Developing Morally and Psychologically Sound Muslim Youth

Dr Malik Badri

International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation (ISTAC), Malaysia

A lecture presentation organised by the Austrlian Society of Islamic Psychology and FAMSY (NSW) on 30 September 2002 at the Lakemba Masjid.

[SALAM Magazine, September-October 2002, ]

A Way Of Life: Performed By The Students of Al-Ilm Educational Institute '11-'12

I am very very happy to be here tonight. This gathering of young Muslim hearts, committed to Allah (swt) is something that really amazes elderly people like me. When I was your age and I used to go to the mosque for �ishaa prayer, if I remembered to do that. I found that in the mosque, there were only a few elderly people, with one leg in the grave and one leg still outside. They realised that they were about to die, so they came to repent. Young people would be out and about, some in bars and other bad places. So indeed, if after all this, Allah shows me that the young people are the ones now in the mosques, then this is a great tiding for the future of Islam.

It�s very good that you are in a country which gives you the freedom to make your �ibaadah (worship) the way you want. I was very pleased to know from Shaykh Yahya that there were at least a thousand people coming in and out of this mosque during its Open Day yesterday. It is very great that you did this. The Prophet (s) said that the one who does not thank human beings will not thank Allah. So we should thank people who give us refuge, freedom to worship and to make our own societies. It is an obligation on us, irrespective of their religion, to thank them for what they do. I would like also to give my great respect to Shaykh Yahya, the imam of this mosque and to the leader of the young, our brother here Shaykh Shadi. The Shadi is the one who sings beautifully, songs that inshaAllah give compassion to Allah (swt).

So my dear brothers and sons, it is important that we should think about the different aspects that make a balanced Muslim personality. I am going to talk about four different factors. It is the habit of scientists nowadays to try to reduce anything they want to study to its components. For example, if they have a compound, they want to see what elements make it up. From the elements that make the compound, they go down to the atoms that make the element, and the sub-atomic particles. All of this is called reductionism: you reduce something down. In the social sciences and in psychology, people also try to make a reduction of the factors that make a personality, factors that make up motivation, or things like this. But it is not successful in the social sciences, not like the physical sciences.

Now I want to see whether Islamic commitment and the balanced Islamic personality has any bits and pieces, so that we can say it�s made up of this and that? In the field of social psychology, there is what is known as attitude. You develop an attitude; you like, hate, or act in a particular manner. The attitude is a complex form of behaviour. Psychologists try to divide attitude into three factors.

The first one they call the cognitive (or information). I will try to follow this in order to analyse the Islamic way of having a balanced, committed personality. But then I will show you that these elements are actually Islamic.

The cognitive: you must know that there is no god to be worshipped but Allah (swt). You must know the attributes and names of Allah; you must understand and remember that He is the Merciful, the Able, the Sustainer of the whole universe, from the speck of dust floating in the air. Allah sees this and knows how many pieces there are, the atoms and sub-atomic particles. Allah sees and knows everything because He built the universe, He made it, He brought it from nothingness. Also, He knows the very largest galaxy, which is millions of light years away from us.

It is very strange that we humans forget, Allah is around us all the time, whether you are two (the Qur�an says) or three or five or more than any number of people. It is unfortunate that we know this but still we sin. He is looking at us and we are sinning. The Prophet (s) said that there is nobody who is more merciful and patient than Allah. People curse Him morning and night, by saying that He has a son, that He is three or fire or an idol which they built. Yet He gives them food and drink and lets them live upon this earth. So, each person must have information, knowledge of what God is like.

It is unfortunate that many of our parents remind us all the time of how Allah will punish us, "If you do so and so, Allah will throw you in the fire!" They don�t give us also the beautiful aspects. Allah is loving. Allah is merciful with all human beings, Muslim or not. He is pitiful and He is merciful. We don�t say this. Many times, the mother is working and the child does something, "Oh, if you do so, Allah will put you in jahannam." The child hears of Allah�s punishment from a young age, but when the child does something good, they forget. When we grow up, whatever our perception of God was when we were little, will be with us all the time. That is why many people who have become depressed, the reason for their depression is that when they become young men and women, they may do something bad in their lives, like fornication. Then, because of all the times they heard of Allah�s punishment, they become afraid. They don�t know that if they made istighfar (asked for forgiveness), that Allah will wipe out their sins. We are not told that Allah will forgive all sins so easily.

