Praise be to Allah,
Worshipping Allaah in one’s youth is a sign that a person is good. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) spoke of the great virtue of a young man who grows up worshipping and obeying Allaah and said that he will be shaded by Allaah on the Day of Resurrection, the Day when the sun will be directly over the heads of the people.
Who are the ‘Youths’ in Islam?
Scholars differed regarding the age when the period of youth ends. It was said that it ends at thirty or thirty -two. Ash-Shawkaani, said: “The linguistic origin of it (the Arabic term Shabaab, meaning youth) denotes movement and activity. It is a noun used in reference to those who have reached puberty until they reach the age of thirty; this is the opinion of the Shaafi‘is, and it was reported by the author of Al-Fat-h. Al-Qurtubi said in Al-Mufhim:
‘A person is described as Hadath (child) until the age of sixteen, then Shaabb (youth/young person) until the age of thirty-two, and then Kahl (mature person).’ Az-Zamakhshari said: ‘Youth starts from reaching puberty until the age of thirty-two.’ The Maaliki scholar Ibn Shaas said in his book Al-Jawaahir: ‘… until the age of forty.’ An-Nawawi said that the sound chosen opinion is that a Shaabb is the one who reached puberty and is not past the age of thirty. Afterward, he is Kahl until he passes the age of forty; afterward, he is Shaykh (elderly).'”[i]
Shaykh Uthaymeen (May Allah have mercy on him) said,
‘The word ‘young’ refers to a man who has reached puberty but has not yet reached thirty years of age. Others maintained. it extends to forty years of age when he becomes middle-aged and eventually becomes old.’[ii]
‘When the young men fled for refuge to the cave, they said: “Our Lord! Grant us your mercy and arrange our affairs for us in the right way!” [Translation Surah Kahf, verse 10]
Dr. Bilal Philips says in the commentary of this verse[iii],
‘It is worth noting that in this story Allah is speaking about fityah (youths). This is significant in the case of Prophet (PBUH) that none of his immediate family older than him accepted Islaam in Makkah. Those who accepted Islaam from outside his family were all relative youths. The older people, the chiefs, and the heads of the clans did not accept Islaam.
To a large degree, youth are more open to new ideas because they are as attached to customs and traditions as older people. It is common within all societies that the youth challenge the status quo. They are known for their rebellious nature. Whereas older people tend to be afraid of the consequences of going against the norm and they willingly ignore their personal feelings. The Prophet’s uncle, Aboo Taalib, is a classic example of this principle.
Another lesson that might be derived from this story is Allah uses the youths as an example of commitment to faith in the Qur’an in order to emphasize the importance of faith in youth. Allah puts firmness of faith during the period of youth on a special level. Those youths who are raised believing in Allah and maintain that belief then on the Day of Judgment when there will be no shade, and the sun will be brought close to people standing up for Judgment, some up to their knees in sweat, others up to their necks and some will be drowning in the sweat, and on that day seven groups of people will be shaded by the throne of Allah, one of them being youths who grew up believing in Allah.
Aboo Hurayrah related from the Prophet (PBUH) that he said, “Seven will be shaded by Allah, Almighty, on a day when there will be no other shade besides His shade: A just ruler; a youth who grows up worshipping Allah; a man whose heart is attached to the mosques; two men who love each other for the sake of Allah, they meet on the basis of it and separate on the basis of it; a man who is invited by a woman of high position and beauty and he replies: Indeed I fear Allah; a man gives charity and hides it so much so that his left hand is unaware of what his right hand gave, and a man who remembers Allah in private and his eyes become filled with tears.”[iv]
Youths tend to be easily influenced by their peer
Youths tend to be easily influenced by their peer group and their opinions may change radically in order to conform to their companions. Huthayfah reported that the Prophet (PBUH) had said:
“Do not be impressionable, saying: ‘If people are righteous, we will also be righteous and if they are bad, we will also be bad.’ Instead, accustom yourself to be righteous if people are righteous and to not be bad if they are evil.”[v]
Learning at a younger age
Sheikh Muhammad bin Salih al-Uthaymeen says, learning at a young age has three great advantages:
The first advantage: Oftentimes, the youth memorize faster than the elderly since the young person is not mentally occupied; he has nothing to preoccupy his thoughts.
