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Psychological Aspects of Adolescents Ignored by Elders

  

When people were passing a simpler and more socially active life, they had enough time to communicate and share with children and guide them properly to handle the crisis in life. Now, the craze of gaining more has made them like machines without any care for others, even their marital partners and children. The old values and bonds are vanishing and technology has replaced the humanist sentiments.

Islam has presented a comprehensive family and social setup according to the psychological needs of human beings of all classes and all generations. It is stated that those who do not follow the moderate system, will face destruction. Allah has unlimited bounties for whosoever wants to receive from His greatness, V-6:133-135,” And your Lord is Rich (Free of all wants), full of Mercy, if He will, He can destroy you, and in your place make whom He will as your successors, as He raised you from the seed of other people. Surely, that which you are promised will verily come to pass, and you cannot escape (from the Punishment of Allah). Say (O Muhammad): "O my people! Work according to your way, surely, I too am working (in my way), and you will come to know for which of us will be the (happy) end in the Hereafter. Certainly the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers, etc.) will not be successful."

Unfortunately, the extremity of introducing the religion with force and fear has also created disinterest in the Muslim adolescents. One of the main factors which have emerged in the Muslim society is due to the presentation of Islam by Mullahs and Imams based on their personal interest and philosophy of the religion on orthodox parameters. 

The present sectarian issues have emerged due to not introducing the practices of understanding Qur’an in its meaning among the masses, particularly the young generation. The mullahs and narrow-minded preachers present God’s concept as if He is looking after the minute faults of mankind and bent upon harsh punishment, without presenting His great mercy and forgiveness in plenty of Surahs in Qur’an to guide the sinners with unlimited blessings, V-4:26-32, “Allah wishes to make clear (what is lawful and what is unlawful) to you, and to show you the ways of those before you, and accept your repentance, and Allah is All-Knower, All-Wise. Allah wishes to accept your repentance, but those who follow their lusts, wish that you (believers) should deviate tremendously away from the Right Path.” 28. Allah wishes to lighten (the burden) for you; and man was created weak. O you who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves unjustly except it be a trade amongst you, by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves (nor kill one another). Surely, Allah is Most Merciful to you. And whoever commits that through aggression and injustice, We shall cast him into the Fire, and that is easy for Allah. If you avoid the great sins which you are forbidden to do, We shall remit from you your (small) sins, and admit you to a Noble Entrance (i.e. Paradise). And wish not for the things in which Allah has made some of you to excel others. For men there is reward for what they have earned, (and likewise) for women there is reward for what they have earned, and ask Allah of His Bounty. Surely, Allah is Ever All-Knower of everything.”

On the other hand, Mullahs are used to interpreting such verses which were revealed for kefirs that refused the oneness of Allah (God). Therefore, such sermons in mosques are presented to ignorant youth, creating harassment among the masses to follow Islam. These mullahs create negative pictures of Islam and exaggerate sectarian differences by pronouncing all other Muslims kefirs who do not follow their interpretations and who should be killed to get a posting in paradise. Those ignorant of the true meanings of Qur’an, under the sway of these so-called religious heads, start aggressive activities like rioting, burning, looting, killing and torturing their Muslim brothers/sisters and innocent children.

As prescribed earlier, the young generation has turned away from learning the exaggerated and self-painted picture of Islam. They feel so many restrictions with sectarian violence in the Muslim society that they seek relief in movies and other carefree, relaxing activities. The propaganda of certain educationist and materialists that Islam is an orthodox and rigid religion which cuts out worldly pursuits make them derive wrong conclusions due to their little comprehension of the Qur’an and its pretexts. Qur’anic verses reveal that Islam is a modern religion with blessings and forgiveness for detractors. God likes the people who should follow the middle path as there is no place of extremism and perfectionism and only God is perfect. 

One of the ignored areas in the Muslim community is the avoidance of knowledge of psychology of adolescents and their issues. To prepare a strong adolescent mentally equipped with true religious practices and comprehensive knowledge of Qur’an, the parents, teachers and religious leaders must pay serious attention to adolescents and their psycho-social aspects despite the current media and internet attractions.

