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A Nursing Mother’s Ramadan Reflections, by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil thought she knew what a challenging fasting day was…until she became a mother and began nursing her baby.

I thought that my hardest Ramadans were the ones I spent in Jordan, as a young student of knowledge. The days were incredibly long, and the blistering summer heat was like nothing I’d ever felt before. I missed the comfort of my mother’s cooking, and the familiar faces of my family and friends. In place of the loved ones I left behind, Allah blessed me with the warm company of new friends. May Allah reward the families who opened their homes to me, especially during Ramadan.
Almost a decade later, I find myself faced with an entirely different set of circumstances. I am married, living in Malaysia and nursing my baby daughter. She is almost one, and I am so grateful that she enjoys eating solids. Fiqh rulings about fasting while breastfeeding have taken a whole new meaning for me. Once, I would have thought it impossible. Nursing mothers like myself often experience a hunger that accompanies nursing a baby. Despite that, I’m realising how much Allah sustains my baby daughter and me, from heartbeat to heartbeat. Is it easy to fast while nursing a baby? Absolutely not. It’s humbling, it’s exhausting, it’s possible, and for now at least, I’ll keep going.

Tips for nursing mums:

1)   Drink plenty of water after iftar, alongside chia seeds soaked overnight.
2)   Have a solid suhoor (pre-dawn meal) and ask Allah to sustain you.
3)   Nap during the day when your baby naps!
4)   Express milk after suhoor or iftar, or both, if you need to.
5)   If you start getting unwell or your milk supply drops enough to impact on your baby’s nourishment, then know that it’s OK to stop fasting. Pay it back later, and look at the rules of fidyah for your school of thought. Some women can fast while nursing, while others can’t. Allah knows.

Extra Worship Is Another Matter

This Ramadan, I haven’t been able to step into a masjid, because my baby daughter doesn’t sleep through the night. Some nights, she can stay asleep for long stretches, and other nights, she wakes up continuously. I’ve made my peace with that. Instead of the luxury of hours of tarawih like in days gone by, I have precious moments of solitude as my daughter sleeps, or plays with her father and grandmother. These are the moments where I close my eyes and remember the power of intention. Every day looking after my baby is a day spent in love and service, for the sake of Allah Most High. Keeping connected to that intention is challenging, even on the best of days. What’s helped me stay present with that intention is listening to the SeekersHub Ramadan Podcasts in between putting her to sleep, feeding her, and playing with her. Mercy, forgiveness, and salvation – we are all in need.
May Allah help us make the most of the days we have left, help us be of service to others, and help us be pleased with His Decree.

Resources for seekers

Balancing Family and Seeking Knowledge – Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil, a student of knowledge, teacher and mother, offers valuable advice to women who wish to pursue studies in sacred knowledge.

I am a mother of two children under 3 and a half years, and everyday is a juggling bonanza of love and service.

There are my physical acts of service for my daughters; bathing them, cooking, feeding them, tidying up, helping use the potty, driving them to swimming class, preschool, playdates and parks.

There are my emotional acts of service; playing with them, helping them feel safe and unconditionally loved, accepting their big feelings, helping them with conflict resolution, and setting empathetic limits.

There are my mental acts of service; reading to them, teaching them phonics, teaching them numbers, and describing different patterns in the world.

Most importantly, there are my spiritual acts of service; connecting their hearts with Allah and His Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, through telling them stories, bringing them to gatherings of Divine remembrance, and being their spiritual role model, even – or especially – when I make mistakes, apologise and make amends.

Balancing Family Duties

On good nights, both of my daughters sleep well – or as well as they can, given their tender ages. On bad nights, at least one or both of them wake every 1-2 hours, in varying states of distress. Allah has gifted me with two living tahajjud alarms, alhamdulilah.

