One year ago, an old and scruffy individual known as Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the UK’s biggest political party. Despite not being well known before the 2015 Labour leadership election, Corbyn won a one sided mandate of 251,417 voters, most of whom were reported as being a new left from center movement mostly comprising of youths.
Corbyn’s ability to connect with a younger audience is not something to be taken lightly; as the youth grows, they challenge many of the traditions taught to them by their elders and established by their ancestors. This movement then comes as no surprise, even when examining the climate of today’s Islamic communities in the West. With great emphasis on the role of the youth in both the Qur’an and the teachings of the Ahlulbayt, it comes to no surprise that a different generation of youth have risen on the political platform, a generation of anti-war, anti-division and one that longs for a world of justice promised to us from a long awaited Messiah.
I speak for a large portion of Western youth who feel that our view of the world is unappreciated.
From my own experience, we are often told we are simply going through a phase when we show our support to left wing politicians, or that we support such personalities because we do not fully understand the “real world.” When such accusations are made by our elders, it makes one question why we are in existence at all. If our entire role in society is simply to be seen and never heard, then we might as well seclude ourselves in our bedrooms until we reach a so-called ‘appropriate age’ where we are allowed to have ethical, moral and political opinions.
It is made very clear in the Qur’an that it is important for the youth to play an intrinsic part of society. Many stories of great prophets like Abraham, John the Baptist and Jesus are show that the youth hold a great amount of importance in the religion of Islam. Also, the lives of the Ahlulbayt highlight the determination and passion that exists within the heart of young people, especially when facing a system that they see as unfair or unjust.
When someone disregards the views of the youth as simply being naïve, they have not fully understood the lessons God wanted us to learn from the Chapter of the Virgin Mary. In the nineteenth chapter of the Qur’an, God talks of the Prophet John the Baptist as having been given wisdom when he was a child. (Quran 19: 12) Likewise, Jesus is quoted declaring his Prophethood despite still being a baby in the cradle. (Quran 19: 29-30) Once again God was putting the youth at the forefront of the religion, urging them to take leadership and be active in societal affairs. Christ had not needed to earn a living, nor roam the ‘university of life’ to be able to comprehend the social and political climate that he tackled from his birth till his occultation.
Abraham’s story begins with him as an orphan child who sees forms of worship that, in his opinion, did not bring out the best in his community. Instead of staying quiet, as many of the youth are expected to do, he challenged the very people that promoted such systems. He would attend ceremonies of worship and began debating and challenging the mindset of his countrymen. The famous story goes that during a festival, Abraham entered a temple and destroyed the idols except the biggest one. When he was confronted and asked if he knew who the culprit was, he answered that they should “ask the big one, if he can talk.” Furthermore the Qur’an contains dialogue from a conversation between Abraham and his uncle where he is very direct in saying that his habits are “satanic” and so advises him to stop. (Quran 19: 41-45)
Here we can see that when a member of the youth sees vices in their community, they are expected to speak out and contribute to finding an alternative. Abraham was not vast in numbers but he was a determined youth who put his full effort into engaging in the system and its ideologies.
Corbyn is certainly an oppositional individual, he is well known for his differences with both his opposition governments and his own party. He has attracted youths that are anti-establishment, which makes up many of us today. His socialist policies attest to this as Britain is naturally a right winged nation following a long history of imperialism.
As an ageing capitalist movement has now become the governing norm for Britain, it is only natural that the government’s opposition is a young left wing movement. Following this establishment in many of our opinions is quietly abiding by all the ills of right winged politics. Western civilization has grown largely because of the exploitation of Blacks and Asians, on religious prejudices and the forced expansion of capital imperialism. The youth today are indeed becoming a race-less generation, who do not care whether their friends are blue, purple or green.
This concept can be rather difficult for an older generation to grasp as divisions are imbedded in their culture and worldview. An area where this can be seen in Muslim societies is in discussions of Sayeds marrying non-Sayeds. Over generations, it has become folklore that it is ‘haram’ for a female descendant of Ali (as) to marry a man of a different lineage. Corbyn’s appealing anti-hierarchy ideas contradict this, and so things such as his opposition to the monarchy excites us. The class system apparent in institutions such as the British monarchy is pretty poor for a society in the 21st century. We are told to think with equality in all parts of daily life but for some reason, I am expected to pay allegiance to a family of benefit claimers that I have never met.
The rise of Corbyn and his youthful fans is something that the middle-class older generation simply has to accept.
It is his approach to values that are not tainted with lies and deceit of the capitalist world that make us so attracted to him. World politics has longed for an honest leader to take us into a path that is for everyone and it would be a waste for people to give up so easily and doing everything they can to victimize him and have him removed. What he promotes is not so vastly distant from the ways of the Thaqalayn, so let’s unite under this leader and face austerity, elitism and the evils that come with greed together.