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

In a time where teens and youth are increasingly active on social media, parents and educators must stay informed and vigilant about the inherent and widespread dangers throughout the Internet. Ustadha Rania Awaad & Hosai Mojaddidi joined us for our April Friday Night Family night to explore the dangers and traps online designed to ensnare children. The speakers discussed the spiritual and mental health consequences of Internet negligence and offered practical solutions for increasing Internet safety.

Sister Hosai Mojaddid also provided these tips. This talk was delivered on April 21, 2017, as part of MCC’s monthly Family Night series when we invite insightful and influential American-Muslims who are making a positive impact on our community.

About the Speakers:

Ustadha Rania Awaad, MD, Clinical Director – Khalil Center, Bay Area
Raised in the U.S., Ustadha Rania Awaad began her formal study of the traditional Islamic sciences when her parents permitted her to travel to Damascus, Syria at the age of 14. Her desire to continue studying the Deen resulted in multiple trips back to Damascus, interspersed between her high school, college and medical studies. She was honored to receive Ijaazah (authorization to teach) several branches of the Shari’ah sciences at the hands of many renowned scholars, including many female scholars. She has received Ijaazah to teach Tajwid in both the Hafs and Warsh recitations from the late eminent Syrian scholar, Shaykh Abu Hassan al-Kurdi. In addition to completing several advanced texts of the Shafi’i madhhab, she is licensed to teach texts of Maliki fiqh, Adab and Ihsan. Currently, Ustadha Rania teaches online and local classes for The Rahmah Foundation, Rabata, and is on faculty of Zaytuna College where she teaches courses in Shafi’i fiqh, women’s issues in fiqh, and has helped develop and co-direct the Tajweed and Hifz progam.

Ustadha Rania also a medical doctor with a specialty in Psychiatry. She completed her Psychiatric residency and fellowship training at Stanford University where she is currently on the faculty as a Clinical Instructor in the Stanford Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences department. Her medical interests include addressing mental health care concerns in the Muslim community- particularly that of Muslim women and girls. She has been awarded grants from the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) to conduct research on this topic and has presented her findings at several medical conferences. Other on-going endeavors include the compilation of manuscripts addressing female-related mental health and medical issues from a fiqh-oriented perspective. She currently serves as the Director of the Rahmah Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching Muslim women and girls traditional Islamic knowledge. In this capacity she also heads the Murbbiyah Mentoring Program which trains young women how to teach and mentor Muslim girls and teens. Ustadha Rania is both a wife and a mother; she has been counseling and teaching women classes on Tajwid, Shafi’i Fiqh, Ihsan, marriage and raising children since 1999.

Hosai Mojaddidi, Writer, Speaker & Co-Founder of mentalhealth4muslims.com
Hosai Mojaddidi is a second generation Afghan-American Muslim woman who is a freelance writer and editor and a lecturer on various Islamic/spiritual topics.

Sister Hosai Mojaddidi is also the co-founder of MH4M (www.mentalhealth4muslims.com), which was established in 2010. She started MH4M with Dr. Nafisa Sekandari because she is passionate about providing a unique and tailored approach to mental health support for the Muslim community which combines sound Islamic teachings with clinical science.

For nearly 20 years, she has also been actively involved in the Muslim community in the San Francisco Bay Area and southern California working and volunteering for several organizations including Peace Terrace Academy, Islamic Networks Group, Zaytuna Institute, Deen Intensive, Northstar School, (RIS) Reviving the Islamic Spirit, One Legacy Radio, Pillars Academy, Islamic Speakers Bureau of Southern California, Grand Mawlid, Rahmah Foundation, GiveLight Foundation, and Happy Hearts Learning Co-op.

In the various positions she’s held, and as a Qur’an teacher and lecturer over the years, she has been blessed to meet thousands of Muslims from different backgrounds and, in the process, develop many deep and lasting relationships both personally and professionally. She has also been able to gauge the mental health issues of the larger community firsthand by serving as a private mediator, advisor and mentor to many.

