International Youth Day
August 12, the International Youth Day
Introduction: the Importance of the Youth
What are the most important assets of every country toward development? Is it oil and underground mineral resources? Abundant water resources and fertile lands? Beautiful nature which is attractive for tourists and a boost in the tourism industry? Developed industrial infrastructure? Airlines, roads, ports, and railways? Efficient healthcare network? Or cutting-edge military technology, advanced weapons, and security of borders and towns?
Undoubtedly, each of the above-mentioned can be important assets for any country toward economic, cultural, and social stability and growth. But without young, active, expert, and capable human resources, no country can develop and grow in anything.
In fact, it is the young engineers, physicians, experts, and officers who are able to use the natural resources of any country efficiently and effectively toward development and growth. It is the young agricultural experts who can use modern methods of irrigation, planting, and harvesting in order to have higher quality crops in larger quantities.
It is also the youth who can improve various industries and boost the economy through improving the manufacturing methods and the prevention of energy wastage. It is also the youth who can ensure the well-being of the society through more medical studies and research.
The necessity to give greater attention to the youth in order to have a more peaceful and developed future brought the UN general assembly to name a day in the year the “International Youth Day”.
With the slogan “creating a better world together with the youth”, the UN calls upon all nations, organizations, universities, and institutions to make every attempt toward providing all the facilities and resources required by the youth and addressing their needs such as education, empowerment, and employment.
This is because the youth are the future of any given society and they are, in effect, the inheritors of our world.
The Islamic Teachings concerning the Responsibilities and the Significance of the Youth
There are two reasons why the youth have such a great capacity for personal achievement and social development. Firstly, the youth have great mental capacities and talents as well as an inexhaustible energy and physical strength. Secondly, they are not bound by the conservative considerations which are characteristic of middle and older ages.
Though these two factors are what can pave the way for development and growth for the youth and the society, they are also highly prone to leading them in to corruption and ruin if they are not properly managed and channeled.
The youth are constantly threatened by the agents of corruption and moral and social seditions. This is why the Islamic teachings have greatly emphasized the proper upbringing and guiding of the youth, calling any negligence in this regard a dangerous mistake which can cause catastrophic losses.
For instance, the Prophet of Islam (ṣ) emphasized the necessity of paying attention to the youth and Imam Ali (ʻa) also took practical measures, by writing a letter to his son Imam al-Ḥassan (ʻa), in order to warn him against the dangers posed by man’s carnal desires and the glitters of this world.
The holy Quran, on the other hand, has provided the general guidelines for the upbringing and moral training of the entire society in general and the youth in particular. These guidelines concern such issues as piety and God-fearing, having faith in Allah and keeping away from polytheism and Shirk, submission to the truth, good-temperedness and humility, enj o i ning what is good and forbidding what is evil, being good and kind to the parents, remembering the Resurrection and Hereafter, etc.
In addition to the moral duties that the Islamic teachings have legislated for the youth, it has also legislated duties which the rest of the society owe the youth, particularly those regarding their empowerment.
For instance, the Infallibles (ʻa) repeatedly emphasized the importance of consulting one’s children regarding different issues and also giving them responsibilities to carry out during their young age. In their traditions, the Infallibles (ʻa) have instructed us to treat our youth as our advisors, asking for their opinion regarding different issues.
There are several traditions from Imam Ali (ʻa) in which he has forbidden us from forcing our children to learn things which are not consistent with the conditions of the time when they live. He has also emphasized the necessity of allowing the children to learn useful knowledge and skills which are necessary for living in their own time period, and in particular, things which they themselves like.
Moreover, the Imam (ʻa) called the employment of the youth the most important factor which can prevent them from falling in to corruption; he also referred to unemployment as a corruptive factor for the youth, calling the ignorance and mistakes which are usually characteristic of young age the product of idleness.
