It is a historical fact that young people, perhaps because of their ambitions, have always been more energetic and more courageous. It is due to this quality that they easily respond to a new mission. This natural trait is demonstrated in the Qur’an, in the chapter Yunus (Jonah): But none save a few youths declared their faith in Moses, [while others held back] for fear that Pharaoh and his nobles would persecute them. Pharaoh was high and mighty in the land. And one who transgressed all bounds. (10:83)
The history of missions, both religious and secular, shows that the central force of every mission has been the community of youth. Generally, a mission is started by a senior person, but those who respond to it are, in almost every case, members of the younger generation. This is not accidental; it is a direct result of the divine scheme. It is a phenomenon specifically created by God Almighty. Every mission, at least in the initial stages, needs people of the younger generation, but at the same time, it is very important that youth must know its limitations. Young people may have energy but they have little experience. So, life has to be based on the sharing principle: senior people must share their experience and the younger generation must share its energy. It is this blend of the two that ensures the success of a mission.
One historical example is that of the Prophet Muhammad. He himself was a senior person, but most of his adherents were young people. It is they who are called the companions of the Prophet. These companions were fully aware of their limitations, so they followed the Prophet of Islam. With the prophetic guidance of Muhammad and the support of his youthful companions, it became possible to bring about a revolution in 7th century Arabia. This revolution was not simply a religious movement. As a revolution, it was unparalleled in its all-embracing scope.
The Belgian historian Henri Pirenne has rightly observed: ‘The Islamic revolution changed the face of the globe: the traditional order of history was overthrown.’ Young people must know their limitations, accept the leadership of senior people and take their advice. It is a fact that, in every society, young people are a great force for good. But at the same time, it is very important to acknowledge that young people must not be the victims of over-confidence. Confidence is good but over-confidence is a failing. Young people must know their limitations, accept the leadership of senior people and take their advice. If arrogance prevents them from doing so, they are nothing but a liability to society, whereas modest young people are a great asset to mankind.
Great tasks call for unity, for they cannot be undertaken by single individuals. They require the concerted efforts of many people. And it takes a leader to co-ordinate these efforts. Young people must therefore accept their leaders, and the leaders must also give respect to the young people. A senior person is like a general and the young people are like the army. Both the general and the army are equally important. And any great target can be achieved by the combined efforts of both.