Resources for Seekers:

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf on The Social Costs of Pornography
Finding God Through The Chains Of Pornography Addiction
“Too Embarrassed to Talk About It”: Pornography Addiction and Some of Its Effects on Muslim Marital Life
Raising Your Children with Deen & Dunya – Radio Interview with Hina Khan-Mukhtar
Raising Children with Deen and Dunya
Making Ramadan a Time for Young Hearts to Grow
Ibn Khaldun on the instruction of children and its different methods
Islamic Parenting: Ten Keys to Raising Righteous Children
The Prophet Muhammad’s Love, Concern, & Kindness for Children
On Parents Showing Righteousness to Children

An Exhausted Mother’s Eid Reflections, from Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil gives thanks for the little things in life.

As I began to write this from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, my daughter sat beside me, playing with her Lego Duplo train set. Alhamdulilah, she turned two on Eid, and I am constantly reminded of the innumerable blessings and changes she has brought into my life.

On the morning of Eid, we drove to the nearby Kampung Tungku mosque to pray. I smiled at the families walking to the mosque ; young children were carried by their parents, the elderly were supported by their children, and everyone wore festive traditional clothes cut from the same bolt of cloth,

When we approached the mosque, the elderly were given the ground floor to pray, while the rest of us went up the stairs. To save time, I carried my toddler up, and got her settled in before Salatul Eid began. I sat closer to the back, next to another mother with her small children. My daughter was eager to wear her small telukong (prayer garment) after she saw me put mine on, alongside all the other women.

Right after I raised my hands in prayer, my daughter’s telukong slipped off her head. She’s still figuring out how to put it on by herself, so she repeatedly called out to me,  “Mummy, help Taskeen wear telukong.” I worried that ignoring her could lead to a tantrum, so I made dua that the imam would read one of the shorter chapters. I was reminded of this beautiful hadith:

It was narrated from ‘Abdullah bin Abi Qatadah, from his father that the Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) said: “I stand in prayer, then I hear a child crying, so I make my prayer brief, because I do not want to cause hardship for his mother.” [Sunan An-Nasai]

This is the mercy of our Beloved Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) who acknowledges the helplessness of a praying mother while her baby cries.

Last year, when my daughter was one, she cried and cried as I performed the Eid prayer. She was still so little then, so I broke my prayer, out of my own distress and my fear of distracting the rest of the congregation. Alhamdulilah, one year later, there was no crying, and she was able to wait until I finished two cycles of prayer. Progress! This is how I measure how far we have come: how much uninterrupted time I get in the bathroom; how many cycles I can pray before she starts calling for me, how long she can play with her toys on her own – these are the fruits of our hard, loving, real work together, as a family. My part-time jobs as a teacher and writer are my break from my full-time job as a mother.

Sadly, across the world today, we live in a time that does not value women’s work. There is no GDP or dollar sign attached to the countless tears we wipe away, the meals we lovingly prepare, and the endless diapers we change. And yet, these daily, loving acts of nurturing helps to build secure and loving human beings.

I am intimately connected now, to the brutal truth that comes with raising a child. It is relentless, everyday toil that brings both joy and pain. On good days, my toddler warms my heart with her memorable antics. On bad days, I struggle to stay calm in the face of the emotions that overwhelm her.

In the light of my all-consuming stage of motherhood, I look back wistfully to my past Ramadans of long nights of worship and Qur’anic recitation. I cannot help but compare these blessed times to the bare bones Ramadan since my baby was born. I can only pray and hope that Allah will accept the little that I do now, help me do better, and overlook my imperfections.

There has been so much tragedy this past Ramadan. I reflect on the violence perpetrated by ISIS and other extremists, and I wonder what went wrong. What broke inside these young men, to make them such vessels of violence? How can they commit these atrocities, in the name of a religion that cares deeply for the welfare of plants, animals, children, women and men? I can only pray that the light and mercy of Islam reaches their veiled hearts.

