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How Do I Protect my Children from Bad Influences in Society?

Answered by Habib Umar bin Hafiz

Source: Muwasala

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Question: As salaamu alaykum,

How do we protect our children from bad influences in the society in which we live? We fear for their faith.

Answer: Assalaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah,

[Taking actions]

It is good to have fear for our children since corruption is everywhere, especially in societies the values of which are distant from Islamic values. This fear must not, however, lead to despair but rather should lead us to take action. Allah gave the believers a model in the life of the wife of Fir`awn. In spite of the fact that she lived with Fir`awn in his palace, she will be rewarded by being a wife of the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) in the next life due to her truthfulness, patience and firmness.

[Shutting the doors of corruption]

This fear should lead us to create environments which protect our children and to shut the doors to corruption as far as we are able. We should arrange group activities for our children according to their age. These activities should be enjoyable and safe from any harm. We should also give them a portion of adhkar to read and give them that which illuminates their minds.

[Moving]

If it is possible to move to an environment which is better for our children then we can do that as long as that does not lead us to neglect any responsibility we have in the place where we are currently living. Otherwise we should remain where we are and follow the principles mentioned.

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Passing The Baton (The Life and Legacy of Malcolm X) – Ta’leef Collective

Passing The Baton (The Life and Legacy of Malcolm X) from Ta’leef Collective on Vimeo.
Malcolm and Building Institutions
1-dr Umar“The most important lesson to take from Malcolm, I believe, is the imperative of creating institutions. Malcolm understood instinctively and from his experience that ideas and charismatic people are not enough. That they have to be institutionalised” – Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah
“Institutions are arrangements that allow us to strengthen the individual and that allow us to amplify the strengths of the individual. It might have a physical base, if you will, a ‘headquarters’, it might now. The family is a human institution. The family is an arrangement, a group arrangement that emphasises and accentuates the strength of individuals and mitigates and minimises their weaknesses.” – Imam Zaid Shakir
Following are videos from Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah and Imam Zaid Shakir where they speak about our own institution here at SeekersHub Global.

 

