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My Teenage Son Is Not a Good Muslim

Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad

Question: Assalamu alaykum

My teenage son is not practicing Islam as his parents are. He doesn’t pray, he avoids wudu, he is into music too much. He listens to us for a few days then goes back to his attitude. He snaps at us, gets angry, and avoids the family. My husband nearly hit him recently because he disrespected me and his sister. We are sorrowful that we don’t have Allah’s blessings in our home. I supplicate to Allah five times a day for him. I read Qur’anic translations to him but he is not interested. How do we bring him back to Islam?

Answer: Assalamu alaykum sister,

Thank you for your question. I empathize with your challenge to make your son understand the importance of praying and being with the family. This world has a way to rope teenagers in, with peer pressure and the desire to try new things and be different.

The absolute best possible advice I can give you is to read this article by Hina Khan-Mukhtar: Parenting: Planting the seeds of prayer in our young ones

It is never too late for a person to change, but keep in mind that children who rebel in their teenage years may need time. They might find their guidance before they are twenty, or perhaps much later.

Your job as a parent is to connect with them emotionally and start bonding with them. After this bond is established, your understanding and respect for each other will increase. You need that respect and love as a stepping stone to start speaking to your son about his religion. This love and respect will also enable him to want to spend time with the family.

Another thing that you should always do is to befriend good religious influential people. Keep them around you and your home. Pray together as a family and avoid the haram in your home as much as possible. Pray on time, cover correctly, pay zakat, don’t ingest anything unlawful and safeguard yourself from backbiting or usury. Take a free course on Seekers to learn your personally obligatory knowledge. These things will ensure that you have barakah in your home no matter what your son is doing.

Never give up on your du`as. Allah hears all that you ask and He will decide what to give you and when. Be patient until then and be kind to him. Also be grateful that he is not involved in much worse things, like drugs or sex.

Please see the links below for more information. May Allah reward you.

How to Counsel a Teenager with Religious Shortcomings?
I Struggle with My Prayers and Am so Worried About My Family Members Who Do Not Pray. What Do I Do?
My Teenager Is Disrespectful and Has No Empathy. What Do I Do?

Wassalam,
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad

Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria for two years where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafseer and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she completed her Masters in Arabic. Afterwards, she moved to Amman, Jordan where she studied fiqh, Arabic and other sciences. She recently moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.

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

10 Ways of Benefit for Menstruating Women in Ramadan

Dread your period during the blessed month of Ramadan? Feel like you’re missing out on all the worship you could otherwise do? As Nour Merza writes, there is much to look forward to.

Every Ramadan, most women will have about a week in which they are unable to join in the major religious practices of the holy month: fasting and praying. Many women, when their menstrual period begins, find that their level of engagement with the high spiritual atmosphere of the month drops. The same goes for those whose postnatal bleeding coincides with Ramadan. For many of these women, frustration and a sense of lacking spirituality sets in.

This, however, shouldn’t be the case.

Menstruation, postnatal bleeding, and other uniquely feminine concerns are all part of Allah’s creation, which He created in perfect wisdom. They are not a punishment for women wanting to draw near their Lord. They are just part of the special package of blessings, opportunities and challenges that God has given uniquely to women. To refrain from ritual prayer (the salaat) and ritual fasting (the sawm) during this time is actually considered a form of worship, and, if done with the intention of obeying God, it earns women good deeds.

