What Is Your Sacrifice?

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When we say sacrifice, one of the prime issues that come into our minds- The sacrifice of Ibrahim (as) of his son Ismail (as).

May peace be upon them all and upon us. Ameen.

If we take a look at what happened- according to the narrations- the historic narrations and some of the Ahadeeth of RasulAllah (sa). It was a dream-an instruction to a Nabi of Allah (swt)- to Ibrahim (as) to do something that pleased Allah (swt). Although, it did not make sense to that man. But, he knew it was coming from Allah (swt). So, whether it made sense or not, he had to get that fulfilled because it was:

Wahi– a revelation.

It was from Allah (swt).

It was an instruction from the Maker.

There it was, and he planned to get that fulfilled.

He was instructed to sacrifice his son.

And, the upbringing of that particular son was such, that when he spoke to the son, the son said:

قَالَ يَا أَبَتِ افْعَلْ مَا تُؤْمَرُ ۖ سَتَجِدُنِي إِن شَاءَ اللَّـهُ مِنَ الصَّابِرِينَ

And, when he (his son) was old enough to walk with him, he said: “O my son! I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you (offer you in sacrifice to Allah), so look what you think!” He said: “O my father! Do that which you are commanded, Insha’ Allah (if Allah will), you shall find me of As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.).”

(As-Saffat 37:102)

This was the upbringing of the child. May Allah (swt) help us to give our children similar upbringing that when the decree of Allah (swt) is mentioned to them, they do not find it difficult to surrender to it. Ameen.

Today, we do not read Salah, and we expect our children to read Salah. We do not dress appropriately, and we are saddened when our children dress more indecently than us.

There are two ways, Insha’Allah to solve that matter. May Allah (swt) grant us a solution to that.

Ibrahim (as), when he went to fulfill the instruction of Allah (swt), Shaytan came to him. When Shaytan came to him, he pelted the devil on three occasions according to some narrations, and later on, he fulfilled this sacrifice.

Points to Ponder from Ibrahim’s (as) sacrifice

Every one of us is taught to engage in that sacrifice in one way or another, by the will of Allah (swt), not because it’s all about the festival of meat, and it’s all about enjoying eating. It’s not only that. Subhan’Allah.

The celebration is on the obedience of Allah (swt), and upon putting a knife between you and that which comes in the path of earning the pleasure of Allah (swt).

Let me share an example- what is the point of someone sacrificing a Ram at the time of Eid-ul-Adha yet, they have not put a knife to adultery they are committing for the last ten years.

What’s the point?

What is your sacrifice?

What have you put to an end in order to achieve the pleasure of Allah (swt), from the sin that, you are committing?

A person lies every day, yet they want to slaughter animals and  enjoy the meat. But, brother your sacrifice is to cut your lies. Some people speak rough to their family members; they have no way of communication. They speak to their wives or sometimes the (women) speak to their husbands, or their children, or parents, or in-laws in such a rough way that they can only be pleasing the devil- yet they will come to you at the time of Eid-ul-Adha.

Eid Mubarak!

Eid Mubarak! Subhan’Allah

Eid is not only about greeting people, No!

It is a bigger, much bigger issue. It is the development of yourself- you celebrate upon the fact that you have put a knife to that, which was displeasing ALLAH (swt); or when it came in to the instruction of ALLAH (swt), you made sure that come what may- you adopted that instruction. May Allah (swt) grant us goodness.

We have people, who cannot give up pornography; but, when it comes to sacrifice they are quick to put the knife on the Ram, and say: ‘We sent twenty animals to Bangladesh, and we sent fifty animals to India, and we sent another five hundred to Africa, Masha’Allah! That is very good, but…What did you do about the animal within you? You have not yet slaughtered it. Allahu Akbar!

What about the pornography inside that you are so hooked to?

Cut it out my brothers and sisters, cut it out and see….How you will enjoy the sacrifice of Eid-ul-Adha.

You are sacrificing something for the pleasure of  Allah (swt).

People have so much money. Some people have serious connection to false wealth that is not theirs. They want to use usurp wealth through robbery or deception, and they get happy about it- ‘Brother: I am a very rich man.’ How did you get your money? If you did it Halal, Alhumdulillah! We are happy for you. If not, put a knife to it! That money will not come about with any form of goodness. If we are not prepared to put a knife to it, then Subhan’Allah, how will we earn the pleasure of Allah (swt)?

This is one angle of looking at that sacrifice of Ibrahim (as)- what am I prepared to sacrifice to earn pleasure of Allah (swt). On one hand, Ibrahim (as) was instructed to do something that did not make sense to him, nor will it ever make sense to anyone of us.

Imagine, sacrifice your son!

Can it make sense to you? No!

Did it make sense to him? No!

But, it definitely was never a point of question, because he knew the source of the instruction. Once Allah (swt) said, Do this. He said: سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا -‘we have heard it and we have obeyed it’

Whereas, we have light items to fulfill. No one has asked us to sacrifice our children, or do something barbaric in order to achieve the pleasure of Allah (swt)- No!

But, it is the small things in our lives that we are not even prepared to look into. How then are we going to be able to sacrifice them?

Cut them out for the sake of Allah (swt).

