Parenting is a terrain of battle you can never fully prepare for. There is no guaranteed formula. Instead, there are high percentage practices, good examples and bad ones. But no single theory or practice is fool proof.
1 When a young or middle aged parent gives advice, I remind myself, they're still in the middle of their experiment. Let's just wait and see the results.
2 When an older person, whose kids are all grown up and doing ok, gives advice, I think to myself: times changed so quickly, this advice probably expired.
3 The amount of factors in any one family are so many, it would take a super-computer to calculate all the possibilities. A one-child upbringing is far different from a multi-child one. The boy-girl birth order dynamic is totally different than the girl-boy, or boy-boy or girl-girl.
Once you have three kids, you get the middle child problem. A fourth child, in turn, eliminates middle child syndrome, but initiates chaos theory, which is the idea that after three kids, order in the house is actually impossible.
4 Now note that every parent was also a product of an upbringing, so you have to factor what the parent is. A first born will expect rules to be followed. A second born will be more tolerant of independence and risky behavior. And in today's world with all the divorce and remarriage you have a plethora of combos such as being the mom's first born but the dad's third.
5 There are two parents and they have their own dynamics. You have the fiery dad and the sweet mom. Or the rigid mom and the chill dad. Or in some families, the dad who's 60 and the mom is 32. All sorts of combinations.
6 Then you have to factor in ethnicity and culture. Immigrant families come from rich cultures and observe strict parenting. White kids get to enjoy other privileges, like sleep-overs and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
7 Enter technology, which throws the whole thing off the rail for good. Even as adults, do we have *any* precedent of any generation or any righteous predecessors who dealt with cell phone use and all the junk that comes with it? We have none. We're the first generation to deal with it. So if we as adults have no precedent and no clue how to handle it, how are we supposed to give any meaningful advice to the next generation? We agree on one thing: the stuff is poison for your brain and your soul. As for what to do about it: nada.
All we can do is trial and error, slip ups and repentance. But here's the zinger, things change so fast now that by the time we figure out what works and what doesn't, new technology will have transformed everything, and all our new-found knowledge will have become irrelevant.
By the time I had finally conquered TV, the internet came along. By the time I dealt with that, YouTube was born (arguably the greatest time waster in the history of mankind). By the time I reigned that in, the iPhone was in every pocket. If I as an adult cannot keep up pace, how in the world should I expect a high schooler to??
All of these different things is why parenting doesn't come with the a handbook. Way too many dynamics.
What we do have is ancient high percentage good habits. If you do these things, there's a higher chance of avoiding disaster.
-Focusing on studies is a great habit. It keeps kids busy. It gives them short and long term goals. Crushing their exams gives kids' high self-esteem, and it makes their future brighter. Also, when you get good at it, it's fun.
-Being home more than not is an ancient idea that has a high percentage of good results. There will be exceptions, but kids who are rooted in a home and have dinner with their family tend to be more stable.
-Memorizing Quran is amazing. Can you go out there and find a hafiz who fell through the cracks? Sure. But in the main, it's the opposite.
-Sports is great. It releases energy, teaches team spirit, and gives harmless experiences on winning, losing and overcoming.
-A good community is priceless, because at a certain age, the parent becomes influence #2, having been displaced by 'friends' at #1. So you better hope they have good friends. And to get good friends, you need to have dinner parties with other families who share the same beliefs and morals as you. And to do that you need to live near a good mosque where those things are taught and reinforced, so it's a cycle.
If you are part of a community, you get more information. You see good examples, and you see bad ones. A bad example is even more important than a good one, because you get to say: "You see the nasty infection on that kid's nostril? That's what happens when you try to pierce your own nose. Want to try it yourself?"
In the end, there are high percentage practices, good examples and cautionary tales. Then when you finally discuss all this with the wisest person you've ever met, they say, "None of that matters. All you really have is dua." But it might be all you need.
May Allah help all parents in the umma and give us sabr and wisdom. Ameen!
The origin of world we exist in has only three possible explanations. No fourth.
1-It had no beginning and always existed.
2-It created itself.