In fact, adolescence is the most sensitive age in all humans when sentiments, instincts and urge for satisfaction of newly emerging physical forces prevail over insight and ethics or judgments. Psychologically, it is an age of storm, stress and strains in human life. It is during the transactional stage of human developmental when after a prolonged period of dependent stage of childhood, there appears a revolutionary urge to be self-sufficient in his thinking and acting according to his own needs and demands in his environment. There appear various types of physical, emotional as well as hormonal changes, creating curiosity in teenagers.

Mostly the curiosity to explore one’s own self and the other sexes become dominant. At this stage, the urge to have self re-cognition and being recognized by significant others make them reactive and defensive in social interactions. At this time, there appears Intellectual growth and cognitive development. So, the adolescents need someone to listen to them and resolve their unknown issues, concepts about religion, socio-political and community- related problems when their elders still consider and treat them like children and rule over their feelings and emotions.

The best formula for satisfying the teenagers is to come to their emotional and mental level and after listening to them, then gradually providing them knowledge with reason and not with fear to repress their newly emerging self-identity and self respect. They need warmth and sense of belongingness from their elders and religious and leaders for developing a positive self-concept and rational knowledge to meet their curiosity. As they go through changes and need maturity through social and moral development, their parents and moral guides should keep all this in mind. After the repressed period of childhood, through media exposure and modern knowledge, they develop revolutionary concept and of values. They have variety of issues and religion concepts contradictory to established norms and traditions. They become vocal or take extreme responses when confronted without reasoning. They need insight to resolve dual and confusing thoughts. Mostly in this age, they are confronting gender identity and when faced with a socio-religious block, get involved in sexual hypocrisy.

Psychologically, it is observed that lot of revolutionary thoughts and aggression which emerges in the adolescent is based on the early training and reaction to authority. At this stage, peer pressure and romantic TV presentations, dual standard of elders/religious preachers, and family clashes derailed them and they get involved in anti-social activities. The females play mysterious role which remains unnoticed till some unforeseen situations and embracing family issue becomes unmanageable. Present era technological and print facilities have triggered early sexual, emotional and religious issues due to strict reactions of authorities who, instead of resolving this phenomenon, turn aggressive, leading to social and religious confrontations between identity-seeking adolescents and prevailing traditional authorities.

Research indicates that media has a stronger impact on the personality development and concept-formations of the teenagers than the dated communicative techniques applied by the elders. Therefore, it is essential for the religious teaching and training that one must be aware of the sensitivity of mental processing and thinking pattern of the adolescents, otherwise instead of getting fruitful results, one may end in loss because a sharp and curious mind may get confused or react in an aggressive form with abnormalities like hysteria, anxiety, anti-social activities etc.

One must be clear in setting educational goals and be aware of the socio-economic polarities in the society. Mostly people talk and preach ideal goals but practically they do not present any attractive role model to these emotional adolescents, who resultantly take religious knowledge just as stories as the preacher’s personality has the least impact on their belief system. They take Qur’anic reading as just reading or reciting foreign language poetry without any comprehension. By taking prayers as a ritual practice, even grown-ups at times forget what they have performed and how many rikat they have completed in the prayer because under such conditioned activity, one may be physically present while mentally involved elsewhere.

