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A Wake-Up Call For Muslim Parents

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Bismillah

Out of all the hi-fi, over-hyped, glamorized, overpaid and stereotyped careers that make news today, peppered with extensive media attention such as red-carpet awards, talk-shows, exclusive interviews and photo-shoots, the single most important and pivotal occupation a person – especially a woman – can have, is that of being a parent.

It is this behind-the-scenes, get-down-and-dirty, round-the-clock job that very few people can do well, and majority of those who do, receive little credit for. Parenting is the most exhausting, fulfilling, demanding and satisfying role, responsibility and full-time job anyone can ever have. Whoever has become a parent would testify to its heady highs and, sadly, sometimes mortifying lows. The moment one sets eyes and holds in one’s arms a new life – a gift from Allah that is sent so miraculously, after months of excitement and anticipation – one changes forever. The joy one feels holds no bounds. This new ‘baby’ life gives rise to new adjustments in all existing relationships, which change in order to accommodate the new arrival. As many people will tell you, they also change once they have a baby.

baby-hand

However, after a few years pass, there are some typical statements that parents of any age can be heard making: “Kids nowadays are so ungrateful….”, “In our time, we were much more disciplined and obedient…”, “We never shouted at our parents the way kids answer us back nowadays….”, and of course, the ever-present “Because I said so!” Etc. I have hardly ever come across a parent who openly admits to having made a parenting mistake e.g. saying something like, “Had I not been lax about my daily prayers when my children were young, perhaps they too, would be more regular in their prayers today,” or “I should not have scolded my daughter in front of her friends. I think she deserves an apology,” More often than not, we find parents acting holier-than-thou and judgmental in front of their children, discussing their children’s weaknesses before friends and relatives, and detailing how difficult their children can make life for them. However, how often do we come across a parent who would readily apologize to their children for mistreating them? Or admit to being wrong in front of them?

On the contrary, parents hardly ever publicly admit to making mistakes in their children’s upbringing – at least, that is my experience. Once a young person becomes a parent, it’s all about enforcing rules, dictating orders, and establishing discipline, which is admittedly a necessary part of good parenting, but you have to have some leeway thrown in too. The young parent forgets what it was like as a child, to be caught red-handed, or worse, to be scolded or punished. It seems as if, now that a couple has become parents, they can get away with treating their children however they like. The moment the effect of their parenting mistakes manifests itself in their young children’s negative behavior, the latter are ceremoniously lectured or reprimanded. However, do the parents pause and reflect about which actions of theirs might have been the cause of that behavior?

When I became a parent, I realized just how prone I was to making parenting mistakes. For one thing, there are as many parenting styles as there are children. For another, you do not know which style will definitely work, until your child develops his or her own personality. Thirdly, you keep going through phases in your own life which keep changing your attitude and parenting style i.e. it’s a constant learning process for you as well – you keep making mistakes, and learning from them. It’s a trial-and-error methodology. Both parent and child keep going through these transitions, and adjusting their relationship according to them. To say the least, being a parent is a position of extreme responsibility and accountability before Allah – one for which one can be called severely to reprimand, if one takes it lightly. And here is why. Below are some ways parents are always at an advantage over their children, especially when the latter are minors:

Physical and financial authority:

Parents control their children’s movement within and outside the house. They control what they eat, what they wear, where they go, who they mingle with and what toys or accessories they buy. This makes a parent very strong as opposed to their child, in the first 2 decades of the latter’s life. Plus, children depend on their parents for money. They do not, and can not, earn money. Therefore, parents have almost complete control over how they bring up their children.

Having your own childhood buried in obscurity from your children:

Whether you were the nastiest kid in your class, getting regular detention; or you intermittently broke windows of every house in the neighborhood during ‘ball practice’, trashed your mother’s dresser every week, stole money from your father’s wallet, drove his car without his knowledge as a 16-year-old, applied Mom’s makeup when she was napping, prank-called strangers on the phone at night, or lied about your tryst at some mall with a “friend” – everything seedy or shady about your own youth gets hidden behind the hijab of time when you become a parent yourself. You get rid of all incriminating photographs, correspondence and videos. You don’t speak freely to your old friends in front of your teenagers. No one tells your teenager that you did not pray all the five prayers, wear the headscarf, or go to the mosque. No one tells them that you danced to loud music in your room and lied about your clandestine phone calls (“I was discussing my project with [best friend]!”) when Mom walked into the room.

However, if you are an Allah-fearing parent, have you really forgotten all those misdeeds?

The gift of forgetfulness (nisyaan) from Allah, that wipes out your early mistakes from your children’s memories:

Whether it was a nasty diaper-rash that made your infant scream in agony – one that was caused by your negligence in changing her diaper on time – (“Well, I was tired, so I fell asleep and forgot to change her diaper! I am her mother. Jannah lies at my feet. Lay off!”), or whether it was that tight slap on the cheek of your ‘terrible-two’ toddler when he yanked a food-laden plate off the dining table onto your lap – one that left him bawling; or the time when you didn’t wash your 3-year-old’s plates properly and she fell ill with diarrhea for a week; no one will be able to tell your children whether you were a lousy parent when they were babies, or an efficient one. Allah hides all your mistakes – whether unintentional or deliberate – behind the veil of the past. Your toddlers and minors are too young to remember when they were spanked without reason, humiliated or scolded for no fault of theirs [they were scapegoats to the mood swings or stress-highs you suffered as a result of your demanding job], or when their mattress stank because you didn’t bother washing their leaked excreta off it [“I’ll just throw it away and get a new one! What’s the big deal?”].

As a parent, you will always have the upper hand with your children, because Allah will hide your mistakes and misdeeds from them, keeping up your impression of faultlessness before them, making you their role-model – an ideal person free of human errors or weaknesses.

Having the Islamic injunctions regarding kind treatment of parents on your side as a perpetual trump-card in any argument:

The greatest “advantage” Muslim parents have over their children is the existence of Quranic ayaat and Prophetic ahadeeth that remind the latter of how their parents are the most deserving of good treatment from them. Sadly, however, sometimes parents use this as the most effective way of – excuse the terms I will use – emotionally blackmailing or manipulating their children to achieve their own desires and whims.

To the boy who refuses to marry the fashionista, insisting that he wants a hijab-and-abaya-wearing wife:

“Is this how you repay your mother, after all the years I have taken care of you? What will my relatives say, when they see this pardah-clad girl as my daughter-in-law?”

