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Contribution of Youth to National Development.

University of Colombo – 30th November 2006

بسم الله الرّحمن الرّحيم

ربّ اشرحلي صدري ويسّرلي أمري واحلل عُقدة مّن لُّلساني يفقهو قولي

الحمد لله ربّ العالَمين والعاقبة اللمتّقين والصّلوةُ والسّلام على رسولك سيّدنا محمّد

وأاله وأصحابه وأهل بيته وأهل طاعتك أجمعين – أمّا بعد

أعوذ بالله من الشيطان الرّجيم

بسم الله الرّحمن الرّحيم

فَوَرَبِّ السَّمَاءِ وَالأرْضِ إِنَّهُ لَحَقٌّ مِثْلَ مَا أَنَّكُمْ تَنْطِقُونَ

Chairman,  Dr. Khalideen, The Chief Guest Prof. Thilak Hettiarachchy, The Guest of Honour Prof. S.M.P.Senanayake, most respected and honoured ‘Ulama and religious leaders, Distinguished Scholars, Invitees, my dear friends

- Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please permit me to address all of you with out any exception as my dearest brothers, my dearest sisters and my dearest children – I greet you all with the Islamic Greetings of Peace and Blessings :

السّلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

The subject that I will be dealing will be the Ingredients and the various elements  collectively necessary for the youth to contribute to the development of society

and a nation.

Before I proceed with the subject proper, I would like to refer to the Quranic verse I quoted at the beginning:

فَوَرَبِّ السَّمَاءِ وَالأرْضِ إِنَّهُ لَحَقٌّ مِثْلَ مَا أَنَّكُمْ تَنْطِقُونَ

51.23 Then, by the Lord of heaven and earth, this is the very Truth, as much as the

fact that you can speak intelligently to each other.

To speak intelligently, – you need to use Maxims. adages, comparabilities,

exemplifications – quote unprecedented novel examples. Extract the root.

The more the intelligence in your speech, the more the truth that will be expounded – the more the truth that will be made manifest.

At the sametime, our Holy Prophet Muhummed [S] issues us a warning

قال رسولُ الله (ص):ءافةُالعلم النسيان

و ْإضاعته عن تحدث به غير ًٌَُاهله

The Messenger of Allah said: “The Calamity of Learning is Forgetfulness – the calamity of acquiring knowledge is forgetfulness -

And the destruction of knowledge, the ruination of knowledge, the waste of knowledge is your talk therewith with those not deserving of it.

Reflect, ponder and contemplate on these gems of wisdom.

This knowledge is very much similar to the knowledge expounded by teachers of other great religions and I sincerely hope and pray that this sharing of knowledge will not go waste –will not be subject to ruination or destruction  -   Insha Allah.

قال رسول الله (ص):

القُرْءانُ مأ ْدَبة ُ اللهِ فَتَعَلَّمُوا مَأ ْدَبَتَهُ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ

Rasoolullahi (S) said:

THE QURAN IS THE  UNIVERSITY OF ALLAH: SO LEARN AS MUCH AS YOU CAN IN THIS UNIVERSITY. (Bihar-ul-Anwaar (Oceans of Light): vol.92. page.19)

MUADHDHAB- مأ ْدَبة ُ – MEANS: EDUCATOR, TEACHER, TUTOR, and DISCIPLINER.

So the translation of University is very apt – because Quran is the Educator, Teacher, a Tutor and one that Disciplines

MUADHDHAB ALSO MEANS: ADHAB- أدب – POLITE, WELL MANNERED, CIVIL, COURTEOUS, URBANE, WELL BRED, REFINED, POLISHED, CULTURED.

So the Holy Quran Educates you, teaches you, tutors you and Disciplines you –

Educates you to be POLITE and WELL MANNERED, teaches you to be

CIVIL and COURTEOUS, tutors you to be URBANE and WELL BRED, and

disciplines you to be REFINED, POLISHED and CULTURED – spiritually,

materially, physically, mentally, and aesthetically.

