By Ismail Rotimi Lawal
Recommendations for the Moral Reformation of Muslim Youth
Reformation of Parents and Guardians
The reformation of society must begin in every home. Parents and guardians who are responsible for the upkeep of their children must be self-responsible and reformed. A lot of parents are negligent. That is, they produce children without a plan to maintain their children’s upkeep. Parents who are into smoking of ganja, consumption of alcohol and party-going, and who are highly untruthful, hateful, uncontrolled use of foul languages and materialistic motivated can only raise children that will continue in such awkward direction.
Every parent needs to question themselves if they are a good example to their wards. The fact that such a question even comes to mind confirmed that you evaluate your attitude.
This question would open your hearts to vices that you may have been unconsciously exposing your children at a younger age. Children see their parents as heroes, heroines, companions and defenders and they do exactly what they see their parents doing. If a parent is untruthful and constantly aggressive, there’s every possibility that their children would grow up with such bad characters. Hypocrisy, greed, impatience and gossip are bad habits children pick from whosoever raise them.
Adequate Home Training
In his Friday Sermon delivered on 13th December, 2013 at Baitul Futuh Mosque, London, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (atba) while explaining the moral upbringing of a children, said:
“In the fitrat (nature) of man, Allah the Exalted has placed a tendency to copy others in our surroundings, which manifests from childhood, as it is part of the nature of man. Hence, the tendency to copy others is in the nature of a child. This tendency is certainly for our benefit, but the wrong use sometimes leads to man’s destruction or takes him towards destruction. It is a consequence of this tendency to copy and be influenced by his environment that man learns a language from his parents, learns other deeds and good things which make a child a well-mannered person. If the parents are virtuous, observe the Salat, read and recite the Holy Qur’an, live with each other in an atmosphere of love and affection, and abhor falsehood, then the children under their influence will adopt virtues. On the contrary, if the child sees lying, fighting and disputes, making fun of others in the home, not giving due regard to the dignity of the Jama’at or other such bad actions, then because of that tendency to copy or because of the impact of the environment the child learns these evils. When he goes out, he tries to learn whatever he sees in his surroundings and among his friends. This is why I repeatedly draw attention to the parents that they should keep an eye on the outside environment of the children. And even within the home they should keep an eye on the programmes that they watch on television or their Internet usage.”
The real values are supposed to be learned within the four corners of a house. Parenting is the most important job in the world, thus instilling excellent moral characters must become the utmost interest of any parent. As a result of the fast growth interest for material wealth, many parents have neglected their primary duties of raising their children on their laps. Mothers are in employment as fathers, both struggling to increase their financial status with the positive mindset of giving their children the best life. Unfortunately, some forget the basic foundational knowledge that a child needs to live a righteous lifestyle and to become a source of peace to the family and the country. Many societies today especially in fast-growing communities do drop their children at a tender age in daycare, while others pay some money to hire a child maid who can’t fix their own lives let alone training their children for them.
Some housemaids are practically playing the role of mothers because they are the one that are always available to cater for the children, take them to school and prepare their meals, while some other maids also play the role of fathers as they are always there to provide for their security.
This trend has to change if we want to reform our societies. The best period to instill moral training in children is at a younger age. Children see parents and adults as a role model because their minds are still innocent and uncorrupted. This is the period they have the natural urge and excitement to learn, explore and try new things. Parents should maximize this time to study their children with patience, tolerance, gentleness, politeness and honesty. They can teach the children good virtues through practices and words.
Furthermore, parents must ensure that there is no disparity between their actions and what they teach their children, as doing so will amount to a great form of hypocrisy which should not be found in an ideal Muslim home.
Muslim parents must ensure that their children adequately use their time. Children should not be wasting their precious time in front of the TV playing video games or playing with all forms of gadgets. Most times there is nothing helpful in watching the TV, playing video games compared to what they can learn by doing some activities like sports and other activities that increase appetite for knowledge. There are many Islamic TV channels that children can be encouraged to watch. There is also great content on the internet which children can benefit from. However parental control programs should be installed on gadgets to monitor children’s browsing history. This will give them an idea of the interests of the children and they will be able to make an informed decision to guide these children aright.