3-Another force brought it into existence.
The first one is a logical absurdity as it requires us to believe in an infinite series of causes and effects that have no origin. Like a series of dominoes knocking down one another with no beginning nor end.
The second one is also a logical absurdity in that it would require a thing to exist and not exist simultaneously at the same moment, which is impossible.
The third one is possible. There is nothing logically impossible with the idea of a force we don't know about that made this universe. And logically, this force must be uncreated, for if it was created, then it would be just another link in the infinite domino effect of causes.
If it is uncreated, then time is not applicable to it, as cause/effect and time are intertwined and inseparable. If there is no cause/effect nor time, then there is no space nor matter either, for space and matter are merely agents of cause and effect, which in turn is an agent of time.
Therefore, by intellect alone, it can be deduced that this world has a maker that is uncreated and exists independently of time, space and matter. What else do we know about this maker by intellect alone? Nothing.
Intellect alone is enough for a person to reject paganism and idolatry. But anything else about this maker can only be known through the phenomenon called prophecy, which can only be trusted by either direct meeting or documented reliable transmission, which we have in the form of Quran and authenticated hadith.
There were some people in the past that rejected idols by merely intellect and fitra, but never met a prophet and did not know anything else except that idols were false. Some refer to them as Sabians, which in Arabic means rejectors, for all they could do was reject falsehood.
QUESTION - Some scholars mention that if someone remembers Allah without being able to hear himself then these adhkar do not count, although he is rewarded for them. Please clarify this. Is it enough for us to move our tongues when reading the adhkar that you have given us even if we cannot hear ourselves?
ANSWER - This relates to adhkar which are either obligatory or recommended, such as the adkhar in the prayer. One must move their tongue if these adhkar are in the prayer. As for adhkar that someone reads outside the prayer and on their own, there is no need for them to hear themselves. In fact the highest state of dhikr is that of the heart in which the tongue is not moving.
Go slow and easy in the deen or you will not last. The Prophet peace be upon him warned about those who go in hard. "They come out of the end of the target." I personally had never understood this hadith. Neither did Dawud Yasin until he started hunting: if you're too close to the dear, your arrow actually goes through the entire dear's body and out of the other side.
The best feature of a person's religion is consistency. And consistency can only happen through balance. Life, work, deen, and even leisure and entertainment to unload the build up of the minor stress of daily life. Abu al-Darda' used to say, "I engage in something of the batil so as to return to my ibada fresh."
Also, this religion is a social one. There is a time and place for being alone and staying away from people. But as a general rule, it's social. And if we are going to have long-lasting relationships, then we must learn respect and restraint. Nobody is bon with these things; they're learned.
The tongue should be viewed as an enemy. As Ibn al-Qayyim said, "This is why Allah put it behind bars: your teeth." The default setting of the jaw bone is that it's closed. So the default setting should be silence. Only if there is a need or a Sunna should we talk. Because mainly, it is unwise words that soil relationships. Further, silence helps your reputation. An American author once said sarcastically to critic, "When you were silent, I could only guess how stupid you were; but when you started talking, you confirmed it."
In the spirit of consistency, I love this African saying: "If you need to go fast, go alone. If you need to go far, go together."
Your Lord, the The Most Merciful said, "O My servants. You commit sins day and night, and I forgive all sins, so make istighfar to Me, and I will forgive you."
The Prophet ﷺ said, "If you bathed in a river five times a day would any filth be left on you?" The Sahaba said no. The Prophet ﷺ said that is the effect of the five prayers on the heart.
The spirituality of today is:
+ little sadaqas
+ good manners with people
+ good dhikr sessions
to clean off those sins and polish the heart.
Listening to Quran is of the easiest and fastest way to bring a lot of Nur into the heart. "Who is better him or the one in whom We placed Nur in his heart and so he walks with it into the people."
One who is on a sound aqida has opened a vast door of mercy by which to be forgiven. But as for one with errors therein, or failing to recognize the importance of sound beliefs, no matter how much good he does, he only opens a small door. Right Belief > Right Action.