Islamic teachings have not just emphasized the significance of the youth in words; rather, the Islamic leaders have done so in practice as well. For instance, the Prophet of Islam (ṣ) entrusted various important tasks to the youth on numerous occasions and by so doing he emphasized the necessity of trusting them. An example of the Prophet’s trust in the youth was demonstrated in his appointing of a 19-year-old young man called Usāmah as the commander of the Muslim army.
The Prophet of Allah (ṣ) always said that when he first began promoting the message of Islam, the elders of the community denied him but it was the youth who accepted his call. This was why the Prophet (ṣ) counted a lot on the justice- and truth-seeking of the youth in advancing the cause of Islam.
The Danger posed to the Future of the Youth by Corporates and Conglomerates
The current conditions of the youth all over the world is not consistent with the beautiful slogans used by the UN and the other international organizations in their support. The UN and the other international organizations have always voiced their support of the youth as the most important members of human societies and the most effective means toward achieving peace and development.
Official statistics indicate that the youth under the age of 29 make up around half of the population of the world. However, the same statistics indicate that one tenth of the young population of the world live in war-torn areas of the world, something that has left 130 million of them illiterate and away from opportunities for education.
But the conditions of the youth in the other countries is not that better; more than 200 million young people in other countries make less than 1 dollar a day due to employment- and economic-related problems. Moreover, more than 80 million of these youth are completely unemployed, around 160 million suffer from malnutrition and, unfortunately, 10 million of them are HIV positive.
Though the youth in the developed countries seem to have access to more facilities, good education, and employment, they suffer other problems and are victimized in other ways. The youth in the developed countries are particularly in danger due to the easy access to drugs, pornography, and alcoholic drinks.
Statistics indicate that only the annual turnover of drug trafficking and the so-called porn and alcohol industries, along with that of the fashion industry, comes to one billion dollars. Needless to say that the youth are the primary target population for these corrupt industries to market their products to. Clearly, such billion-dollar businesses will easily destroy the supportive initiatives of the international organizations to protect their interests.
Without a strong determination to protect, safeguard, train, and guide the youth, both their great talents and great potentials for development and growth will be destroyed, and with them, the long-held dream of world peace and development will also shatter.
Keywords: Youth, development, employment, education, society, faith, piety, leisure, economy, human capital, the UN, moral seditions, up-bringing, guidance, Imam al-Ḥassan, Islam, the Prophet of Islam, Imam Ali, Usāmah ibn Zeyd, drugs, alcoholic drinks, HIV.
 Al-Thaʻālabī, Abdulmalik ibn Muhammad ibn Ismail Abu-manṣūr. Al-Laṭā’if wa al-Ẓarā’if. Pub: Dār al-Manāhil, Beirut, vol. 1, p. 318. [اُوصيكُم بِالشُّبّانِ خَيرا فَإِنَّهُم أرَقُّ أفئِدَةً]
 Sharīf al-Raḍī, Muhammad ibn al-Ḥusayn. Nahj al-Balāghah. Researched/revised by: Feyz al-Islam. Pub: Hijrat Pub. 1st ed., Qom, 1414 Ah., p. 393. “بَادَرْتُ بِوَصِيَّتِي إِلَيْكَ وَ أَوْرَدْتُ خِصَالًا مِنْهَا قَبْلَ... يَسْبِقَنِي إِلَيْكَ بَعْضُ غَلَبَاتِ الْهَوَى وَ فِتَنِ الدُّنْيَا... ِ وَ إِنَّمَا قَلْبُ الْحَدَثِ كَالْأَرْضِ الْخَالِيَةِ مَا أُلْقِيَ فِيهَا مِنْ شَيْءٍ قَبِلَتْه”
 “وَ اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَ اعْلَمُوا أَنَّ اللَّهَ مَعَ الْمُتَّقينَ” Baqarah,194.
 “وَ إِذْ قالَ لُقْمانُ لاِبْنِهِ وَ هُوَ يَعِظُهُ يا بُنَيَّ لا تُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ إِنَّ الشِّرْكَ لَظُلْمٌ عَظيمٌ” Luqmān, 13.
