Problems of Youth People and the Prophet of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) (1): The Meaning of Life

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The Prophet of Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, attached significant importance to the formative years of youth and the youth within his ummah. He offered a comprehensive roadmap for them to navigate this crucial period with precision and productivity, demonstrating a keen interest in the well-being and development of young individuals. He transformed their excitement, vigor, dynamism, and idealism into a motor force in the spread of faith and virtues, the establishment of its civilization, and the development of the Muslim society. To achieve this, he first instilled faith in the hearts of the youth, meaning in their lives, purpose in their vision, horizon in their spirits, consciousness in their willpower, knowledge, research, and a relentless drive for self-improvement in their minds. He provided education encompassing knowledge and action, tailored to their character, talents, and capacities. He guided them towards fields where they could be most productive, valuable, and at peace, assigning them suitable positions. He channeled this active period of their lives toward truth, charity, good deeds, wisdom, service, and servitude.

The rapid penetration of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, into the hearts of young people, the robust and wholesome connection he forged with them, his notable success in their upbringing, the victories attained by harnessing their courage, effort, generosity, and bravery, and his shouldering of the cause for humanity are certainly not arbitrary occurrences.

His solid character, exemplary personality, strong faith, deep and balanced connection with God, unshakable will, endless hope, ever-increasing perseverance and determination, morality, justice, lofty goals, human relations based on simplicity, loyalty, and sincerity, and interpretation of existence, his understanding of humanity, his perspective on life, his way of dealing with issues, his embracing and encouraging style, his wise attitudes and actions, his appropriate moves, his educational philosophy, methodology and principles, his compassion, his self-confidence and tolerance have deeply influenced young people.

In addition to these factors, another compelling reason that inspired young people to willingly gather around him, unite, endure all sorts of sacrifices for his cause, and model their lives after his example was that the Prophet of Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, took care of them, paid close attention to their issues, regularly followed up on them, and provided solutions. As a prophet and leader, the Prophet of Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, who felt the responsibility of every individual within the ummah, felt in his heart the suffering of the believing hearts, which he compared to a body, doted on them with the sensitivity of a father and spread his wings of love, compassion, mercy, and humility to the fullest extent, also dealt directly with the problems of the young people. He personally intervened, listened, alleviated their pains, and endeavored to soothe their hearts.

The Quest for Meaning Among the Youth

Throughout history, the primary and most significant challenge confronting young people has been the quest for purpose and meaning in life—whether they are conscious of it or not. Queries about their identity, origin, existence, and ultimate destination have perpetually occupied their thoughts, propelling them into a spiritual quest. In this regard, the most determining factor is the mood, feelings and thoughts, historical heritage, customs, beliefs and ideologies, economic and administrative conditions, moral level, and comfort regarding basic rights and freedoms, experiences, the vision of the person ahead of them that dominate the family, environment, country, educational institutions, culture, and civilization in which they were born and raised.  These factors profoundly impact the life views, visions, goals, expectations, morale, and motivation of young individuals who, at the onset of their lives, seek meaning and a path, questioning their existence. Whether they choose to adopt something as a mission or not is also influenced by these considerations.

Young people who cannot receive a convincing, hopeful, stimulating, and guiding answer to their quests from the environment and circumstances they inhabit, fall into emptiness, pessimism, or hopelessness when it comes to planning their lives around certain ideals and using the opportunities and equipment they have in the right places. Consequently, some of them overlook this issue and proceed to address their daily needs while grappling with spiritual wounds. Another segment loses their courage, retreats into isolation, shuts themselves off from advice, immerses in games and entertainment, gravitates towards negative friendships and harmful habits, isolates themselves in loneliness, and distances themselves from their surroundings due to a sense of worthlessness. The remaining individuals find themselves entangled in the web of detrimental trends, queries, and opinions circulated in the market intending to exploit them, leading them into a clash with the values of the culture and civilization to which they belong. This not only renders them problematic individuals but also subjects society to numerous material, spiritual, individual, familial, social, moral, and legal issues, the roots of which lie in the younger generations.

