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Being a Daughter, a Woman, and Living This Life

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil counsels on the role and duty of daughter toward parents, being a woman, feeling isolated overwhelmed by expectations.

 

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I am tired. I don’t feel like I understand my purpose anymore. Especially when I see so many of my sisters in Islam living a life of independence. I am confused about exactly what Islam says on the matter – it has been my long held belief that a girl or woman doesn’t leave her parents home except by marriage.

Am I wrong? I was under the impression that this is based upon a hadith. What happens if she doesn’t get married? Is she forced to leave and find her independence?

I am one of three sisters. One who has gotten married, one who lives independently of us, and me. I do not wish for marriage. But I see myself as being responsible for my parents as they get older. I have no mahram other than my elderly father. No other family here. I do work, part-time alhamduliLlah.

Should I leave the home and leave my parents alone? (I don’t want to, because I am afraid to lose them in any sense, even by their own natural end).

I sometimes feel like nothing I do is right before my father. I feel like I studied and obeyed them in this regard. But now, I am so tired with how pointless everything is. I studied two degrees, trained for a long time, and all for what?

I remained confused about my faith, I have lost friends, and become more isolated. I genuinely believe women need a mahram to travel randomly around the globe if for pleasure and not for purpose.

I’ve become disheartened, disillusioned, for clinging onto things that others maybe don’t consider important. Please advise me.

 

Answer:

Wa alaykum assaalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

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

Living Alone

Dear sister, please know that Allah knows the deepest contents of your heart. If you do not want to move out from your parents’ home, then please, by all means, remain there.

Please do not compare yourself to your sisters, as tempting as that may be. Three of you are completely different individuals, with unique strengths and challenges. Your responsibility is to measure yourself against the yardstick of what is pleasing to Allah, in this present moment.

Please refer to these links to clarify your confusion about the permissibility of an unmarried Muslim woman, living alone: Can I, as a Woman, Live on My Own? [Shafi’i] and Can an Unmarried Young Woman Live Alone?

Exception

The only scenario in which I would encourage you to move out from your parents’ home is this – if staying with your parents were harming you, in some way.

It does not have to be outward abuse, but if you feel that staying with your parents is contributing to feelings of stagnation, then perhaps it is time for you to make a change.

Caring for Parents

It is praiseworthy for you to take on the main responsibility of caring for your parents in their old age. However, please know that goodness to your parents remains a personally obligatory act for all of your sisters. Your commitment to caring for your parents does not lift the responsibility from their shoulders.

I suspect that because you live with your parents, then your sisters take you for granted. They know that you are there every day to be of service to your parents, so perhaps they do not try harder to be there for them, too.

I encourage you to complete this transformative course: Excellence With Parents: Muhammad Mawlud’s Birr al-Walidayn Explained: Your Parents’ Rights and How to Fulfil Them.

Father

“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (Sura al-Dhariyat 51:56)

You describe that nothing you do is right by your father. I am sorry – this is deeply painful, for any daughter. Please know that when a father is chronically displeased with his children, it actually reflects his own chronic displeasure with himself.

I encourage you not to live your life for your parents, especially not your father. This can be very hard to do at first, because it has become an ingrained habit. Live for Allah, and within the realms of permissibility, please do things that bring you joy. Find ways to nourish your heart, body, mind and soul.

Please know that perhaps creating some physical distance between you and your father may help you realign with your values, instead of always being drawn to what is pleasing to him.

You were created to worship Allah, and your journey to that includes working on your weaknesses and harnessing your strengths.

Life Coaching

I suggest that you look up one of the many Muslimah life coaches online. Find someone who resonates with you, and commit to exploring ways to improve your life. What are you passionate about? What are you good at? What do you want to get better at?

Marriage and Possible Depression

You describe that you do not want to be married. Is this because you have been hurt before, or because you genuinely are not interested in marriage?

You have also described yourself as losing friends, feeling lonely, and being exhausted. Could your low moods and lack of interest in marriage be something you could explore, within the safety of a culturally-sensitive counsellor’s office?

Travel

Please refer to this link for clarification: Can I Travel by Plane Without a Mahram?

Spiritual Nourishment

Dear sister, your soul is yearning for relief. Please feed your soul with the the cool, sweet waters of dua, the Prayer of Need, reciting and listening to Qur’an, and other acts of nearness to Allah.