At adolescent age, there are varieties of challenges, emotional, social and future plans which occupy the mental functioning and create concentration problems. It has impact on memory and reproduction. If at this stage confused data or over-loaded advice system is imposed on them, it may create various perceptual issues and decision making process. Orthodox, semi-educated mullahs present a furious and horrible picture of God along with dreadful pictures of hellfire (which are described for aggressive opponents of Islam or pagans who ridiculed and killing prophets) contradictory to the kind, forgiving and blessed invitations of Creator (mostly quoted at the end of each advising verse to Muslims). Such types of exaggerated presentation have always created a deep negative impact in the sensitive age of teenagers. Lot of sensitive boys and girls get involved in perfectionism, obsessive-compulsive thoughts, regression, depression and repression like early age fixation because when they remain under over-protection and dependence impact of the elders, they lose self-confidence and get guilty feelings leading to self-punishment of their repressed thoughts and id impulses. Then instead of learning or practicing religious obligations, they get into complexes and mental derailment. At this stage, quacks and mullahs make it into a business and involve them in Bidaha or superstitious activities which are contradictory to Qur’an and Islamic knowledge. The best solution for guiding the young ones is as prescribed in Qur’an that read, recite and comprehend it through gradual slow process by repeatedly going over the contents of Qur’an according to the skills of the reader.

Hear-say knowledge without comprehension or insight of verses of Qur’an makes the Muslim teenagers confused when their non-believer college fellows criticize Islamic values. Such students get involved in frustration, day dreaming, anti-social reaction and sexual abnormalities. Clinically, when introvert, sensitive teenagers (particularly a suppressed girl) is imposed with the age-related sexual fantasies with fear of sever religious punishments, they get involved in self-fighting to such an extent that they get fantasies of committing an actual and visualize dreadful pictures; they have a personality split, which people label as being enchanted by the evil spirit. In fact, these are hysterical symptoms with uncontrolled self-created fantasies which have a genuine psychological treatment but these adolescents are ill treated due to the ignorance of quacks and mullahs. Perhaps they forget to note the verses of Qur’an indicating that only actual sins are with bad intentions (consciously), therefore uncontrolled thinking or actions without intentions which are beyond a normal person’s control (insanity) are not a sin rather an abnormality which needs treatment.

Due to unhealthy practices in teaching Qur’an under rigorous punishment practices and blind imposition of rigid interpretation of Islam, they get crazy and are involved in extremism and terrorism. These psychological factors have worst impact in non-Arabic countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan etc., where cultural pressures, ignorance of the Qur’anic verses, and personal interpretations of certain mullahs have been the causes of terrorism which is mostly funded and sponsored by certain influential middle-eastern countries.

In order to handle the physical and emotional pressures of this age, they need understanding and outlets in a rational form from their family members, teachers, religious scholars and social workers. Physical activities to channel energy are important for reducing the thinking pattern in the depressed and repressed adolescents. There is need for fair and free interaction between the teacher and the taught, otherwise imposing loaded knowledge without insight will be just conditioned knowledge and the learner will act blindly and be unable to satisfy the religious queries raised by the opponent of his religion. A Muslim scholar, teacher or preacher plays a key role in the enhancement of religion and educational skills in this sensitive age.

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I found the majority of the lower and lower middle class young generation who, after hard circumstances equipped with university degree and constant struggle are unable to get a suitable job and am highly frustrated. The prevailing faulty governments, where nepotism, corruption, political and economically influential class keep a grip on the jobs and national resources, have forced these sentimental youth to revolt against the system. These highly frustrated adolescents look toward the terrorist recruits who enroll them to meet their goals to sabotage the existing political forces and use suicidal bombing, sectarian violence and killing the innocent public. Presently, terrorism has become a professional approach to gain power and control. It is against the sole message of peace and mutual understanding in life that, as Islam, spread in the world as Islam is a religion of peace and asks for mutual understanding in life affairs. Muslims were directed and redirected for correction to not follow the pre-Islamic pattern of fighting and killing those who turned away from Qur’an, or otherwise they would have to face great torment, V-51:9-14.Surah Al-Baqra is full of such details revealed to Muslims for a lesson in life. In this respect, terrorist groups are bent upon using these traditions in the Islamic society. These methods were refuted in Islam and do not see the verses of the Qur’an in which such actions are equated with the deeds of munafqeens, (V-2:11-14-18 & 27-28.)

