By Hasnain Walji
“From cradle to one’s grave,
Life seems but an illusion.
The phase of youth so brave,
‘Tis an even greater illusion.”

Abu Faiyyaz


This book is the fruit of one of the many discourses of the distinguished thinker and scholar, Ayatullah Shahid Mutahhari (q.d.s.). Yet again, he conveys the dire need to re-think how we address challenges posed in the modern era dominated by Western culture and its attendant values.
This is a continuation of his life-long quest to bridge the gap that seems to separate the traditional language of religion and the language of modernity. The consequence of such a gap has given rise to misconceptions which have become ‘concepts’. One such “concept” is called ‘the generation gap’.

Having gained currency, this misconception which has now become an accepted concept, and has taken the form of a self-fulfilling prophecy, has actually created a ‘gap’ between generations.

It has given a license and respectability to the younger generation to be ‘different’. To use modern parlance it has become ‘cool’ to dress, behave and act differently. This is the roadmap that leads to MTV and the land of hip-hop.

The title, Guiding the Youth of the New Generation, becomes all the more relevant in this day and age of outsourcing, e-mails, web portals and “blogging” - Western concepts and values are being adopted around the world with enthusiasm.

Aping the latest fads and fashions have now been extended to call centers in the developing world where young men and women now speak with a Texan drawl and the next minute switch to a New England accent attending to a caller from Boston. Muslim youth can hardly be immune from this.
Readers, especially parents, looking for a quick fix or a laundry list of answers to the challenges will be disappointed. Although this book will raise more questions than it answers, however Ayatullah Mutahhari lays the responsibility squarely on the immediately preceding generation, and states:

“Each generation is responsible for the guidance of the proceeding generation - especially those people who are officially recognized as the leaders of the society – they have a much greater responsibility...”

At the same time exhorts us not to address challenges of today with the solutions of yesterday. In this regard, he states:

“…the issue of leadership and guidance of this generation differs in its methods and techniques throughout the various time periods and differs according to the groups or people whom we are working with. Thus, we must completely remove the thought from our heads that this new generation must be guided by following the methods used by the previous generations.”

It is in this context that the book needs to be understood as providing direction in addressing challenges in a manner relevant to the time we live in.

The late scholar also reminds us of the saying of Imam Jaʿfar ibn Muhammad as-Sadiq (a.s.) that: “The person who is fully aware of the time in which he is living in will never be overcome with bewilderment (of the things around him).”

Therefore being cognizant of the era we live in, we need to focus on the integration of intellectual, social, and emotional aspects that affect our youths and especially students in Colleges and Universities.

The need of this current era is to recognize that our youth continue to struggle with the increasing fragmentation of the learning process as much as the dichotomy of disciplines and contradictions inherent in concepts such as pluralism. They live in an era that subjects them to many and varied ideologies and which demand of them a rational explanation in matters of belief. This awareness can help us to nurture a generation of Muslims who in turn will be able to nurture the next generation.

In closing, we quote the words of the late poet of Pakistan, ʿAllamah Iqbal who has written:

Ya Rabb! dil-e-Muslim ko wo zinda tammana dey,
Jo qalb ko germa dey, jo rooh ko tarpa dey.

O Lord, endow the Muslims heart with motivation anew,
Such that it can warm the heart and stir the soul anew.

Phir wadi-e-faran kay her zarrey ko chamka dey,
Phir shok-e-tamasha dey, phir zoq-e-taqaza dey.

Let every drop of the Islamic nation shine once more,
Bless it with determination and zeal once more.

Mehroom-e-tamasha ko phir deeda-e-beena dey,
Dekha hai jo kuch main nay, auron ko bhi dikhla dey.

Those who have been blinded, give them fresh insights too,
What I have perceived, show the same vision to them too.

Hasnain Walji
Plano, Texas
Jumadi ath-Thani 1425 /August 2004