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How Prophet Muhammad Treated the Youth

Throughout his noble life, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) had emphasized the significance of the youth.

He empowered the young men and women of his time and left behind an extraordinary legacy that continues to inspire young people till this very day.

The Prophet was a genius in dealing with the youth. Love was the underlining factor behind his relationship with the youth. His charisma and personality attracted children, teenagers, and young adults to his message in droves.

When studying the seerah, it is evident that a large number of his followers were in fact young people. The well-known author Adil Salahi, writes in his biography of the Prophet,

“A new message which advocates a total change in the social order often attracts young people whose vision of a better life gives them a strong motive to work hard for their beliefs.” [1]

Empathy and Empowerment

The Prophet’s message was an empowering message that transformed the youth in becoming the best they could be. Salahi explains,

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“Islam has a simple message which appeals directly to the human mind and strongly appeals to human nature. Many of these young people were of great character.”[2]

The Prophetic approach in interacting with the youth was that of anchoring the soul to its innate nature: the firah. With love and empathy, the Prophet nourished the youth; he instructed them, advised them, empowered them, and developed them.

So, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) developed them emotionally and spiritually. He demonstrated to the world the incredible heights that could be reached with young people marching in the frontlines.

This is not an exaggeration in any way, but in fact, a reality that had manifested itself in seventh century Arabia under the leadership, mentorship, and guidance of the Prophet.

The Prophet knew very well the greatness and potential of the youth. For this reason, he was extremely keen on engaging them. Added to this, the youth possessed a profound love for the Prophet. The bond was such that they were ready to sacrifice their own lives for him.

How did the Prophet develop such a strong connection with the youth? Why was he so successful in attracting the young generation to his cause?

In the following series of articles, I will address these very points and present scenes from the seerah that illustrate how the Prophet interacted with the youth and how he established healthy relationships with them.

The Youth of the Cave

The Surah titled Al-Kahf or “The Cave,” presents the narrative of a group of young men who retreated to a cave in order to protect their faith and lives. It provides inspiration to young people who are struggling to maintain their identity and religion amongst various temptations and hardships.

Despite all the extreme challenges, the young men in this Surah exhibited firm faith. As a result, God increased them in guidance:

{They were young men who believed in their Lord, and We increased them in guidance.} (Al-Kahf 18:13).

Surat al-Kahf responds to those who questioned the Prophet about the strange and wondrous tale of a group of young men in ancient times, also known as the “sleepers of the cave.”

Imam Ibn Kathir comments that these were youth who were more accepting of the truth and more guided than the elders who had become stubbornly set in their ways and clung to the religion of falsehood. He writes,

“For the same reason, most of those who responded to Allah and His Messenger were young people.

As for the elders of Quraysh, most of them kept to their religion and only few of them became Muslims. So Allah tells us that the people of the cave were young men.” [3]

Prime Example

Surat al Kahf serves as a timeless gem for all believers until the end of time—especially for the youth. God loved the actions of these young men and recorded their tale in the eternal guidance to humanity, the Qur’an. This elucidates the honor God gives to young people who believe in Him.

This Surah gave the Prophet and his followers solace. It was revealed during the Makkan period when believers were facing enormous opposition and the possibility of being killed—similar to the “sleepers of the cave.” It strengthened the Prophet morally and spiritually as well as motivated him to  have trust in the youth, after having full confidence in God of course.

A warm relationship

The Prophet had a very special place for the youth in his heart. From the children in his family to the young people in the community, everyone got to experience the warmth of his presence and love.

It is reported that the Prophet used to kiss and play with his grandchildren. Imam Al-Bukhari cites the following incident in his marvelous compilation of Prophetic traditions:

Allah’s Messenger kissed Al-Ḥasan bin `Ali while Al-Aqra` bin Ḥabis At-Tamimi was sitting beside him.

Al-Aqra` said, “I have ten children and I have never kissed anyone of them.”

Allah’s Messenger cast a look at him and said, “Whoever is not merciful to others, will not be treated mercifully.” [4]

Kindness and Compassion

It was a part of his nature to show compassion by way of embracing, kissing, cuddling, smiling, etc. In the contemporary world, doctors advise us to provide such form of attention to children as this positively impacts their growth.

This practice was intrinsically a part of the Prophet’s conduct. Any child or young person who would encounter the Prophet would be deeply affected by his merciful conduct. Usama bin Zaid narrated:

“Allah’s Messenger used to put me on (one of) his thighs and put Al-Ḥasan bin ‘Ali on his other thigh, and then embrace us and say, “O Allah! Please be Merciful to them as I am merciful to them.” [5]

It is furthermore evident from seerah and Ḥadith literature that the Prophet had a very intimate and emotional bond with his own children. Upon the death of his beloved son Ibrahim, the Prophet wept and expressed his grief.

The great Indian Scholar Sayyed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi makes mention of the Prophet’s reaction to the passing of his beloved son: He said in sorrow,

The eye weeps and the heart is sad, but we do not say anything to incur the anger of Allah. We are sad, O Ibrahim.”

Go to part 2.

[1] Adil Salahi, Muhammad Man and Prophet (Leicestershire, The Islamic Foundation, 2012), 83.

[2] Ibid., 84.

[3] Isma’il ibn Kathir, Tafsir ibn Kathir (Riyadh: Makataba Dar-us-Salam, 2000), 120.

[4] Muhammad ibn Isma’il al-Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari, vol.8 (Riyadh: Maktaba Dar-us- Salam, 1997), 30.

[5] Ibid., 32.