Certain religious leaders, who claim to be the chosen caste, associate themselves with the dynasties of renowned saints. They act as the custodians of shrines and lead the annual festivals with dance and social gatherings, and accept monetary contributions and gifts as tokens to remove guilt-feelings and as recommendations to Allah for paradise without any involvement in performing the obligations imposed by the Holy Prophet (PBUH). The Qur’an continuously states that Allah is a great judge of human deeds and intentions, and it reveals that no one can take the burden of other deeds, as given inV-35:18, Vi53:38 and V-41:46. 

While dealing with the various groups of university and college adolescents, the writer tried to straighten their false faith through questioning to these devotees of Islam with zealous attachments to their sectarian causes. Each one quoted the assumptions of their sectarian scholars in which the translation and meanings of quoted verses were interpreted in local language and acquired their personal views of condemning the rival sects. Each Friday, assemblies with the use of loud speakers are used to defend specific agendas and to disgrace the rival sects and trigger offensive and violent responses, without providing any insight to the followers about the basis of Islam or Qur’an. One hour sermons never address the principles of Islam, except creating confusion and adding negative thoughts. Such practices of Mullahs/Imams of presenting religion with fear to control the masses has repulsed the intellectual and elite families and pushed them toward non-Islamic practices like anti-religious movements, imitating ultra-modern actions, looking for anti-social and adventurous activities, etc. Resultantly, the masses from the middle and lower classes are ruled and guided under the agenda of such sectarian leaders. They have not only controlled semi-educated and devoted followers, rather they use them for political, economical and social decisive matters (V-60:3). For such kind of selfish religious leaders who have made religion a business of life, Allah declares that Qur’an is the right path and those who change it will be placed in hell as they do not understand that He knows their intentions, as in V-6:116.

My quest to know the roots of Islam under Qur’anic verses became more aggressive when I observed that due to political turmoil, high rate of poverty, unemployment, nepotism, and the hold of feudal lords and elites, the intellectuals and highly-motivated individuals from lower to lower-middle class, who are already frustrated in their job search, are depressed to such an extent that for their family survival, they are willing to come on the payroll of the extremist, terrorist groups who attract them with handsome money for their ill-purposes. These groups are working under the name of Islam with repulsive interests and are willingly naïve of the Qur’anic version of Islam about peace and patience among fellow human beings. After research work on this topic when I asked about the references for the solutions, moved to find out the facts revealed in the Qur’an, these individuals just blamed the government for the differences in policy and practices which only support the American agenda to support the western interest and destroy the jihadist, so they are right in their mission to destroy the existing government and its non-Islamic functions. 

One of the major groups of lower and middle class talented but jobless, and frustrated adolescents is confronting emotional and family issues. After graduating and with their professional skills, they are infused with a revolutionary spirit against the faulty socio-economic and political forces. They appear to be at a loss and are found to be confused and depressed but motivated to revolt against the prevailing conditions. I have to confront these university students of deprived classes who are at the verge of joining the terrorist groups. So my main goal remained to reorganize them to become a productive part of society. I tried my best to present the positive picture from the Qur’an, biographies of great leaders including the hardship time of the Holy Prophet prior to the victory of Mecca etc., but they were bent upon to say that it is just a lesson to get timely satisfaction. When they were addressed to seek help from the Qur’an while perusing a job, they started grumbling that even praying day and night, following prescribed severe practices of Imams/Mullahs/Pirs/Faqirs turned out to be of no use against the prevailing conditions which only favor the corrupt and influential manipulator class. Allah observes it all but does not support the poor and deprived, and only favors the powerful, wealthy, elite class while ignoring the oppressed. 

I tried to engage their intellect with patience by presenting my own self that I am also the product of the same environment but they refused to accept it by saying that you will precede abroad to a settled life and when you are here, you enjoy a posh life with bank balance, cars, bungalows etc. They took the stand that even Allah favors rich, influential landlords and business class and has no place for deprived and socially dejected class. I presented my own state that I am the product of middle-class semi-educated parents, educated in general public school slot class of low-educated area but now hold some status both abroad and here.

