When You’re Gay and Muslim – Finding Allah’s Meaning in All of It

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/altmuslim/2017/07/when-youre-gay-and-muslim-finding-allahs-meaning-in-it-all/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaignFBCP-MU&utm_content=altmuslim

Waheed Jensen is a Muslim male in his mid 20’s, struggling in this world with being young, open-minded and gay, trapped in a global community of Muslims who claim to follow Islam but lack the application of its most basic tenets. Working to make the world a better place for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. A version of this article appeared on Altmuslimah and VirtualMosque.com.

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Ever since I began trying to understand life, one of the crippling realizations about the Muslim communities I reached was this: We tend to bury our problems in a dark hole, dismiss them and hope they will never come back to haunt us. But they often do. We overlook many of our familial, social and cultural issues until they multiply and are about to explode in our faces; at that point, we are notorious for pointing fingers and crying over spilt milk.

Our room is filled with elephants that we barely have an inch to stand, yet we remain oblivious and hope things will get better.

Allow me today to describe one of those elephants. A strange elephant. Allow me to dissect it and hand it over to you, that you may ponder and hopefully open your heart and mind.

Let me start off by saying these three words: I am gay.

Even though you do not know who I am, and maybe the mere fact that I just came out to you right this instant may offend you, confuse you or drive you away from reading the remainder of this article. Let me assure you, this is not one of those articles that tries to promote homosexuality or deliver an airbrushed and Islam-oriented version of all those pro-homosexuality arguments.

Yes, I am gay and I am Muslim, and I am here to offer you a small glimpse into a journey of struggles, passions and hopes. I do not intend to delve into the story of Prophet Lut and his people, talk about the evolution and progression of the LGBT community during the past century, present arguments for or against same-sex relations, or even try to prove my own opinion. I really hope you can read and reflect, and I pray that this small effort of bringing the picture a little closer to you might make the slightest bit of difference in raising awareness, and hopefully open healthy discussions on the topic.

I wholeheartedly believe, in concordance with Islam and its teachings, that sodomy is a major sin. I am against same-sex marriage and intercourse, and I am not in favour of any progressive movements that attempt to explain Quranic verses about People of Lut or sodomy from a modernist or post-modernist approach – in other words, arguments that try to find a leeway and claim that that is a legitimate Islamic perspective.

I hope that this will not drive away readers who are excited about the topic but may be uncomfortable with my statements. I have adopted this position after years of introspection, research, counselling and personal prayer, and I am coming forth today to share with you some of those experiences.

Why Am I Different?

Homosexuality has been present in humanity for centuries, and for as long as it has been there, homosexuals have been struggling with themselves, their families and society at large. To me personally, there was always something different. I could feel it in me from a very young age. Something that I could not explain to others because I thought they would not understand, let alone accept, or maybe because I was too young and immature at the time that I was not entirely sure what ‘it’ was.

It crystallized around puberty; when all the raging hormones started kicking in, those tendencies became obvious. And then the real struggle began.

The struggle led to an explosion of questions. “Why am I different? Why am I not like the rest of my friends or family members? Is this even normal? Am I sick?” Not finding the proper answers, I kept on putting these questions aside. “Maybe it’ll go away. Maybe it’s just a phase.” In my case, it never went away and it was not a phase.

With time I learned that this is something abhorred religiously, culturally and socially. So I tried to adapt. “How do I balance between the feelings and tendencies I have with what my religion, culture and social norms dictate?” So I began a journey of self-exploration and interacting with others, learning from religion, media as well as prominent persons, like religious scholars and major social figures. My schemas kept changing, and I kept on adapting.

Many of us may be brave enough to rebel against what others seem to ‘dictate’ on us, while others suppress their urges, often hiding their identities from those closest to them, generally out of fear, or maybe because they are not just ready to come out yet. I belong to the latter group.

To this date, I have never had the courage to tell my parents or close family members, but I have come out to a close friend of mine a few months ago, and he was extremely supportive Alhamdulillah (all praises to Allah).

