Assoc. Prof. at Faculty of Quranic and Sunnah Studies, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia
Siti Samihah Mohd Yusoff
PhD candidate at Faculty of Quranic and Sunnah Studies, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia
Research Fellow at the Islamic Science Institute, University of Islamic Science Malaysia
Of late there is much concern over the growing social issues prevalent among Muslim youth. These issues can be attributed to the fragility of faith and deviating in daily life from the exemplary role model exemplified by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). This article begins by describing some of the social issues prevalent in Malaysia and then explains the importance of iman tahqiqi in shaping the character of youths. The role of the Prophet (PBUH) as a muraabi or guardian and agent of change to the Jahiliyah community is also discussed. Finally, this article highlights the importance placed by Imam Bediuzzaman Said Nursi on following the sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) and how it can safeguard one from a counterproductive existence.
Key words: Sunnah, Prophet Muhammad, Social Illness, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi.
أهمية اتباع السنة في التغلب على المرض الاجتماعي من وجهة نظر بديع الزمان سعيد النورسي
إن هناك قلق كبير بشأن القضايا الاجتماعية المتزايدة السائدة بين الشباب المسلمين في الآونة الأخيرة. يمكن أن تُعزى هذه القضايا إلى هشاشة الإيمان والانحراف في الحياة اليومية عن النموذج النموذجي الذي يجسده النبي محمد (صلى الله عليه وسلم). يبدأ هذا المقال بوصف بعض القضايا الاجتماعية السائدة في ماليزيا ثم يشرح أهمية الإيمان التحقيقي في تشكيل شخصية الشباب. كما تمت مناقشة دور النبي (صلى الله عليه وسلم) كمربّي أو وصي ووكيل تغيير للمجتمع الجاهلي. وأخيرًا؛ يسلط هذا المقال الضوء على الأهمية التي يوليها الإمام بديع الزمان سعيد النورسي لاتباع السنة النبوية وكيفية حفاظ المرء من وقوع نتائج عكسية.
الكلمات المفتاحية: السنة، النبي محمد، المرض الاجتماعي، بديع الزمان سعيد النورسي.
The issue of social illnesses among youth in Malaysia requires serious attention. Teh Fui Khim (2001) states that the high incidence of delinquency among youths reveals their weakness in controlling their emotions and channeling their interests in more positive directions.This is in line with Aristotle’s teachings (1976) that properly cultivated emotions contribute towards the development of good moral character. Aristotle added that a virtuous person is one who has attained a balance between appropriate emotions and acts. Similarly, in Islam, the development of good character is mostly a process of dealing with one’s own emotions and that of others (Fatimah, 2012).
In addition, emotions can be an important element in the educational domain, especially in character development. Thus, positive values through the inculcation of moral emotions in youth-character education need to be initiated. Character is a set of personal traits or dispositions that produces specific moral emotions, drives motivation, and guides conduct. Character education includes all explicit and implicit educational activities that help young people develop positive personal strengths or virtues. It is more than just a subject and occupies a prominent place in the culture and functions of families, classrooms, schools, and other institutions.
Furthermore, character education aims at helping youth grasp what is ethically important in particular situations and how to act for the right reasons, such that they become more autonomous and reflective in practicing virtuous deeds. Youths need to decide wisely on the kind of persons they wish to become and to learn to choose between existing alternatives or find new ones. In this process, the ultimate aim of character education is the development of good sense or practical wisdom and the capacity to choose intelligently between alternatives. In addition, this capacity involves knowing how to choose the right course of action in difficult situations and develops gradually from the experience of making choices and the growth of ethical insights.
In this context no other source of reference is more compelling than what the Prophet (PBUH) exemplified in every speech and action. Therefore, it is important for youth to emulate the character of the Prophet (PBUH) in all aspects of their lives.