 “نَحْنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ نَبَأَهُمْ بِالْحَقِّ إِنَّهُمْ فِتْيَةٌ آمَنُوا بِرَبِّهِمْ وَ زِدْناهُمْ هُدى” Kahf, 13.
 “وَ لا تُصَعِّرْ خَدَّكَ لِلنَّاسِ وَ لا تَمْشِ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَرَحاً إِنَّ اللَّهَ لا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ مُخْتالٍ فَخُور” Luqmān, 18.
 “يا بُنَيَّ أَقِمِ الصَّلاةَ وَ أْمُرْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَ انْهَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَ اصْبِرْ عَلى ما أَصابَكَ إِنَّ ذلِكَ مِنْ عَزْمِ الْأُمُورِ” Luqmān, 17.
 “وَاعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَ لا تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئاً وَ بِالْوالِدَيْنِ إِحْسانا” Nisā’, 36.
 “يا بُنَيَّ إِنَّها إِنْ تَكُ مِثْقالَ حَبَّةٍ مِنْ خَرْدَلٍ فَتَكُنْ في صَخْرَةٍ أَوْ فِي السَّماواتِ أَوْ فِي الْأَرْضِ يَأْتِ بِهَا اللَّهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَطيفٌ خَبير” Luqmān, 16.
 The Prophet of Islam (ṣ) has been quoted as saying: “الْوَلَدُ سَيِّدٌ سَبْعَ سِنِينَ وَ عَبْدٌ سَبْعَ سِنِينَ وَ وَزِيرٌ سَبْعَ سِنِينَ” Shaykh Ḥurr ʻĀmilī, Muhammad ibn Ḥassan. Wasā’il al-Shi’a. Researched/revised by: Mu’assisah Āl al-Bayt (ʻa). pub: Mu’assisah Āl al-Bayt (ʻa), 1st ed., Qom, 1409, vol. 21, p. 476.
 Ibn Abelḥadīd, Abdulḥamīd ibn Hibatallah. Sharḥ Nahj al-Balāghah li Ibn Abelḥadīd. Researched/revised by: Muhammad Abulfadhl Ibrahim. Pub: Maktabah Āyatollah al-Marʻashī al-Najafī. 1st ed., Qom, 1404 Ah., vol. 20, p. 267. [لا تَقسِروا اَولادَكُم عَلى آدابِكُم ، فَاِنَّهُم مَخلوقونَ لِزَمانٍ غَيرِ زَمانِكُم]
 Ibid, p. 333. [أُولِي الاِشْياءِ أَنْ يَتَعَلَّمَهَا الْأَحْداثُ اشياءَ الَّتي اذا صارُوا رِجَالاً احْتاجُوا إِلَيْها]
 Majlisī, Muhammad Baqir ibn Muhammad Taqi. Biḥār al-Anwār. Researched/revised: a group of researchers. Pub: Dār Iḥyā’ al-Tirāth al-ʻArabī. 2nd ed., Beirut, 1403 Ah, vol. 74, p. 419. [إِنْ يَكُنِ الشُّغُلُ مَجْهَدَةً فَاتِّصَالُ الْفَرَاغِ مَفْسَدَةٌ]
 Tamīmī Āmidī, Abdulwāḥid ibn Muhammad. Ghurar al-Ḥikam wa durar al-Kalim. Researched/revised by: Sayyid Mahdi Rajā’ī. Pub: Dār al-Kitāb al-Islāmī. 2nd ed., Qom, 1410 Ah., p. 671 [مِنَ الْفَرَاغِ تَكُونُ الصَّبْوَةُ]
 Al-Laṭā’if wa al-Ẓarā’if, ibid. [اُوصيكُم بِالشُّبّانِ خَيرا فَإِنَّهُم أرَقُّ أفئِدَةً ، إنَّ اللّه َ بَعَثَني بَشيرا و نَذيرا فَحالَفَنِي الشُّبّانُ وخالَفَنِي الشُّيوخُ]