Clarify your confusion about your faith through seeking out healing knowledge. SeekersHub courses are in abundance, alhamdulilah, so decide which ones resonate with you most, and strive to complete them.

I pray that this has been helpful. Please keep in touch.

Please see: Selected Prophetic Prayers for Spiritual, Physical and Emotional Wellbeing by Chaplain Ibrahim Long.

 

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


 

I’tikaf: When The Aching Bones of Your Wives May Testify Against You

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I’tikaf is intended to be a blessed time for those who have the opportunity to engage in it so why is it causing so much marital discord between couples who Jazmin Begum-Kennedy is counselling?

Iʿtikāf (Arabic: اعتكاف‎‎, also i’tikaaf or e’tikaaf) is an Islamic practice consisting of a period of staying in a mosque for a certain number of days, devoting oneself to worship during these days and staying away from worldly affairs. The literal meaning of the word suggests sticking and adhering to, or being regular in, something, this ‘something’ often including performing supererogatory (nafl) prayers, reciting the Qur’an, and reading hadith.

Every year, I read wonderful social media updates from brothers preparing to go to i’tikaf followed by others praising them and requesting them to make dua. This ought to be a beautiful thing but unfortunately for the wives left behind, it is often a nightmare.

Few men make enough fanfare or even mention who will

  • pack their things for them,
  • do grocery runs,
  • cook fresh food each day,
  • send the fresh food to the men in i’tikaf each day, twice a day – for iftar and suhoor,
  • take care of the children and the school runs,
  • serve their parents,
  • serve their in-laws
  • take care of her own health, while pregnant or otherwise

All this on often little to no resources.
For these women, engaging in more prayer, Qur’an reading and quiet reflection during the blessed 10 nights of Ramadhan are a remote possiblity.
Don’t get me wrong- I am all for i’tikaf but men need to make provisions for their womenfolk first before they set off. Every year I am left counselling mothers who have been left to take care of young children and demanding inlaws, as well as send freshly cooked food to their menfolk at the mosques. Often, they are not left with much money or resources to barely feed the children and elderly in their care, let alone send food to their men in i’tikaf.

“But My Wife Doesn’t Mind”

I don’t just listen to the women’s side of the story. I have spoken to many men about this. Last year, one brother messaged me saying how the companions of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ  often left for months and years and no one complained. He insisted that his wife didn’t complain either. When I asked him if he had asked her, he did not reply.
We do not live in societies that allow for such privileges. When the companions of the Prophet ﷺ went away, they left their families in a community with extended families and friends. They had maids as well as wet nurses for support.
These days, women have to do school and mosque runs, shopping, take children to appointments, chores for in-laws etc. Everything is done by one person – the mother.
On top of the daily grind of life, there’s the added stress of arrange the delivery of fresh, pipping hot food because she doesn’t want to upset or anger her husband who has gone to get closer to Paradise.

Is This The Path To Paradise?

What blessing is there in striving for Paradise, off the back of another human being?
I acknowledge that being in service to those in worship is a form of worship itself, and may Allah reward all who engage in this to the best of their abilities. However, on the flip side, there is a disturbing element of injustice and oppression.
Just before I wrote this, I was consoling a mother who is experiencing a very difficult pregnancy and has a toddler to attend to. She can barely keep her head up due to the sickness and exhaustion. Her beloved husband set off for iti’kaf leaving her with strict instructions on making sure his two meals are delivered at the right temperature.
I try not to aggravate situations like this. I try to hold my tongue, for what it’s worth. I advised this woman to go to her parent’s home so she can get some much needed respite. She is drained. She is carrying life in her womb. It is her God-given right to be nurtured during this fragile time and her God-given right to request her husband stay home and make himself useful. I told her to print this profound hadith and hang it in her home so all can see what our beloved Prophet ﷺ had to say:

The best of you are those who are best to their wives.