2.0 THE INCIDENCE OF SOCIAL ILLS AMONG YOUTH IN MALAYSIA
The increasing prevalence of social ills among Muslims including in Malaysia cannot be denied. This is seen in the news broadcasts by the mass media such as Buletin Astro Awani, Buletin TV3, and Berita Perdana TV1. In addition, the main newspapers such as Berita Harian, Sinar Harian, and Harian Metro often have reports on criminal cases including alarming incidents of criminal behaviour among youths. A recent case reported widely on the internet, television, and newspapers involved a 19-year-old female who murdered her friend in the victim’s house (Rubiah, 2020).
Various studies have been conducted on the social illness phenomenon in Malaysia. Hezzrin, Nor Jana, Norulhuda, and Mohammad Rahim (2016) noted the large number of child offenders involved in criminal activities especially property-related cases such as stealing, house break-ins, robbery, and fighting. Child offenders are classified as those between 10 and 18 years of age.
Meanwhile, Tan, Zuraini, and Noor Banu (2019) conducted a study involving 101 offenders aged between 10 to 20 with criminal records involving violent offenses and who had engaged in major problematic behaviour. These offenders were charged for vehicle theft, selling and buying stolen goods, burglary, gangsterism, and drug abuse. The study also involved 86 at‐risk students with discipline problems, for instance skipping classes/school, quarrelling or fighting, bullying, being noisy, and misbehaving. The majority of the 187 respondents, or 136, were Malays.
Muhammad Khairul Azhar and Nur ‘Athiroh Masyaa’il (2017) conducted a study on religious awareness among youth in the KEDA Sadek village, Kedah. They found many of them having poor levels of akhlaq such as neglecting the obligatory prayers, not covering the aurah, promiscuity, zina (premarital sexual intercourse), gambling, loafing, illegal racing, stealing, quarrelling, rape, and drug addiction.
Another social problem is substance abuse such as underage alcohol consumption and drug usage. According to Keng, Hazli, & Fairuz Nazri (2019), 42.2% of 327 adolescent secondary school students in Miri were involved in underaged alcohol consumption. Approximately 47.1% admitted to cigarette smoking, 10.9% had used opioids, 2.9% hypnotics, 2.2% sniffed glue, 1.4% used amphetamine-type stimulants, and 1.4% and 0.7% had used hallucinogens and cannabis, respectively.
A study by Chan, Sidhu, Lim, and Wee (2016) involving students from 18 high-risk secondary schools in Selangor, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Negeri Sembilan, and Melaka revealed that common substance abuse behaviours were smoking, alcohol consumption, marijuana-use, and glue sniffing.
In addition, sex-related crimes among youths in Malaysia has increased (Suffian Hadi et al., 2017). According to Rohana and Norhasni (2016), khalwat (close proximity), zina, and prostitution are among wrongdoings committed by higher education institution students. Meanwhile, Nor `Adha and Azizah (2018) note that the top three offences reported in Sharia Courts in Selangor are khalwat, gambling, and alcohol consumption. In addition, cases involving out-of-wedlock pregnancies and khalwat are among the most highly prosecuted in Sabah. A study by Siti Zubaidah (2016) showed that Selangor had the highest number of khalwat cases (5,696), followed by Johor (5,462), Terengganu (4611), Pahang (3615), and Penang (3553).
Furthermore, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues are increasing among the Muslim community in Malaysia (Mohd Izzat Amsyar, Muhammad Syahlan, Hisham, & Fareed, 2018; Noor Hafizah & Norsaleha, 2016; Siti Nur Hadis, Zaihan, Nor Afizah, Mahibah, & Muhammad Talhah, 2019). According to the Department of Islamic Development, Malaysia (JAKIM), there were 310,000 homosexual communities in 2018, almost double the 173,000 in 2013 over the five-year span. Transgender communities showed an increase of 200% over 20 years to 30,000 in 2018 from 10,000 in 1988. Most of these community members are involved in the sex-worker industry (Bernama, 2018).