To the boy who refuses to pursue a job dealing directly with riba:

“Had you listened to me, you would not be sitting jobless today. Why not take up that bank job, albeit with dislike in your heart? At least you’ll get the perks. You have to support us both financially now that I have retired. It is your Islamic obligation.” [Notwithstanding the hefty retirement provident fund invested in a riba-based bank, which gets monthly “returns”!]

To the girl who insists on considering proposals only from men who are regular in prayers, who earn halal income and who will let her do hijab:

“You will then get proposals only from “mullah” families, who are not very educated or well-established in society.”

A parent who really and truly fears Allah will usually be a believer who focuses on giving others their rights instead of demanding their own. Hence, just because Islam has exhorted Muslims to be kind to their parents, doesn’t mean that parents use these injunctions to unjustly demand favors and servitude from their children. Rather, the Quranic verses and Prophetic narrations reminding Muslims about their parents’ great rights upon them are to be read and heeded more by children who have parents; not by parents who have children!

There are parents who, when they do not get along with their daughter-in-law, otherwise a good girl whom their son is pleased with, use the “proof” of the Prophet Ibrahim [علیہ السلام] and Caliph Umar [رضی اللّٰہُ عنہ] telling their sons to divorce their wives, in order to twist their son’s arm to do the same. There are parents who are insecure in their old age and whenever a visitor comes to see them, complain about how their offspring with their spouses fall short in fulfilling their rights. There are parents who are adamant that spanking is a very effective disciplinary method for minors, being fully aware that the Prophet Muhammad [صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم] never struck a child (he was father of 7) – “I do not know of any mother who doesn’t spank her child.” Birds of a feather flock together. Please look beyond your circle, Ma’am. :-)

Here are a few tips that might help Muslim parents in general.

Apologize when you hurt them: Saying sorry for your mistakes will exalt your ranks, and teach your children to do the same. For example, saying to your toddler: “I’m sorry I yanked your arm so hard on the road. I was afraid of the cars passing by you and was just being careful. I did not mean to be so harsh, beta,” would take a load off your back and make you feel better yourself.

Admit it to your child when you’re wrong and they are right: Children can help their parents a lot, especially when the parents are over fifty. The former are in touch with the latest trends and news. If the parent has a humble attitude instead of a “know-it-all” one, they can pave the way for positive learning on both sides.

More importantly, though, winning an argument should never be your goal just because you have rights over your children. Say “You are right” to them when they are. That way, you will be teaching them by example to give you the respect which you supposedly deserve as well.

Remember every day that you will be called to account for even the slightest discrepancy left in giving them their dues (“dhulm”): Just like all other relations in this world, children have rights upon parents, which they will be asked about. Just being conscious of this impending reality will enable parents to forego their children’s mistakes and shortcomings, and focus instead on their own method of upbringing their children – whether it will be accepted by Allah or not.

Seek forgiveness from Allah daily for your shortcomings as a parent: In Islam, any position of authority is a position of accountability before Allah, including parenthood. The more pious a person is, the more he fears Allah regarding the high positions he occupies in this world. That is why our pious predecessors would – literally – run away from the posts of judges and kings that were offered to them. Similarly, a Muslim parent keeps track of their shortcomings as a human being, and seeks Allah’s forgiveness for their mistakes.

It is obvious that – after having gone through the pains and strains of raising young children – parents are entitled to high rights over the former. This is Allah’s own compensation method of providing worldly “perks” for this tough job. However, focusing on what rights of yours others have to give to you, instead of what rights of others you have to give to them, is not the way of the earnest believing Muslim. If your children respect you, obey you and eventually, take care of you in your old age, they are doing themselves a favor. You, on the other hand, should not consider them an ‘investment’ for this world – desiring sons more than daughters because they earn money; making them marry into affluent families and pushing them into high-flying careers so that you get to choose which “big house” with the most servants to reside in, in your old age. Rather, you should consider your children an investment just for your own Akhirah. By that, I mean that you should just do your job in instilling Islamic values in them, by imparting Islamic knowledge to them and making them live an Islamic life. After that, what they do is between them and Allah and you are essentially a valued consultant in their lives.

I once heard a very pious and honorable Muslim advise us: “From birth to age 13, be strict in disciplining them; from 14 to 20, be their friend; after they are 21, let them go.”

Wise words, indeed.

Allah knows best and is the source of all strength.

Sadaf Farooqi is a postgraduate in Computer Science who has done the Taleem Al-Quran Course from Al-Huda International, Institute of Islamic Education for Women, in Karachi, Pakistan. 11 years on, she is now a homeschooling parent of three children, a blogger, published author and freelance writer. She has written articles regularly for Hiba Magazine, SISTERS Magazine and Saudi Gazette. Sadaf shares her life experiences and insights on her award-winning blog, Sadaf's Space, and intermittently teaches subjects such as Fiqh of Zakah, Aqeedah, Arabic Grammar, and Science of Hadith part-time at a local branch of Al-Huda. She has recently become a published author of a book titled 'Traversing the Highs and Lows of Muslim Marriage'. For most part, her Jihad bil Qalam involves juggling work around persistent power breakdowns and preventing six chubby little hands from her computer! Even though it may not seem so, most of her time is spent not in doing all this, but in what she loves most - reading.

65 Comments

65 Comments

  1. Pingback: A Wake-Up Call For Muslim Parents | MuslimMatters.org | DiaperSecure.Com

    • Avatar

      Karen

      April 21, 2015 at 11:53 PM

      I don’t understand why everyone who writes about ‘rebelling teens’ simply assumes that the parent didn’t teach their child islam, didn’t dicipline them, or doesn’t want ‘that religious girl/boy’ for them.

      Someone needs to talk about the rebelling kids who were lead by good example, sent to expensive islamic schools, extra quran and islamic studies classes, who’s mother did all of the parenting suggestions stated, like apologizing for wrong doing, admitting when the child is right, restricting friends, etc.

      It’s really maddening when one really does practice islam by the way of the salaf, leads by example (not missing prayers, fasting all of every ramadhan, going to lectures taking notes, sending kids to islamic school, etc, etc and all they can find on this ‘rebellion’ topic is: Well you MUST not have instilled islam in your home, you MUST NOT have been a good parent…. blah blah blah…….

      I wish all you who want to discuss this topic would stop assuming that children only rebel when in ‘bad’ islamic homes.

