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An Exhausted Mother’s Eid Reflections, from Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil gives thanks for the little things in life.

As I began to write this from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, my daughter sat beside me, playing with her Lego Duplo train set. Alhamdulilah, she turned two on Eid, and I am constantly reminded of the innumerable blessings and changes she has brought into my life.

On the morning of Eid, we drove to the nearby Kampung Tungku mosque to pray. I smiled at the families walking to the mosque ; young children were carried by their parents, the elderly were supported by their children, and everyone wore festive traditional clothes cut from the same bolt of cloth,

When we approached the mosque, the elderly were given the ground floor to pray, while the rest of us went up the stairs. To save time, I carried my toddler up, and got her settled in before Salatul Eid began. I sat closer to the back, next to another mother with her small children. My daughter was eager to wear her small telukong (prayer garment) after she saw me put mine on, alongside all the other women.

Right after I raised my hands in prayer, my daughter’s telukong slipped off her head. She’s still figuring out how to put it on by herself, so she repeatedly called out to me,  “Mummy, help Taskeen wear telukong.” I worried that ignoring her could lead to a tantrum, so I made dua that the imam would read one of the shorter chapters. I was reminded of this beautiful hadith:

It was narrated from ‘Abdullah bin Abi Qatadah, from his father that the Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) said: “I stand in prayer, then I hear a child crying, so I make my prayer brief, because I do not want to cause hardship for his mother.” [Sunan An-Nasai]

This is the mercy of our Beloved Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) who acknowledges the helplessness of a praying mother while her baby cries.

Last year, when my daughter was one, she cried and cried as I performed the Eid prayer. She was still so little then, so I broke my prayer, out of my own distress and my fear of distracting the rest of the congregation. Alhamdulilah, one year later, there was no crying, and she was able to wait until I finished two cycles of prayer. Progress! This is how I measure how far we have come: how much uninterrupted time I get in the bathroom; how many cycles I can pray before she starts calling for me, how long she can play with her toys on her own – these are the fruits of our hard, loving, real work together, as a family. My part-time jobs as a teacher and writer are my break from my full-time job as a mother.

Sadly, across the world today, we live in a time that does not value women’s work. There is no GDP or dollar sign attached to the countless tears we wipe away, the meals we lovingly prepare, and the endless diapers we change. And yet, these daily, loving acts of nurturing helps to build secure and loving human beings.

I am intimately connected now, to the brutal truth that comes with raising a child. It is relentless, everyday toil that brings both joy and pain. On good days, my toddler warms my heart with her memorable antics. On bad days, I struggle to stay calm in the face of the emotions that overwhelm her.

In the light of my all-consuming stage of motherhood, I look back wistfully to my past Ramadans of long nights of worship and Qur’anic recitation. I cannot help but compare these blessed times to the bare bones Ramadan since my baby was born. I can only pray and hope that Allah will accept the little that I do now, help me do better, and overlook my imperfections.

There has been so much tragedy this past Ramadan. I reflect on the violence perpetrated by ISIS and other extremists, and I wonder what went wrong. What broke inside these young men, to make them such vessels of violence? How can they commit these atrocities, in the name of a religion that cares deeply for the welfare of plants, animals, children, women and men? I can only pray that the light and mercy of Islam reaches their veiled hearts.

If you are an exhausted mother reading this, then trust that Allah knows every ache of your tired heart. Nothing is lost on Him – every tear you shed, every smile you bravely wear for your children, and everything you have sacrificed for them. God willing, your loving presence with your children will plant seeds of Prophetic mercy in their hearts. Your innumerable hours, days and years with them are never, ever wasted.

May these seeds we plant sprout strong, deep roots. May our children be the vanguards and sources of light and peace in a world so fractured by hatred and violence.

Resources for seekers on motherhood and parenting

My Husband and I Barely Have Marital Intimacy. What Do I Do?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

My husband and I have marital intimacy maybe once or twice a month, and sometimes even less. This is not enough for me. I want children, and I am getting older. I think I want a divorce, but my husband does not. What do I do?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah reward you for reaching out to us.

Marriage

Dear sister, please know that you are not alone. Many couples struggle with mismatched libidos, and with support, they are able to overcome that and have fulfilling marriages.

Not Tonight, Dear: Mismatched Libidos

You sound understandably frustrated. I encourage you to exhaust all avenues before considering ending your marriage. Could you consider marriage counselling? Please speak to a psychologist alone, and as a couple, in order for you to explore this fully.

Husband

Does your husband have an underlying health issue that is contributing to his low libido? If so, has he seen a doctor for help?

