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Raising an Obedient Child – Step 1

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The Game Plan

The concept of an obedient child seems almost “OLD SKOOL” – I mean, what is an obedient child? Does that entail a child that follows their parent’s orders without question or maybe it implies a child has no ambition in life except for what they are told?  Maybe you have a different idea of what it means, but just so we’re on the same page let’s clarify. When I refer to an obedient child, it basically means a respectful child, one who may or may not agree with you but will always maintain a high level of respect in doing so. This also includes an ambitious child, one who considers and seeks the advice of their parents because they value their parents opinions (again, even if they don’t agree). Lastly, it’s the child that understands that people – especially their parents and family, have rights upon them.

Sounds a bit complicated, no? While as an adult we can break down the characteristics of an obedient child, it doesn’t actually mean we are to explain it to them and hope they suddenly transform into this considerate, polite, God-conscious being. Instilling a sense of purpose, self-respect, and gratitude is required to nurture the trait of obedience. Emphasizing obedience ultimately to Allah is the foundation necessary for good character – after all, a parents’ disappointment will only go so far, but to feel the pain of failing the Ultimate Authority?… a soul cannot rest well.

Set Markers

Expectation builds awareness for children, as it sets standards and gives them a measuring tool to track their progress. This isn’t hard to do as long as both parents work together in establishing set expectations, and also start from the beginning (toddler age). So practically that would mean setting small milestones in their early ages, such as: learning to say thank you, not allowing for disrespectful actions like throwing things, hitting or yelling. As they get older, in their elementary days, then advance your efforts by expecting them to be disciplined in completing their work without you checking on them all the time, to keep their things organized, to clean and pick up after themselves and to be conscious of what is good in Islam and what is not (ie. lying, shamelessness, swearing etc.). Thereafter, as a child reaches adulthood according to Islam (puberty), then expecting them to be responsible in offering salat (prayer), to help in the house without being told, to study in the hopes of being the best they can be and so forth.   

Establishing expectations does not mean a child will always achieve them; honestly it’s unfair and unrealistic to think our children won’t make mistakes, talk back, skip class, or even fake/lie about praying their salat from time to time. However, with set standards in place, their conscious won’t allow them to rest easy when their actions counter these expectations. Human nature kicks in and works to our advantage. Consider it like programming software – like it or not they will be programmed (just as we are), as a parent you have the right to authorize what goes in and with diligence you are also able to repel anything deemed negative or trying to override your programming. When households are void of setting standards, then the consequence to action(s) will go unnoticed – good or bad. Consciousness of what we do is the stepping stone of knowing who we are, and with that knowledge we have the ability to constantly work on being better.

The Fine Line

Be sure to set expectations that are reasonable. Failing to be balanced often results in a reverse effect. Generally speaking, if parents maintain an Islamic inspired standard such as refining character, speaking good or remaining silent, being mindful of Allah etc. then balance is set. If parents raise their children with the notion they have to own a big house or be better than their cousins etc., then they are stripping their children of true purpose in life. Without understanding purpose we cannot sustain obedience to Allah, therefore as parents we have to maintain standards according to our religion.

Setting a standard is what I consider the first step (out of three) in nurturing obedience in a child, wa Allahu Alam. In the next two posts I will go through step 2 and 3, so stay tuned!

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Being Muslim in the West – How to Feel Safe

Being Muslim in the west

Western Muslims, now more than ever, are faced with what is coined as “Islamophobia.” It is a phrase that encompasses the fear of the unknown but also creates a threat to Muslims across the globe based simply on the fact that we are Muslims.  While many questions arise, two remain at the forefront – What is the root of the problem? How do we deal with it?

The Root

It’s not Trump, it’s not ISIS, it’s not Illumanti and, no – it’s not Michael Jackson’s subliminal messages in Thriller (or other artists). While they all definitely don’t help the problem, they are not the cause of it. For us to attribute the state of our ummah to any of these people (plus many more out there), we would be losing sight of who true power belongs to – Allah, the Owner of All Things.

The ummah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is in turmoil because we have forgone many of his ways (salla Allahu alayhi wa salam). Just as the Muslims faced defeat in the battle of ‘Uhud for not following the orders of the Prophet (peace be upon him), we too are faced with a similar predicament for not following him. Our numbers are great, but our stance is weak. During the early years of Islam, the ummah was small but firm on obeying the orders of the Prophet (peace be upon him). They were keen on adhering to Allah’s words and purifying themselves. Thus, while they were tested, they were still victorious. Now fast forward 1400 years later and ask yourself, what do we do as one that is part of the ummah of Muhammad (peace be upon him)?

Re-Affirm Our Faith

 Our natural survival instinct is screaming out to protect ourselves,  based on that rationale many feel the need to conceal our faith. Worse yet is our attempt to abandon the “weird” things so that we are seen to be “moderate” (relative to the devil’s influence). Waswasa, or the whispering of Shaytan, calls us to fear the oppressors and to be ashamed of the fact that we identify as being Muslims. We are Muslims – every one of us, by choice. If that’s not your choice, then you need not continue. If it is, then understand that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is a mercy to mankind and emulating his ways with sincerity will not evoke harm but rather earn the protection and mercy of Allah, insha’Allah.

In the battle of ‘Uhud, a segment of the army (approximately a third of it) went back to Madinah. The Muslims that remained were angered by this until they were reminded by Allah that He is in Control. While it appeared as if the group left, they in fact were sent away by Allah to protect the true believers from the hypocrites. Having said that, conviction is from yourself, and only with sincerity can you find yourself with success.

Expect the Help of Allah

Success, protection, aide, sustenance; everything good is only through Allah, period. So after re-affirming your faith, keep strong to the path of Allah by following the example of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the guidance of the Quran. You don’t need to be a scholar. The basics are where we are: enjoin good, forbid evil, be truthful even if against yourself, remain pure at heart and mind, fulfill all obligations of rights upon you with goodness, approach Ramadaan/hajj/zakah/salah with enthusiasm and sincerity, be kind to neighbours, mend and hold ties with kith and kin, speak good or remain silent, feed the needy, adopt haya (shyness, humility, modesty), shun all forms of interest (riba), surround yourself with people of high moral and ethical standards, reflect on words of the Quran and lastly fear the day when you will stand before Allah. By holding fast to the basics, you are able to choose good in all your affairs without hesitation caused by peoples peculiar stares. There are no discrepancies in the above, so make no excuses for yourself. 

Facing the RIGHT Now

Begin your day with the strongest dua of protection: Ayatul Kursi. If you truly love your faith, if you truly trust Your Lord, but you know the nature of the people then the protocol  requires a couple minutes in the morning and evening to invoke Allah for protection by His Glorious Words. If we are sincere, the solution is here. There is no need to compromise your religious beliefs (5 daily salat, hijab, halal food etc.) for fear of the people; the promise of Protection is with the recitation of Ayatul Kursi.

Fear of the Unknown

It is human nature to fear that which is unknown to us. It doesn’t help that the media portrays Islam as evil, but falsehood is very weak while truth will ALWAYS rise above. Therefore, know that just as Islam was strange when it first came, and the people responded aggressively, it grew quickly in the hearts of the people across the Middle East, Africa and parts of Europe. Now (post 911), it is known to all -especially in the Americas. The entire world knows that Islam exists. This is the plan of Allah. Our duty and our test today is to be diligent in remaining steadfast (adhering to Islam’s comprehensive code of conduct with a pure heart) and to be confident in the truth. Lastly, a hadith to deeply ponder (even if you’ve heard it before):

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Islam began as a something strange and it will return to being strange, so blessed are the strangers.”

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 145