SubhanAllah, it is time to reflect on why we do things and how our actions, even if it’s to do something good can be so damaging for our hereafter. I was reminded by a fellow mother, Sumayyah Omar on Muslim Mamas that the Prophet ﷺ said,

“The most beloved people to Allah are those who are most beneficial to the people. The most beloved deed to Allah is to make a Muslim happy, or to remove one of his troubles, or to forgive his debt, or to feed his hunger. That I walk with a brother regarding a need is more beloved to me than that I seclude myself in this mosque in Medina for a month. Whoever swallows his anger, then Allah will conceal his faults. Whoever suppresses his rage, even though he could fulfill his anger if he wished, then Allah will secure his heart on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever walks with his brother regarding a need until he secures it for him, then Allah the Exalted will make his footing firm across the bridge on the day when the footings are shaken.”

Scholars and Imams, Insist On A Checklist

Wouldn’t it be great if the imams in all our mosques would read this hadith out during Friday sermons in Ramadan? And then advise the men to follow basic protocols before packing their bags? Moni Akhtar, another mother from Muslim Mamas made a great suggestion: the masjid should give out a form of prerequisites before men are accepted into i’tikaf:

  • Have you asked your wife if she can cope without you?
  • Have you left her with provisions?
  • Have you paid for a cleaner to come and help?

Guidance and prompting from the ulema is sorely needed to raise greater awareness.
I would love to leave on a good note but instead I am forced to leave a warning. Your women and those in your care may not utter a word  now but their aching bones will testify against you on the Day of Judgement. May Allah have mercy upon us all, ameen.

Photo credit: Juliana Cunha

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Jazmin Begum Kennedy (JBK) is a ‘Qualified Housewife.’ By day she is a mother, wife and teacher; by night she wages war against oppressors and writes books. She is an experienced teacher of primary and secondary education, an acclaimed professional artist (JBK Arts) and published author of Mercy Like the Raindrops, Blessed Bees, No School Today and the upcoming novel, Fifteen. Jazmin is an online counsellor specialising in domestic abuse, rape and child abuse. She also physically helps victims of domestic violence flee their abusive marriages. She is the co-founder of the Nisa Foundation, working as a women’s aid worker for victims of domestic violence. JBK currently homeschools her three children, whilst managing a network for Home Educators in the Greater Manchester area of the United Kingdom.

Shepherding Our Sons And Daughters

Fathers and Mothers: what do you want for your sons and daughters? Ibrahim J. Long gets to the heart of the matter.

What fills your heart with joy at the thought of your son or your daughter doing, or being, or becoming? What fills your heart with hope, pride, and love for the bounty that Allah has given you and I in our children? Do you smile at the thought of them becoming a doctor, or a professional of some kind? Perhaps you imagine your daughter or son memorizing the Glorious Qur’an, or having an immense love for God and His Messenger (peace be upon him). Or, perhaps you simply hope for your son or daughter to be a person of good character.
Whatever it is that you are picturing them doing, whatever it is that generates that pride and hope in your heart; likely, you are also picturing them happy while doing it.

What About Happiness?

This desire for our children’s happiness comes from our love and compassion for them. Consider, for example, when Ibrahim (peace be upon him) was given the glad tidings that he would be made an Imam and an example of righteousness for all people he asked: “and what of my descendants?” (Q2:124)
Ibrahim (peace be upon him) had so much compassion for his children, grand-children, great-grandchildren and all his descendants that as soon as he heard the good news of being made an example for humanity, he asked if they too would have a share in that closeness that he had with Allah. He wanted all of his descendants to experience such serenity and happiness.

The Prophet’s Parental Concern

Shepherding Our Sons and Daughters
Parental concern for our children is part of being a healthy parent. In fact, it’s part of being a healthy person. Our Beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) demonstrated this concern with his children and all children he encountered.
About this, the famous servant of the Messenger, Anas ibn Malik (May God be well-pleased with him), said, “I never saw anyone who was more compassionate towards children than the Messenger of God (peace be upon him).” To which he also added that while the Prophet’s son, Ibrahim, was in the care of his wet-nurse who lived in the hills outside of Madinah, he would go there just to pick up his son and kiss him, then he would return to his business in Madinah. [Muslim]

Just For A Hug And A Kiss

Today, that would be like a father driving home from work during his lunch break just to hold his son or daughter and kiss them. To myself and all of my fellow brothers, fathers, and husbands, I advise you: If there was forgotten Sunnah that you and I would like to help revive, then let us consider reviving this one.