According to the HIV/STI Sector Report by the Disease Control Division of the Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH), a total of 3,347 HIV cases were recorded in 2017 of which 1,697 involved homosexual and bisexual communities. Virus transmissions among them increased from 63 cases in 2000 to 1,553 in 2016 and 1,697 in 2017 (Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor, 2018). A study by Azlina and Che W Hashimi Rafsanjani (2018) on youth involvement in gay activities in Kuala Lumpur found that 5 out of 6 of the respondents were Muslims aged 19 to 28.
Rehabilitation and protection centres were also included in studies on such social issues. Sharifah Shahida and Nurul Jannah (2019) conducted a study at the Asrama Akhlak Rusila, Terengganu rehabilitation centre involving criminal cases among Malay juveniles aged between 14 to 18 years. The study found that the two major crimes they were involved in were drug dealing and possession and the theft of motorcycles, manhole covers, mobile phone, and telephone cables. In addition, most of the inmates began committing the offences when they were around 12 years of age.
A study by Tan, Zuraini, and Noor Banu (2017) covered two rehabilitation centres in Malaysia involving 196 juveniles aged 15 to 19 of which 178 were Muslim. It found that the most common acts of delinquency among the inmates were smoking (92.3%), school truancy (81.1%), stealing (75.0%), alcohol use (66.8%), drug abuse (66.3%), illegal street racing (60.7%), and bullying (51.0%). Crimes with a lower percentage included house break-ins (48.0%), vandalism (45.4%), gangsterism (39.3%), glue sniffing (32.7%), snatch thefts (25.0%), rape (21.4%), and robbery (20.9%). Meanwhile, misconducts involved suicide attempts (8.7%), accused of killing (6.6%), and baby dumping (1.5%).
Tai, Siti Hajar, and M Rezaul (2018) conducted a study at the Sekolah Tunas Bakti Sungai Besi, Kuala Lumpur involving 6 juvenile offenders between the ages of 13 and 17 of which 4 were Malay. Among the crimes committed were theft, burglary, causing physical injury, extorting money from schoolmates, stealing money from schoolmates and mosques, motorcycle thefts, breaking into shops, and one case of being a triad member.
Finally, Sahlawati, Nurzatil, Nazneen, and Zanariah (2017) studied two protection centres in Selangor managed by the Majlis Agama Islam Selangor (MAIS) namely the Baitul Salam Centre and Baitul Iman Centre covering 50 and 75 female trainees, respectively aged between 13 and 29. Most of the trainees at the two centres were involved in zina, khalwat, drug addiction, pengkids, and lesbianism.
Owing to the pervasiveness of such negative issues among the youth there is an urgent need to take appropriate remedial long-lasting actions. Adherence to the tenets of Islam and being guided by the Qur’an and Sunnah should be the starting point towards finding sustainable and lasting solutions to the social ills plaguing Muslim youths.
3.0 THE IMPORTANCE OF TAWHID IN YOUTH CHARACTER BUILDING
Iman education means instilling the foundation of faith in the hearts of children, familiarising them with the pillars of Islam, and teaching the principles of sharia once they reach the state of mumaiyiz (ability to think, understand, and to distinguish good and bad) (Ulwan, 2018). In his Book of Belief (chapter on The asking of Jibril (Gabriel) from the Prophet (PBUH) about Iman, Islam, Ihsan and the Knowledge of the Hour, no. 50) Imam Al-Bukhari stated:
Narrated Abu Huraira: One day while the Prophet (PBUH) was sitting in the company of some people, (The angel) Gabriel came and asked, “What is Iman?” Rasulullah (PBUH) replied, “Iman is to believe in Allah, His angels, (the) meeting with Him, His Apostles, and to believe in Resurrection.” Then he further asked, “What is Islam?” Rasulullah (PBUH) replied, “To worship Allah Alone and no one else, to offer prayers perfectly, to pay the compulsory charity (Zakat), and to observe fasts during the month of Ramadan.” Then he further asked, “What is Ihsan?” Rasulullah (PBUH) replied, “To worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you cannot achieve this state of devotion then you must consider that He is looking at you…”
Children are born in the nature (fitrah) of believing in Allah as one God (tawhid), believing (Iman) in Allah, and free from all vices. Hence, children who are brought up in an environment that is full of awareness, exposed to good manners, and guided in a faith-based learning environment will certainly grow up with a strong faith and praiseworthy morals (Ulwan, 2018).