Aside from your mismatched libidos, is there anything else in your marriage that you find challenging? Or is he a good man, who treats you well?

If you are unhappy with him and your marriage, then I do not advise bringing a child into the equation. You could find yourself trapped in an unhappy marriage, burdened with a child, and even more limited in your career and remarriage prospects.

Prayer

Before you make any final decisions, please perform The Prayer of Guidance up til 7 times. Please watch what Allah unfolds for you. For example, if your husband makes a serious effort to satisfy you, then that may be a sign for you to consider working on your marriage. However, if he does not want to change, then it may be a sign for you to leave.

It may be better for you to free yourself for another chance at love, marriage, and children.

Divorce

If your husband does not want to divorce you, then you can request a separation (khula’) by returning your mahr to him.

I pray that Allah grants you the clarity that you need, and guides you to what is best for your dunya and akhirah.

Please see:

Love, Marriage and Relationships in Islam: All Your Questions Answered
Du’a – Supplication for one whose affairs have become difficult

Wassalam,
[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

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 in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.

How Do We Encourage Our Children to Pray, and at What Age? (Video)

Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Question: Assalamu alaykum

How do we encourage our children to pray, and at what age?

Answer:  Wa’leykum Salam,

Here is a video answer by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani to this question:

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani is a scholar and researcher of Islamic law and Executive Director of SeekersHub Global After ten years overseas, Shaykh Faraz returned to Canada in the Summer of 2007. In May 2008 he founded SeekersHub Global to deal with the urgent need to spread Islamic knowledge—both online and on the ground—in a reliable, relevant, inspiring, and accessible manner. He has been repeatedly listed as one of the world’s 500 most influential Muslims (The Muslim500).

Why Worry About Children If We Know They Will Go to Paradise?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: Assalam aleykum,

If Abu Lahab, died when he was a child, then he would have gone to Paradise. Is that correct? Why should we help those children who are already suffering and dying, when if they die, they will go to Paradise and not be in risk of becoming disbelievers and going to Hell?

Answer:Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. Please forgive me for the delay. May Allah reward you for your question.

Destiny

It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: “The Messenger of Allah (upon him be blessings and peace) said: ‘The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, although both are good. Strive for that which will benefit you, seek the help of Allah, and do not feel helpless. If anything befalls you, do not say, “if only I had done such and such” rather say “Qaddara Allahu wa ma sha’a fa’ala (Allah has decreed and whatever He wills, He does).” For (saying) ‘If’ opens (the door) to the deeds of Satan.'” [Sunan Ibn Majah]

I encourage you to study about the attributes of Allah, and to better understand the concept of Divine Predestination. When registration reopens, please enrol in and complete Essentials of Islamic Belief: Dardir’s Kharida Explained.

Please calm your heart. Allah Most High is Merciful, and Just. Nobody enters Hellfire by mistake. Please do not torment yourself with ‘what if’s. Abu Lahab was destined to Hellfire, and nothing can change that. And unlike him, the rest of us do not know our fate. I pray that Allah has mercy on the ummah of the Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) and may He grant us Jannah.

I encourage you to read these answers:

Overwhelmed and Confused in Trying to Understand and Practice Islam: What Can I Do?
Are All Non-Muslims Deemed “Kafir”?
What is the Fate of Non-Muslims in the Afterlife?
Do Good Non-Muslims and Bad Muslims Both Go to Hell?
Truth, Other Religions, and Mysticism – Shaykh Nuh Keller

Help

Anas bin Malik narrated that: “An older man came to talk to the Prophet, and the people were hesitant to make room for him. The Prophet said: “He is not one of us who does not have mercy on our young and does not respect our elders.” [Tirmidhi]

Your question is valid, and sincere. Allah calls us to respond to children from all backgrounds with compassion. When you see or know of a child who is suffering, the Prophetic response is to assist in ways that will bring benefit.

Should you find yourself in a situation with a dying child, then please exert your utmost to help. You do not know what Allah has in store this child. Perhaps she will embrace Islam, and be a tremendous means of good in this world. Perhaps she will not receive a true, undistorted message of Islam, and when she dies, Allah may grant her Divine amnesty.

You are not held responsible for the beliefs and actions of another adult. However, you will be held accountable if you permit an innocent child to die, even with the best of intentions.

