Dear Mum and Dad,

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

IMG-20131023-WA0038
Dear Mum and Dad,
Do you remember the day I was born?
I guess since then quite a bit I have grown.
Drink milk, sleep and cry is all I would do,
And of course keep filling my nappy up too!
Since then things have changed and I’ve gone big now,
And I’m sure you’ll agree that its amazing how,
Allah turned me from a tiny baby who knew nothing at all,
Who might one day among fellow humans stand tall.
I say might because I’m a bit like a seed you see,
Nurtured well it has the potential to develop into a strong tree.
That has strong roots firmly anchored deep into the land,
So that the winds of change over time it is able to withstand.
Have you done that Mum and Dad nurtured me good?
And I don’t mean just to have given me clothes, toys and food?
As I said I’ like a plant I’m going to grow anyway,
But whether or not that’s a wild, straggly, useless one in that you have a say.
Allah has made you responsible to teach me what is wrong and right,
Of this sometimes it seems that you tend to lose sight.
How is it that you can shout at me for losing something new till your blue in the face,
Yet when I miss my Fajr everyday, of any anger, I see no trace.
When there’s a million things like the washing and ironing for you to do,
You stick me in front of the TV, out of your way so that your chores you can get through.
Don’t get me wrong Mum I do have fun, cartoons I do like to see,
But Mawlana at Mosque tells me TV is bad, so you don’t half confuse me!
I’m sure being a parent is a hard job, but there is help for you, you know,
If you follow the Prophet’s SAW example you won’t go wrong, that’s for sure!
Anonymous

Forty Hadith

al-arbaoon Please see PDF for Hadith compilation – Jazak Allah

FORTY FORGOTTEN HADITH

hadeeth

All praise is due to Allah Who made His creation and portions out His slaves to be rich and poor. He set down rain and opened the channels for the rain to percolate into the soil. I praise Him – glorified is He – Who bestows abundant reward to the obedient ones and veils the disobedient one. He is the one who knows what is above the sky and what is beneath the soil; the crawling of the ant in the night when it crawls is not hidden from His knowledge.

The heavens and His angels glorify Him, and the stars and their orbits glorify Him. The rivers and their fish glorify Him; the earth and its inhabitants glorify Him and the oceans and creatures living in them glorify Him.

I testify there is none worthy of worship except Allah Alone; He has no partner, equal to Him or bearing any similarity to Him. And I testify that Muhammad is His slave, messenger, honest and intimate friend, and the best of His creatures as well as the custodian over His revelation.

He sent him as a mercy to the universe and as a proof to the entire mankind. May Allah’s blessings be upon him as much as the mention of him by the righteous, and as many as (the number of) the alternating days and nights. We ask Allah the Exalted to make us all be among his righteous followers, and may He resurrect us in his company on the day of resurrection. Ameen.

 

To proceed,

The tradition in Muslim religious literature of gathering collections of forty Hadiths dates as far back as the first century after the Hijrah. Abdullah ibn Mubarak al-Marwazi (Allah have mercy on him) is thought to be the first to have gathered forty Hadith in a collection. Perhaps the most well-known collection is that of Imam an-Nawawi (Allah have mercy on him), which has been translated into English, and on which there are several commentaries.

The practice of gathering forty Hadiths springs from a Hadith, narrated through several Companions, which puts the spiritual rank of religious scholarship within easy reach of the ordinary believer: “Whoever memorises forty narrations for my nation in matters of this religion, Allah will raise him up a scholar and I shall be an intercessor and witness for him on the Day of Rising.”

Allah make us from them.

hadith

I have put together Hadith which are mostly related to Mu’aamalaat (social interactions). Which you will all agree is a very important part of our Deen, at the same time greatly neglected. There are a few specific for women, again whom we neglect and leave behind in Ta’leem and Tazkiyah (Islamic education and spirituality). The rest are Fadhail (virtues) or evil traits which I am sure we all hear time and again, but often forget to practise upon or refrain from the latter.

(Mawlana) Ismail ibn Nazir Satia (One who is in dire need of Allah’s forgiveness, mercy and pleasure)

3 Rabiul Akhar 1438

Children Activities

dhikr-4
by Zahra Anjum
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
There was a time in our childhood when the local television showed only half an hour of cartoons every evening and that was that. However, children nowadays have a 24/7 access to everything they want. These movies and cartoons are the main form of entertainment these days. When children go chanting ‘I’m bored’ this is the entertainment most of us are likely to provide.
While some may disagree with me and think that they are harmless, I find these programs extremely distressing. Yes, they are very convenient babysitters but are too damaging for the soul. Two months into watching one, and I can see the effects on my six-year-old son. The constant background music, the inappropriate language, and a downpour of un-Islamic values; how can we expect anything good to come out of it?
As keen parents, we tend to look out for alternatives that are healthy, educational, and enjoyable. Practicing Muslims do not die out of boredom; they do have fun in many other ways! Below is a list of halal entertainment means that you can enjoy as a family.
Outdoor activities:
Swimming, archery, and horseback riding are some activities recommended by Prophet Muhammad (saw). In addition to that, children can enjoy playing different sports like football, badminton, and cricket. Young children also like to do cycling, skipping rope, and playing hopscotch.
You can also set up a simple obstacle course in your garden for children to complete and have a variety of races with them like sack race, three-legged race, lemon and spoon race, and so on. Moreover, children will love playing traditional games like tag and hide and seek. Think of all the games you played as a child and teach them to your kids.
Indoor activities:
When they can’t play outdoors, there are plenty of indoor activities that can keep them occupied:
Board games – Scrabble, Risk, Monopoly, Pictionary, Twister, Cluedo, Guess Who, Snakes and Ladders, Ludo, and so on.
Card games like UNO.
Paper and pencil games – Tic Tac Toe, Hangman, Dots and Squares, Name/Place/Animal/Thing.
Indoor hide and seek, treasure hunt.
Oral games – I spy, Chinese whispers, 20 Questions game.
Puzzles:
Puzzles help develop patience and cognition skills in children. You can buy some age-appropriate puzzles that are easily available in the market. Moreover, children can also make their own puzzles with the help of paper, cardboard, or Popsicle sticks.
Building and creating:
More architectural and creative children can enjoy constructing forts, cities, and models using building blocks, Lego, construction paper, and modeling clay.
Science experiments:
Plenty of science experiments can be done at home using common kitchen ingredients. Search for some experiments, and try them with your kids. Some ideas can be found here and here.
Arts and crafts:
The Internet is brimming with ideas for kid-friendly crafts. Things like paper, old newspapers, old boxes, and cans can keep those young ones busy for hours. We just need to guide them to a craft that interests them, for example, origami, paper mache, and so on.
Gardening:
Children find it very interesting to plant seeds, tend to the garden, and water it. They can perhaps have their own individual corners in the garden or pots to plant in and look after. They will be able to observe the magnificent creation of Allah and have fun at the same time.
Books:
How can we forget books! Surround your children with colorful and interesting books, and they will for sure grow up with a love of books. Read aloud to them in an engaging manner; children do not like being read to in a monotonous voice. When they have learnt to read, both stories and non-fiction books will keep them entertained.
Even those children who do not like reading do enjoy books that match their interests, for example, a boy who loves trucks will love a book about trucks.
Museums and parks:
Take your children to parks and museums where they can learn and enjoy at the same time. Going for a walk or visiting friends and relatives can be fun too.
Videos, video games, and apps:
Although there should be a limited time for screens (which no doubt is very difficult to maintain), this does not mean they are prohibited altogether. Video games and apps that do not have un-Islamic elements like immorality and music are permissible and can be played, provided its usage does not exceed limits.
Moreover, videos about nature, technology, space, and sports can also be shown if they conform to the above principle.
1 Safar 1438

(رسالة إلى كل من يقول ( أريد تأمين مستقبل أولادي

Nursery or Adversary?

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaykum wR wB,

If we survey the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ, a similar understanding is found. The qualities of devotion to Allah and their families were at the centre of the praiseworthy qualities of women. For example, the Prophet clarifies the Islamic view regarding the best women and the central reason behind it saying, “The best women from the riders of the camels (the best Arab women) are the righteous among the women of Quraish. They are the kindest women to their children in childhood and the most careful of women in regards to the property of their husbands.” (Bukhari/Muslim) In this hadith the Prophet explains their goodness by being good wives and good mothers.

In another statement the Prophet ﷺ explains that one of the main aims of marriage is to produce and nurture children who follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in worshiping Allah and glorifying him. The companion Ma’qil ibn Yasaar narrated that a man came to the messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and said: “O Messenger of Allah, I have found a woman who is from a good family and is pretty, but she does not bear children – should I marry her?” He told him not to. Then he came to him a second time and said something similar and he told him not to marry her. Then he came to him a third time and said something similar and he (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Marry the one who is loving and fertile, for I will be proud of your great numbers before the nations on the Day of Resurrection.” (Abu Dawud/Nasa’i)

Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeem Abaadi said in his commentary of this hadith, ‘Marry the one who is loving means the one who loves her husband; and the one who is fertile is the one who bears a lot of children.” {Awnul Mabud 6/33}

abcOh boy… I am going to do it again. I am opening the can of worms. Lighting a match in a dry forest. Shouting fire in a crowded theatre. Opening the floodgates. I am going to talk about something that will cause another round of Facebook unfriending, painful insults, and lots of people disagreeing with me. But as a man, a Muslim, and a chronically outspoken human being, I have to speak up. I have a platform – and I must use it. It is my moral responsibility to utilise my platform to speak up for those without such a public voice. I want to talk about… **takes deep breath**… ‘Working Mothers and their Responsibilities.’

