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Raising Muslim Children In An Age Of Disbelief

Shaykh Walead Mosaad is father to two exceptional young men, MashaAllah. How did he and his wife get it so right? In this brief interview, SeekersHub blogger Aashif Sacha gets Shaykh Walead talking about why he made the choice to commit years of his life to learning the Islamic sciences (hint: for his kids), who his role models are and what tips he has for those fearful of raising children in an age of widespread disbelief.

Finally, if you are worried that you have left it too late to begin studying your religion, Shaykh Walead has some very reassuring words for you.

It’s never too late to start a life of learning. Take a SeekersHub course today. There are courses on dozens of interesting topics, including Islamic Parenting. It’s so easy to sign up and you can learn from anywhere in the world.

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Should I Return a Christmas Gift?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaikum,

I have recieved at work, as a christmas gift, a 10£ gift voucher.

Can I accept it?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that this message finds you well, insha’Allah.

There is no harm in accepting such a gift as it is merely a social custom and not a specifically religious action.

Please see: Giving & Recieving Christmas Gifts

And Allah alone knows best.

wassalam,
Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Infertility: Widespread but Largely Unaddressed by Muslim Communities

An estimated 250,000 Muslims women in countries like the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia suffer from infertility. Research shows it can be extremely stressful and can lead to depression, which in turn worsen the chances of becoming pregnant.

“Infertile? Just relax, and it will happen”

Studies have been done into the effects of infertility amongst Christian and Jewish communities but for the first time, a major study will be conducted amongst Muslims. Mona Elgohail is a Clinical Psychology PhD student and researcher at Drexel University. She is conducting a research study using an online survey on the impact of faith on the mental health and coping of Muslim women experiencing infertility.

  • Watch her video
  • Be one of the 200 women to participate in the 20-minute online survey
  • Donate to the Launchgood campaign for the first ever Muslim Fertility Project
  • Like the Facebook Page spread the word!

Healthy but Tasty: Entrepreneurship with a Higher Purpose

Healthy but Tasty

Fresh organic fruit; organic sugar; purpose; intention; and a lot of hard work – that is the recipe for Nadia Khan’s success story.  She is the founder and creator of Wawa-Wee, a brand of premium organic fruit syrups, which is part of Teajara Foods, a Social Purpose Corporation. A homeschooling mom of four children, Nadia had her hands full even before launching this business venture.  Two years in the making, the idea became a reality by way of divine intervention as several important parts of her life converged.   

Making the bland enjoyable

2015-10-31 21.36.49-1As with most mothers, Nadia does her best to nurture her kids with healthy, organic foods but still faced the challenge of making the bland enjoyable.

“I was looking for a way to make milk more palatable for my toddler, Hasan, whom I had just weaned from nursing. I loved strawberry milk as a child, but I didn’t want to give him [products that contained] high fructose corn syrup, artificial colors, flavors and preservatives that were available at the grocery store.”

More wawa-wee please

Finding the grocery store aisles unable to meet the ‘healthy but tasty’ criteria, it was off to the kitchen to experiment with her own unique syrup creations. Starting with some online research, the iterative process began with organic strawberries cooked and strained, then boiled with organic sugar resulting in a sweet, fruity syrup that her kids loved on everything from pancakes to ice cream and of course mixed in with milk. Baby Hasan was so enamored with the delicious pink milky drink that the repeated requests for his favorite flavor, strawberry, came out as an adorable sounding “more ‘wawa-wee’ please”. 

A higher purpose

Wawa-wee-Nadia-smallBuilding upon her first success, Nadia turned her kitchen into a food science lab and continued experimenting with her recipes, finally adding blueberry and peach syrup to her repertoire. What began as a household favorite also became a common request from extended family and friends. While churning out syrup orders for friends and family, she kept on with the daily grind but didn’t forget her ultimate goal and passion: pursuing philanthropic work to leave a legacy of sadaqah jariya (continuous reward). 

Not knowing the significant relationship that would form between them, Nadia began volunteering as a copy editor for a non-profit called GiveLight Foundation.  GiveLight was founded by Dian Alyan, who personally lost 40 relatives when the tsunami hit Aceh in 2005. Today, GiveLight supports over 800 orphans in ten different countries and is largely volunteer-driven with funds going directly to orphans most in need. 

