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My Husband Doesn’t Want to Have Kids. What Can I Do?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: Assalam alaykum

My husband has changed his mind about having kids. It has been a very traumatic experience for me as I love him dearly and I want to have a family with him.

1. My husband argues that there is nothing in Islam that says that a married couple must try to have children. Is it true?

2. If I am unable to convince him, is it haram for me to go off birth control without his permission and pretend to have an accidental pregnancy?

Answer: Assalamu alaykum

1. Having children is certainly something encouraged by our religion as evidenced in the Qur’an and sunna. The Qur’an, for example, describes the Prophet Ibrahim (blessings be upon him) as supplicating to God, “My Lord, grant me a child from the righteous.” (37:100)

Similarly, the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) instructed some of his companions to marry those who would bear them children stating, “I will be proud of your great numbers.” [Abu Dawud]

Having children is not only following in the footsteps of past prophetic figures, such as Ibrahim and our Messenger (blessings be upon them), but it is also a blessing in a number of ways. Children are a means for one’s salvation, they are a source of sustenance, and also a form of continual charity for parents. Importantly, having children can be an expression of one’s love for the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) when done with the intention of making him proud of his communities size in the next life.

2. The majority of scholars have stated that a wife’s consent is necessary for any form of birth control – even simple acts of withdrawal (i.e. coitus interruptus). One of the reasons for this is clear: a wife has a right to have children. This is, in fact, one of the main purposes of marriage and for a husband to deny his wife this right is potentially a sin.

As such, your choosing not to carry on with birth control is your decision. With this said, I cannot give any specific advice regarding whether you should simply cease taking birth control without telling your husband. A healthy marriage is based on mutual respect and an openness that is conducive to a healthy relationship. You should speak to your husband openly and stress that having a family is both something the shariah encourages and is a right of yours. He also needs to understand how you feel and the manner in which this will effect the future of your marriage. A third party, such as a reliable marriage counselor and scholar, may also prove helpful in this situation.

If things do not change then you will have to decide what course of action you wish to take. Keep making du`a to God to bless your marriage and facilitate matters for you. You should also perform the istikhara prayer given the seriousness of your situation.

Also see:

The Virtues of Having Children

Istikhara: The Prayer of Seeking Guidance

[Ustadh] Salman Younas

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Salman Younas graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman. There he studies Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir.

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

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

Why Is Everything Going Wrong in My Life?

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

I am very much upset about my life right now, my kids, their education, my marital relation, my health. I have been a good person. I do admit my prayers were on and off. People are suggesting we are affected by black magic. I think it’s punishment for not praying. How do I make it right?

Answer: In the Name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate           

Thank you for sending in your question. As believers, when things don’t go right in our lives, the two most important steps in correcting things is first to ensure that our faith is sound and strong, and secondly, to check that all aspects of our life are in order. As such, a firm believer will always have the correct etiquette with Allah during good and bad times, and be more likely to find solutions when life presents with difficulties and tests.

PUTTING THINGS INTO PERSPECTIVE

The relationship between good deeds and recompense

Our good deeds, and our being good human beings, are not a direct bartering system with God, in which an immediate exchange takes places between good deeds for an easy worldly life in return. On the other hand, Allah does not make the good deeds of any believer to be lost, as He Most High informs us that, ‘We shall not suffer to be lost the reward of anyone who does his (righteous) deeds in the most perfect manner’ [18:30]. So the way to understand this relationship of good works and recompense is that, while Allah will answer the prayers of a sincere person, it will be in the way He wishes and when He wishes.

The Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) informed us that Allah answers our supplications in three ways, ‘Either He will answer his Dua soon, or he will store it up for him in the Hereafter, or He will divert an equivalent evil away from him because of it.’ [Musnad Ahmad]

Although the hadith specifically mentions supplication, the same applies for all our good works and good character, and how to expect the recompense and reward for them. We should understand that our time of doing good works is limited to this life, whereas Allah’s rewarding us for those deeds are not constrained by time or place. All we need to do is roll up our sleeves and keep going, the result and payday to this struggling we leave to Allah.