One of the most dangerous pitfalls I have personally experienced was thinking that God hated me. He was mad at me. “I must have done something wrong in my life to deserve this ‘punishment’… If God does not accept homosexuality, then why am I a homosexual?” Whether Muslim or not, people struggling in silence can be more prone to deviating to dangerous paths.

So, you find many struggling homosexuals also dealing with bullying, drinking problems, substance abuse, domestic violence, poor academic performance, career problems, pornography or sex addictions, sexually-transmitted diseases, mood disorders like depression and anxiety, and many other issues. (1) I had my own share of bullying, academic problems and mood disorders. Our struggles multiply with time, and many even contemplate suicide.

This is especially true in cases where the individual tries to discuss the issue – often it is just those desires or thoughts that are tackled, not the actual act – with his/her parents or family members who are not receptive to those ideas. If not shown sympathy, care and love, he/she is often shunned, harassed, scorned and sometimes even tortured.

A lot of gay men and women are forced into arranged marriages, taken to local Imams to ‘heal them from their calamity and wrath of God’, or even killed. (2) Some of them take their own lives by themselves. Others live in constant torment while some flee their homes and families in search for a more welcoming environment. That and many have not even yet engaged in any sexual acts whatsoever.

Why We Have Difficulty with Other Muslims

This is why I, along with many fellow homosexual Muslims, find the Western alternative very striking: It offers acceptance and understanding. Things that we dearly miss in our communities, even though we may realize deep down that there is something terribly wrong, the fact that there is someone who accepts us and fights for us and not against us is incredibly more appealing. When we try to talk to other Muslim seemingly-pious and God-conscious brothers and sisters about our sexuality and are shunned by their lack of empathy, respect and understanding, would you find it surprising that we take comfort in talking to non-religious people about our struggles in hopes to find an open mind and a loving heart?

Ironically, the spirit of Islam is all about empathy, tolerance and understanding, yet the practice of Islam carried out by many Muslims shows the opposite.

Trust me, I understand that it is a difficult topic to open up with others, especially people coming from conservative backgrounds. It is difficult news for you to receive, just as it is difficult for me to handle, let alone share with others. However, the fact that I choose to come out to specific people means that those people are exceptionally special to me. To us.

It takes a lot of courage, incredible determination and a full dose of anxiety and fear to even think about coming out to someone, that you can imagine the damage we have to endure when the other person dismisses us or shows no empathy or mercy. It seems like a lot to handle if you ask me.

I remember the first time I decided to come out to someone, I was going through an overwhelming period in my life, yet Alhamdulillah I had some seeds of piety and religiosity inside me. I was around 18, and he was a non-religious psychologist and counsellor. I went to an appointment with him, tried to beat around the bush but ultimately came out to him. And, he was accepting. Later on, I found out that many struggling homosexuals came to him for advice and counselling.

I was hoping that, with the aid of therapy, my orientation would change – this is scientifically known as reparative or conversion therapy; while many studies have been conducted on it and some patients have reported success, a great number of psychiatrists and counsellors have reported failure and more harm done to the patients than good. The progress of my visits culminated in him putting forward the idea of accepting who I am and going all the way with it – in other words, experience my entire sexuality without restraints.

At that point I was really uncomfortable with his proposal, as it was against my Islamic beliefs and my own virtues.

During that same period, I was doing my own reading and researching, trying to find a proper Islamic “solution,” crying for help and praying that I am guided to what Allah pleases. One of the most heartwarming responses was given by a psychiatrist who also has a profound knowledge of Islamic shariah (legal rulings). He was hosted on a TV show, and he was speaking so graciously, so open-mindedly, that his words hit the right chord and I was immediately awe-struck. I cried after finally having found an answer with which my heartfelt ease.

That was pure bliss, Alhamdulillah.

Why Am I Homosexual?

The gist of the talk is the following: Homosexuality as an orientation is a disorder in one’s fitrah (human nature and disposition). “Treatment” of such a disorder involves therapy, familial and social support, personal discipline and a whole lot of other things. However, this therapy, which is tailored on a case-by-case basis, may or may not work. The mode of therapy is different between individuals, just like every case of homosexuality is different between people.

Mind you, the term “therapy” here is used loosely to mean dealing with the issue from different aspects rather than reverting one’s sexual orientation.

