(Part 2) From House to Home

Family ConceptSilat-ur-Rahm is to keep regular contact and be in their service with politeness and courtesy. It means to exhibit excellent behaviour towards them. It is also said that reciprocation is not maintaining ties. It is not contingent upon their good behaviour to us. Whether they are practicing or non-practicing Muslims or non-Muslims, we are required to look after these relatives. The Prophet (sa) was asked a multiple times: “Should we offer good kindness even if parents are doing Haram or are abusive and oppressive? He replied: “Yes and continue to do it for Allah’s (swt) sake.” If any relative chooses to break off from us, it can be their choice and their decision to earn Allah’s (swt) wrath but we should never initiate it.

We are doing proper Silat-ur-Rahmi when it is hard and painful. When we don’t have any Dunya’s interest, it is literally at our own expense, that’s when we have done it. We are trying to maintain what is disconnected and broken. In Islam, it is one of the key obligations, and hence, most highly rewarded and also most punishable actions. What are we trying to achieve? We are trying to please them. Some of them may be easy to please while others very difficult. Some may be high maintenance people while others may have simple needs. Silat-ur-Rahm is a tailored thing. It is constructed around customs to please our relations. Silat-ur-Rahm is sometimes unfair but our deal for Jannah. Our attitude towards it should change from that of a burden to an opportunity because it makes the society healthy. Imagine sending gifts, relieving burdens and what not.

As Muslims we have been tasked to improve the society. For this job, we need more people to rise and tackle the situation. For this very reason such monumental emphasis has been placed upon Silat-ur-Rahm. The Prophet (sa) also offered Dawah to his family first then to others.

Silat-ur-Rahm is sometimes unfair but our deal for Jannah. Our attitude towards it should change from that of a burden to an opportunity because it makes the society healthy.

Mothers are most emotionally weak. They need our regular love and attention. They need to be called, hugged and talked to. Kindness and constant connection is the focus. Conversely for fathers obedience is the focus. If we do not call them regularly it won’t hurt them, but what they crave for is respect and control. They will always want to be part of our important decisions in life. The target is to manage expectations. However, obedience is in what is Maruf (good). There is no obeying our parents in anything Haram, or that which is not obligated. For example- if our father tells us to drink six glasses of water everyday, it is not necessary to follow him as it is not linked to the Akhirah.

Lastly, the nuclear family is the one that includes our spouse and children. Make no mistake but it is families that get married not just a man and a woman. One should marry someone who loves Allah (swt) more than his spouse. He/she will be a fair and Muttaqi partner lifelong. The Quran defines a marital relationship aptly. It is governed by love and mercy. Love is what makes the relationship kick off. It’s when we feel all the excitement and experience our honeymoon. This is like a T20 cricket match. However, its mercy that keeps the match going. When we are patient with one another, overlook faults and drop our expectations. Because we know that it’s a long inning.

Love is what makes the relationship kick off. It’s when we feel all the excitement and experience our honeymoon. This is like a T20 cricket match. However, its mercy that keeps the match going.

No matter what our struggle is in our marital life, we need to turn on the mercy button. Be easy about our own rights; think about the benefit of our children. When we are out of love, depend on Islam and Ehsan. Once a woman complained to Omar (rta) as the Khalifa about not being able to love her husband. He replied with anger that there were hardly any homes where couples lived a loving life. Real world is very different from the fantasy world we imagine or paint for ourselves. A husband takes precedence in obedience over his wife’s father. Every wife should try to earn such a relationship that her husband pleasingly values her desires and dreams.

About our offspring, we need to build a level of trust with them that they love us too much to hurt us. They do not fall into Haram fearing the impact it will have on us. If we are not our child’s best friend, there will be hundred others ready to become his friend at the drop of a hat. We ought to have more confidence in the relationship of love and stop outsourcing our child’s education. We can’t pay our way out by expecting others to do a good job, since we don’t want to do it ourselves.

Tarbiya cannot be purchased. We are lured into a false sense of security. Parents need to filter information after kids return from school because much Haram practices are happening out there; having said that, we can’t ban our kids from life. We can’t put them in a cave and teach them there.

Lastly and most importantly, it is not obligated to obey the in-laws; however, it is inconceivable for a God-fearing Muslimah to forsake her husband’s parents if she loves Allah (swt) and cares for her husband’s feelings. It is known that mothers-in-law have the hardest time letting go off their married sons in the Eastern culture. The West is not like that. Hence, every woman becomes the enemy she hated most once she steps into the shoes of a mother-in-law. The remedial measure is to part the families offering mutual space and respect. An arrangement should be made to look after old parents by their own children in terms of best care and quality time spent. Otherwise, it will be a punishable sin in the hereafter.

In conclusion to build the right family we must always read the Quran as if it is speaking to us directly. If we read it like a third party, we will never be able to reap the benefits of a fulfilling familial life. This was the attitude of the Sahabah. They never thought, “Oh what will happen to others.” They owned every verse of the Holy Book and internalized it to build a house to home.

