By Sheikh Muhammad Turi
We relate to you their story In truth; they were youths Who believed in their Lord, and We increased them In guidance; We gave strength to their hearts; Behold, they stood up And said; our Lord is The Lord of the heavens And of the earth; never Shall we call upon any god Other than Him: if we Did, we should indeed Have uttered an enormity!” Q18:13-14
May His everlasting peace and blessings be upon His noble servant our master Muhammad and his purified progeny.
Shaaban is the eighth month of Islamic calendar. It is very important not only for notable historic events but most attractively as it precedes the Ramadan kareem, the month of fasting which is relatively a school set aside for servants to strive hard so as to draw closer to Allah the most High!
The month is related to the noble messenger peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his family just as Rajab is related to Allah and Ramadan to the Ummah as a whole. Some of the significant historic events of the month include;
Birthday of Imam Husain son of Ali son of Abi Talib – the chief martyr on Thursday, 3rd, four years after hijra in Medina. There are many relevant du’as read in this regard which are obtainable in the books of supplication such as Mafaateehul jinaan and Dhiya’us saaliheen among others.
Birthday of Abul Fadl al – Abbas son of Imam Ali son of Abi Talib (as) on the fourth. The day is popularly referred as day of the disabled of war, and people are strongly encouraged to assist the needy and the less privileged.
Birthday of Aliy al – Akbar son of Imam Ali son of Abi Talib in the 33rd year after hijra. He is popularly remembered for the audacious role he played in the Karbala tragedy where the family of the noble prophet was attacked and brutally murdered by the Yazid – led forces during the Umayyad regime.
Birthday of Imam Muhammad al – Mahdi may Allah hasten his re – emergence in the 255 years after hijra according to Ahlul – bait traditions.
Generally speaking, we are highly encouraged to put more effort in all acts of worship such as recitation of the holy Qur’an, superegatory prayers and other forms of remembrance so as to draw nearer to Allah.
I will elaborate on the above points Insha’Allah in due course. Eleventh of Shaaban is considered as the youth day in the Islamic republic of Iran and some parts of Lebanon. The day was named after Ali Akbar, the brave son of Imam Ali who gallantly fought in defense of the family of the noble prophet in the brutal murder they faced at Karbala in the 61st year after hijra.
The event serves as an opportunity for us to analyze the role of the most productive part of our population, the youth.
Nigeria is immensely blessed with high population. According to the 2001 national headcount the population was put at 88, 514, 501 with 2.75% annual increase. Based on that the country should not have less than 150 – 160 million people with over 50% at its productive age!
With these statistics at hand the country shall manipulate other available resources such as the petroleum, solid minerals and the good agricultural land for overall development.
However our teeming youth population has relatively turned a menace than a blessing due to a number of problems.
A great number of our youths are unemployed. This is a very clear problem because as a popular proverb says an idle mind is in the devil’s workshop. So it is very bad to stay idle. The youth should wake up and strive hard to get employed so that he or she could remain self – reliant.
And to solve this menace in the society, the stakeholders should play their respective roles for the societal development. These include government, non – governmental organizations and philanthropic individuals in empowerment initiatives.
Drugs are simply substances produced by pharmaceutical industries for the cure of ailments or unpleasant situation. The medicinal products are religious, traditional or modern and could be in solid, liquid or gaseous form. All medicines are ideally taken on the orders of a professionally qualified medical doctor or relevant expert. Drug abuse on the other hand is the act of taking drugs without diagnosis and prescription of a professional medical doctor. Therefore self – medication and drug purchase from the road side vendors is a very bad habit that must be discouraged by all.
Based on the available statistics, drug abuse as an undesirable phenomenon has reached an alarming rate especially in the northern part of this country. Regardless of the behavioral and psychological implications of this abuse, the youths are very much engaged in this practice for misinformed decisions. The drugs commonly abused include the sleeping pills, pain killers, heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine among others. And even though the youths are the most engaged some elderly people also partake including women!
The main effect of this abuse is the brain distortion which has catastrophic implication on the socio – economic life of the concerned individual and the society at large!
Indulgence in such uncivilized habits renders its victims to different sorts of criminal activities. Most of the criminals in our society are drug addicts, so the parents must play their role to ensure that their children are brought morally and academically upright as the popular proverb says charity begins at home.
The government on the other side must play its role as the umbrella through its agencies like the national agency for food and drug control, NAFDAC and the national drug law enforcement agency, NDLEA among others. The non – governmental organizations, schools and individuals also have significant role to play in this direction.
According to UN data released on November, 4th 2010; Nigeria ranked 142 out of 169 least prosperous countries. The UNDP has rated the country as 41st, in terms of human development, which is based on education, wealth and life expectancy through human development index.
The GDP per head is 1,224 dollar compared to 9,812 in South Africa, 1,628 in Kenya and 2,197 in Cameroun in 2010. While life expectancy was 48.4 year on the average, 57.1 Ghana, 51.7 Cameroun, Benin 62.3, Uganda 54.1 and Lethoto 46. The need for government to keep a close watch with practical steps on this trend for its citizens cannot be overemphasized.
Looking at this problem we must emphasize the need for the youths as the most productive part of our population to actively take part in our societal development projects to the best of their ability:
Allah says “…. and whatever good ye send forth for yourselves, ye shall find it with Allah, yea, better and Greater, in reward, and seek ye the Grace of Allah; for Allah is oft – forgiving, Most Merciful” Q73:20
According to a popular saying of the prophet “The best of men is he who benefit the people”
Impressively, the youth forum of the Islamic movement focuses more attention in this aspect. Its members immensely contribute to the attainment of moral and academic excellence of the students especially at lower levels. They also disburse educational aids to such educational institutions during their annual programmes.
No doubt education is the foundation for all developments. Therefore whichever society that needs to develop must embrace education at all levels and all hands must be on deck to achieve that. And this must strictly cover the moral aspect as well “I have been assigned to enhance the ethical practices” – the prophet (s).
As noted earlier, the society must be self – reliant. To achieve this, the youth forum has empowerment initiatives that assist the unemployed to achieve self – reliance. Generally speaking our youth are at different levels with regard to the empowerment initiatives. We hope they should never relent in their effort to attain greater height in this direction. Most impressively the initiative is gender -sensitive and therefore sisters are not left behind. The initiative has greater prospects especially as the philanthropic individuals actively participate to give their contribution as well.
3. Other Community Development Projects
The youth forum actively participates in other community development projects in a multi – faceted ways. These include provision of humanitarian aids to the orphanage, drainages/ road rehabilitation and cemetery among others.
While commending the efforts of the youths under the general youth forum and Abul Fadl al – Abbas foundation, I hope they will never relent in the least as consistently encouraged by the leader of the Islamic movement in Nigeria, sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky (H).
In the words of Imam Khomeini “we wish the well being of society, ever since we have been following the footsteps of the noble prophets who were assigned to attain the prosperity for the societies”
It is no doubt through this we can attain the much needed change for societal reform and justice as the youth is the backbone for all social changes.
“… verily, never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves with their own souls …” Qur’an: 13: 11
Wassalamu alaikum warahmatullah!