Hence you can see that according to the Holy Quran and the Sayings of our Holy Prophet Muhummed (S) – A University is an institution, which refines those who enter it. It is an institution that makes you polite and well mannered, polished and cultured and if these noble characteristics are not found in the students who attend these institutions, it could be everything but a University.

What we see today, not only in Sri Lanka, but the world over – the educated youth, who are to be the future of this country and future of the world at large, are hell bent on inculcating and developing negative characteristics and behaviour – totally and diametrically opposite to what is expected as products

of a university.

How can such youth, contribute to National Development ?  It could only be a

foundation for National Destruction.

Now you can see the importance of religious guidance, that should pervade –

permeate and diffuse through these institutions – not the type of religious

fanaticism and fascism, but the real teachings of great teachers.

If the youth want to contribute to National Development, which in turn results in the development of peace, harmony and tranquility among various communitgies –   then

the Practical way of life expounded by great religious leaders who were men of great force, great dignity and purity of character should be emulated, imitated and contended.

The Holy Prophet (S) brought up the Muslim youth, guided them, and charged them with responsibilities, which makes us – as youth- to review in our roles in this present life. And he did it because he saw them as the best way to tackle the life of the youth and help them play their positive role in the society.

It is narrated in a  Prophetic tradition:

“I enjoin you toward the youth, because they represent the quickest way toward

every goodness.”

Great men stamp their mind upon their age and nation.

A succession of variously gifted men in different ages has in like manner contributed, by their life and example, to shape the multiform character of the world.

The lives of such men have become part of the public life of the people of the world, and their deeds and thoughts are regarded as among the most cherished bequeathments from the past.

What these great men left behind them, as one of the greatest treasures are, the example of a stainless life  -  of a great, honest, pure, and noble character – a model for any nation to form themselves by, in all time to come.

And It is the emphasis of our Holy Prophet Muhumed (S) that the guidance that should predominate if you are to contribute to the development of a nation – More than intellect, skill, and being a genius – It is this honour, integrity,

truthfulness, high and controlling sense of duty – in a word, it is nothing but Genuine Nobility of Character.

Men such as these are the true lifeblood of the country to which they belong.

They elevate and uphold it, fortify and ennoble it, and shed a glory over it by

the example of life and character which they have bequeathed.

Just talking about them only – is not enough – it is useless trying to rest on the laurels of our ancestors, we too have to put into practice what they taught us and practically showed us by way of illuminating examples and admonitions.

But it is not great men only that have to be taken into account in estimating the qualities of a nation, but the character that pervades the great body of the people  * The excellent character of a nation is not to be learnt only from its fine folks, its fine gentlemen and ladies; such you meet everywhere, and they are the same everywhere.”

* Statesmen, philosophers, and divines represent the thinking power of

society.

* There are men who found industries and carve out new careers, and

* The common body of working-people, from whom the national strength and spirit are built, must necessarily furnish the vital force –

It is the Youth, who are the vital force of a nation –

It is they who constitute the real backbone of every nation. –

The Household of the Holy Prophet – The Ahlal Bayth – and the Ashaabul Kiraam – the most noble of companions – were brilliant examples of such national strength then and their luminous characteristics are an effulgence – radiating even today.

Nations have their character to maintain as well as individuals; and under constitutional governments – where all classes – more or less – participate in the exercise of political power – the national character will necessarily depend more upon the moral qualities of the many than of the few.

And the same qualities which determine the character of individuals especially the youth, also determine the character of nations.

Unless they are high-minded, truthful, honest, virtuous, and courageous, they

will be held in very low esteem by other nations, and be without weight in the

world.

To have character, they must also be reverential, disciplined, self-controlling, and devoted to duty.

As for institutions, however good they may be, they will avail – but little – in maintaining the standard of national character.

It is the individual men, and the spirit which actuates them, that determine the moral standing and stability of nations.