Not Just About Joining The Workforce

As a community, Muslims in North America are among the most educated and professional Muslims in the world. Part of our success in this is the great efforts that parents have put into their son and their daughter’s education, masha’Allah. But, a good profession alone will not make our children happy in this life. They will also need our help in developing their faith, and they also require our guiding them to become good husbands and good wives (and later on good parents just like you and I are trying our best to be).
Parents, we cannot deny that being a husband or wife and being a father and mother are life-changing experiences and amazing responsibilities. As the Beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) has said, “Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock.” [Bukhari & Muslim] And, as Allah has commanded us in the Glorious Qur’an: “Believers, Shield yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones…” (Q66:6)

Shepherding Future Shepherds

So, fellow fathers and mothers, how are you and I preparing our children to become shepherds of their own flocks? Are we preparing our children to shield their own families?
You and I may be raising our children with hopes of their becoming doctors, lawyers, and great contributors to the Ummah. But, are we raising them to become good husbands and good wives to their spouses? Or, good fathers and good mothers to their children?  You may very well be. And, if so, this is just a reminder for you. And, may Allah reward you.
Our Beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) has informed us that marriage is half of our deen. So, it is half of our children’s deen as well. For those of you who are married, you know it is a struggle. Every marriage has its high points and low points; even the best of them. Moreover, every parent wants his or her son or daughter to marry a good spouse who will treat him or her with respect and dignity. But my question to myself and all of you is how are we preparing our children to be good to their spouses?

More Committed To Daughters Than Sons

To be honest, we as a community (and by this I mean Muslims in general) are better committed to raising our daughters than we are our sons. To a degree, many believe that boys will raise themselves. But, our young men also need direction. An increasing number of marriageable women are complaining: “Where are the Muslim men ready to be good husbands and fathers?” And, “Where are the Muslim men who understand the responsibility of taking care of a household, who can demonstrate self-control and can control himself when he is angry?”

Raising Boys To Act Like Mature Men

Undeniably, we raise our daughters differently from our sons. Perhaps we lack the wisdom and strength to raise our sons the way we raise our daughters. But, what we are left with are various young males who do not yet know how to behave like mature men. Although in the short-term, greater freedom for our young men and boys may feel like we are giving them a “chance to be on their own.” However, sometimes the freedom we as a community grant our young men is experienced by them as a lack of direction, a lack of mentorship, and a lack of support.
Fathers and Mothers, it is not only unfair to our young women that we expect more from them. But, it is also unfair to our boys and young men who need us to expect more from them. Our sons also need the support of our guidance. Our sons also need us to teach them how to control themselves. Our sons also need us to remind them that they too may one day have a family of their own and that being male does not mean one is ready to be a man. So, let us help them and encourage them to be the best men, the best husbands, and the best fathers that they can be.

“Dad… I’m bored..let’s go!”

I can remember one time attending an Islamic lecture. I was sitting next to a father and his son. Shortly after the father sat down with his son to listen to the lecture, the young boy complained to his father, “Dad, Dad… let’s go! I’m bored.” To which the father very gently said, “Just wait a few minutes. I would like to hear what the shaykh has to say.” However, shortly thereafter the young boy complained again, “Dad… I’m bored..let’s go!” And so the father left with his son.
Now, I don’t know the full story. The father could have left with the son and later advised him regarding his behavior. Or, perhaps there was something else that I did not know about this situation. I am not speaking against this father, or his son. However, this incident made me realize something  that I had not before. In the past, I would have felt bad for the father for having an impatient and  disrespectful son. However, in this instance I realized that I felt worse for the son who was struggling with his nafs and did not yet know how to be patient. Patience had not yet been taught to him.

