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Is It Selfish To Not Want Children?

Question: I am 30 and decided not to have kids because of the abysmal state of my mental health. I do not have anything to offer and do not want them to become emotionally/spiritually void like me or suffer neglect. My husband is nice and primarily does all the work, but he is not an intellectual or logical planning type, so he cannot raise them himself. He says is okay with the decision, but says “Ameen” to relatives making dua for kids. Am I sinning and being selfish?

Answer

Assalamu alaykum,

Thank you for your question. The short answer is yes. You are being selfish and potentially sinning by refusing to give your husband children. He has every right to leave you, and this is valid grounds for divorce.

 

Children

The benefits of having children are plentiful, some of them being: they give you a new perspective on your priorities, they teach you about yourself, they help bond your marriage, they bring out the best (and worst) in you, and generally things change and improve in one’s life from the blessing of a child.

The religious virtues of having children are great, including the fact that a child who prays for you after you are gone will be a continual charity for you. Please see those details here:
https://seekersguidance.org/answers/general-counsel/the-virtues-of-having-children/

The Prophetic command was to have many children so that he, Allah bless him and grant him peace, could boast about our numbers on the Day of Judgment. Raising a child to believe in Allah and His Messenger is no light matter and it should be the goal of every logical or intellectual Muslim parent.

 

Inadequate

As for your feelings of inadequacy, rest assured that we are all in the same boat. None of us is perfect, and most parents pray to Allah that He guides them to be the best people they can be and to protect them from every harm. If you feel that your mental health should be diagnosed or if you need medication, please consult a medical professional. It is important to deal with that in the correct way.

The situation that you describe with your husband seems to me to be the perfect fit for parenthood. You can be the logical one that leads the way and sets their goals, and your husband can be the one who does the heavy lifting of their physical care. If you are both happy with this arrangement and agree to it, then I feel that you should proceed.

 

Pray and Learn

As usual with any big decision, pray Istikhara and ask Allah to open your heart to this idea if that is what He really wants from you. Communicate to Him about your shortcomings and ask him to help you overcome them and send you that which will make your family whole and committed to Allah’s pleasure.
https://seekersguidance.org/articles/prophetic-guidance/the-reality-of-istikhara-2/

Please take a course on raising children and basic fiqh to ensure that you are proceeding with full knowledge of your responsibilities and the rights of children. May Allah grant you children that will be the coolness of your eyes, a means of continual charity, and a reason for your eternal happiness.

https://seekersguidance.org/courses/absolute-essentials-of-islam-hanafi-getting-started-with-your-belief-and-practice/ 

https://seekersguidance.org/courses/marriage-in-islam-practical-guidance-for-successful-marriage/

[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafseer, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.

Can a Dead Fetus Be Buried Along With Its Mother?

Question: Can a dead fetus be buried along with its mother?

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Dear questioner,

Thank you for your important question.

Yes, when a woman dies while pregnant and a fetus dies inside her, they do not have to be buried separately.

If, however, the woman dies and the fetus is still alive, the baby must be aborted. If then the baby is born by a cesarean section from the dead mother, shows signs of life, and then dies, it must be washed and prayed over, and it also must be shrouded and have its own burial. (Bushra al-Karim, Ba-Ishn)

I pray this helps.

[Ustadh] Farid Dingle

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.

 

Ten Things Children Can Learn from the Coronavirus

Ten Things Children Can Learn from the Coronavirus

By Hosai Mojaddidi

In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful, Most Compassionate

Earlier this evening, my husband was talking to the kids over dinner about the coronavirus (COVID-19) when the topic of how it started came up. He told them about the “wet markets” in China and further explained how different people across the world eat wild animals or bushmeat to survive.

Despite my subtle attempt to change the subject, which I found too revolting over dinner, they were eager to hear all the gory details about different types of animals that humans were known to eat.

I eventually walked away but first asked my husband to teach the boys about the incredible wisdom of our faith in prohibiting the consumption of specific types of animals, mainly carnivorous ones. 