“Dian, who is an energetic, inspiring leader, always encourages her volunteers to use their gifts and talents in creative ways to support GiveLight”.  Driven by Dian’s vision, Nadia began to seriously consider turning her homemade syrups into a business venture, which would in part help the GiveLight cause to care for orphans. 

Planting the seedling of entrepreneurship with a purpose, the idea took root as the company’s business model and blossomed into what is now Wawa-Wee. With every purchase made, one-third of the profits are donated to the GiveLight Foundation.  Some have questioned the generous portion being given away. Why not the standard 2 or 3 percent as with most Social Purpose corporations? The answer to that was inspired and guided by the Quranic story of the People of the Garden mentioned in Surah Qalam. 

Fighting greed and miserliness

“Their father was a pious person who gave a considerable portion of his garden’s harvest to the poor.  When his children inherited the garden after his death, they were miserly and decided the fruit would be harvested before the poor received their portion. Allah the Most High destroyed their garden as a punishment and upon realizing the grave error of their ways they repented and were forgiven. I am embarking on this journey with the intention of benefiting needy orphans.  [As the garden of my new venture grows], insha’Allah I pray I never get deluded away from that intention by greed or miserliness.”

Clean and Green

Creating a product that was shelf-ready was not as simple as sharing the recipe with a manufacturer to be produced, bottled, boxed and shipped to stores.  There was a steep learning curve involved with many steps and critical choices to make.  Being acutely aware that what someone eats affects their spirituality, including prayer and concentration in acts of worship and overall state of mind, Nadia was very choosy about the quality of ingredients and their sources. “Particularly, children’s bodies are so small that what they eat directly affects their development, spiritually and physically, and I wanted to offer to others what I would feed my own children.”


The guiding principle when making difficult decisions involved in converting the home recipe into a manufacturer’s formula was based in this ayah: “O you People! Eat of what is on earth, permissible (halal) and pure (tayyib), and do not follow the footsteps of Satan; Indeed for he is to you an open enemy (Quran 2:168)”.  In keeping with these ideals, Nadia wanted to create an organic, premium quality product which requires certain trade-offs – an obvious one being price for quality.

Tricky price points

Hershey’s, Nestles and other companies can sell their syrups at much lower price points because their primary ingredient is high fructose corn syrup, which is considerably cheaper and much more unhealthy than organic cane sugar. The source of natural colors and flavors, as opposed to artificial colors and flavors has to be derived from ‘nature’, which can be anything from a beaver’s gland to crushed beetles. While Nadia wanted the ingredients to be halal, organic and natural and without preservatives, she didn’t want to compromise on the tayyib (pure) aspect by using questionable food products.

“I refused to negotiate on the ‘cleanness’ of my ingredients. I wanted my syrup to be something Muslims, Kosher-keeping Jews, vegetarians and even vegans would be comfortable consuming.” While expending painstaking effort not to compromise the halal (permissible) or tayyib (pure) ideals – a licensed co-packer was hired; California Health Department permits obtained and most importantly received USDA Organic Certification.  Finally, Wawa-Wee was on its way to your refrigerators. 

It Takes a Village

From idea to shipment – Wawa-Wee is a family affair.  Support from friends has been invaluable and to their delight each family member has a special role.  Nadia’s husband, who is an attorney, deals with all the legal aspects of running a company and each child has a special role to help them to feel involved.  Mustafa (age 12) is the Chief Operating Officer (COO).  He makes sure all the shipping supplies are in stock and tracks a map with all the states that have placed orders. Daughters, Zayneb (age 10) and Fatima (age 8) are Chief Tasting Officers (CTO) – when developing recipes they had the final say in approving the end results. Hasan (age 3) applies ‘FRAGILE’ stickers to packages that need to be shipped and has the famed role of being responsible for the name of the company, Wawa-Wee, which of course, comes from his adorable ‘mispronunciation’ of the word strawberry. An unexpected benefit of having the children participate has been how much it has helped with their homeschooling education. They have learned about corporations, food laws, marketing, distribution and food science, which they would have otherwise never been exposed to.  

