A glance at the past would show urban Pakistani women involved in various extra-curricular activities: cooking classes, fitness programs, volunteer work or school-teaching to name a few. Studying the Quran and the Sunnah in a proper educational setup was not common. Today, a noteworthy and heart-warming trend observed among them is that, whether residing in their home-country or abroad, they are turning towards this fruitful endeavor in hordes. Attending Quranic Tafseer and Hadeeth classes as regular students, sitting in part-time as casual attendees, listening to audio tapes or taking Internet classes – most women can be found actively pursuing Islamic education at their own pace. Anyone we meet has a sister, daughter, aunt, mother-in-law, friend or neighbor absorbed in this pastime. The Hijab is randomly sprouting up in even the most ‘modernized’ of clans as an eye-opening reality that change is imminent.
The initial journey towards enlightenment for most of these women is, however, hardly a rosy one. The first challenge they face is the demand their studies make on their time: after coming home, they still have to study for the next day. Tests are routine. For most, learning to balance their time between studies and family is a difficult task.
Another obstacle they face is the mounting friction with family members. Since the Quran teaches them, what Allah (swt) has ordained and what He has forbidden, they get emotionally-charged with wish to change overnight into ideal Muslims, inadvertently feeling intolerance for some un-Islamic activities going on in their homes. Since their family is not being enlightened by the Quran every day, they cannot cope with the sudden criticism of their day-to-day activities.
“My husband has been drinking for years now, and I never used to object,” confides one well-off mother-of-two, “but ever since I have started studying the Quran, I cannot tolerate this habit of his. I keep telling him that alcohol is Haram, which is making things sour between us.”
“None of my teens perform Salah. This is agonizing me with worry, and often I end up shouting at them. They just don’t listen!” laments one mother.
“My daughters are under immense peer pressure – all their friends date boys. I am seriously thinking Nikah at 16 is the only option for my teenagers,” worries a Pardah-observing mother.
“My mother constantly chides me for having started Hijab. She only covers her head in the Bazaars and says I should do no more either; else, I will receive proposals only from Maulvi-type families,” says a young IBA graduate.
What can these well-meaning students of the Quran, desiring to see their family members join them on their path towards pleasing Allah (swt), do in order to maintain the peaceful atmosphere of their homes?
Remember your own past
For being more humble and less judgmental, a Mumin should recall his own past actions, realizing that only Allah (swt) can guide His slaves. Have you yourself become the best model of Islamic conduct that you can start criticizing everybody in sight? It is easy to judge and analyze others. Constant self-criticism and self-accountability will ensure that you approach your relatives with softness and humility.
Focus on giving the rights of others due on you
If an immense positive change will come about in you after studying the Quran, your relatives will also want to study it. Be giving in all relational aspects, returning bad behavior with good – extend good conduct towards the fussy husband, the nosy neighbor, the interfering sister-in-law, the lazy servant, and the rude teenager. Fighting and returning taunts of others with some of your own implies a need for improvement in your own conduct. Your children should have enough trust in you to come to you for advice, instead of maintaining a distance for fear of an onslaught. Be their friend and confidante. Cater to all their emotional needs.
Try to restrain the urge to lecture your family. You got there before them, but dragging them towards Allah (swt), when they are reluctant, will only make them turn away more diffidently. Control your reaction, when you see them doing something wrong. It’s difficult, yes, but don’t say anything then. Wait for the right time.
Learn Hikmah – the wisdom of Dawah
Educate yourself with the ‘what-when-how-how much’ of Dawah. The mood of the listener, the words you choose, the tone of your voice, and the length of time you speak are of utmost importance. A little imbalance can cause more damage than benefit. You can even convey the message via printed Islamic material, such as pamphlets, books or articles. If your daughter gossips for hours with her friends, give her material about proper use of the tongue; if your son gazes at girls, give him an article about lowering the gaze. Do it tactfully, at the right time. Most importantly, lead by example.
Refrain from negativity
Complains, taunts, sarcasm, insults, scolding and shouting constitute a huge mistake on the part of a Mumin desiring Allah’s (swt) pleasure. In fact, such conduct (Akhlaaq) fairs very poorly in our own scale of deeds. Our closest relatives, no matter what they do, are deserving the best conduct from us.
If you hold on to these golden rules of behavior with your family, time will show you, how they become your greatest friends and supporters. Your husband will clear the table, while you revise your lesson. Your daughter will help with cooking Sunday lunch, while you study for your test. Your son will rush to get your notes photo-copied for your classmates. More than that, as the years pass, they themselves will transform into the practicing Muslims you wish them to be!
“…Repel (the evil) with one which is better (i.e., Allah orders the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly) and verily he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend.” (Fussilat 41:34)