Allah the Almighty explains the nature (fitrah) of Iman in the Al-Qur’an in surah Ar-Rum verse 30: “This is the natural disposition God instilled in mankind – there is no altering God’s creation – and this is the right religion…”(Al-Qur’an 30:30)
Besides, it was emphasised in a hadith reported by Imam Al-Bukhari in the Book of Prophetic Commentary on the Qur’an (Tafseer of the Prophet (PBUH)), Chapter: Allah’s Statement: “…No change let there be in Khalqillah (i.e., the religion of Allah – Islamic Monotheism) …” (V.30:30), no. 4775:
Narrated Abu Huraira: Rasulullah (PBUH) said, “No child is born except on Al-Fitra (Islam) and then his parents make him Jewish, Christian or Magian…”
According to Ulwan (2018), Iman or faith education for children consists of guiding children to believe in Allah, His power, and the beauty of His creation once they attain the age of mumaiyiz so that their minds are filled with a strong sense of tawhid. Then their hearts will not be influenced by elements that can undermine their faith.
Secondly, parents should inculcate the spirit of submission, piety and devotion to Allah SWT in the hearts of their children. Such hearts will always be submissive to Allah SWT’s majesty, feel the pleasure of piety, be aware that He always watches them, feel the pleasure of obedience to His commands, and worship Him.
Thirdly, parents should remind their children that they are always watched over by Allah SWT in every action and situation, and that He knows what they conceal and reveal or what is hidden or disclosed. This is to ensure that they will always be sincere in speech, deed, and action, and that whatever they do is because of Allah SWT.
The purpose of Iman education is to instil the love for Allah SWT, to ask for His help, and to believe in qada’ and qadar (Suwaid, 2016). It can be seen in one of the hadiths that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) taught Ibn `Abbas when he was still a boy about Iman. This hadith is reported by Imam At-Tirmidhi in the Chapter on the Description of the Day of Judgement, Ar-Riqaq, and Al-Wara’, no. 2516:
Ibn `Abbas narrated: I was behind the Prophet (PBUH) one day when he said: “O boy! I will teach you a statement: Be mindful of Allah and He will protect you. Be mindful of Allah and you will find Him before you. When you ask, ask Allah, and when you seek aid, seek Allah’s aid. Know that if the entire creation were to gather to do something to benefit you, you would never get any benefit except that Allah had written for you. And if they were to gather to do something to harm you, you would never be harmed except that Allah had written for you. The pens are lifted and the pages are dried.”
(At-Tirmidhi, 1996) Hadith Hasan Sahih
Imam Bediuzzaman Said Nursi explained the importance of instilling iman tahqiqi in everyone. Iman tahqiqi is the basis for obedience to all the commands of Allah SWT and the sincere execution of religious obligations. This is as stated by Imam Bediuzzaman in the 22nd word. Iman tahqiqi means faith obtained from study, based on valid evidence and strong arguments. The state of iman tahqiqi is when faith reaches a level as if seeing the existence of God while living in this world as is known as maqam ihsan. Indeed, as mentioned by Jumhur Ulama that it is obligatory (fardhu ain)upon every mu’min to increase his level of faith to the level of iman tahqiqi (Nursi, 2009).
This can also can be understood as acquiring a sense of self in the presence of Allah The All Mighty through the strength of iman tahqiqi. Through this comes reflection from tafakkur imani on the creations that produce ma’rifah to as-Sani’, and in the belief that al-Khaliq ar-Rahim is always present and looking upon us (Nursi, 2012).