Spiritual Enrichment

‘Umar RA said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, ‘If you were to rely on Allah as He should be relied on, He would provide for you as He provides for the birds. They go out early in the morning hungry and return in the evening full.’”’ –Tirmidhi

Nadia has a clear sense of how this experience has benefited her spiritually.  Running a business as opposed to getting paid a salary by someone else is an opportunity to clearly see that all rizq (sustenance) is from Allah Most High. There is no predictable paycheck; instead, there are ups and downs in income and it’s sent to you when you need it the most.  ‘Running this business is teaching me to have more tawakkul (reliance on Allah). My son recently overheard me fretting about everything from the possibility of bottles breaking during shipment; to customers liking their syrups; to customers liking their syrups enough to become repeat customers. Finally, he stopped me, “Mama, why are you worrying about something you have no control over? You have to trust Allah. You’ve done what you could. Now leave the rest to Him.”’

Word to the Wise

I asked Nadia to share some advice for sisters and mothers who feel bogged down by the day-to-day but still want to do something meaningful. She started off with an idea that really resonated: live your life in chapters or continuing with the nature analogy, in seasons. Whatever season you are in — be it student, daughter, wife, mother, entrepreneur — be the best you can be with the intention of pleasing Allah Most High and His Messenger (peace be upon him). “Pray for opportunities to do good in whatever [season] you find yourself in and don’t look too far ahead or behind. Make the best of the moment you’re in right now. This is of course a reminder to myself as much as anyone else. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the mundane and lose sight of the significance behind our circumstances.”

Getting Wawa-Wee to Your Table

All of this together makes for a unique, Muslim, female-owned socially conscious business – one that we should all be excited to support. While interest has been shown from countries across the globe, Wawa-Wee Organic Syrups can be purchased online at www.Wawa-Wee.com and ships only within the United States. They can also be purchased in person at Balady Foods in Brooklyn, NY and at the RIS Convention in Toronto, Canada through the vendor Salam Shop.

 

By Reema Qadry

Reema Qadry, is a full-time mother, homeschooler and community activist. She lives in Seattle with her husband and two children age 5 and 1.5.  She is also the co-founder of Seattle Islamic Speaker Bureau and founding member of the GiveLight Foundation

A Guide to the Confused of Our Times, by Imam Zaid Shakir

imam_zaid_shakirimage181The seeming tsunami of negativity unleashed by the dastardly actions of terrorists, some claiming to act in the name of Islam, and the nefarious reactions of an assortment of bigots, racists and opportunistic politicians, have combined to create an environment that has demoralized many Muslims, terrified others, and left many confused and desperately searching for direction. This state has increased exponentially in the aftermath of the shootings in San Bernadino, California.

In light of this situation, we need to step back and remind ourselves of some fundamental Qur’anic teachings. First of all, we are told that this world is the abode of trials and tribulations (2:155; 2:214; 3:186; 21:35; 29:2-3; 67:2). This world is not our permanent home. We are passing through and we are tested along the way. If we endure the tests with unshakable faith, patience and dignity, we eventually return to our ancient, yet permanent, home –Paradise.

One of the verses referenced above asks, “Do you think that you will enter the Garden (Paradise) without there coming to you the like of that which befell those who passed away before you? Misfortune and hardship afflicted them, and they were so shaken that the Messenger [of that time] and those who believed with him cried, “When will God’s Help come ?!” Surely, God’s Help is near” (2:214). The times we are experiencing are not unprecedented in human affairs, nor are they novel for believers. There will be times when we will be shaken, however, despite the severity of the convulsion, we should never forget that God’s Help is near. With prayer and patience, we access that Help.

Oftentimes, when the Qur’an mentions the trials and tribulations we will encounter in the world, it mentions the importance of patience. As mentioned above, trials are to be borne with patience. In this case, patience has two aspects: one involves being undaunted by the verbal abuse, discrimination and other forms of mistreatment we might suffer from ignorant people; the other involves bearing the hardships that might come in persevering in doing the good things we do. Continue to be a good neighbor. Continue to be a good coworker. Continue to be the person you know you are, and do not allow the situation to lead you to doubt in yourself or to become someone who you aren’t.