Supporting Our Students, Our Scholars & Our Schools

I would like to begin with wishing you all a belated Ramadan Mubarak, and also an early Eid Kareem. Two-thirds of our noble guest’s time has passed us, and I hope we’re trying to satisfy it before its departure. Let it look forward to visiting us again next year. Let it return to its Lord, and say, “Yes, indeed my host honored me”.
Learn-Quran2A few weeks ago I was offered a position to teach Quran at our Islamic School’s summer camp again. I graciously took the offer, and was assigned to teach boys ages 4-15 years. Throughout our three weeks together, we covered some memorization, commentary, and a few topics within Islamic Studies. I was fascinated by their enthusiasm, abilities, questions, concerns, and potential. I even felt challenged at times, and could not respond accordingly whether the queries were on legal rulings, the afterlife or even some on spirituality. Aside from these kids being filled with physical energy, they had quite a strong intellectual one too.
Now, let me not over exaggerate as this would defeat the purpose of my writing today. Every class has a certain amount of students who require a push, extra care, or special attention. I had a student around the age of 10 who was struggling–a lot–with his memorization. In fact, it took him almost 3 weeks to memorize the first verse of Surah-Mulk (Chapter 67). One day I decided to ask him what was keeping him from memorizing. I mean, even kids who couldn’t read Arabic at all had begun to read and connect letters. He complained and said to me in simple words, “I have no confidence.” This shocked me, especially since this was not the first time I was hearing this from a student. I recall a student from my 6th grade class who randomly broke into tears in the middle of class last year. He complained of lack of organization, and felt his parents were not encouraging him enough. He felt very lonely, and would go home to sit on his electronic devices, before completing very little or none of his homework.
Before further elaboration, I would like to raise a second issue, and from there hope to connect a few dots Insha’Allah. Yes, it’s that time of the year again; Ramadan. I thought this was a month of fasting, but it only seems like religious organizations, institutes, schools, and various charities are all trying to take my money. Every other night there seems to be some fundraiser taking place. My Facebook events are filled with fundraiser invites. Not to mention the random emails from anonymous people asking for donations…let me pause here.
Over the last few weeks, I have attended fundraisers for different causes. Muslims Without Borders held their 2nd annual fundraising dinner for Syria, last night our Islamic School hosted their 27th annual fundraiser, then another Mosque in the community has been trying to collect funds to purchase a new ground for expansion. Many of you are currently donating towards the SeekersHub Global ‘Ends of the Earth’ campaign, and the list can go on and on.
These are all great causes, but do we really understand their importance? Do we sit to think about this crucial investment? Do we wonder why our institutes continue to ‘beg’ us? If not, then our false claims and questioning of our institution every year makes complete sense. I attempt to conquer this issue in the following:
1) Be they religiously or academically based, our educational institutes have a right over us. They serve the purpose of developing skills we need to live and serve in this life. They are the moral compass to our lifestyle, and character which give us direction, aim, and purpose. Both individual and communal obligations are fulfilled here. It is a point where community comes together to share ideas, and create vision. Without such institutions, education would be lost. Most importantly, this is where your child grows up. This is where he/she is shaped through teachers, knowledge, and friends, and this leads me to my second point.
2) I believe we begin to focus too much on the numbers we are asked for, or that we are giving at fundraisers. Fundraisers have become like an auction, or a game of snakes and ladders. Everyone’s excited about winning, but very little are concerned about the actual cause itself. Therefore we truly forget how important our investment is. We tend to forget that our investment is building a brighter and broader future for ourselves and our kids. The money you are donating is for none other than the benefit of yourself. It’s not going towards a wasted effort, but to a very purposeful one. This is also an ongoing charity for you till the Day of Judgement. You will receive the reward for supporting anyone seeking knowledge, teaching it, and then everyone who acts upon it. Remember, we are our own responsibility, and it is our duty to take care of our generation in its physical, mental, and spiritual needs. This is Islam, Iman and Ihsan.
3) I personally feel it is quite embarrassing that we can sometimes be very stubborn when it comes to such great investments. It is as if God Himself gave us the keys to Paradise, but we procrastinate in unlocking the door. As a child, my parents would encourage me to donate part of my money towards a good cause. In fact, I was so motivated once that I donated my favorite Chicago Bulls watch, to a fundraising appeal. I also recall having an Ansaar and Muhajirun day at school. For two days, two randomly selected students who would pair up, and each would have the duty of feeding the other for a day. Hence, this is not only the responsibility of our elders, but for us the younger folks too. I also used to donate $10-$20 to my Islamic School on a monthly basis. The mentally of, “Oh, if I donate, the money will just come around back to me” is a false claim, because this is where the blessing of brotherhood is evolved. Set aside a portion of your wealth to give on a regular basis, even if it’s just $5.
4) I believe it’s also time for our parents and teachers to take a step back to reflect. Before supporting education financially, we need to support our children emotionally. Just like those two students I had mentioned; there are many kids who have great potential, but are often discouraged and lack support from their parents. A child’s dream needs to be taken seriously in order for him to believe in himself. He needs the support, encouragement, focus, time and attention of his parents and his teachers. Firmness may be required at times, but we can overcome this firmness with mercy. Understand your child’s perspective, and support him in his cause. Instead of questioning every last activity he/she does, advise them and work on building trust. Overlook, but don’t overdue.
5) Lastly, I believe it is always important to return back to the Prophetic teachings to understand where the Prophet’s stance would be on issues we face today. The Prophet (prayers and peace be upon him) said in a tradition, “A person’s wealth does not decrease by giving in way of charity”. In other words, it increases. The blessings of giving for God’s sake will increase you in wealth, and reward. Furthermore, it’ll enlighten your path, and the path of those to come. If we don’t take our responsibilities seriously, then who will? I once heard Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah say that the concern of the earlier generations would exceed to the five upcoming generations ahead of them. This is what it means to be God’s vicegerent on earth.
May Allah enable us to be keys to good, and locks to evil. May He allow us to acknowledge the blessings He has granted us, before taking them away from us. And may He grant us action based upon sound judgement and wisdom.
Wishing you all an accepted Ramadan, and a blissful Eid.
The MicroMolvi,
Yousaf Seyal

The Spirit of Cooperation: Al-Madinah Institute Contacts SeekersGuidance to Promote SeekersGuidance Courses

In the Name of Allah, the Benevolent, the Merciful

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Allah Most High calls us to, “Cooperate in righteousness and piety,” [Qur’an] but humans naturally have a competitive spirit that makes this spirt of cooperation the exception rather than the rule in our relationships. And this is especially true at the organizational level.

 

A group that we have found to be committed both to excellence in their own educational projects and keen to cooperate with others is our dear brothers at Al-Madina Institute (www.almadinainstitute.org/).

 

Yesterday, Ustadh Moutasem Atiya, one of Al-Madina’s teachers and main organizers, emailed us at SeekersGuidance, asking for some information about the latter’s Online Courses, so that Al-Madina Institute could send it out on their mailing list–in order to help promote the Winter 2010 courses.

 

While SeekersGuidance and Al-Madina Institute have a good cooperative relationship, what resonated was that this wasn’t a “corporate” kind of request. Ustadh Moutasem didn’t negotiate a “mutually agreeable” set of arrangements (“we’ll promote your courses in exchange for xyz from you”). This was done in the spirit of cooperation, brotherhood, and sincere concern.

