Parenting – Create Loving Homes for Your Children

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For raising our children to become responsible and well-groomed Muslim youth, we, as parents, have to put forth efforts into development of their character and personality. Since home is the first nurturing place of every child, it is of utmost importance to create within it a supportive atmosphere, which will facilitate the stability and confidence of our children. The following tips will help you to build loving homes for your children:

1. Trust comes first

Parents and children should have a relationship based on friendship and trust. No matter what age they are, our children need guidance from the inside of the home, not the outside.

We cannot be sure of the motives of people giving them guidance from outside; thus, they should feel confident enough to seek guidance at home, without feeling the need to look for outside sources.

2. Home Safe Home

Home should be the most comfortable place for your children. If they are not comfortable staying home for studying, playing and relaxing, they may look for options out of the home, which can become a negative influence on them.

3. Be the problem solver

Trust your children. Give them as much space, as they are comfortable to share with you. If they have a problem, listen to them and help solving it- instead of making a big issue of it, which would encourage your kids to hide from you their other problems.

4. Befriend their friends

Know the friends of your children for ensuring that they are in a good company. Let your children invite their friends to your home, so you can keep a watch over them and get to know them.

5. Keep a hawk’s eye

Keep parental controls over social media, technologies, gaming and mobile phones. There are more wolves out there than you can imagine.

6. Stay tuned to their life channel

Never be overly confident that your child is the purest person on earth. It may happen that our children fall in bad company, which affects them in ways we could not have dreamed of.

7. Family’s day out

Limit the time your children spend with their friends and increase family outings to compensate for it. Sleepover at any friend’s place must be a big ‘no’.

8. Their life, their choice- Accept!

Accept your children’s choices, whenever possible. Often they are not wrong in asking what they wish for, whether it is their career choice or even a prospective spouse.

9. Matured rightly? Time to marry!

Encourage your children to marry early, as that helps in character building and assuming a responsible attitude towards life. This is encouraged also in the Sunnah. From our surroundings, we can see the repercussions of doing the opposite. If you are against early marriage, your child may find an alternative in the form of a girlfriend or boyfriend outside the home. Thus, it is wise to marry your children, both boys and girls, when you are sure they are mature enough to think rightly.

10. Home is not a place, it’s a feeling

Don’t build a luxurious and lavish house for your children, indulging them with the material goods of this world. Instead, make loving homes for them, guide them with advice and nourish them emotionally, so that they are ready to face the adverse environment of today’s society.

 

 

Taming your Tricky Toddler

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  1. You are in the middle of composing an email on a tricky subject to a difficult family member. Your toddler bounces up to you with cries of ‘Mommy, mommy!’ What is your most likely reaction?
    1. Cry out: “Will you let me do ANY work?”
    2. Ignore and keep typing.
    3. Sigh loudly, clench your fists, stop typing and say: “Yes?”
    4. Sigh inwardly, stop typing and attend to the toddler.
    5. Toddler is unlikely to come as you made sure he or she was fast asleep before you tackled this particular email.
  1. You are preparing some snacks for guests who dropped by unexpectedly. Your toddler clings to your legs, demanding attention. What would be your strategy to deal with this?
    1. Tell him or her to get out of the kitchen and bug the guests instead.
    2. Ignore him or her completely.
    3. Say irritably: “Wait till uncle and aunty leave, and I will deal with you”
    4. Give him or her some pots, pans and spoons and allow him or her to play with them.
    5. If guests come unexpectedly, you never bother to prepare fresh snacks; you are likely to serve them something that doen’t need much effort.
  1. Your toddler just threw an object at the maid. How would you react?
    1. Stand on his or her head until he or she apologizes to the maid.
    2. Tell the maid to ignore it completely; if she reacts, he/she will do it more.
    3. Pick up the object and apologize to the maid (when the toddler is out of sight).
    4. Give your toddler a time-out, and then talk to him gently but seriously about how it hurts when we throw things at others and that we can try not doing it again.
    5. Your toddler would never throw anything at anyone because he/she is taught that one only throws balls.

Score Yourself

  1. 1 b. 2 c. 3 d. 4 e. 5
  2. 3 b. 2 c. 1 d. 4 e. 5
  3. 5 b. 2 c. 1 d. 4 e. 3

Your Report

13-15: Excellent. You definitely realize that your schedule needs to follow the toddler. It is also good to note you do not make allowances for others which disturb your toddler. That said, do realize that unexpected and unplanned events happen, and one must be prepared to deal with them.