Hence Islam concentrates on developing each and every individual in their pristine purity – completely free from dirt and contamination   –

Because it is a group of individuals that form a nation – and various nations that constitute the world.

Governments, in the long run, are usually no better than the people

governed.

Where the mass is sound in conscience, morals, and habit   -

the nation will be ruled honestly and nobly.

But where they are corrupt, self-seeking, and dishonest in heart, bound

neither by truth nor by law   -

the rule of rogues and wirepullers becomes inevitable.

That is why Rasoolullah Said, that a people get the ruler they deserve.

Without enlightened individuals – without enlightened youth – enlightened with freedom and purity of personal character, there can be no vigorous manhood, no true liberty in a nation.

Because it is imperative that youth integrate themselves in every branch of vocation – every occupation from politics to media – social and religious.

Political rights, however broadly framed, will not elevate a people individually depraved.

Political morality can never have any solid existence on a basis of individual immorality.

Even freedom, exercised by a debased people, would come to be regarded as a

nuisance   -    and

liberty of the press is nothing but a vent for licentiousness and moral abomination.

The life of nations, as of men, is a great treasury of experience. If it is wisely used, there will be social progress and improvement;

If it is misused, it will certainly turn out to be dreams, delusions, and failure.

Like men, nations are purified and strengthened by trials.

Some of the most glorious chapters in their history are those containing the record of the sufferings by means of which their character has been developed.

Love of liberty and patriotic feeling may have done much, but trial and suffering nobly borne more than all.

A great deal of what passes by the name of patriotism in these days consists of

the merest bigotry and narrow-mindedness; exhibiting itself in national

prejudice, national conceit, amid national hatred.

It does not show itself in deeds, but in boastings–in howlings, gesticulations, and shrieking helplessly for help – in flying flags – holding placards and pasting billboards and posters and singing bawdy songs – and in perpetual grinding at the hurdy-gurdy of long-dead grievances and long – remedied wrongs.

To be infested by SUCH a patriotism as this –  is,  perhaps, amongst the greatest of curses that can befall any country.

The youth should be trained by the older people to be free of such filth that has penetrated every nook and corner of this nation.

As there is something that could be described as ignoble patriotism, there is also a noble patriotism –

The patriotism that invigorates and elevates a country by noble work -

that does its duty truthfully and manfully –

Patriotism is that which lives an honest, sober, and upright life, and strives to make the best use of the opportunities for improvement that present themselves on every side;

Patriotism is that which cherishes the memory and example of the great men of old, who, by their sufferings in the cause of religion or of freedom, have won for themselves a deathless glory, and for their nation.

In our lifetime we have seen the decline and fall of countries and we know that they were attributable to the general corruption of its people, and to their engrossing love of pleasure and idleness –

If citizens ceased to pride themselves on the virtues of character within the framework of great teachers; whatever you have built up will certainly collapse

and that nation does not deserve to live.

The stability of institutions must depend upon stability of character of youth.  Any number of depraved units cannot form a great nation.

The people may seem to be highly civilized, But at the first touch of adversity – you will find them falling into pieces.

Without integrity of individual character, they can have no real strength, cohesion or soundness.

They may be rich, polite, and artistic; but they may be hovering on the brink of ruin.  They live for themselves only – Their aim is nothing but pleasure of the self  -             such a nation is doomed, and its decay is inevitable.

Where national character ceases to be upheld -

When a nation ceases to practise the virtues of truthfulness, honesty, integrity, and justice, it does not deserve to live.

And when the time arrives in any country when wealth has so corrupted, or pleasure so depraved, or factions have so infatuated the people, that honour, order,  obedience, virtue, and loyalty have seemingly become things of the past; and if character be irrecoverably lost, then indeed there will be nothing left

worth saving.

Hence the Islamic View with regard to the Present day Responsibilites: as Muslim youths is just like that of yesterday.

In addition to our religious responsibility, which was made upon us by our closeness to Islam that obliged us to follow it and seek its teachings – likewise, there are other social, scientific and cultural responsibilities that require us to abide by in facing any challenge toward them.

