Lecture to 2nd year students on 29th September 2000 by Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr.
ADOLESCENCE, sinn al murahaqat
Adolescence is a period of transition from childhood to adulthood. It is rapid, complex, and difficult. Like all
transitional events, it can go wrong. It involves adjustment to rapidly changing biological and psychological attributes.
Adolescence is part of the period of life called teenage that is traditionally defined as ages 13-19 years.
Adolescence is a more general term and is sometimes used to refer to puberty. Puberty is strictly used to refer
to the period when gonads are sufficiently developed to allow reproduction to occur. Puberty is defined both biologically
and legally. We are here concerned with the biological definition. The biological definition is linked to the ability to procreate.
In males puberty is defined as the appearance of the first sperms. In females it is defined as the first menstruation. In
both genders attainment of the age of 15 years automatically defines puberty even if the biological signs have not been seen.
The period of youth, shabaab, is that between puberty and the age
of 40 years. It is the period of strength, sinn al shudd (6:152, , , 18:82, 22:5, 40:68,
46:15. Istiwais a Qur’anic term that is used to refer to physical maturity,
nudhj jasadi(28:14). It is achieved in the early period of youth.
LEGALLY RESPONSIBLE ADULT, mukallaf
Legal majority is attained at puberty. Thenceforward persons are fully responsible under the law. They have full
rights to handle personal and financial affairs. They are fully accountable and responsible for acts of commission or omission.
CORRELATIONS: BIOLOGY, INTELLECT, and EMOTIONS
Physical growth may not correlate with emotional and intellectual development. The period of youth represents the
pinnacle of physical development but often emotional and intellectual development lag behind. There is a lag of wisdom behind
intelligence. Many problems of this period arise from this discordance.
B. YOUTHS IN THE QUR’AN and SUNNAT
Muhammad: The prophet Muhammad a herdsman in Makka (KS 478). He used to meditate when he was out in the
desert rearing his animals. He did not join in the fun and sin of youths in Makka (KS 490). He also never joined idol worship.
He was so honest that he was nicknamed the trusted one, al amiin. He participated in the rebuilding of the kaaba and averted
a civil war by his wisdom (KS 478). He was always modest. While building the kaaba he did not uncover his nakedness as did
others while carrying stones (KS 477). He travelled to Syria
to trade on behalf of Khadijah (KS 477). Impressed by his honesty, Khadijah offerred to marry him (KS 477). While a young
man the prophet participated in the hilf al fudhuul
Musa: Musa came to the defence of an Israelite who was fighting an Egyptian. In the process, Musa killed
the Egyptian and fled to Madyan. He was very kind to 2 young women he found and eventually married one of them after working
hard honestly, al qawiyyu al amiin, and fulfilling his contract with their father.
Ismail: As a youth he agreed to be sacrificed in obedience to Allah’s comand 37:101-111
Yusuf: Allah gave Yusuf wisdom as a youth . His beauty was
fitnat , -32. Women wanted
to tempt him into sexual corruption. He was imprisoned for his refusal to accept their desires 12:32-36, . He undertook dawah while in prison 12:36-40. Later his innocence was proved 12:51-53, -29, . He was skilled in dream interpretation
12:6, , , 12:4, -49, 12:100-101. He knew economics and agriculture 12:47-49. He was honest and knowledgeable
. He was therefore given authority 12:54-56. He eventually was forgiving and
generous towards his brothers who had mistreated him 12:89-92. He hnoured his parents when he was reunited with them 12:100.
RIGHTEOUS YOUTHS (PRE-ISLAM)
Youths of the cave (ahl al kahf): 18:
Luqman’s son: 31:12-19
RIGHTEOUS YOUTHS (COMPANIONS)
Ali Ibn Abi Talib
Abdullah Ibn Abbas
Abdullah Ibn Omar
Abdullah In Amre Bin Al Aas
Abdullah Ibn Al Zubayr
RIGHTEOUS YOUTHS OF LATER GENERATIONS
C. THE ADOLESCENT
PHYSICAL CHANGES IN MALES
Spermatogenesis indicates attainment of reproductive maturity.In males puberty can be defined as the age when sperms start appearing (24:58-59). The pubertal growth spurt is accelerated physical growth and development that
starts just before adolescence. The male secondary sexual characteristics
are testicular enlargement, penile enlargement, sexual hair growth, voice changes, muscle enlargement, spermache, regular
frequent erections with ejaculation start by the age of 15 indicating full sexual maturity. These characteristics further
enhance gender differentiation in preparation for adulthood. Growth of the beard is a very prominent male characteristic.
