Recent figures show that the youth population of Malaysia is around 8 million out of about 27 million citizens (NYP, 2015). This means Malaysian youth constitute 29.52% of the total population. Consequently, the national development agenda should not disregard the well-being of youth from different dimensions since well-being is often associated with quality of life (Umi et al., 2016). Undoubtedly the sovereignty of the nation is dependable upon youth that possesses the optimum quality of life so that they will be able to play the role of effective development partners.
One of the pertinent dimensions of youth well-being is spiritual well-being. This dimension is relevant since youth not only merely embrace beliefs and rituals but regard religion as the cornerstone of community connectedness and unity (IYRES, 2012). Youth spiritual well-being is mandatory in the context of human development. Rapp (2010) in his study has demonstrated that religion and spirituality are the sources of strength. Pierre in Nelson (2009) mentioned that spiritual strength can help one to understand the meaning of his life, encourage human beings to always think to do good, pushing him/her to obey God's commands, nature, the norms of society that affect one's soul and mind, develop fighting spirit, freeing one from the evils of destruction besides guiding one towards a meaningful transformation in life.
The Malaysian Youth Policy (NYP, 2015-2035) depicts the spiritual and religious aspects as among the social challenges that the future generations of youths need to face. Generally, it is agreed that information and communication technology creates an extensive effect on the challenges that youth had to face on the social environment. The creation of a borderless world is poised to threaten the spiritual well-being of youth if one keeps to the viewpoint that achieving targeted goals are more important compared to the mechanisms on how these goals were achieved. Therefore, the issue of moral decline that occurs among the youth is not a new issue.
NYP (2015-2035) cites several pieces of evidence of moral decline recorded from various sources. For instance, the Malaysian National Registration Department recorded a total of 14,964 illegitimate births in 2011 that involved mothers less than 20 years of age. Meanwhile, The Royal Malaysia Police recorded a total of 709 rape cases in 2010 involving suspects aged below 18 years. In addition, the Malaysian Prisons Department records show that in 2013 there were 4,653 youth prisoners between the ages of 16-30 years. Therefore, Dzuhailmi (2016) stated that although generally Malaysian youth justify the identification of their religion in a positive context, the practice among them is still much to debate.
In summary, the issue of moral deterioration that occurs among the youth is the manifestation of spiritual inequality within them. The basic thing among others that contributes to this problem should be addressed by all parties. In this regard, this paper focuses on the findings of the study on spiritual well-being among youth as part of an important component in measuring the holistic well-being of Malaysian youth.
Spiritual well-being is a manifestation of two distinguished definitions. Atchley (2004) refers to well-being as a feeling free from stress, a happy feeling that overpowers sad feelings in the long run, positive feelings in life as well as achieving the desired goals. Billson (2005) sees well-being as an optimum condition, measured from the point of satisfaction, confidence, endurance, and physical health. In short, well-being is a form of quality of life measurement that can be calculated psychologically or internally involving several important dimensions (Costanza et al., 2007; Bretones & Gonzales, 2011).
Sulaiman et al. (2015) states that well-being can be studied from three main perspectives: (1) objective well-being (wealth, health, education and lifestyle aspects); (2) subjective well-being (economic, social, cultural, environmental, religion or spiritual) aspects; and (3) interaction well-being (social cohesion and social capital aspects). The interaction between these three dimensions contributes to a comprehensive level of well-being or happiness (seen from the perspective of satisfaction with life, happiness, and progression in life). According to them, previous studies have shown that there are other dimensions besides the economic dimension that is instrumental towards human well-being.
Meanwhile, the word spiritual is derived from the root word spirit that means determined, full of hope and optimistic (Vogelsang, 1983). According to Simsen (1988), the word spirit is a view of the human soul and its concern for the meaning and reality of life. The term spiritual in the Malaysian dictionary, Dewan (2000) is referred to as something religion or religious. In Islamic epistemology, the term spirit is referred to spirituality as defined by...