If many of us, homosexuals, dive deeper into our childhood and upbringing, we can pinpoint certain events that have taken their toll on us one way or another. Many of us have experienced child abuse, be it sexual, physical or intense emotional abuse that was brutally damaging to our body and soul, or lived in dysfunctional families that ultimately caused a lot of psychological damage. (3)

I, for one, had my own share of psychological and sexual abuse as a child from people closest to me and witnessed intense domestic violence that crippled my mind for a decent period of time. Such events were so incredibly powerful that they became ingrained in my psyche and took their toll on my thinking and behaviour.

Others have been desensitized to issues related to sexuality and gender roles from a young age, that their perception of masculinity and femininity is quite erroneous. I can recall several stories of struggling homosexuals I know who grew up in homes where one parent was more dominant in their life (e.g. present most of the time while the other was absent, provided greater emotional, psychological and social support while the other did the exact the opposite), such that either parent’s gender became more dominant on their lives and personas, and hence their perception of gender and sexuality deviated from the normal.

It is worth noting, however, that many people grow up in normal environments with no such issues during childhood, yet end up finding themselves attracted to the same gender. So there is no discrete thumb rule or cause as to whether someone will end up identifying as a homosexual or a heterosexual. It is not a simple black or white situation.

In addition to the above, it has been asserted that there are other acquired causes – we are bombarded on a daily basis with sensual and sexually-explicit material, from billboards, magazines and newspaper articles, to online material on social media websites. Sex and sexuality are heavily emphasized in TV shows, readings and discussions, whether openly or not. We have become accustomed to seeing semi-naked and naked bodies, our concepts of beauty, femininity and masculinity have radically evolved over time and we have become desensitized to these matters. (4)

There is an unbelievable amount of time and resources spent on creating better bodies: muscular, dreamy and good-looking men, and gorgeous women with “perfect” facial and body features. In addition, many of the inter- and intra-gender boundaries have drastically changed over time. Taken together, these matters overwhelm the human mind, and the effects are undoubtedly palpable.

Again, these and countless other events affect people’s heart, mind, body and spirit differently. People struggle to cope in different ways. Some people, like myself and countless others, may eventually find themselves with a specific worldview, having had a culmination of experiences, as well as a specific orientation that may or may not be modifiable. Just like these examples are struggling in and of themselves, homosexual thoughts and tendencies are no less than struggles as well.

Will I Have a Partner in Life?

When I see married men and women sharing affection, enjoying companionship and raising children, it hurts. A lot. Not the jealous I-hope-they-lose-all-that kind, but the painful realization that this is not something I can ever attain. Because of my situation, my ibtila’ (struggle in life), the idea of marrying someone from the opposite sex is not practical at all or even fair for me or my potential spouse. Many shuyukh advice homosexuals to get married for their tendencies to dissolve; while this may work with a handful of people, a large number of us does not find it physically or mentally plausible.

Many of the things other people, including those shuyukh themselves, take for granted – like relationships, marriage and having children – are the exact things we struggle with day in and day out. Personally, and unlike Muslim heterosexuals, I do not have safe and lawful options through which I can channel and fulfil those desires. Therefore, I try my best to remain steadfast and struggle for the sake of Allah. If that is not incredible Jihad, I do not know what counts as such.

While it may seem unfair and even preposterous to some people to keep struggling and not fulfil our desires, especially in this time and age, that is where the beauty lies. Within Islam, we are not held accountable for our thoughts, feelings, desires and tendencies as long as we do not act upon them. There are three ideas worth mentioning here.

First, Allah has promised in the Quran that He “does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity” [2:286]. Taken in line with Islamic teachings, this means that Allah knows how painful my struggle is and knows that I can handle it. Every time I ponder upon this idea, I am overwhelmed with incredible awe and gratitude. Of all people across centuries, He has chosen specific people for this particular test. Indeed, life is nothing but a few years and the True Life is in the Hereafter, so no matter how agonizing the struggle is, there will be an end to it.