"Oh you who believe, believe." What does this verse mean? It means:
1-study aqida seriously; don't be satisfied with just basics
2-be sincere in your actions, do not let it be just words
3-remove the rust of riya (showing off) and nifaq (hypocrisy)
In our tawba, elevate the five prayers and sunnas around it. Two Companions died, one being better than the others. The Sahaba said, "The more virtuous one died six months before the less virtuous one." The Prophet ﷺ said, "As for the second one, how do you know where his prayers delivered him?" Meaning that six months of more obligatory prayers could have equalled him in rank with his brother.
People exercise for an hour. Or go to a movie for two or three. Imagine if we gave the same time to dhikr and istighfar. Our hearts would be shining and our records clean.
Three times in the Quran, the word NATAWAFAYANNAKA is used to inform the Prophet peace be upon him that he will be taken back to Allah (i.e. death). Look at the sura numbers.
فَاصْبِرْ إِنَّ وَعْدَ اللَّهِ حَقٌّ فَإِمَّا نُرِيَنَّكَ بَعْضَ الَّذِي نَعِدُهُمْ أَوْ نَتَوَفَّيَنَّكَ فَإِلَيْنَا يُرْجَعُونَ
وَإِنْ مَا نُرِيَنَّكَ بَعْضَ الَّذِي نَعِدُهُمْ أَوْ نَتَوَفَّيَنَّكَ فَإِنَّمَا عَلَيْكَ الْبَلاغُ وَعَلَيْنَا الْحِسَابُ
وَإِمَّا نُرِيَنَّكَ بَعْضَ الَّذِي نَعِدُهُمْ أَوْ نَتَوَفَّيَنَّكَ فَإِلَيْنَا مَرْجِعُهُمْ ثُمَّ اللَّهُ شَهِيدٌ عَلَى مَا يَفْعَلُونَ
40 - years before the message
13 - years in Makka
10 - years in Madina
TOTAL = 63 - age of the Prophet peace be upon him.
One of the most comforting hadiths: "From the best [features] of a person's Islam is leaving off what doesn't concern him." There is so much he-said she-said in the world today. It's a cause for so much stress and anxiety for people. The reality is: popularity is a massive illusion. "What people think" is a mirage. What really matters is sound family, a couple good friends and solid employment. If your work is meaningful and fulfilling, say al-hamdulillah, because a lot of people do not have the luxury to have meaningful jobs, which is ok, because a halal income is an accomplishment by itself.
I like to focus on these concrete things that are in your control. What people think is largely out of your control and rarely relevant to the big three: faith, family, finances.
Another perspective the Prophet ﷺ taught has to do with death. On my death-bed, will this really matter?? Another view: how many prophets of Allah lived and died utterly hated and mocked by people. Irrelevant. Keep moving on with life.
Thinking about what other people think is a major time-waster and actually a ploy of shaytan to make you either annoyed, angry or feel low about yourself. Be wary of scrolling through feeds. 2 out of 3 things that can happen are bad. You either like a post or it aggravates you. Or it's something in the middle and in that case you just wasted your time. So it's a 66% chance of negative and only 33% positive. If those are my chances, I'll toss the whole thing aside, no hesitation. "Leave what gives you doubt for what gives you no doubt." The right way to do things is to pointedly go directly to the sources that you like instead of scrolling through feeds.
Lastly, when you look at the lives of the most successful people in either deen or dunya, they share two qualities: they know what they want and then they laser focus on it. Everything else is noise. They are courageous enough to not worry about missing out. In contrast, look at the fools of life: they can't say no to anything, and as a result they complete nothing.
The Palestine issue used to be one of the unifying factors in the umma. It's not anymore. At least in America. Concerted efforts by certain Zionist think tanks have managed to soften a decent number of Muslim authors and media personalities when it comes to Zionism. They're now "nuanced" on the issue. There's that word again.
The place for nuance is on secondary issues, not foundational ones. Theft and oppression---last I checked---were foundational issues. The people of Gaza and the West Bank---last I checked---are neither citizens of a country nor have their own country. There is no need for another recitation of Israeli crimes against 4.5 million Palestinian people. This stuff is known by virtue of being alive.
