HAZRAT 'UMER'S COUNSEL
TO THE YOUNG
Hazrat 'Umer bin Khattab, who is known as the strong man of Islam, was also one of the wisest companions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Sallallaahu alaihi wasallam). He earned a name for himself for his courage of conviction and for his sagacity. Many a times his suggestions, based on commonsense and a deep understanding of human psychology, were upheld through subsequent revelations. In the personality of Hazrat 'Umer the Muslims have a leader of versatile genius, a commander of rare ability and a man of superior nobility. His life both in public and private was a model of excellence for all to follow. Luckily we have come across some of the words of advice he addressed, on different occasions, to the young men of his day. But as well shall see his words of advice hold good even today; rather they appear to be more apt and pertinent to our times and particularly useful to our youth. Here they are:-
"The young men of the Muslim nation should have simple clothes and sturdy shoes - discarding all enticing auxiliaries meant to add alluring charms to attract attention. They must adopt the dress of their forefathers, going back to Ishmael, who was known for his bravery and chivalry, for his prowess and patience, for his horsemanship and heroism. In keeping his exalted example before them, they can legitimately aspire to acquire his noble qualities of tolerance and endurance and the will to offer sacrifices in a befitting manner."
Hazrat 'Umer advised the Muslim youth not to feel attracted by the colourful garments of luxury of foreign make and design. Needless to say that such delicate dresses of silk and scarlet only serve to enthrall the young people to the yoke of foreign domination, destroying their national pride and manly qualities. Our young men should instead aspire for and get used to a hard life, braving all difficulties normally associated with it: particularly the inclemencies of weather, for example, strenuous exercise in the open under the hot sun. The scorching sunshine is nothing but a healthful bath for the young.
Hazrat 'Umer emphasised that the young amongst the faithful should look up to their patriarch 'Adnan who always dressed himself in a simple manner but was great of demeanor and had an excellent character. They should learn to lead a life of austerity and of strict piety resisting common temptations and refraining from unworthy acts. They should never take to the luxuries and pleasures of life as they do not last. It is virtue and righteousness that are long-abiding. The young men of Muslim nations should prepare themselves to shoulder responsibilities and to prove themselves equal to the task when the call is made. They should not waste their talents and squander their savings lest they should be found wanting at the time of need.
Hazrat 'Umer advised the young men to cultivate active habits and to remain alert, ever ready to get on to the back of a steed in one jump, not caring for a paddle or the saddle, to keep their bodies slim and their hearts strong. He also instructed them to achieve perfection in marksmanship and feats of valour. They should also excel in outdoor games and sports requiring manly skill and strength, dispatch and drive. Their faces should glow with the vigour of youth, there should be colour on their cheeks and lustre in their eyes.
It is not at all surprising, for those who have read about the qualities of Hazrat 'Umer, that he had the foresight to advise the parents and elders, families hundred years ago, to realise and appreciate that the younger generation had different times and different environments than those of their parents. Hence the elders should give sympathetic consideration to their inclinations and interests. They should take the young people in confidence and have consultations with them giving due weight to their views, likes and dislikes. Such an approach and an attitude of mind will ensure the largest good of the largest numbers by lending the wisdom and experience of the old with the vigour and enthusiasm of the young. He advised that the individuals should be put into professions according to their natural inclinations the choice should be according to one's bent of mind to ensure the best results. His advice was based on the saying of the Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihi wasallum):
"It is easier for one to undertake or accomplish a task for which he has the natural aptitude."
The Arabs used to quote as well as practice the maxim:
"Associate the young in deliberations, give them a place in your parleys as they might unfold fresh ideas as may not enter the old head."
The Arabs said that wisdom was not apportioned and dispensed amongst the people according to their years. If that were the case, the elders would have long ago appropriated all of it to themselves. Hence they made it a point to mix the young intellectuals of the day.
It was the normal practice of Hazrat 'Umer to associate a young man, a juvenile companion of the Holy Prophet, namely, 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas, in formal discussion with the senior companions of the rank and status of those who had participated in the Battle of Badr. The high ranking senior did take notice of this fact and Hazrat 'Umer explained to them that he associated the youngster in his serious deliberations as they themselves acknowledge the wisdom and soundness of the advice given by the young man. On occasions he used to invite the elders as well as 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas to interpret and explain the meanings and the real import of the verses of the Holy Qur'aan. They assembly would very much like the explanations of 'Abdullah; and Hazrat 'Umer once said:
"I too do not know beyond what has been explained to us by this young man."
It is important for parents to treat their children with affection. He said that one who had a child should behave with him in a child-like manner. He was aware of the importance of outdoor games and exercise for the children when he said that the good earth was like a garden for the children to play in.
The Arabs used to say that their children "were the flowerage of their hearts and the pillars of their family ramifications." They, themselves, were like heaven and earth for their children.
We may conclude by citing an interesting and an illuminating anecdote from the life of Hazrat 'Umer. Once he happened to pass by a party of youngsters, all of whom, except one 'Abdullah bin Zubair, got scared and ran away. Hazrat 'Umer asked Zubair, in an affectionate tone, as to why he too did not run away on seeing him. Zubair replied very confidently that there was no reason for him to do so as he had not committed any offence to make him run in fear and nor was the passage too narrow for two. Hazrat 'Umer very much appreciated the bold and a truthful reply from the lips of a youngster.
There are many good habits ingrained in a child. We deprive the children of these through our own unwise and unkind treatment. It is a fact that it is the elders and the parents who spoil the children. The Holy Prophet (Sallallaahu alaihi wasallam), therefore, time and again emphasised that full justice should be done and equal treatment should be meted out to one's children. There should not be, in the least, any semblance of difference or discrimination in bestowing attention and affection between one's sons and daughters. They should all be brought up with the same loving care and attention and should be treated as equals, in all matters.
(Courtesy: Yaqeen International)