I shall give you some parts of these responsibilities in brief:

All responsibility ends in the sight of Allah, because He didn’t create us as a joke:  The Holy Quran says:

إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِرًا وَإِمَّا كَفُورًا

76.3 We showed him the Way: whether he be grateful or ungrateful (rests on his will).

The responsibility –as youth – towards our Creator is generally outlined in 3 questions: Of what? In what? To what?

The Responsibility Of what?

This is a special question about our knowledge of Allah…for we have known Him in a general sense, but we are in need of knowing Him in more detail – both from His signs in the universe and His signs in the Holy Book.

The more our knowledge of Allah increases, the more our faith, love and obedience in Him increase.

The Responsibility In what?

This is a question on the purpose of creation; did He create us in order to punish us? Did He bring us into existence in order to play a certain drama, then after the play we all depart? Or is the purpose much higher above these?

This is a great building – every one of us has a role to play in bringing a piece of block or blocks – and there is the role of the engineer -

And also there are those who want to destroy the building or not to leave it to reach its completion stage.

Thus, a great work cannot be without problems and difficulties; repairing here, patching there, rebuilding here and completing there.

The Responsibility To what?

This question deals with direction and destiny – to where are we being taken? Are we in a ship disturbed by waves without knowing where it is heading?

Or is there a lamp that is lighting our way?

By answering this question it means we have known our responsibility in the sight of Allah, while starting on the way and while reaching the destination.

Therefore, your responsibility in the sight of Allah is based on the capability given to you from intellect, body, soul, spirit and His guidance to you in the ways of faith, action and favors.

There is a responsibility on you.

Islam is the responsibility of a Muslim, because it is – as we know – not just pronouncing the two testimonies, nor is it worshipping only, rather it is the whole of man’s actions.

I will give you some injunctions laid down by our Holy Prophet Muhummed (S)

“Whoever wakes up without giving much care to the Affairs of the Creations of Allah – Man, animals, insects etc., is not among us, and

Whoever hears a Human-being seeking help from his fellow-beings, but did not answer him, he is not a Muslim.”

“He is not among us who cheats or hurts a creation of Allah.”

“He is not among us who doesn’t respect his elders and be kind to the little ones.”

“He is not among us who calls toward tribalism, factions and divisions.”

“He is not among us who does not take account of himself everyday.”

“He is not among us who sleeps with his stomach full while his neighbour is hungry.”

“He is not among us who does not work for his Hereafter.”

“He is not among us who doesn’t control himself when he is angry, nor does good to his companion, nor does good to the one who does good to him, nor escorting the one who escorts him and nor be close to the one who is closer to him.”

From these narrations, we can understand that, as far as Islam is concerned, there is responsibility in everything. And that the words ‘he is not among us’ excluded anybody who doesn’t have the feeling of responsibility.

Our ages are also a gift from Allah.

A wide or narrow distance of a fertile land that allows us to cultivate in them, but where we will be asked on the day of the great harvesting time (the Hereafter) about what we have done with the land and what we have received from it.

The Almighty Allah had given each and everyone of us a container, and said: “Take it and fill it with what you want, but you are responsible for what you fill it with.”

Here we differed:    Among us there are those who filled their container with sand and there are those who filled their container with a valuable resource, while there are those who filled their container with poison and there are those who filled it with floating dust.

Here it is in our hand – it is left to us to think about what we will fill our own container – our period of life – with.

As youth we are responsible for benefiting in the time of our youthfulness, because it is the most foremost of our life, and it is our Quranic duty to help in the development and provide services to the religion through giving a helping hand to fellow men to build a nation of peace, harmony, security and tranquility.

We are also responsible for not wasting our time joking and playing; too much talking that will neither nourish nor satisfy hunger. And not wander about in the streets, markets and other public places; instead, we should try to follow it with good and beneficial things, which will benefit society at large and us.