In order to take full advantage of the blessed month of Ramadan, however, menstruating women and those with postnatal bleeding can do more than refraining from ritual prayer and ritual fasting to draw near God. Below are ten ways that women unable to fast can boost their spirituality during this special month.

menstruating women in Ramadan

1. Increase dhikr

In the Hanafi school, it is recommended for menstruating women to make wudu, wear their prayer clothes, and sit on their prayer mat while doing dhikr during the time they would normally be praying. This would be especially good to do in Ramadan, a time of special focus on worship. In addition to the adhkar that are well-known sunnas – such subhanAllah, alhamdullillah and Allahu akbar – if you have a litany from a shaykh and are allowed to repeat it more than once a day, try to do it twice or three times for increased blessings. Dhikr has a special way of touching the heart, and by invoking God’s names whenever you can during this unique month you create the space, inshaAllah, for beautiful spiritual openings. See: The Effects of Various Dhikr – Habib Ahmad Mashhur al-Haddad

2. Increase du’aa

Du’aa is something we do very little of these days, but speaking directly to your Lord is one of the most intimate ways to connect with Him. The beauty of du’aa is that you can make it in any place or time. Take this opportunity to ask your Lord for all that you need in your life, and to draw near Him through either repeating the beautiful du’aas of the Prophet or reaching out to God with your own unique words. See: Ten Powerful Du’as That Will Change Your Life

3. Feed others

Whether it be your family, neighbors, community members or the poor, use the time you are not fasting to make meals that fill the stomachs and souls of those around you. Recite the salawat on the Prophet (pbuh) while making the food, as this imbues the food with spiritual benefit as well. Consider sponsoring iftar at your local mosque one evening with some other women who are in your situation, or volunteering at a local soup kitchen.  See also: “Manifesting Mercy: Feeding Your Way to God” – Nader Khan at Brampton Islamic Centre.

4. Gain Islamic knowledge

Use the extra time and energy you have from not fasting and praying to increase your knowledge of the faith. Listen to scholars discussing timely issues on our SeekersHub podcasts, form a small circle of non-fasting women who can commit to reading a book on Islam and discuss it together, or take some time to read articles on the religion from trusted online sources, such as Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s blog or Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad’s article collection at masud.co.uk. See also: Importance of Intention in Seeking Knowledge.

5. Increase your charity

We are surrounded by countless blessings, so make sure to spread those blessings in the month of Ramadan. Give money to a good cause, such as supporting Syrian refugees, helping a local poor family with school fees, or supporting students of Islamic knowledge through programs like SeekersHub’s #SpreadLight campaign. In a very busy world, we may have little opportunity to give our time to help others in charity – giving money takes minimal time, but brings great benefit. See: Eligible Zakat Recipients, Giving Locally vs. Abroad, Charity to a Mosque, and Proper Handling of Donations.

6. Make your responsibilities a form of worship

Sometimes, women are overwhelmed by the responsibilities of the home and young children, and cannot make time to do things like study or sponsor an iftar. In these circumstances, renew your intention regarding your role as a mother and a wife. See these demanding and time-consuming roles for what they are: responsibilities that you are fulfilling to please God, which makes them a type of worship. Ask God to accept all your work as worship, and approach all that you do in this way. This will make even the most mundane of tasks, such as changing another diaper, cleaning up  another spilled cup of apple juice, or making yet another dinner a way for you to gain the pleasure of your Lord. See: Balancing Worship and Caring for a New Child.

7. Listen to the Quran

menstruating women in Ramadan

Although the Hanafi schools holds that women cannot cannot touch the mushaf or recite Quran while experiencing menses or postpartum bleeding, they are able to listen to the recitation of the Quran. Doing so offers much benefit in a month that has such heavy emphasis on reciting the book. You can take special time out of your day to listen to it, such as while children are napping, or you can listen to it while in the midst of cooking or cleaning the house. See also: Listening to Qur’an While Occupied With Other Tasks

8. Increase Repentance

Ramadan is an excellent time to increase repentance to God. Use moments when others are praying or breaking their fast to ask God to forgive you and your loved ones and to keep you from returning to sin. All we have is a gift from Allah, so even forgetting that for a moment is a deed worth asking forgiveness from. Know that God is the Forgiving, and trust that, as our scholars have said, the moment you ask for forgiveness you are truly forgiven. See also: Damaged Inner State? Imam Ghazali on Repentance

9. Babysit to help mothers worship

Mothers with young children often find it difficult to go to the mosque because they worry that their kids will disturb others who are praying. Since you don’t need to be at the mosque, volunteer a night or two (or more!) to babysit the children of a young mother who would love to go pray taraweeh. If you have young children of your own, you can tell the mother to bring her kids to your house before the prayer. By helping this woman worship, you will gain the same good deeds she gets from going to that prayer. See: I Love Being A Woman!

