing four markets named “Ghaemiyeh Book Market” with Android, IOS, WINDOWS PHONE and WINDOWS editions
We would appreciate the centers, institutes, publications, authors and all honorable friends who contributed their help and data to us to reach the holy goal we follow.
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Isfahan, Abdorazaq St, Haj Mohammad JafarAbadei Alley, Shahid Mohammad HasanTavakkoly Alley, Number plate 129, first floor
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Introduction of the Center – Ghaemiyeh Digital Library