The second advantage: What the youth memorizes remains while what the old memorize could easily be forgotten. Thus, a common adage among the people says: “Study at a young age is like the inscription on a stone” it does not rub out.
Third advantage: If the young person is trained from the beginning to master the area of study, the knowledge he acquires becomes like something intrinsic and natural for him, like a knack he grew with and so he grows to age upon that.’[vi]
The reward of staying away from sins at a young age
Whoever keeps his physical faculties away from sin when he is young, Allaah will protect him when he gets older. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said to Ibn ‘Abbaas when he was a young boy:
“Be mindful of Allaah and He will take care of you.”[vii]
Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (may Allah have mercy on him) said:
‘Whoever is mindful of Allaah when he is young and strong, Allaah will take care of him when he is old and has become weak, and will bless him with good hearing, eyesight, strength, and reasoning. One of the scholars who lived beyond the age of one hundred years and enjoyed good strength and reasoning, jumped up in a lively manner one day and was asked about that. He said: “I kept these physical faculties from sin when I was young and Allaah has preserved them for me now that I am old.” The opposite also applies; one of the salafs saw an old man begging from people and said: “This is a weak man who ignored Allaah when he was young, so Allaah is ignoring him now he has grown old.”[viii] End quote[ix].
It was narrated by Imaam Ahmad in Al-Musnad, on the authority of ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Aamir that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said:
“Allah, The Exalted, wonders (practices) ‘Ajab (which entails that He is greatly pleased with) a youth who has no inclination (to worldly pleasures).“
Whoever is at that age and devotes himself to the worship of Allah, The Exalted, and obeying Him, is hoped to earn this great reward. A person in his twenties is still at the age of youth, and he shall earn the reward of worshipping Allah, during youth if he strives in worship[x].
Whoever has passed the age of youth
Whoever has passed the age of youth and reached thirty or forty or more, still has the chance to catch up. Actually, whoever strives to obey Allah, The Exalted, diligently at any age, keenly seeks to earn His pleasure, and repents to Him sincerely, then, Allah will compensate and reward him for his obedience because Allah, The Exalted, does not allow the reward of those who do good to be lost. However, the rewards earned by young persons are more perfect because of their physical strength and inner inclination to follow lusts and given the reported texts that prove the virtue of obeying Allah, The Exalted, in that state.
Accountability for the youth on the day of Resurrection
We would like to point out to the questioner that the fact that a person will be asked about his youth does not mean that he will not be asked about the rest of his life. There is no better proof for that than the fact that a person will be asked about both his life and his youth on the Day of Resurrection. Ibn Mas‘ood reported that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said:
“The feet of the son of Aadam (Adam) shall not move from before his Lord on the Day of Judgment until he is asked about five things: about his life and what he did with it, about his youth and what he wore it out in, about his wealth how he earned it and how he spent it, and what he did with what he knew.”[xi]
‘Ali Mulla Al-Qaari commented on the Hadeeth saying, “the Hadeeth refers to the fact that the person will be held accountable for his strength and time during his youth in particular because he is more able to perform the greatest amount of worship that requires physical strength during that phase.”[xii]
The advice of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
The Prophet of Allah (PBUH) gave profound advice in another famous hadith to value five things:
“Youth before old age, health before sickness, wealth before poverty, free time before preoccupation, and life before death.”[xiii]
Allah Knows Best
Copied and compiled from the following sources:
[ii] The Book of Marriage, From the Explanation of Bulugh Al- Maraam, Part 1- Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-Uthaymeen Page 17
[iii] Tafseer Surah Al-Kahf, Dr Abu Ameena Bilal Philips, PDF Page 33-34
[iv] Reference: Sahih al-Bukhari 1423 In-book reference: Book 24, Hadith 27
[v] Grade: Hasan (Darussalam) Reference: Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2007
[vi] Sharh Riyaad as-Saaliheen By: Sheikh Muhammad bin Salih al-Uthaymeen, Darussalam publications vol -1 page 215
[vii] Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2516; classed as Saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.
[viii] Jaami’ al-‘Uloom wa’l-Hukam, 1/186
[xi] Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 2422; classed as Hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 1969
[xii] [Mirqaat Al-Mafaateeh Sharh Mishkaat Al-Masaabeeh]
[xiii] Shu’ab al-Imān 9767 Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Albani