Transcribed for hiba by Hira Naqi

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creating Win-win Agreements with our Children

27 win win agreements

There is a beautiful reality that we never reflect upon. It’s a message from the Creator (swt) for His creation: “Whoever brings a good deed shall have ten times the like thereof to his credit, and whoever brings an evil deed shall have only the recompense of the like thereof and they will not be wronged.” (Al-Anam 6:160)

Parents must understand what win-win is in Islam

What needs to be clearly believed by us and shared with our children is:

  1. Each and every one of us has a purpose in this world. Allah’s (swt) plan has no extras in it. We all fall into a jigsaw puzzle, the winners and the losers. Don’t forget that the Prophet (sa) also experienced the Battle of Badr and Battle of Uhud. The fate of both was contrasting, as were the lessons learnt.
  2. Allah (swt) offers abundance to His creations in terms of opportunities, resources, and choices. It is up to us to grab them and decide our future course of action.
  3. These opportunities come along throughout our lives. We need to be patient, alert, and positive. This is the toughest challenge most of us fail. The disappointed and hopeless one disgraces himself by his defeatist attitude and misses out on other doors opening for him.
  4. In Allah’s (swt) world, everyone can be a winner. But you need to see yourself from the eyes of the Akhirah. The parameters and standards of the world are changing, deceptive, and not necessarily correct.
  5. Allah (swt), unlike His creations, judges people by their genuine struggles and rewards accordingly the patient ones. People, on the other hand, reward on basis of performance and not the strife one has been through.
  6. Once a winner will not always be a winner, as it is Allah’s (swt) Sunnah that whatever goes up must come down. It is the nature of Dunya. Similarly, once a loser may not always be a loser provided he or she makes principled choices in life and perseveres hopefully.

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Weekends with Daddy

19 did you know

  1. Sports

This varies from simple skipping to more emotional cricket matches. We enjoy football, racing, and anything that gets the blood rushing and giggles going. Just for dads to be there rolling in the grass or competing like kids builds treasured memories for children. My 14-year-old son very proudly shared with his teacher at school: “My dad and I try to outplay each other on Sundays. I let him win. You should see his face.”

  1. Brain teasers

Board games, verbal math word problems, spellathons, Dua contests, Abacus, riddles, general knowledge trivia, science or geography quizzes, and so on. These are great when you are either on the road or cooped up at home with little to do. This is a parent’s smart way of teaching stuff without teaching it. And kids love to be able to prove their mastery over their favourite areas of knowledge and expertise. It is a big deal for them to teach their mom and dad. Our six-year-old has been giving me and my husband Qaidah lessons and enjoys it tremendously.

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Top Three Reasons Why Children Fail

gradesFear

What are kids scared of in school? They are afraid to let down the anxious adults around them namely their teachers and parents. This nerve-wrecking fear hovers over their head like a dark cloud, chasing them to failure. What else is scaring the living daylights out of them? It’s the humiliation these children feel when they cannot learn well enough and are targeted by their fellow classmates, who mock them and turn them into a laughing stock. It’s the hurtful comparisons their own parents make to their other siblings or other friends cruising ahead in school.

The greatest gift a parent or teacher can give to a child is their confidence and faith in his ability to reach his potential. 

Fear is the greatest hurdle in the way of learning. A genius cannot live under the constant scare of defeat and the pressure of not disappointing others. For this very reason, inventors like Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein failed so miserably in formal schooling. Yet the minute they were pulled out of the pressure and allowed to create something of value, they rose from mediocrity to excellence.

Kids are also afraid to make mistakes because the grown-ups in their lives generally have little or zero tolerance for it. Whether it is a simple case of spilling milk on the table, a wrong answer to a math problem, or a misspelt word, children are taken to task for any error they make. It makes me wonder about the number of times Anas (rtam) must have blundered while serving our Prophet Muhammad (sa) as a child, and yet, in his own words as evidence, Anas (rtam) states: “Not once in nine years of my service was I ever rebuked by the Messenger (sa).” Muhammad (sa) understood and respected the tender nature of children, and he allowed them room to learn and make mistakes fearlessly.

Boredom

John Holt states: “Except for a handful, who may or may not be good students, they fail to develop more than a tiny part of the tremendous capacity for learning, understanding and creating with which they were born and of which they made full use during the first two or three years of their lives. Why do they fail?”

A child does not need to be a jack of all trades. He will fare better if he becomes the master of one. 

They fail because the race to finish off school curriculum is on every teacher and parent’s mind in general. The stuff kids are expected to do in classrooms is dull and boring. It does not challenge their intelligence. So they desperately try to sail along, sometimes swimming and other times drowning.

Confusion

What confuses children? It’s the contradiction between what they learn in their classroom and what the real world presents to them. It makes little or no sense at all. To dodge this, kids adapt many strategies to survive school too. At times, they will mumble an answer. At other times, they will stay silent. Some will give the most outrageously incorrect answer mainly so that they are left alone. Others will try to read the teacher’s face for clues and may get lucky.

The greatest gift a parent or teacher can give to a child is their confidence and faith in his ability to reach his potential. Allah’s (swt) creation is never faulty. Every child comes with his set of skills. Unfortunately, our schools and educational system has very little room to recognize and let that talent grow. A child does not need to be a jack of all trades. He will fare better if he becomes the master of one. This means the report card may show low grades in some places and a clear winner in the area of the kid’s interest and passion. Let that be!

Adapted from “How Children Fail” by John Holt

Handling my Teen’s Relationship with Allah (swt)

9 teens relationship with AllahI was sipping my cup of morning coffee when a glance at my watch told me it was already half past nine. I looked around but there was no sign of my ex-student Seema. She had called me last night, and had made a hurried request to meet her in a day or two. She had sounded very tense, and out of great concern for her, I had agreed to meet her the very next day. Our meeting was fixed for nine, and here it was a half hour past it and she was still not here. That was highly unusual since I had always known her to be a very punctual person.

A few more minutes passed. I looked around, and saw a young boy of about sixteen or seventeen years of age, sitting with a girl a few years younger than him. Not wanting to jump to any conclusions, I simply observed them talk and eat their breakfast, until the boy took out a rose from his pocket and presented it to the girl. I shook my head in disappointment and prayed for them to be shown the right path towards Jannah.