Transcribed for “Hiba” by Rana Rais Khan from a talk at “Live Deen”, Karachi.

(Part 1) From House to Home

home_1361726270_540x540After becoming a distinguished practicing Muslim, a person’s primary concern becomes his family. Mainly because he realizes that his Akhirah is dependent upon it. A family offers diverse relations – people with obligatory rights, next come Silah-e-Rahmi and further Ihsani rights. If we don’t define them and do not understand these parameters, they become over-whelming. Because of a culture of respect in the East, we still have comparatively stronger family bonds. In the West they are not a priority for them. Parents don’t depend on their kids or vice versa.

We should be provoked into thinking about the value of children with respect to our deeds. There will be a time we will be needing support from our children. Our child could be the difference between fire and Jannah or one level of Jannah from another level of Jannah. This process of raising kids is called Tarbiya. We love our parents because of the Tarbiya they gave us. People of other religions love their parents because of love.

Islam commands not to even utter the word ‘Uff’ to our parents, but to say to them a respectful word. To lower our wings when we have learnt to fly great heights, at a time when we no longer need them. Before we begin to believe in our own nonsense and strut around with a puffed up chest, we better calm down. We ought to become humble and exhibit merciful kindness.

Allah (swt) states, “And ask Me about your parents.” (17:23-24)

We pray for them because of the effort they put into us when we were young, ensuring we turn out to be practicing. It is Karma- “do to them exactly as they did to you.” As a parent, we do not want a hassle filled life forever; hence, we go out of the way to raise a righteous child who will serve us in later years. When we are dead, our virtuous deeds will not end. Our child will come to aid us in the hour of need in our grave with his supplication for us and kind actions in the world transferring Sadaqah-e-Jariya.

A school and a Madrasa give Taleem (education). Their job is data input and processing, transfer of Ilm (knowledge). Hence, a teacher is called a Muallim. Parents on the other hand offer Tarbiya (nurturing) and are Murabbis. They invest intellectually and emotionally and spend time with each child on a one to one basis. This is a slow process that cannot be rushed.

Parents offer Tarbiya (nurturing) and are Murabbis. They invest intellectually and emotionally and spend time with each child on a one to one basis.

A child is like a canvas. It will display whatever we paint on it. We need to spend time with our children with love and patience and produce something worthwhile. It’s like preparing a ‘Murabba’- the science of creating a fresh fruit jam reveals how it requires many months to get the right texture, flavour, colour, etc. It needs regular monitoring. People value products of time, care and concern. Actor Brad Pitt is known to have bought an entire jam factory in France in appreciation of their distinguished taste. Imagine a child is similar. He/she stands out among others when the child has been raised likewise.

A child literally worships his parents; hence, Tarbiya should be done early. The main job should have been done by the age of seven. Reason being that as a child grows up; he realizes that there are other adults and influences in his world too in the form of teachers, friends, gadgets, etc. The kid might just decide that I can be like any of these big guys. We should become the person of trust our child can come to at any time and age of his life. This cannot happen if we keep relegating our responsibility to others. Our tangible and quality relationship makes the difference. A well-tended garden that has been seeded watered and pruned stands out in comparison to a jungle that has been left to grow on its own.

Tarbiya should be done early. The main job should have been done by the age of seven.

It seems in the modern day and age, the father’s role in a Muslim family is over-emphasized. It needs to be realistically assessed. A responsible father has to earn a decent living for the family, he is obligated to be at the Masjid five times of the day and he is also needed to be at the helm to lead many community service matters. That doesn’t mean that the fathers go missing or indulge in nonsense or behave irresponsibly.

Alongside the role of a mother is understated as a Murrabiya. Traditionally many scholars and men and women of great feats and achievements were raised solely by their mothers. Mainly because Allah (swt) has granted a natural generic skill set to women. They have an intrinsic bottomless well of patience within them. I observe this as a teacher too. Though I hope to deliver high quality of education to my students, but I do find myself struggling with kids. At times, my mind is blown away. But my female counterparts have a phenomenal ability to be patient with children.

Traditionally many scholars and men and women of great feats and achievements were raised solely by their mothers.

The greatest manifestation of mercy is in the womb of the mother. The baby receives complete charity in the form of oxygen, fluid, food, etc. If she cuts the cord, the child dies instantly. Hence, in the Arabic language the word ‘Rahm’ stands for a mother’s womb and from this another word ‘‘Rahma’ is derived which means mercy. People of Rahm are your family and ‘Silat-ur-Rahm’ means people connected to you with this link.

The Prophet (sa) emphasizing the family ties stated: “The one who does not maintain family ties will not enter Jannah.” (Bukhari). Ulool Arham are the womb relations from your mom i.e. her brothers and sisters.