Right now we have a golden opportunity as parents to make the most of this global catastrophe. Here are some ideas:

  1. Teach children about the fiqh of food consumption which includes the different categories of permissible/impermissible meat.
  2. Teach children and re-emphasize the importance of cleanliness in Islam, not just to wash their hands frequently. 
  3. Teach children the importance of wanting for “your brother what you want for yourself,” and sharing/caring in this “nafsy nafsy” climate.
  4. Teach children the power of the prayer of Istikhara in times of uncertainty. 
  5. Teach children that despite technology, modern science, etc., human beings will ALWAYS be weak and dependent on God, and this is PROOF. When a small invisible virus can bring the world to its knees, never underestimate the power of Allah. We will always be in need of Him whereas He is free of all needs!
  6. Teach children the value of time, because they will feel it being stretched in the next few weeks, months, etc.
  7. Teach children the value of the elderly, for they have been unjustly erased in our world and now many people will live to regret pushing them away.
  8. Teach children the value of their Masjid and community centers as events will be shut down and they will realize how much value being with fellow community members even for a few hours every week brought to their lives. 
  9. Teach children the importance of saying “Bismillah,” and “Insha Allah”, as anything void of the name of Allah has no blessing.
  10. Teach children that this world is temporal, death is a transition and NOT an end, and no matter how one dies or when, the only thing that matters is that they die with the testification of faith (shahada) upon their lips. 

May Allah increase us all, draw us closer to Him, and protect us from harm. Ameen.


 

About the Author

“For over 20 years I’ve had the honor of serving the Muslim communities in the greater Bay Area and Orange County/LA areas as an organizer, teacher, spiritual counselor, mentor, and mental health advocate.”

In 1996, Sister Hosai began to take classes at Zaytuna College, as well as help organize events and eventually became a recognized activist in the community. One of her main areas of focus was to help create a strong sisterhood for the women in the community by leading halaqas (spiritual study circles). In addition, she organized support groups, offered individual spiritual counseling & mentoring, and couples’ spiritual therapy.

In 2010 sister Hosai launched the website MH4M (www.mentalhealth4muslims.com) and began writing and sharing useful guidance on social media. The website gathered a global audience quickly.

Sister Hosai teaches at MCC Easy Bay monthy, as well as offering workshops and other talks to Islamic schools and masjids for the greater community. She shares timeless and practical advice through her social media channels.

Source: http://hosaimojaddidi.com/about/

 

Cultivating Patience Through Your Young Children

Trust in Allah

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil explores how having small children can build patience and help you get closer to Allah.patience

When you are a mother to young children, one crucial virtue is developed over the slow and inexorable passage of time – patience. With little ones, everything is slowed down. They need so much support, from the minute they are born to many years after that.

Gratitude

Having little children also gives me so many things to feel grateful for. Basic acts that I once took for granted are suddenly so precious. Sleeping for long stretches at night, eating a meal, or drinking hot tea without interruption – these are the small blessings that I didn’t even realize were blessings, until I had one baby, and then another.

I became a mother upon the arrival of my first daughter, in June 2015. I have been either pregnant, breastfeeding, or both, ever since. Because of this, I have been living in a very different, almost altered, state of reality. The potent combination of oxytocin, broken sleep, cuddles, and tantrums have been the ultimate crucible for the straitening of my nafs.

I will surface out of this, someday, and I pray that the version of myself will be kinder, more patient, more resilient, and more grateful. Most of all, I hope I will sleep better.

Losing Control

Before I had children, I was impatient. I liked to feel in control. I liked life to go ‘to plan’. I was a meticulous planner, and I realized now how much I relied on external calm to help me attain some measure of internal calm. It would never last, of course. Allah Most High always sent me something to knock the wind out of me – again.

Now I’ve come to realize that with raising little ones, there is no control. There is only surrender, and embracing the chaos.

Babies Without Schedules

While I was a fresh-faced undergrad, I knew a mother who smiled at my carefully curated study timetables. She smiled, chuckled, then said, “Babies have their own schedule.” I had no idea what she meant. Ten years later, and I finally do.

Resistance to Reality Causes Stress

Stress is resistant to reality. And I can make a tough afternoon with my girls even harder by wishing I were somewhere else. What actually helps is taking a deep breath, exhaling, and accepting that this is hard, and asking myself – what do I need to nourish myself, right now? Often, everything feels worse when I’ve forgotten to eat, in the rush of feeding my kids. Filling my own self-care cup is the best way for me to meet the needs of my small children.

