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.

Have We Failed Our Sons?

3 failed our sons

“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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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.

The Self-Esteem Vaccine – Fosters the Life of your Child

Courtesy: www.ahealthiermichigan.org

Courtesy: www.ahealthiermichigan.org

Firstly, let’s try to understand what self-esteem really is. Self esteem maybe defined as a person’s self worth or how a person thinks of himself/herself. It usually develops from childhood and matures until we reach our adulthood.

Self- esteem in children is like a weapon in this challenging world. A child, who is loved and accepted for who he/she is, usually develops a high self-esteem; and is much capable of coping conflicts, stressful situations, and high pressure circumstances. They are better prepared to take on new challenges and live life to its fullest. They know their strengths and weaknesses; they are more optimistic, and even more realistic with reasonable expectation from others.

On the contrary, children with low self-esteem find it difficult to handle stressful situations and challenges, leading to major anxiety, panic, low performance issues, self- doubt and frustration. They have self-critical thoughts which are generalized as being “I am not good enough!” or “I can’t do anything right!”. They become solemn, withdrawn, or even clinically depressed at times.

Self-esteem originates early in life. Once we reach our adulthood, it’s difficult to change the programming we have acquired in the course of our life, or how we have learned to perceive things- old habits die hard. Hence, it would be very wise and intuitive of parents to develop and promote their child’s self-esteem early on.

The following are few tips that would boost your child’s self-esteem.

Let them take risks in life (Raise risk takers)

Let your children put themselves out there; in order to do so you have to step back. To build confidence in children, you have to let your children take chances; make their own choices and let them take responsibility for the choices as well.Throw them in the deep end and they will reach the shallow end on their own.

Let them fall (It is not about never falling, it is about always getting back up)

Sometimes, when children take their first step they fall- please let them fall, and tell them that it is okay to fall, it’s a part of life, you can’t always win. Let children try, fail, try again and fail again; but when, they finally succeed- they learn more about their own capabilities, strength and weaknesses. Many parents think that failure and struggle in life will result in poor self-esteem in children, but it’s actually a golden opportunity to help build it. The rain never stopped the itsy bitsy spider from climbing up, did it?

Unconditional Love (No terms and conditions)

Let your child know that your love is without conditions. Even if she/he makes mistakes or takes a wrong turn in life, it doesn’t make the parents stop loving him/her any less; your doors should always be open to your child- in fact your child must know you are his/her life line.

Be specific in your praise (Don’t just slap a gold star on everything)

Always praise your child in his/her achievements, but be specific. For instance, if a child gets good marks in her/his English exam, don’t just say “good effort”; tell her/him what a great job he/she has done on the essay, and how impressed you were. Do not praise the beautiful drawing your child did on the neighbour’s wall!

Let your child know how proud you are of them (cheer a little louder)

A little goes a long way. Your child needs to know how proud you are of of him/her. They need to know you see them struggle, suffer and win. You need to encourage them when they bring home a trophy- make them a trophy case and get ice cream; and when they don’t, they still deserve an ice cream for trying.

Avoid saying hurtful things (thou shall not hurt)

Children are usually sensitive to critical comments. Parents need to be extra cautious with their use of words. Parents usually end up saying hurtful things or slapping their child- especially when they are busy. So, whenever your child comes asking for your help- though you are on the edge, stop, take a deep breath, see what your child needs and help them; if not urgent, explain gently that you are too busy and will help her/him, but in a little while. Instead of being physical or being loud to the child, try explaining to them calmly. Children who don’t feel safe, or are abused at home, are at the greatest risk for developing poor self-esteem; and they may even resort to a conflicted life.

Set Goals (brief them on objectives)

Teach your children to make goals in life, and help them accomplish them; they may take pride in their achievements which will help a lot in boosting their self-esteem. And also show them the importance of planning. You are never lost when you have a map.

Be a Great Role Model for your Child (Do as I do)

You can’t expect your children to have a high self-esteem, if you are constantly complaining about things yourself, and showing a pessimistic personality; your children mimic you. You need to nurture your own self-esteem and your children will have a great role model to look up to.

Be your child’s counselor

Be your child’s counselor instead of asking others for help. If you think your child is suffering with low self-esteem, try to figure out what could have gone wrong; sit down with your child, talk to him/her, try to listen to him/her, give him/her your undivided attention. Even if the child doesn’t want to talk initially, keep on trying, he will open up eventually. If you are consistent, you should take professional help only in worst case scenarios ,but first you must try it on your own, because you can’t substitute parental love and attention with any professional help; and if, you are not ready to guide your child, then someone else will, that could end badly.

Lastly, parents should acknowledge that promoting healthy self-esteem in children is as important as giving your child three meals and a warm jacket in winters. Healthy self-esteem is the greatest gift that parents can give to their children.

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)

Our Kids, Our Sadaqah-e-Jariah

islami parenting- 1We always think about what will happen to us when we die? But have we ever thought about what will happen to our kids when they die? Are you confronting troubles in raising them into a productive Muslim and a Sadaqah-e-Jariah for yourself?

Here are some easy parenting tips to follow.

Inculcate Islamic routine and habits
Ever wondered how much emphasis do we put on Islamic routine? What should be our primary focus?

Make an Islamic routine for your children which may include:
a.      Teach them to stay awake after Fajr prayer (depending on the Salah times during the year).
b.      Make them read/memorize a portion of Quran daily.
c.      Make them reflect on a verse of Quran or some Hadeeth every day.
d.      Teach them to be charitable- even by smiling.
e.      Prioritize that they perform their Salah on time.
f.      Inculcate the habit of reading the Duas that Prophet (sa) used to read before going to bed, after waking up from sleep, eating etc.

Cheers for chores

We know, as Muslims, that cleanliness is half of our faith. If being clean is a large part of us being a Muslim, why not cultivate this into our children at an early age and teach them how to maintain their home and own space?  In their development, we all must play an effective role to keep both our external and internal environment clean. Someone taught a girl not to litter the ground. When she was asked why, she replied , “Why litter the ground we will be sleeping in one day?” I found her words extremely beautiful.

Make them follow Sunnah

Try to make Prophet (sa) their role model and the one whose footsteps they need to follow even while doing little tasks. Bring out positivity in them by reading to them the stories about Sahaba, and making their image everlasting in their minds. In this way, they will be able to understand our Islamic history more profoundly; they will respect our heroes and will try to act like them in their own lives as well.