In light of the ongoing anti-Muslim propaganda blitz, there will be those who might question you. “How can I trust you?” “How do I know you do not harbor ill-will towards me?” Try to understand the fearful place such comments may emanate from, but also understand that God knows who you are and He knows your innermost thoughts and motivations. If you are right with God you are right, and most people will appreciate your light. Live a life that radiates the truth you represent. Life a life defined by the love that you share and do not allow anyone to prevent you from living and loving as only you can. Be who you are, and, first and foremost, be with God.

Never despair of God’s justice. There is surely a lot that is wrong in the world, however, eventually, God will set things right; of that we can be sure. Quoting a 19th Century theologian, Theodore Parker, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would frequently say, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” The suffering of so many innocents all over the world will not continue forever. Wherever they are, one day, they will be delivered from their oppressors. Live for that day. Work for that day. Pray for that day, knowing that the end of the circle is its origin and we were created to live in peace. Do not allow anyone to lead you to believe otherwise.

King would also quote William Cullen Bryant, who said, “Truth crushed to earth will rise again.” Sometimes it feels like the truth of Islam –a religion that has brought people together like no other force, a religion that has played an integral role in the ongoing march of human civilization– has been crushed to earth. Distorted by its ostensible friends as well as its actual foes, that truth will rise when you stand up and give voice to it. That must not be with words of frustration, anger, hatred and victimization, but with words of encouragement, joy, love and forbearance.

End of Part One

This was first published on Imam Zaid Shakir’s blog New Islamic Directions.

 

Resources for Seekers:

Helping our children find the light in dark times, by Hina Khan-Mukhtar

“You should probably think about what you’re gonna say to kids when you go back to school on Monday,” I told my son Shaan this weekend.

He raised his eyebrows quizzically.

“About Paris … and Muslims.”

He suddenly looked irritated. “I’ve done the drill before. Every year of my high school life, I’ve had to deal with what to say and how to react. In freshman year, it was the attack on the US embassy in Benghazi. The next year, it was the Boston marathon bombing. Last year, it was Charlie Hebdo. Now I’m a senior and its 127 dead in Paris. I’m a pro at this now.”

He walked away, a signal that he didn’t want me to continue with further advice or suggestions. But before I could say anything more, he turned back to me and I saw the anger on his face replaced instead with sorrow. “Isn’t that sad, Mama? Isn’t it sad that I’ve become a pro?”

I was surprised by the tears that suddenly sprang to my eyes. “I’m sorry,” I mumbled. “I’m sorry that this is your reality.”

“You know what’s really frustrating?” he asked. “Last week we had the highest number of students ever show up to our Muslim Students Association meeting. I bet you the numbers are gonna drop now.”

“Why would they drop?” I asked. “I would think that in these types of dark times, kids would find it helpful to seek solace and comfort within a larger group. Wouldn’t they want to come to the MSA where they could maybe find guidance and support from one another?”

He shook his head. “It’s easier just to stay away, to not be known as a Muslim anymore.”

I was still mulling over his words when my youngest son piped up. “How can these terrorists be Muslim? They attacked on a Friday which is supposed to be like a mini-Eid for us; it’s a holy day. And ISIS people carry a flag that has the seal of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) on it. Those aren’t bad things; those are good things! How can they turn everything that’s beautiful into something that’s so ugly? They just can’t be Muslim!”

A member loyal to the ISIL waves an ISIL flag in Raqqa“It doesn’t matter if they’re actually Muslim or not,” I heard myself telling my sons for the umpteenth time. “What matters is what people’s perception of them is. That’s our reality. If the majority of the world says and thinks Muslims are doing these horrific acts, then that’s the reality we have to deal with. That’s what we have to address.”

I felt gratified to know that my boys have a hard time believing that Muslims would be the ones who would be barbaric enough to commit the heinous crimes of Friday the 13th. Whereas someone else may accuse them of just being in denial, I actually realize how so far removed from evil they are that they aren’t even able to recognize it within anyone who claims to be a co-practitioner of their faith. They simply can’t relate.