It was likely to occur to a person observing them that their parents had not taught them their religion or the teenagers belonged to a family with liberal beliefs, who did not consider pre-marital relationships to be unacceptable. But for me this perception was no more valid because I myself had faced this situation a few years ago when my own daughter had entered her teen years. It was one of the most devastating periods of my life because my husband and I were firm believers, and had always been conscious about not committing any sin. Yet our daughter was caught having a relationship with her class fellow; this was totally unacceptable and shameful for us.

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Teaching Techniques of Prophet Muhammad (sa) – A Workshop for Parents & Educators

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Raising Muslim Children in Present-Day America: Challenges and Opportunities

New in USA

A few months ago upon returning to the States from a vacation in Pakistan, we waited in line at Chicago O’Hare airport. Our turn came quickly. The immigration officer looked at me and my family, scanned our green cards, smiled and said “Welcome Home.”

Two words, but they had a great impact on me. Was this home, or did we just return from home? Can we have two homes? What about our children who were born in America, yet visit Pakistan annually for a month or two? Lots of questions but only one answer. Yes, this is our home because everything happens by the Will of Allah (swt). However, while we are here, do we just blend in with the crowd or do we make good use of our time?

As Muslims in a post 9/11 America, we are ambassadors of Islam 24/7 whether we like it or not. Yes, the entire Ummah is a Khaleefah, but how many times have we taken our faith for granted when we are comfortably nestled between Muslims? How many times have we had to actually defend our faith?

The moment I step out of my house, my Dawah gear is on auto-pilot. I could be doing negative Dawah by being late for an appointment, being rude to a bank clerk or breaking a red light on a busy street. But I can be doing positive Dawah by smiling at my son’s teacher, holding the door open for someone at the store or sending brownies to my neighbour.

So the next time they see a woman in Hijab or a man with a beard being stereotyped, they may pause to think: “Hey, that’s not representative of the Muslims I know.”

We may not be able to change foreign policy or stop injustices across the globe, but we can change perceptions one person a time. We need to do it – not just for ourselves – but for our children.

Does that mean we just try to ‘blend in’ and not stand out as Muslims? Should Samia become Sammy and Bilal Bill?

However, if our Iman is strong, why not tell people that we are regular, law-abiding citizens who do not have bomb-making cells in their basement.

Thousands of Muslims have reported to have been victims of discrimination, harassment or attacks since 9/11. Children have seen their parents under great stress whether it is a name called on the street, or someone being laid off or even deported.

Our children are innocent spectators and unless we do something to change perceptions, they could grow up feeling insecure.

So, how can Muslims who have decided to live in the West make the best ambassadors?

And how can Muslim parents instill Islamic values in the entire generation of American children they are raising?

Preserve Muslim Identity

From a young age, we have to make our children proud of their faith. Whether it is making a big deal out of Ramadan, throwing them an Eid party or enrolling them in Sunday school, we have to make the sacrifice if we want our kids to have an identity.

A misconception that prevails in many minds is that a ‘Muslim-American’ is an oxymoron. They believe that you have to be one or the other, not both. But there are thousands of Muslim-Americans, whether by birth or naturalization who are excellent ambassadors of Islam.

Connect with the American Society

In order to be contributing members of society, Muslims should not just stay within their own community bubble. If we have decided to live here, we have to reach out to our neighbours, co-workers and yes, even the lady at the post office.

If we keep our children in the Muslim bubble, they will not know how to interact with their peers at school or in the work force. We need to enroll them in park district soccer leagues and school Girl Scout troops. If non-Muslims don’t know any Muslims, they will be forced to believe whatever the mass media feeds them.

We should not confuse our children with constant references to ‘back home’. They were born in the US, and yes, they are Americans. If you insist your son plays cricket, then you’ll have to fund an entire team, find coaches and gather support. If you overcome the cultural barriers and encourage him to play baseball, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to connect with mainstream society.

As parents, we have to choose our battles. Paratha is not more religious than pizza. Our children should respect their parents’ culture, but they should not be made to constantly choose between here and ‘back home’. They should respect their grandparents’ traditions but be allowed to make some new ones.

We may never have been out rafting, or gathering for story-time by a campfire; but these are some American traditions that do not contradict Islamic teachings. It just proves that there are Halal avenues for fun and it is up to us parents to provide them in contrast to always saying no to our kids.

Find a Mentor

Our parents are the best mentors we have. However, they did not raise children as a minority in a foreign land, and therefore it is important for us to find families who have done a good job in raising Muslim American children. Their experiences can help you formulate your parenting strategy.

Children spend so much time at school that it is imperative to know what they are being taught. Even though American public schools are not allowed to teach religion, they can teach about religion.

Parents should join the PTA (Parent Teacher Association) and volunteer in their kids’ schools. Offer to give a presentation on Ramadan, Eid or Hajj. Tailor it to your child’s age and follow protocol such as asking for permission and discussing plans with teachers.

Previous generations have laid a great foundation in the U.S. by building mosques, Islamic schools and Zabeeha meat stores. However, they did not have to face the unique circumstances we younger parents are facing in a post 9/11 America where our children are not just ‘cultural aliens’, but rather ‘enemy aliens’. We need to unite forces if we want to raise a confident generation in unconfident times.

Our objectives need to be clear – we are out there to remove misconceptions about Islam. It is up to us to provide our children with a strong identity at home and the ability to connect with mainstream America in order to become the ambassadors of excellence for today and tomorrow, Insha’Allah.