In the precious pockets of free time that I have between all of this, I revise my Arabic, my Shafi’i fiqh, write, and counsel. I do so little now, compared to my days as a full-time student of knowledge, years ago. I do so little, and yet, I strive to do so daily, and this hadith comforts me:

Narrated by Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, who said:

“Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said, ‘Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately and know that your deeds will not make you enter Paradise, and that the most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant even if it were little.’”[Bukhari]

Despite my scarcity of free time – and perhaps, because of it – every day with my daughters helps me refine my character in ways nothing else can. My capacity for patience, gratitude, forgiveness, contentment and wonder has been pushed to new heights. They can either break me, or make me grow. Truthfully, it has been a potent combination of both. My love and commitment to raising them peacefully has taught me to undo old and painful triggers. I am calmer because of them.

While I raise my daughters, through the long days and the nights, I make dua for their safety, guidance and well-being. The world we live in today is unkind to women. Women and women’s work are undervalued. The sacred covenant of marriage is no longer a refuge for too many women around the world. Toxic masculinity has harmed so many levels of the ummah. Hurt people hurt people, and there is so much pain in our world.

Why We Need Female Scholars

Because of the troubled times we are in, more than ever, we need to hear the voices of women in Islamic scholarship. We need more women trained in traditional Islamic sciences. We need more women whose hearts are alight with love for Allah and His Messenger, Allah bless him and give him peace, so wherever they are, in whatever role they find themselves in, they will be means of God-centred connection, compassion, and guidance. We can speak of Allah and His Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) ourselves, and follow in the luminous footsteps of our blessed foremothers. We have a rich history of female scholarship, and it is up to us to learn more about our heritage, and teach our sons and daughters.

If you are a young female student of knowledge, my advice to you is this: make the use of your free time. Devote yourself to your study of sacred knowledge, and study as much as you can, as deeply as you can. Know that when you get married and have children, everything will change. In the early years of motherhood, your needs will come last, and this will chafe your nafs, but it will be good for your soul. You will grow alongside your children. Everything you have studied will manifest in how you are with your household. You cannot speak of patience and forgiveness if you do not embody it, and you will get better at it, one mistake at a time. Choose love and forgiveness, especially when it is difficult. And one unimaginable day, your children will peel away from you, and you will suddenly have long, luxurious, uninterrupted hours to yourself, to study and to teach. And yet, your heart will be bruised from longing for your children. This is the nature of the dunya – it is always imperfect. There is always something missing. This is not our final home.

For Ladies Without Families

And if, dear sister, Allah does not write marriage or children for you, know that you are still beloved to Him. Being on the path of sacred knowledge and teaching it will become your mother’s milk, and your path of nourishing those around you, just as it was for our Mother ‘Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her. There will always be a need for you, and your time can be spent mentoring families who need your wisdom and connection to Allah. It will never be same as having a husband or a children of your own, so trust that Allah will recompense you for your sacrifice and patience.

May Allah grant tawfiq to all of those on the path of study, and teaching. May He facilitate the days and nights of all mothers, especially those who are juggling their studies and teaching of the deen. May He help manifest the fruits of our sacrifice through the gift of children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren who love Allah and His Prophet and may we all be reunited in Jannahtul Firdous.


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.


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

Celebrating The Arrival of Puberty With Your Daughter

Writer, women’s aid worker and mother of three, Jazmin Begum Kennedy has little patience for the sense of shame often attached to a girl experiencing puberty and menstruation. 
Puberty – yes, the dreaded P word – is such a daunting phase for parents, but it really shouldn’t be. Physical changes in the body, hair growth, body odour, and of course, the imminent first period, should be something to be celebrated, not an embarrassment. For girls, developing breasts and having their first period are major turning points in their lives; this is their transition from girl to womanhood, so why should there be shame attached to it?

Culture of Shame

In many cultures, society deems puberty for women as embarrassing, unclean and something no one should speak openly about. The physical changes in pubescent bodies can be traumatic and confusing for any girl, without having to face this stigma. Allowing our young girls to believe they should feel shame only adds to the stress and anxiety, possibly even leading them to despise their own bodies.
As grown women, we all know that menstruation isn’t exactly a walk in the park and so young, impressionable girls grow up dreading this life-changing event. It’s a crucial time and parents need to be actively involved in offering assistance and empathy.
balancing family