I gathered them close to me. And, as I did so, I found myself wishing once again that I could create a special protective bubble within which to encase my family. I’ve always wanted only to get through life with them in safety — not only safety of body and limb but safety of heart and soul. I want them all to be safe in their deen (religion) and to never waver in their faith, insha-Allah (God willing). It feels like we Muslims are under attack from every side these days. Please know that not for one moment do I compare myself to the refugees fleeing war-stricken lands; my loved ones and I are not tested in the least when it comes to what the Syrians and the Palestinians and the Afghans and the Iraqis and the Rohingyans and the Kenyans are suffering these days. Yet I still worry what effect today’s state of affairs will have on the hearts and minds of my charges.

So my response has been to hunker down. To create an oasis in the middle of the desert. To lead them to the center of the vortex and let the storm rage around us. The way I try to do this is by minimizing our exposure to news media and teaching them about the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) instead. I show them examples of his magnanimity and his kindness and his generosity on a daily basis, and then I remind them to emulate him. My husband and I try to maintain a peaceful, loving, welcoming atmosphere in our home where prayers are prayed in congregation and the Holy Quran is recited on a regular basis and friends enter open doors to share food and funny stories and words of wisdom. We attend dhikr (remembrance of God) gatherings where the lyrical chants of God’s name wash over us while we close our eyes and calm our spirits. We talk about Islamic history and point out examples of tests and tribulations greater than the ones in our time and then we teach them about the even greater responses of dignity and grace. We pool our resources — and encourage our friends and relatives to do the same — and then share blankets, warm clothes, and funds for food with refugees and orphans from around the world, some who are now living locally. As a family, we pray for peace and healing for all of mankind.

“This world is not meant for us to wrap our arms around,” I tell them. “It is fleeting and we are here only for a little while. Our only duties in our lifetimes are to worship our Lord and to serve our fellow mankind. We serve by spreading peace and light and knowledge; we serve by leaving the world a better place than we found it, even if it only means that we’re picking up the litter we happen to find in the street or we’re giving a smile to someone who looks sad and lonely.”

No matter what the headlines and the political pundits may be screaming, my top priority in my childrearing is to prove to my kids that “Islam works”. If they can grow up seeing that Islam worked in their homes, then the deviant aberrations they hear about in the world will be recognized by them for what they are — complete impostors perverting the pure message of a religion that provides so much peace and guidance and benefit to its followers. And the next time an ignorant person tells them, “You Muslims are terrorists!”, they can honestly respond with, “Come meet my family and find out the truth.”

 

The author, Hina Khan-Mukhtar, is a mother of three boys and one of the founders of the homeschooling co-operative known as ILM Tree in Lafayette, California, which now serves over 30 homeschooling families in the East Bay. In addition to teaching Language Arts to elementary, middle school, and high school students, she has written articles on parenting and spiritual traditions for children and is involved in interfaith dialogue.

Republished with special thanks to The Muslim Observer.

 

Resources for Seekers:

“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

SeekersHub’s Reading List for Kids

As summer winds to a close, school is once again on the horizon. Parents can make the most of these last weeks of time at home by exposing their children to beautiful, inspiring literature that they may not come across in the classroom.

The problem with many children’s books today, however, is that they are often made to entertain rather than educate and may promote values that are at odds with Islamic morals. To address this issue, the language arts teachers at ILM Tree Homeschool Cooperative in Lafayette, California, have offered us a reading list of classical and contemporary children’s books that both delight and enlighten. Their message and book recommendations are below:

After years of reading children’s literature, the teachers at ILM Tree have assembled this list of recommended reading by grade, up to the end of junior high. Books were chosen primarily based on the values taught and the quality of the writing, but an effort was also made to ensure the ethnic diversity of the characters. Please note that, although these are books we love, we cannot expect a complete reflection of our worldview in books written by people of other faiths, so discussion is always recommended. Please make du’a for the children of the ummah struggling to hold onto their deen and for the compilers of this list. Jazak Allau khairan.