10. Spread love and light

Use the extra time and energy you have to share the joys of Ramadan and Eid with your non-Muslim friends, peers and neighbors. Invite a work colleague for an iftar, make a special Ramadan dish and give it to a neighbor, or take time to make special cookies or gift bags for peers at the office or in school to hand out during Eid. By sharing these happy moments with friends and colleagues in the non-Muslim community, you counter the negative narratives about Islam in the media. More than that, however, you become someone who creates bonds in an increasingly isolated world, reflecting the beauty of the Prophetic light to all those around you. See: How Can Muslims Become More Effective Community Members?

Cover photo by Edward Musiak. Tasbih photo by Brian Jeffery Beggerly. Quran photo by Mohmed Althani.

Resources for Seekers

Cultivating Patience Through Your Small Children – Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil explores how having small children can build patience and help you get closer to Allah.patience

When you are a mother to small children, one crucial virtue is developed over the slow and inexorable passage of time – patience.

With little ones, everything is slowed down. They need so much support, from the minute they are born, to many years after that.

Gratitude

Having little children also gives me so many things to feel grateful for. Basic acts that I once took for granted are suddenly so precious. Sleeping for long stretches at night, eating a meal or drinking hot tea without interruption – these are the small blessings that I didn’t even realise were blessings, until I had one baby, and then another.

I became a mother upon the arrival of my first daughter, in June 2015. I have been either pregnant, breastfeeding, or both, ever since. Because of this, I have been living in a very different, almost altered, state of reality. The potent combination of oxytocin, broken sleep, cuddles and tantrums have been the ultimate crucible for the straitening of my nafs.

I will surface out of this, some day, and I pray that the version of myself will be kinder, more patient, more resilient, and more grateful. Most of all, I hope I will sleep better.

Losing Control

Before I had children, I was impatient. I liked to feel in control. I liked life to go ‘to plan’. I was a meticulous planner, and I realised now how much I relied on external calm to help me attain some measure of internal calm. It would never last, of course. Allah Most High always sent me something to knock the wind out of me – again.

Now I’ve come to realise that with raising little ones, there is no control. There is only surrender, and embracing the chaos.

Babies Without Schedules

While I was a fresh-faced undergrad, I knew a mother who smiled at my carefully curated study timetables. She smiled, chuckled, then said, “Babies have their own schedule.” I had no idea what she meant. Ten years later, and I finally do.

Resistance to Reality Causes Stress

Stress is resistance to reality. And I can make a tough afternoon with my girls even harder by wishing I were somewhere else. What actually helps is taking a deep breath, exhaling, and accepting that this is hard, and asking myself – what do I need to nourish myself, right now? Often, everything feels worse when I’ve forgotten to eat, in the rush of feeding my kids. Filling my own self-care cup is the best way for me to meet the needs of my small children.

Accept the Untouched Planner

I don’t have a planner anymore. Actually, I do, but I rarely get the chance to use it. My eldest daughter draws cats on the mostly untouched pages, and she was so excited to see how I had circled her birth date in June, and wrote “My baby turns 4!”. She insisted that I write it again, so I did.

Something so unremarkable to me – writing words on paper – utterly enthrals her. And that’s one of the many gifts of having such little children. There are so many firsts, and everything is a marvel. They slow us down, and bring us the gift of the present moment. Babies and small children are masters of mindfulness. It’s up to us to choose to be open to what they have to teach us, every day.


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.


 

Parenting – A Reader

Parenting can be a challenging endeavour. This reader gathers various resources on parenting from an Islamic perspective.