Accept the Untouched Planner

I don’t have a planner anymore. Actually, I do, but I rarely get the chance to use it. My eldest daughter draws cats on the mostly untouched pages, and she was so excited to see how I had circled her birth date in June, and wrote “My baby turns 4!”. She insisted that I write it again, so I did.

Something so unremarkable to me – writing words on paper – utterly enthralls her. And that’s one of the many gifts of having such little children. There are so many firsts, and everything is a marvel. They slow us down and bring us the gift of the present moment. Babies and small children are masters of mindfulness. It’s up to us to choose to be open to what they have to teach us, every day.


Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil has spent almost two years in Amman, Jordan, where she learned Shafi’i’ fiqh, Arabic, Seerah, Aqeedah, Tasawwuf, Tafsir and Tajweed. She continues to study with her Teachers through Qibla Academy and SeekersHub Global. She also graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales.

The Ruling of Shaving a Newborn’s Head in the Hanafi School?

Question: What is the ruling of shaving a newborn’s head in the Hanafi school? Why is it not considered a sunna?
Answer:
In the Name of Allah, the Most Merciful and Compassionate
The act of shaving the head of the child is established from the Hadith of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace), however, the scholars differed over the exact meaning of the Hadith and its legal ruling.
The Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “With the child, there is an ‘Aqiqa, so spill forth blood on their behalf and remove from them harm” [Bukhari].
In this narration, some scholars understood the statement ‘remove from them harm’ to mean the hair that the child was born with. Others took it to mean circumcision and yet others took it to have a general meaning [Mulla ‘Ali Qari, ‘Umda al-Qari Sharh Sahih al-Bukhari].
However, the Hanafi school has not considered the shaving of the newborn’s hair to be intrinsically a Sunna, rather recommended.
The Term ‘Recommended’
The text that you quoted indicates the ruling of shaving the head, which is recommended or mustahabb in Arabic.
Recommended actions are such actions that one is rewarded for doing. However, one is not sinful nor blamed for not doing them [Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah].
In the terminology of Islamic Jurisprudence, there is a difference between what is deemed a Sunna and what is deemed to be of a lower category.
The word sunna and the word recommended can sometimes be used interchangeably. In legal jargon, the word sunna when mentioned without any descriptor generally means an emphasized sunna or a sunna of guidance.
The word ‘recommended’ may be used instead of sunna because certain actions or commands of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) fall unto one of the following example categories:
Examples of Recommended Acts
(1) The command is merely a command of recommendation, not an obligation. Generally, these types of commands are not directly related to the Prophet’s mission of conveying guidance, rather relate to general advice.
For example, the Prophet’s command to wear white.
He (may Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Wear of your garments that which is white, for it is the best of your garments…” [Tirmidhi].
(2) The particular practice of the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) being a practice of habit or form not directly related to His mission of conveying guidance.
An example of this would be the method by which the Prophet (may Allah bless him and give him peace) drank water or the clothing He wore.
These are just examples to shed some light on the issue; this is not an exhaustive list.
Summary
Thus, even though one can say that wearing white or drinking sitting down are Sunna, Scholars would make a distinction between the sunna of wearing white and the sunna of praying the two units of prayer before Fajr.
The former is thus called by the scholars ‘recommended’ and the latter an emphasized sunna. Note, recommended is sometimes referred to as non-emphasized sunna [Shurunbulali, Maraqi al-Falah].
With that being said, the shaving of the newborn is recommended in the Hanafi school. In other words, it is a non-emphasized sunna.
Hope this helps
Allah knows best
[Shaykh] Yusuf Weltch

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

 

Shaykh Yusuf Weltch is a graduate from Tarim; a student of Habib Umar and other luminaries; and authorized teachers of the Qur’an and the Islamic sciences

Rights and rulings of an illegitimate child

Question: In the case of an illegitimate child, who is mahram to him/her, who has to support him, and what rights and obligations does the biological father have?

Short Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

Dear questioner,

Thank you for your important question.

Although a child born out of wedlock is technically not the child of the biological father, as a point of human and Islamic decency he should step up and help both financially and emotionally, where possible.

Fuller Answer:

The bed and the stone

The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said, ‘The child will be attributed to the “bed” and the adulterer will receive the stone.’ (Muslim)

The “bed” here means the marital bond, such that the child will be ascribed to the husband of the wife unless he undertakes a public imprecation of her (lian). (Sharh Muslim, Nawawi)

Mahrams

In the case of a married woman committing adultery, the child would be the mahram of the husband of the child’s mother, and the mahram of his relatives. (Again, unless her husband legally disowns the child (lian wa nafy).)