 

This is a reminder and lesson of how Muslim organizations should work. We should view other organizations as brethren with common concerns and aspirations. We should actively strive to cooperate with them and to assist them in their goals and projects–not because this may be “strategically” advantageous, but because it is a means of pleasing Allah Most High and upholding the example of the Beloved Messenger of Allah (peace & blessings be upon him & his folk).

 

Al-Madina Institute’s Excellent Programs

This request from Al-Madina was just another example of Al-Madina’s commitment to excellence: their programs are some of the best Islamic educational programs you can attend. They not only have some of the best Islamic scholars teaching for them–such as Shaykh Muhammad bin Yahya al-Ninowy.jpgNinowy and Shaykh Mokhtar Maghraoui–but their organization and execution of their programs is impeccable. It also reminds us that commitment to excellence and the highest standards of execution isn’t at variance with having a cooperative spirit with respect to other projects. Their mission is, “Enriching individuals by cultivating the capacity for inward excellence and outward service to the community.”

 

If Al-Madina Institute holds a program in your community, or if you can travel to any of their programs, you’ll find great benefit: excellent teachers, excellent program, and excellent organization. And if you are an activist, strongly consider asking Al-Madina Institute to come to your community. They come with light of Prophetic excellence and wisdom, Masha’ Allah.

 

A program we’d highly recommend is their upcoming Pearls of the Qur’an retreat this April:

 

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And Allah alone gives success.

wassalam,

Faraz Rabbani

Executive Director, SeekersGuidance

Video Documentary: Race to Nowhere Screening by Kinza Academy with Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

Video Documentary: Race to Nowhere Screening by Kinza Academy with Hamza Yusuf

Race to Nowhere Screening by Kinza Academy with Hamza Yusuf from nabila hanson on Vimeo.

A video from a screening of the film, Race to Nowhere hosted by Kinza Academy at UC Berkeley and featuring a discussion with Nabila Hanson and Hamza Yusuf.

Kinza Academy has been a forerunner in the Muslim educational movement since 2001. The Academy was developed out of a growing need for Muslim families to find an alternative to public education in the form of home education and the traditional one-room schoolhouse, and to provide teachers and students with a program that meets the highest standard of educational excellence, which is the hallmark of the Kinza Academy curriculum.

Six Steps to Instilling the Attribute of Courage in Muslim Children – Ustadha Shireen Ahmed, SeekersGuidance Instructor

Six Steps to Instilling the Attribute of Courage in Muslim Children – Ustadha Shireen Ahmed, SeekersGuidance Instructor

by Umm Umar (Shireen Ahmed) 

As parents, there are many attributes we want to teach our children. We want them to be kind, upright, humble, thoughtful, well mannered… the list is endless. When it comes to being courageous, there are a few concrete steps we can take to guide our children in this direction:

1. Build confidence. Teach children to keep trying, even when they initially fail. This scenario often comes up when they are playing, especially when building structures, that often can come crashing down. Helping them to increase their determination and see the fruits of their efforts on various small projects, can help them to become more confident about their own abilities.

 

As a parent, we also need to teach them to realize the full meaning of “la hawla wa la quwatta illah billah”, that they have no power

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or ability without help from Allah Most High. This helps them to achieve the balance between being confident, yet not arrogant. When one realizes they only are able to do what they can do, because Allah Most High has granted them that ability (and not through just their own efforts), they in turn become more grateful to their Creator, for His innumerable blessings upon oneself. This type of realization also helps a child to turn more towards their Creator when they need help. When they want to achieve something, it should be a habitual practice to begin with the name of Allah (basmala) and to supplicate that Allah Most High gives them success (tawfeeq) in their efforts.


Parents should also encourage their children to become more independent as they grow older. Giving them new responsibilities, with tasks they can reasonably fulfill – can teach them that their capabilities become much more vast as they age.
2. Overcome fear. Children should be taught to express their fear instead of being paralyzed by it. Help create situations for them where they can gradually “get over” any unfounded fears they have.

For example, if they don’t want to go upstairs alone one could teach them to say “la hawla wa la quwatta illah billah” or “hasbiAllah wa ni`mah wakeel” and to repeat that as often as they feel fear. My mother used to encourage me to recite Ayat al-Kursi whenever faced with fear. This type of turning to Allah Most High when in a state of need, can help them to complete tasks rather than avoiding them.

3. Face the Unknown. Encourage your children to have bravery in new situations. The most common example of this is when meeting new people, especially adults. They need to be taught to smile, speak loudly, and to shake hands when meeting new people when you are with them. They should not be hiding behind you, or whispering so softly that the person cannot hear them. This takes time, but your coaching in this area will help them in the long term.

4. Do the Right Thing. This is perhaps the most important area where we need children to demonstrate courageousness, confidence, and independence. Muslim children need to be able to stand up for their beliefs, despite any negative repercussions it may have. This means if everyone else is dating at their school, they have the confidence to say, “I’m not into that.”