Walk the talk

You cannot expect your kid to sit and learn Quran while the dad’s watching T.V and mummy’s browsing on her I pad. With the love of Quran exemplified in the parents, a young child will be attracted to sit and learn. So, first act upon what you teach them, and make them your Sadaqah-e-Jariah- the only way to earn rewards even after death.

(Part 2) Parents as Counsellors

Counseling-triennale[Continued from here]

What are the opportunities/signs of counseling for parents?

If the child appears:

  1. Unhappy
  2. Aloof, uninterested/withdrawn
  3. Unusually reserved
  4. Seems nervous and afraid
  5. Shows unusual behaviour or looks disturbed

Even under the above tremendous pressures, each child has a different absorption capacity. As a parent, we need to develop such a bond with them that we can read their unsaid words, silent body language, etc. If we suspect some turmoil, we should be available for him at the cross roads. As the right moment occurs, he may share his miseries with us. We can’t be over inquisitive or nosey- especially if the child is older and a self-driven individual who wants to assess his own developmental capacity. He may share with parents once the trouble is overcome as he reflects back and relieves himself. It is a moment of growth and wisdom for him.

What does it mean to be your kid’s counselor?

  1. Your children feel comfortable to open their personal matters before you. (They can unload the emotional garbage which might include crying, blaming, accusing, swearing, etc.)
  2. They feel safe to share their worries and most personal concerns with you. (He needs to feel heard completely with no hurdles, judgments, rebukes, threat of punishment, negative reaction from your side as a parent.)
  3. They consider you wise and trustworthy and therefore value your advice. (Perceived credibility is the actual credibility.)
  4. You can easily know when your child is disturbed and need support. (He might withdraw, stop eating, slam doors, look moody, try to be aloof, etc.)
  5. All of you feel good and relaxed after the session. (The emotional strength of the parent needs to be developed so that he/she doesn’t end up needing a counseling session after hearing out his/her child’s worries.)

 The counseling framework for parents
1. Prepare yourself
Do your mental homework before approaching the child. Imagine all possible problems and their causes, the kid’s perception of the problem, expectation of the people around the kid from him, etc.

2. Spare time for a session
Find a peaceful place and choose the best time.

3. Be happy and stay calm
Tend to your own emotional landscape so as not to react before the kid when he is unloading his emotions before you. It is essential to conquer your own mood first.

4. Encourage your child to express his problem
Convey care and warmth through your body language, facial expressions and tone, etc.

5. Listen actively
This means no interruption, no pretend listening while you are multi-tasking, etc.

6. Rephrase what you understand
This is important so that the child’s intention and purpose is understood with clarity and no miscommunication happens.

7. Acknowledge the feelings of your child
Albert Einstein once lamented: “Why is it that nobody understands me, yet everybody likes me.” Taking care of your child is easy. Taking care of your child’s feelings is challenging.

8. Ask about the causes and expectations
Analyze the problem and situation with your child. Don’t offer an immediate solution or suggestion yourself.

9. Give confidence and offer helpful tips
Let the child take a responsible decision himself.

Lastly and most importantly, children will learn best, when they are trusted, valued, owned, encouraged and made comfortable. This does not mean that we surrender to their whims and fancies, let them disown their responsibilities, bend and break the family rules. It certainly means that we treat them with respect and empower them to take value-based decisions in life.

Adapted by Rana Rais Khan from an interactive workshop at L2L Academy Karachi

(Part 1) Parents as Counsellors

counselling-in-the-workplace-1When was the last time your child came to you to share something? A survey conducted in the city of Karachi with a sample of significant number of kids/teenagers indicated the following results:

They were asked: “Who are those five people in your life you can trust blindly to share your inner most troubles/stressors in life?” The percentage that included one parent or both parents at the fourth position or maybe last position among the five preferred individuals was as follows:

77% – 11 – 14 years

60% – 14 – 17 years

30% – 17 – 20 years

Appalling responses surfaced. The younger age group could somewhat trust either of the parents but not both. The older group was most comfortable with a virtual friend. The oldest sought counseling from complete strangers. In their sight, the parents were too naïve or outdated to understand their issues. They felt worse, when confided in their parents.

We might fathom this better, if we take the example of a mirror. What is the function of a mirror? It reflects our image with all its beauties and flaws. And we all love to admire or gaze at ourselves in it. However, the day this mirror finds a voice and dares to offer judgmental phrases, its opinions and perceptions about us, how many of them will survive? Maybe none. Their fate will inevitably be shattered.

A counselor is similarly a person, who places a balm on an emotionally injured person’s wounds. He does not cut open gashes with his scalpel to infect the wound further. The role of a mentor steps further to help analyze the injured, as to why and how he is injured in the first place. But that comes at a later stage. Clearly, there is a difference between the roles of a counselor and mentor.

Role of parents as a counselor

Our children today are passing through an era, where they face a lot of turbulence and challenges socially and emotionally. Firstly, Allah (swt) has placed within every person a mechanism to subside his hurt feelings. This threshold again varies from person to person. If a person is unable to settle these inner disturbed emotions, his family serves the purpose of ideal counseling. Why?

If an external counselor is hired, he is an unknown authority who is unaware of the affected persons’ context, background, strengths and weaknesses, etc. A close relative or friend again will have to brief the expert thoroughly. This expert in light of his learning will review the case and offer an expert advice which may or may not work eventually. But family and specially parents who are a natural institution of counseling must be able to dissolve up to 90% approximately of problems in their kid’s life. They brought them into this world, raised them up, can read their face and feelings like no one can, provided they share a special bond.

Realistically in order to become ideal counselors, parents need to learn some qualities. It is pivotal for them to understand that if they do not serve the role of effective counselors, their child will go somewhere else to address his needs, as humans do not live in isolation. But this counseling will be at the cost of values. It could be to a friend, who offers them relief in the form of an innocent ice cream or a puff of a cigarette or indulgence into drugs or alcohol or other profanities, etc. It could be simply an icon on their internet screen that is constantly available and luring “Do you want to chat?”

And this does not mean that the kid is bad/evil. It must be understood that when an individual is emotionally disturbed, three areas are negatively influenced: his thinking ability, his behaviour and his creative potential. He is so desperate to find relief that he can’t rationalize his own choices. As parents, the first thing that needs to be done is to pull the child out of disturbance and bring him towards normalization.

What could be the probable pressures in your kid’s life?