Now if the woman was not married, she and her relatives, children, and future husband would all be mahrams to the child.

Finances

In the case of adultery when the husband does not legally disown the child (lian wa nafy), the husband of the child’s mother would be obliged to support him/her, and he/she will inherit from him. This would apply even after divorce.

Now if the woman was not married, then the child will only be ascribed to her and will have no legal father, so she, or whoever is obliged to support her, would be obliged to support the child. So, for example, if she got married in the future, her husband would then have to support the child.

The child would only inherit from her mother, and not her biological father or new stepfather.

The biological father would in principle have no rights or responsibilities whatsoever. Hence, the stone analogy in the hadith.

Taking some responsibility

When one is old enough to have sex, then one is old enough to take responsibility for one’s actions. Someone who gets a woman pregnant and walks away literally leaving her carrying the baby is extremely inconsiderate.

Being a single mum, no matter what government support this is no easy task. It is emotionally, physically, organisationally, mentally draining, and, for many, financially taxing.

Although it is true that a Sharia court would not oblige the biological father to take any emotional or financial role in the child’s life, there is nothing to say one should not step up and help out someone else in need. This is especially the case when one was the cause of the difficulty placed upon them.

Please also see:
https://seekersguidance.org/answers/general-counsel/can-i-claim-a-child-from-an-illicit-relationship/

I pray this helps.

[Shaykh] Farid

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Farid Dingle  has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language

Dealing Problems With Abusive Father

Answered by Shaykh 

Question: I’m a woman who lives with both parents and siblings home. My dad has sexually abused me for 13 long years without my mom knowing. Do I have any right to leave my parents’ home and never speak to my dad again?

Answer: Wa ‘alaykum assalam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh

Dear sister, I pray Allah gives you a quick release from these difficulties you have endured. The difficulty of the situation and the burden of the secret must have been unbearable.

You have every right to leave your parents’ home; in fact, you must. You need to take all the steps to get yourself out of harm’s way, as living in such an environment is clearly very harmful to you.

Allah Hates Oppression

The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and give him peace, quoted Allah Almighty Himself to have said, “Truly, I have made it forbidden on myself to wrong anyone; and I have made it severely forbidden for you! So do not oppress each other!“ (Muslim)

Allah hates oppression, and it is necessary for you to end this cycle by moving away to your new school. This will prevent the continuation of this problem.

When you are ready, you need to discuss this matter with your mother. Do not break ties with her due to your father’s actions. She must know, as there are legal ramifications to this situation too. Also, if he has been secretly doing this to you all these years, it is very likely that there have been other victims.

If he’s managed to keep it a secret from your mother, it’s possible that you could have kept other similarly vile acts a secret. Even if there aren’t any other females he has access to, it needs to be brought up: some younger males could be in danger too.

Distance Yourself

At this point, you need to get out of harm’s way and focus on healing. I don’t advise you to go near your father again for the foreseeable future. The scars you have will take a long time to heal. You will need a lot of therapy and a supportive company to move beyond this.

This is a safeguarding issue, and it should be reported to the authorities. Usually, it is the silence of the victims that emboldens people like this to prey on others. This may even be in his own interests to prevent him from further harm to others.

Supplication

Keep supplicating to Allah for a way out, healing, and for you and your loved ones to stay safe. In the Qur’an, Allah commands us to be excellent to our parents (Qur’an, 17:23). The wording indicates that they deserve this just for being the means of entering this world.

Putting up with harm, and restraining yourself from a bad response are both forms of excellence. If things do get out don’t you yourself think that you are being bad, and don’t let anyone else convince you of that either. I’d say you’ve shown plenty of excellence through these all these years, to both of your parents.

Find Support

Find someone who can support you through this and take the necessary steps. Don’t think about cutting ties or anything right now. The priority is to get away and heal. Things may get worse before they get better.

You don’t have to go near him, nor do you have to speak to him at this point. In fact, it’s better you don’t.

As a closing thought, I’d say that such tests are not given to everyone. They are very hard, and the pain may seem unbearable, but the gifts Allah has in store for you will be infinite and unimaginable great. Have a daily dose of reminders on patience and fortitude, and this seminar may be useful on your journey to healing. Get professional help.

