The paper's thesis is that the present status of youth in Islamic societies can only be understood when it is viewed as shaped by a universal development conditioned by the cultural distinctiveness of Islam. The social mobilization of youth refers to their organized involvement in social change that is both defined and energized by youth. This social mobilization is occurring both in the West and the East. Traditional Islamic societies, however, faced a perennial problem in keeping youth under institutional control long before the same problem appeared in a Western context. During the 19th century, various Islamic countries attempted to energize their societies through social mobilization, notably in defense of the cause of Islam against Christian culture. Youth were a part of this defense. Current Islamic youth movements have a similar thrust; the authoritarian stance of these movements is linked to traditional religion. There are some grounds for believing that a more universalistic, humanitarian perspective will emerge among Islamic youth, albeit in a religious context. Just as mysticism provided an escape from the strictures of orthodoxy in Western religious traditions, leading to humanism based on individualism, there are indications the same trend may occur in Islam. 19 notes.