General Guidance

Rights of Children in Detail 

Islamic Parenting: Ten Keys to Raising Righteous Children – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Raising Muslim Children On The Straight Path-Shaykh Walead Mosaad

Ibn Khaldun on the Instruction of Children and its Different Method

Traditional Methods of Raising Children 

When Should Children Start Praying?

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

Six Steps to Instilling the Attribute of Courage in Muslim Children 

Rethinking Our Actions and How They Affect Our Children

Raising Children With A Sound Heart – Shaykh Yahya Rhodus

The Sunnas of Parenting

40 Hadiths on Parenting

How To Make the Prophet Muhammad Real for Small Children

Raising Your Children with Deen & Dunya – Radio Interview with Hina Khan-Mukhtar 

Our Children: Nurturing the Prophet’s ﷺ Spiritual Intelligence

Explaining a Hadith on Disciplining Children 

The Prophet Muhammad’s Love, Concern, & Kindness for Children

Playing with your Children – Advice from Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz

 

Parenting in Challenging Situations

Parenting in the Age of Social Media, by Ustadha Rania Awaad and Hosai Mojaddidi

A Ragged Shirt and Toast Crust: Raising Successful Children

How Do We Deal With Parents Who Emotionally Abuse Their Children

How Can I Raise My Children in the West?

Who Gets Custody of the Children After a Divorce?

Is There a Dua Protecting Children from Bad Intentions of People?

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

How To Talk To Children About Death

How Is a Child with Autism Viewed in Islam?

Fitrah and What Happens to Children Who Die Before Puberty 

How to Raise Children in Difficult Environments?

Why Worry About Children If We Know They Will Go to Paradise?

Wanting Children and Infertility

Is It Obligatory to Try to Have Children?

Infertility: Why does Allah Not Bless Some With Children 

Struggling to Have Children: Ten Key Etiquettes of Du’a

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

Supplications for Having Children and For Dealing With Pain

Is It Obligatory to Try to Have Children? 

The Virtues of Having Children and Stillbirth

Reflections on 2018 – Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

As December draws to a close, Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil gives some reflections on 2018 and the growth that she and her family experienced.

I started to write this article when my daughters were asleep. Almost a year ago, my younger one was born in January.  Now I have an 11 month old and a 3.5 year old. It has been both a wonderful and challenging year of growth, for all of us.

Childhood beliefs

I am now a lot more forgiving of my own parents, who had six children in twelve years. My mother migrated to Sydney with us while my father stayed in Singapore to financially support us. These facts alone explain so much about my childhood beliefs. From a very young age, I learned that parental love and attention are scarce, and how stressful it can feel to be part of a racial and religious minority.

Now that I am raising two little girls in Malaysia, I hope to impart different messages to my daughters. I hope that they will learn that there will always be enough love, for both of them, and that Islam is something that adds hope, meaning and direction to their lives.

Divided Heart 

When I had only one daughter, she had my undivided attention. Now, I am always torn between both of them. Part of me feels guilty that even from my pregnancy, I struggled to be present with my second baby, like I was with my first. I try to make peace with the fact that it will never be the same, and I pray that Allah will fill in the blanks.

Ups and Downs of Parenting 

The upside of having two kids is how much they love, play and laugh with each other. It warms my heart to see my eldest daughter feed her baby sister, help change her diaper, or sing to her. Watching my baby try to copy her oldest sister – from pretending to read and even to write – never fails to make me smile.

But, because we are in the dunya, it is never perfect. I am so tired, every day. There are times when I wonder if I will ever sleep well again.

The importance of self-care

My biggest lesson from 2018 year is this – when I look after myself, I can look after everyone else better. When I neglect my self-care, I am more irritable, and less able to attend to the endless needs in my household. I am not only a mother to my children, I am also a wife, a daughter-in-law, a daughter, a sister, and a friend.

