Most common errors in bringing up Muslim children

generic-familyParents go through many hardships raising their children. Needless to say, they try to do their best to inculcate good values in them. However, in spite of all the effort, it is witnessed that conflicts accompanied by harsh behaviour become part of the day, especially after certain age. Parents love for their children is so over-powering that at times, the smartest of parents make the silliest mistakes. These mistakes are very common and can easily be corrected, Insha’Allah.

Right step at the right time

Introducing important things at the right age is extremely important. Times have changed drastically. Children grow up very fast. Islamic practices that are of paramount importance, such as offering Salah, wearing a scarf, covering of private parts, reading and understanding Quran and doing good deeds should be exercised as an integral part of growing up. Conflicts arise when a child is alien to Islamic practices and is told to make a 180 degree shift upon reaching puberty. It is a gradual process. Training children begins at the age of seven. It becomes gradually more intense between the ages of eight to eleven. The child must be a practicing Muslim at the age of eleven.

Actions speak louder than words

Parents teach good things to their children, such as controlling anger and respecting everyone, but fail miserably doing so themselves. Children will not do what they are told; they will always do, what they have witnessed. Parents need to become good Muslims first. Good practices by elders always bring good results in youngsters. Good can never come out of bad.

Wise selection to avoid rejection

Selecting the right resources for children is critical. Many kids find the conventional “Maulvis” and “Bajis” unimpressive. Once repelled, are very difficult to put back on the track. Hence, it is very important for a child to get impressed first in order to respect, understand and follow a teacher. Selecting a teacher, who is educated and also empowered with knowledge of Quran and Sunnah is a tricky part for parents. It is very easy these days to acquire lectures in English language on CDs or by downloading MP3s from the internet. There are several good scholars all around the world. Alhamdulillah. Any scholar, who speaks in the light of Quran and Sunnah only, is good.

Turning over a new leaf is not a cup of tea

At certain point in life, some parents are blessed with Hidayah from Allah (swt) and become religious. A person newly reverted to Allah (swt) is generally over charged with Iman. If reverts are parents, they would expect the children to become religious, too. There is nothing wrong in that, but it should be realized that it cannot happen overnight. This would be a gradual process, which would require a lot of patience. Parents should act intelligently, instead of emotionally.

By giving a good Tarbiyah, we equip our children to handle the burdens of life, and they have the tools they need to have for a successful afterlife. Parents must make prayers to Allah (swt) for children. They must realize that our work is making continuous efforts without losing hope, and Hidayah and results can only come from the Creator – Allah (swt).

[Part 2] Quran is a Treasure – Preserve it in Your Heart

Quran-550x412Advice #4: Slow and Steady, Wins the Race!

The fourth step is taken once you’ve started and are flowing smoothly with your daily memorization. You are following your plan with utmost energy and motivation and feel productive and inspired to keep going. Now you need effective strategies to keep you going at a steady pace without finding yourself at a dead end.

1- Make sure that you connect the first part of the Surah to its end before moving on to another.  You may find that the beginning of the Surah flows smoother for you because you spent more time and energy on it, while the end of the Surah does not get as much attention and repetition. This is your first red signal. Stop and revise it as many times as you need (ten times minimum) to strengthen the memorization.

2- Recite with understanding! Start reading Tafseer of at least five verses per day. This way, the meaning of the verses will engrave into your mind and heart. Beginners are recommended to start with a Tafseer that explains the verses clearly like Tafsir Ibn Kathir (summarized version) or Tafsir Al Jalalayn.

It is reported from Al-Fudayl that Prophet (sa) said: “The Quran was sent down to be acted upon but people have taken just reciting it as enough of a deed. He was asked, “How is it acted upon?” He replied, “They should treat as Halal what it makes Halal and treat as Haram what it makes Haram, they should take on its commandments and stay away from what it forbids and they should stop to ponder it’s amazing knowledge and wisdom.”

3- Become comfortable with the patterns of the verses, i.e. Mutashabihat. There are many repeated verses in the Quran. It is helpful to designate a notebook for tracking down the similar verses as you go. You can even use Microsoft Word and format your notes with the highlight, colours, italic, bold and underline options. Be creative! It’s worth it.

Allah (swt) says,

اللَّهُ نَزَّلَ أَحْسَنَ الْحَدِيثِ كِتَابًا مُّتَشَابِهًا مَّثَانِيَ تَقْشَعِرُّ مِنْهُ جُلُودُ الَّذِينَ يَخْشَوْنَ رَبَّهُمْ ثُمَّ تَلِينُ جُلُودُهُمْ وَقُلُوبُهُمْ إِلَىٰ ذِكْرِ اللَّهِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ هُدَى اللَّهِ يَهْدِي بِهِ مَن يَشَاءُ ۚ وَمَن يُضْلِلِ اللَّهُ فَمَا لَهُ مِنْ هَادٍ

“Allah has sent down the best statement, a Book (this Quran), its parts resembling each other in goodness and truth, oft-repeated. The skins of those who fear their Lord shiver from it (when they recite it or hear it). Then their skin and their heart soften to the remembrance of Allah. That is the guidance of Allah. He Guides therewith whom He pleases and whomever Allah sends astray, for him there is no guide.” (Az-Zumar 39:23)

Renew Your Intention Every Time

Finally, don’t forget to renew your intention again. At this point, spend time alone to rethink about your decision and block out any praise that you may be receiving. The signs of a boastful show-off are that he is lazy when alone, energetic when with people, increases his work when praised, and decreases his work when insulted and ignored. Pray hard, concentrate in your prayers, use the golden moments in Sujood to come closer to Allah (swt) and seek His help in attaining your goal of understanding and memorizing His Book.

Advice #5: Dua and Action are the Keys

Now that you have a plan and effective strategies have become your habits, focus on Dua and your deeds. These steps will help you maintain your new commitment to the Quran in the long run Insha’Allah:

1- Stop sinning: Sins are the number one barriers between knowledge and a Muslim’s heart. Allah’s (swt) superior speech will never settle in a heart that is sinful and barred by desire and doubt. It is narrated that Abdullah ibn Masud that Prophet (sa) said:

إني لأحسب الرجل ينسى العلم بالخطيئة يعملها

“I believe that a man forgets his knowledge because of a sin that he has committed.”

Forgetting the Quran and being unable to memorize it is one of the biggest disasters that may befall a Muslim in his life; Allah (swt) says in the Quran,

وَمَا أَصَابَكُم مِّن مُّصِيبَةٍ فَبِمَا كَسَبَتْ أَيْدِيكُمْ

“And whatever of disaster befalls you, it is because of what your hands have earned (of sins).” (Ash-Shuara)

It is important to remember that our bodies have been made from soil and the food for our bodies comes from the soil it was made of. Our souls, however, have been sent from Heaven and the food for our souls is the Quran which was sent down from the Heavens to quench our souls and relieve us from misguidance and darkness. A heart that is bolted and shackled by chains of disobedience and sin will be unable to see the light of guidance that is found in the Quran.

Ibn Taymiyyah said:

و كما أن لله ملائكة موكلة بالسحاب و المطر فله ملائكة موكلة بالهدى و العلم و هذا رزق القلوب و قوتها و هذا رزق الأجساد و قوتها

“Just as Allah (swt) has angels responsible for the clouds and rain, He too has angels responsible for guidance and knowledge. This is the sustenance and provision for hearts and that is the sustenance and provision for bodies.”

Imam Al Shafi (ra) recited verses of poetry beautifully describing his teacher’s explanation of why sins prevent knowledge,

شكوت إلى وكيع سوء حفظي           فأرشدني إلى ترك المعاصي

و قال إن العلم نور                      و نور الله لا يؤتى لعاصي

I complained to Waki about the weakness of my memory.

He told me to abandon sin.

And said that knowledge is light.

And Allah’s (swt) light is not given to the sinner.

2- Search for the practical aspects of all the verses you memorized: Any heedful Muslim will agree that the main cause of the Ummah’s state in today’s age and time is our abandonment of the Quran and its teachings. We are merely floating in the oceans without diving in and discovering the gems and treasures that Allah (swt) has hidden in its depths. Reciting the Quran without pondering upon its meanings and without any practical application of its teachings is not the ultimate purpose, although a recitor is to be rewarded. Remember that the Companions (rta) would not exceed their study of the Quran to more than five to ten verses until they had studied them in detail and understood the practical implications. Read the verses and ask yourself, “What is Allah (swt) commanding me to do? What is he prohibiting me from? How can I apply this verse in every day of my life?”

3- Make the Quran your companion and guidebook: Make it your number one source of comfort and peace. Make a list of do’s and don’ts based on the Quran. Study the qualities that Allah (swt) loves in His slaves and try to develop them to the best of your ability: patience, love, mercy, humility. Study the qualities that He hates and abandon them: boastfulness, hard heartedness, heedlessness and idle talk. The next time you are at your wits’ end, confused and lost, let your first action be reaching out for the Quran and seeking tranquillity in the remembrance of Allah (swt).

Remember also that once a person has knowledge of an issue, he is bound by this knowledge to act upon it. This is a matter overlooked; however it is quite significant. Never forget that the Quran will be a proof for you or against you.

4- Good companionship: From the greatest blessings of Allah (swt) to His slaves is a good friend. It is incumbent upon a serious student of the Quran to pray for and find a friend who will be a help and source of encouragement. Beware of people who engage in idle chatter and sins of the tongue; these people will claim they do not have spare moments for studying the Quran but will converse for hours about useless matters of the world. Worse off than these people are those who mock the verses of Allah (swt) and turn away from reminders. Allah (swt) says in the Quran,

وَإِذَا رَأَيْتَ الَّذِينَ يَخُوضُونَ فِي آيَاتِنَا فَأَعْرِضْ عَنْهُمْ حَتَّىٰ يَخُوضُوا فِي حَدِيثٍ غَيْرِهِ ۚ وَإِمَّا يُنسِيَنَّكَ الشَّيْطَانُ فَلَا تَقْعُدْ بَعْدَ الذِّكْرَىٰ مَعَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ

“And when you see those who engage in a false conversation about Our Verses by mocking at them, stay away from them till they turn to another topic. And if Shaitan causes you to forget, then after the remembrance sit not in the company of those people who are the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers, etc.).” (Al-Anam)

I cannot put stress on the positive influence a pious friend can possess and the evil consequences of accompanying heedless people. It’s a lifelong companionship that you should aim for and rest assured that a relationship that is strengthened by the Quran will never lead to wrongdoing by the help of Allah (swt).

وَيَوْمَ يَعَضُّ الظَّالِمُ عَلَىٰ يَدَيْهِ يَقُولُ يَا لَيْتَنِي اتَّخَذْتُ مَعَ الرَّسُولِ سَبِيلًا

يَا وَيْلَتَىٰ لَيْتَنِي لَمْ أَتَّخِذْ فُلَانًا خَلِيلًا

لَّقَدْ أَضَلَّنِي عَنِ الذِّكْرِ بَعْدَ إِذْ جَاءَنِي ۗ وَكَانَ الشَّيْطَانُ لِلْإِنسَانِ خَذُولًا

“And the Day when the wrong-doer will bite at his hands, he will say: “Oh! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger. Ah! Woe to me! Would that I had never taken so-and-so as a friend! He indeed led me astray from the Reminder (this Quran) after it had come to me. And Shaitan is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need.” (Al-Furqan)

It is reported that Yunus ibn ‘Ubayd Prophet (sa) said:

I do not know anything rarer than a good Dirham (Halal income) whose owner spends it on something right or a brother in Islam in whose company one finds peace. And they are only getting rarer.

5- Learn Arabic: The more Quran you memorize, the more you start to understand the Arabic language. There should be a continuity and connection between your study of the Quran and Arabic. Not only that, but understanding Arabic is a very crucial part of memorizing the Quran because it will prevent you from making grammatical mistakes. Scholars of Quran have stressed that since understanding the Quran is obligatory and understanding Arabic is a medium through which the Quran is understood, it automatically becomes obligatory to understand Arabic.

ما لا يتم الواجب إلا به فهو واجب

6- Dua: It is possible that a Hafidh of the Quran reaches great heights due to the sincerity of his supplications to Allah (swt), even if he does not complete the memorization. A sincere Dua is the ladder by which a person reaches unattainable heights; the Messenger of Allah (swt) said:

من سأل الله الشهادة بصدق بلغه الله منازل الشهداء و إن مات على فراشه

“Whoever sincerely prays to Allah (swt) for martyrdom, Allah (swt) will give him the rank of the martyrs even if he died on his bed.” (Muslim)

This Hadeeth states that on the Day of Judgement, there will be people who will be resurrected as martyrs, even though he never participated in the battlefield. The reason for this will be the sincerity of his intention. If that’s the case for the high ranks of the martyrs, then what can we imagine for the Huffaadh of the Quran?


The Ultimate Success

graduation-capsShe threw herself on the bed, turned on the air conditioner and closed her eyes as she was feeling extremely tired. However, it was a big day for her, in fact one of the happiest moments of her life. Finally, she had gotten the piece of paper for which she along with her whole family had struggled a lot. What a big day it was. Happiness and wishes were pouring in from everywhere. In addition to that the two lettered prefix (Dr.) with her name was giving her great joy. “This is the ultimate success!” she thought.

As the days passed, the joy decreased; everything started getting normal. She completed her house job, got married, was blessed with a child and left practice as it wasn’t possible for her to continue. The joy of that piece of paper vanished completely. The success that was considered as “the ultimate success,” attained after chronic hard work of eighteen years and investment of a lot of money, faded in no time.” She wondered what success truly was.

While she was in deep thought, the verse resounded in her ears: “And whoever is removed away from the Fire and admitted to Paradise, he indeed is successful. The life of this world is only the enjoyment of deception (a deceiving thing).” (Al-Imran 2:185)

“Surely, this is the ultimate success!” she whispered.