Youth as “Agent of Change” Should Now Learn from the History

By Irfan Nugroho
The word “change” is often associated to “better.” Amongst the Indonesians, a phrase “agent of change” is embedded to the youth, especially to the Indonesian college students.

During the time when I was in the college, I used to grapple with student activisms. Many friends of mine were likewise so enthusiastic of being active in student activism.

The current situation at my ex-college now has changed. Unfortunately, it does not change to better, but worse. If there are people calling college students “agent of change,” hence it should be properly addressed to the “retired” college students.

The recent fact at my ex-college shows that many of youth prefer “unreal” world as of Facebook to the “real” world or social intercourse. Students no longer pour to the street yelling for better government and serving to society, some sided activities after the main duty to study.

Yes, we access Facebook, clinging what we are personally feeling to the Facebook with hope that their “unreal” friends would respond to our “What’s on your mind.” We spend most of the time in front of Facebook for “fraud” activities, and forget to interact with the “real” people surround us, our society.

What a more desperate fact, many college students now seem to pay less attention to their status as “agent of change,” sure “change” to better. Don’t we feel ashamed when we are faced to the historical notes about youth spending most of the time in the path of Allah, spending their time conducting good deeds for better society?

The early history of Islam tells us a great figure named Thalhah bin Ubaidillah. He was a big people, even though he was only 16 years old. He spent his wealth in the field of jihad, and was a great orator with excellent knowledge and strong physical power. For that reason, the Prophet Muhammad called this youth “Tahlhatul Khair” (the tree of goodness) (As-Sirjani: 2007).

Another great figure in the early history of Islam is Al-Arqam bin Abil Arqam Al-Makhzumi. He was a descendant of Bani Makhzum Family, which was known to have eternal conflict against the Prophet’s Family of Bani Hasyim. His family was the biggest enemy as well as a threat to the Islamic activism upheld by the Prophet. No matter what, he let the Prophet function his house as base of Islamic teaching in the city of Mecca. If only his parents knew that he helped the Prophet’s activities, Abu Jahl, the great leader of Bani Makhzum Family, would kill him (As-Sirjani: 2007).

Moreover, who don’t know the figure Ali bin Abi Thalib? Since his youth, at his 10, he was an active member of the Prophet’s discussion forum. Likewise, he was the first person told and met by the Prophet when the Prophet got His first divine inspiration. He was a child physically, but he had a savvy mind as an adult (As-Sirjani: 2007).

Zaid bin Tsabit, 13 years old, had a big dream of being a mujaheed. When he knew there would be a holy war against the Kafir Quraisy, he soon raised his sword, and met the Prophet in aim at asking permission from Him. Unfortunately, he was not allowed to take part in the holy war by the Prophet because he was too young, and indeed, he was just a small tinny boy. Finally, he shouldered a tough duty from the Prophet Muhammad at his youth. Yes, some of us perhaps know that Zaid bin Tsabit was the compiler of the Quran. He was good in reading, memorizing, and typing thus, he got assigned to compile the scattered pieces of the Quran into one single holy book as we can see today (As-Sirjani: 2007).

Faris Audah (1985-2000)

And see the picture above. The boy was named Faris Audah. He was born in December 1985, and he found his syaheed (Insyallah) on November 9th, 2000. A picture of Audah standing alone in front a tank, with a stone in his hand and arm bent back to throw was taken by a photojournalist from the Associated Press on October 29, 2000. Ten days later, on November 9, Audah was again throwing stones at Karni when he was shot in the neck by Israeli troops. Audah and the now famous image of him have since become symbols of Palestinian resistance to the occupation (

They were the great people in the history of Islam, even though they were only young boys. They pay great attention to the benefit of many people by embracing Islam, conducting Islamic teachings, and safeguarding Islam with their blood. They didn’t even scare of being killed upon their activisms because they aimed one goal, the Allah’s blessing, that of Paradise.

Compare to the recent youths at my ex-college. They hold Bachelor’s and even Master’s degrees, but some of them even are not able to read the Quran. We live in a much easier life where advanced technology is around us. But why we cannot do any great thing as those great youth did in the past?

Then, we should now reconsider the college students’ status as “agent of change.” Is it still properly addressed to us because in fact, we waste the time with meaningless activities? Indeed, the youth as “agent of change” should now learn from the history.
As-Sirjani, Raghib. 2007, Anak Muda Nyalakan Semangatmu!, Solo: Samudra.