Its Halloween and we can see the country gripped by Halloween fever. The shops are full, the pumpkin flavour coffees are in our favourite cafes, and every advert has a ghoul popping up. However, in all truth, this is nothing to fear, and even our children know it.
One thing that should scare us though is, a continued downward spiral of opportunities and aspirations of our young people. The youth ‘justice’ system is overwhelmed, and we see thousands of children now navigating the courts system, and unfortunately this seems to be a much more substantial occurrence in the major urban centres.
Consequently, we see Muslim youth are disproportionately represented in these statistics, and this must prompt us all to say, what should we do as a community? Is it simply for us to blame the youth or is there something more constructive? How do we, a people, who follow the example of a man, who said, ‘The best of you are those most beneficial to others.’ (al-Muʻjam al-Awsat, 6192), respond to this reality?
The reality is there is not a single instant solution to the situation. Chronic problems in housing, education, healthcare, youth services and undoubtedly even the youth ‘justice’ system are at the heart of this. That said, we have the wonderful tradition in the collection, Adaab Al Mufrad which provides a light in this darkness.
Anas ibn Malik reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace and blessings, said, “If the Final Hour comes while you have a shoot of a plant in your hands and it is possible to plant it before the Hour comes, you should plant it.”
With this reality, Mercy Mission UK, with partners at Faith in Leadership and St Benet’s Hall, of the University of Oxford have developed a pioneering youth leadership program. The Future Leaders Program seeks to work with high performance and high potential young people, to mature an understanding of the faith and the responsibility over the faithful. The program will support its students in their journeys to strengthen themselves and at the same time serve a civil purpose. They will do this, as per the Prophet’s (upon whom be peace and blessings), advice, ‘The best of you are those who, when they are seen, inspire others to remember Allah Almighty.’ (Ibn Mājah)
Islam seeks civic progress, as such challenging and overcoming the barriers to a relationship with the divine, such as poverty and crime, are a priority to the presentation of the faith. This is critical for us to really internalise, as the greatest wealth upon this world is belief, and as such the wealthy must be generous with the spiritually poor. Faith enlightens everything it enters, so we as a community must prioritise how we better understand our priorities and how we respond. Muslims and non-Muslims alike are key stakeholders in a stronger more understood Islam prevailing. History is a testimony to the peace, security and civic progress that emerges with an independent and flourishing Islam.
We are at a critical point in our journey, and it is critical we genuinely consider what is our utility in responding to the challenges. As a community we need to reimagine how our faith is emerging. It is not to be bound by rituals alone, but rather must be manifest in the very spirit of our tradition. The Prophet, upon whom be peace and blessings, said
“Verily, the bankrupt of my nation are those who come on the Day of Resurrection with prayers, fasting, and charity, but also with insults, slander, consuming wealth, shedding blood, and beating others. The oppressed will each be given from his good deeds. If his good deeds run out before justice is fulfilled, then their sins will be cast upon him and he will be thrown into the Hellfire.” (Muslim)
Learn more about our program and do share with friends and family.