      • Avatar

        Ridwan

        April 27, 2015 at 4:34 PM

        I could not agree with Karen more. Read any article or listen to any lectures regarding raising children and all comes back to what this article is talking about, stereotyping parents. If there are any articles or lectures that gives a balance look at this issue, please forward the link. In the end whoever Allah swt guides, nobody can misguide and whoever he lets go astray, nobody can guide. May Allah swt guide us and our children to straight path. Aameen

      • Avatar

        Anonymous

        April 30, 2015 at 10:53 PM

        Asalamualaikum sister. I here you and I feel your pain. I see a lot of good di spline parents dealing with disrespectful kids. I believe this is a test from Allah. Keep on making dua for Allah to give you patient. Those lousy so called parents actually have good kids who respect and obey them. It sadness me these parents don’t pray wear hijab nothing. So stop being judgmental by the way Allah tastes those he loves. This is not a panshment. May Allah make among those who are patient Ameen .

    • Avatar

      Sam

      August 30, 2016 at 7:52 AM

      I strongly believe that this article is not harsh at all
      So many children are brought up to only speak when spoken to
      Parents forget that we are all here to learn no matter the age and sometimes even children can teach
      Parents have little room for growth without awareness, so teach your child instead of dictate in order to receive
      Allowing a child to be a person through leading by examples could be a better way forward
      When a soul hurts big or small due the actions of another Allah is disappointed
      Communication is defintely key …
      Parents should learn to create an enviorment where children do not feel the need to run away
      Parents need to understand that they are only guides gifted by our creator, so honor your gift in turn the children will honor their gifts
      Love unconditionally
      Love always

    • Avatar

      The next Priminister

      October 29, 2016 at 3:20 AM

      I am a lost 12 year old muslim girl.
      I should be doing my essay on Bilal ibn rabah but something personal brought me here. I have grown up in a strict house on Quran, deen and education. My parents hit me but i have grown immune to the pain. My parents scream at me for things that are ridiculous! Every night i cry myself to sleep and prentend to be talking to Allah. I completely agree with this article. If you are a parents or a soon to be parent then take it from me hitting and screaming is never the answer.I go to a all girls muslim school and majortity of the girls their have social media and full custody of their ipad/iphone and their parents trust them. My parents? Allow me to have social media… But want to check through all my conversations, see who i follow, scroll through what i post. Its sickening. They take my ipad every night and are not planning to give me a phone. They also check through what apps i have, my google history and my photos. Hah the result? I hid my apps using a trick (those are the pros of your parents thinking your “useless” and “stupid”) Not to mention i have resorted to self harm. I am a straight A student that stresses a lot about education. Me and friend were planning to run away from home. Her parents whip her and are super religious yet she is swears the most, watches inappropriate movies and listens to music. WHY DONT YOU PEOPLE GET IT? THE MORE YOU RESTRICT YOUR CHILD THE WORSE IT WILL BECOME! One of my other friends parents trust her and do not abuse her they are kind and gives her privacy and she is such a beautifiul and pure and well mannered girl. I love my religion. My parents think im immature but even my teachers respect me. Some people are saying that this article is too harsh? Are you serious? What are you babies. If i a twelve year old goes through this and you cant simply get over a well needed wake up call?. Yeah call me stupid and immature. All i have ever needed my whole life was a loving family. And whenever i needed to talk to my parents they would tell me to stop feeling sorry for myself. Now i isolate myself from them and always talk monotone. My dads forcing me to wear a hijab. Whenever i go out with my family he would ask ” why arent you wearing a hijab?!”. I roll my sleeves up tonight and watch as a tear falls down my cheek onto my old scars.

      • Avatar

        Mehreen

        December 7, 2016 at 6:52 PM

        Hi there, I hope you are doing better since you wrote this terribly sad message. The only advice I would offer, if you think you want to take advice from strangers on the internet, is to focus on getting an education, then move out of your house when you can. Breaking free of a toxic household requires a lot of courage but it can be done. Once on your own, you can restrict contact with your family as you wish, and in time your relationship with them might even improve since you’re not at their beck and call. My heart goes out to you, you seem very alone and sad. Things will get better if you work towards breaking free. Take care.

  2. Avatar

    AbuHafsa

    March 30, 2009 at 7:55 AM

    A nice article mashaAllah. However I don’t think letting them go after 21 is a really a good idea ;) . Just my opinion.

    • Avatar

      Diana

      January 28, 2014 at 1:47 PM

      what do you mean?
      a 25 yr old living with theri parents is no doable! alot of the times, they are in situations where the enviornment is TOXIC. How am I going to prosper with a father that refuses marriage proposals,makes my life miserable,yells at me for nothing, breaks me down daily???
      plus, in the US..you are a legal adult by age 18. So you better find a good relative to live with. There is no rule that you must be living with parents, especially if they are emotionally,physically abusive towards you.

      • Avatar

        Sister

        November 29, 2015 at 1:43 PM

        Salaam all,
        Sister Diana u r not alone, tho u at least have some really good relatives, who r willing to support u.
        I request all who r reading this to make dua for me and my sisters, especially the 2 who, like me, hope to get married to good Muslim men, in sha Allah.
        Sometimes life seems so unfair, and u don’t know what to do cuz no matter what u do, it doesn’t seem to get better. Your patience is tested everyday…and apparently I fail every time despite trying. I feel so weak and hopeless…

  3. Avatar

    Slim | MuslimWorker.com

    March 30, 2009 at 9:04 AM

    Salam,

    Great article. I find that as long as 1 parent has gentleness and compassion, this will help the child grow.

    For example, if the father is a tyrant and never apologizes and always forces the child to do their biding, then having a mother that is soft and always having a shoulder to lean on will really help the child be more grounded.

    I have seen cases where both parents are strict and this causes the child to rebel as they get older because the bond of love and connectedness wer never formed.

    SubhanAllah, the hadith about being their friend from age 14 onwards is key. Without communication and seeking first to understand, parents can easily lose their children in our world today with all its distractions and tribulation.

    May Allah make us all good parents and give us pious, righteous children.

    Slim | http://www.MuslimWorker.com

  4. Avatar

    Ghareebah

    March 30, 2009 at 9:12 AM

    -Salaams-.. Nice article mashaa-allaah…. I think this needs to go beyond websites as many parents today dont get time to surf the net.. I mean the older generations….

  5. Avatar

    Ahmad AlFarsi

    March 30, 2009 at 10:35 AM

    I once heard a very pious and honorable Muslim advise us: “From birth to age 13, be strict in disciplining them; from 14 to 20, be their friend; after they are 21, let them go.”

    This reminds me of the statement of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab:

    “Play with them for seven [years], teach them manners for seven
    [years], and let them enjoy your companionship for seven [years].”