Therefore, knowledge is the most important thing. If you develop wrong knowledge, then all your Islam will be spoilt. You develop the knowledge of Allah, you know that Allah selects some people to become His messengers. He gives them books which must be brought down by angels. So we believe in Allah, His angels, His revealed books, we believe in qadr (divine destiny). If Allah sees and knows everything, then indeed He knows what will happen to you from the time you are born till you go to your grave.

If you tell me, how come Allah knows and He is the one who makes qadr and death, and then He punishes us? Yes! A teacher in school today, if he sees a careless boy, he knows that the boy doesn�t come to class and when he does come, he doesn�t pay attention and is cheeky. The teacher will tell him, "You will fail." At the end of the year, the boy fails, but did the teacher make him fail? No! The teacher knew he would fail because of his behaviour. Allah has given us the freedom to choose. Allah does not force us to do bad things, this comes from our intention. Although you may intend something bad, Allah may prevent you the first time. But if you insist on doing the sin, then Allah will let you do it and you will get your punishment. Or, you think about doing something good, but you don�t do it, still Allah will give you a reward, for only thinking to do something good. And when you do something good, He gives ten times as much; if you do something bad, it is only once. Therefore, Allah is generous and is not interested in punishing us.

So if you develop this knowledge about Allah, then you will know the importance of being good to other Muslims. Now look at Shaykh Shadi, and the way he behaves lovingly to the young people. He doesn�t tell them, "You are the only Muslims and everybody else is kaafir." But if you meet some of these people, who make societies and movements, and then think that their movement is the only true movement. They think their movement is Islam and everybody outside it is kaafir and this can lead to killing. Why is this? Because they have developed the wrong information about their relationship with Allah and other Muslims.

This is very important to know: we can make movements and societies, but we should know that we are not the only Muslims. There are people outside who are better than us, whom we do not even know. A person might walk in the street like a beggar or so and Allah looks at him as being better than you, if you despise him.

Have you heard of the Khawaarij? Their main problem was that their information was wrong. They thought anybody who committed a major sin was kaafir. If a man fornicates � kaafir, if he drinks alcohol � kaafir. So they easily spoke about people as kaafir, Mu�awiyah, �Ali�etc.

Therefore, knowledge is what we call the cognitive factor.

Sometimes people have the knowledge, but they put it in the deep-freeze. They say the shahaadah from a cold heart. This is not right. You have to warm up these words, say them with feeling and mean what you say about your love for Allah and Muhammad (s). Amongst some groups in the Muslim world, they say, "Who is the Prophet? He is a man who was given a message, he gave it and he died, that�s finished. Don�t waste your time saying Allahumma salli �alaa sayyidina Muhammad. Only when Muhammad is mentioned, then you say Sallallahu �alayhi wa sallam, but don�t waste your time." Some people are like this, but what is this? These are people who do not have true emotion.

We, human beings, have a mind to know and judge things, but also we have a heart. The heart that makes us afraid or angry or anxious or makes us experience love, all of these are called emotions. Love is an emotion, and it moves you. Psychologists cannot define this inner feeling. So when you have the right knowledge, you must warm it up with these feelings. This is the second factor: the feelings, the heart (emotion).

The third factor: if you have the knowledge and it is warmed with your emotion, then you must do something � take action. Look at the Qur�an, the ones who have iman in their heart and they do the good things. So you must see the practical aspect, in prayer, in fasting, in being good to your own brothers and sisters; the good aspect in being honest, in working hard for your community. This is the �amal, the action, the behaviour.

These are three factors: the cognitive (knowledge), the emotional (affective), and the behavioural, as classified in psychology. According to psychology, these are the three factors that make up an attitude.

But, as Muslims we have a fourth one: the spiritual, by which you feel and are conscious of Allah (swt) around you, all the time. I�m talking psychology to you, but do you think I got this from psychology? No, I got it from the Prophet (s).

The Prophet (s) and his companions were sitting in a simple room somewhere, when all of a sudden, a man came in. He was wearing robes so white that the companions in Madinah were surprised by its whiteness. He was very fair and handsome, with hair extremely black and beautiful. He came directly to the Prophet and he sat in front of him. His knees were touching the knees of the Prophet and he put the palms of his hands over the thighs of the Prophet and then said: "Oh Muhammad, tell me, what is iman?" Then the Prophet answered him, "Iman is to believe in Allah (swt), His angels, His books, the Hereafter (yawmil-aakhir), and to believe in destiny and fate (qadr)." Then he said to the Prophet, "You said the truth."

The companions were wondering why he asked the Prophet (s) and then told him: "You said the truth." Then he asked, "Tell me, Muhammad, what is Islam?" The Prophet said, "Islam is to say the shahadah, to pray, to fast, to pay zakaah, to make hajj when able."

