[True Story] Children are Allah’s gifts

 

true story

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I have three children Alhumdullilah. Two of them are 13 and 9 years old. After a gap of 9 years I had my third child. Now why did it take me nine years to have the third one? Well my second child was diagnosed with arthritis at the age of one. His treatment was both emotionally and physically quite a challenge for me but by the grace of Allah he recovered at the age of 6. I was so scared of having a third one that I kept on asking people who had three children that how they managed. After a lot of research one evening I was getting ready for maghrib prayers at my parents place when I told my mom about my desire to have another baby. I told her to pray for me and we both offered dua. From that day on I realized the power of praying. My third child is a joy for all of us!

She does not have severe colic issues like my first child and she sleeps at night!!! When I looked at her for the first time in detail I was simply astonished. Allah Ho Akbar!

How Allah creates all the features of a human in such a tiny face! The hands and the feet, the lines in the palm…..everything is so beautiful.

I never knew that I will be enjoying my baby so much. She reminds me of the blessings of Allah. My elder children are so caring towards her that I feel my little one has more than 2 parents!

I am not a young mother and my bones are not that strong anymore! But I am much more mature and experienced than before. Hence I am calmer and do not loose hope and temper that easily.  Looking after my baby is my first priority and it does not bother me that I cannot continue my job because of the baby. I feel less threatened when someone points out my mistakes.

I used to feel very insecure when people used to give their expertise on bringing up children when I became a mother for the first time.

I think I am stronger in my faith too and therefore do not get hurt when offered opinions and myths. I listen to everyone, acknowledge their opinion but then research the information online and act accordingly. I am more grateful to people around me who offer a helping hand.

When I became a mother for the first time I was so overwhelmed with information coming from so many people around me. Some would criticize me while some would make me feel very guilty when there was a problem. I really wish people would stop being so critical towards first time mothers.

We don’t realize how stressed out a mother is for the first time. She is physically tired, emotionally disturbed and going through a brand new experience.

She needs a helping hand, someone to encourage her, give her positive feedback and support her when faced with a problem. In our society she is often faced with a totally different dilemma. Grandparents start with stories like “in our times” we did so and so and some even present the most horrific pictures to a new mom who has just started motherhood. Some criticize everything she does and makes her feel worthless. On top of that many consider her of no use as she stops working and is not earning money anymore.

This is not the right way to treat these mothers. They are tired, haven’t had sleep and are new to motherhood. The least people around her can do is help her and not create more problems for her. By now for me, Allah is the best help I take refuge in. I look for duas and Islamic ways of soothing my child. There are some wonderful sites with so much help and tips. Islamic songs and lullaby’s are easily available online. I have downloaded KidsGoApps on my mobile for Islamic songs, alphabets, nasheed and lots of other things to keep my baby entertained when she is upset.

My request to experienced moms, please share only positive things with new moms. You can warn them and give them solutions but don’t share unpleasant experiences. For example, if your baby was colic and you had a very tough time, don’t share it with a new mom unless she asks for help. Even when she does, give her helpful tips and encourage her to focus on the positive side. For example, tell her it is just a phase that will soon be over.

New moms, read, study and talk to other mothers to get as much information as you can. Record it in a journal so that you have a reference book that you can use when faced with an issue.

Keep a bulletin board in your room where you can pin up important things like vaccines, solid food chart etc. Of course this is time consuming but once you do this everything will be organized and right in front of you. You won’t have to call a friend again for a recipe or tip. So take out time once in a while and keep everything in place for future use. Important phone numbers should be saved in your mobile phone.

One last lesson that I personally use and find it very handy, when the baby is crying too much and you can’t handle it, give the baby to a responsible person and move out of that room. Drink a glass of water or eat something if you are out of energy. Go to a quieter room for two minutes, calm yourself. Remind yourself that you are doing your best. The baby will cry because that is the only language she knows. Once you are back to your baby you will have more energy to deal with the situation.

