Friday, May 13, 2022

Raising Righteous Children

Family and RelationshipsRaising Righteous Children

It was around 9.00 pm in the evening when my son called to ask me if he could bring home a friend from the masjid to spend the night by us. He told me his parents actually lock him out of his home fairly frequently because he only got B’s and C’s at school. Usually, he would spend the nights at his friend but this night his friend was out of town. I actually remembered the young man from my classes. His parents were actually very good activist Muslims who had such high expectations for their children that they could not tolerate any deviation from their planned blueprint for their child.

This incident is just one of many thousands that highlight the challenge of good Muslim parents trying to raise Islamically and academically accomplished children. From the viewpoint of the parents, their children were not following or obeying them and they were slowly losing their control over them. From the children’s point of view, their parents were trying to suffocate their ambitions, independence and pursuit of their dreams. Cases where desperate parents decide to take matters into their own hands lead to tragic endings. Aqsa Parvez 16 years of age was strangled by her Pakistani father in Canada in 2007 for refusing to wear the hijab. Egyptian Yasir from Texas shot to death both of his daughters Amina (18 y/o) and Sarah (17 y/o). His motivation was because they both had boyfriends and he could not talk them out of it. These are just two of so many examples.

As an Imam, parents often come to me with their truant and wayward kids and look to me to find some magical way to fix or reform their children. The issues are many. Some examples are: my child does not want to come to masjid; my child is taking drugs; my child is possessed by a jinn, my child is talking about suicide; my child refuses to go to school anymore; my child is depressed; my child does not believe in God; my child watches pornography; my child does not listen to or obey me and my child is having illicit sexual relationships. This is just a small sample of the challenges parents face when trying to raise their children to become good and ambitious Muslims.

In addressing this issue, we have to attempt to rehabilitate the damaged youth (downstream focus) and also to understand the factors that have led to this undesired end product i.e. the errant youth (upstream focus). The factors that lead to the “losing of our youth” lies in three main areas. The untrained and ill-equipped parents, the Islamically challenging environment and the broken Muslim Community.

The first issue is the parents. They are mostly born in a different land with a unique cultural norm and context, untrained in the fine art of parenting, with an immigrant mentality (unlike their children), technologically challenged and not Islamically knowledgeable. Parents are so busy trying to work, pay bills and provide a safe home that they have little time to help their children become both Islamically conscious and academically smart. They usually settle for the academic path alone.

The second challenge to producing righteous children is the environment in which we are raising our children. Our children living in America are born into a world of technology, social media, movies, drugs, stress, fashion, Internet, materialism, atheism, video games, unrestrained gender mixing, LGBTQ and worship of fun, fame and fast food. In such an environment, the chances of producing Islamically compliant children are enormously difficult. Everything that Islam advocates is an antithesis of their exposed lifestyle. Islam advocates us to be humble, moral, unmaterialistic and advocating goodness.

The third factor that affects us producing amazing Muslim leaders from our children is the broken Muslim Community. This Community must provide the support system for parents raising children. Parenting and spousal relationships seminar and other spaces to learn must be offered. It must create an environment where children can be Islamically educated, meet Muslim friends, participate in meaningful fun Islamic activities and find role models. It must create safe spaces where the youth can voice their angsts, concerns, doubts and issues and be given good advices as to how to resolve them. It must provide the counseling and mentoring services for the youth. It must create opportunities for the youth to become empowered future leaders with confidence in their identify and enthusiastic to make their dreams a realty. It must offer guidance on career paths and marriage partners. The Muslim Community must find a way for Muslim families to feel safe, connected and validated. Finally, the Islamic Community must facilitate the nurturing of members to feel the tranquility of believing and loving Allah as well as the peace and joy that comes from pursuing righteous actions for His pleasure. When a Muslim Community is broken, it will dramatically affect the success of us raising amazing Islamically conscious children.

Allah has mandated us to “O you who believe, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones…” (Qur’an 66:6). Thus, we are encouraged to have families and do our best to make them become God conscious Muslims. Allah also informs us of the difficulty of two tests when He says “And know that your wealth and your children are but a trial and that Allah has with Him a great reward” (Qur’an 8:28). Despite this difficulty we are still asked by Allah to pray to Him thus “Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and children comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous” (Qur’an 25:74). So how do we make this dua’ a reality.

The solution is to adopt a multi-pronged approach. Firstly, we must seek to ensure that spouses are properly matched as Allah says “… good women are for good men and good men are for good women…” (Qur’an 24:26). Parents must be trained and helped in raising their children. They must be taught how to raise smart, pious, loving, ambitious, resilient children. They must also be provided with proper syllabi for them to teach their children at home along with the Masjid Madrassah. Spousal relationship must be given priority before the children arrive. Muslim communities must seek to provide what we mentioned above. Lastly, acknowledgement must be given to the Muslim youth’s identity search and respect given to their dreams. We do this when the Imam\scholar, parent and the youth come together to find a way to align their three varied perceptions of the youth’s future path. When this happens, the youth’s chances of becoming an amazing Muslim leader increases manifold. The last challenge to raise righteous children is the Islamically hostile environment. This will always be present as long as Shaitaan (devil) exists. If a proper job is done by the parents and the community to prepare the children well, their Islam will be more than enough to facilitate them to successfully navigate any kind of challenge or temptation. As Allah told the Shaitaan “Verily! My slaves, you have no authority over them. And All-Sufficient is your Lord as a Guardian.”

Author

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    Naseeb Khan was born in Guyana and is one of the founding members of the Guyana Islamic Trust and its first Ameer. He has been involved in the da’wah and youth work for over forty years and was Imam of Nur ul Islam, Florida for the past ten years. He is an author and has written several books and articles on Islam. Among them are “The Islamic Meeting”, "Tried and Tested" and "Ramadan 101 for busy Muslims".

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