When I explained that throughout my life I strived as a self-made, self-disciplined, self-sufficient and hard working person who developed a bold and self-esteemed inner self, they just laughed by saying that you are trying to appease us by ignoring the sufferings but enjoy an affluent life which cannot be achieved in the socio-cultural and religious set up of this developing country. How you can become a source of a change in our life? At this stage, the writer had no other choice to highlight this miracle to my target group through the clinical method of self-exposure for developing a positive self-concept in the clients.

So, I highlighted my real self and long period of untiring struggles of life, starting at 14 years of age with no hope of graduating from high school due to family traditions, cultural trends and poor control of English as a foreign language, sitting in the middle line as a weak boy, but remained persistent in life, looking for the sources and opportunities to move to next step. It was hard to get admission in local co-education college but a neighbor, the father of the late Novel laureate, Dr. Abdus Salam, took an oath to keep a watch on my activities and, through his youngest son, helped me. On graduation, my maternal uncle encouraged my parent to send me to the University where, in the first interview, I could not tell the right formula of I.Q. but on the second step was admitted, and I also supported myself by part-time jobs. After the first year of Masters during summer vacation, the sudden death of my father forced me, as the eldest son, to take care of my mother and seven siblings for their livelihood, education and life adjustment. Under these conditions, having no support I survived but there was no hope to get a lecturer’s job after four years of Masters in psychology, so I again opted for a temporary job. Just within this period of uncertainty, I got a chance for a marriage proposal in an established, well-known family when it was hard to survive the family of seven siblings and a widowed mother in a remote area. I took the chance but my dream of self-sufficiency was smashed as a more influential person was appointed to a better position of his choice as a permanent selectee. After marriage, my old dream for doctorate in psychotherapy from a foreign institution over-charged me, while I used to spend one fourth of my salary on correspondence with foreign universities. During this gigantic mission, on Tawakal of Allah, only my wife backed me by disposing of all her gold ornaments and managed a bank guarantee with a borrowed air-ticket and a risk of provisional admission. I left her with two loving children for USA, with just one semester’s fee and five hundred dollars for a professional career. In the American education system based on earn and learn system supported me to work within campus as a full-time student, part-time job and taking extra full classes in the summer session, I was able to manage to pay back certain loans of my expenses but also completed my MS of two and half years duration with 3.85 GPA within 18 months in my challenging language. It was the blessings of Allah, high motivation, goal direction, seeking of the sources and working while other were enjoying life, dating and resting, which supported me and I had to struggle to get extra money to rejoin my own family, and I completed my dream of psychotherapy practices with outstanding GPA ahead of scheduled time. 

In spite of a handsome offer through my motivated university professor, I returned to my home country with a patriotic spirit and goal to raise my two kids according to my religious and cultural values, but the prevailing conditions of favoritism and nepotism blocked my career. Despite the self- introduction through column-writing and radio appurtenances, it did not open a door for a job of my skills, and I had no other choice to restart from point zero by rejoining the position of lecturer which I had left six years ago prior to going abroad for higher education.

The professional training, confidence in Allah and a tempo of survival for the fittest enabled me to be bold, a good orator, writer of professional columns into books, attempting every available resources, and so I made space as a well-known psychotherapist among the elite and educated people. It is His blessings of chances, insight and persistence with patience that made all my dreams into practice as I got the same position of my ideal psychology chairperson and taught the advanced courses, became known as a psycho- therapist like my namesake renowned psychiatrist of Pakistan, became the Graduate College Principal of my own professors of the same college where I used to sit in the last rows as a shy boy to hide my face, which I raised to the level of a Post-Graduate well known institution of the country. I have been able to establish so many psychology departments with modern syllabi and professional training facilities to enhance the needs of hundreds of deprived students by visualizing their difficulties for higher education like my own period of uncertainty.

