Competing with Fortnite…Can We Engage the New Generation?
Investing in our Children this Summer
‘Truly they were young men who believed in their Lord and we increased them in guidanceAnd We made their hearts firm and strong with the light of faith in Allah) and bestowed upon them patience…’ (18:13-14)
We are all longing for change… to make our life better, our house bigger, our car better, our job better, our kids etc. Whether we are talking about social, economic or political change, Allah the Almighty made it very clear that we will never change anyone’s situation until they change what is within themselves.
Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. (13:11)
This concept is connected to Surah Kahf which we recite every Thursday night or Friday. In this surah, Allah Almighty has mentioned the story of the people of the cave. The people of the cave were youngsters which is the core of any change. Our future lies in the hands of our children whether we like it or not. This is the reality.
The Youth around the Prophet (peace be on him)
Imagine the Prophet (peace be on him) sitting in the mosque. Where were the youth? They were right there with him! Abdullah bin Umar was young and keen to learn; Abdullah bin Abbas, the Prophet’s (peace be on him) cousin was in his teens; Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) was twelve, or according some narrations only eight; Anas bin Malik and others were all learning from him. Motivated by him, they loved him and learned from him. And these young boys among the companions, eager to be very close to the Prophet (peace be on him) copied him. And these very companions caused the change of history afterwards. So if we are longing for any change in our society, we have to focus on our children.
Inspiring through Creativity
It’s very clear that this is what we should be doing. The summer holidays are here. Why don’t we create a programme to invest in our children? We need motivational and creative progress, not boring progress. Of course if you were to compare a khutbah or lesson in the masjid to FORTNITE, which our children are playing or CALL OF DUTY, which I hate, and other games, it is boring so what can we do to make our teachings and our approach creative? For them not to die of boredom we must be creative. Creative in our presentation, and in our approach. The love of imaan is already programmed within us as we know from Surah Abasa, but there are many competitors.
‘No doubt it is Allah who has made imaan beloved to you and beautified it in your heart’.
Providing Good Role Models and Understanding
It is our duty to invest in the future and invest in our children. And the first thing we need is a good role model. The Prophet (peace be on him) was and is the role model for our children, so we need to educate our children more about the Prophet (peace be on him). Teach them summaries of the seerah, such as by Shamail, or by Imam al Suyuti that describe his character. Not the battles which happened after twenty three years of revelation, (this is not the main focus) but the twenty two years before that. We need to have the connection with the Qur’an – the source of the revelation, to connect ourselves and our children with it, so wherever we go, it is our guidance. Focusing on tajweed is important and good but we need to go beyond this, we need to have understanding. Teach the meaning of Surah Fatihah and of the short surahs, go through the forty hadith from Imam Nawawi, as each narration in it is a reflection of a pillar in Islam – society, economics, purity, sincerity, intention and so on. We can learn with our children.
We need role models, and programmes with a fresh, creative approach. Just as you see new features being released by companies everyday to attract people to buy their products. When we deliver our message to our children and our communities, we need to attract them too, as mentioned in the ayah above, when Allah said He made imaan beloved to us and He beautified it. So we need to make it attractive to our children too.
Channelling the Energy of the Youth
In the story of the people of the cave, we learn that with their energy and youth, they had the ability to do anything right or wrong. Allah mentions their firmness on the truth, which is a very rare quality these days. It is usually easier to escape confrontation than to carry the truth. Yet thede young boys chose to defend the truth, despite the oppression they faced. They carried the truth and they were not afraid; they tried their best until it was too dangerous to live there and then they fled to the cave to protect their religion and dignity. We too should be proud of our religion and our identity, despite the accusations we face left, right and centre.
We have great role models so we need creativity – as it is the way forward. Do not underestimate the energy of our youth. It needs to be channeled by the wisdom of our elders. These two together can create the change we are after. Energy without direction and guidance can create more problems than solutions. We need this raw energy to be guided by our elders, teachers and scholars. But in addition, we need people in IT and the arts to join their forces. We need to come together and combine forces as we are beyond the time when we could just read stories from books. We are well past that stage. We are in the future.
If we are not recognising that there is a new trend now, we will lose out. Just as Toys R Us did not understand that the market had changed and had to close. They failed to recognise that there is a new game. And this game is attracting our children. The difference is if you are a business, you can shut down and dismiss your employees, but you cannot dismiss your children.
Summer is the time for reflection and action. Let’s make it a fruitful summer. It is the first step towards the change we are after.
Khutbah delivered by Shaykh Haytham Tamim on 20th July 2018
Transcribed by Hasan Khan
January 22, 2021