Confident Mother Syndrome

confident mother

By Maria Elahi – Freelance writer

Confident Mother Syndrome is a rapidly spreading behavioural problem in today’s mothers, especially in our society. This phenomenon is repressing the morals of our children and youth; it is also making today’s kids unruly, uncouth and generally disrespectful towards their elders. Not only that, it is also one of the chief causes of destroying harmonious relationships amongst neighbours and relatives.

What is Confident Mother Syndrome (CMS)? 

CMS is the perception of mother(s) that their child or children can do no wrong: “My son? No, my son cannot do this… I know him.” Mothers are confident that their children cannot possibly cause the kind of mayhem of which they are accused.

As a result of this perception, a mother develops a mental block that prevents her from accepting any negative behaviour reported about her child. She defends her child ardently no matter what trouble he has caused. She even invents excuses for his negative behaviour.

It has also been observed that this problem seems to intensify in mothers as and when they have more and more children. The chief cause of this phenomenon is that a mother generally becomes more inattentive and neglectful of her younger offspring, once she finds out that her older kids have turned out to be just fine (well-mannered and responsible human beings). In other words, she becomes overconfident in the Tarbiyah (upbringing) that she has provided and loses focus towards the younger ones.

Causes

  • Love – the possessive sort that makes a mother biased.
  • Overconfidence as far as Tarbiyah (upbringing) is concerned.
  • Self-perception: “Since I am good, my blood cannot be bad.”
  • Reactive attitude and a tendency to blame others, if things go wrong, instead of taking responsibility for it.
  • Criticism against her child or children is viewed as a personal attack.
  • A combination of all of the above.

Consequences

  • Blind trust can turn your child into a perpetual liar. He will know that his mother is going to defend him or her no matter what. This would give him a false sense of security.
  • Would encourage him instead of preventing him from making trouble.
  • May develop attitude problems: cultivate arrogance, impudence and macho behaviour, which may turn him into a bully.
  • May corrupt his morals: make him rude, outspoken and disrespectful towards elders.
  • A children’s tussle has the potential to turn into a full-fledged adult brawl.

Solutions

  • Be fair: investigate the issue before taking sides. The Quran says: “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a Better Protector to both (than you).” (An-Nisa 4:135)
  • The real trouble-maker must be reprimanded and admonished to prevent him from making more trouble in the future. Use scolding, punishment, positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement (whatever seems appropriate under the circumstances).
  • Keep monitoring and counselling your child. Remember – the morals taught by mother remain with the child till his death. Motherhood is the first institution; make your institution the best.
  • Allow others (elders) to gently counsel him, if they see him doing something wrong – a stitch in time saves nine.
  • Be open to advice, criticism and opinions regarding your child – after all, who is going to benefit in the end?
  • Teach and encourage your child to apologize when he is wrong – it wins heart, heals emotional wounds and earns respect.
  • Make yourself his best friend – let him communicate to you all he went through. This way you can tell him where he was right, where he was wrong and what he should have done under the circumstances.

Disclaimer: CMS is not a psychological term; it is the writer’s observation, which has been confirmed and reinforced by an informal survey.

Connecting our Children to Sunnah

He loved children. And children loved him. Prophethood did not prevent him from giving them attention and affection. They attended his gatherings and accompanied him. He would initiate Salam to them, talk, kiss and embrace them, place them on his lap and shoulder, educate them and let them assume responsibility. Despite being the greatest Imam, leading noble men in prayer, he prolonged his Sajdah just to let his grandson riding his back have his fill. Unthinkable in our Masjids! He interrupted his sermon, descended the pulpit, picked up his faltering grandsons and then resumed. Not likely in today’s Islamic classes! His love and mercy were for all children. He deemed it a Muslim’s mark: “He is not one of us, who does not show mercy to our young ones and esteem to our elderly.” (At-Tirmidhi, Ahmad) His loving, patient, gentle, understanding and balanced attitude helped fashion those children into distinguished Muslims.