    لاعبوهم سبعا و أدبوهم سبعا و صاحبوهم سبعا

  6. Avatar

    Farhan

    March 30, 2009 at 12:54 PM

    this is so scary…im not even married yet, but i guess i’ll have to keep this information in the back of my head til I have kids

    on a slightly funny note, this past weekend was my father’s birthday (61, ma sha Allah) and he was telling me funny stories he did at my age (24). We both got a kick out of watching my mom be like “what was wrong with you?”. the exact opposite of the article above’s advice.

  7. Avatar

    usman

    March 30, 2009 at 4:40 PM

    salaam, the article was good and beneficial. However, the other side also needs to be related. The tone of the article was a bit harsh on our elders. I think a tone that reflects greater adab is needed. I only say this because as Muslims we should strive for ihsan in our deeds.

    • Avatar

      Saffiyah

      July 28, 2016 at 5:18 AM

      I don’t think this article is harsh in my opinion, perhaps not harsh enough, i think it reflects a reality for many people, it touches on a subject that is generally ignored.
      I was abused, ridiculed and humiliated, by my father for all of my childhood,
      The abuse of my childhood led me to suffer with an eating disorder for almost 15 years, I suffer from extremely low self esteem, and have anxiety when i leave the home, I sit here a lonely older women unmarried with no children…….. my father never wanted another man in the family, he didn’t want anyone to undermine his tyranny, I ran away from home in my early teens, and lived on the streets trying to escape the misery of my home life, I am lucky to be alive, any one with an imagination can envision what happens to an adolescent girl who lives on the street.

      In what way was this article harsh? Allah blessing someone with the status of parenthood, does not bless them with the right to abuse that gift, many parents make mistakes and do wrong and this should be discussed, because it impacts on the life of others, because it is a reminder for those blessed with children that they are not infallible in their status, it gives them an opportunity to access their behaviour and correct it, and it also validates the experiences of people like me, who have suffered and are still suffering at the hands of parents who have been ungrateful and disobedient to Allah,

      I wish with all my heart for a child, its probably too late for me now, but if Allah ever bless my life in that way, i would try my best to be grateful, and i guess that would include, to not abuse the gift he has given me,

      • Avatar

        Sam

        August 30, 2016 at 7:47 AM

        you are an angel . . . may Allah bless your heart with many gifts going forward if not in this life in the life after

  8. Avatar

    UmmeAmmaarah

    March 30, 2009 at 9:18 PM

    JazakAllahu khair sister for the wonderful article. May Allah Ta’Ala make us thawaab-e-jaariya for our parents, and our kids the same for us all.

  9. Amad

    Amad

    March 30, 2009 at 9:24 PM

    This is a good reminder, from the other “forgotten angle” of the child. Apologizing to your child for your mistake is really so hard, but I agree that if you do it, it certainly helps you lighten your burden as well as teaching the child a valuable lesson that it is okay to make mistakes, but it is not okay to stop there; rather, admitting your mistake is what real men (women) do!

  10. Avatar

    Sadaf

    March 31, 2009 at 5:43 AM

    Bismillah
    Jazakumullah everyone, for your feedback.
    Brother Abu Hafsa – perhaps I should have elaborated what my teacher meant when she said “let them go at 21”. She meant, do not guide them unless they ask for advice, and do not interfere much in their lives, or try to control them, after this age. However, this happens after the initial Islamic foundation has been laid (during childhood), so if parents have worked hard before this age and brought up their children with taqwa, they will always be approached by the latter for all important matters in their lives. So it won’t be like totally letting them run wild or not doing “nahee unil munkar” with wisdom when required. And it was not implied that children should be physically estranged or anything like that.

    Brother Ahmad – thank you for providing this valuable reference. It adds so well to the article content.

    Brother Farhan – this was the intention of this article — to make young parents realize that parenting of young people is a task they will be questioned about before Allah; so, they should be careful and heedful of Allah with regards to their children. Alhamdulillah, most humble parents like yours are still around, teaching their children even with their own past mistakes.

    Brother Usman – Jazak Allahu Khairan for your reminder. Most of this article focuses on younger parents (aged 25 – 35) who have infants, toddlers and minors as children. The reason for addressing them was to make them conscious of the great task they have on their hands, and to remind them to fear Allah even if Allah has granted them enormous rights as a result of their parental position. Elders are mentioned in the latter part of the article. I feel that quoting real-life statements, which I have heard myself, or which my friends have heard from their families, always adds to the relevance of the topic being discussed. No names were mentioned. But you are right, that we should maintain our tone to give adab to elders. However, the parents addressed mostly are those of my age-range.

    The thing with being older is, that no one is left to chastise you for your errors e.g. if someone is 65 years old, they probably do not have many of their own elders around anymore to correct their mistakes (like parents do). Consequently, one fitnah of old age is that a person might fall into the trap of thinking they are always right, and of imposing their will on their adult children, unless they are Allah-fearing and humble. I personally know of some parents – may Allah guide them – who create obstacles in the path of their adult children when the latter want to act upon Islam (I know, because I am approached for advice by such people’s children). A father might tell his son to earn money unlawfully, a 50+ mother might encourage her daughters to do tabarruj, and, I seek refuge from Allah, I know of a mother-in-law who secretly sent a talisman into the house of her sunnah-observing daughter-in-law, despite knowing that the latter is averse to amulets and the like. What did the latter do? Like most obedient offspring, she remained quiet and let the issue go when she found out, but was infuriated nevertheless; however, on being politely confronted, the mother-in-law remained unwavering in her stance, claiming that she had her son’s best interest at heart. No admissions, no apologies, not even a humbled demeanor. Then there was a mother who arrived at her daughter’s susraal [in-laws’ house where the latter lived] in her time of need. In her concern for having things go her way, she said some nasty things to her daughter’s in-laws, souring her relationship with them for good. To date they remain aloof from her, and she remains unflinching in her stance that she did nothing wrong. Since there was no apology, no attempt at righting things, things remain stiff and uncomfortable; as for the innocent daughter, she is perhaps in the worst position after her mother’s actions.

    وَإِذْ قَالَ إِبْرَاهِيمُ لأَبِيهِ آزَرَ أَتَتَّخِذُ أَصْنَامًا آلِهَةً إِنِّي أَرَاكَ وَقَوْمَكَ فِي ضَلاَلٍ مُّبِينٍ

    Prophet Ibrahim [علیہ السلام] pointed out to his polytheist father, the error of his mushrik ways, by saying,

    “Indeed I see you and your nation in open error/misguidance.” [6:74]

    Most young people are too respectful of their elders to point out to them that they are wrong, even politely and lovingly, the way Prophet Ibraheem did. And most just remain quiet. However, should the da’ee also remain quiet about the mistakes of elders, just because of their age? Or should their errors be pointed out without mentioning names, so that they can be invited to repent?