Helping Children With Their Nafs

As adults we have more experience with the inner battlefield of our nafs; battling our own desires and learning how to control ourselves. From age and experience we have become more familiar with the consequences that can come about if we don’t control ourselves. But, this man’s son was young. He did not know any better and he needed someone to advise him and to guide him. Perhaps this father did just that after he left. I don’t know. But, what if a son just like this one never received any help? Who then will teach this young man and young men like him the important lesson of patience? Who will teach him to think of the needs of others? Who will teach him and others like him to set aside one’s own desires if it would bring happiness to another? If no one helps him, then what sort of husband would this young boy grow up to be?
Now, let me be open and honest with you: it is not, and will not be easy to parent our youth. Moreover, this reminder has been directed at myself first and foremost and then to all of you. There are those of you are more experienced and better at parenting than I am. There are also many of you who have also been better sons to their parents than I have been. This discussion may erupt in denial, or anger in the hearts of parents who feel like they are being judged by others when they are trying their very best. This is not a call to judge others. This is only a reminder for each of us to bear in mind for ourselves what we are doing to raise our sons. When this reminder is forgotten it leads to the needs of the young men in our community being forgotten as well.
As one shaykh once said, “Our communities often focus on raising our daughters. Our daughters are doing fine. What we need to focus on is raising upright young men for them to marry and to lovingly care for them.”
Let us remember, that we are shepherds and shepherds must engage with, be patient with, and guide his or her flock. May Allah make it easy for us and bless us in our efforts. And may Allah make all of our children among the mutaqqina imaman (the foremost in faith).
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“Our Lord, grant us from among our spouses and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous.” (Q 25:74)
May Allah bless all of you and our children. Ameen.
Ibrahim J. Long is a Muslim chaplain and educator. You can follow his blog at ibrahimlong.org

Resources on Shepherding Our Sons and Daughters

Star Wars And The Crisis Of Modern Masculinity

That there is a crisis of modern masculinity, there is no doubt. Everyone from bloggers to The Atlantic Monthly is writing about it. Shaykh Abdal-Hakim Murad begins first with a synopsis of how damaging life without a father figure is and then moves on to discuss contemporary gender confusion as promoted by mass media: what exactly is a man, and what is a woman? We’ve lost count of how many brilliant points the shaykh makes in just 13 minutes!

Becoming a Man: A Comprehensive Guide to the Coming of Age in Islam is one of 30+ courses on offer at SeekersHub. Registration is easy and free.

Our gratitude to Mishkat Media for this recording.

Resources on the crisis of modern masculinity and related matters:

Answering the Call: Carry the Future for Syrian Refugees

Laith Majid cries tears of joy and relief that he and his children have made it to Europe. Photograph: Daniet Etter/New York Times/Redux /eyevine

Photograph: Daniet Etter/New York Times/Redux /eyevine

Year of Sadness

To say that this past year or so has been difficult is an understatement.  My father passed away in August 2014 when my youngest son was only 11 weeks old. Navigating through my own intense grief while caring for my infant son and energetic 4 year old was more than I thought my mind, body and soul could carry. The little spiritual reserve I had left was being sucked away by watching the state of the Muslims around the world sink further and further into disarray; Syria, Iraq, Myanmar, Afghanistan and the list goes on. Then the Paris attacks happened – as the world magnified on the Muslim community across the globe, particularly breeding fear against Syrian refugees, I was sent into a state of frozen numbness as I consumed every story, post, news clip and article that flashed across my iPhone screen. I started having nightmares and waking in the middle of the night anxious about the growing backlash and Islamophobia against the Muslim community. During these wakeful nights, through crashing waves of tears I began to do something I hadn’t done in a while – talk to God.  I wept for my broken heart to be mended and my empty soul to be filled up again. I begged for inspiration and direction with the hope for a clear sign that God had heard my call. 


Answering the Call

“Fa inna ma’al ‘usri yusra. Inna ma’al ‘usri yusra. Verily, along with every hardship is relief. Verily, along with every hardship is relief (Quran, Chapter 94, verses 5-6)”. 

No matter how many times I read those verses, when relief finally overcomes hardship in my life, it never ceases to amaze me. Through those conversations in the darkness of the night, the storm inside of me began to calm and I could see the tide turning.  God All-Mighty undoubtedly answered my call in direct and subtle ways.  

During this tumultuous time, I stumbled upon this quote by writer Maria Karim: “A glimpse of Allah’s limitless mercy is that He sends the right people at the right time with the right words or gestures to remind you that you are not alone, to reinforce that you are not forsaken, to repair your weak faith so that you can resolve your life with hikmah (wisdom) and to restore your complete tawakkal (trust) in Him so that you rely on Him alone. Blessed are those who are able to pull themselves out of self-pity and depression because they eventually realize the intensity of being taken care of by Ar Rahman, Himself.” Every word felt as if it was written just for me. It was the sign I was searching for.

