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Youth reform is a collective responsibility – Shaikh Ibraheem Zakzaky

Tuesday last week, team of reporters from Liberty Radio, Kaduna, interviewed Leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, His Eminence Shaikh Ibraheem Zakzaky at the Hussainiyyah Baqiyyatullah, Zaria. The brief interview centred on moral decadence in the society, and how to control it. Excerpts:

Liberty Radio: Can Shaikh, please comment on the current situation people found themselves?

 Shaikh Zakzaky: The current situation and era people found themselves, especially Nigerians, is very significant. This is an era where the world is global village, the world is narrowed. As such, whatever happens to one part of the world, affects the other. This is possible through technology such as satellite system, internet, television, movies, etc. this has great influence on the conduct and morality of the people.  As  a result, every nation tries in its own way to ensure impact and influence of these technologies were reduced to barest minimum, so as to safeguard the citizens’ dignity and conduct. This is not the case in Nigeria, where people are left to themselves with not safeguards.

Our youths have no safeguards or control measures over the influence of emerging popular cultures, foreign thoughts and ideas and incursion of technology from the west. The result is the apparent moral decadence of our youths.

We are worried because, we do not know the kind of society will be in future. It is the responsibility of every segment of the society to ensure that we have well-behaved youths and a promising society in future. The responsibility should not be left on the youths, parents, clerics or even leaders alone. It is a collective responsibility.

For the obvious reason that the youths were not safeguarded and no control measure was put in place over these technologies and foreign cultures, they consume without discrimination everything that comes their way. Very soon we may wake up to find our culture extinct.

Parents should endeavor to keep an eye on what their children watch on television, what they browse on the internet, what they read, where they go and with whom they move about. We cannot completely stop our children from all associations and engagements, but we limit them to good ones. That way, we can safeguard our children. Not everything brought about by these technologies are bad, there good one. Therefore emphasis and place your children on the good ones.

On the part of religious scholars, they should realize that their work is not limited to classroom studies, moral training should be their main preoccupation. Moral training is not only taught through books. There has to be an unrelenting effort on the part of the scholars in mosques, churches and preaching sessions on the need of good moral training among people.

There are enormous responsibility on the part of leaders in this regard. There has to be a Censors Board that controls what the citizens views on the internet or watch on satellite television. It is unfortunate we do not have it here; in other countries, there exists Censors Board. Here we are left to watch, browse and view whatever one desires. There has to be this control. I heard of a plan to put in place a law that will allow for blocking of some sites, especially pornographic sites. That is a good idea.

The government should as an obligation to ensure proper moral training and conduct of the citizens. Just as the National Assembly rejected gay marriage, the government should ensure it censors films and other emerging technologies imported into the country. This is their duty.

Last on the youths, the target. The youths should know that even though they were left to themselves without control, they should not go out of control. They should realize that, they are always at the receiving end in the negative application of these devices of delusion. He should wait until he is told not to do things that will eventually backfire and hurt him. He should ask himself the kind of person he wants to be at old age. A well-behaved old man is a product of a well-behaved youth. A morally decadent old man is a product of a morally decadent youth. It has never happened even in a fairy tale that a man begins from a morally behaved child, to a morally behaved youth and ended up as a morally decadent old man. It is impossible. A morally decadent old man has spent his youth unwisely. They youths should there ensure they spend their youth wisely by engaging in activities that will benefit them in this world and the hereafter. Do not be deceived by Satanic delusion that, you will become more religious when you grow up. Yu become religious as you grow, starting from childhood, not when you are a grown up. You are more vibrant as a youth, which is an opportunity to put that vibrancy to good use. If you are morally upright at your youth, there is good hope that your old age will also be good.

We hope this will be adhered to.

The interview was translated into English by Ibrahim Usman