They need to be able to take a stand in the face of peer disapproval, and this will take place when you are not present. This is where many of our youth fall, as they can put up one face towards their parents, and yet a completely different (and often contradictory) appearance in front of their peers. The topic of how to help children in this area is very vast, so I will just give a few brief pointers here. Children should realize that even though their parents may not see them, Allah Most High knows and their actions are being recorded. They should feel a degree of shame to be found in any sort of disobedience to their Creator, when He has blessed them with innumerable blessings in this world. Encourage them to be careful about who they choose as close friends, as this will in turn affect their own character development. One can also use the example of the Prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم ) as a role model, how he stood up to a whole society to stand up for the truth.Indonesian Kids Laughing.jpg
Another innovative way this idea of standing up for the truth, and doing the right thing can be addressed with our youth is have them listen to some of the Native Deen songs on this subject, “My Faith, My Voice” “I Am Not Afraid to Stand Alone” and other songs.

5. Set a Good Example. Children often watch their parents as examples in how they deal with scenarios where they may feel afraid, or sick, or when they experience great loss. They should be hearing you supplicate to your Creator in times of need. Complaining or saying “if only I had done this (or that) this wouldn’t have happened” would be considered to be blameworthy. Rather accept the decree of Allah Most High, and exemplify patience and courage when you are forced to deal with misfortune. May Allah Most High protect us all from this.

Abu Hurayra said that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer although there is good in each. Desire that which will bring you benefit, and seek help from Allah and do not give way to incapacity. If something happens to you, do not say, ‘If only I had done such-and-such.’ Rather say, ‘The decree of Allah. He does what He will.’ Otherwise you will open yourself up to the action of Shaytan.” [Muslim]

Anas said, “The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, passed by a woman who was weeping at a grave and said, ‘Fear Allah and show fortitude.’ She said, not recognizing him, ‘Leave me alone. You have not been struck by such an affliction as mine!’ She was told, ‘It is the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace.’ She went to the door of the Prophet and, finding no one guarding the door, she said, ‘I did not recognize you.’ He said, ‘The time for fortitude is at the first shock.'” [Agreed upon]

Other good examples we can set before our children are examples from the Seerah. Our Prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم ) demonstrated the attribute of bravery many times, and he is our ultimate role model.

Anas ibn Malik (رضي الله عنهم ) said: ‘The Messenger of Allah (صلي الله عليه و سلم ) was the best of the people, and he was the most generous of the people, and the bravest of the people. One night the people of Medinah heard a loud noise and they became overwhelmed with fear. The men went out to see what the noise was, only to find the Prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم ) riding his unsaddled horse, and coming from the direction of the noise with his sword wrapped around his neck. He said to them, “Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid. I found (my horse) very swift”.

The companions also often exemplified courage, and this can be see especially in the examples of Abu Bakr as-Siddiq or Sayyidna Ali (رضي الله عنهم ).

Other beneficial examples we can set before our children is that of our parents or other older relatives who have stories of how they overcame adversity, such as moving to a new country or faced danger, yet succeeded. This in turn helps the children to have greater respect for their elders, and helps them to have more admiration for them.
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6. Avoid Foolish Bravado. Being brave does not mean we should encourage our children towards risky activities or stunts to prove courageousness. One should not take unnecessary chances or neglect safety in a futile attempt to prove bravery to others. Rather, one needs to balance physical courage with common sense.

Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “The strong man is not the one who throws people in wrestling. The strong man is the one who has control of himself when he is angry.” [Agreed upon]

May Allah Most High give us success in raising our children in the best way, and may we instill good character in their hearts, ameen.
About Ustadha Shireen Ahmed
“The responsibility of raising righteous children is both one of our greatest challenges and opportunities in life.”
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.
While living in Jordan, Umm Umar helped establish SunniPath’s online courses. At SeekersGuidance, she is the Course Development Manager, bringing years of and insight to facilitate meaningful Islamic learning online.  After ten years abroad she returned to Toronto, Canada, she resides in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and three children. Between continuing her studies of the sacred sciences and homeschooling her children, Ustadha Shireen is working on her first publication, a translation and commentary on a classical Islamic text on parenting, Simt al-‘Uqyan (Thread of Pure Gold).

Making the most of student life – Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad

Books - bookcase top shelf

Image by ~ Phil Moore via Flickr

Making the most of student life – Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad
Cambridge – 10 Oct 2010 – 10 mins

In this short talk, delivered on the occasion of a welcoming dinner hosted by the Cambridge University Islamic Society for new students, Sheikh Abdal Hakim offers some thoughts on how to make the most of student life. In particular, he highlights the importance of enjoying the extraordinary experience of the alleged clash of civilisations and of figuring out one’s own way of establishing his or her identity as both ‘Western’ and ‘Muslim’.

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