Here the Prophet (s) is talking about two aspects, firstly the knowledge factor is the six pillars of iman (belief in Allah, the Last Day, qadr, etc). Then he spoke about Islam, which is the practical aspect (prayer, fasting, etc), what I have called the behavioural. Then he asked him, "Tell me, what is ihsaan?" He said, "Ihsaan is to worship Allah as though you see Him, because if you don�t see Allah, then surely Allah sees you." This is the spiritual aspect.

What is remaining? The emotional or affective, which we get from a number of the hadiths of the Prophet (s), when he speaks about love or about animosity towards the enemies of Islam. The Prophet (s) said: "Nobody�s iman will be complete unless he loves me, the Prophet, more than himself, more than his family and more than all the people in the world.".

Look at this beauty of the Arabs at the time. They were really openhearted. We know whom the Prophet loved the most. Somebody came and asked the Prophet, "Oh Prophet of Allah, who is the person you love more than any other person?" The Prophet said �Aishah, his great wife. MaashaAllah, she was so knowledgable and such a great woman. Then he said, "Who comes next to her?" and he said her father, Abu Bakr. So we know, and it�s not something to conceal. But nowadays, in the Arab world, in Lebanon, Morocco, we don�t talk about it. I know one friend who went to ask his elderly brother, whose wife was sitting on a chair when he came to ask, "Brother Hassan, do you love Khadijah, your wife?" His brother responded, "Oh, you don�t have manners, how can you ask such a silly question?" Of course! We keep things inside, but this is not Islamic. We should be clear when we love a person, tell them we love them, for the sake of Allah.

So love is not knowledge. We don�t read a book or solve a problem and at the end say the result, therefore, I love so and so. No, it is something that comes from the heart. The Prophet (s) told us that when Allah (swt) instructed Jibreel (a) to go and destroy a certain village, the angel replied: "But in this village, there is Shaykh so and so. He is a pious man." Allah (swt) responded: "Start with him! His face never changed when he saw people doing bad things against Allah and talking against Allah." His face did not change - an emotion. If you see something which is wrong, you change it with your hand, or your tongue, or if you cannot then you change it with your heart and feelings. Some societies and countries bring up their people to be emotional, they say the Iraqis and Sudanese are like this. And some societies bring up their children to keep all their emotions inside and not show them, like the Malays. You will see a Malay and not know whether he is angry or happy - he will have the same face, not expressing his feelings.

The Prophet (s) once said to his companions: "Would you like me to tell you something which is better for you than spending gold and silver fisabilillah?" They said, "Oh yes, Prophet of Allah, tell us!" He didn�t tell them at once, but tried to motivate them further, saying, "Do you want me to tell you something which is better for you in the eyes of your Lord than to take your sword and fight your enemy?" They said, "Of course, please tell us!" He said, "Remember Allah." Be conscious of Allah (swt), this is the thing that can educate you.

Go step by step, until you reach a level at which Allah would love you, and when He loves you, He will become the legs with which you walk, He becomes the arms with which you work, He becomes the eyes with which you see and the ears with which you hear. Allah (swt) said this in a hadith qudsi, but what does it mean? It means that Allah (swt) will give you power and support with all these things, and this is the stage when a person can actually ask Allah anything and Allah will do it for him.

This is the stage of the wali, the stage of people who are like our great Muslim scholars and the companions. This is the stage when Allah will break the laws of this earth for their sake. Things that are strange, such as when the companions� sticks lit up like torches so they could see their way late at night. This is the stage when the companion who was reading the Qur�an and he would see his horse moving and neighing loudly, when he stops reading, the animal stops. Then when he reads again, the horse begins again, so he opened the door and went out, and saw lights going up to the heaven. He went and related this to the Prophet (s) who told him that these were angels, who had heard him reading the Qur�an and came to listen. This stage cannot be reached except by ihsaan, to worship Allah as if you see Him, because if you don�t see Him, He is seeing you all the time.

Indeed, let us think about these these four aspects. To what extent have we completed them? We should have a balance, don�t just keep learning without your heart, like some of these dry-hearted fuqaha. Some of them are only interested in details, what would make the water impure or pure, and they don�t care about their hearts. And don�t be like the extreme sufis, who are only interested in their emotions, their heart, love and tasbeeh and they forget knowledge and action. So, be balanced and this will make you the right person for this age. And try to bring the message of Islam to the non-Muslims. Just change one person and it is better to you than the whole world and what it contains.

Transcribed by Sr Anna Blazey, Sydney