If you are an exhausted mother reading this, then trust that Allah knows every ache of your tired heart. Nothing is lost on Him – every tear you shed, every smile you bravely wear for your children, and everything you have sacrificed for them. God willing, your loving presence with your children will plant seeds of Prophetic mercy in their hearts. Your innumerable hours, days and years with them are never, ever wasted.

May these seeds we plant sprout strong, deep roots. May our children be the vanguards and sources of light and peace in a world so fractured by hatred and violence.

Resources for seekers on motherhood and parenting

Parents – Your Door to Allah’s Acceptance, by Ustadh Uthman Bally

Sometimes a door to Allah is opened in the form of a good deed, such as praying or giving charity but then the door of acceptance is still closed. Through parents, this final door can be opened. parents the door to acceptanceUstadh Uthman Bally recounts story upon wonderful story of how the relationship with our parents can have a major effect on our futures.

From a companion of the Prophet who couldn’t say the kalima on his deathbed until his mother forgave him for his harsh tongue, to the grandson of the Prophet who would never share a plate of food with her mother for fear that he would take a piece that she wanted. Then there’s the people who gave joy to others that their joy became angels that praised God until the Day of Judgement, and the man who gave away his one good deed.

“You might do a very small act, which then becomes your opening.”

We are grateful to Ha Meem Foundation for this recording

Resources for Seekers

Our Children: Nurturing the Prophet’s ﷺ Spiritual Intelligence, by Anse Tamara Gray

Anse Tamara Gray on how we should nurture the spiritual growth in our children and how we can plant the seeds of Islam in them.

Our thanks to Rabata for this recording. Anse Tamara’s photo is from Altamish + Hannan Photograpy.

 

Resources for Seekers

What is Spirituality, and Who Are Sufis? by Yusuf Latif

The concept of spirituality is rather vague and is used to describe any number of views and practices among peoples. Whether it has always been this way is a question that is difficult to answer, especially as it is posed, argues Yusuf Lateef Zanella.

When the question is general in nature, as if spirituality were one concrete thing among other things, like chairs, dresses, automobiles, and so on. It is not at easy to answer as, say, a question like: Has the use of ankle-length skirts among women of a certain background become more or less widespread?

When we talk of spirituality in relation to Islam, in order to make sense of it, we need to be more specific as to what we mean by the word. Here the word is meant to cover what is traditionally known as Tassawwuf. Now many will not find that distinction to be very helpful, for what is Tassawwuf? The answer that Tassawwuf is merely Islamic spirituality, more commonly known as Sufism, leaves us treading the same water while trying to get a grip on the rope of understanding. It does not answer the question. Because, as we said, there are many views and opinions on what Tassawwuf is. Its use, though not as common, is almost as diverse and wide-ranging as that of the word spirituality. So, whose view should be taken into serious consideration when seeking an answer to that question?

In his concise yet profound article “The Place of Tasswwuf among the Islamic Sciences” (1995) Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller makes it clear that, in order to answer the question: What is Tassawwuf? one must ask those who know, namely, traditional Muslim scholars who are knowledgeable in the science itself and practice it. Justification for this is found in the Qur’anic verse: “Ask those who know if you know not” (16:43). But is this also not, as Shaykh Nuh himself alludes to in recounting his own search for knowledge, what one would do in any matter of great importance?

One Who Knows the Object and the Science

To draw a material analogy, one could say that if one wanted to know what a combustion engine is one would ask a person who not only knows how to repair certain builds or types of engine, but also the principles of combustion and the science behind engine construction. Not only that, the person must have an understanding of the point of combustions engines, their purpose, and the roles these play in human life. For no one (for the sake of argument) wants a combustion engine in and of itself, rather it is a means toward some goal, toward something one wants to attain.