    For example, when a young woman is forced by her mother and aunts to dress up in provocative, tight clothing on weddings, to make her long hair hang loose and dress up like a doll, so that she is flaunted before men to attract proposals – just because her age has passed 28 years and she is not yet engaged: should she mutely obey them? Do the elders have the right to do this to her? This girl would come crying to me, and disclose that whenever she would tearfully protest to her mother, she’d be reminded of the latter’s right as a parent – that of total obedience. “Just tell me outright that you don’t want to get married!” she’d be warned.

    Elders are as needy of advice and Islamic reminders as are the younger lot. We all are sinners and we all need to be shaken (or given a wake-up call) in order to be motivated to look at our mistakes and seek repentance for them. But of course we should maintain a respectful tone, which is a mandatory part of our Deen. I sincerely apologize for any tactlessness in my attempts at humor in the article.

    As for the other side of the story, Abu Abdullah’s post “Forget you, Mom!” couldn’t have been better-timed. It presents the other side of the story very adequately alhamdulillah. I am also toying with the idea of a future post representing the ‘other’ side of the story – how offspring should respect and care for their parents, no matter what the latter do or say.

    Allah is the Source of All Strength.

  11. Avatar

    ayesha

    March 31, 2009 at 11:39 AM

    (”Well, I was tired, so I fell asleep and forgot to change her diaper! I am her mother. Jannah lies at my feet. Lay off!”),

    Is the hadith “paradise lies under the feet of the mother “….saheeh???

  12. ibnabeeomar

    ibnabeeomar

    April 1, 2009 at 1:15 PM

    great article, and much needed, jazakiallahu khayr

  13. Avatar

    Anon

    April 1, 2009 at 1:48 PM

  14. Avatar

    naina

    April 1, 2009 at 10:29 PM

    very good article.Examples,u gave r soo true.

  15. Avatar

    QK

    April 2, 2009 at 12:05 AM

    What about children who don’t want to get married based on Islamic principles, what do parents do about that? Should the parent use the phrase “Is this how you repay your mother, after all the years I have taken care of you” then?

    I pose this question rhetorically, I believe that no parent should say this whatever the situation, but when you have tried it all, you grab on to the one thing that you have left. Of course, children are not always the pious ones, shown by the examples you’ve used in your article. It is more often the case especially in this society. I agree that parents should be more humble, respectful and demonstrate this through their actions. But your article is one sided. I speak as a parent of 4 young adults and yes I represent the “older” generation not surfing on the internet. The internet is acting as a great divide in the generations and causing many a rift and problems with devout or non-devout (is that a word) youth and their counterpart parents. This is a topic desperately in need of a good article as well.

    There are cliques of youth who believe their “practice of faith” is the correct one, without truly understanding the roots of their parents beliefs and finding a way to create a good understanding or “be-friending”. There are issues which plague both generations and requires open, understanding, respectful dialogue on both parts.

    • Avatar

      stedy

      January 31, 2014 at 3:17 PM

      Sis there are millions upon millions of articles and lectures
      that tell us that as children we are to honor our parents…
      “Honor thy mother & father” is even a common knowledge
      in the world’s most heavily populated religion Christianity.
      This article is addressing it from the other way around, bc
      there is a shortage of any religious things saying “Thou
      must be humble before children” so this author is trying
      to remind us of how us as parents have to be to children.

      “Keep me away from wisdom which does not cry, philosophy which does not laugh and greatness which does not bow before children.” -Khalil Gibran

    • Avatar

      stedy

      January 31, 2014 at 3:27 PM

      sis I am sorry about your situation and I hope
      mY reply helps in your deciding “what to do”.
      First what to NOT do is violate Islam or go talk
      bad about them unless they are in violation of
      your rights. What TO do is I would turn to his-
      tory – there was someone in your same situation
      …Prophet Noah SW… who’s son didn’t want to
      be a Muslim. He just would not become Muslim.
      Look at what Prophet Noah SW did and that is
      what to do. Hang in there sis 4now! …Peace…

  16. Avatar

    Olivia

    April 2, 2009 at 1:20 PM

    Masha’Allah this was a very nice article.

    I think the bottom line is this, parents of children (whatever age), need to foster a balance between discipline and open, easy-going communication with their children. Problems usually happen with parents lead to far to one end and the other is stunted. Obviously the stereotype with immigrant parents is that they focus too much on discipline and obedience without developing an open relationship with their kids. However, I have definitely known aunties who have a great balance and I see the closeness they have now their young adult kids. The flip is American/Western parents who are stereotyped for being too much into being “open” and “relaxed” while failing to discipline their kids or fulfill the consequences they said they would give. I think successful relationships lie in the middle.

    One great book I love is “Screamfree parenting” by Hal Runkel. It’s not a 1, 2, 3 magic sort of book. It has principles that are Islamically sound and leaves a lot of room for you to do things you way. I read it after I had my second child (when my first was still recovering from leaving only-child status =) ) and I loved it.

  17. Avatar

    Umm Ismael

    April 2, 2009 at 3:43 PM

    Asslam u alaikum wr wb
    Much needed article.Jazakillah Khair.The other day I let off my frustration on my 2 year old by screaming at him. The actual reason behind the scolding was a fight with my husband. I shudder to think of what negative impacts i can leave on my child if i dont handle myself emotionally.The greater the rank, the greater the need to change. I also believe that these attitudes differ geographically.The sub continent experiences a greater ” typical” structure in the household than the rest of the muslim world.Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    • Avatar

      stedy

      January 31, 2014 at 3:21 PM

      wow astghfirra Lah…
      I commend you for
      recognizing your er-
      ror sis our children
      should ever ever be
      treated like emotion-
      al trash cans auzhu
      bi Lah. May God &
      your child forgive u
      and me too for past
      & future. …Peace…

  18. Avatar

    Faraz Omar

    April 5, 2009 at 3:54 AM

    once again. masha Allah a good article. may Allah accept it from u, increase ur ikhlaas n give u istiqaamah

  19. Avatar

    Sadaf Farooqi

    April 5, 2009 at 9:42 AM

    Bismillah

    QK – ma’am or sir (can’t make out whether you are the father or mother of 4 adults, masha’Allah), jazak Allahu khairan for commenting and giving us your point of view. Your point is very valid, and I appreciate your providing us the other side of the story. I agree that this article does not present the flip side of the problem — that of what sincere and humble Muslim parents should do when their concerns for their offspring are valid, based on Islamic principles, and when their adult progeny refuse to heed their advice, having their own beliefs and understanding of Islam? I think that should be the topic of my next post! :)

    Umm Ismael – I think you are right that in the East, parents and children are sometimes less communicative and there is more of a generation gap. Why – again, that can start a whole new discussion. But I think Muslim families in the West are closer, more because of the fact that there is no extended family system there, and Muslims focus a lot more on their children’s Islamic upbringing, due to the fitnah-filled environment. Perhaps that’s why parents and their children are much more close and open in communication. Allahu A’lam.