4.0 Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as the Messenger and Murabbi
Ibn Khaldun (1993) stated that the greatness of Islamic civilization 1432 years ago was in dealing with ignorance among the pagan Arabs through the dynamism and magnetism of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who brought the message of Islam to the companions. At that time, the Prophet (PBUH) was able to lead human beings from darkness with the acquiescence of Allah The All Mighty, producing a generation that was knowledgeable, pious and righteous and in establishing the Khair al-Ummah. This is as what Allah SWT states in the verse of Al-Imran, 3:110 that, “You are the best nation raised up for mankind. Encourage good behaviour and prevent evil conduct and believe in Allah the Almighty”.
The Prophet (PBUH) not only acted as a messenger but was also an educator to his family members and companions. As stated by al-SulamÊin, a companion of the Messenger, in a hadith narrated by Muslim,(1984, p. 70, no. hadith 1277):
Meaning: And by my father and mother, I have not seen the best teacher, before and after him (the Prophet). And as Allah the Almighty be my witness, the Prophet (PBUH) never scolded me, hit me and taunted me.
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the greatest teacher in the history of Islam. The effects of his teachings and preachings produced a generation well-grounded in all the noble qualities of Islam. Thus, since the beginning of Islam until the Day of Resurrection, Rasulullah (PBUH) will be the main example in the world of education (Abd al-Fattah ‘Abd Ghuddah 2001; Said Hawa 1990).
In education, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) not only acted as a disseminator of knowledge or a muallim, he also served as a role model in educating (tarbiyyah)the people in general and the pagan Arabs in particular (‘Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah 2001; Abdullah Nasih Alwan 1968; al-Hafiz al-Suwaid, 1988). This is consistent with what Allah SWT states in the verse of al-Ahzab, 33: 21 that:
Indeed, there is for you in the Prophet (PBUH) an excellent example for anyone who looks forward to (the pleasure of) Allah the Almighty and (reward) in the Hereafter, and puts the praises of Allah the Almighty much (in good and bad times).
At the same time the Prophet (PBUH) himself revealed that he was sent by Allah SWT as an educator and mentor to facilitate others. As narrated by Muslim (1984, p. 1104, hadith number 1478):
Indeed, Allah the Almighty has not sent thee (Muhammad) to trouble my people, nor to burden me, but I have been sent as an educator who facilitates.
Imam Nursi (2011) clarifies the position of Prophet (PBUH) as:
So, take a look! How quickly he uprooted and upheld the customs, the mazmumah morals of the different violent races, obsessed with their customs and the violent stubbornness at once on the vast peninsula and then equipped them with all the mahmudah morals and made them mu’allim to the world and ustaz to a civilized society. See, it is not an outward coercion, but opens and subdues the mind, spirit, heart and lust. He has become a lover of the heart (Mahbub al-Qulb), a teacher of the intellect (Muallim al- ‘Uqul), a murabbi of lust (Murabbi of Anfs) and a king of the spirit (Sultan al-Arwah).
5.0 The importance of following the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) from the perspective of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi
Bediuzzaman Said Nursi was a renowned Muslim scholar and preacher in Turkey. He was born in 1877 to a peasant family of moderate Kurds in Bitlis, East Anatolia during the late period of the Ottoman Empire. He was the fourth child of seven siblings Durriyyah, Hanim, Abdullah, Said, Muhammad, Abdul Majid, and Marjan. Said Nursi is given the honorific “Badi’ al-Zaman” meaning “Wonder of the Age” because of his ability to master traditional religious knowledge and modern science at a very young age. He remains a leading figure in Turkey to this day (Biro Kajian Ilmiah Altinbasak, 2011).
The Risale-i Nur is a Qur’anic commentary by Bediuzzaman Said Nursi. It contains over 130 titles in books such as al- Kalimat, al-Maktubat, al-Lama’at, al-Shu’a’at, Isharat al-I’jaz fi Mazan al-Ijaz, al-Mathnawi al- ‘Arabi al-Nuri, Sayqal al-Islam and al-Malahiq. The aim of the Risale-i Nur is to safeguard faith by explaining the essence and facts of the Qur’an especially the arguments on complex issues that address the oneness of Allah SWT, the Hereafter, and others. In the early years of the 19th century, the Risale-i Nur such as the Isyarat al-I’jaz and al-Mathnawi al-‘Arabi al-Nuri were written in Arabic. When mastery of the Arabic language faltered among the Muslim community, Said Nursi produced his later works in Turkish but used the Arabic alphabet (Ottoman Turkish Letters) (Biro Kajian Ilmiah Altinbasak, 2011).
