BY MALAM YUSUF ABDULLAH.
In the name of Allah who states “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 for its notable historic events but as it precedes the Ramadan kareem, the month of fasting, a spiritual school with multiplier effects meant to draw closer to Allah the most High! The month is related to the noble messenger just as Rajab is related to Allah and Ramadan to the Ummah as a whole. The month’s commemorated events include the noble births of Imam Husain son of Ali son of Abi Talib – the chief martyr on Thursday 3rd, four years after hijra in Medina; the audacious Abul Fadl al – Abbas son of Imam Ali son of Abi Talib on the fourth, popularly referred to as the day of the disabled of war or health care and insurance day in Iran; Aliy al – Akbar son of Imam Ali son of Abi Talib in the 33rd year after hijra, referred to as youth day, and Imam Muhammad al – Mahdi may Allah hasten his re – emergence in the 255 years after hijra according to Ahlul – bait traditions. Similarly, the birthday of the revered leader of the Islamic Movement, Shaikh Ibraheem el-Zakzaky is also remembered on the 15th of the month.
We are highly encouraged to put in more efforts in all acts of worship such as recitation of the noble Qur’an, superegatory prayers, charity and other related acts capable of drawing servant nearer to Allah in the month and beyond. In fact, Rajab to Ramadan is a unique opportunity to acquire the pleasure of Allah the Most High. Looking at the significant role of the youth in general, I decided to expatiate on the youths’ activities in the Islamic Movement towards societal reform. Generally speaking, the significant role played by the youth, as the most productive part of population, in every society cannot be overemphasised. Of the immense population size Nigeria is blessed with, according to the 2001 National headcount, over 50 percent was at its productive age! With the statistics at hand, the country could strategically manipulate other available resources such as solid minerals and 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.
Youths And Societal Problems
A great number of our youths are unemployed. And the popular proverb says an idle mind is in the devil’s workshop. So it is very bad to stay idle. Youths should wake up and strive hard to get employed so that he or she could remain self-reliant and help others for societal development. To solve this menace, government and the private sector as stakeholder should play more significant roles to provide empowerment initiatives for the country’s socioeconomic stability.
Drug abuse is another obvious problem where drugs are mishandled without diagnosis and prescription of a qualified physicians. Self – medication and general misuse must be discouraged as well. Based on the available statistics, the phenomenon has reached an alarming rate especially in the North. Regardless of the behavioral and psychological implications of this abuse, the youths are very much engaged in this practice for misinformed decisions. Beside the youths, some elderly people also partake including women! The main effect of this abuse is brain distortion which has catastrophic implication on the socio-economic life of concerned individual and the society at large! Indulgence in such uncivilized habits renders its victims to all sorts of criminal activities. Most of the criminals in the society are drug addicts, so parents must play their role to ensure that their children are brought up morally and academically upright as the popular proverb says charity begins at home. Not the NDLEA alone, all hands must be on deck to stop the unfortunate trend including self- medication and consultation of unfit medical practitioners.
An apparent economic index is the issue of poverty. According to UN data released on November, 4th 2010; Nigeria was 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 was 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 years 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 cannot be overemphasised. Looking at this problem, we must emphasize the need for youths as the most productive part of our population to actively take part in the working industry and societal development projects to the best of their ability.
Significant Role Of Youths In IMN For Societal Reform
Even though, the youth and other fora in the Islamic Movement are equally influenced by the nature of our deteriorating economy, however, they try their best to improve the society’s situation in all human endeavors owing to the insightful guidance of the Shaikh. Impressively, the youths focus more attention in this aspect. Its members immensely contribute to the attainment of moral and academic excellence of students especially at lower levels. They also disburse educational aids to institutions during their annual programmes. No doubt, education is the foundation for all developments. Therefore, every society wishing to develop must embrace education at all levels putting all hands on deck to achieve the objective. And this must strictly and sufficiently cover the moral aspect. The Prophet (s) said “I have been assigned to enhance the ethical practices”.
In addition to that, the youths play significant role in promoting peaceful coexistence and ethno-religious tolerance in the country. They unite with their counterparts irrespective of sectarian differences. They organise annual birthday celebration of Prophet Isah peace be upon him where Christians are invited to share the Islamic view on the Messiah, which cements the Muslim/Christian relationship as neighbours that should live peacefully with one another. On the issue of self-reliance and empowerment initiatives, the youths play significant role in this direction helping themselves and others. Most impressively the initiative is gender-sensitive carrying sisters as part and parcel with greater prospects especially as the philanthropic individuals give their relative contribution.
Community development projects is another area where the youths actively participate in multi-faceted dimension. These include provision of humanitarian aids to the orphanage and drainages/road/cemetery rehabilitation 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 IMN, sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky (H).
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
Evidently, the youths are at the forefront in the quest for the unconditional release of the revered leader of IMN, his wife and other members and justice on the untold atrocities against the Movement and its leader since the Zaria 2015 genocide where about 1000 were people killed including women and children. Allah states “… verily, never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves with their own souls …” Q13: 11
According to a popular saying of the prophet “The best of men is he who brings benefit to people” In the words of Imam Khomeini, “we wish the wellbeing of society, ever since we have been following the footsteps of the noble prophets who were assigned to attain prosperity for the societies”.
Through measures like these undoubtedly, we can attain the much needed societal reform – justice- as the youth are the backbone for all social changes.