And remember one thing…….this is the best gift Allah has given you. Enjoy it! Nothing like a baby’s smile and for me when my baby cries for me I feel so important! I do not regret going back to work or not being able to cook a perfect meal!

 

 

A Chapter of My Life with My Brother

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Casually climbing upstairs to my bedroom after Iftar and Salah, I read frantic messages from my niece to call her. I was informed the doctor had said Sabir’s scans were not good – the cancer had spread. I mumbled, heart sinking: “Inna illahi wa inna illahi rajioon” in a state of disbelief.

Only a few days ago, after his daughter’s Valima, he had flown to the USA for his periodic treatment. He was extremely hopeful of a new immunotherapy treatment which his doctor had scheduled for him.

I felt dizzy and weak. Memories of his last visit and my ailing mother started to flood me … Beckoning me, he had held me against him. Little was I to know this was my last hug from my brother who was my only sibling and also a father figure, as I had lost my papa many years ago.

It was almost three years ago when Sabir was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Friends and family members reassured me that if anyone had cancer, this is the one they should want as it had an excellent prognosis.

After a long flight to the USA, my brother felt jetlagged and exhausted; however, he was positive and went for his doctor’s appointment with lots of hope. His latest scans had already been sent to him. “So how are you feeling?” he asked. Sabir paused: “Not too good.” The doctor replied: “Your scans too are not that good.” He went to explain that the cancer had spread to his liver and lungs, and no further treatment was possible. Sabir closed his eyes and asked to lie down. The doctor explained how he would be given medical attention at a hospice until…

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My Faith Rescued Me…

faithI grew up in a Muslim family but I hated Islam and the Muslims. I was not happy to be called a Muslim. I was looked at with terror and called a troublemaker. I did not like to pray and hated to wear Niqab. I wanted to fly free like a bird, intermingling with the opposite sex and staying overnight at parties. However, my mom never listened to me. Moreover, she would force me to pray and compel me to cover. She would make me say all my Duas and made me learn the Quran as well. She would make me recite Surah Al-Falaq and An-Nas for my protection.

Once she was invited to her cousin’s wedding, held in a village that was a day distance by train. I refused to accompany her. Until the last moment, she warned me and requested me earnestly to read the Duas, recite Quran, offer Salah and wear my Niqab when I go to college. She said:

أَسْتَوْدِعُ اللَّهَ دِينَكَ وَأَمَانَتَكَ وَخَوَاتِيمَ عَمَلِكَ

“(I make) Allah (swt) responsible for your Deen, your trustworthiness and for the results of your actions.” (Tirmidhi)

After bestowing me with the Dua, she left. Her departure meant an arrival of entertainment in my life. I had all the fun pre-planned days ago. My friends had invited me for a sleepover at their place. There would be party, music, and fun!

I was ecstatic. In the evening, my friends picked me up in their car. As soon as I entered my friend’s home that was candle lit, I found something fishy. My heartbeat sped up.

There were not only girls as promised by my friends. There were boys too who were smoking!
Ya Allah (swt)! In what a mess had I stepped in! I was glad I had obeyed my mother by reading the Duas and wearing my Niqab and I was still in it. I had offered Maghrib too. My friend and host Nadia, who was busy talking to a boy, turned to me and said, “C’mon now!” and stretched her hand to my Niqab saying, “Remove this disgusting thing and learn to enjoy!” I defended my Niqab. I saw her dressed in a low cut T-shirt and a very short skirt. Her long legs stood bare and I told her curtly: “I am very comfortable like this Nadia.”

Her parents had a bungalow in a posh area of the city. But she had left them and rented a flat in an apartment.

Music was blaring loudly. Soon, all were couple-dancing. Ryan had no one to dance with and so he was approaching me! He offered his hand to me but I kept mine locked behind. I knew it was Allah (swt) who was helping me to stay away from the evil temptations (for which I had craved earlier). Then he sat next to me with a huge thud! Now! What was I going to do? Should I run away from the house?