9-12: Fairly good. At times, you are able to distract your toddler from negative behaviour, but do remember to use time-outs sparingly and at the end, have a chat with the child about acceptable and non-desirable behaviour.

8-5: Good. You mostly employ a strategy to ignore your toddler’s negative behaviour. At times, it is the best technique. However, you need to know when you need to step in and be firm.

4 and below: Oh dear! You seem to be caught up in reactive parenting. Categorize your child’s behaviour into “I can ignore it” and “I can distract him/her”. These two strategies work wonders. Remember toddlers repeat their parents’ oft-used sentences when they start speaking – be positive and inculcate positivity.

Slowing Down the Propellers

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Mr. Zafar, a concerned father of a three-year-old, has arrived at his office, completely distressed. His daughter was not admitted into a prestigious preschool. His wife has already filed a complaint at the institution where the toddler underwent a six-month-long programme supposed to prepare her for the pre-school admission test.

Mr. Hassan, Mr. Zafar’s colleague, has other worries on his mind. His teenage son is bluntly refusing to work with the chemistry teacher, whom they have hired for tutoring him in late evenings. He is also not interested in Mr. Hassan’s proposed extra-curricular activities, which would look so good on his resume for college application.

Although the scenarios of Mr. Zafar and Mr. Hassan are to be taken with a good dose of humour, many parents nowadays find themselves in similar situations, micromanaging and over-analyzing the lives of their children. The recent decades have witnessed the rise of a distinct style of parenting, which has come to be known as ‘helicopter parenting’ – paying extremely close attention to experiences and problems of children, particularly at educational institutions, or, in other words, hovering over their heads much like helicopters. It is believed that some of the factors contributing to the rise of helicopter parenting are the increased academic competition, the exposure of child abduction stories in the media and the highly competitive environment of the global economy.

While a healthy parental concern about children is a positive phenomenon, over-parenting can result in such unwelcomed developments as lack of problem-solving skills and self-esteem in children. Some children might become so dependent on parents that they would require ‘helicoptering’ well into their college and beyond, while others might simply rebel against the tight grip of their parents, as they get older.

What are helicopter parents like? Here are some key characteristics:

  • Obsession with their children’s education, safety and extracurricular activities;
  • Over programming the lives of their children, allowing them no free time for playing and exploring on their own;
  • Inability to tolerate that their children might have painful or negative experiences;
  • Conviction that their children can be happy only by proceeding through their lives smoothly, and that it is the duty of parents to facilitate it.

As well-meaning parents, we all have the innate wish to protect and provide for our children. However, at some point, we should ask ourselves whether we are doing too much for them. Here are some healthy ways of slowing down the propellers and avoiding the trap of over-parenting:

  • Let your children deal with their own problems. Often, in an attempt to save children from negative experiences, parents swoop in and fix the problems kids are facing. By dealing with their own problems, children become stronger. Making poor decisions and learning from natural consequences will help them make right decisions in future.
  • Do not overprotect your children. While parents should provide a reasonably safety environment for their children, overprotecting can prove to be counterproductive. Knees will get scratched and the cricket game will have only one winning team. Life holds many valuable lessons to be learned.
  • Let your children take risks – within reason. Kids are able to handle more than we think. If the situation at hand has acceptable risk level, let your kids face it head on; however, stand by and be ready to jump in if the potential damage exceeds the lesson to be learned.
  • Talk it through. Leave the fix-it practice; instead, teach your children to address problems themselves. Coach them on peer relationship problems or academic issues and allow your kids to mature by experiencing the full range of emotions.
  • Encourage your children to try. No amazing adventures or great discoveries have happened without some anxiety and fear in the background. When your children face something scary, put a positive smile on your face and encourage them to try it, instead of empathizing and allowing them to back out of it.

Slowing down the propellers and giving the children space might not be easy. Today’s society loves high achievers and believes in pressure-cooking success. It’s time for human parents to get back to the basics and learn confidence from the instincts of mama-bird, who knows just the right time to kick the babies out of the nest.

Cool Fathers, Super Sons!

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Do distinguished fathers grow out of the soil? What is the formula of extraordinary fatherhood? And how is it achieved? Here’s how it all begins.

Selection criteria for the right husband

The Prophet (sa) said: “If anyone comes to you and you’re pleased with their Deen (religious following) and Khuluq (character), marry them! If you don’t, there will be corruption and great harm on the Earth.” (Tirmidhi)

There’s no mention of the man’s academic excellence, income, bank balance, size of family, or looks – the criteria we feel is exceedingly important today when marrying off our girls.