May Allah take very special care of you. Amin.

[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat began his studies in Arabic Grammar and Morphology in 2005. After graduating with a degree in English and History he moved to Damascus in 2007 where, for 18 months, he studied with erudite scholars such as Shaykh Adnan Darwish, Shaykh Abdurrahman Arjan, Shaykh Hussain Darwish, and Shaykh Muhammad Darwish. In late 2008 he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continued his studies for the next six years in Sacred Law (fiqh), legal theory (Usul al-fiqh), theology, hadith methodology, hadith commentary, and Logic with teachers such as Dr. Ashraf Muneeb, Dr. Salah Abu’l-Hajj, Dr. Hamza al-Bakri, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, Dr. Mansur Abu Zina, and others. He was also given licenses of mastery in the science of Qur’anic recital by Shakh Samir Jabir and Shaykh Yahya Qandil. With Shaykh Ali, he was able to study an extensive curriculum of Qur’anic sciences, tafsir, Arabic grammar, and Arabic eloquence.

Ramadan Rejuvenation for Kids | A Puppet Show on the Shifa – Ustadha Shireen Ahmed

In this Ramadan daily series for young children, educator Ustadha Shireen Ahmed gives daily lessons from the Shifa of Qadi Iyad on the character and virtue of the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace). The story is told from the perspective of a student of Qadi Iyad, who explains the text to his young son Mahmud. These episodes feature unique puppets which explain the lessons in story format to make them easier for young children to follow. This series streams daily this Ramadan at 9:30am ET at https://seekersguidance.org/live/.

Click here to download the colouring page.

Click here to view the full playlist.

Draw Near to Allah in Ramadan Through Service – Ustadha Umm Umar

Ustadha Umm Umar reminds us of incorporating the aspect of service in Ramadan as a means of drawing near to Allah Most High. She advises to not make Ramadan just revolve around one’s self, rather to also be concerned with others and their needs. Ustadha Umm Umar gives key advice and practical methods on how to engage in service through Ramadan.

I wanted to talk about another aspect of Ramadan that sometimes we forget. Often people think of Ramdana as my month. It‘s between me and Allah. Then they sort of annihilate the idea of doing goodness to others. It’s about me and my time with Allah. About how much time I can put in with the Qur’an. And then when we talk about service some people get a little bit bitter.

Especially the sisters. They’re like, well, why do I have to be the one to do this? why do I have to be the one to cook the iftar? I’d like to spend all day reading Qur’an. It’s sort of losing sight of what Ramadan is really about. And what the the scholars today talked and emphasized a lot is the love of Allah Most High. And rectifying the self. Turning to Allah and asking for His forgiveness.

But these two concepts do not contradict each other. Rather they run in parallel. Because it’s when we turn help each other, help fellow believers, and it’s all done out of love for Allah, that we manifest that love. That we love to have His creation turned to Him. And if there is anything we can do to help other people turn towards Allah we should run to that opportunity. Whether that be to people in our own family, whether it be our children, whether it be members of our community. We should be avid to do what we can to help other people.

Balance Service and Self

That being said, it needs to be balanced of course, because you can’t just spend all of your Ramadan running around serving other people with neglect to oneself. One needs that personal time where you’re turning to Allah. Reading the Qur’an with reflection and understanding. Spending time reading other beneficial material or listening to beneficial lectures. Benefiting the self.

But there are a lot of things, there is a lot of extra time in the day, in which one can do things for other people. And as our teachers say, it’s almost as if there’s a sale during Ramadan, because now actions that you do are multiplied. Good actions that you do, even reading the Qur’an – all the good things that you can think of doing are multiplied. So it is best to take advantage of this time .

And doing what you can to help other people is also part of making the most of one’s time. It is not that one spends a little time in intensive worship and then closes the book and goes to relax, and just sort of vegetate for part of the day. Or one decides to go to sleep for another part of the day. One strives to make the most of every moment. As we should on every other day of the year.

We should make the most of all parts of our day on a daily basis. Even when we get up from this gathering we should be striving to make the most of our lives as believers. To make all of our moments count for us and not against us.

Primary Benefits of Service

There are three primary benefits of service. One is that it erases your past sins. When you do things for other people these things get erased. So there is nothing better you can ask for. We’ve all made mistakes in the past and would do anything to not face Allah with those on our record. And by His mercy He can forgive a lot of those things when you’re serving other people with that intention.