Nollywood has come under great criticism in recent weeks as a result of youth’s engagements in money rituals. Many parents have accused Nollywood of their display of ritual money on the TV. In this regard, Muslim parents need to have full knowledge of whatever their children are watching on the TV or better still, they should sit together to watch the TV. This can also strengthen family bonds and allow the parents to question their children what they learn from the TV programme they watch. There should be time-bound when children watch the TV. This will also help building their time management skills.
There are educational events children can watch on the TV. They can also engage in educational games, intelligence boosting games but with close monitoring.
Inclusion of Moral Education in School Curriculum
Receiving moral training in schools is a great step to eradicate the amoral menace that is killing the peace and prosperity of our society. School is the centre for learning and education is many Nigerian youth’s aspiration. The inclusion of moral education in the school curricula will not only benefit the students and society but also reform the educational system that has been overwhelmed by corrupt practices.
Unfortunately, many schools that are supposed to impose justice, truth and democracy in children is also wallowing in extreme corrupt practices. A lot of Nigerian schools and colleges engage in examination malpractices, especially during the secondary school final examination known as West Africa Examination Council (WAEC). Many school students with full awareness and support of their parents or guardians pay some fixed amount of money to have their way to passing the examination. There are various centres across the country which are commonly known among the students as ‘Miracle Centre’, where students who have failed multiple times go to write WAEC and come out in flying colours.
With this kind of practice, the purpose of true education is defeated by those who are the custodian of knowledge. Honesty, hard work and commitment are no longer encouraged in our schools. A lot of people have failed to realize that science, mathematics, government, politics, accounting, and economics can only save the country if students are taught good moral behaviours and how to become more humane.
Another reformation which moral education in school curriculum is going to bring to our school system is the reduction of bullying, peer pressure and sexual abuse that are rampant in many schools. The basis of higher education should be moral uprightness so that those who pass through education truly are going to be morally reformed for the betterment of themselves and society.
Students spend relatively the most productive period of their time in schools. This makes schools a great start to establish and reform a society where humanity overshadowed material desires.
An engineer who received and understood good virtue will not use substandard material to build bridges; a scientist will not produce chemical weapons to kill children, nor will business graduates desire to cheat their fellow Nigerians to maximize profits. Schools have been producing momentum of people who are only good in mathematics but lack good behaviour and integrity.
I agree with Warren Buffet because he has acknowledged that integrity is needed than brilliance when it says:
“We look for three things when we hire people. We look for intelligence, we look for initiative or energy, and we look for integrity. And if they don’t have the latter, the first two will kill you, because if you’re going to get someone without integrity, you want them lazy and dumb.
Censoring the Internet
With the advances in technology and the emergence of microblogging, the world has become a global village where people from all walks of life from different corners of the world communicate freely, share sensitive and private information seamlessly and unguarded. The internet has come with great advantages and has connected the world like ever before. However, it has also become a tool at the hands of some dangerous people to misguide the youth.
Social media has become a great threat to the psyche and sanity of many Nigerians. There are quite a lot of dangerous and uncensored contents on social media. Sofiat Kehinde is likely to still be alive if Mustakeem did not come across money ritual recipes on the popular microblogging App “Facebook”.
The contents which are constantly being shared on social media are deceitful and can pressurize unemployed, helpless, hopeless, and young adults into committing crimes. Flamboyant and extravagant lifestyles which are all over the social media feeds are enough to send a hungry person into depression.
Social media reach has gone too far than we can imagine. Therefore, we need to respond urgently by censoring what is being shared on social media.
While freedom of expression and speech is a fundamental human right, we must also have in mind that there’s no freedom to abuse, share hateful and uncivil contents that can affect our social peace and moral values. Every adult has to be morally responsible for whatever they share on social media. We need to have it in mind that our kids are now using the latest technology. So, they are likely to be exposed to immoral and negative contents. Gambling, sexualized contents on social media should be discontinued while positive educative contents which encourage love, kindness and integrity should be encouraged.
The role of government in controlling the youth desires for wealth cannot be underrated. Governments must be involved in this reformation of the youth behaviour and attitude with regard to wealth. Millions of youths are employed in the age of technology and science. The government must think out of the box and maximize the youth technological knowledge to empower their lives and also to better the country. The youth should be skilled in digital skills, analytics, computer programming, digital marketing and machine learning cloud computing as the skills of the moment.