What fills the scales of standard is a man’s comprehension and commitment to the application of his Deen; a man who stands out in terms of a lofty character, as he will have the final say in the house, establishing the same benchmark for the rest of the family. Being the Ameer (leader) of his family, he is one level above his wife; hence, besides having Taqwa (God-consciousness), he is also required to demonstrate high mannerisms.

Living by the Nikah

The Khutbah-e-Nikah (marriage sermon) states: “O you who believe! Fear Allah (by doing all that He has ordered and by abstaining from all that He has forbidden) as He should be feared. [Obey Him, be thankful to Him, and remember Him always], and die not except in a state of Islam (as Muslims) with complete submission to Allah.” (Al-Imran 3:102)

Multiple disputes can be resolved when spouses check themselves against the above command of Taqwa and complete submission to Allah (swt). This Ayah specifies what the state of a believer should be at the time of death.

“O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam) and from him (Adam) He created his wife (Hawwa) and from them both He created many men and women; and fear Allah through Whom you demand (your mutual rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you.” (An-Nisa 4:1)

This Ayah clarifies what should a believer’s relationship be with his Rabb (Lord).

“O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth. He will direct you to righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His messenger (sa), he has indeed achieved a great achievement.” (Al-Ahzab 33:70-71)

This Ayah demands the kind of communication a believer should have with the others. If the above three conditions are met, Allah (swt) will take care of the rest for His slave.

The role of a father

When applying their parenting skills, fathers generally refer first to common sense, next to culture, and period. How many of them ever read about their roles as fathers in the Quran and the Sunnah? Do they invest time in themselves to become improved fathers and better deliver their roles?

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Have We Failed Our Sons?

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“Beta, your wedding is just around the corner. You are about to become a member of another family. Treat them like your own. Be patient if there is something you dislike about your husband or in-laws. Always be nice to your Saas (mother-in-law). When your husband returns home in the evening, take care of his needs, dress up for him, serve him a delicious meal…”

As daughters or granddaughters, most of us have heard such statements of advice from our elders at the time of marriage. And rightly so. The question arises: do the sons receive a similar set of instructions at the time of tying the knot? Experience and probe tells us that boys seldom receive such advice. Generally, the onus of keeping a marriage intact is more on the wife than the husband. And when the marriage passes through turbulent waters, the wife is the first to be held responsible for not being patient, grateful, dutiful… while not putting much blame on the one responsible for manoeuvring the boat. Have we placed too much of a burden on the daughters as compared to our sons when it comes to balancing relationships in a marriage? Are we, as their elders, to be blamed for not grooming our sons into responsible husbands and fathers? Do we only preach them to be dutiful sons, while neglecting their commitments towards other relations? Have we failed our sons?

An interesting aspect is that we want our son-in-law to be the most perfect husband, but when it comes to our own sons, we take a somersault. If our son-in-law is kind and affectionate towards our daughter, he is showered with praises and declared to be the best husband on earth. But when our son displays the same attitude towards his wife, we say he is a Zann Mureed (henpecked husband). Double standards!

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Parenting by Umm Ammarah (rtaf)

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We are told that women’s participation in battles was limited to nursing the wounded and bringing water to the soldiers. Here is a woman who participated in the Battles of Uhud, Khyber, Hunayn, Yamamah, and others. She entered the battlefield with no other intention than defending the Prophet (sa).

About her, the Prophet (sa) said: “From where can anyone get courage like you, O Umm Ammarah (rtaf)?”

Umm Ammarah’s (rtaf) defense of Islam did not end with the Prophet’s (sa) passing away; when the Fitnah (trial) of apostasy emerged, she pledged her support to Abu Bakr (rtam). He acknowledged that she was indeed a strong and daring woman; hence, he allowed her to join the Muslim forces fighting the apostate Musalymah Kathab.

The Battle of Yamamah was the toughest battle that the Muslims faced. Musalymah had gathered a large army and was confident that he will wipe off Islam. They plan and Allah (swt) plans too, and Allah (swt) is the Best of planners.

Umm Ammarah’s (rtaf) son Habeeb (rtam) was captured by Musalymah’s forces. Musalymah asked him if he testified Muhammad (sa) to be the Prophet of Allah (swt). Habeeb (rtam) replied in affirmation. Musalymah then asked if he testified that he (Musalymah) was a prophet of Allah (swt). Habeeb (rtam) replied that he could not hear. Again Musalymah asked if he believed Muhammad (sa) was the Prophet of Allah (swt). Habeeb (rtam) again replied in affirmation. Musalymah then repeated his question about his being a prophet of Allah (swt). Habeeb (rtam) replied that he could not hear. The show went on for some time, and Habeeb (rtam) remained firm in his replies.