Another benefit of doing service at this time is that you get the dua of fasting people. When you’re doing things to benefit them you’re earning their dua. And Allah knows whose dua is accepted. When you’re doing it for a number of people, that includes even small children, know that when we do things for other people they make a dua for you.

The Hidden Secret of Service

And perhaps that single dua from one single person, child or adult, known or stranger, is the reason for your success. It might not be all of these customs that you’ve done in the past or all of these other things. It might be the dua of one elder in the community that you helped in a real time of need. Allah has this knowledge. It is with Allah Most High.

It’s a hidden secret in our service to other people that we don’t know where where our ultimate success will lie. And with what action and with what person. That leaves us continuously striving to do our best at every moment.

And finally the third aspect of service is that the deeds are multiplied during Ramadan. So one might be doing things for other people at other times of the year but in Ramadan these deeds are actually multiplied. They weigh heavier on your record. So strive in this regard and in sha Allah the reward for your service will be multiplied.

 

Draw Near to Allah in Ramadan Through Service

 

Parents Matter More Than Peers – Shaykh Hamza Karamali

* Courtesy of basiraheducation.org

Muslim Reflections on Leonard Sax’s The Collapse of Parenting

We want to transfer our religious values to our children. We want them to love Allah and His Messenger, to live moral lives, to be responsible and hardworking, to pray for us after we leave this world, and to bring joy to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) on the Day of Judgment.

But our surrounding culture works against us.

Leonard Sax argues that our surrounding culture works against us because (a) it teaches our children to value their same-age peers more than their parents and (b) it teaches us to treat our children like grown-ups.

Here’s an example from his book.

“Megan and Jim, both forty-something parents, had planned a four-day ski vacation between Christmas and New Year’s. Their 12-year-old daughter, Courtney, politely declined to join them. “You know I’m not crazy about skiing,” she said. “I’ll just stay at Arden’s house for those four days. Her parents said it’s OK. They have a spare guest room and everything.” So her parents went on the ski vacation by themselves, and Courtney spent four days at the home of her best friend. “I didn’t mind. In fact, I was pleased that Courtney could be so independent,” Megan told me.” (Leonard Sax, The Collapse of Parenting (Basic Books, New York: 2016 ), pp. 27-8)

Because of her surrounding culture, which teaches her to value her peers more than her parents, Courtney valued spending time with her friend more than with her parents. Because of the same culture, which teaches parents to treat their young children as grown-ups, her parents thought they were doing a good thing by letting her be independent. Because Courtney’s parents validated her belief that her friends matter more than her parents, she will be drawn to her friend’s values more than her parent’s. And because the surrounding culture has also cut her friend off from her parents, both Courtney and her best friend Arden will learn the “values” of the “culture of disrespect” that I described in my previous post.

The culture that surrounds us as Muslim parents is the same as the culture that surrounds Megan and Jim. The challenges that we face raising our children are the same as theirs. And the solutions, too, at a high-level, are the same.

The high-level solution is for us to develop a strong family culture in which both parents and children believe that parents (in a Muslim context, the mother even more than the father) are more important than the children’s same-age peers. If Courtney (you can replace her name with “Fatima”) had been part of that strong family culture, she would not have wanted to spend those four days with her friend; she would have wanted to spend them with her parents on their ski-vacation. And her parents would understand that if she wanted to spend those four days with her friend rather than with them, that was not a sign that she had grown up and become independent; it was a sign that they were failing in their goal to transfer their values to her.

That is why, when a man asked the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), “Who is most deserving of my good companionship?” He replied, “Your mother.” When he asked, “Then who?” he replied, “Your mother.” When he asked again, “Then who?” he replied again, “Your mother.” When he asked a fourth time, “Then who?” he replied, “Your father.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Leonard Sax argues that the key to developing this strong family culture is building parental authority. That, insha’Allah, will be the subject of my next message.

I encourage all of you to buy the book, read it, follow along as I explain, and please ask your questions here. Every week, I will select one of your questions to answer in this message.


Basira Education

Our mission is to develop intelligent and conservative Muslims whose grounding in the Muslim scholarly and spiritual traditions enables them to critically integrate modern science and culture into their religious worldview.