Self-development

Bismillah,

 

The girls have been going to swimming for the past two weeks. Alhamdulillah, Big S is swimming so well without armbands. I actually doubted her swimming skills since we have not been at all for the past 6 months (since the birth of baby S, that is nearly half a year subhanAllah). And even before that we were not going regularly due to pregnancy and other issue. Hence I was actually very surprised when I saw her swimming. Especially the second week, she was swimming on her back, on her front, with her head under the water and she tried sideways. So, she was basically confident enough to try out different styles of swimming.

Now middle S is a complete different story. First week we didn’t take armbands so she was constantly either clinging to me or to metal bar on the side of the pool. Second week, with armbands on, she did let the metal bar go a little and she was praising herself so much for that. This girl of mine does not like to challenge herself. SubhanAllah.

Anyway, this post is supposed to be about myself and how I am connecting to the children. Since I have come back from Saudi, I keep thinking and rethinking about our set ways of doing things and my teaching and I feel there is something missing. I am often disappointed with myself. Generally speaking, I think one feels quite disappointed to return to this “dunya” where everything revolves around worldly things and you have just been to a holy a place at a time everything revolves around Godly things. Very strange feeling.

So, I keep evaluating things at home and keep asking “What do I want to achieve out of this homeschool thing? What is it really I am striving for?” Yes I want them to be able to read and understand Qur’an. Yes I want them to learn the Arabic language proficiently. Yes I want them to excel in Math, English, Science and in all their academic subjects. Yes I want them to go to top universities and become a dentist, a doctor, an archaeologist and ocean explorer, a story writer and an illustrator. However, the bottom line is, I want them to be good MUSLIMS.  So, before anything else, I want them to have good spiritual connection with Allah the Almighty and submit completely to the will of God. I want them to have that complete tavakkul (faith) and certainty with Allah swt and live their lives according to Islam.

I think we all agree that there is really only one effective way of moulding their character in this way from young age. There is only one thing we can do and that is SELF-DEVELOPMENT. If I really want to instil Islamic values in my children so they build up an Islamic character, the way forward is to start focusing more on myself. Because children will naturally observe, imitate, copy the adults of the household. And I strongly feel that my children are educating me in so many ways. They make me so conscious of what I say, how I speak, what’s my attitude and how I react. I know they are banking all these somewhere in their brain and will have exact same attitude to most things in life later on. That is so scary for me because I know I have a lot of character traits to improve. I am constantly praying that my children will turn up as someone much better than myself. Inshalla they won’t pick up those bad characteristics. Then at night time I lay in bed thinking “You are kidding yourself. The only way forward is to change those bad bits into good bits”. That is such a struggle, to constantly battle with your own self. May Allah guide and help us all.

So I am disappointed every time I shout to discipline them. I want them to have the love of Allah, the love of the prophet saw and the love of deen. But, I am so quick to point out their mistakes and shortcomings. I am so quick to judge and preach them. I lecture them daily about how Muslims should do things in Islam. And I fear that I am doing “more correcting and less connecting”. I am not really connecting to them in a manner that brings the love of learning Islam, the love of seeking knowledge into their lives. Sometimes I hear a friend or a colleague saying “Oh I hated Maths at school” or “I remember hating this or that subject so much” and the worst thing to happen would be one of our children saying “Oh I hated doing Arabic” or “I hated reading Qur’an” or have very negative attitude towards seeking Shari’ah knowledge.

So, I have decided to focus on 3 things for myself and for my family: Love everyone for the sake of Allah (because this stops that judgemental attitude you have towards others, including one’s children), Live in the moment (focus at present, plan as if you have forever but live as if you only have today) and Share the khayr.  When it comes to children, here is my target to do lise

  • Shout less
  • Discipline less- what it really means is criticise less. praise vs criticism ratio should be 5:1
  • Fill them up with love and make them feel loved unconditionally, regardless of what they do, what they say
  • Create such an atmosphere at home where everyone feels appreciated, wanted, valued
  • Listen to them when they speak, get to their level, make eye-contact
  • Say “yes” more often then “no”
  • More connecting through fun family activities

 

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Positive Islamic Parenting Reminders

Bismillah,

Alhamdulillah, we had our next Islamic Parenting class today attended by 16 mothers. It went really well mashaAllah where everyone shared their tips and experiences on how to help our children with memorizing the Qur’an. If you would like the handouts and the power point presentation from today’s session to be emailed to you please comment on this post with your email address inshaAllah. I will not stop in detail as I have posted previously here and here on hifdh.

We talked a lot about parenting through positive reinforcement today. I had a handout which summarizes ten reminders to be read each morning by parents, especially mothers who are quite busy tending to the needs of a number of children. I don’t remember where I got them originally. But I have got it printed and stuck to my fridge and read from time to time, to remind myself on positive and effective parenting. So, here goes the list.

