Making the Most of the First Ten Years

Making the Most of the First Ten Years

By Ambreen Salman – Writer, Translator, and Editor of a book on women health and hygiene matters

First Things to Teach

When your child starts to speak, the first thing s/he should be taught is Allah’s (swt) name. The Prophet (sa) said: “When your offspring starts speaking, teach him to recite La Illaha Illa Allah and never fear about his end. When the milk teeth are uprooted, order your child to observe prayers.” (Muslim)

It is the mother’s duty to inculcate with every drop of milk she feeds her baby the belief in one Allah (swt), devotion to the Prophet (sa) and love of the religion.

Avoid Fear

Avoid frightening your children. Fear instilled in the mind of children in the early years overshadows their mind and intellect for life and renders them incapable of achieving success in life. Make it a point not to shout at, reproach or rebuke children on trivial matters. Make an affectionate effort to train children to form good habits with devotion and good sense, instead of expressing annoyance at their mistakes. However, children should know that you will never conform to anything that is against the religion.

Affectionate Gestures

Always treat your children with affection and love. Keep them healthy by providing for their needs and requirements only by Halal means. Pat the heads of your children with tenderness, seat them in your lap, cuddle them and treat them with good humor. Do not rule over them as tyrants. Such an attitude stunts the growth of affectionate sentiments towards parents in the hearts of children, destroys their self-confidence and adversely affects the development of their inborn facilities.

Concentrate all your efforts on training and educating your children, so that such good virtues as honesty, piety, loyalty and love are harboured in them. The Prophet (sa) said: “The best gift that a father can bestow upon his son is to arrange good education and training for him.” (Mishkat)

Inculcating Prayer Habits

When children attain the age of seven years, teach them Salah and urge them to observe it regularly. Take them to the mosque with you to arouse their interest. If children neglect to observe prayers when they have reached the age of ten, administer suitable punishment through words and actions. Make it absolutely clear that you will not tolerate their evasion of performing prayers. Make it a habit to keep your children clean and neat. Keep their dress pure. However, avoid excessive adornment in dressing them up.

Accountability in Private

In order to maintain the dignity of your children, never point out their faults in public and strictly abstain from degrading or hurting their self-respect. Instead, praise them generously to boost their ego and morale. Make constant endeavor to encourage them and to foster self-confidence in them.

For inculcating in them the spirit of Islam, keep on narrating the stories of Prophets and the Sahabahs. The stories of their valour and bravery will definitely prove to be an inspiring model for them to look up to. Parents are also effective role models for their children. Your own life serves as a mute and permanent precept for your child. Children constantly learn and adopt lessons from the conduct of their parents.

Balancing a Budget – A Wife’s Predicament

Balancing a Budget – A Wife’s Predicament

By Umm Isam – Writer and human resource trainer

Maurice Baring once said: “If you want to know what the Lord thinks of money, you have only to look at those to whom He gives it.” I couldn’t help but laugh heartily. Images of many people went through my mind; I feel that most of them are undeserving of the privileges they enjoy, yet there they are rich and rolling in bucks. Who are we to say?

Now, let’s think in terms of our personal relationships and explore whether money really makes a marriage happier.

In At-Tabaqat, it is narrated that Fatimah (rta), the Prophet’s (sa) daughter, used to go hungry for days. On a particular day, Ali (rta) noticed that she looked very pale and weak. He enquired: “What is the matter with you, Fatima?” Fatimah (rta) answered: “It has been three days, and we haven’t found anything to eat in the house.” Ali (rta) asked: “Why didn’t you inform me?” She replied: “On the night of our wedding, my father, the Messenger of Allah (sa), advised me: ‘O Fatima, if Ali brings you something, eat it, and if he does not, do not ask him.’”

How many of us have had to starve for weeks? The gravest challenge that we face is living within our means. And, believe me, if we brace ourselves and our children for some sacrifice, patience, conditioning and a shift in our perception of ourselves and others, we can live within any amount of income. Try living by the following rules and experience the liberation yourself:

  1. Give yourself no option but to live within your income. Looking in all directions for aid and waiting for someone to bail you out (parents, siblings and friends) should be completely unacceptable.
  2. Take pride in your husband’s abilities and what he is able to bring to the family. If you wear a cotton outfit and your sister wears silk, it does not indicate your husband’s incapability to provide for more. Rather, cotton is what Allah (swt) has ordained for you to wear.
  3. Spend time in the company of those who are content with their provisions, rather than those who complain to death. Contentment doesn’t mean being unambitious; it means submitting to Allah’s (swt) will and being happy with it.
  4. Always remember our Prophet (sa) chose poverty over the riches of the world. There is great wisdom behind it. If you own little, you will be accountable for less.
  5. Do not choose a lifestyle that is not supported by your income. It will only cause misery and family rifts; it may also open doors to Haram (impermissible) earnings.
  6. Never befriend people who size you up by the weight of your wallet. Those who love your family will accept you the way you are.
  7. Similarly, although Islam doesn’t allow severing familial ties, you can restrict your family’s involvement with relatives, if you fear falling into Hasad (envy) or a rat race.
  8. Try to stay off TV, magazines and any public places that tempt you and your family with their hypnotizing lures.
  9. Pray to Allah (swt) for a content and peaceful heart that longs to stay happy in whatever circumstances Allah (swt) keeps it in.
  10. Lastly, a widow once shared: “Each morning, it should be enough for every wife to find her husband beside her, breathing. Many women have been deprived of this blessing as their better halves have left them alone in this journey of life.”

A Respectable Household Budget

Regardless of your monthly income, following are some fixed or varied costs that households may incur, along with suggestions to streamline expenditure and release financial hardships, Insha’Allah:


Fixed costs
Zakah This is a must. If are eligible, pay Zakah even if you have to sell some of your gold to do so.
Loan repayment To ensure future credibility, pay back your loan in installments as early as possible.
Suggestions to reduce expenses under extreme financial difficulties
House rent Consider sharing space with another married sibling or your parents (if they are independent) to divide the cost.
Home maintenance If the above is considered, maintenance cost can also be divided among family members. Otherwise, keep minimum household stuff to reduce wear and tear.
Salaries of servants Delegate home chores to each family member (including boys), without employing servants and thus saving the cost.
Grocery and eatables Shop as per need. Look out for discounts and bargains. Use local products that are cheaper. Cut down on wasteful expenditure of snacking. Cook less variety of dishes for each meal. Try making more curries.
Utility bills Make all family members understand the importance of conserving resources — electricity, water and gas. Sleep in one room to run one AC for a few hours only. Use energy saving bulbs. Use buckets instead of showers for bathing. Fix all leaking faucets and toilets. Use the geyser only in winters.
Toiletries Dilute concentrated detergents for dish washing by adding water. The same can be done for shampoos. Do not keep out entire bottles of creams, powder and lotions. Ration them according to weeks, especially if you have small children, to prevent wastage.
Schooling Choose your kids’ school for its affordability (not popularity), as schooling consumes nearly 45% of your salary. It should be close to home. Home education is a very sane and popular choice for many moms these days. You can join their network at If you are unsure, try with younger kids first to gain confidence.
Fuel Try walking to get groceries or other chores close by. Cycling is also a possible alternative for kids.
Entertainment Go to places that are free of cost, such as the beach, parks and nature walks. Pack a picnic meal to save cost of food, especially beverages.
Sadaqah No matter how much costs pinch, maintain a steady payment of Sadaqah to the deserving, even if it is just Rs.10 per month. Doing so will maximize your Rizq, Insha’Allah.


Ideas for generating a support income for your family:

  1. Work from home for a few hours in a skill you have mastered. It could be catering, offering tuitions, writing for publications, computer-based skills, etc.
  2. Pool in a kitty/committee with trustworthy friends, family members, or colleagues, especially for the months in which you need to pay taxes, give children’s school fees, prepare for Eids, etc.
  3. Invest in Islamic institutions that are interest-free.

The Art of Storytelling

The Art of Storytelling

By Sabina Rizwan Khan – Freelance writer and certified Youth Trainer

I still remember the amazing stories my father used to tell me when I was a kid. He was a great storyteller, and he still is. Every night before putting me to bed, he would tell me enchanting tales. He would mention each and every detail; he would describe the ambiance from the costumes and props to the funny names of characters. He would even change his voice and act the story out for me. These are among my best childhood memories.

All human beings have an innate need to hear and tell stories and to have a story to live by. Every family has a story which defines it, distinguishes it from the rest and stands for the values transmitted. Stories of family background represent how the family has grown into what it is today, what customs have prevailed from older times and how the thinking of people has evolved over the years.

When history was not recorded, there were stories. Stories handed down from parents to children were the prime means of cultural roots. This is very important in its own way, because I believe those who are not conscious of their history are fated to repeat its mistakes. In olden days, tribal people valued the stories of their ancestors as their most cherished and precious treasure.

My father’s stories helped me learn. I count them as one of the main reasons behind my creativity and ability to pen down my feelings.

While listening to a story, our sense of hearing is involved; naturally, our imagination becomes stronger as we try to visualize environments and characters in our own way.

Stories are not merely a source of entertainment for young ones – they provide us with a sense of familiarity of the real world. Stories transmit important information, values and morals. The informal sittings of storytelling are an indirect way of family communication, where every individual participates and a lasting bond is established.

Storytelling allows children to relate to personal experiences and develop their own understanding and perceptions of the world. Stories facilitate every individual to learn something new, through which they can rediscover themselves.

Young people are inspired to ask questions, which is the very first step of learning. Stories have the strength to inculcate the right usage of words in the right context. As these contexts will be repeated in real life, learning will be reinforced for better mental development. Also, every member finds the liberty to agree or disagree with the morals and ethics of the story. This leads to intelligent debate and discussion between parents and children without any pressure to conform for the sake of agreement. Parents get to know their kids and kids get to understand the elders better.

Unfortunately, this beautiful tradition is diminishing in today’s times, where visuals have taken the place of the imaginative world. Now, children are more engrossed in television cartoons, video games and the internet, which in a way have damaged their natural imaginative capabilities. Storytelling has become an alien concept, to which many kids cannot relate any more. Even parents or elders do not have much time to engage children in such activities.

Our religion Islam is full of beautiful stories. Stories of the different Prophets have always been my favourite since childhood; I recall reading the stories of Musa (as), Yousuf (as) and Isa (as). Also, the stories of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (sa) are mesmerizing and enchanting with astounding moral lessons. If parents and teachers engage in storytelling in a captivating manner, I am sure it would help our children understand their religion better.

We need to revive the lost tradition of storytelling, in order to construct in our children a better understanding of life. The love for knowledge will be awakened in the youth only when they are intellectually nurtured at the basic level, and storytelling is an essential way to engage minds towards betterment.

Parent’s Resource

A highly recommended author for children aged 9-12 years is Michael Morpurgo. This award-winning writer has served as the Children’s Laureate from 2003 to 2005, taking him all over the UK to promote literacy and reading. His stories are special because they are sensitive, thought-provoking and heart-warming. If narrated by a parent to the child at bedtime, they can work wonders in helping children understand the realities of life and how to tackle them. They also provide excellent topics of discussion between a child and a parent, offering unique bonding opportunity