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Surah Yusuf Teaches Fatherhood

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Prophet Yusuf (as) was approximately seven years old when he shared with his father a dream he saw. The Quran narrates it: “(Remember) when Yusuf said to his father: ‘O my father! Verily, I saw (in a dream) eleven stars and the sun and the moon – I saw them prostrating themselves to me.’” (Yusuf 12:4) The above Ayah indicates the trust and rapport between father and son. Prophet Yusuf (as) confides in his father.

The Quran has beautifully described the family structure using a parable. The sun has been personified as a father. The moon is like a mother. And the eleven stars are like their children.

If we consider their roles and relationship with each other, we can understand that the sun (father) is the source of light. The moon (mother) draws its strength from the sun. Hence, she stays spiritually and emotionally fulfilled. The father defines the success of the family.

“He (the father) said: ‘O my son! Relate not your vision to your brothers, lest they should arrange a plot against you. Verily Shaitan (Satan) is to man an open enemy!’” (Yusuf 12:5) Prophet Yaqoob (as) advises his son Yusuf (as) not to reveal his dream to his siblings. He is aware of their inherently jealous nature. As a father, he understands that all kids are not alike. They are likely to err. If a prophet’s sons can make mistakes, how can we expect ours not to?

After informing his son about sibling rivalry, the father also warns him about the role of Shaitan, which is to sow seeds of enmity and break up families.

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Powerful Dua of a parent

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In the name of Allah (swt), the most Beneficent, the most Merciful

All praises are for Allah (swt), the most Compassionate, the most Forgiving.

Salutations and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad (sa), his family and companions.

Oh Allah (swt), I submit myself to You.

I realize that parenting a child is a very difficult task, and I turn to You in humility for Your help.

I implore You for Your wisdom and guidance.

Oh Allah (swt), I know that our children are an Amanah from You, to care for and to raise in a manner that is pleasing to You.

Help me do that in the best way.

Teach me how to love in a way the You would want me to love.

Help me where I need to be healed, improved, nurtured, and made whole.

Help me walk with righteousness and integrity, so that You may always be pleased with me.

Allow me to be a God-fearing role model with all the communication, teaching, and nurturing skills that I may need.

Oh Allah (swt), You know what our children need. Help and guide us in praying for our children.

Oh Allah (swt), put a hedge of safety around our children. Protect their bodies, minds, and emotions from any kind of evil and harm.

Oh Allah (swt), I pray that You protect them from accidents, diseases, injuries, and any other physical, mental, or emotional afflictions and abuse.

Oh Allah (swt), I pray that You keep our children free from any addictions and vices.

Draw them close to You for protection from every ill and evil influence of our society, whether it’s apparent to us or not.

Oh Allah (swt), grant them the best of company as their friends — people who will inspire them to love and worship and obey You.

Oh Allah (swt), grant our children Hidayah, and a heart that loves to obey You.

Shine Your light on any secret or unseen rebellion in their hearts, and destroy it before it takes root.

Oh Allah (swt), guide them away from any pride, selfishness, jealousy, hypocrisy, malice, and greed and make them uncomfortable with sins.

Penetrate their hearts with Your love and reverence today and always.

Oh Allah (swt), make apparent to them the truth in any situation, and let them not be misled by falsehood.

Oh Allah (swt), grant our children the ability to make clear decisions, and let them always be attracted to good things that are pure, noble, true, and just.

Oh Allah (swt), guide them in making choices that please You.

Oh Allah (swt), help them to taste the sweetness of walking with a humble spirit in obedience and submission to You.

Oh Allah (swt), grant them the wisdom to choose their words carefully, and bless them with a generous and caring spirit.

Oh Allah (swt), I pray that they never stray from the path of Deen, and that You give them a future filled with Your best promises.

Oh Allah (swt), always keep our children cleansed, and pure from evil and Shayateen.

Oh Allah (swt), keep them steadfast in establishing Salah, and help them revere the Glorious Quran as Your Word and Law, and to read it with understanding daily. Let it be their source of light and guidance.

Oh Allah (swt), let our daughters love wearing Hijab, and our sons the dress of a humble Muslim.

Let their dress be a representation of their Iman, and of their love and respect for Your commands.

Lead them to a position where they rely truly on Your power alone, and fear You in the open and in secret.

Oh Allah (swt), make them so strong in their Deen that they never encounter doubt.

Oh Allah (swt), do not allow any negative attitudes in the place of our children’s lives.