  1. I am raising my child to be a successful khalifah of Allah, who will help create a truly Islamic World.
  2. Today I will try my best to know and understand all the influences upon my child’s development.
  3. Today I will try my best to help my child understand the power of negative influences to take him/her away from Allah, and the power of positive influences to take him/her to Allah.
  4. Today I will try my best to shield my child from the power of the negative influences.
  5. Today I will try my best to enhance/increase the power of the positive influences on my child to take him/her to Allah.
  6. Today I will try my best to notice some positive things my child does or says, and tell him/her how much those things are appreciated by me and by Allah.
  7. Today I will try my best to say nothing negative to my child. Even if I have to correct my child’s wrong behaviour I will try my best to find some positive way to do so.
  8. Today I will love my child unconditionally, but I will try my best to express that love at times which are most beneficial to my child.
  9. Today I will try my best to be an example of a good and right human being/Muslim for my child.
  10. Today I will pray for Allah’s help that I can be a good parent for my child.

How easy it sounds and how difficult to implement those things in our everyday life. For example, I really struggle to understand what motivates my 4.5 year old daughter to misbehave and I struggle to correct her wrongdoing in positive way.

How about you? Do you find you often discipline your child through negative reinforcement like commenting on their misbehaviour or wrongdoing? Do you resort to force or use physical punishment? Do we as parents put emphasis on achievement and show appreciation of their well behaviour often enough? When we keep commenting on their misbehaviour what becomes of their self-value? Do you worry that “naughty” or “troublemaker” or “loser” might become their self-perception?

 

Islamic Books for Children

Bismillah,

So, your child can read. She is reading books. I suppose after children start reading and have developed the joy of reading, the most important task for parents is to provide them with good books. Books that help them to broaden their horizons; Books that help them to understand the world; Books that help them to differentiate between what is good and what is bad; Books that help them to shape a morally responsible character; Books that promote virtue and discourage vice.

Alhamdulillah, there are many Islamic story books out there than ever before. I would not say we get lots of choice or we always get the quality we want. Nevertheless, the market is developing and with each year behind, we can see more and more Islamic story books aimed at Muslim children of all ages.

Here is my long awaited book review for some of the books we have purchased awhile ago. Alhamdulillah, children have learned so much through these books.

1. A Concise Children’s Encyclopedia of Islam– big S is very much into encyclopaedic books at the moment. I would especially recommend this for children between the ages of 7-10 as they get to read about various phases of Islamic history, Muslim countries, inventions made by Muslims scholars, Islamic rituals and much more. Very interesting to read and beautiful illustrations (with no eyes)

2. Room 101 and Other Stories– I was very much impressed with this book. It is definitely a MUST have book for each Muslim household. Stories were originally written in Arabic by Dr. Ahmad Bassam Saeh, later translated into English by Dr. Imran Alawiye. There are twelve stories altogether, written both in Arabic and English (half a page in English, half a page in Arabic). A great tool for those children who need to practise their Arabic reading and vocab through stories. The book is made using great quality paper, hardcover and contains beautiful illustrations. Each story is so relevant and appealing to today’s society.  Children are encouraged to draw their own conclusions through characters’ behaviour and actions. They learn through each story that whenever a bad/evil is committed there will be a consequence to meet; Whenever good is done there will be a reward to reap; The head of all good deeds is the obedience to Allah swt. Big S (who will be 6 next week inshaAllah) loves this book and reads it every night. Little S (4 year old now) loves to be read as this is too difficult for her to read by herself.

3. Stories of the Prophets– again this book was written originally in Arabic by Sayyed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, translated into English much later. This is ideal for more older children between the ages of 9-12, as it uses text only and no illustrations. It presents the lives of major prophets’ sent by Allah in more greater depth, using Qur’anic and hadeeth references. It is very informative, yet simple and easy to understand for children 7+. Ideal to be used as textbook in class, at home or school etc. It helps a child to understand all prophets’ mission through perceptive observations. Highly recommended

4. Allah and Me- Learning to Live Allah’s Way, teaches that a Muslim does everything for Allah. The book helps to form a strong faith in “Allah knows what is best for us”. The stories are short, simple and easy to understand. There is a Q&A and task based activity after each story. So, you can invite a child to have a follow up discussion after each story to find out what Allah expects from children, what He likes, what He dislikes etc. I find this book very practical as we often refer to one of its stories during the day. The stories are appealing and relevant to most children’s daily life. Allah and Me discusses some Islamic virtues/rituals which we should practise in our daily life in order to live according to Allah’s will. A perfect book to link child’s every action to Allah; to introduce a healthy dose of love of Allah and fear of Allah. (Illustrations are okay)

5. The story of Muhammad saw in Madina– simple and concise introduction to seerah for slightly older children, I would say 6+. Our 6 year old really enjoyed reading it all by herself. Great book to be read to children 4+. Excellent quality paper and excellent illustrations. Stories contain informative explanations and vivid descriptions.

