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Why Are Muslim Youth Confused?

It is undeniable that a great many Muslim youth are disoriented and confused – some more than others – and the situation is getting worse by the day. Some cases yet morph into apostasy, either in relation to outward Islamic practice or its fundamental articles of faith.

The phenomenon is so subtle that a person may not even be aware of what is happening and that he has been affected by the disease. The condition may be dubbed a “silent killer”, in that it develops slowly and its signs and symptoms are often ignored or misunderstood.

This is unfortunate because Muslim youth signify the hope and future of Islam and Muslims. They are the actual wealth to be cherished and cultivated most. It would be suicidal to disregard and fail to accommodate their intrinsic aspirations and needs.

The destiny of communities lies in the hands of their youth. Those communities which fail to realize this lack orientation, purpose and vision, and are soon ruined. Their youth then become their biggest liability and burden.

The entrenched inept structures and systems in such communities fear their youth most and their inherent vibrancy, enthusiasm and passion. Thus, instead of being nurtured, optimized and universally benefited from, they are often exploited and manipulated.

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From the very beginning, youth are subjected to rigid socio-political and educational systems which aim to produce blindly loyal, albeit credulous and gullible, servants.

Read: Muslim Youth: Hold On to Who You Are

Youth that critically think, question and put forth alternative organizational or procedural models do not represent a desired outcome of the said systems.

Conversely, those communities which recognize that youth should be the building blocks of every constructive initiative and program, and that they should occupy the central place and play the pivotal role in the nation-building processes, are more visionary, dynamic and progressive. They offer more to the world than the advocates of the former model.

Indeed, the relationship between the advancement of a community in all fields and the brilliance, as well as power, of its youth is causal, the latter always being the cause and the former the effect.

It is on account of this that among the foundational goals of maqasid al-shari’ah is the preservation of lineage or future generations (hifz al-nasl).

Closely related is also the preservation of religiosity or faith (hifz al-din), of intellect (hifz al-‘aql), of life (hifz al-nafs) and of property or wealth (hifz al-mal).

As the torch-bearers for their communities’ sustainable well-being and future, the overall interests of youth, more than any other social category, are entailed in the notion of maqasid al-shari’ah.

A society that strives to make accessible and affordable all types of good, such as proper education, employment, and means together with facilities for moral and spiritual development, honors its youths and is an excellent society.

Whereas a society that impedes or complicates access to good, but widely opens and facilitates access to all types of evil, such as intoxicants, drugs, prostitution, pornography, corrupt entertainment, deficient education and economic systems, dishonors its youth. Such is a wretched society.

The main causes of Muslim youth’s confusion today are as follows.

Improper Education

It is almost impossible to find in the Muslim world an educational system that is at once comprehensive and integrative, in the sense that it combines and strives for excellence in all fields of knowledge.

No system adequately covers the total physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual development of Muslim youth. The approaches are always imbalanced, some segments of education, as well as life, being treated at the expense of the others. There is a never-ending tug-of-war for supremacy between different educational philosophies, standards and their stakeholders.

The processes are interchangeably branded as secularized, de-spiritualized, radicalized, dichotomous, traditionalized, modernized, etc.

In the context of Malaysia, for example, Dr. Rosnani Hashim wrote about educational dualism whereby two mutually-independent systems upholding mutually exclusive and possibly contradictory educational philosophies operate simultaneously. Like most Muslim countries, Malaysia, too, grapples with this dual system of education.

Read: Muslim Youth Survival Kit

The biggest victim in the whole process, undeniably, is Muslim youth. They are torn between their treasured Islamic beliefs, traditions and values, and such as were imposed on them by means of education, with many not only contradicting, but also challenging the former.

Much of education in the Muslim world is based on, and is permeated with, foreign worldviews and values. Hence, Muslim young students find themselves repeatedly in a lose-lose situation.

Their original religious education – regardless of its amount and intensity – and their built-in Muslim identity are not quite compatible with what is served to them in the name of education and progress. Their young, fragile and innocent minds and souls are no match for what is constantly hurled at them.

Since the two perspectives are irreconcilable and, at the same time, neither could be disposed of, Muslim students have no choice but to try to do the impossible and imbibe both the options.

However, such spells a disaster. It facilitates in ethical and spiritual terms what is called in psychology “multiple personality disorder” or “dissociative identity disorder” (a condition that is characterized by the presence of at least two clear personality/self states, called alters, which may have different reactions, emotions, and body functioning).

Read: Dissociative Identity Disorder

That denotes both a twin and embryonic manifestations of hypocrisy as well.

No wonder then that many Muslim youth are easy prey for the luring advances of such worldviews and ideologies as liberalism, secularism, materialism, modernism and post-modernism, where – on the whole – metaphysical realities and laws are discarded, the role of the revealed knowledge discredited, objective truths and high moral standards dispensed with, and freedom of, and from, religion aggressively propagated.

Only this can explain, for example, why numerous Muslims worship Almighty Allah in mosques, but idolize and exalt something else in the spheres of work, business, politics, art, architecture, education, entertainment and culture.

It also explains why a great many Muslims build mosques, religious schools and other devout establishments, but, at the same time, build as many, if not more, “temples” of materialism, consumerism, secularism, modernism and post-modernism in the forms of commercial, entertainment, media, sports, political and cultural institutions and bodies.

In the arena of education, Muslim youth are intended to end up extolling others and other people’s histories, traditions, cultures and civilizations, and to get alienated as much as possible form their own. The systems and personnel are carefully enacted and employed from within and without for the projected goals.

Knowledge as power (scientia potentia est), education as the fundamental precondition for political development, empowerment, democracy and social justice, and education as the most powerful weapon which can be used to change the world, had to be divested from Muslims’ domain. Through knowledge and education, Muslims are not to liberate and enlighten themselves, but to enhance their subjugation and servitude to others.

Wrong Methods for Teaching Islam to Youth

About Dr. Spahic Omer
Dr. Spahic Omer, an award-winning author, is an Associate Professor at the Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). He studied in Bosnia, Egypt and Malaysia. In the year 2000, he obtained his PhD from the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur in the field of Islamic history and civilization. His research interests cover Islamic history, culture and civilization, as well as the history and theory of Islamic built environment. He can be reached at: [email protected].