Sadaf Azhar – Hiba magazine Sub Editor
Over the years, colleges and universities have evolved, allowing students a wider range of courses and co-curricular activities that promise them future success. But while students have many career options now, their Islamic faith is also facing a number of attacks, of which some are openly anti- Islam and some are more subversive in approach. Therefore, as parents, we are responsible for equipping our children with the necessary knowledge and tools that will help them withstand the onslaught to their Imaan and values.
Parenting and priorities
Scholars emphasize purification of the heart through Tarbiyah based on the Quran and Sunnah. They recommend that we ‘sort out your child’s environment first.’ After all, our perceptions and personality are partly the result of how we were brought up.
Family is the first environment children are exposed to and parents are its regulators. However, we witness an extreme pattern in parenting. Some Muslim parents are too strict and ruin their relationship and communication with kids. Others are ‘liberal’ in their approach, nurturing ‘part time’ or ‘cultural’ Muslims.
Generally, there is an over-emphasis on Dunya, secular education, career and material success. This poor role modeling of parents and a selection of un-Islamic settings (such as certain schools) are some reasons that children don’t want to associate with Islam.
As parents, you must have clearly defined goals and ideals that you must share with your children. This can be mentally, emotionally and physically draining- just listening to and responding appropriately is exhausting. Your parenting must:
- Ensure you have an open, loving relationship with your children so that they can discuss their problems, challenges and doubts with you.
- Avoid being rigid and judgmental. Let them make mistakes and explore ideas while silently monitoring them for deviation.
- Offer them resources such as books, videos or podcasts that can answer the questions troubling them and offer solutions.
Humans have a need to belong and want to be certain of their beliefs. Parents must therefore realize that their children will want to fit in and will experience doubts when faced with new or conflicting ideas and behaviours. So they need to evaluate whether their child is equipped with adequate Islamic knowledge to be able to withstand the Fitnah that he/ she will face in secular educational institutions. Secular education is not obligatory if you don’t have options. But Islamic education is absolutely Fard as it decides our Aakhirah.
Guide your children in selecting universities and colleges that are aligned with the values you want them to uphold. Some universities are known for endorsing ideas such as feminism or intellectualism, and proudly display their ‘inclusivity’ and freedom of speech regardless of Islamic teachings or cultural norms.
Allowing your child to study in such an institution would be tantamount to throwing him/ her in the Fitnah of disbelief and doubt. If your child’s sub-group of friends at the university can’t offer him/her support that will help him withstand this onslaught and temptations, he/she will end up joining the dominant group of students that is mostly based on liberal and atheistic ideas today at universities everywhere.
According to a European muslim scholar’s personal observation: “Europe is medieval. Their social and moral values are backward. But to us they seem forward because of our own ignorance about Islam. Don’t send your kids to their universities. Don’t migrate to their countries.”
Essential university kit
Therefore, before we decide to send our children for higher studies, we must ensure:
- The teenager prays the obligatory prayers regularly. He/she must understand the significance of prayer.
- They must recite the Masnoon morning and evening Azkaar that are a shield from internal and external Fitnah.
- They must be well-versed in basic Aqeedah and Tawheed so that they do not fall into the trap of atheism, intellectualism or humanism. They must understand the names and attributes of Allah (swt).
- They must have a clearly defined vision and goals that are aligned with the Aakhirah so that they realize that they have a higher purpose in life and that each one of their actions will have consequences. They must live with the consciousness that Allah (swt) is watching, willing to help and will take them to account.
- They must be clearly aware of basic Islamic social laws such as those pertaining gender segregation or LGBTQ.
- They must be aware that they are a product of the 5 people they most associate with and thus be mindful of the friends they hang out with.
- They must have a mentor who can guide them on personal and professional matters. Arrange a faith club to mentor your students outside university if not possible within.
- Help them develop the habit of Tazkiya-e-nafs so they learn to repent after making mistakes or sinning without losing hope of Allah’s (swt) mercy and forgiveness.
- Arrange co-curricular activities for them to have fun and burn energy.
- Grant them access to different scholars to help them overcome their personal issues and grow spiritually and emotionally.
As parents it is essential that you are aware of the ideas and values in vogue. You need to know what the premise behind the ‘-isms’ (feminism, intellectualism, humanism and sectarianism), how they evolved and how to counter their arguments in the light of Quran and Sunnah.
Be aware also of how values and cultural norms are changing so that you can spot and monitor the changes in behaviour, attitude and lifestyle that your child adopts or wants to adopt.
For instance, LGBTQ acceptance in the garb of ‘inclusivity’ has been subliminally conveyed. Changes in family structure and dynamics have re-enforced ideas of self-centeredness. If you have a meaningful relationship with your child, he/she will turn to you first, for guidance and it is important for you to be equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge.
May Allah (swt) Al Haadi be our Guide. Ameen
(Adapted from a talk by Hamza Tzortzis)