The Wonder Boys Who Became Great Men

July 11- wonder-boys

They were like a couple of scattered pearls during the life of the Prophet (sa), running to and fro like naughty children at any place and time. As their loving grandfather prostrated during earnest prayer, one of them would playfully climb up on his head. Like any innocent child, fond of sweet treats and naturally curious about environmental stimuli, one of them would pick up a date lying on the ground in Madinah and innocently put it into his mouth.

It was narrated that Aisha (rta) said: “The Prophet (sa) went out one morning wearing a striped cloak of black camel hair. Al-Hasan Ibn Ali (rta) came, and he enfolded him in the cloak; then, Al-Hussain (rta) came, and he enfolded him in it, then Fatimah (rta) came, and he enfolded her in it, then Ali (rta) came, and he enfolded him in it; then, he said: “Allah wishes only to remove Al-Rijs (evil deeds and sins) from you, O members of the family (of the Prophet (sa)), and to purify you with a thorough purification.” (Al-Ahzab 33:33) (Muslim)

The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Al-Hasan and Al-Hussain are the chiefs of the youth of Paradise, and Fatimah is the chief of their women.” (At-Tirmidhi, Ibn-Majah and Ahmad)

The Prophet’s (sa) grandsons, Hassan (rta) and Hussain (rta), grew up to be laudable leaders and heroes, who shunned worldly glory and honour. Despite their lineage, they didn’t feel “entitled” to occupying positions of authority and power over people. Their deaths as martyrs have raised their status and honourable mention even in this world. But we know that it is not just their blood connection that has earned them supreme success in the hereafter. As the Quran tells us, Prophet Nuh’s (as) pleas were of no avail for his son. He drowned because he didn’t submit to Allah’s (swt) commands.

Therefore, the question is: what did Hassan (rta) and Hussain (rta) do as youths that paved way for their lofty characters as adults?

  1. They were brought up on a solid foundation of Islamic morals.
  2. They had the correct Aqeedah in their hearts and witnessed it being confirmed by the actions of their parents and extended family.
  3. They were never denied the company and love of pious older people.
  4. Their chaste mother shunned the glitter and glamour of the life of this world.

Their mother will be the chief of the women of Paradise in the hereafter! Without a long string of intellectual achievements or accomplishments to her credit, she lived a life of hardship. She died very young, after living a life of forbearance in the face of abject poverty. Despite her short lifespan, she gave birth to and reared children, who not only carried forward her father’s mission, but also left notable marks in Islamic history.

Hassan (rta) and Hussain (rta) are role models for Muslim families today: reminders for new mothers that Tarbiyyah begins from conception and is pivotal in the early childhood years. For the youth, “Hussnayain” continue to belie the fact that “youth is wasted on the young”. Rather, when the foundation is strong, in very short lives, young people can achieve what the majority cannot accomplish in decades.


Youth: Future of the Ummah

cover - youth - Jul 11

Compiled by Tooba Mumtaz

It definitely goes without saying that the Muslim youth of today will be the leaders of the Ummah tomorrow. This is a role for which they have to be formally groomed, by their families, educational institutes, and the society at large. Today, the sad reality is that the youth are “lost” – they lack direction and they definitely are in dire need of role models to emulate and leaders to follow. So, what can be done to improve the situation and channel the youth towards a positive future?

Hiba interviewed a few prominent personalities, who have worked with the youth in different fields. These individuals included:

1)      Salman Asif Siddiqui: Director, Educational Resource Development Centre (ERDC), Educationist and Parent Counsellor.

2)      Amina Murad: Administrator, Star Links School and author of award-winning Flowers of Islam publications.

3)      Shujja-uddin Shaikh: Academic Director, Quran Academy.

4)      Saulat Pervez: teacher at Generations’ School, content researcher, and writer.

5)      Sumaira Dada: ex-teacher and writer.

The aforementioned individuals gave their valued input on three aspects:

Top three success strategies for working with the youth in order to motivate them to be the leaders of tomorrow

Salman Asif Siddiqui

1)      Respect the youth and nourish their confidence, self esteem and trust.