We should also realise that our knowledge is limited whilst Allah’s knowledge is unlimited. What we feel we may need or want now is constrained by our knowledge of only the present. Indeed, we cannot even know what will happen in a few seconds or minutes from now. Allah Most High knows everything as it was, as it is, and as it will be. Therefore, He is better to know what is right for us and when it is right for us.

Do not tire of good works

The Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) said, ‘The supplication of every one of you is granted if he does not grow impatient and says: I supplicated but it was not granted.’ [Muslim]. As we mentioned above, the same principle applies to any good works. Think of it like this, ‘The virtuous works, struggles, and good character of any of us will be rewarded so long as we do not grow impatient and say, I am doing this and that but God is not making my life easy and happy.

Life is a Test vs Punishment

Allah sends us trials in life to test our faith. God tells us, ‘It is He who created death and life to test you as to which of you are best in deed, and He is the Almighty, the Forgiving.’ [67:2]. The very best of creation, the Prophets (peace and blessings be upon them all), as well as the companions of those Prophets, were all tested greatly, and in ways greater than most of us suffer. Our beloved Prophet himself (peace and blessing upon him) and his family and companions endured severe hardship through the loss of their homes, livelihood, children and family, and many other tragedies and hardships.

The test is in being patient and grateful during these times, even if it is a lifetime. Tests are not only a chance to strengthen your faith, but are an expiation from sin. The Prophet said, ‘Trials will continue for the believing man and the believing woman, in person, property and children, until they meet Allah free from sin.’ [al Tirmidhi].

We cannot say that someone is being punished for such and such action. Nor do we say that one’s children are being punished for the parent’s sins. Allah Most High tells us that, ‘And no burdened soul can bear another’s burden.’ [35:18]. Therefore, the only option is to realise that how we act, and how we are as individuals and as believers, has a direct effect on how things go in our lives and the effect our behaviour and actions (or lack of action) has on those around us.

PRIORITISING DUTIES

Worship

Imagine if an employee turns up to work whenever he felt like it, some days coming in, other days turning up late and going home early, whilst other day not turning up at all, perhaps a few days at a time. At the end of the month when he receives his wages, he gets a shock that he has not received his full wages! Even worse, he gets called into the board room and is fired on the spot! Does such a person have the right to be indignant or angry at his employers? Likewise, the observation of the prayer must be maintained, on time and each day. If we ‘don’t turn up’ to the prayer, then we are not in a position to turn around to our Lord, and complain that we’re not getting our due.

The prayer is the most important part of our daily life and a sign of the believer. It is a major sin to intentionally miss an obligatory prayer, and this is something that is unfortunately taken too lightly. It is akin to committing major sins a few times every day, for years on end for some people.  It is the first of the five pillars in our religion and without careful observation of it, both our life and next life are liable to ruin. The Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) informed us that ‘The first matter that the slave will be brought to account for on the Day of Judgment is the prayer. If it is sound, then the rest of his deeds will be sound. And if it is bad, then the rest of his deeds will be bad.’ [al Tabarani].

This is an important hadith. The most important aspect for us here are the words, ‘If it is sound, then the rest of his deeds will be sound.’ Without the prayer being sound, meaning on time and with attentiveness and sincerity, all our other acts of obedience and goods will be deficient. Moreover, we cannot expect, nor should we be surprised or complain that our lives are in disarray, when the very essential pillars of our religion are not being upheld. We can only ask ourselves, in whose hands is our lives being left to ruin?

If we are missing prayers, we must also look at what other fundamental aspects and pillars of our religion are we neglecting or being deficient in. This is necessary to finding solutions to our worldly problems.

HOW TO MAKE THINGS RIGHT?

Below is a brief list of things you can do to ensure things are in order:

  1. Start praying on time and do not miss any prayers. Likewise make sure that all your other obligations to God are fulfilled.
  1. Ensure that you are fulfilling other people’s rights, such as debts etc.
  1. Make Tawba. Pray two rakats tawba from all your sins in general, and ideally specifically for neglecting prayers. See the following link for more information.
  1. Be patient, and persistent in your supplication and good deeds. Do not give up and think God has abandoned you.
  1. Give charity if possible. Many of life’s problems on one’s life are solved through giving sadaqah to the needy.
  1. Make sure you are avoiding more overlooked sins such as back biting, tale bearing, and contempt for others.
  1. Look at the worldly solutions to your problem. These include, home life and environment, diet and nutrition, television and negative influences, how one spends their time and money, and the choices you make.