Second, there is an immense reward and unimaginable blessings, both in this life and the Hereafter, by staying true to God’s decree and struggling for His sake. The greater the struggle, the more the rewards in sha Allah (God willing).

Third, and just like the popular saying goes, “when God closes one door, He opens another.” So, if issues like intimacy and procreation may seem like dead ends for Muslim homosexuals, we find openings in other aspects of life. Many homosexuals across history have been known for incredible gifts in writing, public speaking, music, cinema, scientific discoveries, literature and art. (5) Studies have reported that homosexuals exhibit high levels of empathy and compassion compared to heterosexuals. (6)

Because we have suffered and are constantly struggling, we have big hearts that know no boundaries. If we utilize our God-given gifts wisely and for the greater good, we can do wonders inshaAllah.

We All are Trying to Find Answers

Of course, there are Muslim homosexuals and pro-gay rights advocates who adopt a completely different perspective. Some try to balance between their religious duties while keeping in line with their orientation; in other words, they carry out their desires yet remain true to their duties. Others denounce Islamic rules altogether arguing that in modern times, such rules do not apply, hence they call for a reformation in Islamic laws taken for granted as solid foundations of religion.

Others are still struggling between balancing Islamic law and their own sexuality, searching for answers that provide them with ultimate satisfaction.

I am in no way trying to prove myself right and others wrong. This article is solely intended to highlight some of the struggles I go through as a Muslim homosexual, and I have taken the liberty at some points to speak on behalf of fellow struggling homosexuals because of our shared tribulations. Whatever your position is on this matter, I respect you and love you as a human being, your desires are legitimate and in no way make you less of a human being.

However, based on my beliefs, I do not accept specific actions that you may do which go against Islamic law. And there again, you are no less of a human being, and I still respect you as an individual. This falls at the heart of Islam – if someone like me who is struggling with his/her own desires can adopt such a stance, then so can everyone else. Maybe if we focus less on demonizing other people and concentrate more on helping one another, things would start to change for the best.

If you are a homosexual reading this, please know that my heart is with you. I of all people understand the daily struggles you are going through, and I salute your bravery and high spirit. Please remember that Allah is Merciful and Forgiving, no matter how much people tell you otherwise. Stay strong, and if you ever fall into the traps of Shaytan (the devil), repent to the Almighty with a pure heart and know that He accepts and welcomes the sincere. Pray to remain steadfast. Fasting is a powerful weapon so try your best to fast regularly.

Also, try to do sports and channel your energy in healthy ways. Surround yourself with the good company of pious people, and keep daily companionship of His Book. Pursue a higher purpose in life, for you are already on a high track. Trust me, I understand that the struggles may reach excruciating levels – it is at those moments that our inner cores are tested.

Make your struggles entirely for His sake, and they will be worth it. You will come out stronger and braver than before. With today’s explosion of sexuality and acceptance of same-sex relations, do not swallow the bait. Keep yourself in the company of Him for that is all that ultimately matters.

If you are a heterosexual reading this and assuming you may be uncomfortable with such a topic, I understand that this may be overwhelming for you at first glance. Take it easy on yourself, and certainly take it easy on others. We all have our own struggles, so let us make this journey we call life a little bit less difficult for one another. Let us shift our focus from pointing out each other’s faults and instead work together for more empathy, compassion and love.

There is a difference between respecting someone and accepting his/her actions; the former must be there at all times. If we disagree or have different lifestyles, and certainly if we make mistakes, please do not judge us. Bear with us. Listen to us, be there for us, for if you ever need us we will be there for you.

Even though we may not get the chance to experience what it means to have a spouse, be intimate or even raise a family in this life, I pray that Allah accepts our struggles for His sake and fulfil our desires in the Hereafter. Yes, I am a gay Muslim, and I am proud – proud that Allah has chosen me and many other brothers and sisters for this particular struggle in this life. And for that, and for all His countless blessings we say, Alhamdulillah.

