Our main focus and concentration is that we must first identify where the pains of this generation lie. We must identify the intellectual pains, the academic pains – those pains that would point us to them being aware (of their responsibilities) – meaning those things which trouble the youth of today which did not trouble the youth of the past.
In these regards, the poet Mawlawi, has stated:
حسرت وزارى كه در بيمارى است
وقت بيمارى هم از بيدارى است
هر كه او بيدارتر پردردتر
هر که او هشيارتر رخ زردتر
“Remorse and humility occur at the time of illness: the time of illness is wholly wakefulness (of conscience). The more wakeful any one is, the more full of suffering he is; the more aware (of God) he is, the paler he is in countenance.”
In the past, the doors to the events (happening around the world) were closed to people – when the doors are closed to the people, then life is easy – the windows too were closed. Thus, no one knew what was happening outside (of their own home). No one knew what was happening outside of their own city. They did not even know what was happening in other countries. Today, these doors and windows (to other cities and countries) are wide open.
Today, the people are able to see the entire world and the advancements that the world has made. They see the knowledge of the world; they see the economic powers around the world; they see the political and military powers of the world; they can see the Democracies of the world; they see the equality that is taking shape around the world; they see the various movements, uprisings and revolutions taking place in the world.
The youth are seeing these things, thus, their emotions run high, and they have a right to see these things and to think for themselves and then say:
“Why have we been left behind (in the face of all of these advancements)?”
In the words of a poet:
سخن درست بگويم نمی توانم ديد
كه می خورند حريفان و من نظاره كنم
“I must speak the truth that I cannot stand to see,
My opponents living well while I simply watch on.”
In this way, the world is moving forward towards political, economic and social freedom and is moving towards greatness, splendor, honour and freedom however we are still asleep or are witnessing this movement from far and are yawning away.
The previous generations did not understand all of these things and could not discern them, however the new generation has a right to say: “Why is it that Japan, which is a country of idol worshippers, and Iran which is an Islamic country within the same year and same time period of existence, realize the need and have developed a new civilization and industry. However we see that Japan was able to reach to a level where they are very easily able to compete with the Western nations, whereas we see the condition that Iran is in?!”
ما و ليلى همسفر بوديم اندر راه عشق
او به مطلبها رسيد و ما هنوز آواره ايم
“Layla and I were traveling together on the path of love, She reached to that what she was searching for, while I still have yet to get there.”
Does this new generation not have the right to ask such questions?
The previous generations did not have the heavy weight of foreign interference bearing down upon their shoulders that this current generation is experiencing.
Is this a sin? Of course not! This is not a sin! Rather, experiencing this is actually a heavenly message from Allah (s.w.t.). If this feeling and experience was not there, then this would have been a sign that we are the target of the punishment and chastisement (of Allah (s.w.t.)).
So then, now that this feeling is present, this means that Allah (s.w.t.) wants to grant us salvation from this chastisement.
In the past, the level of intelligence of the people was low and very few people entertained doubts, confusion and questions (about the religion), however this mode of thinking has now changed and people are asking more and more questions. It is natural that when intelligence increases, then questions would also be raised in the minds of the people that were not thought of previously, and these doubts and confusions must be removed from the minds of the people and the questions that they pose and the needs of their intelligence must be answered.
It is not possible that you can say to such a person that he should forget his questions and just return to how the previous generations were – rather, this is a very good opportunity to acquaint the people with the truth and teachings of Islam. It is not possible to explain the truth to an ignorant, illiterate person and thus, in regards to the guidance and leadership of the previous generation whose level of thought was low, it was necessary for us to express the religion and convey it to them in a particular way through a particular form of writing. However today, that old form of propagation and that old form of writing has absolutely no worth or value.
We must, and this is absolutely necessary, reform ourselves and have a deep restructuring in this part of our actions. We must be well acquainted with the logic, thinking and language of the day and must work for the guidance and leadership of the people in this manner.
The level of intelligence of the past generation was so low that if in a gathering, a person was to speak things that went against other things that he said (in the same gathering), then no one would have noticed or complained about this.
However today, if a young adult who is in the 10th or 12th grade were to go and sit at the feet of the mimbar of a lecturer, he would be able to pick up five or six, maybe even more problems with the lecture. We must pay attention to their thoughts and intelligence and thus, we can no longer tell them to be quiet and stop wasting time.
As you know, it was not this way in the past. In the past, a person could recite a thousand lines of poetry in one sitting or other words of praise that were completely opposite of one another and not a single person would have understood that what the person was saying was going against his own words! For example, a person would first say that no action can take place without a cause:
أَبـى اللٌّهُ أَنْ يَجْرِى الأُمُورَ إِلاٌّ بَأَسْبٌابِهٌا
“Allah is much greater than that He would perform actions except for a cause.”
The person would state this fact and everyone would agree with him and if right after saying this, he were to say:
إِذٌا جـٌاءَ الْقَدَرُ عَمِيَ الْبَصَرُ
“When fate comes the eyes are blinded.”
Once again, everybody supported this claim and confirmed its reality!
There is a story that when the King of Nishabur1 had come to Tehran, a great number of people gathered around him at the base of the mimbar due to the beautiful voice that he had. A prominent leader of the community said to him, “Seeing as how such a great number of people have gathered at the feet of the mimbar when you speak, why don’t articulate a few rational words to them and stop wasting their time?”
The King replied, “These people do not have the ability to understand rational speech. Rational words can only be spoken to people who have intelligence and these people do not posses any intelligence!” The leader replied that the King was wrong in his synopsis and it was not as he said. The King retorted that it was exactly how he said and that he would prove it to the leader.
One day when the leader was in the audience, the King started to speak on the mimbar about the tragedies that befell the Ahlul Bait E in the city of Kufah, Iraq. He recited some poetry in a beautiful, sorrowful voice which made the people break into tears.
He then said, “Be calm, be calm, be calm.” After everyone calmed and quieted down he said, “I would like to describe to you the scene of the children of Abi ʿAbdillah (a.s.) while in the city of Kufah. When the Ahlul Bait (a.s.) entered into the city of Kufah, the weather was so hot. The sun was beating down upon them so much that it felt like fire was being placed above their heads. The young children of the family were all thirsty and because of the intense heat, they were very hot. They were then put onto saddle-less camels and since the ground was full of ice the camels kept slipping on the ice and thus, the young children fell off of the camel onto the ground and started crying: “واعطشاه” (O’ we are thirsty!)”
- 1. A city just outside of present day Mashhad, Iran. (tr.)