Oh Allah (swt), guide our children in honouring and obeying You, Your Rasool (sa), and us as parents (when we are commanding that which is pleasing to You).

Make them the coolness of our eyes.

Oh Allah (swt), fill our children with compassion and caring that will overflow to each member of our family and society.

Oh Allah (swt), grant them piety.

Oh Allah (swt), help them love, value, appreciate, and respect one another with good communication between them always.

Oh Allah (swt), drive out any division between our children and bring them healing.

I pray there be no strain, breach, misunderstanding, arguing, fighting, or severing of ties.

Oh Allah (swt), allow them to one day marry righteous, God-fearing, kind, hard-working, intelligent, beautiful, healthy spouses who get along with each other, and respect and love (and genuinely enjoy) every member of our family and who lead our children (i.e. their spouses) even closer to You and Jannat ul Firdaus.

Oh Allah (swt), please grant me the company of pious friends, relatives, extended community members, and teachers who will be inspirational role models for my children, and will help me raise them to be the best of believers.

Oh Allah (swt), please don’t let me become self-satisfied and arrogant in my parenting, but please don’t humble me or shame me through my children’s misdeeds either. Please let me always give credit for their good character to You, and please don’t ever let me stop praying for them.

Oh Allah (swt), please don’t let my children be “late” in meeting any of life’s milestones that are expected of them.

Oh Allah (swt), protect my children from debt. Make them givers and not takers.

Oh Allah (swt), grant my children noble professions with Halal incomes that give them respect and dignity in Your Eyes, and in the eyes of their fellow human beings.

Oh Allah (swt), grant them worldly comfort and Aafiyah so that my children can come to You through the Door of Gratitude, and so that they are not forced to come to You through the Door of Patience. Please let them always be grateful and patient.

Oh Allah (swt), I pray for a close, loving, happy and fulfilling relationship with them for all the days of our lives, and to be reunited with them in Jannat ul Firdaus. آمِيْن يَارَبَّ الْعَالَمِينْ

 

Synchronize Yourself – I See My Parents To Be A Parent!

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Today, Muslim couples begin their journey together with the basic agreement that they want to raise children who are respectful and obedient servants of Allah (swt). Perhaps, this is why one of the thoughts that lingered on my mind after my Nikah was that of raising my ‘future’ children. With thousands of parenting books, guides, and other resources, I believed that learning how to raise children would be relatively easy if I followed the guidelines, but my opinions changed when my mother told me:

“My daughter, parenting is a skill that no one can teach you! It is something that you must learn.”

Many days after I had received my mother’s advice, I was left feeling confused and nervous. I felt unprepared because I did not know how I would learn to be a parent before I actually became one. I realized later that my mother was referring to the fact that no matter how many guide books I read and experts I talk to, bringing up children would be a unique experience for me; one that is different for every single person who becomes a parent. At this point, I pledged to myself that I would make Dua for children who would become the coolness of my eyes. I prayed that through the values, my husband and I would teach them to please Allah (swt).

Till today, one of the verses from the Quran that is very close to my heart is, “O my Lord! Grant me from You, a good offspring. You are indeed the All-Hearer of invocation.” (Al-Imran 3:38). It is a beautiful reminder that no matter where you look for techniques, praying to Allah (swt) will always be sufficient.

It was because of my Dua that I was bestowed with countless learning opportunities that made me realize that in order to learn parenting, I didn’t have to look that far, I simply had to observe my parents. As odd as it sounds, I received lessons from my parents as they interacted with, and took care of my grandparents.

It is a well-known fact that age changes the habits, physical and mental makeup of most people. Old age changes one into a child all over again; weak, feeble, and dependent on others for basic needs. Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “And he whom We grant long life, We reverse him in creation (weakness after strength). Will they not then understand?” (Yasin 36:68)

Thus, when they are ‘reversed in nature’, they require the same care, attention and love that we once did when we were children. And my mother and father both through their actions made me understand three important lessons that are integral to parenting.

  1. Give them attention

Every evening, after returning from work, my father goes into my grandmother’s room, greets her and asks her about her day. Although a simple gesture, it is probably one part of the day my grandmother looks forward to the most. It is truly heartwarming to see her delicate face light up, and this demonstrates a very important lesson.

The more attention one gives to children, and in this case, old parents, the more they want to listen to you, because they feel close to you. Many of us listen to young ones half heartedly, and when it is our turn to tell them something, they turn away. The attention that parents give to their children aids in developing a connection that is integral to parenting.