MAGIC

While it’s not impossible that black magic may be at work, it seems the case here is that it is not. Black magic, while real, is most often than not used as a scapegoat to avoid looking at ourselves, our own actions, and making a change. As you mentioned yourself, the answers lie closer to home and are of a more practical nature. Prioritise your life, correct your intentions, and be patient and steadfast. Insha’Allah you will find real solutions to the problems you are facing.

Warmest salams,

[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007 I travelled to Tarim, Yemen, where I spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with my main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, I moved to Amman, Jordan, where I continue advanced study in a range of sciences, as well as teaching. Away from the Islamic sciences, I am a qualified Homeopath, and run a private clinic in Amman.

How Can I Reconnect With Allah and Pray on Time Despite My Busy Schedule?

Answered by Shaykh Faid Said

Question: Assalam alaykum

Being a single mother of two children with special needs makes it extremely difficult to hold on to my prayers. I find myself exhausted and unable to pray which in turns plunges me in sadness and a bit of despair.

How can I reconnect with Allah in a manner strong enough to withstand my busy, stressful and sometimes difficult life?

Answer: Assalam alayykum,

I pray this finds you in the best of states.

Here is the answer of Shaykh Faid Said to your question:

Shaykh Faid Mohammed Said is a jewel in the crown of traditional Islamic scholarship in the United Kingdom and we at SeekersHub are ever grateful for his friendship, guidance and support. He was born in Asmara, Eritrea, where he studied the holy Qur’an and its sciences, Arabic grammar and fiqh under the guidance of the Grand Judge of the Islamic Court in Asmara, Shaykh Abdul Kader Hamid and also under the Grand Mufti of Eritrea. He later went to study at Madinah University, from which he graduated with a first class honours degree.

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.

I Suspect That My Wife Does Not Pray. Do I Stay or Leave?

Answered by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Question: My wife and I have been married for over several years, with two kids. I rarely see her pray. If I ask her, she wouldn’t give a clear answer but gets angry that I don’t trust her. Since the situation has persisted for a long time and I’m perpetually miserable, I feel that separating is the only course of action. We don’t even share a bedroom anymore.

Should I continue giving her the benefit of the doubt for the sake of maintaining our shaky marriage?

Answer: Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray this finds you well. May Allah grant the steadfastness to endure until He sends you an opening.

Balance

They key is to strike a balance between having a good opinion of her, encouraging her to good, while forbidding wrong.

It is praiseworthy that you are deeply concerned for your wife’s prayer. However, it sounds like your marriage is on its last legs, and you lack the rapport to positively influence your wife in matters of deen.

Resolving differences

It was narrated from ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar that the Messenger of Allah (upon him be blessings and peace) said: “The most hated of permissible things to Allah is divorce.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]

Have you considered seeing a marriage counsellor? If not, I strongly urge you and your wife to do so. Please think very carefully about divorce. That is your last option, and not your first. Even though it has reached a point where you are no longer even sharing a bedroom, I pray that there is still hope for reconciliation.

Although a happy marriage with your wife might seem unimaginable for you right now, please remember that anything is possible through Allah’s help. Please perform the Prayer of Need during the last third of the night, and beg Allah to heal your marriage. Please perform The Prayer of Guidance to help you decide how to move forward.

Please read this book – The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: A 25 Year Landmark Study by Judith Wallerstein, Julia Lewis, and Sandra Blakeslee – so you have a better idea about how divorce will impact on your children. If Allah wills for you to divorce, then nothing can prevent that. However, being aware of its fallout on your children will help you support them better.

Good character

Abu Ad-Dardh narrated that the Messenger of Allah (upon him be blessings and peace) said: “Nothing is placed on the Scale that is heavier than good character. Indeed the person with good character will have attained the rank of the person of fasting and prayer.” [Tirmidhi]

There is so much reward in showing good character because it can be so difficult. Focus on your own behaviour, instead of your wife’s. What is her love language? A wife whose love language is words of affirmation would be very irritated by a husband who nags her to pray. Can you think of ways to create happier memories with your wife? Buy her flowers, leave her loving notes on the fridge, thank her for preparing your meals, go out to a cafe with her etc. She will be suspicious at first, but persist in showing her kindness. Please do these acts not as a way to manipulate her into praying. Focus on saving your marriage by helping her feel loved.