    As Olivia has rightly stated, parents should focus on striking the perfect balance between discipline/tarbiyah and frankness/communication. That can only occur, in my humble opinion, if parents strive to maintain a high level of taqwa (Allah consciousness) and daily istighfaar for their parenting mistakes. Reading up on human psychology also helps a lot in parenting e.g. why do children go through their “terrible-two’s” and why do teenagers rebel? Reading up on human behavior (psychology) really can help keep parents keep in tune with childrens’ behavior, knowing what is normal and what is not, only to find out that what they might be taking too seriously is actually just a passing phase. I did that with my daughter when she was two. She had the most disrespectful and rebellious stance against me at times, and just when I was at my wits’ end, about to pull my hair out, I read up on this stage of children, only to find out that this behavior is “normal”, and would pass — which it thankfully did, alhamdulillah!

    Allah knows best.

  20. Avatar

    Angie

    April 19, 2009 at 10:28 AM

    well said, ma sha’ Allah.

    I look forward to more postings of this nature – ma sha’ Allah :)

  21. Avatar

    QT

    April 24, 2009 at 7:51 AM

    “Pobody’s Nerfect”

    The article was a bit rambling but made some very good points. mashaAllah

  22. Avatar

    fshareef

    April 25, 2009 at 7:49 PM

    subhanallah! great article… but i was kind of expecting a little more on a parent’s mannerisms in influencing a child’s behavior. so, for example, when a parent is unreasonably sarcastic towards the child (or maybe even annoyed by the child), the child learns to behave that way with his younger siblings.

    another example, when a parent enforces not practicing islamic pillars because they will be burdensome on the child, the child learns to ignore islamic pillars (praying fajr on time, fasting during ramadan during the school year) or considers the islamic pillars as difficult obligations to be fulfilled, drudgingly. as compared to a parent who encourages the child to do ibadat before they become an obligation on the child, the child learns to enjoy his commitment to Allah. or, further comparing that parent to a parent who mandates the pillars of islam for a child upon whom it is not obligatory, the child learns to detest the compulsion of fulfilling the duties to Allah.

    • Avatar

      stedy

      January 31, 2014 at 4:01 PM

      It’s not ALWAYS or ONLY the parents who decide the fate of
      adults. That’s why we have intellect. We can undo damage
      they done and just as well we can throw away good. As an
      obvious note of course children are sponges & parents are
      “schools”, particularly the mother, so a horrid mother will
      leave her children with the gargantuan task of having to
      undo everything they’ve learned, and a good mother will
      have eQuipped her children with all they need to thrive…
      both of which will be at the hands of the ADULT CHILD
      and up to them and not the parents on what they will
      or will not do with the remainder of their life …Peace…

  23. Avatar

    Minerva

    January 11, 2010 at 5:52 AM

    Though I have my reservations about many Islamic injunctions, I foudn this to be an excellent article. Good job.

  24. Avatar

    zeeshan

    March 5, 2010 at 11:28 AM

    i am really afraid of my parents and there tyrant associate who always have taken away my job no matter how hard i try ,my parents associate are really powerfull ,rich and influential this is my ninth job in a row i dont no what to do and where to go whereever i go i face my tyrant parents and there legacy

  25. Avatar

    zeeshan

    March 5, 2010 at 11:33 AM

    hi my name is zeeshan i am living on edge just because of my parents they neither give me money neither do they allow me earn it ,i dont know what to half the day just passes away in thinking that my parents and there tyrant associate would take away my job i would be left penniless ,i really feel insecured just because of my parent and there powerfull and tyrant associate who are really rich and powerfull who tend to take away my job every now and then i dont know what to do i need some really good suggestions to get ris of my parents and there tyrant associate ,i have seen my parents abusing me right from the age of five,plz help me

    • Avatar

      stedy

      January 31, 2014 at 4:05 PM

      sorry :(
      can you
      go to the
      ..Ummah..
      for help?

  26. Avatar

    Bandi

    March 22, 2010 at 12:45 AM

    Assalam Alaikum,

    I have gone through the article very thoroughly and thank every one for educating us in the light of islam. I want genuine advice from all of my brothers and sisters on the matter that I have been facing since I got married to Alhamdulillah a very good muslim.

    I am well educated girl, working for a multinational company, I have well been trained about Islam, a muslims’s rights by my parents Masha Allah. I belong to a decent family where every one is educated and know duties in Islam very well. I pray regularly as often as I get time. I read Quran and try to understand it. I follow Hadees and sunnah. My husband is a very gentleman person. He too does the same and respects everything in Islam.

    Now let me describe what the situation is in our family.
    I am staying with my Husband’s younger brother age 23, his mother and his father.
    His father is posted in some different city. So we remain 4 people in the house (me, my husband, his brother, his mother)
    His mother never prays a single Namaz, Had it been Juma or Ramzan, she will not pray at all. Her favorite job is just watching TV. She watches TV 24hrs. His brother doesn’t do anything, unfortunately he is involved in bad habits at the age of 23 he is still studying in 11th Standard. He is addicted in some habits which is prohibited in Islam (some adultery habits) His mother knows everything about this but doesn’t take any actions.
    Me and my husband is responsible for every single work to carry out the house hold activity. Right from the buying vegetables and food till cooking them. I go to work every day 9 oclk and come back by 7 or so. I cook in the morning and come back cook for the dinner, Talk to his mother spend all the time her until 10 until we are feel sleepy. My husband spends all of his time with her. Its 4 months of our marriage now. We get time for each other only when we are going for sleep. His mother tries to listen if we talk something in our bedroom, and ask him what did you talk to your wife? She never allows me going out with my husband anywhere, if we get such opportunity then she will send his brother with us so that he may know what did we talk. I don’t have any one in this city my parents reside in different city. She never told before marriage that she will not allow my parents inside our house. Now she is telling they wont come, I will decide everything. Who will give them food who will work for them. Alhumdolillah my husband ha got all of his relatives in this city, but nobody comes to his house, they don’t have any contacts with any of the relatives. This was an arrange marriage, they never let us meet their relatives.