We are responsible for building our personality in its period of growth and development We are also responsible for competing with time. This means making use of every minute and second of ours in developing everything that comes into our hands; be it a part of our personality, our society or our nation,  because you are responsible for your today, tomorrow, and future.

The responsibility of time is not only when we are alive, rather it continues even after death. Because good remembrance, nice history and what man leaves of scientific experiences will be an everlasting treasure to the people who come.

That is why our Holy Prophet (S) said:

قال رسولُ الله (ص):

إغْتَنَمَ خًمْسًا قَبْلَ خَمْسٍ :  شَبَابَكَ قَبْلَ هَرَمِكَ – وَسِحَّتَكَ قَبْلَ سَقْمِك –

وَغِنَاكَ قَبْلَ فَقْرِك – وفَرَاغَكَ قَبْلَ شُغْلِك – وَحَيَاتَكَ قَبْلَ موْتِك

“Seize the opportunity of five things to be used fruitfully and productively and usefully,  before you lose five others: Your youth before your senescence – your old age; your health before your illness; your riches before your poverty;  your leisure before your occupation; and your life before your death.”

It is worthy of observation the importance of the stage of youth, the stage of

striving, sacrificing and offering. Lifetime Should Be usefully spent

Bihar-ul-Anwar, vol. 77, p. 77

Since the beginning of creation, science and knowledge were and will continue to be in man’s fight against ignorance, unbelief and retardation. Indeed, the difference is great between the one who knows and the one who doesn’t know,.

The one who knows is in the full Blaze of Brilliant light -  while those who do not know are in total darkness. The first is strong and the second is weak.  The first one is rich and the second is destitute.

In Islam knowledge is a responsibility – Our Holy Prophet (S) said:

“Whoever knows  -  his knowledge will guide him toward action.”

Thus, we must work with our knowledge for the service of our society and the whole human race.

Science and knowledge are not just reading books only, rather they are Reading – then contemplation, thinking, experiencing and benefiting from its treasures.

And, also, the responsibility of knowledge is protecting justice and working for its propagation among people.

Have you given your knowledge to the one who is in need of it?

Have you placed it on the way of destruction?

Have you used it for the purpose of growth and development?  Or

did you place it inside a locked container?

Indeed, knowledge is for all. Whoever deprives others from his own knowledge, Allah will take it away from him. Said our Holy Prophet (S).

This era that is called the “Era of Knowledge”. We are in need of knowing many things We must connect the wheel of institution or university with the movement of the society, because life cannot go without these two good things.

Our scientific responsibility requires us to seek old and present knowledge And say:      رَبِّ زِدْنيْ عِلْمًا      -     O my Lord! Advance me in knowledge.

It is your duty to play your own role through the capability given to you by the Almighty Allah, even by adding even one block in building up this civilization. It is a Quranic Injunction.

So much to be said, but the time constraint does not permit us to go further – I shall, therefore wind up with an appropriate point to ponder:

Point to Ponder.

Luqman al Hakim was a wise man of great reputation in ancient Arabia. (Chapter 31 of the Holy Quran is dedicated to him) – He was a person of extremely good manners, sublime manners and excellent character and a person of great wisdom.  People asked him : “O Luqman,  how is it that you came to acquire such sublime manners and how is it that you are full of wisdom?”

He replied :  “I learned good manners from the bad-mannered, ILL-MANNERED – [when others behave very badly, it is repulsive and revolting to me – and If I behave in that manner – others too will find me repulsive and nauseating.

I learned wisdom from the blind – They do not put their feet forward without feeling the ground first.

There can never be a spoken or written word from which the wise cannot benefit.

But even a hundred books of wisdom or a hundred speeches cannot make a fool wiser,

if he is not ready to benefit from them.

Think deeply, Reflect, Ponder and Meditate on these words of wisdom.

Thank you all for your kind patience.

May Allah in His Mercy Guide us all along the right path –

وآخِرُ دَعْوَانَا اَن ِالْحَمْدُ لِلهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِيْن

السّلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

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