Monday, January 25, 2010

Alhamdulillah, its all for the good

Hana was a very active person in the community. She was never seen sitting at a place. Always involved in something- be it dropping somebody home, doing errands for a needy, giving her service to the masjid etc. She was that cheerful person, always ready ready to give someone her helping hand, an ear to listen to. She would never go unnoticed because of her heart-warming smile, her long strides (as she was always in a rush to complete her task at hand, so that she can jump to do the next one) and her greetings (Salam Alaikum) to anybody she passed by.

Nine months back, she met with an accident which caused her to become paralysed. She was in the hospital when we went to visit her. As we waited at the door for the nurse to come out, we looked at each other with anxious faces. We were wondering what we would tell her, how we could console her.

But, as we entered the room, we immediately fell at ease as her warm smile as ever, lit the room. After greetings between her and us, she commented, "Alhamdulillah, He gave me a chance to sit and relax, so that I can spend more time reading and memorising the Quran!" SubhanAllah, we were dumbstruck for a moment. What trust in Allah, what submission to the Lord Azza Wajal, what sincere acceptance of Qadr of Allah!

And today, she is a Hafidha-al-Qur'an. Allahu Akbar! Allah is Al-Hakim, The Wise. He took away her ability to walk and work, but He will inshAllah make easy for her, her walk to Jannah because she is a carrier of the Quran now.

(True story changed; details changed a little bit)


Another friend of mine, a true story too.

Within 2-3 months of marriage, she was diagnosed with cancer. It had spread to the whole of her leg, medication and chemotherapy wouldn't help and her whole leg had to be amputated. Anybody would have fallen into extreme depression with this and her new husband's decision to divorce her. (Can't blame him as he was also very young and he was starting his life....what good would a wife in this situation so early in marriage be?)

But she stayed tough for Allah SWT says in the Quran: Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. (Surah Al-Baqara: 282) and so, Allah gave her strength to bear this ordeal. She knew that Allah wouldn't test her without bestowing upon her the ability to bear it.
Today she is single, she is studying; she is happy. And most of all, she has turned more to Her Lord in submission. She is learning her deen more, and appreciating Allah's wisdom. She prays Allah purifies her soul and expiates her sins for her. (Aameen)
These sisters are amazing people mashAllah. How many people, at the strike of calamity/ difficulty turn away from their Lord, cursing their qadr. How many people actually appreciate the bounties from Allah more when something relatively bad happens to them? Or even if they are patient, how many of us take advantage of such a situation to make more dua' and become religious.
We might become religious while we are tested, and when all goes well again, we forget. We forget how feeble we are, in comparison with everything else that is happening to us, around us. We forget how helpless we are and how much in need of Our Creator, Our Sustainer we are. We forget the true essence of "Allahu Akbar"- that nothing in this world is greater than Allah. That nothing in this world is worth dying for, other than for the sake of Allah. (I don't mean, dying in the literal sense- rather, running behind worldly pleasures even though it might be against what Islam teaches.) We forget that this duniya is like the water retained on a needle when dipped in the ocean.
May Allah make us among the inhabitants of Jannathul Firdaws. May Allah make us steadfast in our religion.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Strength Within: Youth of The Ummah

Bismillahi Ar-Rahmani Ar-Raheem

Alhamdulillah, this New Year's weekend, we were able to invest our time in a very beneficial vacation. We drove to Sacramento for a conference and the theme was the title you see above. The Youth of our Ummah is our kids. As parents, one can never read or learn enough about parenting, its challenges, responsibilities, how one should tackle problems, what are the problems of today etc....A parent is always yearning to hear new techniques, methods and tips subhanAllah...And this is because of many reasons:

1. You love your kids to death. You want the best for them always. You want the best for them in this duniya, and if you yourself firmly believe in the aakhirah and its eternity, you want the best for them in the aakhirah too.

2. A muslim parent think of this blessing (the blessing of having a child to invest into) as a trust from Allah. And as with anything that has been entrusted, you want to make sure you keep it safe, protect it from external harm.

3. Having a righteous child who will make dua for you, is one of the three things mentioned in the hadeeth An-Nabiyyu Sallallahu alaihiwassalam, that the reward of which will continue to culminate. I see it as a kind of selfishness on the parent's part for wanting to have a righteous child- the greed for continuous reward.

Some pointers on how we can do our best in ensuring our kids will be on the straight path- the path that Allah wants us to tread on:

1. Proper Communication with them:

Usually, when we talk about good communication skills, we think of the best manner to convey your message, having eye contact while you speak, using the language that is easy to understand. Well, you do not have proper communication skills even if you master the art of speech till you have also mastered the art of listening. Being a good listener needs much more training than being a good speaker. And some of the elements needed are lot of patience, a sincere interest in the other person and controlling your inner force that tells you "You have to make your point". As Sheikh Yasser Fazzaqa (Hafidhahullah) said, the person is more important than the point.