    If my husband is just going on terrace he is supposed to seek permission from her. We cant do a single thing with our own will. For every single thing except going to toilet we need to seek her permission. Everyday before going to bed we need to ask her if we can sleep now. My husband comes from office at 7. and all the time he sits with her just to talk to her and entertain her. She doesn’t go out for a single minute and never leave us alone. Every time she complains she is lonely she is lonely and we don’t care for her.
    We advised her to please go and spend one week with your husband u will feel good. But she doesn’t listen, and say this is my house who are you to order me where to go and where not. She is lots of proud. For every single thing she will tell me that her son is an engineer and she made him, she educated him. She will sit in our bed room until she wants had it been 11 or 12 midnight. Despite of having a tiring day in the office and at home we have to bear this. My husband doesn’t say anything and says she is a mother and he has to respect her.
    Alhumdolillah I am also an engineer and come from a very respectable and good muslim family. Where Namaz roza these are the first priorities for us and rest come later. If my husband will ask her to pray namaz and keep her busy she will scold him that who are you to teach me. His father doesn’t have any control on his wife. He listens to her whatever she says. She is so much demanding that sometimes I doubt who is the wife its me or her. My husband takes her to movies hall, so that he gives her a good week end, dine her in good restaurants, I never complain on these things. Just kept praying Allah give me lots of patience.

    Recently after doing all these they kicked us out of the house, and we kept roaming here and there looking for some rented place. They asked for all the money back from my husband that they spent in his education and fooding My Husband returned it.
    She is like made us awake the whole night and give us scolding, she knocks out door at 5 oclk and gives us lectures till 11 12 noon in one sitting. We are working for private companies, she will not think this. Many a times we don’t go to work coz she wanted to scold us. Now I have been fed up with all of this.
    I love my husband very much and am very happy with him. He also loves me.
    As we have already been kicked out we want to live separately. Also his brother has a bad eye on me. So I feel very insecure with staying them. I have not informed my Parents about all this happening with me coz I don’t want to bother them. I have not seen any married life happiness since I got married.

    Now his relatives are asking us to comeback and live with them coz his father is not keeping well coz of all this tension. Every one knows who is responsible for all this.
    But still they are forcing me and saying You are doing wrong You can not separate a son from his mother. I know in Islam its advised to stay in a separate house when you face this kind of situation.

    I beg all of you please advise me in the light of Islam.
    You can write me on —– (email address removed)

    Allah give me immense Patience to sustain myself.

    • Avatar

      Aashiq Hussain

      July 27, 2013 at 3:53 PM

      Walaikum Asalam Sister.
      First, You shouldn’t not share your personal matters with all on forums like this.

      I REQUEST MODERATORS TO PLEASE REMOVE HER E-MAIL ID FROM THIS COMMENT.

      Allah save us all, If I as a man mail you and then start getting personal with you it is gonna ruin me as well as you. It is how fitnahs start.
      When you share such problems with men, you are giving them a chance to get closer to you through that crack. Men (not all but most) are weak and can easily fall for that. And you might end up in hell(may Allah protect us all.)

      Second, There are rights for both wives and for mothers. each one has its own place in Islam. I don’t know the whole story or the other end of the story. If what you say is true then I would say, Islam is clear about your rights as wife. It doesn’t matter if she is your husband’s mother. He has to tell his mother that he loves her but he loves his wife too. The two loves are different. You parents have no right to ruin your marriage. They are supposed to give you free time. And as for your husband’s brother, He is NON-Mehram to you. I wouldn’t bring my wife to home where my brothers live with us. You have to draw a line there.

      My advice would be that you take your husband to some Alim or Immam or Sheikh, whatever you call them there. And take his advice based on Islamic Shariah.

      Don’t keep in contact with persons from internet. It will divide your husband and you. Have fun with you husband. See a shiekh probably one your husband respects. No need to throw your personal matters all over the internet or Streets.

      And pray to Allah.
      Ameen.

      • Avatar

        Aashiq Hussain

        July 27, 2013 at 3:54 PM

        Oops! Now realized it is an old post :D

      • Avatar

        Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

        July 29, 2013 at 8:30 AM

        Thank you for pointing this out … email id removed

      • Avatar

        Diana

        January 28, 2014 at 2:06 PM

        how is sharing ones problem “seductive”
        so if someoen was being molested, they should shut up about it?
        you are beyond ridiculouas!!!!! your no different than those corrupt imams who tell a abused wife to go back to her abuser husband!!
        youree of no help, A MUSLIM COMES TO YOU FOR HELP! and u reprimend her because her email is soooo sexy that men dont have the control to not email her?

        • Avatar

          Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

          January 29, 2014 at 12:19 AM

          From a moderator’s point of view, the email ID was removed as we don’t usually allow it (whether it is “seductive” or not).

          As for help, there are avenues of help but comments on a public post is not really much help.

          Best Regards
          -Aly
          CommentsTeam Lead

        • Avatar

          stedy

          January 31, 2014 at 4:16 PM

          hahahah I know right !!
          GET A HOLD OF YOUR-
          selves brothers I am
          SURE the sister meant
          for OTHER SISTERS to
          email her not you

  27. Avatar

    Constipation Remedies 

    October 12, 2010 at 12:47 PM

    married life is actually the best if both the man and the woman compliments each other.**

  28. Avatar

    Hand Winch

    December 14, 2010 at 12:29 PM

    married life is of course a very happy life, all you need to do is find some happiness deep inside yourself ~;’

  29. Avatar

    Ziya

    May 16, 2012 at 6:47 AM

    JazakAllah Khair Dear Sister…
    May Allah accept your efforts and increase your knowledge.

  30. Avatar

    ahmad

    July 22, 2012 at 9:51 AM

    may i share your pic..tq

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala | DiscoMaulvi

      July 23, 2012 at 1:58 AM

      Dear Ahmad

      If you are referring to the image of the baby’s hand in an adult’s hand, it is not copyrighted by us so you do not need permission to use.

      If you are referring to something else please clarify.

      Regards
      -Aly

  31. Avatar

    Hasan

    July 27, 2013 at 9:10 AM

    Great informative post! I am happy to read it…Waiting for next post!!!

