Youth's Queries & Us

Many thoughts and questions arise in the minds of young people, especially when it comes to belief, existence and ideologies, so how can we answer these questions? Do we treat it as a problem or do we view it as the beginning of a new future that welcomes a rational and religious faith embraced by youth?

by Hasan Ismaik
  • Publisher – STRATEGEICS
  • Release Date – Mar 14, 2020

Today's youth struggle with the flow of information phenomenon; with the spread of the Internet and all that follows, vast amounts of knowledge and science have become available without supervision or regulation, exposing the youth to various ideas and ideologies, hence, confusion about many existential and universal issues.

In this case, we face two options; either we perceive this issue as a negative and dangerous notion that leads to an era filled with loss, or we positively view this as the beginning of an era of larger knowledge culture, for which I advocate and work.

In this article, I will address several points discussing this issue from different perspectives, referencing real-life experiences involving youth with whom I have had conversations regarding this matter.

When discussing youth's queries, of which i receive many on my social media accounts (such as: #Arab_Youth), I find myself disappointed in the negative manner in which we tackle this issue; we deem the emergence of their doubts and questions as the beginning of their loss. Hence, we begin by adopting an opposite reaction to eliminate these ideas rather than trying to understand them and the person going through this experience. Such reactions create gaps between the two sides and affecting them; the first side decides against disclosing their mind and heart for fear of unacceptance, thus, driving them away from the very scene they are trying to understand, whereas the second party loses the position and trust that enabled them to offer supervision and guidance when needed.

I might not be the person qualified to answer every thought or question on the topic of doctrines and ideologies, but youth usually converse with me on what they think of these topics as I am often ready to listen to their questions and talk about things that might be a bit sensitive, without making any judgments or warnings. I have always found these interesting and useful conversations to be valuable opportunities for the important ideas they tackle and the benefit we can take from them.

It is also of immense importance to avoid suppressing these sincere questions that should be normal to discuss, as it is important to delve into these questions in order to build our beliefs on a solid foundation. I remember, in this context, the story of prophet Ibrahim when he took planets, one after another, as gods in his search for Allah, the One Creator, until he reached the ultimate truth. Here, we see that experiencing doubts is natural when one goes through this journey, a journey through which many great figures have gone. So, what about a generation with unlimited access to knowledge and ideas? 

I was asked many questions by youth, the majority of whom have been searching for facts they know, but cannot realize or comprehend. For instance, one individual was frustrated he could not find a benefit in his prayer, fasting, lowering the gaze, and praying, as he vigorously researched and read to understand the effect that many religious scholars are speaking of, but his search was in vain, so he stopped these practices. Another one told me about his inability to understand the universe and existence from the point of view of religion and sheikhs, which, from his point of view, is complicated compared to the scientific interpretation, which compelled him to take a scientific path, which he described as straightforward, to try to understand existence.

Many other questions have been asked in discussions between me and young people who are trying to answer constantly-asked questions; If Allah is the creator of everything, then who created him? Where is the divine justice in what happens in intellectual and natural disasters and wars? Why did Allah create me if he wanted to torture me later? Why did He create me in the first place? What is my fault if I was created in an environment that does not care about beliefs and religion? What is the purpose of this life? Why do we pray? Do I have to deprive myself of eating and drinking in order to feel the suffering of others?

I am not here to answer these questions that may take a lot of time, however, I will try to diagnose these cases in general to understand the essence of this phenomenon that is spreading recently. I believe that the problem stems from our limited understanding and our way of dealing with existential issues, the universe, and faith from a young age; while we were busy with encouraging our children to pray, fast, give charity, and do good things from a young age, we neglected building the foundations on which all these actions are based, paving the way for understanding our existence and the very reason we worship Almighty Allah. Additionally, we have created a relationship between Allah and us in the minds of our children, based on following what Allah has commanded for fear of his fire and greed in his paradise, turning these practices into chores, between acts of worship to earn a reward, and prohibitions to avoid. Our relationship with Allah has become like that with employers or parents; we have forgotten that our relationship with Allah is different, He has facilitated the whole world for us to know him, to understand him, and to ponder over his creations.

This problem also extends to the center of Sharia education; a young man told me about his Sharia studies in one of the largest institutes of Damascus at the hands of key Sheikhs and scholars and the rich Sharia sciences every person must learn. Moreover, the young man continued to speak of the greatness and comprehensiveness of these sciences with their major and minor branches and how some institutes, in the late last century, graduated people who transferred these sciences to countries in different parts of the earth. However, many problems have recently evolved so that these institutes, in his opinion, are offering students many sciences without a tangible spiritual condition that reflects the greatness of these sciences. As a result, most of them are busy studying various sciences, disregarding implementing and working with Sharia and transferring it to those who truly need it. In my opinion, the impact of such problem is not limited only to learners of those studies, even if they are the ones who carry the greatest burden in these cases, but to everyone who follows them from the public and considers them reliable references for learning these studies.

The mentioned examples reflect different stages, which most people go through in their quest to find the truth. We cannot blame youth for asking, while we neglect the root causes of the problem which caused them this distress in the first place. The problem has already occurred, so we must now take the necessary steps to assist these emerging minds in their march towards the truth and supervise and provide help when needed. Besides, I believe that true knowledge of these matters comes from personal research and experience, rather than following other people's views on the subject.

Finally, and to reiterate what I said before, everything can be seen as a solution or as an end; we can look at this phenomenon and deal with it as a problem, thus, deepening the gap between us and those fighting it. We can also view it as the solution and beginning of a new future that welcomes a rational and religious faith embraced by youth.


Hasan Ismaik