Bridging the Gap between Hearts

respect2Every individual expects recognition of his/her rights by the people he/she lives with. The fulfillment of this expectation builds a relationship of give and take between two people. This, if defined in one word, is what is known as “respect”. It is through respect that one learns to notice other people’s rights; and in return, gets his/her rights fulfilled as well. Human relationships are strengthened when the seed of respect is sown; whereas its absence may yield devastating results which are quite noticeable at present with the increasing percentage of people falling prey to life shattering evils.

A glimpse at the past and present 

Allah Almighty (swt) sent Prophets (as) upon nations that deviated from the straight path till a seal to the Prophets (as) was put with the revelation of the final message. Man found it comprehensible as Prophet Muhammad (sa) practiced what he preached. That was how people adopted his way of life and considered it a responsibility to pass it on. To be more precise, it was the acquisition of this “knowledge” that justified man’s role as a man- because it was what our Creator chose for our betterment.

The lives of the Arabs revolutionized with the advent of Islam. But prior to that, they lead completely different lives. Evil lurked in their society to the extent that there remained no evil that they weren’t involved in. What we see these days is similar to the pre Islamic times, but a total opposite to the golden times. One can easily see how our priorities have changed. The rule is quite simple. In order to do good, one must know what good really is. And, that happens through the acquisition of knowledge that revolutionizes beliefs.

Concept of respect in Islam

Islam is the way of life that sets certain rights and responsibilities for each and every individual despite of the restrictions of age, nationality, race, or class. This rule in return brings contentment for everybody. Following are some points regarding the concept of respect in Islam:

1.      Respecting parents

Parents are such people in our lives who, in order to fulfill our needs, often give up theirs. Most of us must have witnessed our mother’s sacrifice when she gave up her wish to buy new clothes on Eid to grab ours. Our father must have taken us for recreation, even though at times he may be feeling tired. Both of them must have had sleepless nights just because of us. It is due to such reasons that in Islam parents are said to be treated likewise when they grow old.  Allah (swt) says,

“And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honour. And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was small.” (Al-Isra 17:23-24)

2.       Restoring an orphan’s property

Living with a family, especially with parents, provides a supportive environment which no other thing can substitute. This is what an orphan child yearns for. Islam condemns the act of depriving an orphan of his/her rights. Allah (swt) says,

“And give unto orphans their property and do not exchange (your) bad things for (their) good ones; and devour not their substance (by adding it) to your substance. Surely, this is a great sin.” (An-Nisa 4:2)

3.      Greeting with respect

It is in Islam that even a greeter is said to be greeted better than him/her. Allah (swt) says,

“When you are greeted with a greeting, greet in return with what is better than it, or (at least) return it equally. Certainly, Allah is Ever a Careful Account Taker of all things.” (An-Nisa 4:86)

4.      A bully is up to no good

Scornful attitude is what we hear people calling “cool” these days. We often find it in educational institutions under the name of ragging, which at times crosses all limits- despite of the teachers’ intervention. And many children and even adolescents fall prey to depression- just because of this. It would not be wrong to say that children often learn such responses from their parents when they are busy in ridiculing others. No matter how normal we term it as, Allah (swt) has a commandment for that which we need to know. Allah (swt) says,

“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.).” (Al-Hujurat 49:11)

5.      Respect for a wife

If any man intends to treat his wife with respect, he must learn to do that from the life of Prophet Muhammad (sa).

It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas (ra) that the Prophet (sa) said: “The best of you is the one who is best to his wife, and I am the best of you to my wives.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)

Taking the Bully by the Horns

Vol 4-Issue 1 Taking the bully by the HornsA bully is someone, who uses his strength to intimidate others.

There are many situations that parents dread, one of which is discovering that their child is/was the victim of bullying. Bullies can be not just other children but also a child’s supposed friends or even teachers.

What should you do as a parent of a bullied child?

The most important step a parent can take is to reassure the child that it is not his fault. Teach your child to be proud of any differences in himself that he may be conscious of. Clarify that many of the world’s successful people did not get where they are by being the same as everyone else.

A natural parent’s initial reaction is that of anger and wants to confront the bully, or to approach the parents of the bully. This could create more problems for your child and yourself. If the bully is aggravated, it may fuel his or her intent for further harming your child. If the bully comes from a violent home, you too could find yourself on the receiving end of some unwanted harassment. Let the school take the responsibility of contacting the parent(s) of the bully.

Assess the seriousness of the situation. Sometimes, a harmless tiff can be blown out of proportion. Before you know it, the children are friends again, when you and the other parents are still at war.

Inform your child’s school, but first ask your child, whether she would prefer to speak to a tutor or the principal. If necessary, ask the school to protect your anonymity. Sometimes, the best way to expose a bully is for the teachers to catch him or her red-handed.

Find out what the school’s current bullying policy is and how the school intends to monitor the situation.

Teach your child strategies for dealing with the bullying. Tell your child to stay in a group when at all possible, and to let you know exactly, where he is going and with whom. Enroll him in a self-defense class, not as a method of harming the bully, but as a means of defending himself. If the bullying is verbal, tell your child to confront the bully by saying: “Please don’t call me that again. It’s cruel and hurtful.”

Encourage your child to feel comfortable talking to you, a teacher, or a counselor and to report every incident of bullying confidently.

Ask your child to keep a dated diary of events to share with you. On your own side, make your own record of incidents, including any mood swings or emotional and physical effects that you notice in your child, as they may be attributed to bullying.

How can schools take ownership?

Schools that are committed to implementing comprehensive bullying prevention programs should take the following steps:

  • Establish a committee for developing the school’s bullying policy and coordinating bullying prevention activities.
  • Survey students about bullying.
  • Establish a clear policy prohibiting bullying and then communicate that policy to students, staff, and parents.
  • Provide close and adequate supervision of areas, where bullying is likely to occur, such as: outside the classroom, in the hallway, at the bus stop, on the playground, in the cafeteria, and bathrooms.
  • School personnel need training on recognizing the signs of bullying, knowing what to do, when incidents happen, and learning, how to prevent bullying.
  • School-wide anti-bullying activities help remind students about school policy regarding bullying and the importance of supporting their classmates. In addition, they help generate energy for the program.
  • Integrate bullying lessons and activities into the classroom curriculum. This might include conducting a lesson about bullying, asking students to read a book about bullying, which can be followed up with a classroom discussion, or having a classroom meeting focused on the issue of bullying.
  • Empower bystanders to support the victims of bullying. Although school staff members often are unaware that bullying is taking place, typically, other students are not only aware of it but are present, when the incidents occur. Bystanders to bullying can play a crucial role in helping to address the problem.
  • Involve parents in the program. Parents need to be informed about the school’s policies regarding bullying, and they need to be encouraged to reinforce that policy with their children. Schools also might survey parents to elicit their views and knowledge about bullying in school. Parents also need to be informed, if their child has bullied, or has been bullied by another child.
  • Pay special attention to students, who are at risk. Students are more likely to be bullied, if they’re isolated from their classmates, in special education programs, have a physical characteristic that makes them stand out from their peers, or are new to the school.
  • Take reports of bullying seriously and act quickly. Encourage staff to respond to all reports of bullying that come to their attention. An incident that might appear minor to a teacher can loom large in the life of a student.