2)      Educate them about the culturally-rich history of Muslim leaders who were pioneers of the Islamic history/society. Tell them their success stories in the different fields of life.

3)      Thirdly, there should broaden their vision and keep the global perspective of humanity in mind, while being loyal to their regional identities. We want to produce world leaders.

Amina Murad

Act upon what you say

The youth need good contemporary role models to emulate. Be one of them: a sound practicing Muslim and follower of the Prophet (sa). Be a leader at home and in the community.

Communicate vision

Telling is not communication. Be visionary and give them a vision. Be their friend and show them ways of achieving their goal, despite the setbacks. Provide positive feedback to motivate them instead of continuous criticism. Help them focus by removing time wasters that sap their energy. Youth should be taught to find their special talent, develop it, and channelize their energy in that direction.

Involve them and channelize their energy

Muslim youth have fewer opportunities to channelize their energies. Authentic work experience and involvement in schools, colleges and family and community services will channelize their energies. Positive involvement will help them unleash their potential and help them gain confidence to work towards their vision. Their blurred vision of a glamorous world will be shattered and the harsh realities will excite them to share their resources with others. Leadership will thus follow.

Shujja-uddin Sheikh

First of all, we should clearly define success. It is crystal clear from the Quran and Sunnah that the ultimate success is that of the hereafter. As such, I propose the following strategies:

  1. Try to inculcate real faith (through company of pious people and teachings of Quran and Sunnah), as faith is the fundamental motivating force for good deeds.
  2. Get authentic knowledge of what is Halal and what is Haram (through the teachings of Quran and Sunnah); we cannot move forward towards success unless we know the right path ourselves.
  3. Keep in view the life of the Prophet (sa) – according to the Quran, his role model is the best, followed by the Companions of the Prophet (sa).

Saulat Pervez

  1. Keep the communication lines open — instead of micromanaging the youth, have a trust relationship where they can come to you to discuss any problem.
  2. Educate them not only in the traditional intellectual subjects, but also in emotional, mental, and social areas so that not only are their SAT scores or O Level results high, they can also learn to empathize, to exercise self-control, and be civic-minded.
  3. Raise them to not only be good Muslims – but to be good humans and understand that the only way you can be a good Muslim, is to be a good human first and foremost.

Sumaira Dada

  1. Trust them: Our youth is constantly kept under check via a strategy of do’s and don’ts till they rebel. We need to realize that after giving them a guideline on the do’s and don’ts that Allah (swt) has laid down for us; we need to trust them to follow that guideline.
  2. Convey the message that the Muslim heroes of yesterday are as relevant for us today as they were then: The Umar and Uthman (rta) of the golden Islamic age are not just paragraphs in books on Islamic history; rather they have been real people who led a balanced life in this world. We need to make our youth realise this so that they stop looking for heroes in un-Islamic cultures.
  3. Channelize their talent in a way that Allah (swt) approves of. We need to guide them to the right kind of friends who will support them in their endeavour.

What are the top three issues facing the youth of today and how do you suggest they deal with them?

Salman Asif Siddiqui

In Pakistan, specifically, the identity crisis is the main issue which has developed in our youth. They have lost confidence in being recognized as Pakistanis and as Muslims. The only option is ‘escape’ from their country and religion. To change this mentality, we need to develop institutions confidence is restored in one’s identity.

Another issue is lack of emotional confidence; the youth has no personal opinion. It’s so easy for them to be moulded by others and react. To deal with it, the thought process needs a radical shift from extremism to a balanced state of mentality. Finally, the youth of the Ummah need to develop native language skills.

Amina Murad

Communication revolution

We need to educate the youth about the communication revolution and have one-to-one conversation as parents and teachers. Without any guidance, technology has become a giant monster; information is equated with knowledge and knowledge with wisdom. Communication revolution can revolutionize the fate of the Ummah if our adults and youth are educated to use it for acquisition of knowledge and dawah purposes.

Freedom from religion

In today’s secular environment, freedom of expression is an attempt to have freedom from religion. The youth are confused. Constant hammering of slogans of freedom to choose their lifestyle is redefining their conceptual framework. The youth need to develop love and relationship with Allah (swt) and Muhammad (sa) as role models with a sound knowledge base.