“I hope that the world turns and that things get better. But what I hope most of all is that you understand what I mean when I tell you that, even though I do not know you, and even though I may never meet you, laugh with you, cry with you… I love you. With all my heart, I love you.”
(V for Vendetta)

1. Lee, R. (2000). Health care problems of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender patients. Western Journal of Medicine, 172(6), 403–408.
2. Kesvani, H. (2015, April 18). Meet The Gay Muslims Living In Straight Marriages. http://www.buzzfeed.com/husseinkesvani/gay-muslims-in-straight-marriages
3. Schneeberger, A. R., Dietl, M. F., Muenzenmaier, K. H., Huber, C. G., & Lang, U. E. (2014). Stressful childhood experiences and health outcomes in sexual minority populations: a systematic review. Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology, 49(9), 1427-1445.
4. Qadhi, Y. (2009, April 13). Dealing With Homosexual Urges: Yasir Qadhi to Muslim Student. http://muslimmatters.org/2009/04/13/dealing-with-homosexual-urges/
5. Rictor Norton (compiler), “The Great Queers of History, Part 1: Born before 1800″, 1 May 2004 <http://rictornorton.co.uk/greatgay/greatgay.htm&gt;.
6. Salais, D. A., & Fischer, R. B. (1995). Sexual preference and altruism. Journal of Homosexuality, 28(1-2), 185-196.

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Teenage years

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Teenage Years: Most Difficult for the Parentssophie-sollmann-632775-unsplash

“I never asked to be born!”
“Stop trying to control my life!”

“I hate you!”
You thought you were over the hard part—changing diapers and being awakened throughout the night by your crying baby, dealing with an uncontrollable two-year old “monster,” and trying to handle a mischievous child, who was always getting into trouble at school. But now comes the really hard part—coping with a rebellious, often rude and obnoxious, teenager. 
Muslim Parents: Not Immune from Teenage Problems
The teenage years have historically been a difficult period for parents in America, with very few exceptions. Struggling to find their own place in the world, teenagers often rebel against the ways of their parents. They want to experiment to find out what is best for them. And, unfortunately, Muslim parents may also face many of the same problems with their teenagers that non-Muslim families face.

 

Muslim children can also be tempted to drink alcohol or take drugs, be physically attracted to someone of the opposite sex in their class, skip school, or get involved in the wrong crowd.

 

No doubt, it will be a traumatic experience for a Muslim family to find out that their son or daughter is taking drugs, secretly going out on dates with the opposite sex, or getting in trouble with the police, but it could happen. And what if they become addicts, contract AIDS by having unmarried sex, or become a mother or father before marriage. Our great dreams for our children could suddenly turn into nightmares. It has happened to other Muslim families.

 

This is, of course, a very frightening thought for most parents. Some will merely say that it won’t happen to their Muslim child. But others will take action and look for ways to prevent these problems or to better handle them if they arise. 

 

Although no two families have exactly the same situation, there are some general guidelines for dealing with Muslim teenagers that might be useful.

 

We should teach them from an early age about Allah Ta’aala , the Prophets AS, the Sahabah RA, and the great heroes of Islam.

 

If we develop in them a love for Islam and provide them with righteous examples for their heroes, they will be much less likely to go astray. A person wants to be like his heroes. If he admires Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam, Abu Bakr Radhiyallahu Anhu, and AliRadhiyallahu Anhu, he will try to follow their example. If he admires a rock star or a gang leader, he will want to be like them. If we inspire our children with good examples, when they are tempted to do wrong, they will, InshaAllah, remember these examples and remain steadfast. 

 

Although I was raised as a Christian and didn’t embrace Islam until I was in my 20s, I was greatly influenced by the Biblical stories of Prophets like Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa, and Isa (Peace be upon them all). Although the Biblical stories were not in their pure form, they still inculcated in me a love and respect for the way of the Prophets. Although I fell into many of the temptations of youth, Alhamdulillah, I always felt something within me holding me back from going too far. While many of my friends went headlong into a highly destructive way of life, I believe that my knowledge of, and affection for, the Prophets helped me to return to a better path.

 

We must be very careful about our children’s friends

 

During the teenage years, children often care more about what their friends say than what their parents or elders say. According to a hadith, “Man is upon the path of his intimate friend; so let each look to whom he takes as a friend.” If our children have good, sincere, and righteous friends, the chances are good that our children will be like them. If, on the other hand, our children hang around with children who take drugs and get into trouble, our children will likely take drugs and get into trouble. 

