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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

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.

VIDEO SERIES: Key Lessons from the Prophet ﷺ as a Parent & Educator

How do we go about nurturing children in a prophetic way? Being effective parents is a challenge for many of us. The Prophet ﷺ  is often called The Teacher. In fact, his entire life is a lesson.

In this seminar video recording given at SeekersHub Toronto, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Zahir Bacchus and Ustadha Umm Umar explore how the Prophet  taught, nurtured and guided children through compassion, love and modelling right action. They explore how, as parents and educators, we can take this Prophetic advice and use it to nurture children to have good character and also discuss how to overcome common parenting hurdles, and key methods in raising children to embody piety and devotion.

Part 1 of 4 : What Are the Responsibilities of Nurturing Children? – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Part 2 of 4: Shepherding as a Parent: Balancing Authority and Compassion with Children – Shaykh Zahir Bacchus

Part 3 of 4: Planting Seeds in Your Children: Rethinking Our Habits and Actions – Ustadha Shireen Ahmed

Part 4 of 4: Key Q&A’s on Parenting and Raising Children – Shaykh Faraz, Shaykh Zahir, & Ustadha Shireen


Nurturing children
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Resources for Seekers:

Islamic Parenting: Raising Upright Children (course)
Islamic Parenting: Ten Keys to Raising Righteous Children
Raising a Muslim with Manners

Raising Your Children with Deen & Dunya – Radio Interview with Hina Khan-Mukhtar
Raising Children with Deen and Dunya
Ibn Khaldun on the instruction of children and its different methods
The Prophet Muhammad’s Love, Concern, & Kindness for Children
On Parents Showing Righteousness to Children

Cover Photo by Lead Beyond

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

Star Wars And The Crisis Of Modern Masculinity

That there is a crisis of modern masculinity, there is no doubt. Everyone from bloggers to The Atlantic Monthly is writing about it. Shaykh Abdal-Hakim Murad begins first with a synopsis of how damaging life without a father figure is and then moves on to discuss contemporary gender confusion as promoted by mass media: what exactly is a man, and what is a woman? We’ve lost count of how many brilliant points the shaykh makes in just 13 minutes!

Becoming a Man: A Comprehensive Guide to the Coming of Age in Islam is one of 30+ courses on offer at SeekersHub. Registration is easy and free.

Our gratitude to Mishkat Media for this recording.

Resources on the crisis of modern masculinity and related matters:

What did Abdullah Ibn Masud leave his daughters?

Abdullah Ibn Masud and his Daughters

What did Abdullah Ibn Masud leave his daughters? This was the question he was asked on his death bed to which he gave an astonishing answer. Watch Shaykh Hamdi Benaissa as he emphasizes the importance of taking of spiritual means, along with the physical means.
Sincere thanks to the Rhoda Institute of Islamic Learning for this recording.

Resources for seekers:

Cover Photo: Heidi Lalci

A Ragged Shirt and Toast Crust: Raising Successful Children

We want to give our children the best that we can give them. But what exactly makes children successful?

Talk to child development experts anywhere in the world today, and the words that will be on almost all of their tongues are “overindulgent” and “overprotective” parenting.

Over the last few decades, the natural parental drive to help children succeed has transformed into an almost irrational desire to shield kids from any discomfort that might momentarily undermine their happiness. That, however, is being deeply criticized in child development circles as ultimately impairing children’s chances at success.

Classical Muslim scholars would agree.

Keep it simple, make them successful

In the tradition of Islamic scholarship, countless texts have been written on the best practices of raising successful children.

One of the most important of those works is the poem by the tenth-century Shafi’i scholar, Imam Muhammed b. Ahmad b. Hamza al-Ramli. I came across the poem in SeekersHub’s course Islamic Parenting: Raising Upright Children ,which is based on that work and its commentaries.

Throughout the course, I saw Imam al-Ramli’s text directly address the issues that contemporary child development experts have highlighted as deep problems in parenting today; warning parents against letting children live in an atmosphere of overprotection and overindulgence.

Imam al-Ramli offers some practical, everyday examples on how to keep children from being given too many comforts, which will help them become more resilient to the ups and downs of life, as well as instilling concern for those less fortunate than them—ultimately making them more successful in this life and the Hereafter.