But yet, as Israel's power increases day by day, denial seems to become the new norm. 'Denial is the mind’s capacity to block out, forget, push aside and minimize information that is uncomfortable or painful to the self.'
The biggest irony of all that American Liberals today are severe on Zionism. Campuses are strongly Pro-Palestinian to the point that Jewish student groups often feel quite uncomfortable. Yet the Muslims who are the most liberal-leaning of all, are the ones warming towards Israel. It's bizarre. They're the ones whose rallying cry is the fight against Islamophobia, and yet they repeatedly go on Israel trips sponsored by Islamophobic groups like the Russell Berrie Foundation. It is as if the only common thread in their positions is to go against what all the rest of the Muslims are upon.
In sum, you can add this to the list of points that "used to be obvious" but now needs to be spelled out. Sad.
When the Muslims came to Madinah, the Prophet ﷺ paired Ammar ibn Yasir with the Ansari Abbad ibn Bishr.
On the way back from an expedition, Abbad saw that Ammar was tired and asked what part of the night he wished to sleep, so that the other could stand guard. Ammar chose the first part. As Ammar slept, Abbad began praying and reciting Qur’an. The voice of Abbad was special; the Messenger of Allah ﷺ had heard it once in Madinah at night and enjoyed it.
As Ammar slept and Abbad recited, an attacker who followed the Muslims saw Abbad, and fired an arrow at him. Abbad pulled it out and continued the recitation. Two more arrows followed, but Abbad finished and went into sajda. While in prostration, he reached out and weakly woke up Ammar, who jumped up and fended off the enemy. Turning to Abbad shocked, he asked why he didn’t wake him up after the first arrow. Abbad replied that he did not want to cut short the sura he was reciting, which happened to be Surat al-Kahf.
The companions called him the “friend of the Qur’an.” Aisha once remarked, “there are three among the Ansar with whom no one can excel in virtue: Sa’d ibn Mu’adh, Usayd ibn Hudayr, and Abbad ibn Bishr.”
He died a shahid in the battle of Yamamah. Allah be pleased with him.
There are two ways Allah creates. Cause and effect, and Be and it is.
Cause and effect itself is a result of Be and it is. The very idea of cause of effect is an original idea that at one point in pre-eternity did not exist and was brought into creation by Allah and it's one of those creations that's completely taken for granted.
Cause and effect is a mercy for human beings by which we can learn what causes what and what doesn't and predict it and then plan accordingly and even manipulate the causes to get what we want.
Be and it is, on the other hand will never be known to us in this world. "I did not let make them witness the creation of the heavens and the earth nor the creation of their own selves, so do not take as helpers those who lead others astray" (18:51 Kahf).
What happened from the time there was mud & water to the moment you had Sayyidna Adam standing, fully clothed and speaking? That exactly is what this verse is talking about. We will never know *how* Allah created Adam. That is the point of Be and it is. Our minds will not comprehend it in this life, and even if it could, Allah chose to veil it from us.
Some people say, well I have to know the cause. I tell them look, on what basis are you taking cause and effect to be some universal given of existence?? It too is a creation that at one point Allah said Be and it became.
And guess what else, like all other creation, it will be given death too. Cause and effect will die and cease to exist in the way we know it now. Only traces of it will exist. In the next life we will be given Be and it is by the permission of Allah. In Jannah there are no processes and there is no production. If you want something you merely think it and it comes to you.
So those who have been trained through certain literature to be obsessed with this idea that everything must have a material cause or else I won't accept it...that mentality has to be limited to certain worldly spheres, like medicine where we are ordered by Sharia to use cause and effect. Otherwise, it's not absolute and it itself is subject to the same questioning (of what brought the idea of cause and effect into existence?). Like all other creation, we must by guided to know when to use it and what it's limits are.
In contrast, there is no such problem in Islam. The origin of all things is Allah and Allah Himself is wholly different from all things by very definition in that God has no beginning and no end and is not subjected to time, space, materiality or cause and effect.
Wallahu wali al-tawfiq.