A Letter from Dr. Farhat Hashmi to Mothers

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It was after listening to a lecture from the “Dawa-e-Shafi” series by Ustazah Dr. Farhat Hashmi that I decided to write to her. The lecture was related to homosexuality. My motive for writing was the sake of a grieved mother, a student of mine, who had recently discovered that her 22-year-old son is gay. Ever since her discovery, she had been trying to figure out a way to guide her son away from this act of immorality out of concern for his salvation.

With Ustazah’s permission, I would like to share what she wrote in response to my letter:

Wa Alaikum Assalaam Wa Rahmatullah,

It is very painful indeed to see children caught up in such acts, especially for mothers who at times are so helpless that they go into a state of despair and depression. Very often mothers approach me with various disturbing issues concerning their children. This has continuously played on my mind as to how these children can be helped and their mothers consoled.

It made me reflect as to why children suddenly take a turn towards the wrong; maybe they are seeking attention or are involved in the wrong company; maybe they are watching movies or wrongfully using the internet; maybe some major change in their lives has made them emotionally and spiritually weak; or maybe they were hurt by someone and the negative feelings were building up inside of them. There could be a number of reasons but what is the solution?

A mother generally faces many challenges and obstacles, when dealing with her children. This in and of itself is a learning experience and an adjusting process for both the mother and her child. No great change happens overnight. It is a slow and painful process. Being a mother of four as well as a ‘mother’ to so many students and their children has, Alhumdulillah, enabled me to learn a lot. I wish to share with you what I have observed, learned, and understood.

When faced with such an untoward or unfavourable situation, what should we do? How should we react? Below are some of my very humble suggestions:

  1. Turn to Allah (swt). Offer extra prayers especially at the time of Tahajjud, seeking Allah’s (swt) help and guidance. Allah (swt) states in the Quran: “And seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer)…” (Al-Baqarah 2:45)
  2.  Make Dua. Especially when you unexpectedly wake up at night, make Dua, because that is the time of acceptance. Recite: “La ilaha illallahu wahdahu la sharika lahu, lahul mulku wa lahul hamdu wa huwa ala kulli shai’in qadeer. Alhumdulillahi wa subhan Allahi wa la ilaha illa Allahu wallahu akbar wa la hawla wa la quwwata illa billahil aliyil adheem.” And make your Dua.(Bukhari)
  3. Continuously seek forgiveness.This is a solution to the problems of this world.It is related that a man came to al-Hasan al-Basri and complained to him of poverty. He said to him: “Ask forgiveness of Allah (swt).” Another man came to him, complaining that he did not have any children. So he said to him: “Ask forgiveness of Allah (swt).” A third man came to him, complaining of the barrenness of his garden. So he said to him: “Ask forgiveness of Allah.”
  4. Give in charity.Allah (swt) will give to you. The Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “Allah (swt) said: ‘Spend, son of Adam, and I shall spend on you.’” (Bukhari and Muslim) Sadaqah gives protection against all kinds of evil. Sadaqah wards off affliction in this world and punishment on the Judgment Day.
  5. Turn your attention to the situation at hand and rationalize. Reflect upon your routine and your child’s routine. Are you spending enough time with your child and is it quality time? If not, then set aside a portion of your day for your child – just you and your child. Sit with him. Talk to him. Even if your child is busy with something else, be present for them. Be around. Be available. So that when they need you, you are there.
  6. Bond with them.Take them where they would like to go. Do things they like to do, while keeping within the limits of the religion.
  7. Travel together. If possible, travel to another city or country for a short duration (e.g., a month or two) just so that you are alone with your child – only you and your child. No siblings, no one else. This will give you a chance to bond with and understand your child.
  8. Listen.Listen. Listen some more to them. Make them feel important and that you care for them. Be a friend.
  9. Trust them and keep them in your trust. Do not discuss your child’s problems or behavior with others, especially in front of your child. This can have a negative impact on the child and, in some cases, may also lead to severe retaliation.
  10. Be positive.Avoid a negative reaction and always speak positively. Acknowledge the good that they are engaged in and encourage them.
  11. Try to offer prayers in different Masajid. No matter where you are and what you are doing, instill in them the importance of prayer. Visiting different Masajid, even if it happens to be in a mall, will help to keep them focused.
  12. If needed, change your child’s circle of friends, because a person is known by who he befriends.The Prophet (sa) said: “A man follows the religion of his friend; so each one should consider whom he makes his friend.” (Abu Dawud)
  13. Introduce them to good company. Introduce them to youth engaged in welfare work. Also, look out for gatherings where they can learn from the company of knowledgeable and experienced people.
  14. Again I will say: Duas. Continue making Dua to Allah (swt) for help and guidance. Allah (swt) states in the Quran: “And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad (sa)) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor). So let them obey Me and believe in Me, so that they may be led aright.” (Al-Baqarah 2:186)

Insha’Allah, with the help of Allah (swt), you will see your child confiding in you slowly and gradually. You will see them turning towards the right path, even if very slowly. In the process, do not make them conscious about this change but at the right moments show your appreciation for their efforts.