Looking forward to 2019

I hope that with the gift of 2019, I will be better able to ask for help when I need it. I plan to create a better routine for myself, my daughters, and the rest of my household. I plan to exercise more self-compassion when I make mistakes. I plan to be able to spend more quality time with my husband. I plan for longer hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Most of all, I pray for Allah to accept my good deeds, forgive my mistakes, and increase me in gratitude for His innumerable blessings in my life.


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.


Prophetic Parenting: Q&A – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

The Prophetic Parenting series, taught by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani,  covers 40 Hadiths on raising righteous Muslim children. This segment of the Prophetic Parenting series covers some commonly asked questions and answers.

What are the three aspects of parenting?

They are tarbiya (upbringing) ta’deeb (instilling of adab) and ta’leem (teaching). These must come in order, and parents must have a plan for what they want for their children, and have goals. By raising them with concern, children will be led to have good character.

To what extent are we responsible for the choices of our children when they grow up?

We are responsible for taking the means that we can, but we cannot control outcomes. Normally, if the right means are taken with the right intentions, we can be reasonably sure to expect the right results. However, if you took the means but yet they drift, your responsibility remains to advise, and be of sincere concern.  You can do this without imposing on them or being overbearing.

If two parents do not agree, what should they do?

All affairs have to be through mutual consultation, with each other and with trusted elders and scholars. They should agree to have a healthy marriage, and how to discuss issues that come up in a respectful and safe manner.

About the Series

As Muslims, we take family and our children seriously. We seek clarity and guidance to raise upright, righteous, successful Muslim children who love Allah and His Messenger, peace be upon him. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani will cover 40 hadiths on parenting.

Beginning with how to choose a spouse while keeping in mind future parenting, to raising and educating children from when they’re small to when they are young adults. We will also see beautiful, faith-inspiring examples of the Prophet’s mercy, gentleness, wisdom, and excellence in his own parenting and dealing with children–while inculcating in them the highest of aspiration, discipline, curiosity, intelligence, and spiritual resolve.


 

Prophetic Parenting Part 4 – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

The Prophetic Parenting series, taught by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani,  covers 40 Hadiths on raising righteous Muslim children. This segment of the Prophetic Parenting series covers hadith relating to nurturing older children and teens.

When it comes to parenting, parents should act on what is clearly halal, as per the hadith, “The permissible is clear, and the impermissible is clear, and between them are matters that many don’t know about.”

This hadith is amazing not just because of the meaning, but also because it was narrated by Nu’man ibn Bashir, who was one of the first children to be born in Medina after the arrival of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. He narrated this hadith when he was only five years old, which shows that he was a product of his parents’ concern, who brought him to beneficial gatherings and raised him to care about them.

Imam Zain al-Abideen, son of Imam Hussein, would teach his young children to regularly say, “Truly I have believed in Allah, and rejected falsehood. ” This indicates that he had taught them about the basics of the faith, and the pillars of Islamic beliefs. In the same way, parents should teach their children the tenants of their faith from a young age.

Another hadith teaches us about the importance of having youth-focused teaching environments, while still being sensitive to their needs. Malik ibn al-Huwairith narrated that a group of youth would come to stay with the Prophet and learn from him, although their families were non-Muslim. They would stay for around twenty days. The Prophet would sense that they were missing their families, even though they hadn’t said anything. He would ask them about their families, and would tell them to return to their people and teach them what they had been taught.

This shows the Prophet’s deep concern for their well-being, and who saw them as adults-in-training rather than “just kids.” In addition, the training and teaching should be demonstrative learning, where the parents teach by example and not just through words.

About the Series

As Muslims, we take family and our children seriously. We seek clarity and guidance to raise upright, righteous, successful Muslim children who love Allah and His Messenger, peace be upon him. Shaykh Faraz Rabbani will cover 40 hadiths on parenting.

