Alhamdulillah, I am yet again convinced that there is nothing that we choose in order to seek Allah’s pleasure, He will surely make a way out of the situation for us. When I pulled Sumayya out of school I was still a little concerned about her need to mix and socialize with other kids, because of her English and also because she is very sensitive child. But, alhamdulillah, we have come to know some great families where I would be quite happy for our children to be friends with and inshaAllah they will influence each other only in a positive way.
It is through these families and other sisters I have met recently my original monthly Mum’s Discussion Group has really taken off and rolling into something bigger, Alhamdulillah. I encourage all the sisters reading this post to get out and get to know the sisters within their community and initiate a similar groups in their own communities inshaAllah.
Below is the short talk I delivered for our first study circle (khalaqa) that was held on Saturday 3rd March at a sister’s house. It was followed by a discussion and Alhamdulillah, was useful and beneficial for all of us. If you initiate a similar project in your city/town, please feel free to use it as a launching talk inshaAllah. *smile*
For a long time I had wanted to launch a project called an Islamic Parenting. It is an ongoing project where all Muslim mothers of Bradford could come together to inspire each other, to motivate each other, to educate each other to be a better mom so that we could help our children to become someone better than ourselves, to be the real servants of God and to succeed in this world and the next, inshaAllah.
Why is there a need for such a project? We have a lot of problems with Muslim youth in Bradford (and worldwide as well). Our youngsters turning to drugs and smoking, adultery and robbery. We cant turn away from these problems. The only way we could change this situation is through education and getting more involved in our childrens’ lives from an early stages. Secondly, a lot of us have children at similar ages. So, by coming together discussing the challenges we have, we learn from each other’s experience whilst letting our children form friendship with each other.
Firstly, we have to conduct the needs analysis for out children. What is it we want them to achieve? What is our aim for them? We want them to be kind, just, honest, caring and the list is endless. But, ultimately we want them to love God and love worshipping the One God so that they become successful not just in this world but in the next as well. We want them to love the prophet saw and imitate his character and actions. But how do you embody the character of the prophet Muhammad (saw) on children? There is one simple formula for this: Example is the Best Sermon. We should be careful for children will always test us on everything we ask them to do. So it is very ineffective to ask them to be honest, humble, giving, sharing, noble, caring etc unless we strive to have all those qualities in ourselves first. We may tell them shouting is not good but we shout at them when they misbehave.
Another simple example is I am always telling my kids to sit down and drink. However, when I am cooking and preparing things I drink and have little snacks on the go. So, they always catch me drinking standing and ask: “But, mom, why are you drinking standing. You should sit down”. Three things they are noting: I am not following the sunnah, I am contradicting myself by telling kids to do one thing and doing the opposite myself and thirdly I am not showing them the good example. Alhamdulillah, I sit down near the sink and drink my water now. So, if we want to teach our children we should never stop learning ourselves. We should act on what we say/ask our children to do as well.
Second, we should show love and compassion. The prophet saw said “He is not one of us who doesn’t show compassion to our little ones and recognize the rights of elders” (Ahmad/Hakim). Anas r.a reported that :”I have never seen anyone who is more compassionate to children than the messenger of God. Whenever he passed a group of young boys he would smile fondly and greet them” (Bukhari/Muslim) How often do we smile at our children? Sometimes when kids misbehave you can win over your anger/child with smiling. Remember, smiling has a psychological effect on yourself and on everyone else around you. It restores self-confidence in our kids and makes them feel loved unconditionally. Kate Samperi, author of numerous books on children said “Before becoming a mother I had a hundred theories on how to bring up children. Now I have seven children and only one theory: Love them, especially when they least deserve to be loved.”
Show physical compassion. We should give them plenty of hugs and kisses. Especially as they become teenagers. One day Bedouin came to prophet saw and asked him “Do you kiss your sons. Because we dont”. Prophet saw said “What can I do for you if Allah has removed mercy from your heart?” Abu huraira ra reported that Rasulullah kissed Hasan ibn Ali when Aqra b Hamis At Tamimi was sitting with him. He said I have ten children and I have never kissed any one of them. The messenger of God looked at him and said “Whoever doesn’t show mercy will not be shown mercy”. We should practise this advice at times of disciplining as well.
Third, we should listen to our children and spend a quality time with them. Catherine M. Wallace, another author on children have said
”Listen earnestly to anything your children want to tell you, no matter what. If you don’t listen eagerly to the little stuff when they are little, they won’t tell you the big stuff when they are big, because to them all of it has always been big stuff.”
Sheikh Yahya Adel Ibrahim said in one of his talks recently “The greatest thing you can do for your children is to be around them and spend considerable quality time with them not just near them”. Spending quality time doesn’t take long and is not expensive at all. This is not just taking children here and there, to this playgroup and to that indoor/outdoor playing area etc. A fine example of spending quality time woud be reading aloud to them, ask them to narrate prophet’s stories, take nature walks and ask them to notice changes in nature whilst talking about Creator. It could be as simple as discussing family matters together and ask for their opinions.
Fourth, Disciplining without spanking. Patience needed at all times but especially when disciplining children. Always remember Muhammad (saw) said “The strongest among you is the one who can control himself when he is angry”. So, we should try not to show our anger to children. And he (saw) said “Whoever controls his anger, while he has the power to show it, Allah (s) will call him on the Day of Resurrection before all creation, and reward him greatly.” Sometimes it takes ages even for one smallest habit to stick. Patience is key to success. We should read more on habit formation, establishing the routine and setting boundaries. If we train these three from young age, inshaAllah there will be no clashes as children become teenagers and beyond.
Fifth, we should stop comparing our children. Comparing the siblings to one another, comparing children to their friends, comparing their Qur’an hifdh, or math skills, it has to be stopped. We should let each of them be who they are. For each human being is unique and has their own strengths and weaknesses. SubhanAllaah. As they grow older we can introduce the concept of healthy competition, competition in good deeds. But, for younger children I have experienced that very often comparisons and competitions leave a negative effect.
To conclude, we should remind ourselves that children are amanah; a trust from God. So, we should raise them in a way that is in line with Qur’an and the Sunnah. If we succeed in doing so, then they will be the glamour of this world to us. If we raise them in a way that is in conflict with the Sunnah and raise them as hostile to the Qur’an, then they could be a source of trial and trouble. May God save us from such a trial.
On the day of Judgement we will be asked about the blessings we have been bestowed. And children are blessing. And Allah has asked us to protect ourselves and our families from the fire. Allah is going to ask “Did our children know Allah, did they know who the prophet was, did they know what the aqeedah meant, and did they know the lifestyles of sahaba?” And each of us should ask ourselves each day “Did we safeguard our trust or did we lose it?”