I do hope that the above will be a source of support and guidance. May Allah (swt) make all children a coolness of their parents’ eyes. Ameen.

 

[Infograph] Tips on Raising Tomorrow’s Leaders

The youth of today will be the leaders of the Ummah tomorrow. As parents, how can we ensure that our young ones are raised with the best Deen-inclined attributes that enables them to lead the Ummah tomorrow? Aneesah Satriya at Islamographic.com presents the following infograph. tips_leaders-web

A Clean Slate

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Being raised in a society of ‘liberal’ and ‘moderate’ Muslims that believe in the freedom of expression, one is obliged to respect and tolerate matters that are against the teachings of Allah and His Messenger (sa). Those who dare to disagree are accused of being rigid, backward, fanatic, extremist, or narrow minded, depending on the category the individual best fits, according to their level of acceptance and their intensity of reaction.

An average Muslim’s goal in life has become finding happiness by submitting to his own Nafs (the base self) and keeping it satisfied at any cost. This contagious disease of wanting to acquire Dunya, is what we strive to pass on to our children too.

We can bring a change, primarily, by taking charge of our Nafs and then passing on the Khair of this Deen through actions and speech to our offspring. 

Parents take pride in getting their daughters married to a well to do man regardless of where the money is coming from. Similarly, some others take pride in their sons earning a lot of money through any means. We are in danger of forgetting what is  Halal or Haram.

We need to ask ourselves, what kind of society do we want to give our children? How many people seriously worry about their sons not praying Salah, or daughters not wearing  Hijab or husbands earning Haram wages or parents not doing proper Tarbiyah (raising) of their children? Whose worshippers do we want them to be? Worshippers of The Most Merciful or worshippers of the most wretched, Iblis. This is one of the things we as parents will be held accountable for. Rasool Allah’s Hadith affirms the influence of parenthood as he (sa) said:

“No baby is born but upon Fitrah (inclination towards Islam). It is his parents who make him a Jew or a Christian or a Polytheist.” (Muslim)

Anticipating our children approaching a fire, would we sit back and only warn them by saying, don’t go near it, it will harm you.’ No, we would take drastic measures and would do anything to stop them from being harmed. Then why do we settle on mere suggestions about preparing for Akhirah? Why do we lack the extensive measures? Is it not inevitable? Does it not need a severe action/reaction? How can we not be anxious about it while surrounded by  Fitnah (trials/mischief)? Do we possess a family visa for Jannah? Allah (swt) says in the Quran:

O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do that which they are commanded. (At-Tahrim 66:6)

Ironically, instead of preparing our children for Akhirah from childhood and providing them with favourable conditions where they can embrace their Deen with confidence, we adopt a relaxed approach. After providing them with various distractions and Fitnah throughout childhood and getting them used to a worthless and aimless lifestyle, we expect them to focus on the real goal as grown-ups.

After death, our children will either be a reason for our comfort or torment.They are sent to as clean slates for us to decide what we want to write on them. Therefore, they will either escort us to Jannah or push us into hellfire.

This is similar to plunging someone in filth while expecting them to remain clean. Have we ever pondered on the fact that we will be questioned for every blessing sent to us? How can we assume that we will not be held accountable for bringing up of the worshipper of Allah, being one of the most significant blessings?

After death, our children will either be a reason for our comfort or torment.They are sent to as clean slates for us to decide what we want to write on them. Therefore, they will either escort us to Jannah or push us into hellfire.

Allah’s Messenger (sa) said:

“When a man dies, all his good deeds come to an end, except for three cases; the charity of continuous blessings, beneficial knowledge which he leaves behind and a righteous child who prays for him.” (Muslim)

Sorrowfully, we believe that as long as we get worldly prosperity, tangible benefits, respect, validation, appreciation and happiness, we’ve reached our goal.

People openly disobey Allah and it affects very few and those who are genuinely concerned are mocked and ridiculed with nasty names. Such type of mind-set is encouraged by Shaitan, as he wants to make us act like him.

The question is, do we want such a society for our future generations where their motives are questioned and are directed by the masses, where our children and we are embarrassed to embrace our beliefs and values with conviction and confidence? After what our generation has seen and gone through, do we want to allow this Fitnah to pass on to our children? This becomes a reason for our failure in this life and the next.

We can individually and collectively resolve to reform ourselves. We can bring a change, primarily, by taking charge of our Nafs and then passing on the Khair of this Deen through actions and speech to our offspring. The need of the day is to rectify our lives by reshaping our beliefs, perspectives, and ideas and to redirect our focus to the correct source, Allah (swt). Why? Because, we want to be liberated from the shackles of Iblis and his allies and we want the eternal success and everlasting bliss, through complete submission to the will of Allah (swt). This my friend, is the solution.

May Allah (swt) help us remember Him, repent and rectify ourselves, individually and socially. Ameen.

Being a Proactive Parent!

Being a Proactive parent

Have you ever felt that you didn’t handle a parenting challenge in the best manner? Or that though you are trying to raise your children correctly, you are frustrated with the results – or lack of them? Being a parent is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. Unfortunately, for this job, there are no degrees, and the baby doesn’t come with an instruction manual! We all try to do our best for our children, but often get caught in a cycle of reactive parenting. A situation comes up and we react, without realizing it’s repercussions in the long run! Taking a moment to step out to look at the long-term picture is a great way to get some perspective and to help head our family in the right direction.