I stood up with a firm resolution to leave. He tried to hold me back by my shoulder, but I pushed him down. To my amazement, a gentle push made him fall on the ground and he fainted. Nadia was furious at me. The lights were switched on. They tried to revive him by pouring water on him. But he was gone! There were no pulse beats!

All the girls and boys were shocked! I saw the bottles of the deadly drink laid on the table that was placed in the terrace. This overnight party and sleep over was not something simple. It was like a bar – a Zina centre.

All were Muslims! They had tried to shake my faith. They had already lost theirs. The point to ponder is that how Ryan’s life ended in just trying to touch a woman! I was feeling happy and grateful to Allah (swt) for I had a lovely mother who protected me with the armour of Islam and moulded me into a modest woman. It was a changing moment in my life.

Ryan’s death was a warning bell for all of us. We never know when would be our turn.

(Based on a true story with names changed to protect identity)

My Mother Was An Inspiration

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“2-4-4-3-4!”

I hear a loud and vibrant chant from the dining table where a group of 15 or more mid-teenagers congregate four times a week for their ‘Islamiat’ classes.

These kinds of students have been flocking for almost a decade at the residence where I stay in order to prepare for their final O-Level Examination. They are tutored, examined, and made to revise and practice every minute detail of the syllabus. They have to attempt questions from previous examinations as well as anticipated questions in the forthcoming test. The teaching goes beyond books, notes and lectures where the practicality and application of the beliefs are applied and proven. In some cases, individual counselling is provided for students and their parents who are seeking guidance.

This started off as a feeble attempt to better understand the religion. With time, patience, hard work and dedication, the tutor was able to capture and captivate the hearts, minds and souls of several hundred young adults, their parents and even their grandparents! And from the results that pour in, it shows.

Born into a minority sect of Islam, she struggled in accepting the beliefs and practices of those following it. She questioned, cross-questioned and cross-examined every ritual and ceremony that took place in their places of worship. She would spend endless hours in gaining answers from her father and then turning to Allah over and over again. She would pray and fast as the way of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) and his Companions and would make special efforts in gaining more knowledge of the Deen from practicing friends and their families.

The year she turned 18, her father gifted her a three-volume set of A. Yusuf Ali’s translation of the Holy Quran. She would reading this guidance for many years on, passing the inspiration to the generations following her.

I had always admired my mother from a young age. Being the eldest and only daughter for the first seven years, I would be the dog’s tail attached around my mother, especially when she would be working in the kitchen or managing and organizing the home for guests. I was there at her beck and call and learnt how she would be cleaning the meats before cooking, chopping vegetables and preparing the meal in the pot. Then there were the finer etiquettes that a young lady was required to have – laying the table, handling cutlery and crockery and serving the guests. After numerous rounds of serving friends and well-wishers through umpteen rounds of breaking and damaging fine china, my mother had declared me fit enough to handle the guests and kitchen on my own.

It was during those years and subsequently after that I learnt of a secret she had well-kept from me. In the hours that I was in the school, on the days my timetable did not have an ‘Islamic Studies’ class scheduled, my mother would slide my textbook off the shelf to read and gain knowledge from those enlightened pages. When my siblings and I would return from school, she would be eager to sit with us and learn what we had learnt that day by asking a million questions as a five-year old does! When we would have to learn some Ayats (Verses) from the Quran or a Dua (Prayer), she would make sure she kept herself free and would memorise them along with us.

Year upon year, she would be reading those ‘Islamic Studies’ textbooks and had almost a photographic memory by the end of the eighth level! I only got wind of this when I would question her on some issue and her response would be that I read it from a certain textbook. Many a times we would playfully argue regarding a matter and she would say: “Have you already forgotten? It is in YOUR textbook!”