Youth of the Period of Ignorance and the Meaning of Life

In this context, this was the biggest problem of the young people that the Prophet of Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, dealt with. They dwelled in the embrace of idolatry, a belief they accepted without fulfillment yet lacked the means to question, inherited from their ancestors. They struggled to find satisfactory answers to the questions they posed in their quest to comprehend life accurately. There was no book that read about life, no guide that explained life, and there was also no mobility of thoughts and ideas. For centuries, there have been no exceptional and monumental figures among them who have achieved great success and whom they can take as an example and follow in their footsteps.  They came of age in a desolate environment characterized by ignorance, cruelty, and injustice. Society was fragmented based on tribal divisions, and civil wars, poverty, slavery, racism, and plunder were pervasive. With few exceptions, they couldn’t even assume significant roles within their tribes until they reached old age. Despite being geographically close and neighbors, they found themselves living in conditions where they were scorned and belittled by the Roman and Persian empires. Nevertheless, they were young individuals with the potential to acquire knowledge in science, lead states, command armies, educate nations, and generate solutions to monumental problems.

The Quest for Meaning Among the Youth and the Position of the Prophet of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)

Young individuals unable to discern the meaning and purpose of their lives squandered their enthusiasm, emotions, time, opportunities, and resources in the currents of daily life. They became trapped by indulgences catering to their whims and desires, focusing on filling their stomachs and immersing themselves in games and entertainment. But their souls were in hunger and depression, their dreams were in emptiness and despair, and their hearts were in unrest. In such a scenario, the Prophet of Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, presented himself before the young people with a life approach that advocates living by the most ideal values and disseminating them to humanity, as articulated below: explaining the secrets and purposes of creation not only of them but of all existence, teaching the wisdom of life, setting universal and eternal goals before them, encouraging their minds to knowledge, research and thought, directing their will to do things that are beneficial to themselves, their families, their communities and all humanity, encourages people to use all their material and spiritual opportunities to rebuild the earth and reform societies, inviting to end the oppression, corruption, corruption, and discord in the world within the standards of representation, notification, justice, and equity, making them free from all the bonds that the culture of the Period of Ignorance imposes on them and things making them slaves of mortal things, believing in one God who created everything, programming their lives to earn eternal life.   

The Prophet of Muhammad’s, peace and blessings be upon him, message, with the influence of his warmth of representation and humanity in his propaganda strategies, had an impact on the young people so quickly that they ran to him as if they were the inhabitants of a dark world that had been waiting for the dawn for years. These youths roamed the desert, collapsed in corners from excessive drinking, lived in the shadows and amusement venues, and relentlessly pursued tribal feuds and vengeance. They considered it courageous to mock others, be unruly, and vandalize the possessions of the vulnerable. In the end, they perished without achieving anything significant. Despite facing ridicule, shame, humiliation, ostracism, cruelty, and torture from polytheists and family elders, they steadfastly clung to their faith and purpose, refusing to abandon them. They strove for faith against blasphemy, for justice against cruelty and injustice. Endeavoring to decipher the universe like a book, they initiated a relentless struggle to convey the truths, feelings, and thoughts they held dear to the world. Noble ideals had rescued them from misguided emotions, squandering their resources, harmful habits, obsessions, and fixations. They transformed every moment of their lives into treasures to be cherished for the sake of God. It appears they had all been brought back to life. 

The Transformation within the Initial Five Years

The respected Ja’far, a youthful Companion, detailed to Najashi the circumstances of the youth in Mecca before encountering him and the subsequent transformation with him they underwent: “Oh King! We were an ignorant nation, we worshiped idols. We used to consume carrion and engage in every kind of wrongdoing. We severed ties with our relatives and inflicted harm upon our neighbors. The powerful oppressed the vulnerable. We were in such a situation. God, the Almighty, sent us a prophet from our people whose lineage, reliability, trustworthiness, purity, and decency we are well acquainted with. He called upon us to embrace faith in God and His unity, to worship Him, and to forsake the idols that we and our forefathers had worshipped. He instructed us to uphold truthfulness, fulfill our obligations, foster good relationships with neighbors, and abstain from sins and bloodshed. He prohibited us from all forms of immorality, lying, exploiting the property of orphans, and defaming virtuous women.’’