A Long List of Don’ts

In the South Asian culture I come from, we’re taught not to leave sanitary products in the family bathroom for fear of discovery by the menfolk – menstruation is a closely guarded secret of which the men must remain completely oblivious. A recent discussion on the Muslim Mamas page I help administer, revealed that many women were woken by their mothers for the pre-dawn meal during Ramadan (suhoor) while menstruating, even though they were religiously excused from fasting. If they didn’t join in, their father and brothers would know they had their period and this was an unthinkable option. Many lied about fasting and even pretended to offer the five daily prayers just to keep up the pretense.
It sounds ridiculous but it’s common in many cultures, not just mine. Menstruation is a fact of life. Every woman on this planet experiences it from puberty onwards so why all the secrecy?

The Example of The Prophet ﷺ

I read this remarkable story recently about Umayyah bint Qays (may Allah be pleased with her) a pre-pubescent girl who joined the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and his army on their way to Khaybar.

“Then we set out with him. I was a young girl. He made me sit on his she-camel behind the luggage. I saw the bag had got traces of blood from me. It was the first time I had a period. Then I sat forward on the camel [to hide it] and I was embarrassed. When the Messenger of God saw what happened to me and the traces of blood, he said, “Perhaps you have had menstrual bleeding?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “Attend to yourself. Then, take a container of water, then put salt in it, then wash the affected part of the bag, then come back.” I did so. When God conquered Khaybar for us, the Prophet took this necklace that you see on my neck and gave it to me and put it on my neck with his own hand. By God it will never be parted from me.” She wore the necklace her entire life and stipulated that she should be buried with it.

SubhanAllah, this young girl started her first period, on a camel, away from her womenfolk, surrounded by men including the greatest man that ever walked the earth. When the Prophet ﷺ saw the blood, he didn’t embarrass her nor shout, “Astaghfirullah! Haraam! You should be at home, with your mother!” Instead of ordering her to leave, as she was now mature, he taught her about purification at that moment in time. He didn’t scold her or accuse her of being a fitnah, nor tell her to cover up more; instead, he made this embarrassed young girl feel honoured and special by giving her a gift. How many men – or even women, do we know, who would react that way?
In contrast, we are mortified if the tiniest drop of blood leaks onto our clothing. We are often mocked, our self-esteem takes a hit and we become painfully self-conscious. In some cultures, menstruating women are even told they should keep out of sight.

Mass Re-Education is Required

I firmly believe that we need to educate people on the blessings of menstruation. During Ramadan, menstruating women are not handicapped in their attainment of rewards. The angels continuously write down their good deeds so long as the women are performing these in order to please Allah. It is the one time Allah has exempted us from obligatory prayers – this “break” is an ideal time to reflect and recuperate.
We can’t remove the stigma associated with menstruation overnight as it is the result of deeply ingrained attitudes in both men and women, but as parents, particularly mothers, change can begin in our own homes. Mothers are the first friends and teachers. It’s our role to guide our children – don’t leave this important task with the teachers at school.
We need to mentally prepare our girls, reassuring them that the changes are natural, and support them every step of the way. Instead of an awkward, uncomfortable time, we should make it a happy transition to womanhood. Yes, menstruation can be difficult for some but none of it is unsurmountable.

Be Prepared

Here are my suggestions as to how, as mothers, we can make the transition as smooth as possible.
1. Communicate: Talk to your daughter. You went through this yourself so you shouldn’t be embarrassed to openly discuss bodily changes. In this confusing and emotional time, she needs your experience, wisdom and gentle support. Her hormones will cause havoc with her emotions and it can all be overwhelming, so be there for her and explain it all in an easy-to-follow manner.
2. Pubic Hair: Show your daughter how to remove pubic hair and teach her how often, Islamically, she is required to remove it. Try several methods of hair removal to find the one that ismost comfortable for her. Discuss personal hygiene. Turn the issue of sweat and body odour associated with puberty into fun mother and daughter time as she tries out different products with you.
3. First Bra: Take your daughter for her first bra fitting. On the Muslim Mamas page, many mums said they found shopping for such personal items embarrassing. Many recalled their own experience of puberty as just being given vests and bras to wear with no explanation and so, they planned to do the same with their own daughters. Let’s break the pattern. Remember, Imam Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) said, ‘Do not raise your children the way your parents raised you; they were born for a different time’.