“Most children are corrupted (and led to failure) because of their parents.” Ibn Qayyim RH, Tuhfatul Maudud bi-Ahkamil Maulud (p. 80)

By this point, some of you (especially those who know me “well”) will be thinking, “Oh God! What on earth is he going to say?” And others (who also know me, personally) will be thinking, “How can he talk about that issue? He doesn’t have kids!” Yes, what gives me the audacity to speak about such a topic, when I don’t have children? I actually thought about the same thing a few days ago, before writing this piece. I don’t know how long this article is going to be, simply because the whole thing has been going around my head for a long time. I wouldn’t be lying if I said a decade!

Just because I don’t have children, that doesn’t mean I don’t know anything ‘about’ children. I have taught children in a Primary School, and in a Madrasah setting for many years. And still offer tuition for teenagers in various subjects, as well as teaching Muslim youngsters Tafsir and Seerah. Which (hopefully) justifies my position, in writing this article. As I have understood and realised some of the causes and grounds why our youth are spiralling downwards.

You see I always wanted someone else to write it, I shall be totally honest. In particular – a female. And before writing it I scanned the web to see how much has already been written on the topic, especially by Muslims. I found a LOT of articles supporting the idea of working mothers, very few against it. I have a large extensive library (Alhumdu Lillah), I buy books on everything; things which are relevant and irrelevant, stuff that I need and don’t need (may need in future). So I searched how many books I had if any on ‘tarbiyyah/upbringing children, good mothers’ etc. I had a few on ‘tarbiyyah’, which contained sections on working mums, and others just generally in the early years with a child. But nothing extensive on working mothers, does it really work, the pros and cons.

This article below was written the day I started writing this blog believe it or not:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-30342/Working-mothers-risk-damaging-childs-prospects.html

*A sign from Allah, perhaps?*

Silhouette of depressive man

Like I said, I wanted to write this piece many moons ago. But what recently triggered me to put pen to paper is the statistic below:

“25% of Women in the UK suffer from depression.” (NHS Stats)

Mental health problems affect both men and women, but not in equal measure.

“In England, women are more likely than men to have a common mental health problem.”

McManus, S., Meltzer, H., Brugha, T., Bebbington, P., & Jenkins, R. (eds) (2009). Adult Psychiatric Morbidity in England 2007: results of a household survey. NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care. [online] Available at: http://www.hscic.gov.uk/catalogue/PUB02931/adul-psyc-morb-res-housur-eng-2007-rep.pdf [Accessed 25 August 2015].

“And are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders.”

Martin-Merino, E., Ruigomez, A., Wallander, M., Johansson, S. and GarciaRodriguez, L. (2009). Prevalence, incidence, morbidity and treatment patterns in a cohort of patients diagnosed with anxiety in UK primary care. Family Practice, 27(1), pp.9-16.

“10% of mothers and 6% of fathers in the UK have mental health problems at any given time.”

Parker, G., et al. (2008). Technical Report for SCIE Research Review on the Prevalence and Incidence of Parental Mental Health Problems and the Detection, Screening and Reporting of Parental Mental Health Problems. [online] York: Social Policy Research Unit, University of York. Available at: http://www.york.ac.uk/inst/spru/research/pdf/SCIEReview1.pdf [Accessed 14 Sep. 2015].

When I tried to read further, I also came across this:

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/jun/19/anxiety-depression-office-national-statistics

Nearly a fifth of adults in the UK experience anxiety or depression, according to the latest official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said a higher proportion of women than men reported that they suffered from the conditions, with the highest indication of anxiety or depression occurring in the 50-54 age group.

There was evidence of anxiety or depression in 19% of people aged 16 or over, with 21% of women reporting the symptoms and 16% of men.

Also, see below: http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/projectsresearch/mentalhealth

10% of men and 30% of women have had a previous psychiatric admission before they entered prison. A more recent study found that 25% of women and 15% of men in prison reported symptoms indicative of psychosis. The rate among the general public is about 4%.

26% of women and 16% of men said they had received treatment for a mental health problem in the year before custody.

And finally, more about depression: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23553897

My point from all of the above is to give the readers the gist of what percentage of people in the UK suffer from anxiety, depression and stress. And more importantly what proportion are men and women.

So the million dollar question is “WHY?” In such a developed country, or in the West in general, why do we see more people suffering from depression in particularly women? Well, as this article is being written to ‘help’ women I will add the site below for reference:

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression-in-women/index.shtml

Depression is not “one size fits all,” particularly when it comes to the genders. Not only are women more prone to depression than men, but the causes of female depression and even the pattern of symptoms are often different. Many factors contribute to the unique picture of depression in women—from reproductive hormones to social pressures to the female response to stress. Learning about these factors can help you minimize your risk of depression and treat it more effectively.

Figures for the lifetime prevalence of depression vary according to the criteria used to define depression. Using DSM-IV’s criteria for ‘major depressive disorder’ which are similar to the ICD-10 criteria for ‘moderate depression’, the lifetime prevalence of depression is about 15 percent and the point prevalence about 5 percent. This means that an average person has about a one in seven (15 percent) chance of developing depression in the course of his or her lifetime, and about a 1 in 20 (5 percent) chance of suffering from it at this very point in time.

However, these figures mask a very uneven gender distribution as depression is about twice as common in women than in men. The reasons for this uneven gender distribution are not entirely clear but are thought to be partly biological, partly psychological, and partly sociocultural.

Biological explanations Compared to men, women may have a stronger genetic predisposition to developing depression. Compared to men, women are much more subjected to fluctuating hormone levels. This is especially the case around the time of childbirth and at the menopause, both of which are associated with an increased risk of developing depression.

Psychological explanations Women are more ruminative than men, that is, they tend to think about things more—which, though a very good thing, may also predispose them to develop depression. In contrast, men are more likely to react to difficult times with stoicicism, anger, or substance misuse. Women are generally more invested in relationships than men. Relationship problems are likely to affect them more, and so they are more likely to develop depression.

Sociocultural explanations Women come under more stress than men. Not only do they have to go work just like men, but they may also be expected to bear the brunt of maintaining a home, bringing up children, caring for older relatives, and putting up with all the sexism!   Women live longer than men. Extreme old age is often associated with bereavement, loneliness, poor physical health, and precarity—and so with depression. Women are more likely to seek out a diagnosis of depression. They are more likely to consult a physician and more likely to discuss their feelings with the physician. Conversely, physicians (whether male or female) may be more likely to make a diagnosis of depression in a woman. Perhaps you can think of some other reasons why depression is twice as common in women than in men, in which case please do let me know!

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hide-and-seek/201205/the-7-reasons-why-depression-is-more-common-in-women

1280x240-Homeworking-Hub-Image-1280x240Some of you at this point are thinking, what does all this has to do with the title and Mothers working. The aim of this article is to help women, not have a go at them, nor give them a blasting. It is to help them understand what they really need to do and what they should be doing. Where their priorities lie. I am not in a position to say this, but I don’t think most women understand. As humans, men and women, we are like sheep and just follow the trend. And women, in particular, are suffering from stress and depression because society demands too much from them I believe. Where they should have been placed and what their primary roles were, has been lost and disillusioned.

When you sit down to reflect on what your vision is for your life, how do you know that the vision you’ve chosen is, in fact, the right one? Is it by the level of happiness you are convinced that your vision is achieved, would give you? Or is it the fame and attention you know you’ll attain if you fulfilled it? It would be a shame if you spent years going up the ladder of life, only to find that the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall. Imagine if after all the effort you had exerted you found yourself on the Day of Judgment wishing you’d spent all that time and energy pursuing a different vision on Earth, one that would have given you a higher status in the hereafter which, after all, will last forever. On the Day of Judgment, things will become very clear to us in the starkest of ways. We will see reality as it truly is and realize how short was the opportunity that we had on Earth as the following hadith clearly illustrates:

Anas ibn Malik narrates that the messenger of Allah ﷺ  said, “The most affluent of the people in this world, of those who will go to Hell, will be brought on the Day of Resurrection and dipped once in the Fire. Then it will be said: O son of Adam, did you ever see anything good? Did you ever have any pleasure? He will say: No, by Allah, O Lord. Then the most destitute of the people in this world, of those who will enter Paradise, will be brought and dipped once in Paradise, and it will be said to him: O son of Adam, did you ever see anything bad? Did you ever experience any hardship? He will say: No, by Allah, O Lord. I never saw anything bad and I never experienced any hardship.” (Sahih Muslim)

Let us look at marriage…

In comparison to other countries, couples in the UK are rather old when they decide to get married. The average age that men in the UK get married is 30.8 and the average age to get married for women is 28.9 years.

Yes, besides the fact that a lot fewer people are getting married than for instance 30 years ago, the age at which people are marrying has increased quite a bit. The average age for getting married 30 years ago was about 24 years (about 23 years for women and about 25 years for men). That’s about 6 years earlier than the current average age.

The average age that people get married is dependent on a couple of factors, such as religion, culture and the level of development of the country where they live. In countries such as India and Pakistan, it is common that the parents of the bride and groom arrange the wedding. Therefore the average age of getting married in these countries is only 17 years old. In Scandinavian countries, it is more common to get married at a later age. In Denmark the average age people get married is almost 31 years old. Also in Sweden, Finland and Norway, the average age to get married is well above 30 years old.

So we can see that in Europe and the West, people tend to get married later. This again is due to the pressure from social norms and culture. E.g. getting a degree, building a career, having a job etc. All of which there is no harm in doing. But women need to understand, Islam does allow you to seek knowledge and education. Islam does allow you to work and earn for yourself. But the greatest virtue for a woman in Islam is being a good mother and a pious wife. Already, some of you will think I am backward or old-fashioned, not with the times and not up to date. False. There is no need for us to be sheep and follow society. If we really and truly follow Islam, then let us see what Allah says in the Qur’an and Hadith about women and their roles. Every woman praised in the Qur’an, namely Asiyah (Radhi Allahu Anha) – the wife of Pharoah and Maryam (Radhi Allahu Anha) the mother of Eesa (Alayhis Salam) were praised for being good wives and mothers.

“And Allah has set forth an example for those who believe, the wife of Pharaoh when she said: “My Lord! Build for me a home with You in Paradise, and save me from Pharaoh and his work, and save me from the people who are oppressors. And Maryam (Mary), the daughter of ‘Imran who guarded her chastity; and We breathed into her through Our spirit (Gabriel), and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and His Scriptures, and she was of the obedient.” [66:11-12]

The Prophet’s Companion Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari narrates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) described the status of these two women by saying, “Many amongst men attained perfection but amongst women, none attained perfection except Maryam (Mary), the daughter of ‘Imran, and Asiya, the wife of Pharaoh. And the superiority of Aishah to other women is like the superiority of tharid (a dish) to other meals.” (Bukhari)

People also talk a LOT about Khadijah (Radhi Allahu Anha), and how she was a businesswoman. No doubt about it! She was one of the richest women in Makkah. But, after marriage, she handed the business to the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). She (Radhi Allahu Anha) then had six children with the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). When the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) would meditate in the Cave of Hira, Khadijah (Radhi Allahu Anha) would walk from Makkah to Jabal Alnoor (Mount of Noor), then climb up to the Cave of Hira, twice a day to deliver the Prophet’s  (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) food. Let us look at both sides of the coin, not just the fact she was a businesswoman. She was a mother to the children of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), and what a great mother she was. Also, she was an amazing support to the Prophet  (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam).working-from-home-jobs

Being a mother is not an easy task, right from the moment of pregnancy, till labour, till breastfeeding, then the early years. I will try to outline some of the most important duties of mothers and how much neglect we see in the Ummah today. It is not as easy as sending our children to nurseries for someone else, strangers, to nurture our children. Babies need their mothers. There are many things women need to consider before they just dump, yes ‘dump’ children. It may not be neglect in the eyes of the law, but certainly is in my eyes and possibly in the eyes of Allah SWT.

Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) as saying: “Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock. The amir (ruler) who is over the people is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock; a man is a shepherd in charge of the inhabitants of his household and he is responsible for his flock; a woman is a shepherdess in charge of her husband’s house and children and she is responsible for them; and a man’s slave is a shepherd in charge of his master’s property and he is responsible for it. So each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock.” (Abu Dawud)

 

A contented, confident and well-adjusted child does not come about by accident but is the result of hard work mainly on the part of the parents. It is not enough to send our children to nursery and expect teachers to do our job for us. Primary education comes from the home environment and the first best teachers, are parents themselves. As Muslim parents in a non-Muslim society, we have to work hard to ensure that Islam is the focus of our parenting efforts.

The pre-school years are the most important and rapid of development, so this is the golden opportunity for us to nurture our children and help them on the path to becoming good Muslims of the future. It is a grave mistake to think that children are too young to learn or understand their surroundings. In fact, the opposite is true; the younger the child, the faster they can absorb information. A lack of varied stimuli and unsettled emotional surroundings are major factors in disruptive behaviour. We all want the best for our children, but often either do not know where to start or cannot find the time to implement our intentions. Remember, as parents, you will play a central role throughout your child’s life, but more especially during the formative years when there are fewer external influences.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-business/10214544/The-five-pros-and-cons-of-being-a-working-mother.html

Cons of being a working mother:

  1. Tiredness. There are no words to describe what it is like doing a 10-hour working day with a long commute when you’ve been up half the night with a teething toddler or a hungry baby
  2. When you can hear your child still crying and shouting ‘mama’ as you’re halfway out of the driveway
  3. Missing out – first words, first steps, playdates and classes
  4. Rushing home from work ‘early’ to put toddler girl to bed only to find she fell asleep 10 minutes before you got home
  5. Managing the expectations of colleagues who just don’t get it

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jan/01/mothers-work-children-school-survey

Siobhan Freegard, the co-founder of Netmums, said the needs of young teenagers often takes parents by surprise: “The truth is that the older your children get, the more they need you emotionally. Once they get to secondary school, they also need a great deal of help to organise all the homework and other academic demands they’re suddenly faced with.”

Those surveyed admitted feeling uncomfortable with their choice to give up work with 60% saying they feel embarrassed by the expectation that parents will work more, not less, when their child reaches school-age. Almost 40% said they are made to feel they are “setting a poor example to their child” by not working. Just 20% said they felt their choice meant they were seen as a better parent.

Freegard said: “Mothers – and it usually is mothers – have been trying and failing to talk about this issue for ages. It’s a hidden topic.”

MUST READ: https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/i-have-marked-my-daughter-crying-my-feet-because-there-are-deadlines 

In the United States today, more than half of mothers with young children work, compared to about one third in the 1970s. Working mothers are now the rule rather than the exception. Women have been moving into the workforce not only for career satisfaction but also because they and their families need the income.

Even when there are no problems, however, a two-career family has to deal with issues that do not come up in other families. Parents may feel so divided between family and career that they have little time for a social life or each other. Both parents need to share household and childcare responsibilities so that one will not end up doing most of the work and feeling resentful. Parents will lose an average of about ten work days per year due to the need to tend to a sick child, to care for their child when child care arrangements have broken down, or to take their child to necessary appointments.

So mothers really need to think twice before they resume work after having a child. We often hear the word “necessity” used. ‘I need to work’. Necessity is an abused term, we need to look carefully at what is a necessity. Wanting a luxurious lifestyle isn’t; fabulous car, large extended house, expensive getaways every year. If that is what you want, then sacrifice the welfare of your children for the above – harsh, but true. Your children don’t need holidays nor expensive presents. We look around today, parents have given their children every gadget, toy, doll, bike and game they can imagine having. But, have they given their children sufficient love and care and attention. Nobody said bringing up children was an easy task, nobody said women cannot work *full stop*. But it is different once you have children, you need to understand where your priorities lie, it is with your children. Don’t follow society, don’t follow the women in the magazine, because you deserve better and so do your children. This is a sincere plea from a brother of yours.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/07/the-chart-that-shows-how-feminism-is-ruining-womens-lives/

In conclusion, I say that the best role, the most honourable and worthy role for a woman is striving to be a fine wife, a good mother, or both. This role does not only secure the best for a woman in the hereafter but also fits perfectly with her natural disposition. In her study published by Centre for Policy Studies in 2009, Cristina Odone, former deputy editor of The New Statesman (1998-2004) concluded that “far from being committed to a career, the overwhelming majority of women would prefer to opt out of it. Instead of finding satisfaction in full-time work, most women realise themselves in their other roles as carers, partners, community members, and above all mothers”. Furthermore, McIntosh and Bauer concluded that working women are “often felt overwhelmed and unable to keep up with their job and family responsibilities”. They added that “the working mother felt she had two full-time jobs.”  {A thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an MEd in the graduate school of Marietta College titled, “Working Mothers Vs Stay At Home Mothers: The Impact on Children.}

I ask our sisters in Islam to embrace their true role in society and reap the huge rewards that Allah has in store for them for fulfilling this role. I ask our brothers to support them in fulfilling this role. When we define a vision for our lives, we are seeking to make a contribution and leave a legacy. Your legacy, sisters is that if you take on the role that Allah has ordained for you, then you will positively affect the future of the Muslim ummah and ultimately the future of the world. That is a legacy beyond measure.

http://uswatulmuslimah.co.za/womens-issues/qaa/748-can-women-work.html

Please see Fatwa above

NB: I am not a sexist or a chauvinist. These are my sincere views for many sisters who seemed to have lost direction and guidance. If there is anything against Islam in this article which is explicit in Qur’an and Hadith, please state the evidence below. I shall happily retract my opinions. I understand many will disagree and disregard this article.

Allah knows best, to Him we turn and seek the truth.

Ismail Ibn Nazir Satia (One who is in dire need of Allah’s Forgiveness, Mercy and Pleasure)

16 Jamadul Akhar 1436

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

When you thought I wasn’t looking.

babyA message every adult should read because children watch you and do as you do, not as you say.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw you hang my first painting on the refrigerator, and I immediately wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw you feed a stray cat, and I learned that it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw you make my favourite cake for me, and I learned that little things can be the special things in life.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I heard you say a prayer, and I knew that there is a God I could always talk to, and I learned to trust in Him.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw you make a meal and take it to a friend who was sick, and I learned that we all have to help take care of each other.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw you take care of our house and everyone in it, and I learned we have to take care of what we are given.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw how you handled your responsibilities, even when you didn’t feel good, and I learned that I would have to be responsible when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw tears come from your eyes, and I learned that sometimes things hurt, and it’s all right to cry.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I saw that you cared, and I wanted to be everything that I could be.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I learned most of life’s lessons that I needed to know: to be a good and productive person when I grow up.

When you thought I wasn’t looking I looked at you and wanted to say,’ Thanks for all the things I saw when you thought I wasn’t looking.

By Anon.

Good Parents, Make Good Kids!

The noble Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, ‘He who nurtured his daughter with the best of manners, provided her with the best of education and gave her a portion from his wealth, such a daughter shall be his saviour from the Fire.’ Recorded in Kanz al-‘Ummal, Hadith 45391

stas-ovsky-632497-unsplash.jpgPlay with your child (for) seven (years),then discipline him (for) seven (years), then keep company with him(for) seven (years), then give him free rein.’

RAISING CHILDREN WITH DEEN AND DUNYA
by Hina Khan-Mukhtar

I still vividly remember the first night I spent by myself in the hospital after delivering my eldest son Shaan. The guests were gone for the day, the hallway lights were dimmed, the nurses were speaking outside my room in muted tones.

“Knock, knock!” came a cheerful voice from the doorway. “Someone’s hungry and wants his mommy!”

The nurse wheeled in the crib that held my newborn, only a few hours old at the time. She cooed over him as I struggled to sit up, then efficiently handed him into my waiting arms, bustling out of the room after giving me a few words of encouragement.

I pulled the blanket away from his cheek and smiled in awe at this fragile, little creature who was being left alone with me for the first time ever. I felt privileged to be trusted with his care, overwhelmed with the weight of responsibility. No one was watching over my shoulder; he was all mine and I could do whatever I wanted.

I felt it was an appropriate time to take care of something that no one had thought of arranging so far — introductions.

“Assalaamu alaikum,” I whispered to the warm bundle nestled against my chest, “I’m your mommy.” I stroked his face and then asked the rhetorical question that every mother has asked since time immemorial. “Now…how am I going to raise you?”

It’s a question that I have continued to ask since that first magical night in the maternity ward.

I’ve asked it of grandparents, parents, sons, and daughters. I’ve asked it of Pakistanis, Indians, Afghans, Arabs, Americans, Asians, and Africans. I’ve sat people down at parties, emailed friends’ parents, called up aunties on the telephone, and stopped uncles on their way out the door. Any family whose practice of Islam has impressed me, any child whose manners have stunned me, any teenager whose conduct with his or her sibling has given me reason for pause, any adult whose balance of deen (religion) and dunya (world) has wowed me, I have accosted and asked,

“What exactly did your parents do with you?!”
“How did you raise your children?!”
“I beg you, tell me the secret of bringing up Mu’mineen (believers) like the ones I see in your home!”

What I have found in my years of “field research” is that nearly all of these families have stumbled upon the same basic secrets to success. While many of them don’t necessarily know one another, time and time again they have given me the same advice, the same tips, the same rules. I would catalogue their stories in my head, thinking I could easily remember them later. So when I was recently approached with the request for an article on Muslim parenting tips, I jumped at the chance to put it all down in writing and thus preserve the valuable insights I have gathered over the course of the past twelve years or so.

Here then, for my benefit and yours, are the tips from the “experts”, the tried-and-true heroes who have worked hard at (and, insha’Allah, succeeded at) securing their children’s minds, hearts, and souls. These words come from those parents — like you — whose primary purpose in life has been to direct their sons and daughters onto the Path they believe will earn them the Pleasure of their Creator and the respect of their fellow human beings. Some of the advice may seem “common sense”, the type you could hear on any daytime talk show or read in any self-help book. Other tips genuinely surprised me at how specific and unyielding they were in their insistence that “This is the only way”. While there has been a whole variety of advice given to me, I have noticed a pattern emerging where the same ten “Rules of the Game” seem to keep reappearing in different shapes and forms; those dominant tips are the ones that I have chosen to focus on for the purpose of my article.

I have seen with my own eyes children under the age of ten who willingly set their own alarms to get up for Tahajjud prayer. I have hosted a young soccer marvel in my home who begins his day before mine by reciting Quran at Fajr. I know of an Ivy League university student who insisted on turning the car around because she realized she had left home without giving her mother salaams (farewell wishes). I have been acquainted with doctors who make more money in a single month than most people make in a single year yet choose to live in small homes with no mortgages so that their salaries can be spent supporting scholars of Islam. My husband and I work with a young man who once flew with his mother from California to Jordan, then turned around and returned on the next flight home — all of this so that his single mother didn’t have to travel across the world alone. I have witnessed fourth graders who were able to sit quietly with impeccable etiquette in front of Muslim scholars while the adults around them stretched, yawned, and sighed. I have heard children silence their young friends with urgent reminders, “Don’t say that about him! It’s backbiting!”

A sign of someone whom Allah loves is that when you see him/her, you remember Allah. The examples I have listed here are all people who have caused me to wonder about my own station with Allah in relation to theirs; they have motivated me to at least try to change, to improve. I’m sure readers will agree that, although Allah Alone knows the hidden reality of hearts, these people at least seem to have triumphed both in their embodiment of the true spirit of Islam and in their practical participation in the dunya. I pray that Allah Subhana wa Ta’ala will continue to send examples like them into our lives so that we may continue to learn and implement that which draws us closer to Him. Ameen.tony-reid-633640-unsplash.jpg

1.) Dua, Dua, Dua

“None of this is from us,” insists one mother of three UC Berkeley graduates who have never voluntarily missed a single prayer. “Everything begins and ends with dua. It is only by His Generosity that we have been blessed with believing children; we had nothing to do with it. Now that we have it, we try to hold onto it by showing gratitude and not taking it for granted.”

Every single family I have “interviewed” about raising children in this day and age inevitably began by reminding me about the power of supplication. “Every success I have seen in my family’s life, I can remember having prayed for it first,” admits one grandmother of three huffadh (memorizers of Quran). “If my dua doesn’t come true in this world, I have faith that it will in the next one, so I have patience.”

Another mother of four tells me, “I recited Surah Maryam every single day of my pregnancy. I want pious children above all else — it’s all that matters.”

A convert friend of mine suggests that couples who are about to embark on the path of parenthood should ask themselves, “Why do we even want children?” She believes in renewing one’s intentions on a daily basis. “Who are we doing this for?” When she gets embarrassed by something her children say or do, she questions herself, “Why am I upset? Is it because I’m afraid that they’re doing something displeasing to Allah? Or is it because I’m afraid that they’re displeasing people?”

Her unwavering dua is that her children live their lives seeking only His pleasure.

Many families shared with me their reliance on Salaat-ul-Istikhaara (Prayer for Guidance) before making any major life-altering decisions and Salaat-ul-Haajah (Prayer for Need) when desiring something they felt was crucial for their children’s well-being. Whenever a blessing appeared in their lives, they were quick to pray Salaat-ul-Shukr (Prayer of Gratitude) as well.

“All that I have is due to my mother’s duas,” believes one mother of five children. “She was the one who was always praying for us, even when we forgot to.”

2.) Suhba (companionship) will make you or break you.

“There were times we sacrificed our own friendships in order to do what was best for our children,” a married couple of sixteen years tells me. When pressed for reasons why one would end a relationship, they explain, “Before we had children, we had friends who ‘drank socially’, who played poker, who hosted dance parties. Once our kids were born, we avoided those types of atmospheres. Our social gatherings are now the type where both the respected elders and the innocent children feel welcome and comfortable.”

“It doesn’t necessarily need to be that it’s the ‘drinking, gambling, partying crowd’ that is holding you back,” muses a mother of elementary school children upon hearing the couple’s history. “I have one set of ‘dinner party friends’ who believe in a ‘children should be seen and not heard’ philosophy. They plant the kids around TV sets and video games while the parents socialize in other rooms. Then I have another group of friends who engage their children in the adult conversations, who don’t keep the younger ones ‘out of sight, out of mind’. It might surprise you to learn that my own kids actually prefer to be around the adults who actually care enough to get to know them.”

“Sometimes I look around at the people I hang with and I think ‘What happened?’” laughs a mother who has chosen to homeschool her three kids. “None of these folks are the type I would have chosen as friends when I was younger, but I admire the way they live their lives and crave the peace and tranquility they trail behind them everywhere they go. They have a sense of purpose and an awareness of Allah in everything they do. I want to pass those qualities on to my own kids, so here we are.”

“Suhba is of the utmost importance. If you sleep with the dogs, don’t be surprised if you rise with the fleas,” a respected scholar advises. The words that struck me the hardest with their wisdom? “When you sit with People of the Dunya, you become a drop in their ocean, but when you sit with People of the Akhira (Hereafter), the dunya becomes a drop in your ocean.”

“A person is known by who their friends are,” my mother always reminded us. “Don’t ever assume that you are better than your friends. No! You are who your friends are.”

“I had a girlfriend whose company I really enjoyed,” remembers one mother wistfully. “She was the best person to share a cup of tea with, to go shopping with.” So what happened? “She and her husband decided that they weren’t going to raise their children as Muslims. Even though we liked each other a lot, we just didn’t see eye to eye on what was appropriate for kids. There were certain behaviors in her home that were complete anathema to us. I decided that I couldn’t have an independent friendship with the mom; at some point her kids were going to start influencing my kids, and we needed to part ways…so we did.”

One father confesses with a sheepish laugh, “I don’t know if our children are so God-conscious because of anything we necessarily did. My nieces are very spiritual young women, and my own daughters were always drawn to them. I think we got lucky that our children wanted to follow in their older cousins’ footsteps.”

“On the Day of Judgment, you’ll be standing with the ones you loved most in the dunya,” reminds another well-loved scholar, “so choose your friends wisely.”

More than one parent has gushed about the power a charismatic aunt or uncle, imam, halaqa (study circle) leader, or Sunday School teacher has had over their young ones. Many of the adults gave up a good portion of their weekends, driving long distances to take their children to gatherings and events where they hoped their children would benefit from being around like-minded people. “I firmly believe that no friends are better than bad friends,” states a father of five childen, “but I did go the extra mile to make sure that my kids did have friends with whom they connected.”

“Sometimes kids start to tune out what the parents say because it’s all been said before,” a mother of a middle schooler smiles. “My own parents told me to pray all my life, but it wasn’t until I connected with an articulate teacher who explained how prayer was for our benefit that I finally got the message…and it was my friends who led me to that teacher.”

3.) The Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wasallam) was a living, breathing reality in our lives.

“What better suhba is there than one who reminds another of the deen? Can there be a better ‘companion’ than the Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wasallam)?” asks a UCLA graduate married to a doctor who also does interfaith work for Islam.

When a learned scholar was recently asked, “What should we teach our children?”, his response was swift and unequivocal — “The seerah (biography of the Prophet) and nasheeds (devotional songs of praise). If your kids love the Prophet, they will automatically love Allah.”

“The best way to call people to Islam is to have them fall in love with the Prophet,” insists another scholar. “Children should fear and love Allah, but teach them about the love first. They can learn about the fear when they’re older. And who loved Allah more than the Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wasallam)?”

An eight-year-old recently burst into tears when he realized that his mother had neglected to wake him up for the Fajr prayer. The adults who were present exchanged glances, wondering what kind of terror the parents must have driven into this young one’s heart. Was he afraid that Allah was going to punish him? Did he think he was going to burn in hell? Upon inquiry, the child revealed that the real cause of his distress was the knowledge that he had neglected something the Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wasallam) took very seriously, something he had exhorted the believers about while on his death bed. Needless to say, the mother has been vigilant about waking her son on time for prayer ever since.

Many of the parents made it a regular part of the daily routine to recite the sunnah duas — the duas for beginning and ending meals, the duas for entering and leaving the home, the duas for waking and sleeping — until they became automatic. It isn’t a surprise for guests in their homes to see children as young as three reciting the dua for traveling as they get strapped into their car seats. “We didn’t minimize any sunnah in our home,” one Pakistani-American father tells me. “Once you start to think, ‘Oh, that sunnah isn’t a big deal; we can ignore it’, you’ve entered dangerous territiory. What comes next?”

In order to help his children learn the daily duas, this father neatly prints the supplications on index cards and posts them up all over the house until the kids have learned them by heart. I decided to follow his lead and taped up the dua for “looking at one’s reflection” on my sons’ bedroom mirror, completely forgetting to put a card on my own bathroom mirror. The result? My eleven-year-old now knows exactly what prayer to recite while brushing his hair for school, whereas I struggle to remember the Arabic words when getting ready in the morning.

“A co-worker recently asked me to name one thing that makes Islam different from other faiths,” my brother-in-law once shared with me. “Among other things, I told him that with Islam I got a prophetic example for how to live my day-to-day life. No other prophet’s life is so carefully recorded as our Prophet’s (salallaahu alaihi wasallam).”

With toddlers and pre-schoolers, I noticed that a lot of the parents mentioned the Prophet Muhammad (salallaahu alaihi wasallam) as if he were a relevant person in their lives. They talked about him the way one would talk about any respected elder whom the child adored. It wasn’t unusual to hear parents telling their little ones, “The Prophet Muhammad (salallaahu alaihi wasallam) loved green, so let’s wear our green clothes for Friday Prayer!” or “Prophet Muhammad (salallaahu alaihi wasallam) taught us that we should sit down when we get angry, so let’s sit down since you’re feeling so frustrated.”

While visiting my sister in Southern California one weekend, I noticed that an English translation of Imam Tirmidhi’s “Shama’il” (Characteristics) sat on my six-year-old nephew’s beside table. She explained that it was part of their son’s bedtime ritual for her husband to share one hadith from that famous ninth century text with him. “Learning intimate details, like the fact the Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wasallam) enjoyed eating dates with cucumbers, makes our son feel like he actually personally knows the Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wasallam).”

“Today’s generation is so fortunate, masha’Allah,” says one grandmother. “When our children were younger, there were hardly any quality Islamic literature or media out there. Today’s kids have so many choices! My grandchildren go through a different seerah book every year. They are constantly humming new songs about the Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wasallam). I pray that they always find joy in learning about (and then following) their Prophet, insha’Allah.”

4.) Having fun wasn’t “haraam” in our home, but we kept the home environment as pure as possible.

It would be extremely remiss of me if I failed to mention that every single family I interviewed emphasized the need to severely limit exposure to entertainment media — television in particular, but internet and video games included. There were some families who didn’t have a television set in the house at all, while there were others who allowed their children to watch an hour of pre-screened Saturday morning cartoons or an occasional family night movie. Computers were always stationed in a public area of the house where email exchanges and internet research were conducted on a set schedule under the watchful eyes of involved parents.

“If Shaytan (Satan) were to ring our doorbell and ask if he could come in and babysit our children, we would throw him out,” one scholar says, “yet we allow the television set to do exactly that…we literally invite Shaytan in when we turn the TV on!”

“Preserving my children’s fitra (primordial state) is of the highest priority to us,” one mother of two pre-schoolers tells me. “Right now, the difference between right and wrong is so clear in their eyes; they really get it when we explain what’s what to them. The entertainment industry’s depiction of what’s ‘normal’ manages to confuse adults, so just imagine what it does to children!”

“We’re Indian, but we never watched Bollywood films in our home,” a friend admits matter-of-factly. “We didn’t have bhangra dance parties; we didn’t wear revealing clothing like skimpy saris and sleeveless blouses; we weren’t allowed to be overly chummy with our guy cousins.”

Basically, what she’s letting me know is that what is often excused as “culture” was not allowed to contradict the Islamic shariah (sacred law) her parents taught her to respect.

“But don’t think we were bored or deprived!” she is quick to reassure me. “My parents inculcated in us a love of Urdu poetry. We read classic English literature aloud to one another in the evenings and went on father-daughter hikes in the mornings. My mother showed us how to garden, my father taught us how to fish. My brother had a paper route; the younger ones were Girl Scouts. We had a home life full of energy and activity.”

“It’s important to replace every haraam you stop your child from with at least two halaals they can enjoy,” advises a popular Muslim family counselor. “You don’t want your children to grow up thinking that Islam is just a bunch of no’s — ‘no, you can’t do this; no, you can’t do that.’” She laughs heartily, “Make it about ‘yes, we can!’”

I have a Yemeni friend who has taken that philosophy to heart with gusto. She and her husband may not throw birthday or New Year’s Eve parties, but you should see the festivities they do arrange. When her twins memorized the thirtieth juz (chapter of the Quran), the picnic in the park was enjoyed with two separate gourmet cakes and party favors for all. When this same brother-sister team went on to memorize the twenty-ninth juz, they came home from school to discover their bedrooms decorated with streamers and presents. My five-year-old son Raahim and his preschool buddies recently memorized twelve surahs under this auntie’s guidance, and she was quick to organize a party complete with a pinata, awards, balloons, and treats. With memories like these, Muslim adults are bound to look back on their childhoods as a time filled with celebrations, insha’Allah.

“There is so much fitna (tribulation) out there in the world. We can’t protect our kids from everything bad,” warns a devout grandfather of ten children. “But it is for that very reason that the home must be an oasis where Allah is remembered and obeyed, where children can relax and feel cherished, where they can practice their religion without feeling apologetic or alien. The home environment should be as halaal as possible. Our litmus test was always ‘Would we be ashamed if the Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wasallam) were to walk into our house right now? Is there anything we would want to hide?’.”

The result of this family’s “test” was a tidy, simply furnished home where the television set was absent and books lined the shelves. Flowers bloomed outside every window, intricate Islamic calligraphy adorned the walls, and healthful food was served with generosity and enthusiasm to all who entered. The sense of serenity in the air was something tangible.

I’ll never forget what one daughter of a highly respected elder in the community told me when I asked her how her siblings remained so close to their parents despite being raised in a small town with only a handful of Muslims. Didn’t they ever rebel? How did they resist the siren song of the un-Islamic peer culture around them? “If you feel love in your home, you don’t look for it anywhere else.”

tomoko-uji-633735-unsplash.jpg5.) Our parents didn’t just “talk the talk”, they “walked the walk”.

In other words, they practiced what they preached.

“I don’t get it when I hear mothers telling their kids ‘Don’t tell lies’ and then in the next breath smoothly tell phone callers, ‘Oh, he’s not home right now’ when the husband is sitting right there in front of them,” says a medical school resident who is spending time learning Hanafi fiqh as well. “Or how about when parents teach their kids ‘It’s wrong to backbite’ and then complain about the in-laws to anyone who will listen? It’s just beyond me!”

When pressed for examples of not succumbing to hypocrisy in his own family life, he says that his parents taught him and his siblings the importance of prayer and then never allowed them to miss any, even if it meant praying in the middle of Disneyland. “Our dad taught us that while there might be a time for fun and play, it never comes at the expense of giving up our duties to Allah. And since he was always the first to stand up for prayer, we just naturally followed.”

Another experienced mother gave me this age-old advice, “You can teach your kids the rules of prayer all you want, but if you’re not going to pray, they’re not going to pray. Children learn from what their parents do, not just what they say.”

“But it’s not enough to just teach your children to pray,” interjects another mother who was raised a secular Jew but is now Muslim. “What about how you pray? Do you have presence in your prayer? Are you sad if you ever miss a prayer? Those lessons are all just as important as learning to pray.”