problems of young people prophet Muhammad

Few Examples of Lives That Have Changed

Umar ibn al-Khattab

He was a shepherd until he met him. He was a 26-year-old married young man. On one hand, he endeavored to provide for his family, while on the other hand, he subjected his slave to torment for renouncing polytheism. Later, he gained awareness of him, and his message, and embraced the faith. It was as if he was reborn because he realized the true meaning of life in his messages. Now, he was waging a struggle for justice, truth, and righteousness against an entire city. For this reason, he departed from his hometown and positioned himself closest to him. His continually advancing abilities, guided by Divine providence and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, propelled him to the forefront of the ummah. He was dismantling the kingdoms of oppression, one by one. One day, while he was giving a sermon in the presence of his people, he felt the need to pause and remind himself of his situation before he met our Prophet: “Only yesterday, you were a common shepherd caring for your father Hattab’s camels!” If he had not met the Prophet of Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, and the understanding of life he offered, he would have always remained like his ancestors and peers.

Hamza ibn Abd al-Muttalib

During his youth, he could not find a mentor to guide him. He was ensnared by alcohol and aimlessly roving through the deserts. He was wasting his life in pursuit of prey. He was experiencing the last moments of his wasted youth. One day, his nephew Muhammad al-Amin (the Trustworthy) returned to them from Hira with a message elucidating life and delving into the concept of eternal life. Despite the challenge of breaking his habits, he pondered deeply on the truths shared with him during the long desert nights. It dawned on him that life was meant for pursuing greater aspirations. He set aside the bow and arrow, opting to follow him and seek true life, eternal life. Hamza , who once hunted lions, remained steadfast on his newfound path until the moment he would extend his wings towards his Lord, becoming the master of the martyrs in Uhud and transcending as the “Lion of God.”

The Quarrelsome Youth of Aws and Hazraj

In the last civil war, Buas, the young people of Aws and Hazraj lost their fathers; They were overwhelmed with blood and embarked on a quest. The Messenger of God intervened, explaining that the path their ancestors followed was not the right one. He urged them to redirect their lives toward virtuous deeds and extended an invitation to join the expansive realm of faith. Convinced, the young people stopped fighting and feuding, followed his path, and reshaped their lives.

There are nearly as many instances as there are Companions, illustrating the transformation brought about by the significance the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, infused into the lives of young people. Young people born and raised in Mecca and Medina lived as polytheists, slaves, farmers, shepherds, or merchants and died there without leaving a trace in human history. However, all the young people whose characters, personalities, and dreams were reshaped by the message offered by the Messenger of God and the life he invited, became top people in different fields, changed the course of human history, destroyed empires, and established civilizations in their place. They illuminated nations with knowledge, disseminated faith and justice wherever possible, infiltrated the hearts of societies, and governed and guided generations. Their graves were dug across the steppes of Asia, on the foothills of Siberia, in the ports of China, within the depths of Africa, and in front of Istanbul.

Conclusion

Youth years and the perspectives, intentions, goals, and dreams gained during these years are critical as they will shape the rest of life. Therefore, young individuals engaged in exploration and inquiry during these years should be closely attended to. They should not be allowed to experience a personality and identity crisis, and their questions should be given convincing and comprehensive answers. A roadmap and goals that will satisfy them in the future should be laid out before them.  They should be trained and elevated to a level where they can engage in endeavors that benefit themselves, their surroundings, and humanity. An environment should be created that supports them and establishes social conditions where they can express themselves accurately and foster their development.

In this sense, the Messenger of God presented to young people the rights and truths that bestowed the correct meaning to life in all its facets. He entered their hearts and instilled a sense of cause in their souls. He did not surrender them to the atmosphere of the Period of Ignorance but cared for them closely, guided them, and educated them. He consistently pursued noble objectives by engaging them in endeavors that would enhance their skills and contribute to the betterment of society.  The young people who had the opportunity to take the right steps at the beginning of their lives with him, made the best use of the rest of their lives. While steadfastly maintaining their right course, they tirelessly sought closeness to God on one side and, on the other, left an indelible mark on significant and beneficial services. The foremost task today is to accurately convey to them the essence of humanity—who they are, their origins, the purpose of creation, and their ultimate destination—while instilling lofty goals. In this regard, the goal is not to let them encounter emptiness; instead, it is to nourish their souls timely, enabling them to embrace every moment of their lives to the fullest.

Author: Yücel Men

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