Listen to your child. Only through listening will you know your child. If we do not listen to them whne they are really young, you will not be able to hear them as they enter their teens. Its going to be too late and will leave you to fret over "I cannot understand my 15 year old." Your child must be given the freedom of conveying her feelings, emotions and discussing everything that happens in his/her life.

Also, to bring them up to be a listener of what you, as a parent, say to them, you have to teach them to listen. And the only way to teach them that is by practising it yourself inshAllah.

2. Mutual respect:

Well, the goal is for them to respect you since you are the parent. But again, the best way to teach how to respect is by respecting them (and hence, the mutual respect). Respect their feelings, their visions; let them have a say in family matters especially if it is concerning them. Give them a choice, allow them to choose from within their limits.

There is one aspect of respect which can become fear of the parent. This is dangerous, and it can lead them to become liers and hypocrites. This is a scary line for myself to draw. But if parents could always remember not to be imposing or dictating, it could help inshAllah. "Because I said so" should not be the reason for their obedience. Rather there is a higher ultimate reason- it is not good for you, Allah loves for you to do that/avoid that and Allah's Magnificient promise of reward.

3. You are what your friends are:

Man, in general, is impressionable- let alone kids. We get influenced by the people we hang out with. And we always want to belong to a niche. A group where we feel comfortable and cozy at. Especially for our young ones, they sometimes feel more at home- not at home, but with their peer group. They have a lot in common. With this in mind, we need to:

a. Be a friend for them.

Lower yourself to them, where they feel comfortable establishing a friendship with you (ofcourse while being a matured parent too) Try to be in their shoes.

b. Make sure you connect them with kids whose parents share your values too.

c. Just like how "Home Sweet Home", let "Masjid Sweet Masjid" be too- because thats where they meet nice people.

Let trips to the Masjid be a way to reward your children when they have behaved well. There are many reasons for this to be a rewarding experience: Khalas and Ammus say "MashAllah, you look cute/ you are so good" etc. The Imam/ Sheikh/random people giving the child candies, lollipops (which I am starting to have a problem with). Alhamdulillah, our masjid has a nice cafeteria, a playground and it would be nice for all community builders to have structures like these built in the Islamic Center/ adjoining the masjid. (Youth rooms where they can chill, relax, read, hang out with halal friends, maybe play some halal video games etc. is another luring attraction for the youth)
Dont decide on one fine day that you need to take your child to the masjid because lately he/she is not being good, and so he needs some discipline, and so "Baba is taking you to masjid". This would sound like a punishment.
Masjid should be a frequent thing if not everyday.
Masjid should not be a rare thing like Sunday school.
4. And Sunday school is not what our beautiful deen is:
There are these 2 kids I love a lot (and my heart goes out to them). I pray that Allah increases them in their knowledge and deen, and make them a positive influence for their families and their community. So they go for Sunday school and they experience the beauty and purity of our Deen alhamdulillah. They love what they learn there. They love to try out and practise what they learn there. It makes them feel good about themselves, they feel happy when they think about pleasing Allah.
At home, its different. SubhanAllah! Their parents mashAllah give a lot of consideration in providing them with the best provisions, enrolling them in programmes that will develope their personality and can be added to their list of achievements for this Dunya. But when it comes to Deen, its a "Sunday school" thing.
Islam is too beautiful and perfect to implement only when needed. Islam is a complete way of life. Islam is the way that will beautify one's aakhirah too.
5. Which made me remember: Avoid contradictions- between what they are taught and they see in their role models- The Parents
When they see contradictions, they reduce deen to a text book science. It even promotes a hypocritic nature.
For example: They are taught the importance of Salah. And they notice the parents go to sleep before praying Isha.
6. Educate them about the challenges they will face according to their age.
Exposing them to the challenge is a risky way to teach, in my opinion. But if they are not exposed, they won't know. Or they will come to know from the very same people we do not want to hear from/ learn from. So we need to educate them in the best possible manner according to their age.
For example: Drug Abuse and addiction is fast spreading to very young kids, even to 8 year olds. So, dont hesitate to educate them about it.
Talk to them about Gender Relations, Alcohol, Music- their bad effects and how Allah has made harmful things haram for us.
Educate them that Allah wants only good for us, and He wants to protect us from harm, and that is why Islam has rules, obligations and laws which we need to follow for safguarding ourselves.
These are just some points I wanted to talk about, but in conclusion we should also remember that Allah Azza Wajal commanded us to save ourselves first and then He Subhanahu Wa ta'ala mentioned our families:
"Oh you who has believed, protect yourself and your families from the Fire". (Surah At-Tahreem: 6)
So, nurturing first should start at the individual level, then the kids. On the Day of Qiyamah, we will stand alone, each accountable for what he/she has done. No matter how righteous our child would have grown upto be, it will not avail us if we are not practising righteousness ourselves.
May Allah accept our dua, and a'mal what we do for His Sake. May He make us and our children among the swaliheen, shuhada', anbiya' and give us th best companionship in Jannathul Firdaws....aameen
Wa aakhir da'wana anil hamdu lillahi rabbil 'aalameen.