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Youth during Early Islam

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Hadith:

"I have been sent with the pure and natural religion, to the youth (who) had backed me while the old had opposed me",

Youth During Early Islam

It is an often forgotten or overlooked fact that Islam was almost from the start influenced by and identified with youth. lbn Ishaq mentions that the first male to believe the Prophet and give him support and believe in Islam was a ten-year-old boy named Ali ibn Abi Talib. Almost all of the first followers of the prophet were below the age of forty and included individuals like Az-Zubair ibn al-Aawwam who became a Muslim at the age of sixteen (his uncle used to punish him for that by wrapping him in straw mats and hanging him up and blowing smoke at him in an attempt to dissuade him from accepting ]slam, but he used to reply that he would never go back to Kufr again) and Abu 'Ubaidah Ibn al-Jarrah became Muslim at seventeen, and several others.

The leaders of Quraish used to appeal to Abu Bakr not to recite the Qur'an in front of his house in case he tempted "our young men" to becoming interested in Islam. They knew the value of their young, and realised the fact that young people are always prone to change and liable to be influenced by new ideas, and are easily attracted by such powerful and overpowering forces as that of the simple but penetrating logic and beauty of the Qur'an.

Throughout the Makkan period it was men in their youth who upheld Islam and carried it fully in face of all the odds, while the elder members of society resisted its spread and progress and posed an ever growing threat to its followers. At Madina also it was young people who were first responding to the Prophet's search for support and adherents.

The Prophet used to take young people above the age of fifteen to battle with the army. At the battle of Badr he turned back some young men under fifteen and they were very disappointed; one of them, 'Umair ibn Abi Waqqas, started to cry and the Prophet felt sorry for him and allowed him to join the army. He went to battle, fought and was martyred,

It is also known that the Prophet assigned a number of key positions and responsibilities to young people. When the Thaqeef tribe accepted Islam he put 'Uthman lbn Abi Abbass in charge of them although he was the youngest of them, because Abu Bakr had told him that the boy was the keenest one of them all to understand Islam and the Qur'an.

When the first delegation from Madina accepted Islam the Prophet sent back with them a young man by the name of Mus'aab lbn 'Umair to teach them the Qur'an and Islam. Among those whom he used to consult was 'Usama lbn Zaid, who was about twenty-one when the Prophet died. 'Aysha related that during the very trying episode when the Prophet's household was slandered, the Prophet consulted Ali and 'Usama on what course of action to take. This in itself is an indication of the respect and value the Prophet attached to young people and their views.

He, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, appointed a young man of twenty-one, 'Itab lbn Usayd, a governor of Makka when it was conquered and he became the first Imam to lead the prayer there. He left Muaath as a teacher and religious instructor to the people of Makka when he was only twenty years old.

Shaykh Al-Kandahlawi in his book, "Lives of the Sahaba", relates that the Prophet used to have twenty young men from the Ansar with him at all times, whom he would send to various missions and for various purposes to attend to his affairs.

The young man 'Usama referred to earlier was to play an even more decisive role in the history of early Islam. The Prophet during his later days was preparing an army, the biggest Madina had even seen, including such senior Sahaba as Abu Bakr and 'Umar, with 'Usama, not twenty-one then, as its head. The Prophet, however, passed away before the army could leave Madina and proceed to face the Roman empire. Abu Bakr, his successor, went ahead with the plans to send the army keeping 'Usama in charge of it. Some older Sahaba expressed a certain amount of dissatisfaction at 'Usama's choice as the leader of a 3,000 strong army, but the Prophet asserted that "Usama was well up to the task", and he was proved right.

Amongst women also, the youth played important roles in the building of the Muslim Ummah. Asma, daughter of Abu Bakr, played one of the most vital and daring roles in the history of Islam during the uncertain and dangerous episode of the Hijrah, the Prophet's escape from Makka and immigration to Madina. Her sister, Aysha, who was also a wife of the Prophet, emerged as an authority on Islam during the time of the Khilafah.

She was only about twenty years old when the Prophet died, but by the time of 'Umar and 'Uthman she had been established and recognised as an authority on Sunnah and a remarkable jurist in her own right.

Ibn Abbas was also very young when he emerged as a unique and impeccable authority on the Qur'an and tafseer, so much so that 'Umar used to consult him and take his view in the presence of older and more senior Sahaba. Amongst the army leaders who led Muslims into Iraq; Persia, Egypt, North Africa and Spain were several below the age of forty. Muhammad Ibn Qasim conquered Sind in India when he was seventeen.

In all fields of learning, religious and secular life young men have had profound influences upon the whole history of the Muslim Ummah. Imam al-Ghazali began teaching at the age of twenty-eight and became the most renowned and celebrated scholar of his time before he reached thirty-four years of age. The Turkish Sultan Muhammad the Conqueror assumed the Khilafa at twenty-two and conquered Constantinople (Istanbul) at the age of twenty-four.

The recent and contemporary history of Islam too, produced a number of young men who have left their mark on the history of Islamic da'wah. Abul A'la Maududi formed the Jama'at lslami before he was thirty years. Hasan al-Banna organised the Muslim Brothers Society when he was only twenty-one and led it all through his life, which was ended by an assassin's bullet before he reached forty years of age. These two movements are among the two most influential Islamic movements of this century.