Bad companionship

All issues are linked with bad companionship; be it media or society. One’s relationship with the Qur’an and its lessons should be stronger than the relation with Facebook and its communities. Without guidance, the blitz of technology leads to self-love and narcissism: the personality trait of egotism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness. Sponsoring events that allow the youth to meet like-minded friends, interact with multi-generational society and provide Halal fun and entertainment and remember Allah (swt) is a practical way to deviate them from Haram fun all around.

Shujja-uddin Sheikh

Lack of direction and supervision

For this, pious people (practicing Muslims) should be contacted who are sincere and willing to help.

Domination of western thoughts and isms

For this, our past history, where we were the leaders, should be revisited through books as well as a study of Muslim thinkers and philosophers, who contributed to human thoughts and civilization.

Limited concept of Deen

For this, they should go back to the original sources of Islamic knowledge (the Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet (swt)). Furthermore, it should be noted that unless we have a comprehensive concept of Deen, the non-issues would remain the issues and sectarianism will prevail in the society.

Saulat Pervez

Frustration with family and other authoritative figures in their lives

Be patient and understand that no person is truly one-dimensional. If you feel someone is always finding fault in you, stay cool and don’t label him/her. Try to talk to them logically and explain to them your side of the story; be ready to listen to their side, too. Reach a solution together.

Over-reliance on friends

Your friends are important, but do understand that just because they are ready to embrace you just the way you are, with no demands whatsoever, doesn’t mean that it’s always a good thing. Having someone older, wiser and more experienced as a guide post, who can distill all those “brilliant” ideas and plans, is truly essential in this age. Ideally, this person should be a parent.

Too plugged

I know it’s cool to log into your Facebook account on your Iphones and have wires sticking out of your ears all the time, but too often, we are exchanging real, purposeful experiences for virtual, meaningless encounters. Find a healthy balance between staying connected with those who really matter, listening to content which is truly inspiring and having social experiences which really challenge you to learn to live with people despite the differences.

Sumaira Dada

1)      Lack of heroes to look up to

2)      A strong influence of largely un-Islamic culture.

3)      Lack of opportunities to release energy and utilize talents.

What behavioural characteristics do the youth need to instill during the primary stages?

Salman Asif Siddiqui

The youth needs to realize the purpose of their life which has been defined by the Quran and Sunnah. They should have positive goals in their lives. Our youth is mainly inspired by Western ideals and beliefs. The west promotes ‘emotional intelligence’ which is being clever, however, the Islamic paradigm is ‘Tazkiya-e-Nafs’. The West works on cost-benefit analysis, whereas Islam teaches us ‘emotional well-being’. To teach these differences, parents must be trained to act as mentors on the divine principle of ‘falah’.

Amina Murad

Nurture their real nature

An Islamic personality should be our Fitrah. In the polluted environment, our Fitrah is suppressed and little priority is given to the remembrance of Allah (swt). The most beautiful ninety-nine names of Allah (swt) should be made the benchmark for all the characteristics taught.

Time management

Value of time means valuing life and self. Parents and teachers should help young children limit every activity and realize that it’s Satan who makes us lose track of our goals and waste our life. Set a routine and discipline from a very early age. From Salah to sports, from giving time to parents to people around them, all activities should nurture individuality which makes each human being a very independent and special entity in this world.

Creative thinking

With unlimited opportunities, creative thinking is a skill that needs to be developed to help our kids reach the level of excellence in all pursuits. We should remember our kids are and will be living in a very different world than ours. Unless we help them come up with challenging ideas, they will be unable to challenge the world of Kufr around them and become part of it. Leadership demands Muslims to be creative to solve the problems of humanity.

Shujja-uddin Sheikh

Sense of responsibility

We should remember the purpose of life and the real life ahead.

Live for others

People live for themselves but we, being the Ummati of the Prophet (sa) have to serve others.

Trust in Allah

No matter how many difficulties we face, we should have faith that nothing is impossible for Allah the Almighty.

