The Importance of Youth:
As time passes by, each second in it is similar to a leaf, flying away from the tree of our life. Today these seconds loyally cling to us; tomorrow they may stand against us. Blown away by destiny, their outcome we will surely see in the hereafter. That will be The Day (al-Yowm) when people will be drowning in sweat, running away from the most beloved to them. Few indeed will be those under the cool shade of the magnificent Throne of Allah, witnessing a day unlike any other.
Those who defied the passions and illicit desires of youth, and instead channelled their energy into worship, obedience and surrender to their Lord, will be from among the seven chosen groups. For, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “There are seven whom Allah will shade in His Shade on the Day when there is no shade except His Shade…” He then mentioned one of them as being “…a youth who grew up in the worship of Allah.”
Wisdom can’t be purchased, and seldom can it truly be acquired. It is a gift bestowed by the All-Wise, the Creator of Wisdom and the Creator of the Intellect. The effect of wisdom is to add colour to the speech and character of those who possess it, just as the lofty sky is so beautifully covered at times by the spectrum of the rainbow.
Many of the books containing the Prophetic Narrations of the Messenger of Allah shine forth this wondrous light of wisdom, as he was gifted with concise speech. One such narration is, 'Take benefit of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied, and your life before your death.' (Al-Haakim & others)
The pious followed this advice of the Prophet, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. They walked the difficult terrain of youth, pushing away the strong winds of distraction and play by replacing them with the joy of proximity to the Lord of the Magnificent Throne. They knew that the people of paradise will never age, that they were just like travellers in this world, and their ride to the next life was soon to come. That is why they wholeheartedly sacrificed their youth in pursuit of their Lord’s Pleasure and Forgiveness.
Hafsah (may Allah be pleased with her), having experienced the great joy attained by worshipping Allah sincerely, knew the importance of youth in striving to worship Allah. Isn’t it true that it is in youth that praying, fasting and long arduous acts of worship are lighter than in old age, when even small amounts of strain feel hard on the body? Thus she advised the youth,
“O youth (Ya Ma’shar ash-Shabaab)! Take from yourselves while you are young, for certainly I do not see (real) action except in youth.” (Sifah As-Safwah, Dhikr Al Mustafiyaat min 'Aabidaat al Basrah)
Sadness grips the heart thinking about how the devil has keenly knitted over the hearts of many of us procrastination in worshipping Allah, and not giving our ‘ibaadah our utmost while we are still young. Many leave action for tomorrow, when few will even see tomorrow. Look around you at the bed-ridden, elderly people, whose bones are beginning to give up, whose bodies ache with pain and fatigue due to illness and old-age. Then recall the promises you have made yourself for tomorrow’s ’ibaadah instead of today’s. Then be honest with yourself. And with Allah is the source of guidance.
Ah! If only we would take benefit from our youth and our health before our sickness. For, my dear sister, think: who has seen tomorrow?
Yes! - Today - is the time to work and toil,
Before you will be dead and lie under muddy soil.
Today, prostrate and commemorate,
O Muslimah! The Praises of your Lord celebrate.
During the day and at night wake up to pray,
Before your tongue will be silenced, and then you’ll have no say.
Even if it means fasting long hot days,
Your Lord will keep you strong and open many ways.
He will draw you close,
I pray that regarding you to the angels He will praise.
Old age brings with it many difficulties,
Look at what it does to even celebrities!
Pains will begin to surely grow,
Making it hard to even prostrate and bow.
Sleep will overcome and exhaustion you won’t be able to shun,
But what if you die early like some…
Wake up and Realise!
Now’s the time to work, not to dream and fantasize.
“And whoever is mindful of Allah (and keeps to His boundaries) in his youth during his years of strength, then Allah will preserve him in his old age when his strength weakens. And He will allow him to enjoy and benefit from his sense of hearing, sight, capabilities, strength and mind/intellect.
One particular scholar had passed the age of 100 and still continued to benefit from his strength of body and mind. One day, he took a great leap and jumped up high, and the people rebuked him for that. So he said:
“We preserved these limbs of ours from sin when we were younger, so Allah has preserved them for us in our old age.” (Jami’ ‘Ulum wal-Hikam)
More from this series: