Challenges faced by a young Muslim in his intellectual journey By -Mahfuz Molla


There is going on an incessant conflict between truth and evil in everywhere. It can be seen in an ayah, where Allah says that ‘And they will never cease fighting you until they turn you back from your religion, if they can’ (2:217). It is not only in the battlefield but also there is conflict between truth and evil in everyone’s mind. Allah says that ‘Satan threatens you with poverty and orders you to commit fahsha (evil deeds, sexual intercourse and sins), whereas Allah promises you forgiveness from himself and bounty’ (2:268). So, it is evident that, here in every stages of life, man has to confront some can be internal or external as we saw in above mentioned ayahs.
A young Muslim, when steps forward in his intellectual journey, will face some challenges. He has to combat these challenges and continue his journey towards intellectual excellence.
Internal challenges

The internal challenges are very hard to combat as they come from inner side and these challenges are very crucial as in absence of countering, they weaken the spirit of journey.

Teachings of a hadith : Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) oftentimes pray to Allah ‘ o Allah , I take refuge in you from anxiety and sorrow , weakness and laziness, miserliness and cowardliness, the burden of debts and being overpowered by men’. Later day’s interpreter has interpreted this hadith and showed the reasons for choosing these words by prophet as a supplication. In this hadith, there are four pair of characteristics. Mohammad (pbuh) took refuge from anxiety and sorrow as they create the weakness of willpower, from weakness and laziness as they cause the limitation of creativity and productivity, from miserliness and cowardliness as they show the financial inability and vulnerability and from the burden of debts and being overpowered by men as they cause dishonor and disgrace.  Here comes these four pair of characteristics and their consequences. A young Muslim has to confront and combat these bad characteristics to avoid these evil consequences.

Following one’s own lust : In many ayahs of the holy Quran, Allah forbade and condemned the following of one’s own lust. It can be seen in this ayah, ‘and who is more astray than one who follows his own lusts, without guidance from Allah? (28:50). in intellectual journey, a young Muslim will be tempted by Satan to comply with his own thinking or new born ideas although they are not compatible with the ideology of Islam. Or, he can be trapped in doing forbidden activities by his own will when Satan will make it fair-seeming. So, a young Muslim has to ponder over his every activity before doing. ‘A wise man is the one who calls himself to account’.  And he has to fear Allah in all of his activities and feel the presence of Allah’s knowledge about his activities .But when he makes any misdeeds or sins he has to ask for repentance from Allah, ‘verily Allah is the one who forgives and accepts repentance, most merciful’.(49:12).

Self-doubt : in an intellectual journey, one has to have ‘sure knowledge’ of his ideology to prevent ‘self-doubt’. Because, when a man is in doubt of his ideology, his missions and visions, he can’t succeed in long run. Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) had clear ideas of his missions and visions as we can see in his biographies. A young Muslim has to acquire ‘the sure knowledge’ of his ideology, purity of thought and conviction and follow this ayah ‘and stand firm as you are commanded, and follow not their desires but say:’ I believe in whatsoever Allah has sent down of the book’ (42:15).

Inferiority complex : In this prevailing society, many young Muslims trapped in inferiority complex because of some socio-political aspects. They think of themselves as inferior to those of superior in external behavior or in status or position. But a young Muslim shouldn’t think about the matter of honor or status in this worldly life as any materialist young thinks. But he has another worldview in this regard. What Allah says –‘but honor, power and glory belong to Allah, and to his messenger, and to the believers, but the hypocrites know not’ (63:08).  Our ancestors did their work incessantly and ‘they never lost heart for that which did befall them in Allah’s way, nor did they weaken nor degrade themselves’ (3:146)

Laxity : A young Muslim shouldn’t be self-satisfied in his work rather he has to continue his activities to get highest excellence in this journey. When Amar ibne AA’s (R.a) conquered the land of Egypt, he said to his fellow warriors that ‘you are in the position of round-the-clock patrol’. He wanted to make them aware of their positions and incessant duties towards that new land. So, a young Muslim, in his intellectual journey, is in such position. He has to think of the knowledge realm and its incessant process of purification and getting excellence.

Temptation : in this journey, a young Muslim will face temptation from others and there can be a buy and sell of his belief and knowledge. The sage and pious persons of Israelite were tempted and their knowledge and belief were sold in a manner that ‘their commerce was profitless’ (2:16). In this regard a young Muslim has to declare ‘verily, my prayer, my sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allah, the lord of the Alamin or mankind, jinn and all that exists’(7:162). By this strong belief and conviction, he has to refuse all proposal of belief and knowledge purchasing by saying: ‘will you help me in wealth? What Allah has given me is the better than that which he has given you. Nay, you rejoice in your gift’ (27:36).

Envy and backbiting : In this journey towards intellectual excellence, a young Muslim shouldn’t envy peoples but he obviously can compete with people in getting excellence in valid manner.. And a young Muslim shouldn’t backbit as it is prohibited by Islam and it causes harm to his personality. In now a days, young Muslims debate on behalf of any specific party or doctrine. They envy peoples but don’t compete and they backbit but don’t take responsibilities. Allah says ‘And say, do deeds, Allah will see your deeds and his messenger and the believers’ (9:105).

Vanity and Egoism : A young Muslim should prevent himself from any kind of vanity .because, his knowledge and hidayah were not acquired by him rather it was given by is the characteristic of Satan and his fellowmen. He should say ‘never could we have found guidance, were it not that Allah had guided us’ (7:43). And he should not be egoist, as it is not the manner of a Muslim and it spoils the team spirit. Also, bragging off by mere word is not acceptable from a young Muslim although many of them are wasting their time by doing this. Allah forbade this. ‘And never say of anything, “I shall do such and such things tomorrow. “Except with the saying, “if Allah wills”. (18:24).

Depression : Now young Muslims are depressed by many causes. There are many social, political and financial problems, but there is Also Allah with Solution. ‘Your lord has neither forsaken you nor hates you’ (94:03). A depressed generation can’t provide the nation with correct decision. Depression makes young Muslim unproductive and non- creative. A Muslim should avoid depression and rely on Allah and his decisions. ‘And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then he will suffice him. Verily Allah will accomplish his purpose’ (65:03).

Circle influence : young peoples have their own circles, which influence them. They can’t deny this influence in their behavior and communication. There were many circles in then Arabia and they discussed many things. From poetry to inventing lie against Allah. Allah prohibited his prophet (pbuh) from sitting accompanying them in these circles when they say something against Allah. A young Muslim should forego these circles because if the term of accompanying these peoples prolonged for them, their hearts will be hardened.

There are many internal challenges beside these mentioned challenges in this discussion. Lack of the spirit of mirath as ‘the learned are the heirs of the prophets who bequeath neither dinar nor dirham but only that of knowledge’ negativity in mind and judgmental mindset towards current events is also be avoided.

External challenges

Story of a common society: we live in a society where people are in this described manner ‘When they have to receive by measure from men, demand full measure, and when they have to  give  by measure or weight to other men, give less than due’ ( 83 :2-3).  A young Muslim is living in a society where people are selfish and society is so polluted by cultural and intellectual aggression that is comparable to the fire of Nimrud where Ibrahim has to beget rid of without touch of fire. We have to prevent the situation of ‘believer in heart and infidel in thinking’. It is the biggest external challenges faced by a young Muslim.
Debate: a young Muslim has to prevent himself from every kind of meaningless discussion and mere debate. It is ordered by Allah to avoid mere debate in many places of Quran. And it is very important to avoid debate on sects of Muslims. But the criticism is good in a situation, when it reforms the prior decision by pure criticism with bona fide mind.
There are many external challenges beside these mentioned challenges. The people aware of the current situation can identify this and he can take measures to combat these challenges. In this Discussion I have emphasized on internal matters as they are hidden but active deterrent to young Muslim intellectual journey.

The writer is an undergraduate student of the University of Dhaka.

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