Saulat Pervez

Foremost, we need to teach our children to think. At school and at home, we must give them practice in developing their thinking skills, so that they grow to be reflective individuals, just as the Qur’an encourages.

Secondly, we need to instill an awareness of their relationship with Allah (swt) from an early age. They need to understand that Allah (swt) loves us and He is Merciful, but He has also made us responsible for our own deeds and we will be held accountable for them.

This brings me to the third point: they need to be cognizant of the fact that “worship” is not only pure Ibadah such as Salah, Sawm, Hajj, Sadaqah, etc. Along with my prayer and my fasting, I must be honest in my dealings with people (even if they are parents and teachers). Too often, we pray, yet we cheat; we recite the Qur’an, yet we backbite; we give charity, yet we spread rumours without verification. Unfortunately, kids learn this dichotomy from adults.
All three reinforce each other towards a common goal: awareness that our life has a purpose and before it ends, we had better make ample preparation for the life which is eternal.

Sumaira Dada

  1. Self-confidence
  2. Positive thinking
  3. Realism


It is heartening to note that every individual, who is currently working with the youth, is very clear about their problems and solutions. One can only hope that these problems are addressed and these solutions are implemented, in order to ensure that the youth turn out to be the bright future of our Ummah.

When the Bumpy Ride Begins…

July 11- When the bumpy ride begins

By Sameen Sadaf

“O you who believe! Ward off yourselves and your families against a fire (hell) whose fuel is men and stones!” (At-Tahrim 66:6)

Adolescence, or the teen years, is a stage in a person’s life between puberty and adulthood. After the first two years in a child’s life, this is the only other stage in which a significant growth spurt occurs, bringing about a lot of physical and emotional changes. At this crucial point in life, the teen needs almost as much attention as a baby. However, the nature of the required attention is different.

The problems start when most parents fail to realize this need of their teen. A common mistake parents make is that they reduce (or sometimes completely let go of) the need to guide the child. Dr. Ron Taffel, a prominent psychologist, says: “Even as kids reach adolescence, they need more than ever for us to watch over them. Adolescence is not about letting go. It’s about hanging on during a very bumpy ride.”

Creating a balance between the ever-changing emotional and physical states during adolescence is a difficult task for the teen to accomplish on his/her own. Parents can quite easily prevent the formation of an unbalanced personality by providing the right environment at home.

If the teen has a loving and friendly environment at home, he/she will never look for solutions outside. It is vital to discuss with the teens the physical and emotional changes at puberty, as each stage comes along. This will save them the trouble of seeking solutions elsewhere.

“Tell them, because if you don’t, someone else will,” says Memoona, a teacher at an Islamic school.

George R. Holmes in his book “Helping Teenagers into Adulthood: A Guide for the Next Generation” says: “It’s important for a teenager to be given as much responsibility as early as he or she can accept it – it promotes a sense of being trusted and a sense of being mature, and gives one an increase in self esteem. When people are ignored or indulged, or must have things done for them, they find themselves inept and inadequate in the world and usually very, very angry.”

Devising and assigning different tasks to teens at home helps them to become more responsible and keeps them occupied, leaving lesser time for TV, video games or chatting. Mothers can involve their teens in doing different household chores by assigning such duties as filling up the water bottles, throwing out the trash, washing the dishes or ironing the clothes. You can also give them a choice of chores they prefer to do.

Watching informative programmes on the television as a family, cooking together on the weekends, playing mind games, discussing books, studying the Quran together with your teens and going to the mosque for daily prayers are all positive activities and good alternatives to modern-day technology, which tends to make children more passive than active.

Talking to teens helps. And this doesn’t mean interrogation such as: “Have you cleaned your room?” “Have you prepared for your test?” It also does not mean constant critical evaluation: “Look at your hair!” “You can’t even eat right” It means to hold a meaningful conversation where you are the listener and your teen does the talking. With practice, you will be able to bite your tongue and become a genuine listener, empathizing and understanding your teen’s views.

If some unacceptable habit or event comes into your notice, don’t panic or get angry. Patience is the only virtue that can guarantee success. Patience, love and prayers with consistent effort are the most effective tools to deal with your teens.

