Between the older and newer generations there is often a sense of division. The older generation claims to be ignored by the younger generation and the latter claims to be misunderstood by the former to the point that both seem to be in constant opposition. Many may believe that between the two, there can be very little, if any, overlap. Why is that?

Tradition and modernism are a possible reason. On one hand, the older generation have lived their lives in a specific way based on traditions that go back decades or centuries. On the other hand, the younger generations have grown up in an ever-changing world flooded with new information everyday. The result is the development of new ways to communicate, live, and interact with the world around us.

Several of those who think in innovative ways look at tradition as something that is from the past and is holding them back from growing in today’s society, while others depend on tradition to hold onto certain values. It is clear that humanity’s existence over millennia has relied on our ability to adapt to the demands of the world around us, but that ability to evolve does not take away the value of our history and traditions.

Traditions can be flawed or beneficial in minor and major ways. One common tradition in many countries is that children must do as their parents and forefathers did. However, while there is much to learn from our forefathers, not everything they followed was beneficial. This is especially true regarding traditions that fall outside of religion which can be destructive to a society. For example, Prophet Ibrahim (Peace Be Upon Him) was raised by a father who not only worshipped idols but crafted them. This act was practised by many around Ibrahim (PBUH) and although it was the tradition, it went against Islam and Ibrahim (PBUH) did not follow his father. This is not to say that parents should never be obeyed. On the contrary, children must always respect and please their parents within the bounds that Allah has commanded. On another note, traditions that do not contradict Islam may be beneficial. For example, in some countries, like Egypt, eating meals together as a family is a tradition that encourages family togetherness.

In general, practices, whether traditional or modern, are harmful when they contradict Islamic teachings because we were taught Islam by our prophets who were sent by our Creator, and our Creator knows what is best for His creation. Hence, the root to finding a happy medium between tradition and modernism in an ever-changing world is to keep our religion, Islam, at the centre of everything. When we accomplish that, it will become easier for the older and younger generations to find common ground and therefore build a more efficient and more understanding society, where we can grow with each other rather than apart from each other.