Many youths that have been involved in cybercrime have a good knowledge of technology. Hence, this knowledge can be used positively to sustain themselves while also contributing to the development of the country.
Regrettably, the government which is supposed to be an example of moral regeneration has also become a player in moral degradation. Politicians employ and arms youths with sophisticated weapons on the eve of elections; they give them huge amounts of money for self-aggrandizement.
The government also needs to be reformed before it can engage in youth reformation. They cannot morally reform Nigerian youths if the rules of law are not obeyed which permits the government to provide basic amenities to the people. There has to be some commendable efforts from the government in fulfilling its obligations to Nigerians.
Immoral behaviour has always been a part of every society since the time immemorial, but it’s not always the same in all societies as extreme immorality again continues to gain more ground. Fortunately, moral behavior is learnt and can be unlearned, thus making it possible for many societies like the Arabian in pre-Islamic era to reform themselves and become a people of excellent moral behaviour during the time of the Holy Prophet of Islam (saw).
A bad behavior can be unlearned if an individual believes that his/her action is dangerous to human and the society.
The society has to work together to reverse the strange habits of youth that are becoming rampant. Everyone has to be an agent of positive change in society and be determined to give away bad behaviours.
Parents have a greater role to play in this reformation especially mothers as they have more influence on their children. They must be leading the drive for this change. Through patience, kindness, love, support, prayers and ultimate responsibility, they can reverse the status quo and redirect their folks onto the right path. This responsibility cannot be shouldered by mothers alone. As the head of the family, father also needs to play his roles.
Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (atba) stated in one of his speeches:
“Fathers, too, have a responsibility in supporting mothers in the moral training of their children. They should cooperate with them and neither criticize their wives in front of their children nor undermine them. In Asian societies, many times a barrier develops between fathers and sons after the age of 15 or 16. This is wrong and should be prevented. Fathers should cultivate friendly relationships with their teenage sons and guide them through the challenges of navigating this society at this vulnerable age.
Sometimes in [Western] countries, worldliness detracts people from their faith. In some cases, people start making money unlawfully, such as through tax evasion or fraudulently claiming social benefits. But any money made from these unlawful sources is deprived of blessings from Allah the Exalted and will ultimately lead to ruin. Fathers should always earn their income through lawful means. God is the Best Provider and promised that He will attend to the needs of believers from sources that they cannot even fathom.
Finally, parents should remember that in these [Western] countries, children are exposed to a lot of information at a very young age. Since they cannot fully process this information, it can make them susceptible to moral darkness. Parents need to invest time and energy into understanding the psychology of children. They need to be aware of the challenges that their children face, become properly informed about those challenges, and be ready to respond to any of their children’s questions in an engaging and friendly manner.
Another thing that parents need to consider while producing children is birth control. Some parents give birth to children that they cannot feed let alone give them quality education. Parents should always consider their financial status when producing children. Most youth in crime today are children whose parents neglect them at a young age.
Schools also have a great role to play by avoiding corruption and rejecting examination malpractices. Government officials in public officers should be agents of integrity and show commitment to work as ambassadors of the country. Traditional rulers, businessman and women, traders, non-governmental organizations, financial institutions, research institutions, private industry, youth leaders, every stakeholder and developing partners must ensure that they exercise excellent core values at all times, and justice in all their activities.
We have a long way to go to redeem the nation, however, with individual effort and utmost responsibilities, I strongly believe that we can correct the evil and save our dear nation.
- Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Social Media: Issues Related to Social Media and its Resolution. https://www.alislam.org/book/social-media/
- Islamic Way of Overcoming Depression. https://nigeriamuslimwriters.org/islamic-way-of-overcoming-depression/
Ismail Rotimi Lawal is a graduate of pharmaceutics. He’s a keen writer and Secretary Media & Publications of Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Organization, Nigeria. He is also a member of the Muslim Writers’ Guild of Nigeria and the Programs Manager of Health Volunteers Naija, a Non-Governmental Organization – committed to enhanced community health in Nigeria.