It is recommended to let it grow (MB # 1997 p. 949). These physical changes are accompanied by behavioral changes:
PHYSICAL CHANGES IN FEMALES
Physical changes in females are more dramatic. Thelarcheis development of breasts. Puberchy is development of pubic
hair. Menarche, the 1st menstrual period, is the legally-accepted definition
of puberty. Female secondary sexual characteristics include breast development, sexual hair growth, increase in body
Other changes: changes in sensory organs, and changes in functional
organs. Among the accompanying behavioral changes are intellectual and psychological changes, emotional changes (moodiness and depressive effects).
OTHER INDICATORS OF MATURITY
There are other indices of cognitive and physical maturity that can guide but can not legally define puberty. Indices
of physical maturity such as dental age and skeletal age. Indicators of functional maturity such as reproductive age, behavioral
age, and emotional age. Acquisition of abstract thinking and ability of responsible decision-making that considers the consequences
of actions. The orphans’ intelligence is tested to see whether they are fit to be given their property (4:6).
COGNITIVE and BEHAVIORAL CHANGES
Adolescence is a time of tension and contradictions. The adolescent is physically an adult who could even start
a family. He feels independent but can not live without dependence on parents. His behavior is impulsive and he tries to rebel
against childhood restrictions but is yet unsure of what roles to play: childhood or adult roles? Acquisition of abstract
thinking gives the teenagers more powerful reasoning abilities and they feel very intelligent. They become intellectually
arrogant reasoning things out and acting on erroneous conclusions. They are often wrong in their reasoning because they lack
wisdom and experience.
AGE AT PUBERTY:
Females experience an earlier pubertal spurt. There is hikmat in this. The age at puberty is declining in many
industrialised countries. The age at puberty can be defined legally as attaining 15 years. The prophet did not allow Ibn Umar
to go to war until he was 15 (MB # 1181 p 559).
D. THE YOUNG ADULT (early
Physical growthessentially stops at the age of 21. Then the period
of youn adulthood starts and ends at the age of 39.
The period of young adulthood is characterized by optimal health status. It is a period of maximal energy. The
person has overcome the problems of adolescent transition and has settled down to a permanent pattern of life that largely
defines the future course of life.
The period of youth adulthood is when the person starts a career and a family. It is a period of ambition. The
leadership potential of young adults was emphasized by the prophet when he appointed Usamah Ibn Zayd to command an army that
had some of the leading companions like Omar Ibn al Khattaab as ordinary soldiers. The prophet insisted that Usamah assume
leadership even if there were murmurings of disapproval.
The period of young adulthood can also be a time of stress and tension. The young adult is trying to achieve career
success while grapling with the problems of the spouse and the family. Competition with peers is acute. Despondency arises
as some realize that they will never be able to achieve their ambitions and realize their full potential.
At this stage of life, cognitive capacity is balanced with emotions and responsibility. There is a balance between
idealism and pragmatism. It is also a time when religiousity is tested and many young adults have tenous attachment to religion.
E. DISORDERS OF ADOLESCENCE and YOUTH
CONCEPT OF TRANSITION
The problems of teenagers and adolescents are problems of a rapid transition. Many of these problems did not exist
in simpler agrarian societies in which introduction to adult roles started earlier and was slower and more gradual. The period
of transition itself was slower; by 15 most males and females were already fully-functioning adult members of society.
DELAYED and PRECOCIOUS PUBERTY:
Three factors may lead to delayed puberty: hypothalamic-pituitary dysfunction, ovarian failure, and anatomical
anomalies. Precocious puberty is defined as puberty below 8 years in girls and below 9 years in boys. It could lead to early
The anatomical anomalies include: imperforate hymen, testicular feminization, absent uterus and vagina. These anomalies
cause stress and worry as comparisons are made with peers.
ADOLESCENT BEHAVIORAL PROBLEMS:
Cause of adolescent problems: discordance between biological maturity on one hand and psychological and
emotional maturity on the other. Industrial society has also made the transiiton artificially longer than it should be.
Coping with adolescence: One of the practical solutions to the problems of adolescence is to follow Islamic
guidelines and make the transition shorter while at the same time giving adult responsibilities and accountability earlier.
The adolescent needs a lot of guidance (wasiyat al ghulam) (KS p. 122)
E. YOUTH PROBLEMS:
According to Abu
A'ala Maududi youths are characterized by a lot of energy, open-mindedness, and commitment to whatever course of action they
decide on. Often they may be committed to the wrong and end us misusing their youth energy. They will be questioned on the
Last Day on how they employed their youth.