His example lives on, inviting the Ummah to treat children his way. Old or young, we owe him tremendously and repay by following his way, thus, paving the way for our own success and happiness. “….and whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad (sa)) will be admitted to Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise), to abide therein, and that will be the great success.” (An-Nisa, 4:13) Following his Sunnah is Islam’s basic requirement, not just a matter of Thawab (reward). Obeying him spells the difference between success and failure, as the Uhud battle reminds us.
With this success formula in hand, how do we connect our children to the Sunnah? By getting connected to it ourselves! Learn what Sunnah is and be role-models for your children – children see what you do; they don’t hear what you say!
If our concept of Sunnah is correct, we can educate our children correctly. The term ‘Sunnah’ is often used narrowly referring to the Prophet’s (sa) manners of eating, drinking, dressing, sleeping, etc. Actually, it embraces all aspects of life: births, weddings, deaths, trading and combat. There is a Sunnah way of talking, conducting Dawah and dealing with parents, spouses, elders, children, servants, neighbours and the needy. Our children should see us emulating Sunnah wholly, not selectively. Follow it in Muamalat (interpersonal dealings), as you follow it in Ibadah (worship). Follow it in Akhlaq (manners), as you follow it at mealtime. Beautify your Hijabs and beards with Prophetic qualities of patience, honesty, gentleness, humility and generosity. Please your parents and control your anger; these are Sunnahs, too. Live simply so that accounts of the Prophet’s (sa) simple life don’t just make ‘nice, ancient stories’ for your children but a reality. Sahabah best emulated the Prophet (sa). Anas Ibn Malik (rta) narrated that he passed by a group of boys, greeted them and said: “The Prophet (sa) used to do so.” (Bukhari)
Our children need to see us loving and revering the Prophet (sa) above ANY other person. Let them not find us preferring family traditions or ‘scholars’ opinions’ over the Sunnah. Would we like our children to hear tons about the Prophet (sa) and then witness his Sunnah being disregarded at weddings and deaths? Wouldn’t they be confused to learn that the Prophet (sa) ordered Sahabiyat to attend Eid prayers, but find their mother missing out on the blessings, because her school of thought says women shouldn’t go to Masjid?
Certain Sunnahs are more basic and important than others, but none are unnecessary or purposeless, and none should be belittled. Sunnah is what the Prophet (sa) said, did and approved of. Study his Sunnah and Seerah (biography) thoroughly. The more you know, the more you can teach to your children, and the more you can love and follow him. Tell children stories about the Prophet (sa), about Sahaba’s extraordinary love and obedience to him and of the incredible efforts of Muhadditheen (Hadeeth scholars). Excellent books and audios about these are available for adults and children. Bring them home and share them with your family.
Take your Deen from the Quran and the Sunnah. These safeguard one’s beliefs and actions against deviations and provide clarity in an age of confusion, which our children see more of: “I have left amongst you two things which, if you hold fast to them, you will never stray: the Book of Allah and my Sunnah.” (Al-Hakim) Shun all Biddats (innovations). A mother was once brought a bag of candies by a friend, who received it as mid-of-Sha’ban celebration. The mother returned it in the children’s presence, nicely but clearly explaining that the celebration is an innovation, and innovations harm our Deen.
Quote the Prophet (sa) with care. Abdullah Ibn Masood’s (rta) face would change colour, when quoting Hadeeth due to a sense of responsibility. Although Imam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal knew hundreds of thousands of Hadeeth by heart, he would quote from his books to avoid the possibility of erring and distorting Hadeeth wording. If you don’t remember a Hadeeth exactly but are sure of its meaning, express it accordingly to your child. Feed their impressionable minds authentic knowledge.
Study the Prophet’s (sa) Salah in detail. Pray his way and teach your children likewise. Before Ramadan arrives, learn about his Ramadan and Eid. Eating dates in odd number and offering your children the same before leaving for Eid-ul-Fitr prayers, while saying Takbeerat, can give them life-long memories of Sunnah.

Everyday Sunnahs can be instilled from day one. Say Bismillah when nursing, and Alhamdulillah, when the baby sneezes. Cover her yawning mouth. Recite the various Duas taught by the Prophet (sa): leaving and entering the house, using the toilet, traveling, morning and evening Duas, Duas for illness, etc. Follow the Sunnahs of eating, dressing, relieving oneself and sleeping. Educate the children when they err, as did the Prophet (sa) with Umar Ibn Abi Salama, whose hand used to go around the dish. (Bukhari) If the children are outdoors, bring them in at Maghrib. If they ask why, say: “The Prophet (sa) has told us so. Wicked, invisible Shayateen are out there to hurt you.” Revive nearly-extinct Sunnahs, like sitting on the floor for meals, eating collectively from a dish, licking fingers afterwards and using Miswak and Kohl.
The Sunnah isn’t about spiritual matters alone; bodies benefit, too. Forget junk food and nourish children instead with Sunnah foods: honey, dates, olives, figs, barley, gourd, lentils, pomegranates, etc. When they fall ill, rush first to Duas and the Prophet’s (sa) medicine, rather than blindly trusting the increasingly questionable ‘modern’ medicine.
Remember Imam Hanbal? He recorded thousands of Ahadeeth, yet states that “he never penned down a Hadith of the Prophet (sa) that he did not abide by”! Imagine a world, where our children are surrounded by living examples of the Quran and the Sunnah. Can you help create that world?

Thee Alone We Ask for Help

Vol 5 - Issue 2 Thee alone we ask for helpI have always wondered, why Allah (swt) stresses for children to be kind to their parents in four places of the Quran (Surahs Isra, Ahkaaf, Luqmaan and Ankaboot). However, there is not a single instruction for parents to be kind to their children.

Once I had kids, I realized that only the Creator knew His creation inside out – and the instructions must be there for my ignorance. The instruction in Surah Tahreem (66:6) is this: “O You who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones…”

Before I had kids, every time I read this Ayah, it didn’t really mean much. But now, as a mother of three (Masha’Allah), I understand this very fundamental command of Allah’s (swt).

Iqbal in his poem “The Satan’s Advisory Council” (“Iblees ki majlis-e-shura”) says:

“I fear from this Ummah lest they awake,
Being his faith’s base, world account he would take.”

It means that only Islam can hinder Satan’s schemes to destroy the mankind in this world.

Relating the poem to the above Ayah, I see that in order to have kids that are successful Muslims, I must be vigilant every single minute – every routine and boring aspect of their lives. I must be AWAKE! We must conduct our affairs according to the parameters Allah (swt) has set for us.

But how can I raise my kids, so that every facet of their lives revolves around Allah (swt) and fear of Allah’s (swt) displeasure? I look to the Ayah, reflect and remember a book by Suleiman Nadvi – “Seerat un Nabi” (Vol. 6). The author discusses the character building and states that all bad character traits have their roots in three things:

 

DECEIT LOVE OF WEALTH SELF-CONCEIT
  • backbiting
  • promise-breaking
  • skepticism
  • tattling
  • duplicity
  • false oath
  • greed
  • stealing
  • usurping
  • cheating
  • embezzlement
  • overstatement
  • jelousy
  • pride
  • vanity
  • boastfulness
  • rashness
  • oppression
  • maliciousness
Remedy: Sawm Remedy: Zakah Remedy: Salah

Allah (swt) has given us the remedy for these sins as well. So the foundation for my kids’ character is entrenched in the pillars of Islam, which are not mere rituals but shields to combat character defects. My job, as I understood it, is to instruct them to practice these as soon as they physically and mentally can.

