The Role Of The Muslim Youth In Ummah Building

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By: Mukhtar Bin Suhaili

The Islamic Party of Malaysia or in Malay known as Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) is a party that bases its ideology, policy, struggle, principles, vision and mission on uplifting the Islamic struggle in Malaysia. PAS was founded on the 24th of November 1951 as an organization, like many other Islamic movements from all over the world to bring forward the Islamic agenda covering all spectrums of life especially in the sector of siyasah (politics), tarbiyyah (education) and dakwah (proselytizing or preaching of Islam).

Today, in this conference, we are more than happy to share our thoughts on the role of the Muslim Youth in Ummah building. It is also our pleasure to highlight some of our programmes and initiatives especially by the PAS Youth Wing in realizing this sacred mission.

OUR YOUTH, OUR FUTURE

Our Ummah is our responsibility. It has been said time and again that the future of our Ummah lies in the hands of our Muslim youths. How the youth of today can shape the world of tomorrow is the pivotal key in determining this Ummah’s future. In a world full of social, political and economic challenges that transcend geographical boundaries, the Islamic world is in dire need of novel and diverse perspectives to resolve urgent global issues.

Youths are generally filled with boundless and towering ambitions. It will be a great waste of human resources if Muslim youths are not given an opportunity to exercise their exceptional talents. This Ummah needs a means to mediate and enhance their capabilities to achieve a brighter and more outstanding future. We need to try our level best to promote the missions of Integration, Islamization, Internationalization and Comprehensive Excellence in our outlook and pursuits.

Revolution has always been spearheaded by the inexhaustible fervour and enthusiasm of youth. But after the initial stages and once the revolution has come to pass, the time has now come to apply wisdom, astute reflections and ingenuous thoughts into tangible solutions to the many maladies afflicting the Ummah.

Indeed, the young generation is the best generation to champion this intellectual enhancement, character development and physical strength and endurance. We have a great potential to succeed if we endeavour to develop our human resources i.e. our own unique brand of Muslim youth, replete with esteemed qualities.

This endeavour to groom youths with not only intellectual capacity and spiritual holiness but also physical strength and emotional stability will give rise to an outstanding generation of mentally, physically and functionally capable human beings in this chaotic era we live in. History has witnessed the birth of world class Muslim youths with great hearts, colouring human civilization with their firm belief in the power of ideology, giving rise to integrity and a single-minded pursuit of their struggle.

Who has never heard the name of Muhammad ibn Murad, a brave and righteous young man who at the tender age of 23, led a quest to open the city of Constantinople on 20 Rabiul Awwal 857H i.e. on the 29th of May 1453M? He was immensely successful and eventually became known as Muhammad al-Fatih. And surely many will want to emulate Usamah bin Zaid, a young enthusiastic youth who upon reaching 18 years old, was appointed by the Prophet Muhammad S.A.W. as the commander of a large military garrison to lead them in a war against the Roman army in Shams.

INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT

Statistics show that youth is the largest group in today’s population. Thus, the young generation plays a tremendous and important role in determining the rise and fall of our Ummah. Needless to say that whatever we do and whatever that happens to us will certainly have implications for the future.

Hence, the thoughts and minds of the young generation should be seen as the key to ensure sustainable development and progress of the Ummah. Our intellectual capacities must be enhanced. A paradigm shift is needed to enable us to understand, appreciate and implement the advancements of science and philosophy in our daily pursuits. A lifelong learning culture with an ardent love for knowledge in all fields imaginable, and especially the latest technology should be inculcated in the minds of our young people.

This should include steps to implement world-class educational systems in Muslim countries with values and ethics as one of the most important agenda. Education represents an entity that may help us amass knowledge, instill the correct attitude and bring about the potential to succeed in life. Education reflects a determination to elevate Muslim countries to a higher level and towards the betterment of our Ummah.

Thus, when we ask ourselves about the education system we want, we really need to question what we actually expect from our young people and what we want for our Ummah. It is essential to achieve these long-term goals in order to position Muslim countries as international leading centres of educational and academic excellence.