After establishing more rapport through these acts of loving kindness, do what you can to make prayer more inviting to her. When you are at home during the evening, invite your family to pray with you. If your wife refuses, make excuses for her. Perhaps she prefers to pray on her own to help increase her concentration.

Children

Please do not use your daughter to check on her mother’s prayer. Children know when something is amiss between their parents. It is important that you model a healthy relationship, and not cause your daughter to think poorly of her mother and pick sides. Triangulation of any kind is not healthy.

Education

It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas that the Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) said: “The best of you is the one who is best to his wife, and I am the best of you to my wives.” [Sunan Ibn Majah]

Reflect on the example of the Messenger of Allah (upon him be blessings and peace), who was the epitome of patience with his wives. Reread the Sirah to remind yourself about how he treated his household.

I urge you and your wife to complete this course: Islamic Marriage: Guidance for Successful Marriage and Married Life. Suggest it to her, and if she doesn’t want to, complete it first to help you understand the spirit and the law behind a successful Islamic marriage.

Please refer to the following links:

Staying Connected to Your Purpose Even When Your Marriage is Rocky, by Ustadha Anse Tamara Gray
A Reader on Patience and Reliance on Allah
Positive Spiritual Thinking: Choosing Mindfulness (taqwa) and Embracing Trust (tawakkul) by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
What Are Some Prophetic Supplications That Can Help Me Deal With Trials in My Life?
Bringing Barakah Into Your Wealth and Life

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 through Qibla Academy and SeekersHub Global. She also graduated with a Psychology and English degree from University of New South Wales.

How To Talk To Children About Death, by Shaykh Walead Mosaad

How do we prepare children for the death of someone close to them, and indeed, the concept of our own mortality? Shaykh Walead Mosaad gives some advice on the SeekersHub podcast.

 

 

Beware of Making Eid Boring, by Ustadh Salman Younas

Eid is just around the corner and Ustadh Salman Younas has an important message for everyone, especially for those with children: Eid is not meant to be boring and dull.

Eid is meant to be a celebration. It is a perfect opportunity for us to show our children how our religion balances between worship and leisurely entertainment. We begin our day with charity, prayer, and supplication and continue it with food, family, and fun.
Historically, Eid was celebrated on a grand scale in the Islamic world. During the Abbasid period, the viziers and military soldiers would march in procession wearing their best clothing accompanied by torchbearers. Mosques, palaces, and even boats on the dock would be decorated and illuminated with lights. Tables would be set out for people to indulge in a variety of foods and sweets. People would sing, exchange gifts, visit family, and have an enjoyable time. In some periods, there would be firework displays as well and a number of other entertaining activities.

If you want to be a bore on Eid, then don’t be surprised when your children grow up with zero excitement and love for this prophetic tradition. As the scholar Abu’l Abbas al-Azafi (d. 633/1266) stated, “festivals are an occasion of delight, joys, permissible play, and licit amusement.” But he also noticed that many Muslim children during his time actually grew up as admirers and enthusiasts of Christian holidays/festivals because they were frankly more memorable and fun for them. Sound familiar? Yup, and this is not someone from the 21st century or the 20th century speaking, but a religious scholar from the 13th century.
If you make Eid memorable for your children by partaking in things that elicit happiness and jubilation, it will become endearing to them. So, don’t just pray the Eid prayer while your family sleeps at home and then go off to work. Don’t have your children spend Eid alone. Don’t just hand your children 20 dollars as “Eidi” and be done with it. Take a day or two off and make it something that they enjoy, remember, and can’t wait to experience again.
P.S. for those wondering, al-Azafi did try to “lecture” and “explain” to those children who adored Christian festivals that they had their own festivals. Did it work? Nope. Why? Because it is the actual experience that counts.

Follow Ustadh Salman Younas on Facebook.

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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