To apply this practically, my seven-year-old prays and fasts, my three-year-old tries to pray and fast, and all three of my kids give 1/3 of their Eidi (or any other money they receive as gifts) to the needy. I didn’t think these choices I ‘forced’ them to make had much impact, until the earthquake in 2005. Bilal demanded that I give his money to the victims; Isra makes sure she buys candy for our servant’s kids, whenever she buys some for herself.

We cannot substitute our presence; the guilt of not spending enough time with our kids is clear in the concept of ‘presents instead of presence.’ In today’s materialistic society, we buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress the people we don’t even like, which in turn distorts our relationship with our kids and their sense of reality. It alters their priorities and moves them away from Allah (swt) – into the Hell we are commanded to save them from.

Parents must sacrifice their pleasures for their kids. Instead of eating out, make cooking new things an adventure. Instead of going to the malls, spend time playing sports with your kids. Instead of aiming for that upper middle class lifestyle, aim for that highest level in Jannah. We, as parents, must review our priorities in order to instill correct character traits in our kids.

We should build a strong sense of pride in the Islamic way of life. We should equip our kids with proofs from the Quran and the Sunnah, so that they can defend their choices. We should inform them, using logic and Ayahs from the Quran about Islam’s stand on various issues. For example, my son asked me, if a girl who wore jeans would go to Hell. I, in turn, quoted the Hadeeth about the etiquettes of dress, which gave him ‘ammunition’ for convincing his sister not to wear jeans!

Be sure you do not confuse your kids – do what you ask them to do. In other words, make it a line in stone that you MUST practice what you preach, or else your kids WILL not get the message. Provide for them a home environment, which exemplifies the Islamic way of life. Structure your activities around Salaah timings – this will reinforce the importance of Salaah. Show to your kids that you give to the poor and the needy as much as you can – this will impress them, and they will understand that wealth is a trust from Allah (swt) to be dispensed as per His instructions. Make Ramadan special and perform acts of worship as a family – believe me, it will last a lifetime. I still pine for the days, when we would stay up all night and pray during the last ten days of Ramadan with my mom, grandmother, aunts and neighborhood women. It was the highlight of the year for us!

I cannot stress enough the importance of a peaceful and loving relationship between father and mother, which serves as an example for future relationships kids will make. Only insist on the best – the best prayer (with devotion and humility), the best fast (with perseverance) and the best attitude towards your fellow Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

For a better and responsible future generation, all parents must work hard on their kids’ moral and ethical upbringing. The benefit will be a strong Islamic society in this world and Jannah in the Hereafter, Insha’Allah.

Raising Fine Men

Vol 1-Issue 2 Raising fine menHerbert Hoover once quoted, “A boy has two jobs. One is just being a boy. The other is growing up to be a man.” This can be a journey filled with adventure; learning and much achievement, provided parents do their job well. It’s quite a formidable challenge but it’s undoubtedly worth it.

Role As Allah’s Servant

A man, who has a strong bond with Allah, can never fail as a great human being and a glorious believer. To him every intention made and action done is worship. He ensures that he never displeases his Rabb and when he makes a mistake, he hastens to amend it and ask for forgiveness. This is the believer we need to raise in our homes as Muslim parents.

Allah says in the Quran:”Verily, those who say: ‘Our Rabb is (only) Allah,’ and thereafter stand firm and straight on the Islamic Faith of Monotheism, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. Such shall be the dwellers of Jannah, abiding therein (forever), – a reward for what they used to do.” (Al-Ahqaf 46:13-14)

Role As A Son

Allah commands, “And we have enjoined on man to be good and dutiful to his parents…” (Al-Ankabut 29:8)

Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated, the Prophet (sa) said, “May he be disgraced! May he be disgraced! May he be disgraced, whose parents, one or both, attain old age during his lifetime, and he does not enter Jannah (by being dutiful to them). (Muslim)

Allah has commanded to show kindness towards parents many times in the Quran. Today, however we witness two extremes with regard to children. Some parents are far too demanding and expect a service beyond their child’s capacity in terms of time and attention. Conversely some parents do not want to take any help from their children in spite of their frail and weak state. Subsequently their children become oblivious to their duties and occupy themselves with their own pursuits in life.

We should maintain a healthy balance where we can allow our sons to serve us and earn a reward for it. Simultaneously parents should maintain their dignity and grace, providing them with love and guidance.

Role As A Brother

A good Muslim brother, may it be as a real brother at home, or as a brother of every member of the Muslim Ummah, will understand his duties. Brotherhood in faith is a bond that actually binds all Muslims regardless of blood relations.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) said, “A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs, whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomfort of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever screened a Muslim, Allah will screen him on the Day of Resurrection.” (Sahih Bukhari)

Role As A Husband

Allah commands Husbands with regard to their wives, “…and live with them honourably…” (An-Nisa 4:19).

Allah describes the marital relationship as, “…They are Libas (i.e. body cover, screen or Sakan) for you and you are the same for them…” (Al-Baqarah 2:187)

Parents should teach their sons to fulfill their role as a good husband. He should not just be a breadwinner but actively involve himself at home too. This can be done by providing time to his wife, taking care of her personal needs, communicating with her and helping her resolve any conflicts.

This is important to keep the institution of marriage intact and firm. A man who is happy at home stays away from many evils of the society. He is also more likely to deliver his rights to everyone else too if he is a good husband.

He should not be pulled like a rubber band in between his spouse and his parents. Both have essential rights and both should not be neglected. Especially in a troubled marriage, parents should never take sides and advise their sons to be patient and kind.