  1. Love them and show affection

Several times, I had observed my mother showing physical affection for her mother. When we visit my grandmother, not only does my mother spend time with her, but also hold her close, and remind her what her mother means to her. This uplifts the mood of my grandmother, and adds to her overall well-being. I have noticed that she becomes more positive about her surroundings when she is reminded that she is amongst those who love her and want to see her happy.

Like our aging parents, children also want to be loved; they want to feel special to their parents. They yearn for our closeness, just like a small child who does not want to leave his/her mother. Physical actions of love – such as hugging and kissing children – along with the expression of emotions is an important element of parenting as it serves as a method to make the child understand their place in the family.

It is narrated by Abu Hurairah (rta) that the Prophet (sa) kissed Al-Hasan bin Ali (rta) while Al-Aqra bin Habis At-Tamim was sitting beside him. Al-Aqra said: “I have ten children and I have never kissed anyone of them,” Allah’s Messenger (sa) cast a look at him and said: “Whoever is not merciful to others will not be treated mercifully.” (Bukhari)

  1. Respect them

Often, mistakenly we link the word respect to elders. And, it is true that elders need to be respected. No matter how old and weak my grandmothers are, my parents respect their wishes and opinions. Underestimating parents, taking them for granted because of their old age, and thinking that they know very little compared to us, are all forms of disrespect and should be carefully avoided.

But, this does not mean that children do not have a right to be respected. Rather, they have to be regarded as individuals too, and their wishes, of course within limits, must be noted. There are times when parents publicly humiliate and shame their children; make fun of their children with others; and underestimate the skills and talents that their child may have. This not only makes children distance themselves from their parents, but also, causes them to disrespect their own parents. Respecting children helps them learn how to respect their parents, and it also enhances their self-respect when they know that they are receiving respect from others around them.

Creating Win-win Agreements with our Children

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There is a beautiful reality that we never reflect upon. It’s a message from the Creator (swt) for His creation: “Whoever brings a good deed shall have ten times the like thereof to his credit, and whoever brings an evil deed shall have only the recompense of the like thereof and they will not be wronged.” (Al-Anam 6:160)

Parents must understand what win-win is in Islam

What needs to be clearly believed by us and shared with our children is:

  1. Each and every one of us has a purpose in this world. Allah’s (swt) plan has no extras in it. We all fall into a jigsaw puzzle, the winners and the losers. Don’t forget that the Prophet (sa) also experienced the Battle of Badr and Battle of Uhud. The fate of both was contrasting, as were the lessons learnt.
  2. Allah (swt) offers abundance to His creations in terms of opportunities, resources, and choices. It is up to us to grab them and decide our future course of action.
  3. These opportunities come along throughout our lives. We need to be patient, alert, and positive. This is the toughest challenge most of us fail. The disappointed and hopeless one disgraces himself by his defeatist attitude and misses out on other doors opening for him.
  4. In Allah’s (swt) world, everyone can be a winner. But you need to see yourself from the eyes of the Akhirah. The parameters and standards of the world are changing, deceptive, and not necessarily correct.
  5. Allah (swt), unlike His creations, judges people by their genuine struggles and rewards accordingly the patient ones. People, on the other hand, reward on basis of performance and not the strife one has been through.
  6. Once a winner will not always be a winner, as it is Allah’s (swt) Sunnah that whatever goes up must come down. It is the nature of Dunya. Similarly, once a loser may not always be a loser provided he or she makes principled choices in life and perseveres hopefully.

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Weekends with Daddy

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  1. Sports

This varies from simple skipping to more emotional cricket matches. We enjoy football, racing, and anything that gets the blood rushing and giggles going. Just for dads to be there rolling in the grass or competing like kids builds treasured memories for children. My 14-year-old son very proudly shared with his teacher at school: “My dad and I try to outplay each other on Sundays. I let him win. You should see his face.”

  1. Brain teasers

Board games, verbal math word problems, spellathons, Dua contests, Abacus, riddles, general knowledge trivia, science or geography quizzes, and so on. These are great when you are either on the road or cooped up at home with little to do. This is a parent’s smart way of teaching stuff without teaching it. And kids love to be able to prove their mastery over their favourite areas of knowledge and expertise. It is a big deal for them to teach their mom and dad. Our six-year-old has been giving me and my husband Qaidah lessons and enjoys it tremendously.

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Inculcating the Akhirah Attitude in Children

aakhirah

We are living in times of Fitnah. According to Ibn al-Arabi: “Fitnah means testing, Fitnah means trial, Fitnah means wealth, Fitnah means children, Fitnah means Kufr, Fitnah means differences of opinion among people, and Fitnah means burning with fire.” (Lisan al-Arab by Ibn Manzoor)

It is the responsibility of parents to make their children focused on the Akhirah. When children are referred to as Fitnah in the Quran, it means that the parents are being tested as to how much they can keep their children Akhirah-focused and how far can they keep the Dunya from their hearts.