Below are two excerpts from the poem that present some of those examples. While they may seem very basic, they show that big lessons can come in small packages.

Dress for…success?

successful children

Credits: Joel

Imam al-Ramli recommends that clothes and sleeping arrangements—often status symbols in society—be kept simple.

“Their body isn’t clothed in the best clothes,
All the time, nor their bedding always made soft”

While children’s clothing should generally be becoming and clean, wearing an old shirt every once in a while will help the child learn to not be overly attached to beautiful things.

SeekersHub instructor Shaykh Faraz Rabbani explained, or to associate the value of a human being with the type of clothing they can afford. If they ever end up in a situation where they cannot afford a certain standard of living, they will likely be much less affected by the lack of those things than people who expect nothing less than total comfort and a high level of luxury.

Additionally, children who are overly attached to the beautiful things of this world begin to chase material gain at the expense of working towards pleasing God. Parents can weaken this attachment by gently taking away some of those beautiful things periodically.

Of course, this must be taken with balance, emphasized Shaykh Faraz.Dressing in less than beautiful clothing is something to be done only occasionally as part of a regimen to break the ego. The standard clothing a Muslim should wear generally should be neat and comely in accordance with the practice of the Prophet. In addition, dressing shabbily in our society can lead to being perceived as unprofessional or uncaring. However, a good balance should be cultivated between being joyful of Allah’s blessings, and being humble.

The most important thing to remember is that children learn from parental leadership. Parents must ensure to incorporate these guidelines into their own lives, showing the same self-control, humility, and gratitude they wish to see in their children.

Feeding Frenzy: Are we setting them up for failure?

In another section, Imam al-Ramli discusses simplicity in food; an issue high on the mind of many parents dealing with a generation marked by notoriously picky eaters.

“[Children should be] eating the dry parts of food
To become accustomed to dry food without sauce.”

successful children

Photo credit: Isriya Paireepairit

 

Here, Imam al-Ramli indicates that it is important to not always give a child what he or she desires in terms of food. In many Eastern cultures, a typical meal consisted of some bread or cooked grain served with a stew or sauce. To just have the plain bread or grain was considered less than luxurious – it was what many of the poor ate. It was also more difficult to chew and consume because of its dry, hard texture.

SeekersHub instructor Shaykh Faraz here explained that by keeping children from becoming accustomed to having what they desire every day, they learn self-restraint and self-control, which are critical characteristics in successful people. They also learn to not become too attached to a certain level of lavishness that leaves them looking down at those who cannot attain that level or feeling paralyzed when confronted with a situation in which they themselves cannot attain it.

So, should we move into a cave?

While not all of us may subscribe to the grain-and-sauce mealplan, the Imam’s advice can be applied in other ways, such as occasionally preparing a very basic meal of plain whole-wheat pasta or even just keeping the crust on our children’s sandwiches.

Yes, even if they complain it’s too dry to eat.

By giving them less than what they desire every once in a while, our children learn to truly appreciate delightful food, clothing and other such blessings when they are next available and to give thanks no matter how much or how little they have.

How do I raise successful children?

To learn more about Imam al-Ramli’s advice for parents who want to raise balanced and successful children, sign up for SeekersHub’s free course on Islamic Parenting: Raising Upright Children, this upcoming term. It offers access to other great tips and guidelines for raising upright children.

By Nour Merza

Resources for Seekers

Raising Muslim Children In An Age Of Disbelief

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

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

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

Have you signed up to the SeekersHub Compass mailing list? Every week, exclusive content is distributed only to subscribers – including the recordings from our monthly seminars. Sign up before you miss out.

Becoming A Man – A New Course for Those Coming of Age

MC-Amjad-Bio-resizedComing of age can be awkward, challenging, and confusing–for both parents and their children. Although many of the changes are biological, they also have religious implications as well. This course seeks to provide a framework for young men to learn about the qualities of a true man of faith. By contextualizing the wisdom and example of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions to deal with contemporary issues, young men will gain insights into the practice, spirituality, and virtue of the believer. Insha Allah, this course will help give young men clarity and confidence in their religion and life.

Listen to Ustadh Amjad Tarsin’s brief introduction below and don’t forget to register for the course.

“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