Role As A Father

Today’s materialistic struggle for more leaves little time for fathers to spend with their children. They may be able to pay bills, provide luxury and comfort to their kids but they are hardly around to spend any quality time with them, leave alone teach them a thing or two.

Teach your son to be a father rather than a visiting guest in the house. A son can learn much from his father in a man-to-man relationship. If his father provides the appropriate role model to him, many wrongs can be set right.

When Fatima (rta), came to visit Prophet (sa), he got up for her, took her by the hand, kissed her and made her sit where he was sitting; and when he went to visit her, she got up for him, took him by the hand, kissed him, and made him sit where she was sitting. (Abu Dawood)

This beautiful example teaches us three lessons: A good Muslim father appreciates daughters and loves them. He gives respect to his children and teaches them to respect him. He does not hesitate to show his love for his children.

Prophet (sa) said, “A father gives his child nothing better than a good education.” (Mishkat) This does not only mean academics meant to build up a career, but the norms of a cultured and decent living which is approved by Allah and His Messenger (sa).

Role As A Friend

As wise parents, we should always look for families supporting values that can offer meaningful friendships to our kids. Especially in cases of boys who spend considerable time outdoors. It is best to help our children grow friendships at school, Masaajid, social clubs etc before they reach their teens. Till such time kids idolize their parents and are more likely to listen to them. Talk to them about their friends; have them come over so you can observe their habits.

The worst mistake that any parent can make is to pay no attention to the company their son is keeping. Many times bad habits are brought home from bad companions due to peer pressure.

Prophet Muhammad (sa) said, “The example of a good companion and a bad companion is like that of the Musk-seller and the Blacksmith. As for the musk-seller, he may either give you some or sell you, or at least you enjoy a pleasant smell from him. As for the blacksmith, around him you may get your clothes burned, or have to sniff an offensive smell from him.” (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

Role With Relatives

Our present life style generally gives preference to friends over relatives. However as responsible Muslim parents we must teach our sons the vital place of family relations in a believer’s life. Maintaining cordial relations and providing selfless support to relatives is our duty and their right.

The Prophet (sa) said, “O community of Muhammad, by Him Who has sent me with truth, Allah cannot accept the charity of those whose relatives are in want of his kindness and help, while he is distributing it among others, leaving them out. By Him in Whose power is my life, on the Day of Judgment Allah will not look at such a man.” (Tabrani)

The children are ordained not to severe ties with relatives even after the death of their parents.

A man came to Prophet (sa) and asked, “Messenger of Allah, is there any kindness left that I can do for my parents after their death?” The Prophet (sa) replied, “Yes. You can invoke blessings on them and forgiveness for them, carry out their final instructions after their death, join ties of relationship which are dependent on them, and honour their friends.” (Abu Dawood)

Role With The Fair Sex

Allah commands: “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things)…” (An-Nur 24:30)

He also says, “…Verily, the hearing, and the sight, and the heart, of each of those ones will be questioned (by Allah).”(Al-Isra 17:36)

Ibn Abbas (rta) reported, the Prophet (sa) said, “No one of you should meet a woman in privacy unless she is accompanied by a Mahram (a relative within the prohibited degrees).” (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

Joking with our boys about girlfriends, permitting them to chat on the phone or internet with girls and encouraging them to mix up freely with females in parties or elsewhere, does it suit us as Muslim parents to follow such a course? Our sons will only learn to respect women if we train them to do so, otherwise they will always consider them as an object of fun and play.

Allah warns us in the Quran:”And know that your possessions and your children are but a trial, and that surely with Allah is a Mighty Reward.” (Al-Anfal 8:28)

Once the Messenger of Allah (sa) was delivering a speech. Meanwhile, (his little grandsons) Hasan and Hussain (rta) arrived, stumbling and wearing red shirts. He came down from the pulpit, took them, and ascended it with them. Then he said, “Allah has said truly: ‘Your property and your children are only a trial…'” (At-Taghabun 64:15)… Afterwards he resumed the speech. (Abu Dawood)

We must make every possible effort to bring up good believing kids and leave the rest to Allah. Along side we can pray earnestly, “…Our Lord, grant us spouses and off springs who will be the comfort of our eyes…” (Al-Furqan 25:74)

True Stories Of Exemplary Mothers

Many years ago in Uzbekistan, a baby boy was born blind. His mother, a strong Mu’minah, did not lose faith in the Power of Allah to cure him. She persistently prayed for her son’s sight. Within a few years the boy was cured.

She was widowed, the boy an orphan. She travelled with him to Makkah so that he could receive Islamic Education. She arranged that he attend the circles of the scholars. Consequently, he began excelling in the science of Hadeeth. He travelled to distant villages in search of the most authentic sayings of the Prophet (sa).He would pray two Rakahs before accepting a Hadeeth. His mother named him Muhammad ibn Isma’il. And many of us know him today because of the book he compiled, Saheeh Al-Imam Al-Bukhari!

In another land, in another time, chilly Baghdad winds would wake up another boy. Much before Fajr, his mother would bundle him in warm shawls and escort him through the darkness, making sure he reached the Masjid safely. After Fajr, she would wait for him as he read Hadeeth to the biggest scholars of the land. Then, long after the sun had come up, she would meet him outside and together they would walk home. She was a strong mother indeed, for her son grew up to become an Imam of the Muslim Ummah, named Ahmad ibn Hanbal.

Common Pitfalls To Avoid

  • Considering boys to be superior.
  • Forgoing lessons in morality
  • Exempting them from household work.
  • Turning a blind eye to questionable behaviour.
  • Turning over your authority to them.
  • Encouraging them excessively to be ambitious.
  • Raising them as selfish and inactive members of the community.
  • Considering every choice of theirs as private, personal and final.