Before enumerating the techniques that can be helpful in teaching kids about the Hereafter, we have to look into the Marshmallow Experiment conducted on children aged four and five, which they remembered into their young adulthood. The experiment was based on delayed gratification, which is recognized by researchers as a critical skill for prosperity. Basically, the children were offered a small reward in the form of a marshmallow or a cookie and simultaneously offered two rewards if they could wait for a short period. The results indicated that those who could delay gratification due to greater self-control were found to be healthier in adulthood and had better life outcomes.

Examination

On and off, whenever children have their assessments or tests at schools, parents should find an opportunity to talk about Akhirah and the temporary nature of this life. Physical bonding with the child is extremely important; hence, a mother can embrace the child and explain the parable of this life as a test and this world as an examination hall, pointing out that that the Quran and the Sunnah are just like the syllabus to prepare. The attitude of the parent has to be so loving and kind that the children actually believe and trust the parents. If they delay gratification, or do not watch those cartoons or give up on any bad habits, they can be sure that delaying will be worth in the next life.

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Ways to Encourage Your Child’s Religious Studies

studies

 

  1. Give it priority. Make time for Islamic studies and Quran recitation every day, and make that time important and special. Don’t let yourself and your children get distracted by the demands of hectic daily routines. Let them know that learning about their religion is important, even more important than housework or school homework! Value their achievements in reading or memorizing the Quran more than other academic achievements.
  2. Be an example. It’s hard to expect your children to spend lots of time reading the Quran or learning Duas, if they hardly ever see you doing that. If you want your child to become a Hafiz, why don’t you start studying together? If you can find an excuse not to, so does your child. 

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My Dad – My ATM

atm

Behaviour is not a production of any moment. Behaviour surfaces on the basis of maybe the past ten years of someone’s life. It has a long-term history. It is based on the state as well as the strength of emotions. Particularly, when children are young, they need their parents’ support for emotional strengthening.  In today’s overly distracting world, parents are likely to be oblivious of children’s emotional needs and reduce their role to managing logistics.

In the prevailing culture, relationships are in danger. Tragically, in many families, for the kids their parents don’t matter. Fathers have become ATM machines for their children. The kids approach their dads when they are in need of finances or logistic support. Alarmingly, in many households, even wives talk to husbands for the same reasons, as usually they are not around. This was proven in a survey I conducted among fathers asking them for what reason were they approached by their families the last four times during one month. The reason was money. They had nothing else to share between them.

My Dad is not my Confidante

Religious families have a bigger crisis on the roll. They do not enjoy many forms of entertainments that are naturally impermissible for them. Hence, they refrain from it. But parallel to this, what they fail to do is raise their children with appropriate Tarbiyah (upbringing). By the term Tarbiyah, I refer to a process of purifying one’s desires to ultimately seek the Creator’s pleasure. It is a life-long training that enables you to want what God wants from you.

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Lessons on Parenting from Umm Ammarah (ra)

flower-blooming-drawing-picture-VFqaA Strong Mother

Umm Ammarah’s (ra) defence of Islam did not end with the Prophet’s (sa) passing away; when the Fitnah (trial) of apostasy emerged, she pledged her support to Abu Bakr (ra). He acknowledged that she was indeed a strong and daring woman; hence, allowed her to join the Muslim forces fighting the apostate Musalymah Kathab.

The Battle of Yamamah was the toughest battle that the Muslims faced. Musalymah had gathered a large army and was confident that he will wipe off Islam. They plan and Allah (swt) plans too, and Allah (swt) is the Best of the planners.

Umm Ammarah’s (ra) son, Habeeb (ra) was captured by Musalymah’s forces. Musalymah asked him if he testified Muhammad (sa) to be the Prophet of Allah (swt). Habeeb (ra) replied in affirmation. Musalymah then asked if he testified that he (Musalymah) was the Prophet of Allah (swt). Habeeb (ra) replied that he could not hear. Again Musalymah asked if he believed Muhammad (sa) was the Prophet of Allah (swt). Habeeb (ra) again replied in affirmation. Musalymah then repeated his question about his being a Prophet of Allah (swt). Habeeb (ra) replied that he could not hear. The show went on for some time and Habeeb (ra) remained firm in his replies.

