Cool Fathers, Super Sons!

1 cool father super sons

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

Selection criteria for the right husband

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

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

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

Living by the Nikah

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

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

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

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

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

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

The role of a father

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

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Lessons of righteousness from Umm Haram Bint Milhan

spring-flowersUmm Haram Bint Milhan (ra) was the sister of Umm Sulaym (ra), and was married to one of the Prophet’s (sa) close companions Ubadah Ibn Saamit (ra). Both the husband and wife were one of the early embracers of Islam.

Like her sister, Umm Haram (ra) dearly loved Allah (swt). She would fast regularly, recite the Quran, and worship and remember Allah (swt) abundantly. This family was really blessed by the mercy of Allah (swt).

Enthusiasm to seek knowledge

When Ubadah Ibn Saamit (ra) returned from the Pledge of Aqabah, Umm Haram (ra) inquired about his meeting with the Prophet (sa) and enthusiastically listened to the details. She wanted to know which of the Ansar (helpers of Madinah) were chosen as the representatives of Islam, and what their responsibilities were.

When the Prophet (sa) migrated to Madinah, Ubadah Ibn Saamit (ra) actively participated in all the battles. He would be in the front, fighting the enemy and defending the Prophet (sa) against their attacks. When the Prophet (sa) would not be participating in a battle then Ubadah Ibn Saamit (ra) would attend his gatherings to learn religion. He would then share the knowledge with his wife Umm Haram (ra).

The couple knew that seeking knowledge is mandatory for both Muslim men and women. Umm Haram (ra), therefore, looked forward to learning about the religion. They were so committed to the Book of Allah (swt), and the teachings of the Prophet (sa) that both Ubadah (ra) and Umm Haram (ra) attained the honour of being Hadeeth narrators. Umm Haram (ra) is the narrator of five Prophetic Traditions which were later narrated by her husband, her nephew Anas (ra), and Ata Ibn Yasaar (ra).

They were so committed to the Book of Allah (swt), and the teachings of the Prophet (sa) that both Ubadah (ra) and Umm Haram (ra) attained the honour of being Hadeeth narrators

Lessons to draw: We see that this family stepped forward in all the good deeds: they were among the early embracers of Islam, they defended the Prophet (sa), they attended religious gatherings, and transferred knowledge to others. They did not wait for others to take the lead, but rather rushed to get their name written in all kinds of good deeds. It teaches us to hasten towards good deeds. And not always wait for us to take the first step.

Standing up for the righteous

When the Prophet (sa) returned to Allah (swt), Ubadah Ibn Saamit (ra) and his wife Umm Haram (ra) grieved his loss. They could no longer meet him. They missed the days that they had spent under his leadership and care. They missed their regular gatherings of knowledge with the Prophet (sa).

Disagreements between the Muslims emerged soon after the Prophet’s (sa) death. When Abu Bakr Siddiq (ra) was chosen as the new leader for the Muslims, many tribes protested his appointment. Umm Haram (ra) and her husband found Abu Bakr’s (ra) conduct in alignment to the Prophet’s (sa) teaching. They did not find anything displeasing in him. Therefore, they pledged their allegiance to him and supported him against those who revolted.

Do we stand with the truth or do we blindly support injustice because of our personal relationship with the unjust?

Lessons to draw: Standing up with the truth requires strength and courage. How strong are we? Do we stand with the truth or do we blindly support injustice because of our personal relationship with the unjust?

In the Quran, Allah (swt) says, “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah as just witnesses; and let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice.” (Al-Maidah 5:8).

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

Asma Bint Yazid (ra) and the thirst for Knowledge

knowledgeShe was the daughter of Yazid ibn Sakan and Umm Saad bint Khuzaim. Her husband was Abu Saeed Ansari, and Muath ibn Jabal (ra) was her cousin.

Asma bint Yazid (ra) was another woman blessed with eloquence of speech, though she was not a poetess. Because of her well-articulated and convincing statements, she was given the title of ‘the Woman Orator.’ She was sensitive and at the same time daring. She trained herself for the battles and ardently participated in them.

Desire to Learn

Asma (ra) embraced Islam upon the Dawah call of Musab ibn Umair (ra). After embracing Islam, she wasted no time in seeking knowledge. She was a regular participant of the Prophet’s (sa) gatherings, and never hesitated from asking questions. She believed that asking questions increased knowledge. One day, acting as an attorney of women, she asked the Prophet (sa):

“Today, I have come to plead the case for women. Allah (swt) sent you as His Prophet for all mankind – men and women. We women also have had the privilege and honour of swearing allegiance to Allah (swt) and you. We also follow your teachings and your Sunnah. We women live within our houses and fulfil our duties.  We are absorbed in looking after our husbands and fulfilling their needs. We see to the upbringing of our children and to the daily function of the household. Men, however, have more opportunities for earning rewards from Allah (swt) because they can do things which we, as women, cannot do. Men attend the congregational prayers in the mosques, and special Friday prayers. They participate in the funeral prayer; they also have the privilege of taking part in the Jihad. When they go for Jihad we are left at home to protect their property and look after the family. Are we not also equally deserving of reward from Allah (swt)?”

The Prophet (sa) was impressed by her rational plea and asked the Companions (ra) if they had ever heard a better question than Asma’s (ra).

At other occasions, Asma (ra) asked the Prophet (sa) the proper method of Taharah (purification).

Asma’s (ra) asking question reflects her desire to increase her scale in the hereafter.

Lessons to draw: Asma’s (ra) asking question reflects her desire to increase her scale in the hereafter. She was not content with her obligatory duties of home management. She wanted to do more. Single sisters complain that their parents do not allow them to go out. Married sisters complain that their children and house chores do not allow them to contribute in the way of Allah (swt). We sit at home and waste our potential. We see in the lives of the Sahabiyat that they were married women with children and domestic responsibilities, and yet, excelled in their Deen. They never shied away from additional deeds. They knew how to strike a balance between their obligatory duties and voluntary acts. They attended to their domestic responsibilities first, and then turned their attention to what they could do in the way of Allah (swt). They did this voluntarily out of love and dedication and never considered it as a burden.

We see in the lives of the Sahabiyat that they were married women with children and domestic responsibilities, and yet, excelled in their Deen

Asma’s (ra) one reason for asking question was to gain knowledge herself, and also to share it with those who were less knowledgeable. Many sisters after doing their Islamic education courses, either adopt a “holier than thou attitude” or take a back seat and are only content with their domestic duties and their own worship. They do not reach out to others. If one looks at their own newsfeed, many knowledgeable sisters have the time to share jokes, silly quizzes and their check-ins, but when someone asks them a question they reply with: Allahu Alam (Allah (swt) knows best). What was the purpose of your Islamic education, sister? You have the time to share unimportant updates, but not something of the knowledge that you have?

We see people around us distancing away from the Quran, and we feel no pain for them. Let us follow the footsteps of Asma (ra) and gain knowledge to help other sisters in their learning.

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

Life Lessons from Asma Bint Abu Bakr (ra) – 2

cherryclossomWe continue with some more characteristics of Asma bint Abu Bakr (ra).

Steadfastness in Religion

When Asma (ra) migrated to Madinah, her mother Qutalyah bint Abdul Uzza came for a visit bringing along some gifts. Her mother being an idolatress, Asma (ra) did not admit her into the house or accept her gifts, until she asked the Prophet (sa) about relations with the idolaters. The Prophet (sa) told her to welcome her mother and accept her gifts.

It was her Taqwa that made her rank Allah (swt) and His commandments above everything else. If she was unclear about a certain matter, she did not proceed on her own, until she received clarification regarding it. “And whosoever honours the Symbols of Allah, then it is truly from the piety of the heart.” (Al-Hajj 22:32)

Lessons to draw: Seek knowledge of the religion and protect yourself and your families from committing that, which might be displeasing to Allah (swt). Be conscious of your earning, your food, your clothing, and the kind of people you keep company with. Put Allah (swt) before everything else.

Perseverance and Generosity

Life for Asma (ra) wasn’t easy. Her husband Zubair (ra) had neither money nor property. Asma (ra) would do house chores as well as look after her husband’s mare. Tending to the mare was the most difficult of all jobs. When she complained to her father, he advised her to be patient.

It was her Taqwa that made her rank Allah (swt) and His commandments above everything else.

When Allah (swt) improved their financial condition, instead of increasing her living status, Asma (ra) increased her charity. She was a woman not blinded by the attractions of this world. She was focused on the hereafter and that which pleased Allah (swt). Advising her children of benevolence, she said: “Spend, give Sadaqah and charity and do not wait for abundance.”

Lessons to draw: Many women complain of not having enough to give. There are many simple ways of contributing in the way of Allah (swt), and it does not always involve money. One can contribute in the way of Allah (swt) by giving their time, talent, special skills or even provision. Prepare an extra meal one day and feed an orphan child. Volunteer to teach Quran, a Dua or even academic studies to one of your domestic help’s children.

Haya and Modesty

One day, Asma (ra) was walking home with a load of dates on her head. Upon seeing her, the Prophet (sa) signalled his camel to sit down, so that Asma (ra) could climb. But Asma (ra) refused and continued to walk. There were other men with Prophet (sa), and Asma (ra) did not find it appropriate to be the only woman in a group of men.

Once, her son Al-Mundhir sent her an elegant dress from Iraq, but Asma (ra) refused to take it. Her son, knowing his mother, contested that it was not of a transparent material. Asma (ra) replied that it was not, but it was of tight-fitting and revealed the contours of the body.

Lessons to draw: We might spend a fortune on looking elegant and distinguished, but does our clothing cover all the parameters of Haya? Let us dress up to please Allah (swt).

When Allah (swt) improved their financial condition, instead of increasing her living status, Asma (ra) increased her charity.

Motherhood

Asma (ra) instilled in her children religious values and instructed them about always standing up for the truth. She transferred her love for charity in them and raised them upon best characteristics. After her husband divorced her, Asma (ra) started living with her son Abdullah ibn Az-Zubair (ra). Raised by his mother, Abdullah (ra) grew up to be prudent, intellectual and a master archer.

Lessons to draw: Connect your children to Allah (swt), because when the hearts are empty, they would take in anything that Shaytan leads them to. Teach the Seerah of the Prophet (sa) and his Duas. Tell them about Shirk, and teach not to depend on anyone or fear anyone besides Allah (swt).

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

Who Should the Muslim Woman Look up to?

sb10063131x-001We live in the times, when a Muslim woman is constantly being questioned about her choices and challenged to raise or lower her status. She is being questioned for her choice to cover up or her choice to not do so. If she is covering, then she probably considers herself holier than thou, and people will take several steps away from her. If she is not covering, then she must be ridiculed for her choice to do so and made to feel like trash.

If she sets out her heart on studying more and acquiring a certain degree, her parents are shamed for allowing their daughter freedom. If she does not study more, she is shoved aside as another ordinary woman with nothing more to her than marital dreams. She is criticised for pursuing a career, and she is mocked for abandoning one over a modest home life. She does nothing but wastes her parents’ wealth.

Her communication skills are under scrutiny. If she speaks less, she certainly lacks self-confidence and worldly virtues. If she talks more, she probably left her manners at home. Her shyness is seen as a symbol of weakness, and her confidence is seen as arrogance. She is bashed for holding an opinion and scorned for being naïve.

In a society, where liberation means getting rid of religion, social norms are in direct contradiction to her beliefs. She, therefore, carries with her a list of do’s and don’ts that she must follow. And when she does that, she is responded with frowns and growls of those, who oppose the very idea of religion.

In such a situation, the Muslim woman questions, who should she look up to? Where are the examples? Who are her role models? How can she bring a balance to her life?

The role models for the Muslim women are the same as there are for the Muslim men – the companions of Rasulallah (sa).

There were female companions of the Prophet (sa), who had been chosen by Allah (swt). These women were brave and virtuous, active in their society and fulfilling their responsibilities at home. They were found in the battlefield taking care of the sick and the injured, and they were found at home nurturing their families. They preached alongside their male counterparts and helped in the propagation of Islam. They neither ridiculed each other for their choices nor allowed critics to rule their minds and control their lives. These were self-assured women, working only for the sake of Allah (swt) and for the sake of pleasing none but Him.  These honourable women were active in politics and well-versed in Islamic jurisprudence. They were seen in education, in business and trade, and in the comfort of their homes. They knew that being a woman does not restrict them from pursuing their dreams. And at the same time, they knew how to carry themselves in the crowd. They were gentle and kind, but never appeared as flirting.

They understood their responsibilities in the society and in their homes; therefore, they never took housework as a burden. We read that when Fatima bint Muhammad (ra), the beloved daughter of Rasulallah (sa), approached her father for a domestic help, her father taught her some words of remembrance instead.

These women lived a strenuous life in the absence of modern technology that we enjoy today; yet, they accomplished more than we can ever imagine. Not only were they conscious of their relationship with their Creator, but they connected their offspring to Allah (swt) as well. The mother of Anas bin Malik (ra) dedicated her son to the service of the Prophet (sa) and asked him to pray for her son’s increase in knowledge. Her supplication was answered by Allah (saw); thus, we see a number of sayings and traditions of the Prophet (sa) recorded by this young man.

To truly take these women as our role models, we will have to study their unique characteristics that made them live a content life, accomplish their goals and, most importantly, be pleasing to Allah (swt).

From here onwards, we will be beginning a series on the Seerah of the Sahabiyat – we will delve into their lives and challenges for learning how to improve our own lives, Insha’Allah.

Try it!

wtry1

Try it,
Try a different lifestyle!
Trying such is truly worthwhile!

Try to change yourself, rather than others,
Try to accept mistakes and not point fingers,
Try to be patient and try to be grateful,
Try to be honest, sincere and thoughtful!
Try it,
Try a different lifestyle!
Trying such is truly worthwhile!

Try to wipe some tears and spread happiness,
Try to eradicate poverty and loneliness,
Try to race for helping the deprived in need,
Try to change your surroundings, pay heed!
Try it,
Try a different lifestyle!
Trying such is truly worthwhile!

Try to always keep pure your intentions,
Try to be the guard of your tongue and actions,
Try not to hurt other’s feelings, nor despair,
Try to be role models, make friends and share!
Try it,
Try a different lifestyle!
Trying such is truly worthwhile!

Try to mend broken hearts and serve the Deen,
Try to appreciate the positivity that you’ve seen,
Try to be an embodiment of truth and care,
Try to revive the Sunnah, to Quran please adhere!
Try it,
Try a different lifestyle!
Trying such is truly worthwhile!

Try to sincerely follow Allah’s (swt) commandments,
Try to avoid gaining His wrath and disappointments,
Try to please your Creator and not His creation,
Try to pass on this lesson to the next generation!
Try it,
Try a different lifestyle!
Trying such is truly worthwhile!

Are we Toxic Teachers?

classroomDown the memory lane, the most ecstatic flashes are of those people who’ve made your life worthwhile. For me, most of them were my teachers. I vividly remember some of them for their extensive efforts to make me love school; the others were some really inspiring teachers. All these powerful educational experiences have helped me nurture my passion for teaching and learning.

As much as recalling these pleasant moments bring me joy, the resonance of a few harsh ones often engulfs me with anguish. If only the teachers could realize what harm they do to the striving souls through their malicious marks! The psychological significance of these unpleasant moments is so strong that it lives with you for a lifetime. For many students, it’s hard to fight back these dominant influences. Hence, they close themselves in shells that are hard to crack later. Fortunately, my list of unpleasant interactions is not very long, but whatever little I had was painful and the memories still hurt.

I have realized that teaching is not only an instructional communication between an adult and his pupil but it’s an art. A teacher has to adopt several roles: those of a mentor, a friend, a guide and a leader.

Novice teachers or even those with several years of experience may have teaching practices that are capable of making students hate their subject. These teachers never give students a chance to open up. They demonstrate unnecessary favouritism and make those who are competent to do assignments ahead of time feel guilty. They are absolutely oblivious to the students’ needs and wouldn’t care if learning is taking place or not. They ridicule those who ask questions. Their focus remains on delivering. They promote rote learning and unethical practices. The damage these ‘toxic teachers’ cause is irreparable.

With the passage of time and years of experience, I have realized that teaching is not only an instructional communication between an adult and his pupil but it’s an art. A teacher has to adopt several roles: those of a mentor, a friend, a guide and a leader. A juggle between these roles, day in and day out, is what makes a successful teacher. All our teaching practices should be a combination of these and also a reflection of our own most influential educational experiences as a pupil. This reflection will help us relate to our past experiences regarding ‘what hurt and what healed’ and can help us remodel ourselves in a way we would like to be remembered as a great teacher!

Who are my Daughter’s Role Models?

footprintsOnce upon a time, there was a little girl who loved listening to stories. Her favourite were the stories about other little girls – just like her. She would listen to the tales of their adventures and later emulate them in her play. She loved to do everything the way the characters in her books did.

All children love stories and they need someone to look up to: someone to admire and someone to imitate. I’ve got two young daughters Alhumdulillah, and I can tell how the stories that are either read to them or discovered by them influence their imagination. It’s always the female characters that they are most interested in; after all every little girl wants to be a princess.

I got the feeling that maybe these are not the best stories to put in their little heads. After all, the princesses in the classic fairy tales don’t have that much to their merit. Even their goals are also not as ambitious as I would like for my children.

I used to tell my daughters the stories I was told when I was little: all the fairy tales about Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and so on. Then I got the feeling that maybe these are not the best stories to put in their little heads. After all, the princesses in the classic fairy tales don’t have that much to their merit. Even their goals are also not as ambitious as I would like for my children. Cinderella and other beauties only dream of getting married to a prince and in times of need, they rely upon the magic wand of the fairy godmother. Needless to say, magic is Haram; however, even in the make-believe world of fairy tales, the characters rely upon it; some events are beyond their control while others happen by pure luck. It gives children a lesson only in wishful thinking and an escapist approach. All the little girls want to be princesses and I don’t think that aspiring to be a ‘princess’ is necessarily a bad thing. I just don’t want them to be the Sleeping Beauty kind of princess.

The history of Islam is full of great stories. There were a number Muslimahs who were pious, courageous, and ambitious. They achieved success in this world as well as in the eternal life. First of all, there are the Greatest Four: the four women mentioned by the Prophet (sa), as those who have achieved the highest ranks in Jannat Al-Firdaus:

  • Asiya, the wife of the Pharaoh
  • Maryam, the mother of Isa (as)
  • Khadijah (rta), the first wife of the Prophet (sa)
  • Fatimah (rta), his daughter

Each of these women led a different lifestyle and each had been tried by Allah (swt). Each proved her individual strength.

Financial Status Asiya and Khadijah (rta) were rich, while Maryam and Fatimah (rta) lived in poor conditions
Marital Status Asiya had been tortured upon the orders of her husband, while Khadijah (rta) and Fatimah (rta) were happily married; Maryam was a single mother.
Professional Status Khadijah (rta) was a businesswoman, while Fatimah (rta) was a housewife

 

Each of them was different, but together they tell a story of all women and demonstrate a perfect example as to what it takes to be a great woman and a great Muslimah. And these are the characters that I would like my daughters to hear about and learn from. These are the best role models for young Muslimahs: the Princesses of the Akhirah.

Of course, there are many other great Muslimahs whose stories are worth telling: some of my favourite are Khawla bint Al-Azwar, a courageous warrior who rescued her brother from the enemy’s hands, and the Queen of Saba. As mentioned in the Quran, she was the one who recognized the truth of Islam and converted her nation. I would love to read such stories to my children, but sadly there is not much written about them in a format that would be suitable for young children.

Alhumdulillah, there is a wonderful variety of Islamic literature available in the bookstores nowadays, but most of them tell the stories of the Prophets. There is no doubt that these are very valuable stories, but I think it’s important for young girls to learn about female characters, so they can have someone to look up to and some good examples to emulate.

there are many other great Muslimahs whose stories are worth telling: some of my favourite are Khawla bint Al-Azwar, a courageous warrior who rescued her brother from the enemy’s hands, and the Queen of Saba.

Since there is this gap in the market, I have started reading adult literature on the Sahabiyat. I try to retell these stories to my kids in a language they would understand. And after a more thorough search, I have discovered some children’s literature, in which the main characters are young Muslimahs who have their problems and their adventures; they always come up with a solution that is in compliance with the guidance of Islam and teaches a valuable lesson to young readers. Seeing how powerfully stories influence children’s dreams, I am now much more considerate when choosing books for my daughters.

Of course, the role models for our children are not only the literary characters. It is the adults around them who affect them the most, teaching them by giving an example of everyday life. I know my daughters will learn from their aunties, grandmothers, elder cousins and friends. But first of all, they will learn from me. That’s why I should try to be the best example for them. It’s a huge responsibility, but also a great honour. I pray to Allah (swt) that He would make me the best I can become, so that my daughters would learn good ways from me, Insha’Allah.