What a Teenager Hears Everyday…

July 11 - What a teenager hears everyday

6:00 a.m. Wake up or you will miss Fajr again.

6:15 a.m. The one who misses Fajr is a Munafiq (hypocrite) who will be in Hell. So get up!

7:00 a.m. You’ve got to finish your breakfast!

7:20 a.m. You look like a punk with that hairstyle. And what’s with your crumbled uniform?

7:30 a.m. Put on your sweater. Don’t you know its cold outside?

7:35 a.m. I expect you to get the highest score in your class test today, so don’t goof up like last time!

2:00 p.m. What happened on the test? How much did Ahmed score? He is so smart. You should be more like him.

2:10 p.m. Now, don’t throw your books and bag everywhere; you left enough mess for me to clear in the morning.

2:30 p.m. Eat the vegetables, too. They have all the vitamins.

2:45 p.m. By the way, did you pray Zuhr?

3:30 p.m. God knows what will become of you. With that attitude, you will land nowhere. Get serious about your studies!

5:00 p.m. Can you turn down this rotten noise you call music! One day, you will surely turn deaf.

5:15 p.m. Since I am sure you never heard the Asr Adhan, I have come to order you to pray right away.

5:30 p.m. Turn off that darn TV. Have you finished your homework yet?

6:00 p.m. Oh great! Now you are wasting time with video games. Clean up your room instantly. When I was your age, I did four times more work than you will ever even imagine.

6:45 p.m. Pray Maghrib. Why do I always have to tell you?

7:00 p.m. Why are you eating chips right now? We will be having dinner soon. And throw the wrapper in the dustbin. Really, sometimes I feel I am dealing with a toddler.

7:30 p.m. Don’t your friends have anything better to do than to chat on the cell?

8:00 p.m. Come to dinner. Why do I always have to look for you when it’s time to eat?

8:10 p.m. Try to eat your food when it is served warm. It is the same story everyday.

8:30 p.m. What are you watching now? It doesn’t look very good to me. Besides, did you pack for your school tomorrow?

9:00 p.m. Don’t forget to pray Isha.

9:15 p.m. Sleep early or you will be late for Fajr again.

The above chart was inspired by Dr. Glen C. Griffin’s observation of a typical day in a teenager’s life. If this is what they hear day in and day out, what kind of an emotional state or bonding will these youngsters have? Instructions and accusations will render them either highly sensitive or totally de-sensitized. Well-meaning adults can use some humour, logic or other warm gestures to motivate the youth to act more responsibly.

It’s Just a Mirage

July 11-its just a mirage

By Hafsa Ahsan

Advertisement slogan: “It’s fun to be young…”

Hadeeth: The Prophet (sa) said: “The feet of the son of Adam will not be removed (meaning, he will remain standing for reckoning), until he has been questioned about five things: his life and how he has spent it, his youth and how he managed it, his wealth, from where and how it has been spent, and his actions and how close or far they are from his knowledge.” (At-Tirmidhi)

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Verse: “That Day mankind will proceed in scattered groups that they may be shown their deeds. So whosoever does good equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant), shall see it. And whosoever does evil equal to the weight of an atom (or a small ant), shall see it.” (Al-Zalzalah, 99:6-8)

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Hadeeth: The Prophet (sa) said: “If I forbid something, avoid it and if I order you to do something, do it as much as you can. (Sahih Bukhari)

Advertisement slogan: “Sab Keh Do.” (Say everything.)