It was a day in 1997 when my sister came complaining to my mother about the teacher discussing a certain topic in her ‘Islamiat’ class that was totally uncalled for. This angered my mother greatly and she had decided to visit the principal as soon as she could. The principal, of British origin, was a level-headed lady and was kind enough to listen to my mother’s point of view and thereby learn of the correct way of the religion. She immediately offered my mother to teach the same from the next academic year as she did receive a few other complaints regarding the current teacher and found my mother’s knowledge to be stronger and more practical.

My mother refused immediately and suggested that she should find someone who is more well-versed in the religion and more importantly, with the method of teaching and syllabus as she had no experience. The principal was firm in her belief and assured my mother that she would be willing to help her at any point in time and so would the other teachers, so she should go home, consult the family and return for the following academic year shortly.

The first year was the most difficult for her, I remember. She had about three to four grades to teach with a couple of sections that totalled to almost one hundred students. They were groups of girls and boys, anywhere from between 13 years of age to 17 with raging hormones and innumerable questions at the drop of a hat. The principal’s reassurances and the help from her colleagues is what kept her going. Late night assignment and homework checking was another factor that brought up her confidence and love for the subject. Her passion and drive to improve herself for her students grew further through the months and years she taught at the school.

Her health and the never-ending workload five years later, made her decide to tutor from home where she could manage fewer students whom she could pick and choose herself. The group was small initially – four to six in the first year to a double group of the same in the following year. Word got out amongst the students with whom she had coached and started spreading in the schools they studied and amongst their siblings. Mothers would be discussing when they would meet and would pass on her contact information. They too, felt comfortable enough to talk to her and would either call or visit her after her classes for their own counselling. In this way, their respective children had become more focused and better able to comprehend the lessons thereafter.

Sadly, in May 2011, she decided to close her tuitions with the batch that had just completed their term with her. She said she was “tired” and that she “had completed my (her) work”. She had asked her students to distribute the notes they had, as opposed to her recollecting them at the end of the year as was her practice. She wished for the other students to gain knowledge about Islam as much as all her other batches had, in years gone by.

It was two days after her birthday in August 2011 that she slept a peaceful sleep, only to never wake up.

As I sit in that same dining room receiving her former students and their parents who come to offer their condolences, I still feel her presence and can remember those lessons she would be preparing with me before teaching them.

That lady was my mother, Niamet Hashambhoy Khalid, more popularly known as Mrs. Niamet.

From Cradle to Grave

Cradle to GraveAyesha Khawaja interviews Ammatul-Mohsi, mother of Rohma (Dr. Israr Ahmed’s grandchild) who passed away after a brief battle with cancer.

As a child, Rohma was a sweet girl by nature, who never gave a hard time to her mother. Her mother, being a righteous person herself, was very conscious about the proper upbringing of her children. She always recited all of the Quranic and Masnoon Duas for them. At every important juncture, she did Istikhara, and for any problems, she got up for Tahajjud. For the girls, she switched schools from regular to Islamic, where they would not feel stigmatized for covering themselves.

From the age of ten, there was no question of ever leaving a prayer. The older siblings were also very vigilant about it. On and off, they would attend Islamic lectures with the family; in the car, they listened to Nasheeds and inspirational songs (without music).

Right after puberty, around the age of 12-and-a-half, Rohma began observing full Purdah with the Niqab. It came naturally to her; her mother, Khalas and her immediate cousins were all observing it. They did not watch movies at any point in their lives. Music was out of the question. Some Nasheeds, however, did have some sort of musical background, but even that was eliminated from their lives, as they gained greater understanding of the Deen.

Rohma’s father was extremely particular about Rizq-e-Halal. Even though he owns a huge business, he never took any bank loans. He was meticulous about the rights of others. Although he was a very busy man, Rohma’s mother made sure the family had meals together. He led by example rather than by preaching. The kids could see that their father was an upright man, truthful in his dealings, generous to the core, unpretentious and ever upholding the ties of kinship.

