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Our youth’s infatuation with the West

By: Amin Dagher

The issue of our youth is one that is very sensitive, since they represent the age-category who have the potential to hold the future. They are the leading elements in humanity, who have just commenced a new stage in their lives. They are passionate, enthusiastic, and full of life. They are the basis of leadership and production in the future succeeding to the generations of their fathers and forefathers who endured negative experiences in their past movement, which leans with all its weight on the present, and has its effect on developing the future.

It may be unrealistic to think that the youth can be subjected to ready molds, produced by the generation amongst which it lives now or the one before that. This past generation will close its mind to new things in life, close its spirit to the development of reality and close its dynamic movement to changes in the arena, because the horizon which people before it have opened up to: there are new conditions which impose themselves on human reality through the dominance of a certain intellectual school of thought or massive force, and there are complicated problems that challenge a lot of its causes and aspirations, and there are intellectual, political, social, economic and security labyrinth that push the contemporary person into striving to discover the signs which might guide him to the road of peace.

This reality of youth in its new world, which wants to produce a new reality, is perhaps what Imam Ali’s words imply: “Do not try to give your children your morals, for they have been created for a time other than yours.” The meaning of this may be that for every era there are certain conditions which produce new morals for it, with all the meanings implied by the word “morals” in respect of intellectual and practical behavior and dynamic approach on the levels of public and private relations in issues in the arena of humans ever searching anxiously for what is new in knowledge and reality.

I am not referring to this talk about youth that overindulges in every new thing that is produced by any intellectual school of thought in its time, so that the youth deviates from its historic intellectual roots, and becomes empty in its Islamic belief, like a blank page on which nothing about the intellectual doctrine, approach or behavior is written. This cannot be what Imam Ali (a.s.) intended in this pioneering words, for there are those Islamic issues of belief, legislation and approach that are considered unchangeable, since they represent the Divine truth which has been revealed to man to guide him through the Quranic or Prophetic methods of change that the Islamic intellectual line allows in its interior dynamic circle.

Rather, I mean- in this extrapolation- that the older generation must not impose its own peculiarities on the younger generation. It is not essential that the youth understands from the traditional texts- the Book and the Sunna- exactly what their fathers and forefathers have understood, for they can use practical methods in understanding the text to understand from it something different to what they have understood when using the text’s particulars in a different way to that which they used to arrive at the rulings etc…

Moreover, they may discover some error in their understanding due to the influence of some contemporary and cultural objective circumstances, which imposed on them certain ideas, owing to the fact that any Jurist or intellectual cannot rid himself from the peculiarities of his own culture.

It is not necessary that the youth’s understanding of life- its styles, means, relations and dynamics- is the same as that of the forefathers, as if making their needs for man; not that the youth’s social morals are the same as those of the past society.

In accordance to the view of His Eminence, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra):