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Articles Section > The Generation Gap [Part 1 of 5] by Naseer Ahmad Faruqui Sahib


The Generation Gap -- Part 1 of 5:
by Naseer Ahmad Faruqui Sahib
The Light (May 1, 1976)


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Also Read Parts: || 1 || 2 || 3 || 4 || 5 ||

Note:
This article was originally written in Urdu for the weekly Paigham-e-Sulh. It is now being translated into English on the request of some of our London readers.

In the daily "Sun" of Lahore, dated 22 September 1975, there appeared a report from New York captioned: "Family Blamed in Youth Suicide Rise." Excerpts from that article are reproduced herewith:

During the last twenty years, the suicide rate among Americans between the ages of fifteen and twenty-four has risen by more than 250 percent…. More than 4,000 of the 25,000 suicides in USA each year are now in this group…. In his book, "Age of Sensation," published this month, Dr. Herbert Hendin, a psychoanalyst who has researched, dealt with and written extensively on this and related problems, expressed his belief that the soaring suicide rate for young Americans is due to a psychosocial revolution that has been in progress for many years. If something is to be done about it, he says, man will have to attach as much importance to saving the "emotional environment" as the physical environment.

A pioneer in the application of psychoanalysis to social problems, Dr. Hendin is the director of psychosocial studies in the Center for Policy Research in New York. He is also on the faculty of the department of psychiatry at Columbia University and is a practising psychoanalyst. For the last 6 years he has studied the emotional problems of university students.

"What we have seen in the culture in the last fifteen to twenty years," Dr. Hendin said in an interview, "is that it is harder to grow up. A lot of people have very severe disappointments in their lives with their families…. Parents want children who could get along with them…. A lot of kids I see sense they were a source of their parents’ unhappiness…. Today much more than twenty years ago, people are much more egocentric, more absorbed into their own gratification and satisfactions. They don’t want to sacrifice…. More and more parents are not finding their children a source of joy and pleasure.

"The family emerges through the eyes of many students as a jail in which everyone is in solitary confinement, trapped within their own particular suffering. The frequent absence of intimacy, affection, warmth or shared concern, the prevalence of families in which no one had found what he wanted or needed, has had a profound impact on this generation."

Dr. Hendin’s thinking also turned to "the desire of modern women both to have careers and to be good mothers presents a dilemma that neither psychiatry nor the women’s movement has found an answer to." Finding it impracticable to ask the present-day women to go back to their home-life of thirty or forty years ago, Dr. Hendin can find no solution except to say: "We are going to have to look at families with understanding and see what we can do to make family life work in the seventies and eighties."


Is there no Solution?

Professor Hendin, in spite of being an outstanding psycho-analyst and psychiatrist and in spite of his long research and practical experience at handling social problems, has merely stated the problem but not found, nor suggested, any solution to the problem facing not only USA, but also Europe and all societies following the western way of living. But he is not alone in failing to suggest a solution. The sociologists, psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers of Europe, America and in fact the whole world have failed to find a solution. That is why the so-called generation gap is a world-wide problem. Children are alienated from, and hostile to, their parents. Juvenile delinquency is on the increase. Drug addiction is common among even the teenagers. A lot of otherwise sensible young men and girls have turned "hippies", left their comfortable homes and even jobs, and are drifting round the world looking for something they do not know what. And finally they commit suicide in despair, as reported in the press and book quoted above. The age group mentioned (15 to 24 years) is surprising, as normally one is full of hope and courage in those years.

If the prospects for the youth are so gloomy in countries where knowledge and science have progressed as never before in human history, and where there is no dearth of the expertise in every subject man is faced with, and their thinkers and experts have confessed their failure to solve the problem of the future of the younger generation and thus of mankind, then who can save humanity?


Divine Guidance:

Who can that be except God! The revealed books He sent down to various nations from time to time are lost because of interpolations, corruption, and loss of the original books. The form in which such books are to be found nowadays is so unsatisfactory, incomplete, and opposed to human reason and nature that no person using his common sense can accept them. Even if there is any trace of the original Divine guidance left in these books, their overall condition is such that no enlightened person can make them the guiding light of his lifetime. There is only one Book that is admitted even by its critics to be completely preserved. And that is the only Book to have claimed that it was a complete guidance. That Book is the Holy Qur’an. It does not fail to give guidance even for the baffling problem of the generation gap.


Holy Qur’an Quoted:

This sublime book provides guidance on the subject in a number of places. So to a serious student I would refer to the English translation and commentary of the Holy Qur’an by Maulana Muhammad Ali. For the purpose of this article, let me quote from one place in the Holy Qur’an:

And thy Rabb has decreed that you obey none but Him, and do good to parents. If either of them or both reach old age with thee, say not ‘Fie’ to them, nor chide them, and speak to them a generous word.

And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy, and say: My Lord have mercy on them as they brought me up (when I was) little.

Your Lord knows best what is in your minds. If you are self-correcting, He is surely Forgiving to those who turn (to Him). (17: 23, 24, 25).


Relationship between God and Man:

I have not tried to translate the word Rabb in the above text as there is no equivalent in English language. The nearest rendering of the connotation of the Arabic word Rabb is One Who creates and then evolves and fosters through gradual stages to perfection or the goal of creation. This is an illustration of the excellence of Arabic over other languages. One simple word contains a whole world of meaning. That is why Allah chose the Arabic language for the final and complete Revelation of His own profound wisdom.

Anyhow, the word Rabb expresses pithily the relationship between Allah and His creation, particularly man in whom the perfection of moral and spiritual qualities begins to reflect the Divine beauties. Allah’s fosterage of man is not only in the moral and spiritual spheres, it also covers his physical creation from dust through human seed created from what is evolved by Allah out of dust (vegetation, meat, etc.) and then the development of the embryo in the mother’s womb, human birth, and finally physical and intellectual development from a helpless baby to a fully grownup man. All these stages of creation and evolution are not in man’s own hand, but in that of Allah’s, all the physical factors, which help in man’s growth, being also provided by Allah. The parents play the most vital role in this Divine scheme.


Parents’ Role:

Who but Allah put it into the mother’s nature to suffer gladly the sickness and burden of pregnancy? To go through almost death pangs during the birth of her child? To produce milk when the baby needs it? To serve her offspring as no one else can -- not shirking the most obnoxious duties in the process? To sacrifice everything she has for her children? To give them unlimited love and affection -- all this and more without any selfish motives?

Who but Allah has put it into the father’s nature to work hard from morning till evening, and sometimes into the nights? And then to spend most of what he earns, if not all, (for parents go without their needs, sometimes, even food) to provide for his children’s physical, educational and social needs?

Who but Allah has put it into the nature of the parents to give, if necessary, their lives to protect their young?

The parents are a reflection of Allah’s basic attributes mentioned in Surah Fatihah (the opening chapter of the Holy Qur’an) namely Rabb (already explained), Rahman (Beneficent) and Rahim (Merciful), in the father the first attribute being more prominent and in the mother the other two.

Thus both the parents are the chief Divine agents for Allah’s scheme for the physical and mental development of man.


Moral and Spiritual Development:

If the parents do their job properly, they should also look after the moral and spiritual development of their children in its initial stages. But the parents may themselves be ignorant in this respect. Or they may be remiss and negligent. And yet the moral and spiritual development of man is so important that it cannot be allowed to suffer by default. For it is moral and spiritual values which distinguish man from the animals and other creatures. So the Merciful Providence has not left it to the parents to provide moral and spiritual guidance. He provided it through revealed books and prophets. Unfortunately that guidance is lost, as explained earlier, except in the case of the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) whose teachings are fully preserved.

Moral and spiritual development of man is important not only because without it man becomes worse than animals (who never go against nature as man does, for instance in the western sexual life today), but also because it is man’s moral and spiritual self embedded in his soul which will survive his physical death and go into the Hereafter to live for ever. So man’s moral and spiritual health and growth are of paramount importance. And the Merciful Providence has taken it upon Himself to look after it. He has not only provided the necessary guidance in black and white in the Holy Qur’an, illustrated in the life and example of the Holy Prophet whose sayings and doings are also preserved, but also in the Islamic practices, which benefit man and not Allah.


Islamic Practices:

For instance the Islamic prayer five times a day provides sustenance to man’s soul in the same way as food does to his body (Holy Qur’an 20:132). Fasting for one month purifies his soul from all dross collected during eleven months of a year. Jihad leads to moral and spiritual growth as much as physical exertion develops the body, and so on.

Besides the Islamic practices, man is made to pass through various states such as health and sickness, happiness and sadness, affluence and financial stringency and so on to develop his character in all aspects. To come back to the first commandment in the quotation from the Holy Qur’an given above, man must humbly obey his Rabb throughout all phases of his life, if he is to benefit fully from the fosterage of Allah, Who is constantly associated with him to develop him physically, morally and spiritually to perfection. The Divine guidance is fully spelt out in the Holy Qur’an and illustrated in the Holy Prophet’s example. But Allah has graciously associated Himself with man all the time so that man can turn to Him in prayer whenever in need of guidance. Hence the all-important prayer in the opening chapter of the Holy Qur’an: "Show us and guide us along the straight path," in all problems that face man. This prayer is uttered at least thirty-two times in the five prayers a day, and can be uttered more often whenever required. But it is preceded by the prayer: "Thee do we humbly obey and Thee do we beseech for help." So man must first put himself in complete obedience to his Creator and Fosterer unto perfection and then beseech Him for help.

With this brief explanation of the first commandment in the text quoted earlier, namely, "And thy Rabb has decreed that you should obey Him humbly," I end this part of my article. I shall, Insha-Allah, deal with the remaining part of text relating to the relationship between the parents and the children in the next part.

Also Read Parts: || 1 || 2 || 3 || 4 || 5 ||

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Articles Section > The Generation Gap [Part 1 of 5] by Naseer Ahmad Faruqui Sahib

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