The Zayd family was not only skilful in the battlefield, but Umm Ammarah’s (ra) son Abdullah (ra), and many of her grandchildren and great grandchildren became the narrators of the Prophetic traditions.

Furious, Musalymah ordered body mutilation. With each limb being cut, Habeeb (ra) was asked the same questions and the heroic boy repeated the same answers until he died.

Musalymah was later assassinated by none other than Habeeb’s (ra) brother Abdullah Ibn Zayd (ra).

The Zayd family was not only skilful in the battlefield, but Umm Ammarah’s (ra) son Abdullah (ra), and many of her grandchildren and great grandchildren became the narrators of the Prophetic traditions. They were equally passionate about acquiring and transferring knowledge, as they were about defending the Prophet (sa) in the field.

Lessons: Abu Bakr (ra) did not oppose Umm Ammarah’s (ra) request to join the army because he had witnessed how skilful she was. When someone does not assign us a role, we blame the person and call him biased. But have we ever assessed our skills? Have we focused on developing ourselves and complaining less about people or our circumstances? A person who is able does not have to beg for attention, his work speaks for him.

Her tranquillity was displayed in her words when the news of Habeeb’s (ra) mutilation reached her, and she said for this day she had raised her sons.

Umm Ammarah (ra) was sixty years old, but not even for a moment did she think of what use she could be. How many times have we limited ourselves or allowed others to restrict our potential? How many excuses do we have for staying behind in the service of Islam? What is our life’s mission?

Umm Ammarah (ra) did not raise her children in comfort and luxuries. She did not reserve the love for Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa) for herself alone. Rather, she transferred it to her children. It was this upbringing that made her children fearless. The entire family had one common goal: striving in the cause of Allah (swt), no matter what sacrifice it demanded. This was the family that truly lived by the verse: “Verily, my Salat (prayer), my sacrifice, my living, and my dying are for Allah, the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, Jinns and all that exists)” (Al-Anam 6:162)

She did not reserve the love for Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa) for herself alone. Rather, she transferred it to her children.

When her son got injured in the field, she attended to his wounds, and told him to get up and fight the enemy. When she was attacked, her sons defended her and dressed her wounds. When the news of her son’s disfigurement reached her, she was calm because she knew Allah (swt) had purchased the lives of the believers in exchange for Paradise. She was not attached to the world. She knew their real home was in the hereafter.

Her tranquillity was displayed in her words when the news of Habeeb’s (ra) mutilation reached her, and she said for this day she had raised her sons. How would have we reacted? How do we react to daily news of violence? How are we raising our children?

Umm Ammarah (ra) loved studying the Quran and Ahadeeth, and taught her children the same. Their love for Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa) was so pure that Allah (swt) chose from them Hadeeth narrators. Do our children know who Allah (swt) is, who the Prophet (sa) was, what his Sunnah is, and how much he cried for us? Is their love for Allah (swt) and His Beloved (sa) apparent in their conduct? Is our Dawah limited to the people ‘outside’ our homes?

(Adapted from the book: Seerat e Sahabiyat k Darakshan Pehlu and the lectures of Dr. Farhat Hashmi: Seerat e Sahabiyat)

The Ashab-e-Kahf For Today’s Youth

Ashab e Kahf

Transcribed for hiba by Asma Imran

I would like to highlight some lessons from the story of the Ashab-e-Kahf (People of the Cave) which I feel are significantly missing in Muslim discourse especially those related to our youth.

Withdrawal from Mainstream Culture

The first thing I want to talk about is the cultural onslaught. The People of the Cave drew themselves away from the dominant culture when they observed that it was overwhelmingly evil. Actually, a verdict was passed against them according to which they were to be executed as a result of their faith; so they pulled themselves out.

One of the most important lessons to draw from this is that until our lives are in danger, we have to engage with the society. As Muslims, we cannot have the attitude that we are not going to mingle in the society because everything outside is a Fitnah from which we have to protect and shelter ourselves, and the only way we are going to preserve our faith is by totally shutting ourselves out from the outside world. This means that we’ve already accepted defeat. It says that everybody else is attacking us, and we’ve got to save ourselves by pulling back and staying strong within our fort.

However, the entire idea of Islam and the imagery that Allah (swt) presents of Islam is that of truth being hurled against falsehood. Allah (swt) gives the image of truth being like a weapon and falsehood being the victim and running away. Thus, the truth is attacking falsehood, and falsehood is on the run. So who’s on the offense and who’s on the defence? Who’s actually questioning the wrong happening in our society and engaging with it and saying: “We are here to change things?” That’s the truth. And who’s actually supposed to go into hiding? That’s supposed to be falsehood.

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