Ammatul Mohsi (Rohma’s mother) has a lot of Haya (modesty). She could not bring herself to utter a word like ‘Jhoot’ (falsehood). According to her, if ever a child did say anything that was incorrect, she would say it was ‘wrong’ and not ‘Jhoot’, because she really disliked the word. In her daily utterances, she would avoid words that had any connotation of immodesty or immorality in it, to the extent that she would not even mention words like ‘potty’.

Rohma’s mother also made sure that the children shared their life experiences with her and did not keep any secrets. In this way, she gently and skillfully guided them, as tests came along.

In Rohma’s own words, her life changed and her heart melted completely, when she did the one year Quran and Hadeeth course from Dr. Israr Ahmed’s Quran Academy after her higher secondary education. She said what she gained from there was far superior to what she had acquired from home.

Rohma’s Khala chose her to be the pious bride for her Hafiz son. Rohma’s deep blush was the only indication of her acceptance. Her bashfulness was such that she used to go deep red, if someone mentioned her fiancé’s name.

After the course, she graduated from Tooba College (the Islamic college opened by Dr. Israr Ahmed) and was married in a simple Nikah ceremony at the Quran Academy’s Masjid. There was no Mehndi, no Barat and no reception afterwards – just the beautiful Khutbah of Nikah at the Masjid, followed by Rukhsati. The Valima was the only dinner that graced this marriage.

It is worth mentioning here that there was a huge chasm between the worldly standards of the two households. Rohma belonged to a very well-off family and lived in a grand place with all the comforts of modern living. The bridegroom’s house, however, was no comparison and far removed from what she was used to. Years later, she had confided in her mother that initially, she had felt this sharp difference. However, her husband Mohsin’s piety and Taqwa had more than made up for lack of material comforts.

When the news of Rohma’s death was conveyed to her mother, the first word that escaped her lips was ‘Alhumdulillah’ and then “Inna Lillahi Wa Inna Elaihi Rajeeoon”. She told me that she had asked so much for Sabr from Allah (swt) that the only time tears poured down her cheeks were during Salah in Fajr or some other Salah.

Just the night before I interviewed her, she invoked Allah (swt) long and hard, beseeching Him to show her how to be steadfast in patience. In an instantaneous response to her Dua, Allah (swt) the Most High, showed her Rohma in her dream, looking breathtakingly pretty in a beautiful party dress that her mother had made for her, when she was a little girl. In the dream, she hugged her tight and kissed her and when she woke, an indescribable peace enveloped her.

When Rohma was ill, she had spoken to her sister about a dream, in which she said she was choosing a bride for her husband from a choice of three. It so happened that there were actually three girls that they considered one after the other for Mohsin and then settled for one, who seemed most suitable. Her daughters are, by the grace of God, being taken care of physically, emotionally and spiritually. After all, is Allah (swt) not the Best to help? And how Excellent a Patron and how Incomparable the Provider!

Readers are encouraged to read more about Rohma in Hiba’s January, 2013, issue (“Legacy of a Mominah”).

Interview with Mrs. Azmat Irfan (Mother of Three Sons)

What are some tips for positive parenting?

  1. Set your priorities. Your kids matter more than career, parties and social gatherings.
  2. Be patient and polite with your kids. At the age they are in, learning is a gradual process.
  3. Don’t punish them before giving them a warning. Punishments hurt both parties.
  4. Don’t punish when you are angry. You run the risk of overdoing it.
  5. No physical punishment before 10 years of age, if it is resorted to at all in the first place.
  6. Whenever you call them, do so with love and affection. Use words like “Mera Beta (my son) or Meri Shehzadi (my princess).” No matter how old your child is, he/she will always like it.
  7. Express your love, embrace them frequently. A bond between a child and a parent is the strongest in the world, but even that needs reinforcement.
  8. When they disobey their parents, they may be ignored if the offense is not severe. However, if they disobey Allah (swt), they should be reprimanded.