Cultivating the Youth
Captivating Khuṭbah from the Seminar, Life of a Young Muslim (July 2016), extolling the benefits of cultivating the youth from a young age.
Cultivation Begins with the Parents
Abū Khadījah delivers a very stirring sermon on how to cultivate children/youth. He says that Allāh has commanded parents to cultivate their children and for children to remain steadfast upon what they have been cultivated with.
The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said that there are seven who will be shaded on that day when there is no shade (the Day of Judgement) and from amongst them is the youth who has been raised with the worship of Allāh.
Allāh has placed responsibility on the one who cultivates (parents) and the one who has been cultivated (children/youth). Cultivation begins with the parents. They have been given the responsibility of taking care of and raising the youth upon uprightness and upon the worship of Allāh. The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) used to address the youth specifically. For example, he advised the youth to get married if they are able to because it removes temptations and keeps one chaste. If one cannot get married, the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) advised that he should fast. As another example, the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) advised young ʿAmr ibn Abī Salamah to say “Bismillāh” before he ate, and to eat with his right hand and take from what is closest to him when eating. So even the etiquette of eating was not overlooked by the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam). He (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) focused on the youth; he never neglected them. He (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) advised a young Ibn ʿAbbas to be mindful of Allāh. The youth need to be guided whilst they are young so they can grow into mature, responsible adults.
Fear Allāh, O youth, when the elders advise you to be dutiful to Allāh remain steadfast upon their advice so you can be from the ones who will be shaded on the Day of Judgement. Ustādh Abū Khadījah quotes Shaykh al-Fawzān who said that parents are responsible for their children. Allāh has placed responsibility upon each person — the ruler, mother, father, wife, husband, children. How were each one of us in regards to our responsibility? Parents, did you cultivate your children? Children, how did you take care of your aged parents?
Parents are commanded to cultivate their children upon ṣalah. They are obligated to tell their children to pray when they are seven — This is the first thing that they should be cultivated upon. If they are cultivated upon ṣalah at a young age then the rest of the obligations become easy for them. The prayer purifies and adds discipline.
Children Should Be Taught How To Behave Infront of Their Parents
Parents should teach their children how to behave in their presence. Teach them that they should serve their parents before they serve themselves; that when they are guests, they should allow their parents to sit first before they sit; and when they are hosts, they should serve the guests. Girls should help their mothers in the kitchen and with taking care of the home. Children should be taught the etiquettes of sitting in the presence of their parents — They should never sit with their feet pointing at their parents; they should sit as though they were sitting in front of a teacher. When Jibrʿīl was teaching the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) about Islam, he sat with his knees touching the Prophet’s (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam).
The youth should not be allowed to have too much time on their hands and too much money either. That can be very dangerous for them. Occupy their time with good and only give them enough money to buy what they need.
Parents Must Be Good Role Models for Their Children
Parents must be good role models for their children. If parents are poor role models then they have neglected their obligations. Parents are advised to cleanse their homes and keep them free from that which will make their children go astray. Maintain the youth by being a good shepherd who does not fall asleep in the land of predators. Spend time with them even if it causes you hardship. Always pay attention to them. Be a shepherd who is alert. Protect them from the ideologies that are prevalent in today’s society — obsession with wealth, women, fornication.
Abū Khadījah implores the youth, “Think about the terror on that Day when you are covered with sweat and the shade is offered, but it’s not offered to you. Don’t be deceived by the glitter of the dunya for it is a prison for the believer and a jannah for the Kuffār.” He reminds us that this life is temporary and the real life begins in the hereafter. The hereafter is forever so which one is worth striving for?
Allāh will unite the parents with their children in Jannah if parents fulfil their responsibilities and if children follow their parents in goodness.
Abū Khadījah exhorts parents to not leave their flock to be devoured by lions, especially in these times. If the youth are cultivated well, they will feel remorseful if they fall into sin. They will remember the piety of their parents.
He ends by asking Allāh for tawfīq, ḥidāyah and righteous children and to put kindness in our hearts for our parents and the communities around us that need our help.