The Heart’s Desire

Anyone who professes Islam will, upon reflection, know that the ultimate goal in the life of a Muslim is Allah Most High. He, alone, is the true heart’s desire. For what, really, could be more rewarding, more awesome in the truest sense of the word, than to stand in His presence. Can one truly imagine being more alert, more awake, more present and aware other than in the presence of one’s Lord and Maker? Common synonyms of the word awesome as can be found in any reputable dictionary are words such as wonder, reverence, and dread. It is for the purpose of awakening this sense of awe that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) in the Hadith of Muslim stated that “the perfection of faith” (ihsan) is “to worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you see Him not, He nevertheless sees you.” The presence of mind in worship entailed here lies in realising that one is always in the Presence of one’s Lord. For instance, when one stands in prayer, but not only then, for worship is not limited to prayer.

In a related Hadith of Muslim, which precedes the one mentioned above in Imam Nawawi’s Arba‘in, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) says that “Actions are according to intention. And every man shall have what he intended. So whoever’s emigration (hijra) is for the sake of Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace), his emigration is for the sake of Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace). And whoever’s emigration is for worldly gains or for a woman to marry, his emigration is for the sake of that for which he emigrated.” It is clear that the question of intentions and acts spoken of here can be generalised to include all acts and states in the life of any one Muslim—that any one of our acts with the proper intention is an act of worship.

This state of presence in all acts is also alluded to in the Qur’an, where Allah Most High says: “Truly, in the creation of the heavens and the earth, and in the variation of night and day there are signs for the people of understanding” (3:190). The people of understanding Allah Most High goes on to define as “Those who mind Allah while standing, sitting and lying down” (3:191). The word “mind” here is a translation of yadhkurun, from the verb dhakara (to remember) in the sense of keeping something or someone in mind. They strive to be or are constantly in and aware of His presence. For they know that although they do not see Him, He nevertheless sees them.

To Strive Is No Easy Thing…

This state of presence before Allah Most High is something one can experience or come to an awareness of at any moment. From my own experience I can definitely say that there is a difference, in taste almost, between a prayer prayed alone or behind someone when  in Allah’s presence, that is when mindful of Him, and a prayer in which this is not the case. This is not meant as a slight to anyone or to myself, but rather to say that to strive towards this state is no easy thing. That, however, does not mean it is something one should not strive towards. A sure way of attaining this state, as Shaykh Nuh emphasises, is by keeping the company of the people of understanding mentioned by Allah. That is, the people of the spiritual path.

This Desert Life: Not Even Shoes

In Islam (in Arabic) the word for the Sacred Law is al-Shari‘a and is related to the noun shari‘a (without the definite article) which commonly means water hole or drinking place or the approach to it. Like many things in Islam it is derived from the context of life in the desert. This image of life in a desert, dependence upon water, and the trope of nomadic existence in this world permeates our religion through and through. The first line of the Hadith of Bukhari that rounds off Imam Nawawi’s Arba‘in reads: “Be in this world as if you were a stranger [foreigner] or a traveller on the way.”

In many cultures and languages the words “way” and “law” are often used interchangeably, in the sense of how one properly goes about things, or right conduct. What is sometimes lost sight of in our mode of life is the peril of not acting according to the law. In the context of life in a desert this becomes more apparent, for e.g. the way to water or sustenance is of vital importance for survival, and not acting in accordance with it can have grave consequences. Every word, indeed every action, is a matter of life and death. When viewed from this perspective what one says and does, the meanings of one’s words and actions, are not mere abstractions. The attention and care accorded to them must be commensurate with the situation at hand. To fall short here is not only to risk one’s own life but more importantly the lives of those is one’s care and protection. A true child of the desert will learn how to survive and thrive, where to find sustenance and safety, where to go and when, and to stay put and when, from those who know, through instruction and through imitation. Knowledge in this context is not book learning, but knowing what to day at any time of the day, in any place or situation. Books and diplomas and other things are useful, but as Imam Ghazali said: That which is of greatest value is what you will not lose in a shipwreck.