Upbringing Children the Prophet’s (sa) Way!

Vol 1-Issue 2 Upbringing Children

When Allah grants us parenthood, He also gives us an enormous responsibility.

Loads of books are being written about the up bringing of children. Various theories are put up from time to time, but for a Muslim the best example is in the life of the Prophet (sa). Now let us understand some basic responsibilities as a parent.

To choose a good life partner

Only a good Muslim woman who knows her responsibilities as a believer can bring up children as good Muslims. So when a Muslim man marries he must first consider this quality. The Prophet (sa) said,” A woman may be married for four reasons: Beauty, wealth, family lineage and faith. So marry a woman of faith.” (Abu Dawood)

Similarly, children need a good Muslim father to have a correct upbringing, so this aspect should be thought of too, and just materialistic concerns are not enough. Think about it, do we not first check the soil in which we plant a seed?

To give our children a good name:

Since a person’s name is a pivotal part of his identity, much emphasis has been placed on selection of the best suitable name for a newborn child. The Prophet (sa) said, “On the day of Resurrection, you will be called by your names and by your father’s name. So give yourselves a good name.” (Abu Dawood)

Today we are prone to selecting names that are unique or sweet sounding. It is astounding to know that even parents sometimes have no clue to the meaning of their child’s name. It is a child’s right to be given a name that personifies the character of a strong believer.

To follow Sunnahs of the Prophet (sa) when a child is born:

These Sunnahs are not obligatory but are highly recommended:

A) Reciting the Adhan in the baby’s ear

B) Tahneek (initial feeding of the child at the hands of someone pious)

C) Tasmiya (naming)

D) Aqiqah (sacrifice for the new born / shaving the hair)

E) Khitan (circumcision of the male child)

To provide sustenance to the infant:

The mother of the child has to breastfeed for two years as is clear from this ayah of the Quran: “And the mother shall breast feed their children for two full years for those desiring to complete the (limit of the term of) breast feeding, and the feeding and clothing of them rests upon the father in a suitable manner…” (Al-Baqarah 2-33)

Medicine today proves that children who are breastfed are not only likely to be physically stronger and mentally more intelligent but emotionally also their bonding with their mothers is far better due to the closeness and security they experience in their formative years. Similarly the father is responsible for providing the child’s needs.

To show kindness towards children:

Children should be treated with love. Kindness should be the basic method of teaching. Anas (rta) who served the Prophet (sa) as a child said “I served him for nine years, but I do not know that he ever said to me about anything I did, why I did that, or about anything I had neglected, why I had not done that.” (Sahih Muslim)

The Prophet’s (sa) wife Aisha (rta) said that a poor woman came to her together with her two daughters. Aisha (rta) gave her three dates. The woman gave a date to each of them, and then she picked up the remaining date and brought it to her mouth to eat it but her daughters wanted it. She then divided the date that she had intended to eat between them. This kind treatment of hers impressed Aisha (rta) and she mentioned it to the Prophet (sa). At that, he said, “Truly, Allah has assured Paradise for her because of this (action) of hers, or He has rescued her from Hellfire.” (Sahih Muslim)

To teach them good morals and manners:

To give children religious knowledge is Fard  (obligatory) on a parent. The Prophet (sa) said, “Instruct your children to pray when they are seven years of age, and spank them if they do not pray when they are ten.” (Abu Dawood and Ahmad)

Prophet (sa) also said, “Allah will give shade to seven (kinds of people) on the day when there will be no shade but His.” The second of those whom he mentioned is ‘a youth’ who has been brought up in the worship of his Lord.” (Sahih Bukhari)

To treat our chidren equally:

One of the methods of wise upbringing is for the parents to treat all their children equally.

The father of a companion of the Prophet (sa), Numan ibn Bashir (rta) went to the Messenger of Allah (sa) and said, “I have given a gift to my son from Amrah bint Rawahah but she ordered me to make you as a witness to it, O Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet (sa) asked, “Have you given (an equivalent gift) to each one of your sons?” The father replied in the negative. The Messenger of Allah (sa) then said, “Fear Allah and be just to your children.” (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

Unfortunately many Muslim societies are influenced by non-Muslim cultures. In these societies daughters are considered inferior to the sons. Although the Prophet (sa) said

“Whoever has three daughters, and is patient, then gives them food and drink and clothes them from his earnings, they will be for him a shield against the fire of the Day of Resurrection.” (Ahmad)

To show patience towards children:

Shaddad (rta) narrated, the Prophet (sa) went out carrying Hasan or Hussain (rta) and when he came forward to lead the prayer, he put the child down and commenced the prayer. He prostrated himself and stayed in this position for such a long time. I raised my head and saw the child on his back, the people said, “O Messenger of Allah, you prostrated for such a long time.” He said, ” My child was riding on my back and I did not like to disturb him until he had had enough.” (Ahmad and An Nisai)

To make friends with our children:

Adolescent children are learning many new things from the outside world. This is the time when they need to be made friends with. The parents’ relationship with them should be such that they can confide in them. The peer pressure at this age can compel a child to choose wrong ways. Parents should act as anchors to children throughout their lives so that by the will of Allah they can be guided to the straight path.

To pray sincerely for our children’s guidance:

Last but not the least, it is important to pray for our children. Quran says: “…Our Lord, bless us with right guidance in all our matters.” (Al-Kahf 18:10)

We may pray: “My Lord, make me steadfast in Salah, and from among my children as well. And, our Lord, grant my prayer.” (Ibrahim 14:40)

It also teaches us to pray, “And seek help in patience and As-Salaat (the prayer) and truly, it is extremely heavy and hard except for al Khashi’un…” (Al-Baqarah 2:45)