  1. Academic
  2. Parental
  3. Peer

On top of the above puberty/adolescence brings its own physical changes that create havoc in a child’s body now transforming into an adult. This is a time when most kids are emotionally weak and vulnerable.

What kind of perceptions a child is locked into and might travel through in a month about himself and others?

  1. I cannot be good at studies.
  2. Teacher will be angry at my work.
  3. Subject is difficult and boring.
  4. Everybody will laugh at my question.
  5. I never have a good idea to share in class.
  6. I am not intelligent and creative. I am stupid.
  7. I cannot speak well.
  8. Teacher does not like me.
  9. I always have disturbing thoughts.
  10. I don’t know whether I am right or wrong.
  11. I wish I was born free.
  12. Nobody is pleased by my work.
  13. Nobody likes to be my friend.
  14. Nobody likes me.
  15. I soon forget what I learn.
  16. I can’t solve any problem on my own.
  17. Nobody understands me or trusts me.
  18. I am a bad boy/girl.
  19. I quickly get bored, don’t know what to do.
  20. I feel restricted; I don’t have freedom in my life. Everyone scolds me.

Some children think any of the above for a while, unstuck themselves and move on. Those are the ones, who are intellectually developed and emotionally secure. Other kids think and get stuck in their negative perceptions and begin to lose themselves. That’s when they underperform.

[To be continued Insha Allah…]

Adapted by Rana Rais Khan from an interactive workshop at L2L Academy Karachi.

[Family Matters] Honouring Parents by Wael Ibrahim

Elderly ParentsAs Muslims, we have no option to disgrace or dishonour our parents, even if they ask us to commit Shirk, which in itself is an unpardonable sin. Disobedience to parents ranks number two on the list of major offences. It comes before such vices as fornication, killing, etc.

Uqooqullah (linguistically) means to cut off one’s garment. It is one of the major sins in Islam, as if you are severing ties with your parents and Allah (swt). There are nine consequences that may happen to us in Dunya and Akhirah, if we cause displeasure to our parents:

  1. Allah (swt) will shut out your light. Never cut your ties with your dad. You will be left misguided.
  2. You will face disgrace and humiliation in this world.
  3. If you end up disobeying your parents, Allah (swt) will haste your punishment in this world. Hence, lower your wings and be humble before them.
  4. You will experience hardships. You will never be successful as you will find closed doors in your way. A famous historic account tells us about Juraij, who earned the title of Al-Abid- the worshipper. Once he was worshipping while he heard his mother call him. In a dilemma whether to answer her or not, he decided not to. She got frustrated as he didn’t respond to her and cursed him to see the face of a prostitute before he dies. Rest assured, a woman carrying a baby falsely alleged Juraij to be the father of the child. Juraij lost his pious status and was covered with humiliation because he angered his mother. When his mother forgave Juraij, the baby spoke from the cradle to defend Juraij’s honour and he was acquitted.
  5. We are advised never to make Dua against our life, wealth or children lest it comes true.
  6. Those who consume alcohol and dishonour their parents will not cross Al-Quds Masjid. When Jerusalem will be returned to Muslims, such people will be barred from entering it.
  7. Allah (swt) will never look at the one who disobeys his parents.
  8. Good deeds of the one who dishonoured his parents will not be accepted by Allah (swt).
  9. A person who had knowledge and acted upon it, yet failed to honour his parents will not be granted Jannah by Allah (swt).

Transcribed by Rana Rais Khan from a talk at Family Matters at Twins of Faith Karachi organized by Mercy Mission.

“Twins of Faith” – An Epic Experience

ToF-logo-2-293x300O you, who believe, be supporters of Allah (swt)…” (61:14)

“The Twins of Faith 2014” conference was a life-changing experience. Helping in the cause of Allah (swt) was something I had longed to do. This conference was my chance. This was the first time I had volunteered in such an event. The tension and excitement were both at their peak before the event.

I was first given the job to sell tickets. I had to go to my school, friends and family members and tell them about the event, convincing them to come. Believe me, it was no walk in the park. I only managed to sell five tickets to my family members. In school, none of my friends were interested. I was really disappointed. I told them about how beneficial and gratifying it would be, but still I got a response in the negative. I gave up all hope and started thinking what a Fitnah filled world it was, but I remembered that our job was to remind people – Allah (swt) is the One, Who can change the hearts. So I kept reminding them and they finally got interested, but it all ended in vain, when their parents did not allow them. Frankly, I was quite upset but I kept my calm.

Now about the responsibilities I had on the day of the event. I was an usher at the registration desk. We were summoned to “Marriott” at 7 o’clock in the morning, so we headed for the venue right after praying Fajr. It was still dark outside. It seemed like a small job to perform, just like a drop in the sea, as the older volunteers were assigned all the hard tasks; however, I found satisfaction in the fact that one should not belittle his good deeds. The Prophet (sa) said: “Do not belittle any good deed, even meeting your brother (Muslim) with a cheerful face.” (Muslim) Furthermore, we were told in the weekly meetings that deeds were based on intentions, and I did it solely for Allah (swt). The rewards of deeds are based on the intentions (Bukhari). Time and again we were reminded to keep a smiling and cheerful face, as it makes the people feel welcomed, and it also is a Sunnah. The event was a blast and a great learning experience. They told about the rights of parents, how they are the easiest route to Jannah, and the rights of children. Even though many problems arose, everybody had a great time. The volunteers and the team members handled every situation calmly, always showing a jovial demeanour.

The best thing was that we were within close proximity with the shaykhs. We got the best seats in the house, right next to the stage. The dinner with the shaykhs was great, as they related their lifetime stories. It was a highly learning experience. The meetings were fun, and everybody had a great sense of humour – we were helping in the cause of Allah (swt), while being social and active in the community.

 

Pearls of Peace: Extracts from Juzz 14 & 15

pearlGain awareness – ignorance is not bliss

In Surah An-Nahl, Allah (swt) warns us against jumping to conclusions, “And We sent not (as Our Messengers) before you (O Muhammad (sa)) any but men, whom We inspired, (to preach and invite mankind to believe in the Oneness of Allah). So ask of those who know the Scripture (learned men of the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)), if you know not.” (An-Nahl 16:43) Here we learn the significance of being knowledgeable. People who acquire knowledge have a status above the ignorant ones.

Talking about ignorance, one of the practices in the days of ignorance was to bury the female child alive. “And when the news of (the birth of) a female (child) is brought to any of them, his face becomes dark, and he is filled with inward grief!” (An-Nahl 16:58) Our Prophet (sa) strove to banish this evil custom from the Arabian Peninsula; sadly however, it has crept into our societies today. Despite all the awareness, people still make faces when a daughter is born. Women are divorced for delivering a baby girl; even though they are not given a choice!

How will we face Allah (swt) in the hereafter?

He decides who gets a son and who gets a daughter. We can’t fight His will. For some people, Allah (swt) has ordained only male children; we don’t know the reason behind it. But Allah (swt) knows. So thank Him. For some people, He has ordained only daughters; they are their Paradise. Thank Allah (swt). Girl is an Amanah; (trust) you only look after her for some time, for someone else. People who don’t have children, perhaps it is destined for them to get closer to Allah (swt) through this test. Having or not having children is not a scale to assess someone’s success. Some people do not benefit from their children at all. Look at the wives of the Prophet (sa). Other than Khadijah (ra) and Mariah (ra); none of them had children from the Prophet (sa). But they were never depressed. All of Prophet’s (sa) children, except Fatimah (ra), passed away before him. The best of creation lost many of his children, but was he depressed? Hence, sit with those who have knowledge and learn from their wisdom.

Justice – order of the day

Allah (swt) commands us to be just, “Verily, Allah enjoins Al-Adl (justice) and Al-Ihsan (i.e. to be patient in performing your duties to Allah, totally for Allah’s sake and in accordance with the Sunnah (legal ways) of the Prophet (sa) in a perfect manner), and giving (help) to kith and kin (i.e. all that Allah has ordered you to give them e.g., wealth, visiting, looking after them, or any other kind of help, etc.): and forbids Al-Fahsha (i.e. all evil deeds, e.g. illegal sexual acts, disobedience of parents, polytheism, to tell lies, to give false witness, to kill a life without right, etc.), and Al-Munkar (i.e. all that is prohibited by Islamic law: polytheism of every kind, disbelief and every kind of evil deeds, etc.), and Al-Baghy (i.e. all kinds of oppression), He admonishes you, that you may take heed.” (An-Nahl 16:90) Notice that justice comes before good conduct. It is because while it is virtuous to forgive people like Yusuf (as) did, no one can expect us to keep forgiving- despite their continuous disrespect and oppression. Seek justice, it’s your right; however, avenge your heart from anger.

Our journey – to this world and back

There are times when one does not have anything. He is low in terms of his worldly status. Then Allah (swt) expands his provision and instead of being grateful, he becomes haughty. “Whatever is with you, will be exhausted, and whatever with Allah (of good deeds) will remain. And those who are patient, We will certainly pay them a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do.” (An-Nahl 16:96)

Presently, man misses his prayer for one more phone call, one more email, one more business transaction and one more task of the world. When he will enter Paradise, he will forget everything that he was given in the world. Jannah contains that which no eye has ever seen. It’s precious and free from filth. Man would look at his own wife and feel as if he is looking at her for the first time. No rancour or grudges. Let us not become arrogant for the blessings that Allah (swt) has gifted us. Rather, let us use those blessings for His cause. Give Him your wealth, your skills and your resources for a better return in the Hereafter.

Don’t strive for more – the day is close

Let us not waste our time here because Allah (swt) says, “(Remember) the Day when every person will come up pleading for himself, and everyone will be paid in full for what he did (good or evil, belief or disbelief in the life of this world) and they will not be dealt with unjustly.” (An-Nahl 16:111) The more things we possess, the more answerable we will be on that Day. It will be said, “(It will be said to him): Read your book. You yourself are sufficient as a reckoner against you this Day.” (Al-Isra 17:14) The poor (mentioned as Miskeen in authentic narrations) will be the first ones to enter Paradise, because they had very little rights upon others. Those who have been blessed by Allah (swt) have been informed of their responsibilities towards others. If we fail to honour their responsibilities, there will be people on the Day of Judgement fighting against us. They will take away our good deeds and there will be no help.

Polite invitation towards Deen

As Quran touches our hearts, it is equally important to speak to people in such a way that it has a positive effect on their hearts; especially when one is calling them towards Allah (swt), Invite (mankind, O Muhammad (sa)) to the Way of your Lord (i.e. Islam) with wisdom (i.e. with the Divine Inspiration and the Qur’an) and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better. Truly, your Lord knows best who has gone astray from His Path, and He is the Best Aware of those who are guided.(An-Nahl 16:125)

Use kind words and good speech to win hearts. Do not be harsh and condescending. The Prophet (sa) won people over by his beautiful conduct and gentleness. (If you lack confidence, recite the Dua of Prophet Moosa (as) (Ta-Ha 20: 25).)

Who deserves our kindness the most?

Our parents! If your parents are alive, exert yourselves in serving them. If they have passed away, make Dua for their forgiveness and an elevation of their status in the Hereafter. May Allah (swt) make us and our children a source of continuous charity for parents. Ameen. Our parents and household was chosen by Allah (swt). No child picks his own parents. Therefore, families are one of the tests decreed. Children are a test for their parents, and parents are a test for their children. Remember the phrase: As you do so shall be done unto you. Be kind to your parents; give them your love and respect, and above all give them your time.

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…” (Al-Isra 17:23-24)

“Uff”- the prohibited word!

“Uff” is a word uttered in rebuke. We should remember they are our parents. They fed us, looked after our needs, raised us, made arrangements for our education and upbringing, and did whatever they thought was right for us. If we feel they have failed in some aspects, then we should let it go and forgive them. Look at how the instruction of good treatment is followed by a Dua. Allah (swt) instructs us to say, and say: My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was small. (Al-Isra 17:24) When we feel cold towards our parents, we should go back and check our Islamic history. Read up stories of the Companions (ra) and learn how they were with their parents. Some of them had non-Muslim parents; yet they never dishonoured them. Some of them were oppressive; yet the Companions (ra) never lost their good conduct.

Parental tyranny

We come across incidences of parental abuse even in Muslim societies. Today, being a parent is not enough. One must beseech Allah (swt) for his own uprightness. If we are not upright ourselves, what would we be teaching our children? Parents complain of their children not respecting them, have you reflected upon your own behaviour? How do you speak to them? How do you carry yourself around them? May Allah (swt) make us responsible and upright parents; and enable us to fulfil the rights of people around us. Ameen.

Spending rightfully

Look at what He says further, “And give to the kindred his due and to the Miskin (poor) and to the wayfarer. But spend not wastefully (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift .” (Al-Isra 17:26) After spending on one’s own family, a person must look at the needs of his relatives, who might not be wealthy, and travellers who are strangers in a new land. Even though begging is despised; but never rebuke a beggar. Utter a kind word and turn away.

Next, Allah (swt) commands us not to be wasteful. Extravagance is one reason why people are unable to give in charity. We spend so much on ourselves in superfluous things that we have little left to give in Allah’s (swt) way. Wastefulness is ingratitude. We should not indulge in the worldly life so much that we lose our focus – the Paradise.

Balanced expenditures

Not being wasteful does not mean living like a miser, And let not your hand be tied (like a miser) to your neck, nor stretch it forth to its utmost reach (like a spendthrift), so that you become blameworthy and in severe poverty.” (Al-Isra 17:29) Islam recommends choosing the middle path. Neither be extravagant nor stingy. Keep a balance. Spend on your needs and occasional indulgences. We learn in Hadeeth that the best Dinar that a man spends is a Dinar that he spends on his family. (Muslim)

Why are we stopped from extravagance?

Extravagance instils haughtiness. And walk not on the earth with conceit and arrogance. Verily, you can neither rend nor penetrate the earth, nor can you attain a stature like the mountains in height.All the bad aspects of these (the above mentioned things) are hateful to your Lord.” (Al-Isra 17: 37-38) So why be haughty and demean others by means of our wealth when everything is from Allah (swt)?

Peace – the order of Jannah

“And say to My slaves (i.e. the true believers of Islamic Monotheism) that they should (only) say those words that are the best.” (Al-Isra 17:53) Allah (swt) commands us to be careful with our words; which is why we see that one of the treasures of Jannah would be “no foul speech”.

Shaytan – the open enemy

“(Because) Shaytan (Satan) verily sows disagreements among them. Surely, Shaytan (Satan) is to man a plain enemy” (Al-Isra 17:53) Shaytan, the known enemy to mankind, provokes us to gossip, back bite, slander, and hurt others. Let us not use the resources that Allah (swt) blessed us with, in evil deeds. Let us indulge our tongues in reciting the Quran, praising Allah (swt) and calling people towards His path. Let us consider another person’s reaction before we open our mouths. Let us remember that the angels near us are recording every word that we speak and every deed that we perform. Let us be people of Shukr and not those of Kufr.

How can one become a Kafir?  

By turning away from Allah (swt) despite enjoying all His favours, “And when We bestow Our Grace on man (the disbeliever), he turns away and becomes arrogant, far away from the Right Path.” (Al-Isra 17:83) What are the repercussions of distancing from Allah (swt)? He loses hope, And when evil touches him he is in great despair.” (Al-Isra 17:83)

Hope vs. fear

A believer should live his life between hope and fear. Hope that Allah (swt) will forgive him and fear for what if He doesn’t. Umar ibn Al-Khattab (ra) would say, “If it were announced from the heaven: ‘O people! You are all entering Paradise except one,’ I would fear to be him; and if it were announced: ‘O people! You are all entering the Fire except one,’ I would hope to be him.”

(Adapted from Mufti Ismail Menk’s “Pearls of Peace” series, Cape Town, Ramadan 2013. The lecture can be listened to at this link.)

 

Feed Them with Apples, not Apps

“He is too young for that.” This is a common expression that mothers have heard from their elders or other mothers under the banner of free advice. However, I have experienced it to be entirely wrong. We often ignore our toddlers and/ or underestimate their capabilities that Allah (swt) has blessed them with.

It is supported by researches that fetus starts listening and recognizing the voice of his mother while in her womb. This indicates his ability to comprehend and adapt to other clues, when he is just a toddler. Being a mother, I have made some achievements to connect with my son emotionally and most importantly – to connect him to Deen.

Listening skills are finer than speaking at early years. So make use of it by talking to your toddler about things. Describe him the procedure that you will do to make a simple shake or whatever, tell him about the existence of Allah (swt) and angels, who record deeds. Explain him appropriate behaviours and show him emotions by modeling yourself.

Instead of making your child addicted to television and other gadgets, encourage him to listen to Quran’s recitation. A wide range of Islamic Nasheeds are also available online. You can check Kids Land by Dr. Farhat Hashmi – it has Urdu, English, and Arabic Nasheeds that toddlers love to listen. Memorize them yourself and sing with your babies. They will love your actions and voice, and this way you will limit use of computers and television from an early age.

I was astonished to know how quickly these little toddlers pick up visual information. Buy them colorful Islamic books, read them out aloud to them and ask them questions related to the context. Repetition and consistency are the two keys to success. Masha’Allah, my son learned to perform ablution, when he was one plus by just looking at me, while I was making ablution, and with the aid of pictures. I involve him in craft work by making thematic artwork for Hajj or Ramadan and posters on Salah and other pillars of Islam.

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Narrate to them stories at bed time – stories, which talk about good behaviour, Jannah, animals, and prophets. What is worth doing is your involvement in it: the way you narrate, your gestures, actions and tone will make it a fun learning. You have no idea how much impact it can have on his beliefs in later years.

Always offer them choice by giving two or three options. By this you will catch them psychologically, and they will have no way of saying ‘no’ but to accept from the choices given. For instance, ask them which color milk you want? Red (add few drops of red color juice) or chocolate? They will be tied up to the options and will choose one, Insha’Allah.

Make their eatables attractive. Spend some time and effort in preparing healthy foods; and do not leave them on mercy of junk food from an early age. You can make oat muffins instead of normal all-purpose flour; or can bake cookies of various shapes by using alphabet cutters, etc.

I am not in favour of parents who helicopter their kids day and night, but a cold and unresponsive mother will deprive her child from strong psychological and emotional development. The more stimuli you provide in early years, the stronger will be the cognition and response later on. Make wise choices and select good exposure, while your children are small, as it will facilitate their development into better Muslims.

Back to My Deen


jankie / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

And that was the moment of dawn. I had always been negative about my family being too pressing about practicing the Deen; even the very minute details of it. Sometimes, I felt it just got too hard on me. I – being a typical teenager, studying the typical academic curriculum in a typical academy. Yes, I was no different from the typical Karachite teenager girl. My family wasn’t that typical though; they were conscious Muslims, pushing me onto the As-Sirat-e-Mustaqeem to their best, while I stayed persistent in my search for new excuses to fend away their instructions.

All praise to Allah (swt) only, the blissful day came, when I finally agreed upon getting enrolled in an Islamic institute for a formal Islamic education. At the time of admission, I was a tad bit distressed to see the staff wearing a scarf and gown, scurrying about. The very thought of picturing myself in the same attire was quite nabbing. Since I had missed out on the orientation day, the management offered me to join that day only so as to avoid missing out on the following day’s work. I hesitantly agreed and was led to the lecture hall.

The air inside was grasping. Hardly a moment after my entrance, the period was signalled over by the mesmerizing recitation of the Quran, resonating through the insulated walls. And much to my disbelief, the only sound that reverberated in the midst of the recitation breaks was that of ruffling bags and a soft thump of books being placed against the desks. Not the slightest of whisperings could be heard from the tired dozens, nor could I spot them mouthing signals to each other. All I saw was a multiple pair of hands raised to their chest level, eyes focused upon them, mouths vibrating to the playing audio. As the Dua finished, I looked around and found the most charming and polite girls in such a big number altogether; they filed out neatly for some other activity. I joined them up, my heart trembling with the uncertainty the future is impregnated with.

The next two days proved to be of some of the best days that I treasure. All around me were girls fairly my age, exhibiting lovely smiles and offering lively Salams. Although, I would feel odd amongst them intermittently, the feeling was not that much dominant, and I was often at ease. They all seemed to be a part of one family, and I – a newcomer to them. Basically, the general impression that I perceived was that they all belonged to highly religious, dedicated families, even more than mine, and were perseverant Muslims as individuals.

Days passed, and the new month began. The van fee was due by the fifth of that month. My dad dutifully cleared the charges well in time. On the morning of the fifth, as I sat with my new friends in a circle before the lessons started, the talk was casually diverted to our social problems. I was much taken-aback and awed, as I intently learned the mind-boggling scenarios they were captured in. One of them, a fresh-graduate dentist, lamented about her dad’s resentful attitude towards her Islamic affiliation. He termed her as an ‘extremist’. Another eighteen-year-old narrated with sagging shoulders but gleaming eyes: “My dad already has big problems with my scarf. I wonder the shock he’ll be in, when he sees me veiled, Insha’Allah.” A third one had a similar story, too. “My parents reckon I’m going wacko with my veil and gloves and shoed feet, compared to my previous exhibition of the latest fashion, they totally think so.”

Before it got too long, I shot an inquisitive look at the many distressed, endeavouring souls and inquired plainly: “Err, I can empathize with you. I mean, I really feel sorry for you, but surely, they are your parents and they love you and all, so it’s just a bunch of intimidating responses for the time being, right?” The dentist managed a hoarse snort-kind-of-laugh and explained: “The time being? I wonder if it would ever end before the finish of this course. Do you know we’ve been holding off the van driver for our fee payment these past five agitating days? Can you imagine the utter shame and abashment we get drenched in, as we walk out of our bungalows each morning, the driver’s judging gaze whipping us up expectantly, his tongue going haywire inside his mouth, as he resists an accountability from us, the luxury of our shipshape houses mocking at our failure to produce a skimpy amount of fee for our daily conveyance, just because our parents are adamant to have us leave this place.”

The mesmeric recitation began, and I was cut short. I thanked Allah (swt) for His countless blessings upon me, and for the timely commencement of the Tilawah, for I was lost speechless. And that precise moment, it dawned upon me that all through my life, I had been a Muslim by chance, rather, by force. With the Ameen of the Al-Fatiha echoing in my ears deafeningly, I solemnly pledged to myself to become a Muslim by choice – a choice that only the chanciest of people get to avail.

How to Raise our Children

serviceLife is a precious gift from Allah (swt) to all human beings. It is upon us as to how we spend this gift, whether we earn the blessings of Heaven or the torment of Hell fire. The truth is that we all should spend our life according to the Quran and Sunnah in order to make our life, our homes and our society- peaceful.

As parents, we have a huge responsibility on our shoulders to raise our children and so we put in endless efforts to bring them up in an Islamic manner. But the question is that even after all the efforts put in by the parents, why don’t our children learn good Islamic manners?  After a session of contemplation and thorough survey, I ended up with the answer that since we as elders are not implementing those things that we teach our children in our lives, then how can we expect them to act upon them. And if we just say something that does not reflect through our deeds and actions, then how will our kids learn the application of those teachings in their life? It’s basically “Walk the Talk Rule” that should be followed! Hence, before anything else, we have to take care of this issue.

Children are great imitators. Therefore we should give them something great to imitate. And the most important point to remember in raising kids is that we should not scold them if they do any mistake. Instead we should stay calm and try to teach them with great love. This will build our respect in their mind. And if they start respecting us, they will respect other people also.

A mother is better than a thousand teachers. It is said that home is the first school of a child. So we should make our home the house of Allah (swt) by instilling Islamic teachings in it and inculcating them in every single aspect of our life.

When a kid is in early childhood, he or she is very sensitive and is building a whole personality which thoroughly depends upon what environment he or she gets at home and what lessons are being taught. So we should give them self confidence by treating them nicely in front of others. We should trust them so that they never lie to us and make ourselves their best friends so they love us. And whenever we do something for them, our intention should be that we are doing for the sake of Allah (swt) and not to receive any kind of future reward from our kids. As a result, you will see how Allah (swt) helps you and makes life easier for you.

There is no better companion for a kid than a mother- the most pure and sincere relationship in the world. And there is no better guide and mentor for a child than his father, but everything should be done in a limit and only for Allah (swt).

We must appreciate kids when they achieve something. This will make them happy and give a robust to their self-esteem and help them put trust in their own abilities for further achievements.

Little angels are interested in stories so we should tell them the stories of our prophets, his companions (Sahaba) and the Islamic history so that the love for Islam nurtures in them.

These are the little things I feel that if we implement and apply them, our lives will be very peaceful and our kids will Insha’Allah become good human beings and true Muslims.

Half my Deen – A Reality Check in Time!

happy-marriageIt was declared that Sofia and Saif’s wedding was heading to a divorce. They were not made for each other. Their thoughts did not match. They were complete opposites.

Haven’t we heard that opposites attract? Well, but here they repelled! There was not a moment where either of them did not argue. Be it money, clothes, food or their sleeping time, there were numerous petty reasons of their bickering when finally Sofia returned to her mother’s place declaring that she could not stand Saif anymore.

It was a grand fairy tale wedding that had taken place hardly six months ago. It had been the talk of the neighbourhood that the beautiful and elegant Sofia was marrying rich and handsome Saif.

Sofia returned to her parental home within six months of marriage. But things were not comfortable at home either. Her mom and dad did not welcome her as always. She was not looked at with pity or concern; she was being scorned and had ogling large eyes all over.

Saif too had returned to his parental home disheartened. He did not know what was wrong in their marriage. Every gadget was in Sofie’s (as he called her lovingly) hands, adorned with jewellery rubies, emeralds, a large apartment in a posh locality. But she had lame arguments and fought over everything. He allowed her to buy the best designer clothes, gave her money but nothing would make her happy

Saif’s parents were humble and he was guilty of leaving them to stay with his wife. His parents were shocked to know that Saif and his wife were applying for a divorce. His mother had told him that divorce is such a huge decision that it would shake the Arsh (heavens).

Sofie stayed quiet while they ate lunch, dinner and breakfast. Silence could be broken with just some nods and hums but she did not have the guts to speak out to her parents. Why? If she was right then what was that hesitation? Sofie felt guilt all over. She was sure that she was wrong, for if she had been right, her parents would have supported her. As she stood in the window and saw droplets of water rolling down the pane, she wiped her tears. At 4-four p.m. they had to appear at the court. For an umpteenth time her gaze went on the wall. It had been an hour since lunch but the minutes were getting heavier each moment. Would Saif come to pick up or would he send the driver? But why would he care now? She regretted her behaviour with him the last day they were together.

She gathered some tissues around her. Her heart was weeping. But why could not she gather herself? She had to go alone as her father did not even want to discuss that issue with her. However she was sure that her parents would get over it in a few days after the divorce. She always hated Saif’s choice, his food habits, his sleeping and everything. So why was she missing all the luxuries and comforts he had showered her with? She called her dad’s driver and he was ready to take her. But no sooner she stepped out of the house than her sandal slipped and she tripped down the stairs right to the bottom and her world went dark.

His mother had told him that divorce is such a huge decision that it would shake the Arsh (heavens).

When she woke up, she saw tensed faces around her. Saif and his parents were present there. But her parents were absent. Saif raised his hands and kept on Sofie’s forehead and wiped the sweat with a tissue. Then she noticed her bandaged leg and bruised hand. Her head was quite heavy. Her mother in law asked Sofie how she was feeling. Sofie was too embarrassed to reply, she just stuck a faint smile. She did not know what exactly had happened.

Saif’s parents left to get something for her to eat and allowed them to be alone which Sofie detested. And luckily the nurses came in and told Saif to let her sleep without disturbance.

Soon she drifted into a blissful sleep only to be awakened by the doctor who did her routine check up and advised rest for a few more days. Then she ordered the RMO (Resident Medical Officer) and nurse to leave the room as she wanted to have a few words with Sofia in isolation.

She asked Sofie with such pure intentions and concern that she did not see even in her own mother, “Beta, you look so pale. You are newly married. Did you try to commit suicide?” Sofie shook her head, she didn’t know whether to trust her or not. What if she was her husband’s agent? But whatever she said later was enough to change Sofia, her present and her future.

“You know these days where social media is becoming cheaper and there are so many extra marital affairs coming on scene… Getting a sincere, loving husband is rare! You are quite lucky, but what makes you sad? It is indeed the talk of the hospital. Both of you are young and beautiful. You are married to a rich, handsome husband who is so devoted to you. Take my advice; marriages do not remain in the honey moon phase forever. Marriage is a life time commitment. You have to live through thick and thin. Marriage is doing laundry, cooking, cleaning, serving, being a maid and working hard to get the crown of a Queen. It is not what you read in novels or watch in serials or movies.. Marriage is to get peace and tranquillity in our lives. It is not to measure differences but to raise the one who is weak.”

marriages do not remain in the honey moon phase forever. Marriage is a life time commitment. You have to live through thick and thin.

Whatever she spoke was the truth but I was adamant. “Are you related to Saif?” I asked.

“You are very naive!” she said. “Pay some heed to what I said and think over it!” she said without replying to my question.

As she went out of the room, the bitter truth she spoke dawned upon me. Her words were echoing in my mind that “marriage does not remain in the honeymoon phase forever. It is not what you read in novels and watch in movies and serials!” But that’s what every woman searches for! That’s why she was sad, that’s what she was missing in her life. She wanted her husband to take her to a hotel or a movie or to a mall or any other park for an outing every day. He wanted promotion, he wanted to save money and he wanted to invest! Obviously then how could their thinking match? The maturity was still lacking and she was behaving like a kid in some mere infatuation.

Sofie’s ego and pride would not allow her to apologize. She did not want to bend down on her knees. Soon she tossed and turned to get some more sleep. As she turned, she saw a letter.

It began with “Allah (swt) has created man and woman as company for one another and so that they can procreate and live in peace and tranquillity according to the commandments of Allah (swt) and the directions of His Messenger (sa). The Quran states:

“And among His Signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect.” (Ar- Rum 30:21)

“And Allah has made for you wives of your own kind, and has made for you, from your wives, sons and grandsons, and has bestowed on you good provision. Do they then believe in false deities and deny the Favour of Allah (by not worshipping Allah Alone).”(An-Nahl 16:72)

The word Zawaj is used in the Quran to signify a pair or a mate. But in common parlance it stands for marriage. Since a family is the nucleus of an Islamic society and marriage is the only way to bring families into existence, therefore the Prophet (sa) insisted his followers upon entering into marriage The Shariah prescribes rules to regulate the functioning of the family so that both spouses can live together in love, security and tranquillity. Marriage in Islam has two major aspects:

1. Ibadah (worship) of Allah (swt)

2. The transactions between human beings

With respect to Ibadah, marriage is an act pleasing to Allah (swt) because it is in accordance with His commandments that husband and wife love each other and help each other make efforts to continue the human race, rear and nurse their children in such a fashion that they become true servants of Allah (swt).

These aspects are beautifully explained in the traditions of our Prophet (sa). It is narrated by Anas that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “When a man marries, he has fulfilled half of his religion, so let him fear Allah (swt) regarding the remaining half.”