Imam Bediuzzaman Said Nursi explained in his book Lamaat (2015) that the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) encapsulates all forms of morality. Morality includes the dimension of morality with God, the morality among fellow human beings such as parents, relatives, teachers, friends, neighbours and so on in general whether of a particular or a different religion. Similarly, the moral values found in the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) include those relating to other creatures created by Allah SWT such as animals, plants and the environment as a whole. As in the Seventh Point of the 11th Reflection, Imam Nursi explained:
The sublime Sunnah is reflected in manners itself. There is no problem that lacks a light and manner for addressing it! The noble Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: [اَدَّبَنِى رَبِّى فَاَحْسَنَ تَاْدِيبِى] My Lord has bestowed manners and an exemplary form on me. Yes, anyone who studies and researches the Sirah Nabawi and has knowledge of the sublime Sunnah, will surely understand that Allah SAW has inculcated all types of manners in His beloved Prophet (PBUH). Whoever abandons his noble Sunnah abandons manners.
This process of moral development does not only refer to moral behaviour. Indeed, it is the result of deep introspection that enables an understanding of true knowledge which eventually succeeds in giving meaning to the self. With such an understanding, youths can see the true position of everything in their lives with wisdom and justice. Youths who master true knowledge and are able to interpret everything wisely and justly till it is manifested in their behaviour and the way they interact with others and the environment are moral youth.
The absolute knowledge of the truth is none other than the revelation of Allah SWT, namely the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH). Youths are strongly advised to follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) which contain broad moral dimensions and are based on the belief that anyone who follows the Sunnah loves Allah SWT. The words of Allah SWT in Surah Al-Imran, verse 31 states, “If ye do love Allah, Follow me: Allah will love you and forgive you your sins: For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.”
The mission of the Prophet (PBUH) on this earth as a Messenger was to perfect human morals. Such moral perfection is in fact the result of an individual’s faith. The words of the Prophet (PBUH) as recorded by Abu Daud in Sunan Abu Daud, the book of Adab, Chapter Fi Husn al-Khuluq (p. 354, hadith no. 4684) mean: “The believer whose faith is most perfect is the one with the best morals”.
Thus, the instilling of iman tahqiqi is the basis for the formation of good morals among youth. Belief in the six pillars of faith will lead youth to follow the Sunnah and the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH) and at the same time set their morals and personalities closer to his model. This will have a direct effect of protecting youths from being mired or trapped in social ills and instead result in a generation that is religious as well as righteous.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was sent by Allah SWT as an uswah hasanah or an exemplary example to follow in all aspects of human life. He was recognized to be such an embodiment of an illustrious person that Allah SWT urged mankind to emulate his personality and life as a prerequisite to showing love of Allah SWT. The Prophet (PBUH) was sent to this earth as a blessing to all beings. All His creations are blessed to have the presence of the most noble human messenger and the beloved of Allah SWT on this earth. As such, whoever follows the example of the Prophet (PBUH) and the teachings of Islam that he brought will be guided by the light that illuminates the darkness of the journey in the world towards the eternal hereafter. Thus, in family upbringing, which is the first educational platform for youth the aspect of faith needs to be strengthened. Emphasis on a way of life based on the Sunnah should not only be limited to following the external character of the Prophet (PBUH). It should also include the way of thinking, beliefs and the values held as well as the manner in which conduct and character is displayed. Such education will create a generation of Muslims who will nurture their religion and who will accordingly be capable of addressing and overcoming at an early stage any negative social aspects and ills that they may encounter.
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