Three Young Companions Empowered by the Prophet (PBUH)
The Prophet mobilized the youth under his banner through empowerment. Across all continents and cultures, youth empowerment is one of the most discussed and applied programs/processes in the world today.
Thriving societies have more opportunities for young people to contribute their skills and talents. It is a way in which youth can make positive changes in their lives and in the lives of others.
The need for agency and a sense of authority is a vital factor for young people. It is a mechanism whereby they explore the “real world” and see where they “belong.”
One’s youth is a phase in life, if directed properly, can be a means of immense positivity and good. If misdirected however, it can be a means of destruction and tragic consequences.
Unfortunately, we find a huge percentage of youth in the contemporary period engaged in harmful behavior and unhealthy habits—not conducive to making the world a better place.
The Prophet was fully cognizant of the potential of the youth. With his incredible foresight, he utilized and empowered the youth in his community. They were taught how to be real “men” and real “women” and indeed their greatness was visible through the extraordinary contributions they had left behind.
Zayd ibn Tahbit
Zayd ibn Thabit, was among the generation of youth who were empowered by the Prophet. He was hardly thirteen years old when he came to seek permission from the Prophet to attend the historic battle of Badr.  He was not granted permission to join the Muslim Army, as he was too young at the time.
However, this did not prevent Zayd from contributing to the cause of Islam. The Prophet saw that Zayd had a sharp intellect and an unwavering thirst for knowledge. Hence, he empowered him through scholarship. He instructed, “Zayd, learn the writing of the Jews for me.”
Enthusiastically, Zayd went about learning Hebrew and shortly after, the Syriac language. This brilliant young man eventually found himself serving as an interpreter and scribe for the Prophet.
During the caliphate of Abu Bakr, he was appointed to lead the massive project of compiling the Qur’an in a book form. He was an expert in the Qur’an and a scholar of the highest caliber.
Till this day, anyone who opens up a copy of the Qur’an is forever indebted to the great youth scholar, Zayd ibn Thabit, for his outstanding service to Islam.
This case presents to us some very valuable lessons. The Prophet’s methodology in identifying the skills of Zayd and then empowering him with that was one of the key reasons behind his success. It is imperative for us to pinpoint the talents within our communities and put them to work in order to bring about positive change.
Mus`ab ibn `Umair
The Prophet invested in the youth and placed his trust in them. He did not hesitate in assigning them pivotal roles despite their age. This provided the youth a feeling of “belonging.” The youth felt special because the Prophet entrusted them with serious responsibilities. Take Mus`ab ibn `Umayr for example. Mubarakpuri writes,
“After the pledge of (`Aqabah) the Prophet sent to Yathrib (Medina) Mus`ab ibn `Umair al-`Abdari, the first Muslim ambassador to teach the people the doctrines of Islam, give them practical guidance and make attempts at propagating Islam among those who still professed polytheism.”
The Prophet selected Mus`ab to carry out the task of teaching Islam to the people of Yathrib, while many older and more experienced companions were present—the likes of Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Uthman, `Ali, and others. He knew Mus`ab was fully capable and thus empowered him through this honorable post. Yahiya Emerick notes in his biography of the Prophet,
“Mus`ab was an excellent choice. Before his conversion, he had been an idle child of wealth who indulged in great luxuries at his family’s expense.
He had since redirected his life toward prayer and simple living. While in Yathrib, he succeeded in converting many Arabs of both tribes to Islam, including several prominent clan leaders.”
Mubarakpuri further comments,
“Mus`ab stayed in Medina carrying out his mission steadily and successfully until all the houses of al-Ansar had Muslim elements, men and women.”
Usamah ibn Zaid
Entrusting youth with leadership roles can be daunting a task, but if done with precision and thought, there will be astonishing results.