6. These are set of story books published by The Islamic Foundation. We have had them for awhile now. I would say big S grew out of them but they are perfect catch for small S, so ideal for children between 4-6.

Hilmy the Hippo series, 5 books with excellent content and illustrations in this set titled: Hilmy the Hippo learns to Share; Hilmy the Hippo learns to be Grateful, Hilmy the Hippo learns about Death; Hilmy the Hippo learns about Vanity, Hilmy the Hippo learns not to Lie. 

I Can series, 4 board books with awesome illustrations in this set: I Can Read Qur’an Anywhere, I Can Wear Hijab Anywhere, I Can Make Dua Anywhere, I Can Say Bismillah Anywhere.

A Caring Neighbour– A Caring Neighbour

Our Grandad– 

 

 

Cindrella- an Islamic Tale- Cinderella - An Islamic TaleFinally, the set of books about “Know How’s” by Writeway Publications for younger children. These are not story books but lists a number of things about How To Be a Good Muslim on various topics with beautiful illustrations on each page. There are 4 books in this set titled  How To Eat and Drink; How To Be A Good Child; and How To Be Safe; How To Keep Clean. These have been little S’s favourite books recently and little I loves them too.

Alhamdulillah, we have been so far very pleased with our purchase of Islamic books for children. I have to admit that they are a bit expensive sometimes. But, we can not purchase them in charity shops, most libraries in the UK do not provide great variety of Islamic story books for Muslim children and these books are definitely not available in car boot sales. So, we have no choice but to buy them sometimes. InshaAllah, it is a good investment in shaping our children’s character. I can see this especially in big S since she reads these books all the time and then questions me on certain aspects of our life in order to understand more; or certain actions of book characters to make out the conclusion.

Islamic Parenting Circle

Bismillah,

Alhamdulillah, we have launched a much needed project on Islamic Parenting at Raising Explorers. From the start, it has been our aim to work closely with parents. My experiences of teaching has convinced me long ago that educating children would be much more effective if parents understood some basic principles about training a child and how to engage them in learning.

Our first Islamic Parenting Course took place on 21 December 2012. It was titled “Meeting the challenges of parenting in the West, an Islamic Perspective”. Much of what was delivered through an interactive presentation was taken from the book which has the same title.

Parenting, in general terms, refers to caring for a child, helping him/her to be spiritually and mentally healthy at different stages of child development and help him/her reach their full potential as an individual in life. From an Islamic perspective, however, the first notion of parenting that sets the difference is that WE DO NOT OWN OUR CHILDREN. Our children are entrusted to us by Allah swt and we will be responsible for their well-being until they reach maturity.

Allah swt said in the Qur’an “Verily we shall give life to dead and We record that which they send before and that which they leave behind, and of all things have We taken into clear account” (Yasin 36:12). Most commentators derive from the phrase “what they leave behind” is one’s offspring/how they are brought up and other continuous charity. They cite the following 2 hadiths in the tafsir. First, the Prophet stated the two ways of pioneering which will continue to influence and affect others separately: “Whoever pioneers a good practice is given thawab both for that work and for people who will take it as an example for themselves till the end of time. And whoever pioneers an evil practice is given the sin of both for that work and for people who will take it as an example for themselves till the end of time.”  Second, “After one dies, his book of deeds is closed. Yet, rewards for these three things continues: freeing a slave, a useful knowledge that is permanent and a good son/daughter who prays for the good of the dead person.” (Muslim). So, based on these and several other hadith, Children are our sadaqah jaariya- continuous charity. They are the blessing from Allah swt and could be the means for us entering Jannah if we nurture their soul in the right way.

Children have been created by Allah swt with an individual soul and pure fitrah (nature) to worship Allah alone. First and foremost, parents have to help them understand the purpose of one’s life through the worship of their Creator.

Children have 3 rights over their parents. In other words, Islamically all parents are responsible for providing the following three for their children: good name upon birth, good tarbiyyah and get married when they become man/woman of age (Muslim). Very often we give our children good names and majority of Muslim parents do help their children to get married. But we often struggle what comes between these two: giving them the right tarbiyyah.

In the first Islamic Parenting Course, we covered some basic principles for tarbiyyah including

  • Understanding a child
  • Family atmosphere
  • Linking child to Allah swt, incalculating the concept of  ‘La ilaha Illallah’
  • Instilling the love of the Prophet saw
  • Favoritism is not allowed in Islam
  • Setting age-approporiate tasks
  • Showing love and compassion
  • Disciplining without disrespecting

Unfortunately I can not stop in detail about each point here but each is derived from the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Those who have attended the course had the privilege of finding out that precious information, discussing each point in detail and enjoyed the company of sisterhood and motherhood (hint-hint, try to come to the next session). Alhamdulillah, we had really good feedback from all mothers who have attended.

I will soon be typing up the contents of our 2nd Islamic Parenting Circle inshaAllah but off to a class now.