Our obligatory rights are upon our family members with blood ties or our Mahrams by relations. This is a small group of people that include our father, mother, grandparents, grandchildren, father’s brothers, father’s sisters, niece, nephew, etc. This does not include our cousins whom we can marry. So technically if we do not maintain ties with our uncle (Father’s brother), it is a punishable sin, whereas if we ignore our ties with our cousin, it is not punishable. We need not look after him/her if we do not want to. Grandparents enjoy the same obedience and rights as our parents do.

(Transcribed for “Hiba” by Rana Rais Khan from a talk at “Live Deen”, Karachi.)

[To be continued Insha Allah]

[Twins of Faith Karachi] Family Matters by Br. Adnan Rashid

familyAllah’s (swt) greatest gift to Muslims is Iman (faith). Something they never pursued and were awarded effortlessly. But what is Iman? It is belief and action combined together based on the Ilm (knowledge) one has acquired. Yes, it’s a pre-requisite that Ilm must be followed up by Amal (action); otherwise, Ilm is not even considered to be Ilm.

Iblees (Satan) is most knowledgeable. He maybe is more learned than all the Ulema of the world collectively. Why? Because he has been around the longest. He was there even before Allah (swt) created Adam (as). And he worshipped Allah (swt). So where did he fail? How did he become Rajeem (the cursed and rejected one)? Significantly, because he failed to act upon the knowledge he earned. He recognized Allah (swt) to be the Supreme Creator, Who solely deserved to be worshipped, but blinded himself to His divine guidance. Hence, Ibless became a Kafir. Ilm without action is a recipe for Jahannum.

Numerous orientalists and non-Muslims have studied Hadeeth and Aqueedah in more depth than many Muslims on Earth. But it doesn’t save them. Knowledge and action are intertwined. One is vain and useless without the other. If we are granted knowledge and we do not act upon it, we are considered to be hypocrites. If we do not have knowledge and we act as per our desires, we can cause Fitnah and perform Bidats (innovations in Deen).

Abu Hurairah (rta) once saw an old man with a young boy. He advised the lad about the Islamic Adab: “Do not walk ahead of your father and do not sit before him.”

We need to approach our families with the knowledge of the Quran and the Sunnah, especially when delivering their rights upon us. Family is one of the greatest blessings from Allah (swt). It is an important opportunity to please Allah (swt) and enter Jannah. As Muslims, we must recognize who is who in the family. It is essential to understand the value and status of your parents, spouse, children and extended family.

Orphans are the ones, who know the true importance of having a family. Once, our beloved Prophet (sa) was travelling along with his companions (rta). Suddenly, he came to a halt and began to weep. His companions (rta), unable to see his grief, cried along with him, until Umar ibn Al-Khattab (rta) asked him: “Ya Rasool Allah (sa), why are you crying?” He replied: “My mother is buried here.”

Why did Allah (swt) place Jannah beneath the mother’s feet? Because it can only be attained by serving her. After mentioning Shirk as an unforgivable sin, Allah (swt) places disobedience to parents next in line. They can either be our doors to Jannah or gateway to Jahannum.

Once, the Prophet (sa) descended the pulpit thrice, and each time he uttered: “Ameen”. The companions (rta) asked him, why he did so? The Messenger (sa) explained: “Gabriel (as) visited me and informed me: ‘Woe to the person, who finds Ramadan but doesn’t enter Paradise.’ I said: ‘Ameen.’ Then he said: ‘Woe to the person, who, upon mentioning your name, doesn’t send Salawat upon you.’ I said: ‘Ameen.’ Lastly, Gabriel said: ‘Woe to the person, who finds his parents in their old age and fails to attain Jannah.’ I said: ‘Ameen.’ ”

Appreciate your ties with the kith and kin and pave your way to Jannah.

Abu Hurairah (rta) once saw an old man with a young boy. He advised the lad about the Islamic Adab: “Do not walk ahead of your father and do not sit before him.”

Many times kids do not out-rightly misbehave with their parents, but it’s that one shrug of shoulders, gesturing of the eyes or wrinkling with their forehead that does it all. The Quran doesn’t even permit us to utter ‘uff’ to them. If a word shorter than that would have been known, that would also have been forbidden to say against one’s parents.

How Allah (swt) defends the honour of a mother? When Maryam (as) gave birth to Isa (as) and brought him to her people, she was falsely accused. At the moment she pointed to Isa (as,) who was still an infant in the cradle. He spoke for his mother as a miracle. Allah (swt) granted him the power to do so. Isa (as) confirmed to the people that he was special. He was most importantly a slave of Allah (swt), He had been given a book (Injeel) from Allah (swt), he had been made a prophet of Allah (swt) and he was obedient to his mother.

I see the Western society collapsing from within. I have seen kids curse their parents. It’s an unbelievable phenomenon. Their family institution has disintegrated. On the other hand, Islam is great. It gives the right to people they deserve. Appreciate your ties with the kith and kin and pave your way to Jannah.

Transcribed by Rana Rais Khan from Br Adnan Rashid’s talk at Twins of Faith Karachi, organized by Mercy Mission.

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.)