A few weeks ago, I was asked by the admin of one of my favourite parenting pages on Facebook, Concious Parenting Approach, to share some thoughts and quotes/verses that helped and inspired me to parent from an Islamic perspective. Ive put together some of the most inspirational verses and hadith to me personally on the following infographic, which can be downloaded here: Islamic Inspiration for Gentle Parenting and below is an explanation thereof…
As a muslim, it is impossible for me to separate the issue of parenting from that of my faith, or vice versa, the issue of my faith from that of being a parent. It is an intricately interwoven experience.
Muslim parents have certain responsibilities to their children, that exceed the regular rights of a child such as food, clothing, shelter ect. the most important of which is the right to Islamic education. Islam considers children to be an amanah (trust) given to the family and says it is fard (obligatory) for the family to raise a child in a righteous manner.
My children are living in a time and a community vastly different to the one I grew up within. As a result of the legacy of apartheid, and the Group Areas Act, I grew up within a majority muslim community, one where I never had to explain to my teacher what Eid was, or opt for an apple instead of hotdogs at a friends house because I was uncertain about whether or not the food was halaal.
My children however, have already had to face these and many other challenges, as a result of us living in an area where muslims are very few and far between. This has not necessarily been a bad thing though. I don’t think that at the age of 8, I had as good a understanding of what Halaal meant as my son does! This has naturally resulted in me being pro-active about teaching them the basic tenets of our faith, but doing so in a manner that would allow them to explain it to others when faced with the questions.
Also as result of where we live, I’ve had no choice but to teach them madressa(Islamic school) myself. This has been both extremely rewarding and extremely challenging. Through time, I’ve come to love the idea of being their Islamic studies teacher, at least for this early part of their lives. I know where their interests lie, what gets their minds excited, which subjects they enjoy. Its also been a steep learning curve for me! The best part of this however, is that much like secular home-schooling, I do not confine lessons, everywhere and anywhere is an opportunity to learn, and to reinforce faith.
On a visit to the park, we speak about the majesty of a Creator who can make the same flower 4 different shades, or when identifying that proud brown bird with the ‘funky’ hairstyle as Hoopoe, we recall that its one of the birds mentioned in the Quraan. Whilst at the ocean we can revisit Quraanic verses that speak of the ‘invisible barrier’ between the oceans, or the story of the Prophet Musa (as) when Allah opened the ocean for him to walk across… When driving past a noisy construction site, we can explore the difficulty that the Prophet Ibrahim (as) and his son, Prophet Ismaeel (as) may have experienced in building the Ka’aba in Makkah without the aid of modern day machinery! I love the idea that we now truly live the statement that ‘Faith begins at home’ instead of sending them out to a madressa. This just works for us…
That being said though, there have been moments where parenting in general, and not simply from an Islamic perspective, is challenging. At times when I feel low, and uncertain about my choices, stretched to my limits and running out of patience, I remember a Quraanic verse that always motivates me to try harder, instead of having a meltdown
“Your property and your children are only trial” (Quraan: Ixiv.15)
This is always a reminder, that our responses to our moments of difficulty in regards to parenting, is what determines whether we pass the trial or not!
Parenting has always been a challenging occupation, ever since the beginning of creation. Adam (as) was told that every human would have emnity with the other. And the first humans were siblings! Talk about parental pressure on our parents, Adam and Hawa(as). The Quraan is full with such examples…
The prophet Muhammed (saw) was a perfect example for us in every aspect and facet of life. Parenting is no different! He (saw) was known to have always been kind and generous to children, at times even shortening the prayer so a mother could attend to a crying child. The following hadith narrated by Anas ibn Malik (ra)…
The Prophet said, “(It happens that) I start the prayer intending to prolong it, but on hearing the cries of a child, I shorten the prayer because I know that the cries of the child will incite its mother’s passions.” (Al-Bukhari)
Anas ibn Malik related another incident where an elderly man approached, wanting an audience with the Prophet (saw), but the people were slow to make room for him, so the Prophet (saw) said: “Whoever fails to show mercy to our children and honor to our elders is not one of us.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhî)
This hadith shows us the level of consideration that members of a Muslim society and particularly between members of the Muslim family, should exhibit for one another.
One of the most essential values of Islam and the vital characteristics of the Muslim family unit is the concern and care that parents show for their children. As parents, irrespective of faith, we sacrifice our strength, our rest, our time, our effort and wealth in order to provide a better future for our children. Our primary motivation is to provide the atmosphere and education that will be most beneficial to our childrens needs.
At the same time, as muslims, we further recognise it as a religious duty, because the Prophet (saw) said: “Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for those under your care. A man is a shepherd, and he is responsible for those under his care. The woman is a shepherd in her husband’s household and she is responsible for those under her care.” (Bukhârî and Muslim)
In yet another hadith of Nabi(saw) narrated from Hazrat Ibn Umar (R.A) in which our beloved Prophet said. “Teach your children swimming, archery and horse riding”.( Sahih Muslim) This is in order to strengthen them physically, and for them to gain self confidence as well, with this in mind, and our natural love of being outdoors (In a country like SA, the great outdoors are pretty hard to ignore, Subhanallah!) and have tried as much as we can to raise our children away from the current onslaught of technology, to make them love being outdoors, to explore, to run, to see, to do, to be! So far, to a certain degree, I think I’ve succeeded in this effort.
As a mother in general, and a muslim mother specifically my hope is to instill in my children a strong, Islamic foundation, so that wherever they travel in this world, and whatever Allah has laid out for them, whichever paths they pursue, or dreams they chase into reality, their faith, their Eemaan, will always be a rock which anchors them through any storm.
In a time where parenting has so many different styles and labels, if I had to choose a name for what I do, it would most likely be a combination of ‘attachment-gentle-Islamic-faith-based-with-hint-of-crazy-and-an-overdose-of-fun’ parenting!