Hence, each and every one of us and especially the younger generation should rise to the occasion and take up this challenge. For surely this is not an easy task for just one set of shoulders. But collectively together with the young generation at the forefront with their enthusiasm, commitment and a burning desire to succeed, the ultimate goal of producing a young generation of philomaths with the end result of them becoming polymaths can be realized.

In PAS, we have established our educational system from the very beginning i.e. at the nursery level known as Taman Asuhan Tunas Islam (TASTI), one of the largest network of kindergarten or pre-school institution with almost 2,000 branches all over Malaysia called Pusat Asuhan Tunas Islam (PASTI), primary and secondary schools called Sekolah Rendah Integrasi Teras Islam (SRITI) and very soon Sekolah Menengah Integrasi Teras Islam (SMITI) as well as a few university colleges.

A philomath is a seeker of knowledge and facts, while a polymath is a possessor of knowledge in multiple fields. This signifies an ardent desire to learn and obtain knowledge, fitting as the self-image of youth. So true are the words of Imam Shafi’i rahmatullahi ‘alaih when stating that, “You will not acquire knowledge except with six conditions: intelligence, an indomitable spirit, hardwork and resilience, an inherent capability, pious teachers and a lengthy time.”

SPIRITUAL HOLINESS

In addition, the views and outlook of the flourishing young minds should also be founded on the values of Uluhiyyah and Rububiyyah as taught by religion. Intellectual development which is not accompanied by spiritual holiness will eventually produce robots that are adept in study and analysis of information but in reality, are nothing without an intellectual’s professionalism and integrity of character.

The Islamic generations in its heyday were the absolute pinnacle of outstanding intellectuals. They had both the mastery of knowledge in science and technology as well as the morality of scholars molded by religious values and knowledge in Islamic teachings. This was brought upon by the themes and concepts conceived in their studies of the Holy Qur’an.

So, spiritual holiness is required in the search for exemplary youth models. Pearls of wisdom, ethics and moral values should be unearthed from the Holy Qur’an so as to complement conventional knowledge and give meaning to our worldly life. Model behaviour shown by the most upstanding human being, our Prophet Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him, his companions and salafus-soleh should be emulated as far as possible in order for us to develop a generation of conscientious and virtuous young individuals.

In this aspect, PAS has established its own tarbiyyah module and syllabus (manhaj) that is being used to develop its members through various programmes for its cadres including Usrah (group discussion), Liqa’ Fiqri (intelligentsia gathering), Ijtima’ Tarbawi (educational assembly), Mukhayyam Tarbawi (personal development camp) and others. Besides that, we also have our very own leadership academy known as Akademi Kepimpinan Pemuda (AKP) for the enhancement of our youth leadership. Moreover, various bureaus have been formed to cater for the development of school students, youths, university students, graduates and professionals.

In short, the best advice that one can give the young generation in order to excel in this world and the Hereafter is to possess a resounding belief and obedience to the Almighty Allah, The Creator. This is in line with the advice of Luqmanul Halim, one of the said pearls of wisdom we may apply in our daily lives. He said, “Indeed, our life in this world is like a ship sailing in the deep sea where many have drowned. If we wish to survive, then let us journey on the ship called piety, its coffers filled to the brim with faith and our trust in Allah, as the ship’s sails.”

PHYSICAL STRENGTH

The late Prof. Dr. Hamka, a well known South East Asian scholar once said, “The elders often regret that youths are always in a hurry and act rashly before thinking things out properly. On the other hand, the young generation accuses their older counterparts to be too slow in their actions and think too much. What a dizzyingly busy world it would be if the leadership were in the hands of the young. Contrarily, the world would be such a dull and boring place due to the sluggish pace of the older generation of leaders. Nevertheless, it is that combination of fiery spirit of the young and the shrewd judgement of the elders that creates a balance in the course of one’s life.”

