Allah (swt) made mankind in this universe as his successor as he said –‘I am putting a successor on earth ‘. (2:30). As a successor mankind has some duties, obligations, liabilities and in return he will get jannat. But people are indolent and negligent to the words and order of Allah and here comes the duty of ‘who know.’ They are obedient to Allah, fear the hereafter and hope for mercy of Allah. And obviously ‘Allah will exalt in degree those of you who believe and those who have been granted knowledge’ (58:11) And the people of knowledge are the heir of prophets (a.s), for they don’t bequeath dinar or dirham but only that of knowledge.
For this reason, a duty of announcement of glad tidings and warning of torment for surrounding people has become vested on them. So, the knowledgeable people are exalted and praised in Quran in many ways. ‘Are those who know equal to those who know not’? (39:09)
But a specific portion of these men of knowledge are very vulnerable and prone to deviation. They are youth who have fervor for doing anything impossible, making revolutionary changes and highest spirit of devotion for any ideology. For this reason Islam insisted upon youth. Mohammad (pbuh) said – ‘A strong believer is better and dearer to Allah than a weak one’ But, being men of knowledge and a vulnerable group of cultural and intellectual aggression, they have some qualities to achieve which will enhance their belief and conviction, make them ready to combat any challenges and by this way they can avoid deviation from truth and retain themselves stick to Islamic ideology. This is the pathway of a young Muslim towards getting excellence in intellectual arena.
Four basic traits –
These are some common but required qualities to be achieved without which a young Muslim can’t step forward to his intellectual journey. Although the qualities to be achieved are not limited anyway.
n For survival, being beneficial: there is a common sentence for survival – ‘survival of the fittest’. It is originated from Darwin’s evolution theory where he proved mankind’s survival as the result of its being fittest of the species. But from Islamic viewpoint it differs. As stated by Syed abul hasan Ali nadwi in his book named –‘pa ja surage jindegi’- (in brief). He extracted a ayah of sura ra’d which reads – ‘ Then as for the foam it passes away as scum upon the banks ,while that which is for the good of mankind remains in the earth’.( 13;17). Here by analogy he showed that only those things which are beneficial or for the good of mankind will remain . For this reason, who works for the good of people, for their good interest he will survive. So creative will rise and destructive will be banished. As it can be seen in hasan al- banna’s philosophy that doing creative for benefit of mankind and avoiding negativity even against Satan. And it is also described and elaborated by Syed abul A’la maududi in his book – ‘Banao Aor Bigar’, where he showed the way of survival of civilization on the basis of their creativity and destruction. And finally creativity wins. So, what I want to insist on is the creativity instead of destruction, good activities instead of dullness, positivity instead of negative attitude and the whole work frame of an intellectual, young or elder, should be the utmost benefit of people (but obviously not against Allah’s words and orders). So that, they will survive and their ideology or civilization will be sustained through ages.
n Sure knowledge of ideology – a young Muslim has to have complete knowledge of his ideology without which he can’t discern truth from falsehood which was the important characteristic of prophets (a.s), their companion [as seen by the name of Umar (r.a) – faruq or who discern truth from falsehood] and our distinguished ancestors. If you see the statement of prophets (a.s) toward their respective clan or community you can see this discerning power (12:37-38). To uphold your ideology, to discern truth from falsehood you have to know the sure idea of your ideology as we can see in Quran ,which reads– ‘ say –“this is my way ,i invite to Allah with sure knowledge’ (12:108). And to counter and combat opponent ideology and their tactics, you have to know yourself in relation with sure knowledge of ideology and with discerning power you have to know your ideological enemy and their programs. it is elaborated in a saying –‘ if you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the result of a hundred battles, if you know yourself but not the enemy , for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat . if you know neither the enemy nor yourself ,you will succumb in every battle’ ( The art of war – sun Tzu).
n Being selfless and self-reliant : a young Muslim as a committed worker of an ideology shouldn’t regard corrupted power, handclap of peoples and a title of celebrity or so called ‘intellectual’ as his life goal. As a part of vanguard community of an ideological movement, he should be unattached to these worldly things. Rather he will prioritize the satisfaction of Allah as his ends. The fame and power should be his means to gain that ends. He will work incessantly as a silent worker of the ideology and say – ‘my wage is from Allah and he is witness over all things’. (34:47). When he will do something good towards anyone he will be selfless –‘we wish for no reward, nor thanks from you’ (76:10).
Here comes the vital question that how can everyone be selfless? Although it is from heart and based on the conviction of believers but the reality shouldn’t be overlooked. So, the term self-reliance comes out. Self-reliance means not to depend on anyone in the part of ideological movement. You can see self-reliance in our tradition as it can be seen in the lives of many prophets (a.s) – especially in the story of Dawud (a.s) – (38:26). In the life of Abu bakar (r.a) when he wanted to sell dresses as he was selling in previous days. In the life of Abu Hanifa (rh.a) as we know. So when you dare to lead an ideological movement as an intellectual, you have to be assured of being selfless and self-reliant in all cases. Because, when you are dependent you can’t say what you want (Right words in front of oppressor ruler).
n Specialization – if a young Muslim want to be a polymath, he can surely do it but multitasking harms. From the report of a research conducted by Dr. David Meyer, it can be said that ‘task switching’ and distraction made multitasking useless in long run. Rather ‘Checking things off our list is what success is all about’. (The one thing – Garry Keller). So the important thing is to diagnose your potentials, make some choices and at last to determine specific activities or topics where you can contribute to your best. In this regard, you should look what matters most in relation with our ideology.
Avoiding multitasking, concentrating on specific matter and fixing contribution are some important criteria of a young intellectual. It can also be seen in the lives of prophets (a.s) as described in Quran. If we see the life of Yusuf (a.s), we can understand the importance of specialization. He was taught the knowledge of ‘interpretation of dreams and other things’ (12:06), which has led him to the power as described in Quran through many stages. Dawud (a.s) was specialized in iron related matters. Noah (a.s) was specialized in boat making (as told by many). If we see the lives of companions of prophet (pbuh), we can see this specialization in more diverse ways. As Abu huryrah (r.a) was specialized in hadith and Abdullah ibne Abbas (r.a) was in Quranic interpretation and so on. It is also a very important and common trait of our ancestors as can be seen in history.This is being exercised by our ideological opponents in full swing and with a vision of far-reaching effect. A young Muslim has to think of this matter with sheer vigilance and foresight to win the ideological battle of intellect.
The characteristics of a young Muslim in his journey of intellectual excellence are not limited in these four traits, rather there are many characteristics which can be included. But I wanted to make these specific for the abovementioned traits are not being exercised in Islamic arena. By thinking and planning over these traits, a better intellectual circle of young Muslim can be formed and the change will be realized.
The writer is an undergraduate student of University of Dhaka.