Reward

‘Abd Allah b. Umar reported the prophet (May peace be upon him) as saying: “A Muslim is a Muslim’s brother: he does not wrong him or abandon him. If anyone cares for his brother’s need, Allah will care for his need; if anyone removes a Muslim’s anxiety, Allah will remove from him, on account of it, one of the anxieties of the Day of Resurrection; and if anyone conceals a Muslim’s fault, Allah will conceal his fault on the Day of resurrection.” [Sunan Abi Dawud]

Allah alone knows the tremendous reward for helping a child. Trust in His Mercy and Generosity, and work on purifying your intentions behind your deeds. Know that helping a child not only soothes her pain, but it also allays the grief of her parents, and other family members. InshaAllah there is a manifold reward for you.

Counselling

I am wondering if your questions are pointing to a deeper pain which you carry about your own childhood. I encourage you to speak to a culturally-sensitive counsellor to unpack this, and to help you move past it.

Expiation

Abu Sa’id and Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) said:

“Never a believer is stricken with a discomfort, an illness, an anxiety, a grief or mental worry or even the pricking of a thorn but Allah will expiate his sins on account of his patience”. [Bukhari and Muslim].

Living in the dunya can be unbearably painful. It is tempting to believe that death as a child and then automatic entry into Jannah is the easiest way to escape this pain. However, look at it from the perspective of the Afterlife. All the pain that you patiently endure in this Dunya will inshaAllah be a means of expiation and spiritual elevation for you.

Support

Please seek the help that you need to help you cope with life. I recommend you to look into the resources provided by Hakim Archuletta, who specialises in healing trauma through our spiritual tradition and the work of Peter Levine.

Try your best to wake up in the last third of the night, even if it’s 10-15 minutes before the entry of Fajr, and perform the Prayer of Need. Ask Allah to grant you a sound heart, tranquility, and a deeper understanding of the deen. Endeavor to learn your personally obligatory knowledge so that your acts of worship are valid. SeekersHub has a range of wonderful online courses for you to learn from.

Mercy

On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Messenger of Allah (upon him be blessings and peace) said: When Allah decreed the Creation He pledged Himself by writing in His book which is laid down with Him: “My mercy prevails over my wrath.” [Bukhari]

Whenever you are faced with any trial in this dunya, please don’t despair in Allah’s Mercy. When you see others being tested, know that there is a hidden mercy even in pain. We were created for Him, in the end, and difficulty is a reminder to seek comfort in Him.

Allah loves you, and knows the deepest contents of your heart. I pray that He grants you contentment, wisdom, and the ability to have a good opinion of Him.

Please see:

Selected Prophetic Prayers for Spiritual, Physical and Emotional Wellbeing by Chaplain Ibrahim Long

Wassalam,
[Ustadha] Raidah Shah Idil

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

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 in Malaysia and online through SeekersHub Global. She graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales, was a volunteer hospital chaplain for 5 years and has completed a Diploma of Counselling from the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors. She lives in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with her husband, daughter, and mother-in-law.

Parents – Your Door to Allah’s Acceptance, by Ustadh Uthman Bally

Sometimes a door to Allah is opened in the form of a good deed, such as praying or giving charity but then the door of acceptance is still closed. Through parents, this final door can be opened. parents the door to acceptanceUstadh Uthman Bally recounts story upon wonderful story of how the relationship with our parents can have a major effect on our futures.

From a companion of the Prophet who couldn’t say the kalima on his deathbed until his mother forgave him for his harsh tongue, to the grandson of the Prophet who would never share a plate of food with her mother for fear that he would take a piece that she wanted. Then there’s the people who gave joy to others that their joy became angels that praised God until the Day of Judgement, and the man who gave away his one good deed.

“You might do a very small act, which then becomes your opening.”

We are grateful to Ha Meem Foundation for this recording

Resources for Seekers

Our Children: Nurturing the Prophet’s ﷺ Spiritual Intelligence, by Anse Tamara Gray

Anse Tamara Gray on how we should nurture the spiritual growth in our children and how we can plant the seeds of Islam in them.

Our thanks to Rabata for this recording. Anse Tamara’s photo is from Altamish + Hannan Photograpy.

 

Resources for Seekers

What Can I Do to Rebuild my Connection With Allah Which Was Stronger Before I Had Children?

Answered by Ustadha Shireen Ahmed

Question: Assalam alaykum,

I am a mother of several children. Since having them I feel I am unable to connect to Allah anymore in my prayers and du’as.

What can I do to rebuild the connection to Allah which was stronger before I had children?

Answer: Assalamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

Try to work on increasing your knowledge and remembrance of Allah Most High. This can be attained by:

-spending a small amount of time with the Quran daily, and reflecting on the meanings

-listening to beneficial classes whenever you are driving in the car or in the kitchen, you can even take SeekersHub courses in this manner

-busy your tongue with remembrance of Allah throughout your day, and salawat on the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم. This can be as simple as saying bismillah before each of your actions and intend seeking the pleasure of Allah Most High. This helps to keep one in a more calm state, for “verily with the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest”.