The Prophet (sa) considered marriage for a Muslim as half of his religion because it shields him from promiscuity, adultery, fornication, homosexuality etc. which ultimately lead to many other evils like slander, quarrelling, homicide, loss of property and disintegration of the family. According to the Prophet (sa) the remaining half of the faith can be saved by Taqwa.

Since a family is the nucleus of an Islamic society and marriage is the only way to bring families into existence, therefore the Prophet (sa) insisted his followers upon entering into marriage

I never understood the true essence of marriage along with its prescribed injunctions. I am very sorry I failed, but wish you could just give me another chance.” Yours only, Saif.

Sofie who did not want to apologize replied, “I myself never knew what marriage is and in my ignorance almost ended our marriage. I hope we can live more considerately and happily today, tomorrow and always- Insha’Allah!” Yours only, Sofie.

Our Families; Coolness of our Eyes

7 coolness of eyes

This Dua is at the conclusion of the 25th Surah of the Quran, where Allah (swt) tells us to say:

“And those who say: Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders for the Muttaqun.’” (Al-Furqan 25:74)

“Our Lord”

Those who say: “Our Master, our Lord, gift us, grant us…” We are asking Him to give us a grand, unexpected, and beautiful gift. This prepositional phrase is brought earlier, especially for us. We are asking for a special favour from Allah (swt). What is this favour?

“Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring…”

In other words, you are not asking for children only; you are requesting for your lineage, for your future generations, to be the coolness of your eyes. Make our eyes cool by means of our spouses and by means of our children.

Benefits of this Dua

I call it my favourite Dua for two reasons. One, I am married and I do have children and a spouse. Two, all of us have to appreciate the power of this Dua because of the crisis of the world today. The world’s fundamental institution of family is under attack.

Almost nobody is immune from this problem. In many of our homes, there is a storm. When you find coolness of the eyes, you find refuge from the storm. This storm is not “outside” the house; it is actually “inside” the house! The family has become a place of sorrow, of depression, of sadness, of anger, and of rage. You tend to get away from home to get away from the yelling, the screaming, the name-calling, the insults, the depression, the sadness, and the friction between husband and wife, and between parents and children.

Since there is a crisis inside the home, what better Dua to ask Allah (swt)? Here, Allah (swt) tells us to ask so perfectly, so eloquently that the home should become the place of refuge. Your refuge… your safe haven… should be your spouse and your children and that is inside your home. When you see them, your worries should disappear. But for most of us that’s when our worries begin! It’s the exact opposite.

I want to give you a further appreciation of this remarkably beautiful phrase and how it is used in the Quran. I want to explain this feeling to you that Allah (swt) wants us to have with our families.

Do you know the most strongest of all emotions that exists in the humankind? The strongest emotion that I can think of is the emotion a mother feels for her child. It is the strongest bond. Can you imagine the state of Moosa’s (as) mother’s heart? She puts her baby in the water. You can’t even leave your child outside the hall. You start calling your husband: “Where is he?” “Have you seen him?” You just can’t stop. You are 30 minutes late picking your child up from school. What happens to you, you know. (I know, because I have been late picking up my kids from school before. So I know what my wife goes through.)

Now can you imagine the feelings of Moosa’s (as) mother; she had put her child in what for her was apparently certain death because what was behind was even more graphic. So she was in this desperate situation. Did she know what would happen to the child? She did not. Can you imagine not knowing what is happening or going to happen to your child when you know that they are in a dangerous situation? Subhan’Allah!

On the other hand, there was another woman in the same story. She was married to the Firawn (Pharaoh). You know some times women are in a difficult domestic situation. Now in the case of the Pharaoh’s wife, we don’t know if there was any physical abuse, but the Quran certainly indicates psychological abuse. So much so, that she had to ask for rescue. She had nowhere to turn. So the only place she could turn to was Allah (swt)!

When that baby washed up you know what she said? Now think about this… She picked up the child and she said…

  • “He will be the coolness of my eyes for me.” (read Surah Al-Qasas)
  • “He will be my refuge from the storm.”
  • “He will be my only source of joy because… I am in the middle of sadness.”

She was with the child… that childless woman was with a child now. All of a sudden, all her problems disappeared. That was her first reaction to the child. Subhan’Allah! On a separate note she said to the Pharaoh, “I won’t discuss with you.” She separated herself from the Firawn even in that. Further she said: “He will be the coolness of my eye for me and even for you.”

Even to the Firawn, she didn’t say “for us” because she did not associate herself with him. Subhan’Allah! May Allah be pleased with her!

Now, one last thing about this coolness of the eyes… and why this Dua is so beautiful, powerful, and eloquent.

When a mother has lost her child, which in this case she had, and she is re-united with her child, can you imagine the feeling of that mother? Can you imagine the tears of happiness? Can you imagine that emotion?

Now understand how Allah (swt) describes that emotion. Allah (swt) tells his favour to Moosa (as). He says: “So We restored you to your mother, that she might cool her eyes and she should not grieve.” (Ta-Ha 20:40) Allah (swt) is describing the most amazing joy! The most amazing relief! The most indescribable feeling in the heart of a mother! And what expression does He use? The coolness of the eyes!

And so we ask Allah (swt): “Give us from our spouses and our children…coolness of eyes.” When somebody says, “I want to get married,” he should go further than just wanting to get married. Say: “I want to get married to a spouse who will cool my eyes. I will be the coolness of their eyes and they will be the coolness of mine.”

Allah (swt) took the Dua further and then we understand why he talked about future generations. I’ll conclude with this: “And make us leaders over those who are cautious, conscious, fearful, pious, righteous, and those who are fearful before Allah (swt).”

This makes you realize your relationships right now are not just about you. You are setting a precedent in your family for generations to come. So when you are not acting as good husbands, good wives, good parents, and good children, then what are your future generations going to be doing? Who is going to be answerable for that negative trend that was started by you?

It’s an intelligent Dua that we should find coolness of the eyes not only in our immediate family, but the future generations should be amongst the righteous too. When we are raised on Judgement Day, we will be the Imam (leader) over the entire family, whether they were messed up or not. So we better ask for such kind of people in our lineage who elevate our ranks and not drag us down on the Judgement Day. We beg Allah (swt) that He gives all of us those kinds of families. This Dua is something you and I …everyone… every Muslim… even non-Muslims need today. Make this sincere Dua to Allah (swt) as mentioned in the Quran:

“…Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders for the Muttaqun.” (Al-Furqan 25:74)

Original transcription courtesy www.nakcollection.com; edited by hiba’s team with permission.