I was once working with an African-American convert friend when the time for Maghrib prayer came in. I had been busy taking care of some tasks, but I stopped and said, “Well, I guess I better go get my prayer out of the way.”

Startled, she looked up and then chuckled. “In our house, we say we’re going to get prayer ‘in the way’.”

SubhanAllah, what a difference one word makes! What a difference in attitude!

“I was sitting in my room reciting my morning dhikr while the kids were completing an art project in the family room,” an Egyptian friend shared with me the other day. “It suddenly struck me that I always recite my litanies in private, so I got up and joined them in their area of the house. They continued to paint while I continued with my prayers. They need to see me doing this…and they need to see me doing this happily.”

The other day one of my sons became frustrated while searching for an elusive pencil in the writing desk. He shoved papers aside and slammed the drawer shut when no pencil materialized, grumbling the entire time. I began to lecture him about the merits of patience when I realized that I had behaved in the exact same manner while looking for my keys a few days earlier. Children really are like sponges; they soak in everything around them. “Garbage in, garbage out,” cautions one teacher.

“Children need to see that Islam ‘worked’ in our home,” says another scholar. “Islam isn’t just about praying and fasting and charity. Islam is an attitude that must be infused in the mundane day-to-day dealings with life. Do parents treat each other with respect? How do they react to the ups and downs of life? Do they have a sense of civic responsibility? Children are constantly learning from their parents, even when the parents don’t think they have anything to teach.”

6.) I wasn’t afraid to be the Bad Guy, but I never behaved badly.

I know more than one mother who doesn’t feel comfortable telling her child to pray or maybe to dress more modestly, thinking that her kid will be “mad” at her if she starts holding him/her to higher standards. I know of a couple of fathers who have turned a blind eye to certain immoral behaviors witnessed in their teenagers, never once speaking out, telling their exasperated wives, “I don’t want to judge our kids. It’s a tough age and they have to fit in.”

The adults I’ve asked for parenting advice had no qualms about upsetting their children from time to time.

“There were times when I knew that I shouldn’t go to this place or go out with that person, but I would ask Ammi anyway, wanting her to be the one to put her foot down…and she always did,” remembers my brother. “Kids want their parents to set limits and be authority figures, even if they won’t admit it.”

“I enjoy my children’s company; we laugh together, we read the same books, we even share each other’s clothes,” chuckles one mother of two teenage daughters who race to give up their seats for her. “But at the end of the day, they know that I am their Mother. I am friendly with them, but they cannot treat me like a girlfriend.”

“Weakness in those who are supposed to be in a position of authority only invites contempt,” contends a mother of two. “It’s important to know who’s boss.”

One father of four and former high school valedictorian looks back on his youth and laughs appreciatively, “My mother didn’t worry about not ‘rocking the boat’ when we were in high school. She was willing to capsize the boat if she found us doing something that wasn’t okay with her!”

Other parents impressed upon me the importance of having high expectations of their children. “We have to gently push kids out of their comfort zones,” an Afghan father says. “If you expect more, your kids will often pleasantly surprise you, but it’s important to communicate those expectations.”

A single mother I know always assumed that her children would eventually begin praying simply because they saw that prayer was a priority for her. When a friend asked her why her ten-year-old daughter didn’t join the other girls for prayer, this mom realized that she had never communicated her hopes to her own daughter. “It was only a matter of discussing it!” she exclaims with genuine surprise. “I sat her down for a serious ‘grown-up’ talk. I said, ‘Honey, you’re older now and prayer needs to be a regular part of your routine.’ She listened so attentively! When Asr came in, she ran to get her prayer rug and misbaha (prayer beads) and joined me for salaah. She’s the one who wakes me for Fajr now. It’s almost as if she was just waiting for me to tell her, ‘This is what I expect of you’.”

While these parents were quick to lay down the law with their children, there was one “old world law” that nearly all of them shied away from — corporal punishment. “We did not hit our children,” most of them say adamantly.

“Well, there might be a place for a good old-fashioned spanking every now and then,” argues a mother of four college students. “When my daughter was four years old, she ran out in public without her underwear on for the umpteenth time. In my opinion, it was too dangerous to let her keep getting away with that kind of behavior, so I finally let her have it. She got the message and never forgot it…and I never had to spank her again.”

Physically beating your children for the simplest infractions seemed to be an acceptable mode of discipline a generation or so ago. The parents I spoke with are loath to raise their hands on their kids. “Every time you hit your kids, you have to keep upping the levels,” a financial analyst tells me. “I knew of a parent who used to twist her kids’ ears. After a while, that had no effect, so she started smacking them on their hands. When the desired behaviors were no longer obtained using that method, she resorted to swatting them on their bottoms and shaking them in frustration. I mean, where does it end?”

I spent a good portion of the afternoon just yesterday baking banana crumb muffins from scratch. I offered one to a son of mine and sent him out on the back deck to enjoy his snack. As I watched in horror from the kitchen window, I saw him breaking off big chunks of the fresh muffin and forcefully slamming them down on to the floorboards outside. I rushed out the door and surveyed the crumbs all over the deck, the same deck I had washed just that morning. “What are you doing?!” I screeched.

He looked up in surprise. “Oh.”

“WHAT are you doing?!”

“I’m trying to kill a spider that’s bothering me.”

I clenched my hands at my side and whispered through gritted teeth, “Son, please walk away from me right now. I’m very upset and I am sure that I will spank you if you are near me and this mess. I need time to cool off, so you better run.”

His eyes grew wide and he scampered off.

I’m so grateful that Allah Subhana wa Ta’ala allowed me to restrain myself in that moment of anger. The crumbs were easily swept up, there were still plenty of muffins left, my son learned his lesson about not wasting food (and not killing innocent spiders in their natural habitat), and I was eventually able to laugh at his logic for dealing with arachnids…but only after an hour had passed. Letting out my frustration on him by hitting him might have felt good in that moment, but the resulting misery would have lasted much longer…for the both of us.

7.) I always kept them close by.

I wasn’t surprised to see that nearly all of the families I spoke with had the mother at home caring for the children, but I was shocked by how many of the families shared the same steadfast rule — “No sleepovers.”

“Every night I know which bed my kid is sleeping in,” says a homeschooling mom of two and wife of a university professor. “And that bed is one I can check on whenever I want.”

“Friends were always welcome to come to our home for sleepovers,” reminisces a young woman who grew up with a twin brother. “My mom went all out — popcorn during midnight games of Monopoly, pancakes for breakfast, privacy for chatting and giggling late into the night. But we could never sleep in anyone else’s home unless our parents were there with us.”

“I saw too many weird things in other friends’ homes when I was younger…and that was just during the daytime,” remembers an attorney and father of three. “The first time my best friend saw a dirty magazine was when he spent the night at his neighbor’s house. I might have resented their strictness a bit when I was younger, but in my heart I knew that my parents were right to keep us in our clean, safe, and cozy home.”

“I never let them go far from me when they were little,” explains a mother of two when asked by me how to raise a dutiful son like hers. “My kids could have gone on camping trips and overnight field trips with other parents as chaperones, but unless my husband or I were there, they didn’t go. My husband was once willing to consider a prestigious boarding school for one of our ‘gifted’ children, but I said, ‘No way.’ I just couldn’t let my family be split in different directions; the time we had with them was already short enough.”

“No nannies or day-cares for our family,” says a grandmother of five. “And don’t think that I wasn’t tempted! I raised three babies on my own without any help; I didn’t have parents or in-laws nearby. A one-income-family meant that we only took local vacations and drove second-hand cars. We lived in a small home. I went back to work only after the kids were in school, but I was always at home in time to greet them with a smile, a hug, and an after-school snack. Even now, my grown children tell me that the smell of peanut butter and jelly gives them a feeling of security.”

Another mother of four, who is able to afford live-in help, made an agreement with her husband long ago that while the maid would be available to help with laundry, cleaning, and grocery shopping, all of the actual food preparation and childcare would be done exclusively by the parents. “My husband thinks dinner comes together by ‘magic’,” laughs this stay-at-home mom with a master’s degree in business. “But, masha’Allah, he is very helpful with the children, so I get my fair share of ‘breaks’. When we need a night out for ourselves, we rely on the grandparents or my sister…but never strangers.”

8.) We didn’t spoil our kids nor did we praise them too much.

“It’s important to me that my kids don’t grow up ingrained in this Sibling Society,” a college professor and father of three tells me.

When asked the definition of a “sibling society”, he explains that it’s the environment where grown adults behave and are treated like children. “We’ve extended adolescence where we excuse bad behavior by saying, ‘Oh, he’s just going through that rebellious phase. He’s only sixteen; he’ll outgrow it.’ Outgrow it when? Throughout history, puberty has been considered the onset of adulthood; nowadays we have university graduates who behave like babies — tantrums, irresponsible behavior, no sense of accountability.”

This father celebrates his children’s birthdays every year by giving them a new toy…and a new duty. “When my son turns seven, he’ll get that monster truck he’s been craving, but he’ll also get a new responsibility for the year — he has to make sure that all the doors in the house are locked before going to bed.”

He and his wife believe that having responsibilities, even small ones, inculcates in children a sense of contribution and chivalry.

I was recently given cause to reflect when a friend of mine politely refused an invitation for her daughter to recite her award-winning poem at a masjid event. “Masha’Allah, she has received a lot attention and praise this past week for that poem,” she sighed. “The other day she just happened to be interviewed for a local science program on television too. I just don’t think it’s beneficial for her nafs (ego) to be in the spotlight too much, so I’m going to have to say ‘no’.”