The point is that, being a traveller in this desert life is so much more that buying a train, boat, or plane ticket and having oneself transported from one point to another. It often means not even having the shoes on which to get through the day, much less the comfort of hot tea on the back of a camel. It also means that one’s goal is ever present to one’s mind, and that is Allah, Most High and Transcendent. We are only passing through this world that is not our “country of origin”. Finally it means that in order to get through this world safely, to make the best of this desert life, it is incumbent upon us to ask those who came before us and who have spent countless hours of their lives learning at the feet of those who came before them the best ways and means of crossing this empty quarter of creation and to make it back home to Allah Most High. To ask those who live this desert life.

They are the people of understanding. The Masters of the Way. The one’s who know the Shari‘a like they know their own hearts. They are those about whom one can say: They have already departed. Their exemplar is of course none other than he “whose character was the Qur’an” (Muslim), who said of himself “I have been sent to perfect righteous character” (Musnad Ahmad), the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace). They are the heirs not only of his knowledge (Allah bless him and give him peace) but also of his states. They are the Sufis.

About the Author

Yusuf Latif became Muslim in 1998 at the hands of Shaykh Abd al-Baqi al-Husayni al-Naqshband. The Shaykh sent him to Jordan to learn from Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller in 2001, from whom he took the Shadhili tariqa in 2003. He spent four years in Amman where he studied tasawwuf, fiqh and aqida, and worked for Islamica Magazine. Now, besides working for Seekers Hub, he writes childrens’ books that he one day hopes to see published. 

Resources for Seekers

Rethinking How Our Actions and Habits Affect Our Children, by Ustadha Shireen Ahmed

When adults, and parents in particular, fiddle with their smartphones are every given opportunity, what example does it set for the children watching us? It is that we know no better way to fill our time when we’re bored. Ustadha Shireen Ahmed uses this example and others to remind us how important it is to examine our habits and actions in front of those who look up to us.

Rethinking Islamic Education – Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad

Cambridge professor Shaykh Abdul Hakim Murad, an expert on Islamic education discusses the idea of intellect and its connection to religious thinking.

What is a good Islamic education? Is religion a series of beliefs simply memorized and passed down from generation to generation? Is it a Scripture and doctrine that is pliable and can be molded to our intellect and desires? What role does reasoning and intellect play in our religious practices? What role does practices and tradition play in our religious reasoning?

Resources for Seekers

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

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

 

 

Beware of Making Eid Boring, by Ustadh Salman Younas

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

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

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

Follow Ustadh Salman Younas on Facebook.

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Serve Your Parents Now Before It’s Too Late, by Ustadh Salman Younas

Doing well by one’s parents is considered paramount in our beliefs. Ustadh Salman Younas explains why we should take the opportunity to serve our parents now, before it’s too late.

My grandfather passed away aged 93. His son, my father, passed away an hour after him aged 58. My father was given the blessing and tawfiq from God to serve his father well into his old age in a way that most people found amazingly incomprehensible. He would often tell us when we asked him to visit us, “I cannot go anywhere while your grandfather is alive.” His service to him demanded his complete time and energy.

The Risk Of Losing Out

I was not given the blessing and tawfiq from God to be in the service of my father, as he had been in the service of his father. For many of us, service to parents starts after they retire or well beyond that when they become so old as to be in absolute need of their children. This is when we begin to think of taking care of them. But there is no guarantee that they will reach such an age. There is the risk of losing out on the immense reward of being in service to one’s parents during their lifetime, an act that the Qur’an regularly mentions alongside the most fundamental aspect of our faith: belief itself.

My service to my father after his passing can only be through good works on his behalf and striving to be a source of continual charity (sadaqa jariya) for him. I will not be able to feed him, stand up in respect for him, make him happy through an embrace, help him up the stairs when he is old, financially support him, give him the free time to enjoy his grandchildren, look after his health etc. I can only hope that what I do now will be sufficient in God’s eyes.

The basic lesson here is don’t wait to be in service of your parents. Whatever little you can do, do it now regardless of whether your parents are young or elderly because there are no guarantees. Do not miss out on the reward of this immense act based on the false perception that you will have time in the future.

Resources for Seekers