The Islamic Garden
A Look at the Generation Gap
Even though there is so much overwhelming evidence that the world is in this great mess simply because mankind, on a massive scale, is striving to follow its collective desires, each successive generation is bound and declares that it is right. As human beings we generally have a limited perception of things; we only see things according to the angle where we are standing, and it is impossible to see things comprehensively—hence we disagree a lot of the time. Any disagreement or conflict requires an effort to overcome it and this includes the problems associated with the generation gap.
In the midst of all the confusion and conflict amid feelings of self-righteousness, a lot of generalizations are made and injustice is done. Older people often say they know everything and younger people often say that older people don’t know anything at all! Perhaps one of the parties is right and perhaps both of them are wrong! Only Allah knows.
But it is true to say that not all teenagers are
rebellious, and it is also true to say that not all parents neglect
their kids or are abusive. The media plays an important role in
confusing the young and the old about their roles in life and how they
should see each other. It is trendy for young people to buck authority
and disobey their parents, and likewise many older people sit together
and complain about the younger generation without acknowledging their
Both sides of the gap need to be objective, kind, and openhearted. Both sides need to learn to appreciate each other and learn from each other’s special perspectives.
Believing in and practicing Islam bridges all gaps, even the generation gap. In the days of the Prophet (peace be upon him) we had examples like Usamah ibn Zaid, who led the Muslim army when he was only 17 years old after the death of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Many of the older and renowned Companions fought under his command. Also, `Ali ibn Abi Talib was loved and respected from a young and tender age. He was only 10 years old when he accepted Islam and accompanied the Prophet (peace be upon him) everywhere.
When we look at such examples, we notice that when it comes to respect, either from the old to the young, or the young to the old, it is based on decent and moral behavior. The people who were worthy of respect were respected because morality was valued.
Some people are easy to love and respect because of their characteristics and behavior; while with others you have to dig a little deeper to find the goodness that may lie hidden under mounds of shyness, aggression, defensiveness, hostility, aloofness, or fear. But if you care to be patient and spend some time, you’ll surely find that buried treasure that will enrich your lives.
This article was first published at youth 4 the future at Islamonline.net