This mother believes that praise becomes “cheap” when it is given for that which children have no control over; she feels that kids should have to “earn” the praise that comes their way. “What’s the point in telling a child who always gets A’s, ‘You’re so smart’? Or telling a pretty child, ‘You’re so beautiful’? Telling a child who’s struggled through an assignment, ‘I’m proud of how hard you worked on that difficult worksheet’ is so much more meaningful.”

One mother who is often asked the secret behind her kids’ contentment with life has this theory to offer: “It’s actually something I’ve discovered by accident. We have never been motivated to buy the latest gadgets and gizmos for our kids. To compensate for the things that we won’t buy, we give them something that’s free yet still very valuable — our time. I bake with them, their dad wrestles. We snuggle on the couch and read together. I think they’re rarely dissatisfied with material goods because they are just so grateful for what little they do get. They don’t have a sense of entitlement. And since whining has never worked anyway, they just don’t bother.”

The father adds, “Well, to be honest, we are spoiling them, except that we’re spoiling them with something that’s lasting, not fleeting — our love.”

9.) Talk to your kids…with love.

I was once singing “Rain, rain, go away; Come again another day; Shaan and Ameen want to play” with my kids when my brother interrupted us.

“Don’t teach them that! Rain is a blessing! You don’t want them rejecting blessings just because they want ‘fun’,” he rebuked me.

After experimenting with the lyrics, we ended up singing, “Rain, rain, pour, pour, pour; You’re a mercy from our Lord; Rain, rain, fall on me; I turn to Allah gratefully.” To this day, whenever dark clouds dampen a day that they had hoped to spend outside, my kids console one another by saying, “It’s okay. California needs the rain. Allah is being Kind to us.”

This suggestion by my brother is a reminder of another piece of advice that families have repeatedly given me — “Never miss out on a teaching moment.”

“When your kids are younger, you should take advantage of every opportunity to guide them, remind them, advise them,” instructs an Iraqi father of two girls. “Of course, there’s a fine line between nagging and teaching, between being judgmental and being perceptive. Nevertheless, I encourage my children to look at everything through ‘the eye of discernment’. What does everything around us mean? Why is that billboard saying that their brand of soda will guarantee a successful party? What was the real reason that car driver honked his horn like that? Why does this movie make parents look like bumbling fools? Is having to wait in a long line ever a reason to lose your temper with a bank teller? Talk, talk, talk to your kids! Even if they don’t say anything, believe me, they’re listening!”

“I want to get my ‘voice’ into my kids’ heads while they’re young,” says one mom. “There are so many forces competing for our kids’ minds; I want to get in while I can. There will come a time when we all have to let go, but I’m hopeful that my children will always remember their root values once they’re out on their own, insha’Allah.”

The families I’ve admired have all made a point of being “present” with their children, answering their questions patiently and respectfully, not getting annoyed with their seemingly random thoughts, laughing appreciatively at their jokes, and maintaining eye contact when the children wanted to chat. The kids feel that they can ask any question and discuss any subject without any judgment on the part of the parents.

“You know that cliche ‘There’s no such thing as a dumb question’?” asks a Persian friend who is also a Fulbright scholar. “Well, that was always true in our family. I could ask my mom anything, and I was always confident that I would get an honest answer. There were times when I was told that I would have to wait a bit before she was ready to teach me certain truths, but I was able to be patient because I knew that the truth was eventually coming.”

Another respected family counselor cautions parents to beware the trap of “over-talking and over-respecting” your sons and daughters. “Children are little people with little hearts and they need to be treated with dignity and respect so that their feelings aren’t hurt,” she admits. “But there’s no need to explain and justify every little thing to your child — ‘Honey, please, you need to let me do this so that then I can do that. And once I do that, I’ll be able to take care of this. And once I do this, then I can read to you. Is that all right?’…No! Sometimes you just need to make it clear to the child: ‘Because I said so’…And they need to be okay with that too.”

An Arab girlfriend once described how her mother would react when she and her siblings misbehaved as children. “May Allah guide you!” she would yell in anger. “May Allah have mercy on all of us!” The inevitable result was that her daughter grew up to be a mother of twins who now prays for her children instead of cursing them when she is at the height of her own frustration.

Just today Shaan told me about how his younger cousin reacted after he watched Ameen splatter a mud ball against a wooden fence. “Mama, he yelled, ‘SubhanAllah! Allahu Akbar!’” my son related with amusement. “He’s just like his dad; he says the same things Khaloo (Uncle) does.”

10.) They had a pious father who engaged them.

Yes, there are pious mothers who have raised wonderful Muslim kids despite having husbands who not only didn’t support them, but even disapproved of their attempts to teach their kids the basics about the deen. And there are single moms who are doing an incredible service to the Ummah by sacrificing, striving, and successfully raising the next generation of believers. We all are more than aware that the mother is the first madrassa (school). And there are examples after examples of mothers who spend the night on the prayer mat weeping in prostration for the future of their families; their secrets are known only to Allah.

But over and over I have seen lackadaisical mothers with pious husbands…and the kids have turned towards their fathers like flowers to the sun. How many of us know of young adults who roll their eyes at their mothers’ religiosity while holding their “fun-loving”, worldly, secular fathers up as paragons of rationalism and intelligence? There is a power that fathers have over their offspring, the depth of which we can never fully comprehend; the truth manifests itself when we witness which parent the kid most often chooses to emulate.

A majority of the families I spoke with extolled the virtues of the Amir of the House: the man who led his children in congregational prayer, the father who gently but firmly encouraged both his son’s and his daughter’s sense of modesty, the husband who fulfilled his wife’s rights without demanding his own, the responsible breadwinner, the dad who put a stop to gossip the moment it started, the patriarch who was eager to hasten to the masjid to join the jama’ah (congregation), the Muslim who held fast to his principles (whether it was a father who refused to allow his co-workers to shorten his name from “Mohammad” to “Mo” or the dad who wouldn’t travel on Fridays so that his Jumah prayer wouldn’t be jeopardized). The grown children remember their father’s integrity and quiet examples long after they have entered parenthood on their own, voluntarily choosing to mold their own lives in honor of a man who didn’t force his way of life down their throats when they were younger.

“My mother lectured and taught and scolded and reminded us the entire time we were growing up,” one mother of three sons remembers with amusement. “My father told me maybe only five things related to the deen my whole life…and yet I remember every single one; I’ve never forgotten. I only wish he had shared his thoughts with me more often.”

Back in junior high school, I remember repeating the words of an older cousin as I was studying for an exam at the kitchen table. “If only Allah allows me to get an A on this final, I’ll pray a hundred rakaats to Him in gratitude,” I sighed as I turned yet another page.

My father looked up from his newspaper. “Allah doesn’t need your prayers,” he gently chided. “If you want to get an A, study hard and pray for His help at the same time. You don’t need to bribe Allah.”

Years later, I sat in the class of a learned shaykh and took down these notes of instruction: “Don’t be mercantile in your religion. Lose the attitude of ‘Pay me and I’ll worship You.’”

The truth resonated with me because I had already heard it from the lips of my beloved father twenty-five years earlier.rawpixel-com-633849-unsplash.jpg

IN CONCLUSION

While I have always been a fan of “how to” and “top ten” lists, I have never allowed myself to be deluded into believing that there are any guarantees for raising righteous children. It hasn’t been lost on me that the greatest man in humanity, the Prophet Muhammad (salallaahu alaihi wasallam), was intially raised by a single mom…and that too after being sent away to live amongst the bedouins in the desert while still an infant. Many of the “rules” here didn’t apply to his blessed life. His was a singular circumstance, having been raised by Allah Subhana wa Ta’ala Himself. All we can do is try to lay out a safe framework in hopes of trying to reach what he (salallaahu alaihi wasallam) reached through Allah’s largesse.

If we want to be successful at something, it behooves us to look at those who have succeeded before us. Each of us has something we can learn from the experiences of another.

There may be some who will read through the list of tips I have collected and think, “We didn’t do any of those things, yet our kids turned out just fine!”

To them, I say, “Alhamdulillah!” It’s true that there are many kids who didn’t have a single one of these “rules” applied to their lives, and, by the Grace and Mercy of Allah, have developed into exemplary Muslims.

And without going into unnecessary details, I will say that I have also seen the most pious, practicing, loving parents be disappointed by their children at every turn. These parents are in the company of prophets like Prophet Adam and Prophet Nuh (upon whom be peace) who had sons who rejected their teachings — yet these were fathers who were from among the best of humanity, parents who were in a constant state of supplication and prayer, who received guidance from Above. We can only pray that Allah Subhana wa Ta’ala will not test us through our children the way He tested these great men and their wives. It’s interesting to note that many of the men and women in my article have confessed that there were times they felt that they had failed in their duties as parents but took heart knowing that with Allah’s Help all obstacles could be overcome. Eventually, they all came to the conclusion that there was only “so much” they could do; they needed to submit to Allah’s will.

There is great comfort in knowing that parents will be rewarded not for how our children “turn out” but for the intentions we had while raising them, for the steps we took to facilitate their deeni success. All we can do is take the means; the end is up to Allah. “Even if one’s kids go astray,” advises a scholar, “one should always leave a ‘door’ open for them and pray that they will one day ‘come back’. We should never cut off relations; we should never despair of Allah’s Mercy and Guidance.”

