The Advice of the Supreme Authority of Muslims, His Eminence, Grand Ayatullah Sayyid Ali al-Sistani,…
How Youth Can Contribute to Society
In order for our children and youth to fully contribute to society, it is crucial for them to obtain an education and remain focused on their goals. Unfortunately, many families in our communities direct our youth primarily towards health-related careers, rather than fields which sorely lack the presence of Shi’a Muslims, such as journalism or political/civil careers. It is crucial for our youth to pursue specialized, focused, diverse, and useful careers, in order to further benefit society as a whole.
Ayatullah Sayyid al-Sistani’s Advice to Youth mentions the need for youth to work hard and to specialize within their respective fields in order to further benefit society’s needs as well as pioneer new research and discoveries.
“Furthermore, God, the Glorified and Almighty, loves hardworking people who exert themselves to work and earn a livelihood and dislikes idle people who spend their time in play and diversion and are dependent [and burdensome] on others. So do not allow your youth to pass without learning a professional trade or specialty, because God has made a person’s youth full of physical and psychological vigor so that he or she can acquire the skills and assets needed for the rest of their life. Thus, do not waste it in distractions and negligence.“
Many of our youth grow increasingly dependent on technology, such as smart phones, video games, and tablets. Although a healthy social life is important, excessive fixation on social media outlets such as, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat have distracted many from focusing on their studies or other meaningful constructive interests. Distractions cloud our reality of what it is we need to get done. Clear purposefulness is crucial in redirecting ourselves to our goals and what it is we want to achieve. This has to come from within.
Once redirected towards a productive focus of interest, then with guidance, hard work, and encouragement, one is more likely to achieve their goals. That being said, our youth should not be discouraged from pursuing suitable careers for which they possess a clear talent and inclination. As parents, grandparents, teachers, friends, we should make every effort to foster, nurture, and support our youth’s skills and interests, in order to produce further diversification of talent and resources within our communities and greater society.
As responsible adults we want our children to have financial security and stability, which is the primary driving force behind the zealous encouragement of careers in medicine. Although, medicine is a noble career and offers financial security for the most part, not all of our youth excel in sciences or have an interest in it. Also, wealth is only truly guaranteed by God, therefore, there should be trust that in whatever permissible career you choose, it is God that oversees your actions and secures your future.
First Imam’s (p) Perspective on Financial Security
Imam Ali (as) said,
“Imam Ali (as) said,”Oh people! Know that the completion of your religion is to seek knowledge and act upon it. Seeking knowledge is more incumbent upon you than seeking wealth, for wealth has been divided up amongst you and is guaranteed to you. It has been divided up amongst you by The Just [God Himself] and He has guaranteed it and will fulfill it for you. Knowledge, however, is stored with its keepers [those of knowledge], and you have been ordered to seek it from its keepers, therefore seek it.” (Usool al-Kafi, Vol. 1, p.76 Hadith #40/4).
As mentioned in the above hadith, our Imam (p) is clearly saying that our wealth has been guaranteed by the Almighty, therefore we should not be running after it in this world, but rather seeking knowledge and self-improvement.
Diversification of Career Choices
In this regard, diversification of careers would allow for better representation of Shi’a Muslims in fields in which our community is severely lacking a presence, such as in journalism, environmental science, political science, counseling, design, academia, civil service, etc. Our youth could play an instrumental role in society by excelling in these careers, specializing within them, serving as experts in their field, developing current research, innovating new ideas, and being catalysts for progressive change and improvement.
How can we, as established adults, be instrumental in providing support to young adults struggling to pursue their interests and careers? It is very important for us, as adults, to provide youth in our community with job or volunteer opportunities at our workplace, offices, organizations, labs, or centers. We can guide them, connect them with resources we may have, and provide recommendations and support. In this way, we are helping our collective community progress through the development of skilled younger workers.
Ayatullah Sayyid al-Sistani refers to this in his Advice to Youth,
“Try to learn a trade and acquire a specialty, expend as much effort as you can in its pursuit, and work hard for it. There are many blessings in this: it occupies a portion of your free time, by it you can support yourself and your family, it benefits society, you can perform good deeds using the money you earn, it sharpens your mind and broadens your experience, and your wealth becomes more blessed. That is because the more effort one expends in earning a livelihood, the more blessed and pleasant it is.”
Therefore, as youth and adults, once we have fulfilled our obligations to ourselves and our families, we also have an obligation towards our community. We should encourage our youth by volunteering for causes we believe in, donating to charities, such as My Orphans, being contributing members of local delegations, such as county or city representatives,or within our centers, and involving them from a young age. Our centers should be driven by active youth groups whose primary aim is to draw attention to the needs of the community locally as well as globally with acts of charity and volunteerism.
As parents, relatives, or teachers, we should encourage our youth to take an interest in the needs of the community, how they can make a difference or contribute their talents by working hard and being the best at what they decide to study. We can lead by example by providing for our families and then extending that support out to our communities. Our youth, with our support and guidance, can effectively be the catalyst for positive progress in the society we live in. For more information on how to volunteer with I.M.A.M, click here.