HUMAN life is made up of problems. Every one of us faces various issues, but perhaps the greatest problem one is faced with is when all doors of livelihood are closed and he or she is rendered unemployed.
A person without means of subsistence is always down in the dumps. His days are clouded and nights sleepless; the mind thinks about nothing except how to keep the kitchen stove burning. In short, unemployment is not a condition anyone wants to be in.
In order to concentrate on prayers a person needs a square meal. It is difficult to worship God on an empty stomach. A reasonable livelihood is a prerequisite to becoming a contributor to society.
In Pakistan, poverty is rampant, as is unemployment. Many social problems are directly and indirectly linked to unemployment. For example, we see swarms of beggars in our cities and towns. Some onlookers fling a coin to aid them while others turn their faces.
Islam has deep solicitude for human welfare. It wants believers to be materially well-off in order to be supportive and contributory to society. Many religious obligations like Zakat and Haj can only be performed when a believer is well above the subsistence level.
Islam does not have any provision for mendicancy. It discourages begging and urges believers to strive and search for Allah’s bounties on earth. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have said that one who earns by struggle is a friend of Allah (al-kasib habibullah). Our planet contains enormous resources sufficient to fulfil the needs of all of humanity and the rest of God’s creations. For Allah says: “It is He who created for you all that is on earth. …” (2:29).
In order to be materially well-off in this world Islam declares ‘striving’ to be an essential aspect of life. To paraphrase the Quranic injunction, those who sit at home are not equal to those who strive (4:95). The Holy Book further says that man can have nothing but what he strives for. The Quran repeatedly urges people to seek and search for Allah’s blessings.
Many people with special needs toil long hours and work hard. These individuals are exemplary in society, particularly for those who avoid hard work.
Without human effort nothing is achievable. Hence seeking Allah’s blessings in terms of material wealth or spiritual uplift has been made a fundamental belief for Muslims.
Pakistan faces tremendous challenges at present. It faces soaring prices of essential goods and mismanagement of its economy and vital resources. It has a weak economic base and providing jobs to all citizens is a marathon task.
Also, our youth population is bulging, which can prove to be the most significant capital where nation-building is concerned if it is nurtured carefully. But the relevant authorities have yet to come up with solid plans and implementation techniques to harness the potential of the youth.
On the other hand, we are combating lawlessness, terrorism and militancy at the national level, and many experts believe that unemployment of youth is one of the root causes of these problems. They suggest that the energies of the youth need to be channelised towards nation-building. In case the youth are not engaged in healthy and productive activities, they may take the route of waywardness.
Some younger people have a tendency to look towards the government for providing them with jobs. Some appear in competitive exams but are shocked to find that in many cases recruitments are made on the basis of favouritism and nepotism while merit is grossly violated.
Others knock on the doors of political leaders, ministers, MNAs and MPAs to get their recommendations to enter government service. Some even pay hefty amounts to secure jobs in government departments. These tendencies need to be reviewed and changed.
Our education system needs total revamping. Besides academic knowledge, education should be made life-oriented, skill-oriented and job-oriented in such a way that the youth get hands-on vocational training during their schooling.
All public and private schools and colleges should have linkages with service providers, industrial and agricultural sectors and business houses, and students should be exposed to a variety of fields. They should get their degrees after they spend a stipulated time period in the practical sphere.
The youth need to be prepared for self-employment. They should opt for undiscovered fields and strive to innovate and create something new. They should visualise their future goals and strive to achieve these. This will prompt them to be creative and problem-solvers.
Along with academic and practical activities, the youth should also be engaged in extra-curricular activities through a system in which every union council should have sports boards. They should pick students from their area’s schools and colleges and encourage them to initiate sports activities.
Islam preserves our identity but there should be nothing exclusive in terms of what we do professionally — all legally permitted economic fields are open. Hence the youth must partake wholeheartedly in the nation’s development.
Providing employment opportunities to the youth and engaging them in healthy activities will not only solve the problem of social disorder, it will also change the destiny of Pakistan.
The writer is an educationist.