Verse: “O you who believe! Let not a group scoff at another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former; nor let (some) women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former, nor defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. How bad is it, to insult one’s brother after having Faith [i.e. to call your Muslim brother (a faithful believer) as: “O sinner”, or “O wicked”, etc.]. And whosoever does not repent, then such are indeed Zalimun (wrong-doers, etc.). O you who believe! Avoid much suspicions, indeed some suspicions are sins. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? You would hate it (so hate backbiting) . And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is the One Who accepts repentance, Most Merciful.” (Al-Hujurat, 49:11-12)

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Verse: “Blessed is He in Whose Hand is the dominion, and He is Able to do all things. Who has created death and life, that He may test you which of you is best in deed. And He is the All-Mighty, the Oft-Forgiving.” (Al-Mulk, 67:1-2)

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Verse: “And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things), and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc.) and not to show off their adornment except only that which is apparent (like palms of hands or one eye or both eyes for necessity to see the way, or outer dress like veil, gloves, head-cover, apron, etc.), and to draw their veils all over Juyubihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms, etc.) and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband’s fathers, their sons, their husband’s sons, their brothers or their brother’s sons, or their sister’s sons, or their (Muslim) women (i.e. their sisters in Islam), or the (female) slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants who lack vigour, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And all of you beg Allah to forgive you all, O believers, that you may be successful.” (An-Nur, 24:31)

Resisting Peer Pressure

July 11- Resisting peer pressure

A common question of most teenagers is: “I want to practice Islam. But all my friends and cousins are into movies, music, girls and the usual teenage stuff. When I try to avoid them, I am either laughed at or left alone. I feel so isolated that I end up joining them – albeit reluctantly – in their pastimes.”

Is there a way out for such teenagers, who are inclined towards their Deen and yet succumb to peer-pressure for fear of isolation? The answer is – yes. First of all, such teenagers should realize that it is commendable that they are striving to practice Islam at this young age, when they are under considerable peer pressure. We ask Allah (swt) to keep them steadfast in their resolve and grant them the guidance to continue undeterred upon this righteous path and noble intention. Ameen. We hope the following steps will help, Insha’Allah.

Find like-minded friends

Join a class or an online group of similarly inclined young boys or girls and find people of the same age and gender, who share the same ideals.

Pursue extra-curricular activities

“Active Saturdays” in Karachi ( is a great outlet for young boys to combine fun with faith. “Perceptions” and “Quest” cater to girls.

Attend a weekly lecture

Find a men’s/women’s weekly Halaqah or Islamic Dars that you can attend. Make sure you attend this class, even if you have an exam.

Study buddy programme

Look inward for your strengths. What do you enjoy doing? Is there anything that comes naturally to you, which you can teach someone else? Like driving a car, solving math problems, or deploying science practicals? If you are good at something, start helping out others in it, even if it is teaching an illiterate child how to read! There is always someone who needs help. Eventually, as your teaching expertise and experience grows, you can start charging for tuition.

Pray Salah in congregation (for boys)

I cannot stress enough, how important it is to attend congregational prayer in the mosque. You will see how this action will keep you steadfast and strengthen your faith, Insha’Allah. Girls are also advised to be regular with their Salah at home.

Craft clubs

Pottery, stained-glass painting, baking, crochet, knitting, website design or even babysitting – there is so much fun teenagers can have. During my childhood, for example, I remember how the neighbourhood kids would organise an annual funfair in the complex. The end result was a fun, successful event – the result of channelised, collective youthful energy.

Humanitarian or welfare work

There are many welfare organisations that need young volunteers for their work. Whether it is education of poor children, rehabilitation of flood refugees, counseling sick patients in government hospitals, or spending some time in orphanages, ‘giving’ your time and company to the less fortunate is a very fulfilling way to pass extra time.

Camps and clubs

For young boys, camping out, safaris, boating, fishing, karate or playing sports at clubs are healthy options for physical recreation. For girls, picnics at parks, interning at magazines or newspapers, blogging online or organizing bake sales and book clubs can provide healthy outlets for creativity.

Youth is the threshold of adult life. If a believer passes the difficult test of steadfastness during this phase, and wises up about the company they hang out with, they can set forth upon the path of righteousness for life. We ask Allah (swt) to make the teenagers and young people steadfast, grant them high ranks of piety and faith and make them pass this test. Ameen.

Teen Tales

July 11- Teen tales

I am worth it!

When I was sixteen years old, life was like a hell hole at home. My dad and I were constantly fighting. It came to this point that if I was watching television and he walked into the room, I would just shut it off and walk out of the door.

