With the Name of Allah, the extremely Merciful at this very moment, and the extremely Merciful at all times.
Why do Muslims love the Prophet (saw)?
Because he did not rebuke the youth for their struggles, rather, he guided them towards making healthy decisions.
The youth who grow up in today’s world are constantly bombarded and tempted with forbidden actions- ranging from alcohol and drugs to fooling around with the opposite gender and pre-marital relations. It should also be no surprise that many of our own are actively engaging in such acts.
However, the depressing part of this story is that among those who are addicted to these actions- which for the most part are not talked about “taboo subjects” in the community- most do not have safe outlets within the Muslim community to turn to for help. Whether it is out of fear of being rejected or ridiculed to simply having no one available who understands and can relate to their situation, many youth are left to fend for themselves. In short, we are failing as youth mentors.
For example, many unmarried Muslim youth are faced with the challenges of growing up in a society where it is weird not to go on a date, fool around with the opposite gender, and be in relationships that are “just for fun.” The problem is compounded when many among the adult generation are not equipped or unwilling to tackle this problem. Thus, issues like adultery and teen pregnancies are often shoved under the carpet and treated as “non-existent.”
What may be surprising is that there were also “frustrated” youth at the time of the Prophet (saw). Imam Ahmad narrates in his Musnad (21708) that Abu Umaamah said:
“A young man came to the Prophet (saw) and said, “O Messenger of Allah, give me permission to commit adultery.” The people turned to him to rebuke him, saying, “Shh, shh.” The Prophet (saw) said, “Come here.” So he came close to him and he told him to sit down. He said, “Would you like that for your mother?” He said, “No, by Allah, may I be sacrificed for you.” He said, “Nor do people like it for their mothers.” He said, “Would you like it for your daughter?” He said, “No, by Allah, may I be sacrificed for you.” He said, “Nor do people like it for their daughters.” He said, “Would you like it for your sister?” He said, “No, by Allah, may I be sacrificed for you.” He said, “Nor do people like it for their sisters.” He said, “Would you like it for your paternal aunt?” He said, “No, by Allah, may I be sacrificed for you.” He said, “Nor do people like it for their paternal aunts.” He said, “Would you like it for your maternal aunt?” He said, “No, by Allah, may I be sacrificed for you.” He said, “Nor do people like it for their maternal aunts.” Then he placed his hand on him and said, “O Allah, forgive his sin, purify his heart, and guard his chastity.” And after that, this young man never did anything.”
This hadith has many lessons. First, the Prophet (saw) had an open book policy when discussing any matter, this is emphasized in the fact that this youth could actually walk into a gathering and ask his “taboo” question so openly to the leader of the Muslims. Second, while the people of the gathering were unwilling to discuss the topic, the Prophet (saw) did not rebuke the youth for his thoughts, instead he guided the youth to the realization of the harm in his thoughts. Third, the Prophet (saw) was supportive of the youth and made an invocation to Allah to help him through his struggle.
It is precisely through this methodology of youth mentorship exercised by the Prophet (saw) that allowed the youth to stop his thoughts from manifesting into an action. The confidence of sitting in front of the Prophet (saw) and airing out his concerns, being able to rationally think through his harmful thoughts, and having the Prophet (saw) pray for him empowered the youth to tackle his struggles.
Muslims love the Prophet (saw) because he understood the concerns of his people. He was not shy from tackling delicate issues like adultery even in a public setting. He was supportive of his youth and did not rebuke them for their thoughts and their questions- instead he empowered them as a youth mentor. We would benefit from considering his example when dealing with the traditionally “taboo” subjects and struggles of our youth today; whether it is related to substance abuse (including tobacco, alcohol, and drugs), mental health (including depression and suicidal ideation), and sex (including pornography and adultery). We should give our youth reasons to be trustful of their imams, parents, and role models in the community as mentors and safe people to discuss their struggles with, just as the Prophet (saw) did with his people.