4. Menstruation: Discuss all the dos and don’ts of menstruation. The average age for puberty used to be 11 or 12 but girls are experiencing it as early as 8 or 9 these days. Ensure you prepare her well in advance so it’s not unexpected and frightening for her. Puberty at this age is more difficult as children rarely think about personal hygiene, let alone the added responsibility of changing sanitary towels, keeping themselves clean and properly disposing of the pads. Lighten the load by instructing them carefully. Buy a separate bin for them and create a space for all their cleaning products.
5. Inform The Men. You don’t need to announce it to the world; we must still practice haya but fathers and brothers need to be aware of the changes in their daughter or sister. If she isn’t praying or fasting due to menstruation, then tell them rather than hide it. It’s much easier to inform them in advance than to have them ask about it. If you explain menstruation to a brother, then he’s far more likely to show his sister and other girls respect and not ask insensitive questions. It’s imperative that boys learn never to mock as doing so causes anxiety and self-consciousness.
6. Learn: Enroll into a Fiqh of Menstruation course. If your daughter is old enough, have her join you. Use this opportunity to bond with her and be sure to end it with dessert. Your daughter will always remember the sweetness of the day. Buy a comprehensive book on this subject. I would recommend Ustadha Hedaya Hartford’s Coming of Age, a book aimed at teenage girls. There’s also Imam Birgivi’s Manual Interpreted: Complete Fiqh of Menstruation & Related Issues. This book is the explanative translation of a major Islamic legal work on menstruation, lochia, and related issues. It provides accurate information and practical arrangement of charts and texts making it an important reference for every Muslim family.
7. Be Prepared: After having the ‘talk’ with your daughter, prepare a beautiful hamper containing things she will need for the coming of age phase. Here’s the First Blush of Womanhood hamper I created for my daughter.

It contains,

  • A Muslim Girl’s Guide to Life’s Big Changes
  • Dua book
  • First bra, crop vests, and tight, full briefs for when she’s menstruating
  • Girly nighties and pretty pyjamas
  • Pretty nightgown and slippers
  • Sanitary towels, both disposable and reusable pads. With the disposable pads, I recommend the cheaper brands as they don’t contain harsh chemicals.
  • Heart shaped hot water bottle to ease cramps
  • Chocolate for comfort
  • Himalayan salt and organic deodorants, body sprays, body wash set, intimate wash, and lots of organic facial cleaning products. Buy as many natural products as possible to avoid the harsh chemicals. I use Sunnah Skincare as their products are organic and reasonably priced.
  • Pretty flannel to match bath towels
  • Bath gloves
  • Pretty nail clipper set
  • Scented drawer liners
  • Sensitive hair removal cream, first shaving kit or hair trimmer

Make this hamper an exciting gift, and use it as an opportunity to show your willingness as a parent to involve yourself actively in this special phase of her life.

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.

Mother and daughter by the lake, by Chris Wood.

 

Resources on puberty, parenting and related issues

“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

Photo credit: Jasmin Merdan

Photo credit: Jasmin Merdan

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

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The Close Proximity of Single Mothers to the Prophet ﷺ in the Hereafter

Article by the faqir Abu Turab
Bismillah.
As-salamu alaikum,
Single motherhood is now the new norm. In America today, 1 in 3 families are being raised without a father. Nearly half of these families are below the poverty line. They are the largest group of uninsured in America (Single Mother Guide) As divorce within the Muslim community rises to match the broader society, there needs to be a paradigm shift in how single mothers are viewed in our communities.
Currently, there is an unfortunate negative stigma associated with divorced or widowed women in the Muslim community which oftentimes leads to them being shunned, looked down upon, or preyed upon. However, as a deen, Islam is a religion for all people – including divorcees. It should be noted that two of the daughters of the Prophet (sallahu alayhi wa sallam) were divorced and another had her marriage annulled. Even more remarkable was that they later remarried, something which has yet to become a norm in our communities today.