The young generation has always given us the impression of being spirited, intelligent, active and energetic in their actions. Indeed, physical strength is an incomparable treasure of the young. Good health, being relentless and having ‘young blood’ can shake the world, given the correct methodology and effective strategy.

However, in this current modern and sophisticated era, physical strength is not everything. Our youths should be taught how to work smart and produce quality work but by utilizing as little physical effort as possible.

Therefore, the current youth leaders should be trained intensively to achieve the finest of quality and help contribute to the betterment of our next generation. A healthy competition towards delivering quality should be encouraged. Attaining quality should be treated as a contest rather than the finish line. If quality were to be treated as the end point, all these great ideas and reformations of the mind would become useless and come to naught.

In order to realize this vision, PAS Youth have formed a unit called Jabatan Amal Malaysia. This division serves as a trained squad, comprising voluntary uniformed youths and members of PAS. The establishment of Unit Amal is in line with the needs and the desire of young people today who wish to become involved in community activities and charitable volunteerism.

The other department formed is known as the Department of Arts, Culture and Sports (DACS), an umbrella to a few clubs like the Alternative Riding Club (ARC), Alternative Cycling Club (ACC), Alternative Photography Club (APC), Alternative 4WD Club (A4C) and others; all formed to attract youths with related interests and hobbies but guided by Islamic principles.

EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING

Next, attaining emotional stability and well-being should be the concluding element of our framework of an exemplary model for the young generation. As they are often deemed reckless and act rashless without much thought, there must be a mechanism in place so that our youths can reinvent themselves to become more open to discussion, more tolerant and willing to accept opinion from more knowledgeable and experienced elders. The concept of shura and discussion should be ingrained in the culture of the young. They should know that the Islamic struggle demands a clear understanding to bring about rational actions and solutions, not merely based on fervour alone.

The words of a poet should be contemplated deeply by today’s generation. He said, “When a person receives an opinion with prejudice, then all the evidence and rational argument will no longer be able to change our stance. This is because the walls of prejudice and bias have prevented the truth from entering the soul.”

Therefore, elements of positive emotions should be inculcated towards realizing a young generation that has strength, effectiveness and overall excellence. Recommendations by Professor Dr. Mohd. Kamal Hassan, Ex-Rector of the International Islamic University of Malaysia should serve as a guide on how emotional elements can be translated successfully into all aspects of our lives.

According to him, the five things which must be taken into consideration in any academic discourse or any discussion to find solutions are: to gather facts and objective data without any prejudice or favour, obtain all opinion regardless of whether they are pro or contradictory, exchange views between the pros and cons, acquiesce to the truth (haq) and finally to hold the discussion rationally without any seething emotions.

Related to this and as part and parcel of the solution to the current political scenario, PAS is now moving forwards and have introduced a Matured and Harmonious Political Culture or in the Malay language known as Budaya Politik Matang dan Sejahtera (BPMS). PAS President, Dato’ Seri Shaikh Abdul Hadi Awang in his policy speech during the last Muktamar (Annual General Meeting) outlined this new political approach towards a mature political culture and peaceful system or in Arabic, Muwajahah Silmiyah. It is our hope that with this strategy, it will shape a new landscape of politics in Malaysia with essentially Islam as its core.

All in all, this is in line with the concept of moderation that is enjoined by Islam. It is the key towards the birth of a generation that is able to adapt the wisdom of the mind and emotional well-being to all life pursuits. In fact, this is also the most important premise in achieving victory and excellence in the future.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, in the search for exemplary youth models of our next generation, the four elements namely intellectual, spiritual, physical and emotional elements need to be established and strengthened. All these four elements are required to complement each other in building character and a distinguished identity of our Ummah. Surely, knowledge, faith, good breeding and wisdom are the fundamental elements which must be mobilized and continue to permeate the next generation. Remember that today’s generation is the main determinant of the survival of future generations. It is us who are instrumental in shaping the direction and making decisions for the future glory and distinction of our religion, nation and Ummah!

***Presented at the 11th International Conference of Muslim Youth Cooperation on 1st – 2nd October 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey.