In Eastern countries (unlike the West), the elderly are seen as wise, because of their experience. Through trial and error, they often have learned more common sense and wisdom than most young people have. They have learned that actions have consequences. They have also learned through pain and mistakes, and usually have gone through more hard times than young people have, and have had to learn how to deal with the hardships of life. They have discovered that life does not always seem fair, and that things don’t always turn out the way you think they will turn out. They have seen injustice in their lifetime. Yet, as people with religious convictions, they have seen how God relates to this life and can instruct the young adult about all these matters.
Traditionally, in the East, as I mentioned, the elderly are often sought out for their wisdom. Their opinions are respected---again, unlike in the West. In the West, it seems it is the young people who are familiar with the latest technologies and devices, who know all the latest films and television shows, and who know the latest scientific discoveries. They are the ones who seem the most computer and Internet savvy.
Because the young people of today seem to focus on all the new things, instead of focusing so much on the old traditions and ways, maybe this is why they usually have the superior technical knowledge, while the elderly are often resistant to, or uninterested in, learning the new technologies. This may be part of the reason why young people often act so cocky, acting like they know more than their parents and grandparents. They sometimes seem to think they know it all. They sometimes ignore the warnings and advice of their elders, which sometimes leads them to get into trouble. They often have to learn the hard way, on their own, instead of learning from the wisdom of their elders. This may lead the elderly in the household feeling useless and helpless, since their advice and hard-earned wisdom is not listened to. And, when the young people do get into trouble or bring sorrow upon their lives, this grieves the parents and grandparents.
The parents and grandparents hope their children will keep the old ways and will respect their elders and not break tradition. They want their children to honor them and obey them, instead of rebelling. Children, on the other hand, sometimes resent being told what to do, especially if they are teenagers. They want to fit in with the culture and blend in with their friends and the society where they live. They don’t want to be seen as an oddball or weirdo. They want to be accepted by their peers. Children tend to learn new languages easier than older people do, and therefore, those children who are immigrants are usually the first and quickest to pick up a new language, as well as new customs. And they are sometimes the ones who translate or interpret those new things to their parents and grandparents. This often causes somewhat of a role reversal, where the children teach the parents. And it often causes stress and tension on the family, because children teaching parents is not natural.
Sometimes, though it may be rare, a child comes along who can bridge the gap between the old and the new, who observes the traditions yet takes those things that are good and grows through his participation in modern life. Because he does not defile or ignore the old ways and traditions, the parents of such a child would be proud of him, and he would be respected and well liked by his friends and community. Though this type of child does not come along very often, there would certainly be much less tension and strife in such a household. What parent would not want to have a child such as this?
According to the Qur’an, Zakariya’s son Yahya (John) was such a child. The Qur’an teaches that Yahya was filled with wisdom from his youth. He learned about life, about life’s pains and disappointments and about justice and injustice, without having to learn the hard way. God had given him wisdom in his youth, and that wisdom helped determine all of his actions and helped him in his relationships.
Children are sometimes cruel to animals, throwing stones at dogs, or pulling cat’s tails, or being cruel to frogs and lizards. They may need to be reminded to do their chores. But Yahya wasn’t like this. He felt pity for God’s creatures. He realized they were just dumb creatures, led by their natural drives and instincts, unable to think or reason for themselves. Yahya lived at peace with God’s creatures, and showed wisdom.
Yahya guarded against youthful lusts and lived pure for God. He did not dwell on evil thoughts, and avoided evil actions. That is true wisdom.
Yahya was devout. He had a humble and submissive attitude toward God and obeyed God’s commands. He worshiped God throughout his entire life, and his desire was to please God in all that he did. Truly, that is wisdom.
Any parent would be pleased to have Yahya as a son, because he was obedient and he always lived to please God and serve God, and he was submissive to God’s will. He was kind to his parents and he treated his parents with both honor and respect. His submission, obedience and understanding kept him from rebelling against his parents. He was not proud, but was humble. That is wisdom.
Yahya had all these good qualities because God had given them to him when he was a youth, rather than letting him acquire these things through age and experience.
[Sura 19:12] "O John, you shall uphold the scripture, strongly." We endowed him with wisdom, even in his youth.
[19:13] And (we endowed him with) kindness from us and purity, for he was righteous.
[19:14] He honored his parents, and was never a disobedient tyrant.
[19:15] Peace be upon him the day he was born, the day he dies, and the day he is resurrected back to life.
In the Bible, Proverbs 1:7 also talks about wisdom:
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
’Fools’ describes those who are morally deficient.
The Bible teaches that wisdom is the most important thing a child can possess, and urges young people to seek out wisdom and understanding.
Proverbs 2:1-11 talks about the moral benefits of wisdom when it states:
“My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul. Discretion will protect you.”
These should be great encouragement and wonderful instruction and promises for young people today. And truly, we can find wisdom no matter how young or old we are. Surely, many parents desire more wisdom in knowing how to deal with their children.
If you respect, honor and obey God, you are wise. And then, if God holds first place in your life, then everything else in your life will fall into place. That is true wisdom!
If you have this wisdom, you must learn to apply it. Instead of letting anger and emotion dictate your actions, seek to find out what God would have you do in that situation; doing so will bring the most praise and honor to God. In every situation, think about what the wise reaction should be. Think about what action would bring the most glory to God. Consider the consequences of your action, before reacting out of impulse.
Do you not admire the Qur’anic Yahya for his wisdom? God can give you wisdom as well, if you seek out His help with all of your heart and desire. My authority, which is the Bible, says that this is so.
The Bible also says very good things about John, whom the Qur’an calls Yahya. Read these promises that God’s angel gave to John’s father, Zechariah:
“But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.” (Luke 1:13-15)
The Bible also says this about John:
“And the child continued to grow and to become strong in spirit…” (Luke 1:80a)
(The idea for this article, as well as the previous article, comes from the book, “Jesus Gives Peace: Jesus in the Qur’an and the Bible”)