“Parenting and living in this dunya is such a struggle,” reflects one friend. “We have aspirations of who we want to be as parents and we strive to achieve them, and then are saddened by seeing our failures. I guess it’s really about the courage to continue to renew one’s intentions and to pray for tawfiq (success).”

None of the parents I interviewed felt “safe” or believed that they had won and were now done with their work. They continued to pray for daily tawfiq long after everyone had started lauding them for the fine job they had done raising their children. “It doesn’t matter how wonderfully we live our lives,” says one local scholar and father of two girls. “What really matters is how we end our lives (husn al-khatima)…we’re not safe until we die with imaan (faith) in our hearts.”

It is with that knowledge that we pray that Allah Subhana wa Ta’ala grants us the dua for “a pure progeny” that He granted Prophet Ibrahim, Prophet Zakariya, and the mother of Maryam (upon them all be peace) in the Holy Quran. We pray that we are able to be worthy teachers for our children who will carry this noble religion on, a precious trust to be handed from one generation to the next. May we not be “the weak link”. Aameen.

“O my Lord! Make me one who establishes regular Prayer, and also (raise such) among my offspring.
O our Lord! And accept Thou my Prayer.
O our Lord! Cover (us) with Thy Forgiveness — me, my parents, and (all) Believers,
On the Day that the Reckoning will be established!”
~ The Holy Quran (14:40)

MISCELLANEOUS RECOMMENDATIONS

As far as seerah literature for the young is concerned, I have found that Leila Azzam’s “Life of the Prophet Muhammad (salallaahu alaihi wasallam)” adequately fits all of my family’s needs. A summary of Martin Ling’s excellent adult version of the Prophet’s biography, this book is often used to teach university students, so one can rest assured that it is written with an eye for proper grammar and punctuation, something sadly missing in many of our children’s Islamic textbooks today. Parents of younger kids need not worry that the material might be too sophisticated for their little ones; my friend was able to use this same book to teach my preschool-aged son and his friends about the Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wasallam). One can only imagine my delight when my five-year-old repeatedly turned to me in the middle of my adult Seerah class at the mosque to excitedly tug on my arm and whisper, “Hey, I know about Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) saying ‘Ahad, ahad’!…Mama, I learned about Buraq in my class!…Guess what? Auntie just taught us about Ghar-e-Thawr today!”

On the topic of Islamic media, it is my pleasure to introduce readers to a relatively new nasheed artist on the scene known as “Talib al-Habib”. His beautiful nasheed, “Songs of Innocence”, never fails to bring tears to my eyes. The lyrics of that one song contain all of the advice any parent would want to pass on to his/her child, speaking to the hearts of mothers and fathers everywhere, a beautiful summation of all of our hopes and desires for our children. Time and time again, I have found continuous benefit in his music set only to a daff (hand drum). I was recently reviewing some of the basic points of aqueedah (Islamic creed) with my children, encouraging them to memorize a list of points, when they suddenly began singing the words to Talib al-Habib’s “Iman: Articles of Faith”. I realized then that I didn’t need to teach them anything on that subject; they had already unwittingly memorized the articles of faith set to a sweetly melodic tune. I know I speak on behalf of all parents when I emphasize how rewarding it is to discover so-called “entertainment” which ends up being an instrument for instruction as well.

Children

By Mawlana Muhammad Saleem Dhorat hafidhahullah

Children are a Blessing

Being gifted with children is a great blessing from Allah (subanahu wa ta’aala). For any blessing we receive we need to do shukr, i.e. be grateful to Allah (subhanahu wa ta’aala). True shukr meets the following requirements:

1. Realise the blessing is the result of the Grace of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’aala) and that it has come to you without your being deserving of it.

2. Acknowledge your gratitude in your heart and express it verbally as well.

3. Use the blessing in the way Allah (subhanahu wa ta’aala) wants you to, and observe the rules and limits He (subhanahu wa ta’aala) has set for it.

As with all blessings, Allah (subhanahu wa ta’aala) has set rules and limits regarding the blessing of children too, e.g. when to be lenient, when to reprimand, what to teach them, what to keep them away from etc. Following these rules when dealing with children is called ta’leem (education) and tarbiyyah (upbringing).


Giving children correct ta’leem and tarbiyyah is a major responsibility of parents. If they fail to make proper arrangements for the ta’leem of their children and do not give them proper tarbiyyah, they will face severe questioning on the Day of Reckoning. Failure to provide children with ta’l?m and tarbiyyah is failure to do shukr for the blessing of children.

Sending children to Madrasah from the age of 5 to the age of 12 and completely handing over the responsibility of ta’leem and tarbiyyah to their teachers is not sufficient or satisfactory. Even after enrolling their children in a madrasah, parents need to keep abreast of how they are learning and how their conduct and character are forming.

How Much Ta’leem?

Every child needs to be educated to the extent that he/she becomes aware of all the questions of halaal and haraam that are likely to confront an average person in life. Every child should know what is fard and w?jib and what is optional, and the difference between makrooh tahrimi, which entails sin, and makrooh tanzihi, which does not.

In addition to this, every child needs to understand that when confronted with any situation in life that he/she has no knowledge about then a qualified ‘alim or mufti needs to be consulted. The masaa’il related to business are an example; they are not taught as standard, for every child will not need them, but when a child grows up to become a businessman he needs to acknowledge the need to consult a mufti at every step in order to learn the masaa’il of business.

Where to Obtain ‘Ilm From

“Truly this ‘ilm is Deen, so be careful who you take your Deen from.”

In today’s age in particular, when authentic and inauthentic ‘ilm are both widespread, correct ta’leem is essential. People nowadays resort to the internet if they want to know something and google provides them with masses of information on the masaa’il they are looking for, without any check on authenticity. Part of ta’leem is to instruct children in the correct avenues for acquiring ‘ilm.

In Islam, great importance is given to the chains of teachers and students that go back to the fountainhead of ‘ilm, Ras?lull?h (sallalaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). When the source of ‘ilm is authentic, the ‘ilm taken from that source will also be authentic, therefore the source of ‘ilm should be someone linked to a chain of authentic teachers and who is regarded as authentic by the contemporary ‘ulama

Tarbiyyah

Tarbiyyah means training your children’s minds and hearts in such a way that they live their lives according to the ta’l?m they receive. It is not enough, for example, just to teach them that alcohol is haraam; it is also necessary to nurture within them love for Allah (subhanahu wa ta’aala) and His commands and fear of His displeasure and Jahannam, so that a genuine desire not to displease Allah (subhanahu wa ta’aala) and fear of the consequences of their actions are what drive them to abstain from alcohol.

Without this sort of tarbiyyah, youngsters will know that alcohol, drugs, zina, theft etc. are haraam yet still indulge in them. So ta’leem and tarbiyyah are two distinct things.

Take the example of salaah. A child of seven receives the ta’leem that salaah five times a day is fardh, and his father also makes him go with him to the masjid for salaah regularly.

Then when the child reaches his teens he stops going for salaah. The father complains that his child used to be so good and has suddenly turned bad, whereas it is the failure of the father to do tarbiyyah of his child’s mind and heart about salaah that is the real cause of the child abandoning salaah after reaching the age of independence.

The Power of Tarbiyyah

Tarbiyyah should result in children never opposing the ‘ilm they learned, no matter what the circumstances. They should have the message firmly ingrained in their minds that Allah (subhanahu wa ta’aala) is the One who controls benefit and harm, andto obey Him is to please Him and to disobey Him is to displease Him. And seeing as He controls benefit and harm, it is not possible for someone to lose out by pleasing Him, whatever the circumstances, even though the intellect may argue differently.

An episode from the life of Shaykh ‘Abd-ul-Qadir Jilaani sufficiently illustrates this point. His mother did his tarbiyyah properly and one of the points she stressed to him was to always tell the truth and never lie. She then sent him away to study ‘ilm, cleverly sewing some money into his clothing so that it would not be stolen on the journey. He did run into bandits on the way though, and when they asked if he had anything valuable he told them he had money and where it was hidden.

When the chief of the bandits asked him why he had admitted he had money, he said simply that his mother had taught him always to tell the truth, for it pleases Allah (subhanahu wa ta’aala).

Shaytaan always tricks people by telling them of all the potential harms of telling the truth and the potential benefits of lying, but the tarbiyyah of his mother meant he understood that benefit can only come from obeying pleasing Allah (subhanahu wa ta’aala). The bandits were greatly moved and repented.

Some Advice on Tarbiyyah

In order to do tarbiyyah properly, parents should show love to their children, be their friends,give them rewards for good behaviour and sit and talk with them. They should read stories of our pious predecessors to them and also take them into the companyof the ‘ulam? and mashayikh.

If a child makes a mistake, parents should not ignore tarbiyyah and just suffice with a reprimand.

Today’s mistakes, if left untended, will grow and grow. If, for example, a child tells a lie then the parents should understand that the sickness of lying is in the child’s heart and will not be removed by just shouting or getting angry with the child. Concerned parents should refer to the experts, the mash?yikh, for a solution. If the sickness is not cured through tarbiyyah then the child will go on lying, only in ways that his parents will not detect.

Finally, it should be understood that being harsh and overly strict with children is not tarbiyyah. Love is what is needed. If children are treated with love 90% of the time then on the rare occasion’s parents do get angry for some reason the child will feel ashamed rather than resentful.

May Allah (subhanahu wa ta’aala) grant all parents the ability to be truly grateful for the great blessing they have been given in the form of children. And may He (subhanahu wa ta’aala) also grant them the ability to fulfil the requirements of shukr by ensuring that ta’leem and tarbiyyah are properly carried out. Ameen.