Shortly there after, “the right people at the right time with the right words” began to appear after I posted this rare personal note on Facebook: “I’m having nightmares [about recent events]. I need to get off Facebook for a while”. 

AnsweringTheCall-ReemaQadry-pic3In response, messages of concern, support and love started pouring in – not just from my many Muslims friends but most impactful from my friends of other faiths.  This was the healing balm that began to mend my brokenness. The most significant message came from Jessica who wrote me several encouraging messages. One said, “I’m glad you’re feeling some support from those of us who refuse to accept all the hatred and misinformation.” After a few exchanges she posted the following: “I’m collecting used baby carriers to send to [Syrian] refugee mothers in Greece. If you have any or know of someone who would like to donate, please put them in touch.” She was referring to the very non-profit I had bookmarked for future follow-up days before but had forgotten about – that organization was Carry the Future.

Openings 

As a mother of young children it is easy to feel isolated and helpless not being able to serve the community like I could when free time was plentiful; but how could I feel hopeless and despair when I was steeped in all of these immense blessings given to me by God, while many like the Syrian refugees had lost everything?  Inspired by my recent awakening, I began to brainstorm ideas about how I could make a difference and motivate others to do the same. I thought of Syrian mothers when my arms would ache from holding my crying, teething baby all day and I would imagine those Syrian mothers holding their crying, teething babies knowing that they had to continue walking; continue carrying their children; continue on for the sake of their children’s future. I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude and responsibility, which compelled me to do something to ease their load.

AnsweringTheCall-ReemaQadry-pic4Many people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike want to help Syrian refugees but find it difficult to parse through the many options out there. That’s how the idea came about to support Carry the Future, which has a simple and specialized cause – provide new or gently used baby carriers to Syrian Refugees along their travel route. Volunteers are on the ground in Europe fitting parents with carriers as they get off boats and ferries and on to buses to continue their journey.

To make it easy for people to participate, I created an Amazon wishlist with a few carrier options and shared it as a post on Facebook. My goal was simple – take your concern and turn it into action – buy 25 carriers for Syrian refugees.  The post inspired many of my friends to share and contribute and some even created their own campaigns. While I was sending out messages requesting support – at the very moment I was typing Shaykh Faraz Rabbani’s name, he was already sharing my post (SubhanAllah, another miracle), which resulted in a mini-viral effect. 164 carriers we’re bought in less than 48 hours and the numbers are rising!  This whole experience showed me that with faith, a little effort and some creativity we can all have an impact.

AnsweringTheCall-ReemaQadry-Pic2Ruminations

At a time where world events have caused Islamophobia in the West to reach an all time high, it is easy to become consumed by fear and anxiety. Here is what I’ve learned along the way and advice I first and foremost give myself:

 

  1. Connect with God and the Prophet (peace be upon him) – Our teachers (may God bless them all) have taught us that prayer/dhikr can move mountains and is the best remedy to ease our troubled hearts. Recite a set number of prayers on the Prophet (peace be upon him) everyday. Find a litany (like Wird al Latif) that you can recite day and night. Make an abundance of istighfar as is recommended in times of trial. Listen to and recite Prayer of the Oppressed (Dua’ Nasri). And at every turn, talk to God.  He’s always listening.
  1. Replace “Slacktivism” with Activism – While social media can be beneficial in many ways, posting and sharing articles, news clips etc. can give us the illusion of productivity on social justice or political issues.  Instead of recycling other people’s ideas find ways to create and share your talent and skills with your community. Find a cause you’re passionate about and turn your concern for the world into action.  You don’t even have to leave the comfort of your couch to make a difference – just pick cause and get creative.
  1. Step Away from the Screen – Keeping up with world events is important but over-consuming depressing news on social media can be paralyzing and demotivating. It can wear away at your faith and spirit. Take a break to volunteer, read a book or better yet call your mom! 
  1. People are Inherently Good – Take heart and have faith in humanity.  Reach out to your neighbors, friends and coworkers. Smile. Be kind. Show the truth about our beautiful religion through personifying the values taught in the Quran as well as emulating the character of our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him).
  1. Do not Despair – Our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) said “Even if the end of time is upon you and you have a seedling in your hand, plant it”. This is the ultimate example of hope. Don’t give up even when it may seem like all is lost.