Given the extremely vulnerable position single mothers can be in today due to this negative stigma, it is important to remind ourselves of the honor and nobility that Islam provides women. One special honor is singled out for the Grey Cheeked Ones who will be among the first group of people to accompany the Prophet (sallahu alayhi wa sallam) into Jannah.
Who are the Grey Cheeked One? Single mothers.
The following commentary is taken from our teacher Shaykh Umer’s weekly reading of “Our Master Muhammad.” The work, authored by the prolific Syrian scholar Imam Sirajudeen al-Husayni (rahimahullah) describes the Shama’il of the Prophet (sallahu alayhi wa sallam) with a specific focus on his inward qualities of mercy, gentleness, and concern for all of the creation of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala). Given that this is the month of Rabi’ ul Awwal, now might be a good time to open this book and strive to bring the vastness of the Prophetic character into our hearts and homes.
May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) shower His mercy and blessings upon our Noble Messenger (sallahu alayhi wa sallam), our teachers and elders. May He (subhana wa ta’ala) raise men of futuwwa (chivalry) from amongst us, assist the single mothers and lighten their loads, and provide for the orphans. Above all else, may He (subhana wa ta’ala) raise all of us with the Prophet (sallahu alayhi wa sallam) in this life and the next. Ameen.
wassalam
– The faqir Abu Turab –
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1. Imam Sirajudeen al-Husayni writes:
“The Prophet (sallahu alayhi wa sallam) also described the virtue of the woman who, upon the death of her husband, devotes herself to raising her children, and does not marry: Abu Dawood narrated in his Sunan collection, on the authority of ‘Awf b. Malik al-Asja’i (radhi allahu anhu), that the Messenger of Allah (sallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: ‘I and the grey-cheeked woman (see footnote 1) will be like this – and he indicated his index and middle fingers – ‘on the day of judgment: the woman of high standing and beauty who loses her husband, and devotes herself to raising her children until they either reach adulthood, or die.’

1. Imam Mundhiri: ‘This means the woman whose colour has darkened because of long widowhood, because she has devoted herself to her children, and not remarried, so has no need to make herself up for her husband.’ (Al-Targhib)
(p 240 of “Our Master Muhammad (sallahu alayhi wa sallam)” by Imam Sirajudeen al-Husayni, Volume I)
Commenting on this passage, Shaykh Umer said: “Mulla Ali al-Qari explained that the losing of the husband can be through divorce or death and as such, this hadeeth covers all single mothers not just widows”
Shaykh Umer also shared two additional hadeeth:

2. On the Authority of Abu Hurayrah (radhi allahu anhu),the Messenger of Allah (sallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:
“I will be the first person to attempt to open the gate of Jannah. All of a sudden, a woman will appear, attempting to open it before me. I will say: Who are you? She will reply: I am a woman who focused on raising my orphan children (i.e. children who lost their father).” (Recorded by Imams Al-Bazzar and Abu Ya’la)
The scholars of hadeeth explain that “attempting to open it before me” means the woman will enter Jannah together with the Prophet (sallahu alayhi w sallam) or immediately after him.
Al-Hafidh Al-Iraqi one of the greatest scholars of hadeeth of all time said about this hadeeth: Perhaps the wisdom in granting the one who takes care of orphans closeness to the Messenger of Allah (sallahu alayhi wa sallam) in Jannah and/or granting him/her the honor of entering Jannah with him (sallahu alayhi wa sallam) is as follows: A prophet’s position is to be sent to a nation that is ignorant of their deen, and the prophet takes care of them, teaches them, and guides them. The orphan is a person who is also ignorant of their deen and even their dunya (due to not having parents who educate him/her). So the person who takes care of the orphan, guides him/her, and teaches him/her has taken a position similar to the prophets and hence deserves a similar reward.
3. In the hadeeth recorded by Imam Muslim and others and narrated by Sahl bin Sa’d (radhi allahu anhu), the Messenger of Allah (sallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:
“I and the one who takes care of the orphan will be together in Jannah like this (and the Messenger of Allah (SallAllahu alaihi wa sallam) indicated with middle finger and index finger).”