O You Young!

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Yusuf Taha HELVACI

A very truthful saying, the source of which is unknown but the reality of which can be acknowledged without much thought, goes: “O the young man of today, you will be the old man of tomorrow; and you the old man of today, you were the young man of yesterday!”

Really true, isn’t it? We young people, at least some of us, go on with our lives without experiencing much physical difficulty. The problems that older people experience even in their daily lives seem very distant to us. But is it really that far away? Does it really take that long to reach that age? Or let’s ask ourselves a simpler question: will we never grow old, and consequently experience the absolute truth of life ending after old age (and sometimes even earlier)? The answer to the question can be given with another succinct phrase: We see the past in the elders; however, if we took a good look at it, we would see our future.

There is no need to think too much to find the only answer to these questions. In fact, we can all see, and do see, the answer to all these questions in almost every phase of our lives. Think about it… Doesn’t every day give way to night? Doesn’t every summer season turn into autumn and then winter? Just like that, our morning and summer of youth will be replaced by night and winter that is, metaphorically, old age and death.

Indeed, we young too will grow old and eventually meet death, if it is not written in our destiny even sooner. But worry not, as there is a good news given to us by all the messengers and heavenly decrees that if we spend our youth on the straight path with chastity, modesty, goodness, this youth that we currently –yet temporarily– possess will be eternal. After our temporary old age in the world, we will gain a radiant and ever-abiding youth in the hereafter. If you ask where this good news came from, I repeat, all heavenly scriptures and decrees, foremost amongst them our supreme book, the Holy Qur’an, give us this news.

However, if we do not live this way, or in other words, if we do not spend our youth on the straight path with chastity, goodness, then the life of the same length – that is, eternal – will be very, very painful and sorrowful for us. After all, isn’t that what makes sense when we think about it? Suppose that a young person who commits a murder, abusing the energy of youth, out of anger of just a minute deserves to be sentenced to a prison sentence of millions of minutes. Likewise, if we do not live the blessing of youth given to us, which is one of the most wonderful blessings given by the Creator, in accordance with the directives clearly stated in those heavenly scriptures and decrees, we, wherefore justly, will deserve to be punished for it after death.

Nevertheless, isn’t that easy and wise to live according to those directives, while it is completely illogical and difficult to do the opposite, even in this world? By ‘even in this world’ I mean that we might experience the difficulties and pains of not living our youth on the straight path and within the sphere of uprightness, even in the life we ​​live in now – before departing to the other. To give a very common, yet as much detrimental as common, example, there seems to be a hidden pleasure in loving the forbidden (harâm). However, isn’t it obvious how great dangers, difficulties and risks are in this pleasure? First of all, there is a risk of not being reciprocated in loving harâm. Moreover, it often causes a vicious trait such as jealousy. Furthermore, there is this painful risk of ultimately breaking up. Hence, when we consider all these risks and dangers, it becomes apparent that the taste of loving the forbidden, which seems sweet to us, is actually like poisonous honey. The more we taste it, the worse it is going to affect us, in a very bad way. It is, unfortunately, possible to see examples of this, again, in our daily lives. Hospitals and clinics are full of young people suffering from being ‘bereft’. Prisons house young people who are devastated and have committed crimes for ‘love’. Clubs and bars host young people who get drunk because of ‘melancholy’. And there are even some cemeteries that host young people who have died or committed suicide due to ‘lovesickness’. Whichever of these places we go, we will hear cries, regrets, woes and rues. This was just one example, but sadly, there are many more examples out there for those who misuse their youth.

However, on the other hand, if we spend our youth in the way Allah wants us to spend our youth by never taking these risks, this youth of ours will be a very sweet Divine blessing for us, and since it will be a means of goodness in this life, it will be presented to us as an eternal youth in the hereafter. To reiterate, all heavenly scriptures and decrees, foremost amongst them our supreme book, the Holy Qur’an, informs us as such.

Last but not least, the sphere of the permitted (halâl) is definitely sufficient for well-being and happiness and there is no need to involve in the sphere of the forbidden (harâm). Besides, since entering the sphere of the forbidden causes the problems mentioned above, then for us young people, spending our youth, which is again the most wonderful blessing given to us, in chastity and righteousness is without a doubt the most important and essential thing to do, so that we can show our gratitude for it.

“Surely Allah loves that young person who spends his youth in the obedience of Allah, the Most High.” (Kanzul `Ummal, Hadith 43060)