Is "The best of the young among you are those like the old among you,
and the worst of the old among you are those like the young among you" a
prophetic saying? If so, what is meant by it?
I have also heard it referred to as a prophetic saying. What is meant by
it is this: The best of the young is he who, like an old man, thinks of
death and, without being captivated by fancies of youth, strives for his
next life. As for the worst of the old, he is that old man who, trying to
imitate the young in worldly aspirations in heedlessness of Divine
commandments, obeys, like a youth, the temptations of his carnal self.
The correct form of the second part of your framed inscription is as
follows – I hung it on the wall as a warning-notice and I look at it every
morning and evening to take a lesson:
• If you want a friend, God is sufficient. Indeed, if He is a friend to
you, so is every-thing.
• If you want companions, the Qur’an is sufficient. You may imagine
yourself to be in the company of the Prophets and angels mentioned in the
Qur’an, study their experiences and are intimate with them.
• If you want wealth, contentment is sufficient. Indeed, the one with
contentment be-comes thrifty, and the one who is thrifty gets blessed
abundance in his wealth.
• If you want to feel enmity, your evil-commanding self is sufficient as
an enemy. One who is self-conceited obtains grieves but one who is not
haughty obtains care and peace.
• If you want counsel, death is sufficient. The one who thinks of death,
gets rid of love of the world and strives for his next life.
I am adding to your seven, an eighth, which is as follows:
A few days ago, a memorizer of the Qur’an recited a certain portion of
the Sura Yusuf, down to the verse, Make me die a Muslim (submissive unto
You), and join me with the righteous. (12:101)
Suddenly a subtle point occurred to me: Everything related to the Qur’an
and faith is, no matter how insignificant it may seem, in fact, of great
significance. Anything that contributes to eternal happiness is not
insignificant, so, we should not regard it as unworthy of explanation.
This is the finest, most subtle point of the finest Qur’anic story: The
verse, Make me die a Muslim (submissive unto You), and join me with the
righteous, which marks the end of the story of Yusuf, upon him be peace, –
the finest story in the Qur’an – is expressive of a glad tiding in a vivid
and miraculous fashion. It is as follows:
The pleasure received from a joyful happy story results in a deep sorrow
because of the final news of separation or death. This is really so, or
arouses more sorrow, when we get the news of separation or death at a time
when the character of the story has just found ease and happiness. However,
the verse quoted above, even if it contemplates the death of the Prophet
Yusuf (Joseph) at the happiest point of his life when he became the Aziz
(grand-vizier or chancellor) of Egypt and re-united with his parents and
brothers, it gives it in a different way and declares: In order to be the
object of a far greater happiness, the Prophet Yusuf prayed God for his
death and, through death, he received that happiness. This means that a more
attractive and pleasure-giving bliss than the greatest happiness of the
world is awaiting us at the other side of the grave. It is because of this
that a truth-seeing person like the Prophet Yusuf, in order to find that
bliss, asked for death, which is apparently very painful, when he was
enjoying the greatest happiness of the world.
Look, then, at the eloquent way the Wise Qur’an reports to us the end of
the story of the Prophet Yusuf, and see how it adds, instead of giving pain
and regret, to the joy and happiness of the listener. Further, it guides us
to the fact that we should strive for the other side of the grave, where are
found real happiness and pleasure. It also demonstrates the exalted
truthfulness of the Prophet Yusuf and announces that even the most joyful
and brightest condition of the worldly life cannot captivate him, rather it
leads him to ask for death and the other life.