I’m grateful to Shaykh Faraz Rabbani for asking me to write this and allowing me to share the story of how I arrived at campaigning for an organization called Carry the Future. This inspiring non-profit provides baby carriers for Syrian Refugees making their way through Europe. The meandering account above is one of loss, sadness and tribulation but also of miracles, blessings and openings.

If you’re interested in purchasing or donating gently used carriers for Syrian refugees please visit my Amazon wishlist or go the Carry the Future website.  Even better, start your own carrier drive!

By Reema Qadry

Reema Qadry is a stay-at-home mother of two boys, aged 5 and 1.5 years, residing in Seattle, USA.

“Where are the fathers?” Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said on the best of examples

Child Parent FatherThe An-Nisa Society in Wembley, London, an organisation managed by women working for the welfare of Muslim families, has a longstanding track record of nurturing healthy approaches to “Muslim fatherhood”.

Co-founder Humera Khan has said, “We found that many women were concerned about their husbands, who were perhaps unemployed or suffering depression. Also men were working away a lot. In the refugee communities, many women are here without their husbands, so they live essentially as single mothers. There are problems among some boys, wandering about like loose cannons, without a male influence in their lives…We started parenting sessions and used materials from Fathers Direct to break the ice. I found fathers coming to speak to me in informal settings, sharing their anxieties.”

An-Nisa’s collaborative efforts with Fathers Direct are documented here and one of several seminars on the subject, organised by An-Nisa Society and partners, is video linked below. Sr Humera introduces Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said of Harrow Central Mosque before he delivers a moving account of how the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is an excellent – and relevant, role model for fathers.

 

Resources for Seekers:

Islamic Parenting: Ten Keys to Raising Righteous Children
Raising Your Children with Deen & Dunya
The Powerful Dua of a Parent

Traditional Methods of Raising Children

These are some of the methods of raising children used by our pious predecessors of the Ba’Alawi way, compiled by the grandson of the late Habib Muhammad al-Haddar (may Allah have mercy on him and be well-pleased with him), Sayyid Muhammad Abdullah Muhammad al-Haddar, may Allah preserve and protect him:

  1. Breastfeeding mothers would repeatedly recite Ayat al-Kursi, Surat al-Falaq and Surat al-Nas over their babies.
  1. When a child first began to speak it would be taught to say:

رَضِيتُ بِاللهِ رَبّاً، وبِالإِسْلامِ دِيناً، و بسيِّدِنَا مُحَمَّدٍ صلى الله عليه وسلم نَبِيَّاً ورَسُولاً

‘I am content with Allah as my Lord, with Islam as my religion, and with our Master Muhammad, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, as my Prophet and Messenger.’

  1. Parents would teach their children the importance of making good intentions and what intentions to make just as they would teach them how to recite Surat al-Fatihah.
  1. Parents would teach their children to call upon Allah in every situation. If a child asked for something, his parents would tell him to perform wudu, pray two rakats and then ask Allah to fulfil his need. After he had done this, they would give him what he wanted and tell him that Allah had answered his prayers.
  1. Each child would be allocated a specific task. For example, one child would buy things from the shops, another would clean the house and another would serve guests.
  1. Parents would wake up young children in the last part of the night to accustom them to being awake at that time. Fathers would take their young sons to the mosque at that time.
  1. Parents would hold family gatherings in their houses on a daily or weekly basis. They would recite a portion of the Qur’an and read from the books of fiqh and hadith. They would conclude the gathering with duas and salawat.
  1. Parents would gather their children together before blessed days or months, such as Ramadan, and ask them what good deeds they planned to perform. They would ask them, for example, how much of the Qur’an they would recite and how much charity they would give.
  1. When one of their sons reached maturity, the father would hold a gathering to which he would invite the scholars and elders of the community. He would inform his son that he was now legally responsible and that he now had two angels who were recording his good and bad deeds
  1. Parents would give more attention to the education of girls than boys because girls would spend the greater part of their time in the domestic sphere.
  1. Parents would marry their children off at a young age to ensure they did not commit any acts of disobedience.

Allah knows best. May Allah be pleased with them and benefit us by their secrets and allow us to follow them.

Republished with gratitude to Muwasala.

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