 

Therefore, it is essential from an early age that we try to get our children involved with good children. One way to encourage this is by regularly taking them to the mosque (be careful of not creating disturbance) or by sending them to an Islamic school where they will have the opportunity to meet and interact with Muslim children. We should be worried though if our children start hanging around with bad-mannered and disrespectful children.

 

We should encourage our children to participate in wholesome religious, social, and sports activities

 

Bored teenagers are more likely to look for fun and excitement in the wrong place. “Idle hands are the devil’s (shaytan’s) workshop,” someone once said. If teenagers’ lives are full of good and exciting things to do, they will not have the time or the desire to get involved in bad things. 

 

We should try to channel their teenage zeal into constructive avenues

 

Sometimes, teenagers begin to criticize the way of life of their parents and society, and parents are often angered by this. However, we must keep in mind that sometimes they may be right. Our lives and our society are not perfect, and teenagers may have fresh insight into how to improve them. In Living With Teenagers: A Guide for Muslim Parents, Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood writes:

 

“Teenagers are idealists—they want to change the world, and make it a better place. These are not bad ideals, and it is a great pity that adults have forgotten their own ideals in the rat-race of daily life. You, the parent, may have ended up as just a hard-working nonentity in some quiet niche in life; a teenager who is a real idealist may end up as a famous person, a reformer, a politician, an aid-worker—who knows. The future lies there before them.

 

It is therefore a foolish parent who tries to ridicule and trample on that young idealism. If it is consistent with Islam, it should be fervently encouraged, and not set at nought.”

 

If a teenager is idealistic and wants to improve the world, we should encourage him and help him. If he if full of zeal but lacks the proper direction, we should help him to use that zeal constructively. If we get teenagers involved in helping those in need and in working for important causes, their zeal could make a tremendous impact.

 

We should sometimes admit that we are wrong

 

Parents make mistakes. If we admit to our children that we are wrong at times, they will not always feel that they have to rebel against us and prove that we are wrong.

 

We should listen to our children

 

Sometimes, children act out in order to get our attention. If we give them our attention freely, they will not have to seek it in destructive ways. Also, by listening to our children, there is a greater chance that they will confide in us and ask us questions, rather than seeking answers from negative sources.

 

We should do what we say

 

Teenagers hate hypocrisy, and many of them seem to have a built-in radar for detecting it. If we want them to listen to us and take our advice, they must trust us. If we tell them not to drink, but drink ourselves, they will not respect us.
The teenage years are usually difficult, and parents need to prepare for them before they arrive. If parents have built a strong, trusting, and loving relationship with their children before the teenage years, their children will be less likely to go astray. It is very difficult to see one’s child going in the wrong direction and not know how to stop him from destroying himself. But if we work hard to instil in them the right values early and try to help them develop a wholesome lifestyle without being overbearing, perhaps we can prevent such a tragedy from ever occurring.

The Advice of Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz RH for Parents

images (3)The current situation with upbringing our children is truly alarming. If nothing is done soon, one cannot imagine how it will end up. There’s nothing more sad than “loosing” your child.

Tips by Khalifah ‘Umar ibn’Abdil ‘Azeez RH

I feel that Khalifah ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdil ‘Azeez’s (rahimahullah) advice below is very apt and pertinent.

وكتب عمر بن عبد العزيز إلى مؤدب ولده :

” خذهم بالجفاء فهو أمنع لاقدامهم ، وترك الصبحة فان عادتها تكسب الغفلة، وقلة الضحك فان كثرته تميت القلب ، وليكن أول ما يعتقدون من أدبك بغض الملاهي التي بدؤها من الشيطان ، وعاقبتها سخط الرحمن ، فانه بلغني عن الثقات من حملة العلم أن حضور المعازف واستماع الأغاني واللهج بهما ينبت النفاق في القلب كما ينبت العشب بالماء . وليفتتح كل غلام منهم بجزء من القرآن يثبت في قراءته ، فاذا فرغ منه تناول نبله وقوسه  وخرج إلى الغرض حافيا ، فرمى سبعة أرشاق ، ثم انصرف إلى القائلة ، فان ابن مسعود كان يقول : ” يا بني قيلوا ، فان الشياطين لا تقيل”

