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Where is the Ambition Today?

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A simple experiment to attempt: Take your palm and press it into your thigh, or stomach, or any other limb, with a certain amount of force. Try to remember how much of pressure you felt, and whether or not you experienced any pain. Thereafter, press the tip of your index finger into the same area, using the same amount of force. Does it feel any different than from when you pressed with your whole palm?

It should. In fact, it should feel ‘harder’, more forceful and perhaps slightly painful as well. The reason is that though the amount of force applied is the same, the area to which it was applied, in the second situation, was smaller. Hence, the force was more focused, causing the pressure to increase. From this law of physics, we understand a simple but fundamental concept – in order for a force to be more effective and powerful, it must be more focused.

Every person in the world has a certain amount of potential within them, but the youth, in particular, are ‘bubbling fountains’ of potential and ‘force’. The reason is that youth tend to be more energetic, high-spirited and optimistic than those who are older. Furthermore, they are not hindered by the commitments and responsibilities of adulthood such as raising a family, earning a livelihood, etc.

Thus, if the ‘force’ and energy of the youth is harnessed, by the youth developing ambition, imagine the powerful results it would produce! Imagine the assets they would become to Islam and the Ummah in different departments and fields of life!

Sadly, despite the great energy and vigour of the youth, their ‘force’ is generally wasted as they lack focus and ambition. They possess talent, intelligence and are endowed with strong bodies, but all these bounties are squandered in idle pursuits and frivolous activities. In a nutshell, by and large the ambition and focus today has become ‘leading a good and comfortable life’ – nothing more. Thus, the entire focus is to make money, and if there is enough money, then the focus is to enjoy the money. There are very few people who have any ambition beyond this.

When we compare ourselves to the youth of the past, we find that from a young age, their hearts were already aflame with ambition. Thus, in the era of the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) we find incidents of youngsters trying to slip into the army without being noticed so that they could also fight the enemy. Such was the ambition of the youth that it was two youngsters who toppled the ‘mighty and fearsome’ Abu Jahal from his horse in the Battle of Badr! (Saheeh Bukhaari #3141) In comparison, some youth are today slipping out of their homes at night and are slipping into nightclubs and other dens of sin and vice…

At the young age of fifteen or eighteen, Imaam Shaafi‘ee (rahimahullah) was already issuing fatwa and was endorsed by senior ‘Ulama of the time. (Aadaabush Shaafi‘ee wa Manaaqibuhu pg. 39 and 40) Sadly, at eighteen, many of us are still naïve and immature and cannot even be trusted with car-keys… 

Moulana Abul Hasan ‘Ali Nadwi (rahimahullah) was an ‘Aalim who passed away moments before the second millennium ended (he passed away on 31st Dec 1999). He was a revolutionary, a thinker and a historian who was recognized around the globe. Though he hailed from India, he was exceptionally gifted in the Arabic language, producing literary works in Arabic that are today utilized as textbooks.

If we go back to his childhood, we will find that it was his mother to whom his success can be attributed as she had planted the seed of ambition in his young heart and had kept him focused. During his student days, she once wrote a letter to him, reminding him of his ambition and urging him to remain focused. Among the things she said were, “You should dedicate your life to acquiring that which is rare and lacking in today’s times (i.e. the qualities of imaan and piety), which very few people succeed in achieving, which the eyes of people desire to see and their ears desire to hear. This burning desire is consuming their hearts, but these good qualities are nowhere to be seen… Examine those people who spent their entire lives in the pursuit of the knowledge of Deen and look at the rank and status that they achieved. Look at Shah Waliyyullah, Shah ‘Abdul ‘Azeez, Shah ‘Abdul Qaadir and Moulana Muhammad Ebrahim (rahimahumullah), and from your recent seniors, look at Khwaajah Ahmad and Moulana Muhammad Ameen (rahimahumallah) whose life and death were both enviable. They lived in the world with honour and respect and departed from this world with good deeds and virtue. How can positions such as theirs be attained?” (Zikr-e-Khair pg. 52)

From the above, we see that in order to motivate her son and instil the ambition to serve Deen within him, she would constantly remind him to look at the illustrious personalities of the past who had rendered great services to Islam. From a young age, she would tell him about the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) and encourage him to read kitaabs written on the lives of pious people. Thus, he developed appropriate ambition and exerted himself, after which Allah Ta‘ala blessed him with international acceptance.

Lamentably, instead of looking up to the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) and other heroes of Islam, the youth today idolize soccer players, movie actors, pop stars and other disbelievers. Instead of striving for the betterment and benefit of the Ummah, they strive to jive and party. Alas, where is the ambition today?

As parents, it is imperative for us to do our best and make every effort to instil the correct ambition in the hearts of our children. If we do so, and they thereafter tread the path of righteousness, then they will become a means of us receiving continuous rewards. On the contrary, if we encourage them to have the wrong aspirations, then we will suffer along with them.

May Allah Ta‘ala fill our hearts with the correct ambitions and bless us with the courage to exert ourselves in pursuits that are pleasing to Him, aameen.