Beginning with how to choose a spouse while keeping in mind future parenting, to raising and educating children from when they’re small to when they are young adults. We will also see beautiful, faith-inspiring examples of the Prophet’s mercy, gentleness, wisdom, and excellence in his own parenting and dealing with children–while inculcating in them the highest of aspiration, discipline, curiosity, intelligence, and spiritual resolve.


Prophetic Parenting Part 3 – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

The Prophetic Parenting series, taught by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani,  covers 40 Hadiths on raising righteous Muslim children. This segment of the Prophetic Parenting series covers hadith relating to good conduct with children.

 

It is narrated that the Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, send Anan ibn Malik to run an errand for him. Anas, who was still a young boy, ran into some children on the way and forgot. When the Prophet found him, he asked him whether he had done what was asked of him. Anas replied, “Yes, I am going!”

This hadith teaches us many lessons. For example, if a child makes a mistake, a parent can work with them to fix the mistake rather than focus on what went wrong, which will not necessarily solve the problem.

In another hadith, one of his grandchildren entered the room where charity was kept for distribution, and took one of the dates and began to eat it. The Prophet removed the date form his mouth and gently reminded him that the charity was a trust to give to others, not for personal consumption, and that the family of the Prophet were prohibited from taking charity. In this way, he taught his grandchild in a gentle, yet firm way, correcting him without harshness.

Within the teachings of the blessed Prophet, we are taught to make good intentions when spending time with them, and having high aspirations for them. For example, the Prophet Muhammad once prayed for his cousin, Ibn Abbas, Allah be pleased with him, to become learned in the religion. Ibn Abbas then became the leading teacher of the Qur’an, although he was one of the younger companions. Parents should have high hopes for their children, and make a lot of supplications for them.

About the Series

As Muslims, we take family and our children seriously. We seek clarity and guidance to raise upright, righteous, successful Muslim children who love Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him). Shaykh Faraz Rabbani will cover 40 hadiths of the Prophet (peace be upon him) on parenting.

Beginning with how to choose a spouse while keeping in mind future parenting, to raising and educating children from when they’re small to when they are young adults. We will also see beautiful, faith-inspiring examples of the Prophet’s mercy, gentleness, wisdom, and excellence in his own parenting and dealing with children–while inculcating in them the highest of aspiration, discipline, curiosity, intelligence, and spiritual resolve.

Keep Calm and Mother On–Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil reflects on her role as a parent, and how to deal with mistakes and stress on your parenting journey.

I thought I was a kind and patient person. And then I had children.

It is easy to be patient when everything is in harmony. It’s harder to be patient when there is one crying baby. It is even harder when there are two. This reminds me of the Prophetic narration:

Narrated Anas Ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him): The Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace said, “The real patience is at the first stroke of a calamity.” [Bukhari]

There have been many, many tiny catastrophes that come with parenting young children. Some days end up with a visit to the emergency ward, like when my eldest daughter fell off a chair on Eid and broke her wrist. Others days end up with me craving the comfort of instant noodles, after a stressful day.

Motherhood has made me a creative problem-solving ninja. Motherhood has also made me feel moments of rage.
I can tell you, objectively, that anger is a secondary emotion. Beneath the waterline, the iceberg of anger is full of other emotions like shame, fear, sadness, insecurity, and so on.

Now I can also tell you about my all-encompassing feelings of despair, when I realised that I cannot comprehend why my 3 year old would hit her baby sister, or refuse to use the toilet when she clearly has to go. And following hot on that heels my helplessness is rage. And with that rage, comes an old childhood default of yelling.

How To Cope With Anger

Shouting when I’m out of my mind with anger feels temporarily good – but then that dissolves into shame, when I realise I’ve lost control of myself. And after my own shame and regret, I hugged my daughter. I told her I’m sorry I shouted at her. And then she hugged me and said, “I’m sorry I shouted at you.”