( ذكره ابن أبي الدنيا في : ” ذم الملاهي” ص: 9 )

Khalifah ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Aziz (rahimahullah) wrote the following instructions to his children’s mentor

“ Be strict on them for this is more effective in restraining them. Stop them from sleeping after Fajr Salaah, for this causes stupidity / negligence. They should laugh less for a lot of laughing kills the heart / soul. Let the first thing you inculcate in them be the hatred for Music, for I have heard from various People of Knowledge (‘Ulamaa) that Music develops hypocrisy in the heart just as water grows grass.

Each of them should commence the day with the recitation of the Holy Quran in the proper manner. When they complete that, they should take their bows and arrows and proceed barefooted to the range. Each of them should shoot 7 times. Thereafter they should take mid-day sleep  (siesta). For Sayyiduna ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood (Radiyallahu’anhu) use to say: Oh my children! Take siesta, for verily the devils do not do so.”

(Kitaabu Dhammil Malahi of Hafiz Ibn abi Dunya pg. 9)

Morals

These words of Khalifah ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdil ‘Azeez (rahimahullah) give us the following lessons on upbringing of children:

To commence the day with the recitation of the Quran
Not to sleep after Fajr (until after sunrise at least)
To abstain from music
To laugh less
Engagement in physical activity, like archery
The importance of siesta (qailoolah)
Each of the above are valuable lessons of life, which we as adults can implement and also inculcate in our children.

Quran Recital every morning

Many of us commence our day by reading the news, -which is more depressing than informative- or by catching up on our timeline, or sifting through emails etc.

The recitation of Qur’an, first thing in the morning will bring barakah (blessing) in our affairs throughout the day. Our children should see us reciting the Qur’an after Fajr. This will subconsciously lead them on to the same.

Music; they are never too young to abstain

We often justify out leniency towards out kids’ indulgence in Haram or Makrooh (repulsive) deeds by saying: “They are too young”.

The fact that ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdil ‘Azeez RH detested music even for his under aged children, demonstrates to us how we should view the training of our own.

Don’t allow the seeds of hypocrisy to grow even at that tender age. The computer games that they play should be free of foul language, evil habits and the music should be turned off. Never underestimate the effect that these supposed “games” could have on an innocent mind. It’s sad, how lightly we take the issue of Music that we repeatedly need to be cautioned of our ringtones.

Who is there that can say he has never heard a musical ringtone go off while in Salah in the Masjid?!

Who would have believed it if we were told a decade ago, that a time will come when a muslim will play music -or at least allow it to be played- while in sajdah, the closest posture we could get to Allah Ta’ala?!

Entertainment

Today we all look for how to be best entertained rather than spend our time usefully.

Laughter and jokes have become so common, that at times one will notice people joking even at a janazah!

The rare opportunity we get to ponder about death doesn’t pass with an unnecessary joke or fable being shared.

Even in religious lectures, the crowds are inflated if the speaker can entertain better…

As mentioned earlier, these were ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdil ‘Azeez’s (Rahimahullah) guidelines for the upbringing of children. Alas many of us adults need this lesson too.

Natural physical activity

‘Khalifah ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdil ‘Azeez (Rahimahullah) specifically ordered the mentor to take them outdoors for archery daily. The pagan Arabs also preferred to send their kids to the villages where they could spend their time outdoors, herding goats and learning basic life skills. In fact, until a few decades ago, we too would spend our days outdoors in various activities.

Today’s child may be engaging in very similar activities too, but instead of it being outdoors they do it on a screen! It’s no more physical, it’s actually electronic!

Physical activity has its own benefit in early childhood development that can never be replaced with any electronic device. Parents need to carefully think of ways to keep their children occupied in a manner that won’t just keep them from bothering their parents, but ways that will enhance the child’s mind, body and Iman as well.

May Allah guide us all, and may He inspire us with the correct tact in upbringing our innocent offspring. Ameen .

19 Jamadul Awaal 1437