-make a high intention before each of your actions throughout the day, that you are seeking the pleasure of Allah Most High. For example: when washing clothes, thank Allah Most High for the blessing of having those clothes, for having soap, for having a washing machine to wash clothes, make dua for the owners of the clothes that they conduct themselves with righteousness and piety now and in years to come, etc.

-keep toys in bins that are not accessible to your toddler except when you give them to him; this way you can take down a bin of unfamiliar toys to occupy him while you are praying; you can also give the 5 month old an unfamiliar baby toy when you are about to pray to occupy her during that time

-try and spend just 5-10 minutes a day reading beneficial islamic books which help you to learn about Allah and His Messenger to increase in love and reverence of Him

-find friends or relatives who can help you with the children for the days when you are feeling overly stressed or anxious; the highest stress level for a mother is when continuous caring for children under the age of 5, so once in a while it is ideal if you can leave them for just an hour or so, to go and do your groceries, run necessary errands, or do something you really enjoy when you feel your patience is running thin (you can usually tell this is happening to you if you have an angry outburst about a minor issue)

We also have a lesson set on improving one’s prayer which you can find here.

I recorded a class on improving one’s prayer which you can watch here.

Wassalam
[Ustadha] Shireen Ahmed (Umm Umar)

Ustadha Shireen Ahmed (Umm Umar) inspires her students as a living example example of what is possible when one is committed to gaining sacred knowledge.  Teacher, student, activist, mother, wife — Umm Umar shows that it is possible to balance worldly responsibilities with the pursuit of knowledge.

Umm Umar was born and raised in Canada, where she graduated from the University of Toronto with a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology. During her university studies, she was actively involved in MSA work at the local and national levels. After graduation, she set out to formally pursue sacred knowledge, studying Arabic at the University of Damascus and Islamic studies at Jamia Abi Nour and taking private classes in Qur’anic recitation, Prophetic traditions, Islamic Law (Hanafi) and the Prophetic biography.

Rethinking How Our Actions and Habits Affect Our Children, by Ustadha Shireen Ahmed

When adults, and parents in particular, fiddle with their smartphones are every given opportunity, what example does it set for the children watching us? It is that we know no better way to fill our time when we’re bored. Ustadha Shireen Ahmed uses this example and others to remind us how important it is to examine our habits and actions in front of those who look up to us.

VIDEO SERIES: Key Lessons from the Prophet ﷺ as a Parent & Educator

How do we go about nurturing children in a prophetic way? Being effective parents is a challenge for many of us. The Prophet ﷺ  is often called The Teacher. In fact, his entire life is a lesson.

In this seminar video recording given at SeekersHub Toronto, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Zahir Bacchus and Ustadha Umm Umar explore how the Prophet  taught, nurtured and guided children through compassion, love and modelling right action. They explore how, as parents and educators, we can take this Prophetic advice and use it to nurture children to have good character and also discuss how to overcome common parenting hurdles, and key methods in raising children to embody piety and devotion.

Part 1 of 4 : What Are the Responsibilities of Nurturing Children? – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Part 2 of 4: Shepherding as a Parent: Balancing Authority and Compassion with Children – Shaykh Zahir Bacchus

Part 3 of 4: Planting Seeds in Your Children: Rethinking Our Habits and Actions – Ustadha Shireen Ahmed

Part 4 of 4: Key Q&A’s on Parenting and Raising Children – Shaykh Faraz, Shaykh Zahir, & Ustadha Shireen


Nurturing children
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Resources for Seekers:

Islamic Parenting: Raising Upright Children (course)
Islamic Parenting: Ten Keys to Raising Righteous Children
Raising a Muslim with Manners

Raising Your Children with Deen & Dunya – Radio Interview with Hina Khan-Mukhtar
Raising Children with Deen and Dunya
Ibn Khaldun on the instruction of children and its different methods
The Prophet Muhammad’s Love, Concern, & Kindness for Children
On Parents Showing Righteousness to Children

Cover Photo by Lead Beyond

Rethinking Islamic Education – Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad

Cambridge professor Shaykh Abdul Hakim Murad, an expert on Islamic education discusses the idea of intellect and its connection to religious thinking.

What is a good Islamic education? Is religion a series of beliefs simply memorized and passed down from generation to generation? Is it a Scripture and doctrine that is pliable and can be molded to our intellect and desires? What role does reasoning and intellect play in our religious practices? What role does practices and tradition play in our religious reasoning?

Resources for Seekers