Reactive Parenting!

  1. Nagging, begging, bribing and threats. Most parents are guilty of using one of these reactive methods. They either nag their children, until they do what they’re asked. Some parents bribe their children: “If you go to school without crying, I’ll let you watch TV, when you get home.” Others resort to begging: “Will you do this for me? Please?” And, of course, the empty threats: “If you don’t clean up your room, I’ll throw all your toys away!” Saying such things and then not following through, teaches children not to take their parents seriously. With such methods, we almost force our children to tune us out, a phenomenon known as ‘parent deafness’!
  2. Giving in. Most parents set up rules but cave in, when their children insist. If you say: “No snacking before lunch.” mean it! If you, however, let your child eat a piece of chocolate, you lose all credibility with your child.
  3. Unclear expectations. Be clear about what you want from your children. Instead of asking them to ‘behave’, it might be a good idea to specify, what you mean: “Say Salam, when you go to Ayesha’s house” or “Share your toys, when Muhammad comes over.”
  4. Being inconsistent consistently. Children don’t know what to expect of their moms and dads! At times, they can get away with being super-hyper, while at other times, they are scolded for making noise. Make clear rules and be consistent. Control the situation, rather than let it control you.
  5. Lying. Parents don’t realize the small lies they tell their children. Hiding a toy and saying: “Oh, the birdy took it away,” is lying. Be the person you want your children to be. As Robert Fulghum says: “Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.”
  6. Hitting. Some parents resort to hitting their children in a last desperate attempt to discipline them. What parents forget is that the only thing the child will remember from the incident is the hitting itself and not why he was spanked!

Being Proactive!

Being a proactive parent means that you think about what you want for your children in the long run and take every parenting moment that comes to help them towards that goal. Safaa Minhas, who recently conducted a workshop “Parenting: Proactive vs. Reactive” at “Hiba” office suggests the following ways, in which you can respond proactively to your child, Insha’Allah:

  1. Working together. Work together with your child. Make rules and routines. Decide consequences. Let your child decide, how he should be punished, if he misbehaves. Become a team, and you will see a remarkable difference in the child’s cooperation.
  2. Being prepared. The most important thing about proactive parenting is being prepared for every situation. If you know your child gets cranky when visiting friends or relatives, keep some of his favourite toys along. Also, talk to your child beforehand to help his transition to any change or event.
  3. Positive statements. Keep the blame and accusations out of your tone. If your child knocks down and breaks a vase, instead of saying: “See, I told you not to run around,” use such positive statements as: “Why do you think the vase broke?” “Should we run around in the sitting room?” The aim is to make the child realize his mistake, so it doesn’t happen again, not to prove you were right.
  4. Good compromises. Where giving in is a bad idea, sometimes parents do need to compromise. If your child makes a valid point, agree to change the rules.
  5. Show empathy. Understand your children and relate to them. Not acknowledging their feelings leads to frustration and anger in children. For example, if your child exhibits rivalry towards his younger sibling, show empathy. “I know he takes your things, and I know it’s annoying. But it’s only because he loves you and wants to be like you.”
  6. Use your imagination and humour. Parenthood should be a fun and joyful journey! Use your humour to help you deal with some situations, instead of flying off the handle! If your child fusses at bedtime and never gets to bed in time, use your imagination. Make her the mummy and have her put her fussy teddy to bed!
  7. 5-3-1 GO! Parents expect immediate obedience from their children and get angry, when the children don’t drop everything at once. Give children the time to adjust. Shouting: “We’re leaving in five minutes!” and then dragging a screaming child to the car is not a solution. Count your child down. Remind again in three minutes, then one minute and finally make it clear that it’s time to GO!
  8. Ask helpful questions: Try to understand, why your child misbehaves, when he does. Uncover the problem and then make him understand that misbehaving is not the solution.
  9. Saying sorry. Learn to say sorry. Everybody makes mistakes, and when you make a mistake, set an example by apologizing and owning up.
  10. Punishment vs. discipline. “Discipline expresses a parent’s boundaries with the emotional volume turned down,” says Sharon Silver, founder of Proactive Parenting. Chalk out consequences, rather than punishments, to help your child realize his mistake.

Three golden tips for raising our little Mumins in today’s world!

  1. Always think long-term! Instead of reacting impulsively, be proactive – use a situation in your favour by guiding your children to learn a lesson from it.
  2. Don’t give freedoms that you know will eventually have to be taken away. With exposure to TV, the Internet and assimilation of western culture, we need to inculcate the Islamic spirit early on. If you say: “She’s too young right now and it’s okay for her to wear such clothes,” then be prepared for a rough transition.
  3. Last but not least, make Dua for your children! Pray to Allah (swt) to make them leaders of the Muslim Ummah and to help us in our quest of being better parents!

The material presented in this article is based on a parenting workshop facilitated by Safaa Minhas at “Hiba” Magazine’s office.