He was upset with me for many reasons. He would also embarrass me in front of my friends. Later, he would try to tell me, how much he cared and that he was eager to listen to my problems. Whenever I would test his sincerity, he would crack up and re-start his tirade. I could sense the disapproval in him that lashed out in the form of anger. He only wanted to shape me up and didn’t really want to hear me out.

Then, one day, something happened. Amongst many of his futile efforts, he once again approached me: “I know you feel as though I haven’t tried to understand you, but I want you to know that I am trying and will continue to try.”

I snapped back: “You have never understood me.” I stood up and reached for the door.

My dad called out: “Before you leave, I want to say that I’m really sorry for the way I embarrassed you in front of your friends the other night. I shouldn’t have done that.”

I whipped around and shouted with tears in my eyes: “You have no idea how much that embarrassed me!”

My dad walked up to me calmly and said softly: “Please come and sit down.”

For the first time, I actually felt that he genuinely wanted to listen to me. It was not some crap surface technique he was fooling me with. I began talking and he just listened. There was no moral evaluation and no judgement. It was as if he didn’t know my past at all. We just started on a clean slate, so much so, that it became and my mom came in to ask if we would sleep at all. I turned around to tell her that we had some more stuff to discuss. And my dad just nodded with a smile.

Later, when I asked my dad how he had managed to do it, he just said: “Because it was the right thing to do and you, my son, are worth it!”

Learning: We need to do a lot more private work inside our own mind and heart, before we begin to understand others. We have to let go off the negative spirit and past baggage inside of us first; otherwise, it will keep hindering us from understanding our loved ones.

Listening empathically means listening to others in their frame of reference. It also means that we might not be trusted initially, until others are certain of our sincerity. They will reject our overtures. But we need to keep coming back because they are worth it. And, eventually, we will win their trust and love with patience.

Life is overwhelming!

As a teenager, one thing that stands out in my mind was the feeling of being overwhelmed. I had to cope with the pressure of doing well at school, being on the debate team and being involved in three or four other extra-curricular activities simultaneously.

Though my mom was very strict about me keeping the room neat and tidy, there were times when she took over, especially when I had exams or my schedule was too time pressured. I would come home and find my whole room clean and organized. There would be a note that said: ‘Love, the Good Fairy.’ And I knew mom had just worked her head off to help me get ahead because I was so overwhelmed with what I had to do.

It really took a load off me. I would enter the spic and span room and whisper gratefully: “O thank you! Thank you!”

Learning: Little acts of kindness go a long way toward building relationships of trust and unconditional love. It could mean performing unexpected acts of service when you can sense that the other family member is struggling with his/her load of responsibilities. For example, you can wash the dishes, take the kids to the store for something they need for school, or call home to find out if the family needs something you might pick up on your way home.

Planned to the minute!

When I was fourteen years old, my dad promised to take me with him to Dubai on one of his business trips. We discussed it for three months, and finally the day came. He and I boarded the plane having planned our weekend to the minute. Dad was supposed to attend a conference all day, while I would stay at the hotel by myself. Later, we had planned to go dune bashing, and for a dow ride and dinner, etc. I couldn’t wait.

After what seemed ages, dad came to pick me up at 5:00 pm as promised for my treat time. But suddenly I saw him bump into his old friend. After warm pleasantries, he started to insist that dad and I accompany him to a thrilling cricket match at the grand Dubai stadium followed by dinner. I could almost feel my heart tear apart, as I knew how much dad loved cricket. I knew that was the end of my plans for the evening.

My dad profusely thanked his friend for the generous offer but explained to him: “Jazak Allah Khair for your kindness, but I have already promised my little angel this evening. And we are very excited to spend it together. Insha’Allah, next time, when I come to Dubai, I will see you.”

My heart just jumped with joy! My dad kept his word and, as expected, I had the time of my life that evening. It will always remain with me as one of the fondest memories of my father.”

Learning: Nothing makes a greater impact in the family than making and keeping promises. Just think about it! How much excitement, anticipation and hope is created by a single promise? Similarly, when we break them, how much heartache, anger and mistrust we create! These promises define our values and are the most vital and tender of all commitments we make.