A Lesson and Reminder for the Youth
In discussing the issue of youth, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi in his tafsir, the Risale-i Nur acknowledges that young people are constantly faced with the deceptive and seductive amusements of the present time. He thus seeks to engage with young people who, though they are surrounded by temptation in this world, have not yet lost their power of reason. He says that youth who are concerned with protecting their iman and securing their eternal life in the Hereafter should seek an effective deterrent in order to guard themselves against the dangers arising from life, youth, and the lusts of the nafs.
In directly addressing the youth he says the following: “your youth will definitely leave you, and if you do not remain within the bounds of what is permissible for you, your youth will be lost. So instead of the pleasures of youth, it will bring you calamities and suffering in this world, in the grave, and in the Hereafter. However, if, through Islamic training, you spend the ni’mah of your youth as thanks honourably, in uprightness and in obedience, your youth will in effect remain perpetually and will be the cause of you gaining eternal youth”.
Bediuzzaman further says that as for life, if it is without iman, or because of rebelliousness iman is ineffective, that life will produce pains, sorrows and grief far exceeding the superficial, fleeting enjoyment that life offers. Since, contrary to the animals, man possesses a mind and he thinks, he is connected to both the present time, and to the past and the future. He can obtain both pain and pleasure from them. Whereas, since the animals do not think, the sorrows arising from the past and the fears and anxieties arising from the future do not spoil their pleasure of the present.
That is to say, from the point of view of the pleasure of life, man falls to a level a hundred times lower than the animals. Since it is iman that gives life to life it follows that a life filled with the light of iman produces elevated, spiritual pleasures and lights of existence for the ruh and heart. Bediuzzaman advises the youth that if they want the true pleasure and enjoyment of life, they should give life to their life through iman, and adorn their life with religious duties, and preserve their life by abstaining from sins.
He then gives some guidance to the youth on the way in which they can save their lives in the Hereafter. Chief among this is his advice that young people should contemplate on the grave, which is a reality that no one can deny. Whether they want to or not, everyone must enter the grave, and apart from the following three ‘Ways’, there is no other way that the grave can be approached.
First Way: For those who have iman, the grave is the door to a world far better than this world.
Second Way: For those who believe in the Hereafter, but who approach it on the path of dissipation and misguidance, the grave is the door to a prison of solitary confinement, an eternal dungeon, where they will be separated from all their loved ones.
Third Way: For the unbelievers and the misguided who do not believe in the Hereafter, the grave is the door to eternal extinction. That is to say, it is the gallows on which both they and all those they love will be executed. Since they think it is thus, that is exactly how they shall experience it: as punishment.
Bediuzzaman states that since the appointed hour of death is secret and death may come at any time and since it does not differentiate between young and old, the unhappy man will surely search for the means to deliver himself from that eternal extinction, that infinite, endless solitary confinement. He will therefore seek the means to transform the door of the grave into a door opening on to an everlasting world, eternal happiness, and a world of light. It will be a question for him that looms as large as the entire world.
Since the certain fact of death, then, can only be approached in these three ways, the anbiya, auliya and purified scholars have all agreed on the following: “The only way to be saved from extinction and eternal imprisonment, and be directed towards eternal happiness, is through belief in Allah Almighty and obedience to Him.”
Confronted as he is, then, with this strange, awesome, terrifying reality of death, if man – especially if he is a Muslim- does not have iman and does not make ibadah, is he able to banish the grievous pain arising from the anxiety he suffers as he all the time awaits his turn to be summoned to death, ever-present before his eyes, even if he is given rule over the whole world together with all its pleasures?
Thus for the people of iman and ibadah the grave, ever before their eyes, is the door to an everlasting treasury and eternal happiness. However, the young person who due to the drives of youth, chooses in a self-indulgent and shameless manner temporary haram pleasures, which resemble poisonous honey falls to a degree a hundred times lower than an animal.
In conclusion, Bediuzzaman issues the following lesson and reminder to the youth: “and so, you unfortunates who are addicted to the pleasures of the life of this world, and with anxiety at the future, struggle to secure it and your lives! If you want pleasure, delight, happiness, and ease in this world, make do with what is permissible for you. That is sufficient for your enjoyment”. Those who wish to be permanently, eternally happy in this world and the next should take as their guide the instruction of Nabi Muhammad (SAW) within the bounds of iman.
May Allah Almighty save us and the youth from the alluring temptations of this time, and preserve us from them. Amen.