Such are the qualities and the potential of Muslim youth, and such has been the result of their efforts and work."I have been sent with the pure and natural religion, to the youth (who) had backed me while the old had opposed me",

 

as well as by the brilliant examples of the large groups of young people who followed Islam and carried it to all corners of the world.

 

Youth During Early Islam

 

It is an often forgotten or overlooked fact that Islam was almost from the start influenced by and identified with youth. lbn Ishaq mentions that the first male to believe the Prophet and give him support and believe in Islam was a ten-year-old boy named Ali ibn Abi Talib. Almost all of the first followers of the prophet were below the age of forty and included individuals like Az-Zubair ibn al-Aawwam who became a Muslim at the age of sixteen (his uncle used to punish him for that by wrapping him in straw mats and hanging him up and blowing smoke at him in an attempt to dissuade him from accepting ]slam, but he used to reply that he would never go back to Kufr again) and Abu 'Ubaidah Ibn al-Jarrah became Muslim at seventeen, and several others.

 

The leaders of Quraish used to appeal to Abu Bakr not to recite the Qur'an in front of his house in case he tempted "our young men" to becoming interested in Islam. They knew the value of their young, and realised the fact that young people are always prone to change and liable to be influenced by new ideas, and are easily attracted by such powerful and overpowering forces as that of the simple but penetrating logic and beauty of the Qur'an.

 

Throughout the Makkan period it was men in their youth who upheld Islam and carried it fully in face of all the odds, while the elder members of society resisted its spread and progress and posed an ever growing threat to its followers. At Madina also it was young people who were first responding to the Prophet's search for support and adherents.

 

The Prophet used to take young people above the age of fifteen to battle with the army. At the battle of Badr he turned back some young men under fifteen and they were very disappointed; one of them, 'Umair ibn Abi Waqqas, started to cry and the Prophet felt sorry for him and allowed him to join the army. He went to battle, fought and was martyred,

 

It is also known that the Prophet assigned a number of key positions and responsibilities to young people. When the Thaqeef tribe accepted Islam he put 'Uthman lbn Abi Abbass in charge of them although he was the youngest of them, because Abu Bakr had told him that the boy was the keenest one of them all to understand Islam and the Qur'an.

 

When the first delegation from Madina accepted Islam the Prophet sent back with them a young man by the name of Mus'aab lbn 'Umair to teach them the Qur'an and Islam. Among those whom he used to consult was 'Usama lbn Zaid, who was about twenty-one when the Prophet died. 'Aysha related that during the very trying episode when the Prophet's household was slandered, the Prophet consulted Ali and 'Usama on what course of action to take. This in itself is an indication of the respect and value the Prophet attached to young people and their views.

 

He, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, appointed a young man of twenty-one, 'Itab lbn Usayd, a governor of Makka when it was conquered and he became the first Imam to lead the prayer there. He left Muaath as a teacher and religious instructor to the people of Makka when he was only twenty years old.

 

Shaykh Al-Kandahlawi in his book, "Lives of the Sahaba", relates that the Prophet used to have twenty young men from the Ansar with him at all times, whom he would send to various missions and for various purposes to attend to his affairs.

 

The young man 'Usama referred to earlier was to play an even more decisive role in the history of early Islam. The Prophet during his later days was preparing an army, the biggest Madina had even seen, including such senior Sahaba as Abu Bakr and 'Umar, with 'Usama, not twenty-one then, as its head. The Prophet, however, passed away before the army could leave Madina and proceed to face the Roman empire. Abu Bakr, his successor, went ahead with the plans to send the army keeping 'Usama in charge of it. Some older Sahaba expressed a certain amount of dissatisfaction at 'Usama's choice as the leader of a 3,000 strong army, but the Prophet asserted that "Usama was well up to the task", and he was proved right.

 

Amongst women also, the youth played important roles in the building of the Muslim Ummah. Asma, daughter of Abu Bakr, played one of the most vital and daring roles in the history of Islam during the uncertain and dangerous episode of the Hijrah, the Prophet's escape from Makka and immigration to Madina. Her sister, Aysha, who was also a wife of the Prophet, emerged as an authority on Islam during the time of the Khilafah.

 

She was only about twenty years old when the Prophet died, but by the time of 'Umar and 'Uthman she had been established and recognised as an authority on Sunnah and a remarkable jurist in her own right.

 

Ibn Abbas was also very young when he emerged as a unique and impeccable authority on the Qur'an and tafseer, so much so that 'Umar used to consult him and take his view in the presence of older and more senior Sahaba. Amongst the army leaders who led Muslims into Iraq; Persia, Egypt, North Africa and Spain were several below the age of forty. Muhammad Ibn Qasim conquered Sind in India when he was seventeen.

 

In all fields of learning, religious and secular life young men have had profound influences upon the whole history of the Muslim Ummah. Imam al-Ghazali began teaching at the age of twenty-eight and became the most renowned and celebrated scholar of his time before he reached thirty-four years of age. The Turkish Sultan Muhammad the Conqueror assumed the Khilafa at twenty-two and conquered Constantinople (Istanbul) at the age of twenty-four.

Such are the qualities and the potential of Muslim youth, and such has been the result of their efforts and work.

Source

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