Chair for my Mother Vera Williams

Age 0 – Kindergarten:

1. The Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown: Available as a picture book or a board book, the simple but poetic prose helps children connect to nature while lulling them to sleep.
2. The Hundredth Name by Shulamith Levey Oppenheim: This beautifully illustrated tale features a boy who turns to Allah in prayer out of care and concern for his camel.
3. Uncle Jed’s Barbershop by Margaree King Mitchell: A touching story that teaches about perseverance, patience and putting others before oneself.
4. A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams: A heartwarming story that teaches about a community coming together to help a neighbor in need; the protagonist is a little girl who looks out for her mother’s comfort.
5. Erandi’s Braids by Tomie dePaola: A valuable lesson about sacrifice and putting one’s own needs aside in order to help one’s mother.

 

A-Days-Work-Bunting-Eve

First Grade – Third Grade:

1. A Day’s Work by Eve Bunting: A heartwarming story about the importance of telling the truth and the value of honest labor.
2. Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik: Sweet stories about family life; the protagonist has exquisite adab (manners) when addressing his parents.
3. A Bargain for Frances by Russell Hoban: Teaches about fair play and not letting oneself be taken advantage of.
4. Sara Crewe by Frances Hodgson Burnett: In this book, readers will meet one of the most admirable characters in literature, who teaches us by example that one’s circumstances aren’t what make you a noble person; it’s how you respond to adversities in life that show us what you’re really made of.
5. The Stray by Dick King-Smith: A rare find: a story full of love and compassion for our elders.
6. The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich: Readers develop an understanding of Native American ways and compassion for the main character, a young girl who loses her little brother to smallpox.

 

When Wings Expand

Fourth Grade – Sixth Grade:

1. A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park: A tale of patience, perseverance and selflessness set in 12th-century Korea.
2. When Wings Expand by Mehded Maryam Sinclair: A beautiful example of how a pious Muslim family copes with the loss of a loved one.
3. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder: There’s so much to learn in this classic tale of a pioneer family’s hard work, courage and compassion – but make sure also to explain that Native Americans would have a very different understanding of this history.
4. Serafina’s Promise by Ann E. Burg: Simple poetic verse conveys the story of a young Haitian girl who, in the face of poverty and disaster, loves her family, learns from her mistakes and holds high aspirations to serve her community.
5. Heart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry: It is refreshing to see a young man shoulder the responsibility of running a ranch with a developing sense of taqwa (God-consciousness); an interesting discussion about perspective can be held because the family is both Catholic and Quaker, and the father is an American soldier serving in Iraq (for an older classic with a similar storyline, try Little Britches by Ralph Moody).

 

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor

Seventh Grade – Eighth Grade:

1. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham: Readers learn about the American Revolution as they follow this true story of a young man whose life is an amazing example of perseverance and compassion.
2. Silver People by Margarita Engle: Evocative and emotional verse captures the voices and experiences of those affected by the building of the Panama Canal, including the segregated labor force, their overseers, the indigenous population, and even the plants and animals.
3. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor: Some great lessons about what effect your friendships have on your outcome in life; this Newbery Medal winner’s story is set in the South during the Great Depression and is told from the point-of-view of a nine-year-old African-American girl who is learning about racism for the first time in her life.
4. Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix: A heroic tale of friendship and courage which teaches about the history of immigration, labor practices, and the suffragette movement in the United States.
5. Zeitoun by David Eggers: An eye-opening true account of a Muslim man who, after New Orleans’ Hurricane Katrina, tried to save others’ lives and property until he was picked up by the police.
6. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott: Valuable lessons about polite manners, generosity towards others and respect towards elders. The second half of this book has some of the most beneficial marital advice a young woman could ever hope to read.

 

With editorial support from SeekersHub blogger, Nour Merza

How The Prophet And The Companions Raised The Best Of Children

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani provides an excellent summary of how the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) raised their own children and the children around them, beginning first with how the blessed community of the time was set up to support the sound upbringing of the youth. In an ever-challenging world, when the gap between parents and their offspring appear wider than ever before, this reminder couldn’t have come soon enough.

Shaykh Faraz was speaking in Johannesburg during the Spread Light tour of South Africa. Your financial support is crucial to our #SpreadLight campaign, which seeks to provide truly excellent Islamic learning to at least 1,000,000 seekers of knowledge in the coming year. This will serve as an ongoing charity (sadaqa jariyah) so please donate today.