I realised something else after that. These mistakes all give me opportunities for growth. Repair attempts bring me closer to my daughter, as well as my husband. Every relationship is fraught with the potential for conflict, and conflict, when harnessed well, can help bring us closer. My daughter is also a preschooler with a developing frontal lobe. I’m the adult. It’s my responsibility to model calm. I don’t want my daughter to learn that it’s OK to yell, threaten and emotionally blackmail until you get your way. I want her to learn that it’s important to keep her cool most of the time, but when she inevitably slips up, it’s imperative for her to make it right. She needs to say sorry, and make it up to the other person. What I do to her speaks louder than what I say to her.

A compassionate friend with five children of her own comforted me, after what felt like the worst parenting day of my life. My 7 month old baby, new to solids, had indigestion and woke every 1-2 hours at night. I woke up absolutely shattered, and my preschooler felt especially challenging as a result. The day did not go well, suffice to say.

My friend gently reminded me that I am doing my best and that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. Neither is there a perfect child, spouse, or friend. She also made the point to emphasise that my own childhood difficulties have gifted me with a commitment to be a more conscious parent – most of the time.

Sometimes, that’s all an exhausted mother needs. Reassurance.

Children break our attachment to things. Sometimes, they literally break things. Other times, it’s even basic ‘needs’, like 8 hours of sleep, or using the toiler without interruption. Maybe even having a sit-down meal or a hot cup of tea. These are the small blessings that I took for granted, until I had my first child. Now that I have two little ones, I am even more grateful for these blessings.

There is still the ‘old school’ voice in my head that thinks that sometimes, maybe what my daughter needs is a healthy dose of fear. She doesn’t need to get physically disciplined, but a bit of shouting and intimidation might do the trick. Then I catch myself, breathe, and find my centre. I know what happens when children get yelled at, maybe even hit – when they get old enough, some run away, and never come back.

It doesn’t have to be a dramatic fall out. Adult children who feel disconnected from their parents can very easily find ways to move far away. It is a huge earth, after all, with many opportunities. And as years go by, this continental drift can grow further and further apart. Spouses, children and loving and accepting in-laws can feel like far kinder oases of affection, instead of parents who continue to hurt and disappoint.

I think of this, when I look at my daughters. Right now, I am the centre of their universe. It is hard to imagine a time when they will no longer look for me. I am not only their In Case of Emergency contact, I am their everything-I-want-to-contact.

Until then, breathing helps. Pausing. Choosing to respond from a space of calm, instead of anger. It’s better for me to tell my daughter, “I’m walking away to take a break,” instead of lashing out at her. Articles like this help me realise that there are far better ways of dealing with challenges, better ways to set limits, and better ways to calm myself. I know this too – when my daughter feels connected to me, she is much more likely to cooperate.

Why Not Physical Discipline?

I realise that as I write this and put it out there into the world, I invite criticism. I’m too soft. I need to be firmer. I’m spoiling her. And so on. What’s wrong with a bit of physical discipline? How will children learn without punishment? Read more here, if you need more evidence that hitting children in anger isn’t even effective.

I don’t want to be a mother who screams at or beats her children to get them in line. In the long-run, I’ve witnessed so many examples of how that stops working. I want to be a mother who knows how to keep calm, set firm limits, and be there for her children. I know I struggle with keeping calm and setting limits because of my own childhood, but my children are my greatest teachers. Every day, they give me plenty of opportunities to practice.

`Abd Allah b. Mughaffal reported the Messenger of Allah (upon him be blessings and peace) as saying : “Allah is gentle, likes gentleness, and gives for gentleness what he does not give for harshness.” [Sunan Abi Dawud]

I think often about the gentleness of the Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace). I tell my daughter stories of how he let his grandchildren ride his back while he prayed. He was gentle, but he also knew how to be firm. There is something in that for me to learn, and practice.

There is something tremendous about bringing new life into this world. And the sunnah of this world is to expect hardship with blessings. O Allah, help all parents respond from a place of calm. Forgive us for our shortcomings, and help our children forgive us.


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.


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