From my elementary class to the university level, there were innumerable students from the elite class as well as very intellectually smart colleagues whom I, as a middle-class average I.Q. person, have superseded only by Tawakal, goal-directed zeal and believing in the chances of nature. No doubt a devoted life partner and accommodating children are the great reward for a person like me who has never been disturbed in focusing my goals under tiresome conditions. It is my eternal faith that the word of Allah has precise meanings but one must have patience and consistency in adapting it devotedly in practices to see the impact of these miracles in human life. It is the gracious justifying Lord who supports His needy creature if one persists in understanding His words of wisdom (Qur’an) and, instead of being derailed by worldly fun and pleasures, keeps on moving, as “Where there is a will, there is a way”.

Today, I could not imagine how, why and what way my Lord blessed me with the insight to keep on the track to my present state of setting four times better than my predecessors in Pakistan and then reverting to USA with unimaginable dreams turned into real form. 

My only intention to disclose this personal picture of life is to share the secret of success with disappointed but energetic adolescents who, primarily in the age of stress and storm, are derailed by a magnified force which can be turned into a supreme uncontrollable force when it is given the shape of a goal-directed energy, and can produce ten times more positive output then an ordinary person. Secondly, when this energy is derailed and converted by an attention-seeking person, the same adolescent can become a dangerous terrorist, psychopath and disastrous human being. The success lies within a person when an individual understands himself and contacts it for unfolding the cloudy thoughts and wishful thinking, and is then set with small, easily- achievable goals to promote a concentrated self. I will suggest the readers to study the surahs Al-Shoura V-42, which present insight and guidance about the complete picture of human struggles and Allah blessings under hardships. Qur’an also reveals the psychological support and encouragement to be strong and never be disappointed from the blessings of Allah who tests the true believers under hardships (V-2:214, V-10:44, V-22:62, V-46:19). 

So, one should follow the key rule of Qur’an as reviewed in V-11: 115,” And be patient; verily, Allah loses not the reward of the good-doers.”

The lesson in my success is based on taking calculated risks in life after thoroughly understanding the various aspects of the environment, self-assessment with the caution of negative results also. One should take the responsibility of both success and failure as they are the two sides of the same coin, so one should be ready to face a failure also happily as it is one’s own decision and nobody has pushed the person toward a target goal. I never waste time in just worrying, but put my energy in the goal with the Tawakal of Allah as He blesses a person according to his struggle (V-53:39-41). He control all the overt and covert factors in a goal, I may be aware of the apparent factors but not of hidden (covert) factors which play a key role toward an action in life, which is the reason no one so far has been able to save himself from the reality of death or life. 

During my hard time of going to America for my Ph.D., people laughed at me: even the families of my uncle and aunts passed remarks and ridiculed my wishful planning but I listened and became more aggressive in my goal. In all conditions, I always conducted self-appreciation of my achievements as it is the energy of the integrated self which bounces back from hardships. Self-criticism is self failure in life and those who ridicule or criticize you are the worst enemy of a person as they take revenge from you and are jealous that you may supersede them. I took help of praying and lesson of patience for a good reward (V-16:126-127).

Thirdly, remain persistent with Tawakal of Allah, sharp in observing and seeking available resources (nature provides it without any distinction to all in time and space), and even stronger belief in the backing of the Almighty empowering a person, which is historically proven in the Muslims’ victory over the four times well-equipped forces in the battle of Badar.

                                                                          (Continued in the book)

“O mankind! If you are in doubt about the Resurrection, then verily! We have created you (i.e. Adam) from dust, then from a Nutfah(mixed drops of male and female sexual discharge i.e. offspring of Adam), then from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood) then from a little lump of flesh, some formed and some unformed (miscarriage), that We may make (it) clear to you (i.e. to show you Our Power and Ability to do what We will). And We cause whom We will to remain in the wombs for an appointed term, then We bring you out as infants, then (give you growth) that you may reach your age of full strength. And among you there is he who dies (young), and among you there is he who is brought back to the miserable old age, so that he knows nothing after having known. And you see the Earth barren, but when We send down water (rain) on it, it is stirred (to life), it swells and puts forth every lovely kind (of growth). That is because Allah, He is the Truth, and it is He Who gives life to the dead, and it is He Who is Able to do all things.”