  32. Pingback: #K3-365:43 | Vampira

  33. Avatar

    oinkquack

    March 2, 2014 at 1:08 PM

    “The gift of forgetfulness (nisyaan) from Allāh, that wipes out your early mistakes from your children’s memories:”

    In neuroscience it is called brain damage. Child abuse, be it verbal or physical, causes damage to the hippocampus (short and long-term memory) and the amygdala (processing of memory and emotional reactions). This means that children who score high on the Adverse Childhood Experiences test often a) can’t remember large portions of their early childhood and b) find it difficult to regulate their emotions.

    80-90% of parents are still hitting their children from as early as one year old. While they may use euphemisms, such as “spank” and “smack”, to hide their shame, their purpose is behavioural correction through fear and pain; the punishment has to be severe enough for the child to stop whatever it is the parent doesn’t like.

    All studies on victims of child abuse find the victims, in adult life, far more prone to mental illness, addictions and substance abuse, and premature death. That’s right, you harm your child, you curse their life until death.

    That some are lucky enough to escape abusive childhoods with no damage is no more an argument for childhood abuse than the fact that some escape car crashes is an argument for dangerous driving. If I were seen in a car park, physically abusing my elderly father for forgetting where he parked the car, there would be outrage from onlookers; I could be arrested. However, when a mother shouts at and hits her child in a shopping centre, some actually applaud this disgusting behaviour.

    • Avatar

      Aly Balagamwala

      March 3, 2014 at 1:51 AM

      Dear oinkquack

      Our Comments Policy requires a valid name or Kunyah to be used when commenting. You may also use a blog handle provided your blog is linked, the email address is a valid one, and it is not advertising a product.

      Best Regards
      Comments Team

  34. Avatar

    Rafia Sohail

    June 5, 2015 at 7:50 PM

    This article is the best article i have ever read!!!!

  35. Avatar

    sahana

    March 14, 2016 at 8:07 PM

    Assalumualaikum,

    Thank you for this article alhamdullilah, it was a very big eye me. I am 19 now heading to university soon. I will be an adult. I wish I settle down in my early 20’s and this article really helped me understand the guidelines of parenting under Islam. Thank you brothers and sisters, May Allah guide us all..

    Salam

  36. Avatar

    Ozayr Abdullah

    September 5, 2017 at 6:47 AM

    Asalaam
    Mashallah to everybody body for their thoughts on this subject, remember its what you put in your childs heart, be kind sit with your child talk with them make friendly conversation with them tell them how much you love them,let them love Allah and fear him to, best of all make dua for you child and inshallah allah will accept it. Ameen

  37. Avatar

    AMUSLIMMAMA

    October 3, 2017 at 10:15 PM

    Oh sister Sadaf! I have this article bookmarked on my internet browser so that i can come to it often.
    Jazakillah for writing such a reminder for parents like me – who get ungrateful and forget how desperately they wanted to have babies in the first place.

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      October 3, 2017 at 10:36 PM

      I am so glad that you still benefit from this article, sister. Wa iyaaki.

      Parenting can be challenging for us all. May Allah grant us ease. Ameen.

  38. Avatar

    Aziz

    November 22, 2017 at 2:39 PM

    What’s wrong w dancing to music in your room? Why are we criminalizing basically being a normal human being. The poor kid could be doing a whirling dervish in his room and you people will make him feel bad about himself. Get over it

  39. Avatar

    Ibraheem

    January 26, 2018 at 5:50 AM

    Barakallahu for this wonderful piece. this is the best article i have read since becoming a father nearly a year ago. This is a wake up call to all parents especially those who raise their kids with the mindset of them providing a better tomorrow for them after retirement.
    One little suggestion i will give as regard this article is that articles like this should not be gender specific. The article is mainly referencing our mothers. However, all the trait are found in some fathers too.

  40. Avatar

    Abdel Hakim

    May 26, 2018 at 11:17 PM

    Salam,

    This is a nice piece. I think parents have a responsibility. I took a lot of beating s growing up from a single father in the absence of a dead mother.
    After which, I was discarded but the advice I always got is always respect your parents dont talk back. If there is an issue you cant raise it, then when the issue raises itself then you’re bad for not raising it.

    People can be selfish, and I found that people can lie and do so casually.

    I dont think this article was harsh enough.
    Be good to your children and be patient with them. They are not an asset for you to torch whenever you feel like it.

  41. Avatar

    Lonely SIngle

    September 2, 2018 at 5:07 PM

    Many parents are needy nags, especially if they are divorced – by projecting their failed marriage onto their offspring, by degrading them and saying to marry any one cause it will end up in divorced anyway.

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#Life

How Do Muslims Plan for Disability

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Published

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Families with children with disability have an extraordinary set of challenges and blessings.  Disability (or special needs) is a broad term.

Many disabilities will prevent what we often think of as “normal.”  It may hinder or prevent educational opportunities, and employment. Many people with “special needs” can get educated, get married and live long and productive lives.  The problem for many parents of younger children with special needs is that they typically have no certainty about their children’s future needs. Even if the situation looks dire, it may not stay that way.  

How do parents plan for a world where they may not be around to see how things will end up for their special needs children?  What can they do to help their children in a way that does not violate Islamic Inheritance rules?

Certain types of disability, especially the loss of executive decision-making ability, could also happen well into adulthood.  This can be a threat to a family’s wealth and be the cause of internal conflicts. This is the kind of thing every adult needs to think about before it happens.  

The Problem

The issues are not just that parents believe their special needs child will need more inheritance than other children. Muslim parents usually don’t think that. Some parents don’t want their special needs child to get any inheritance at all.  Not because of any ill-will against their special needs child; just the opposite, but because they are afraid inheritance will result in sabotaging their child’s needs-based government benefits.    

Many, perhaps most special needs children do not have any use for needs-based benefits (benefits for the poor).  But many do, or many parents might figure that it is a distinct possibility. This article is a brief explanation of some of the options available for parents of special needs children.  It won’t go over every option, but rather those that are usually incorporated as part of any Islamic Estate Planning.

Please Stand By

Example:  Salma has three daughters and two sons.  One of her children, Khalida, 3, has Down Syndrome.  At this point, Salma knows that raising Khalida is going to be an immense challenge for herself, her husband Rashid and all the older siblings.  What she does not know, however, is what specific care Khalida is going to need through her life or how her disability will continue to be relevant. She does not know a lot about Khalida’s future marriage prospects, ability to be employed and be independent, though obviously like any parent she has nothing but positive hopes for her child’s life.   

In the event of her death, Salma wants to make sure her daughter gets her Islamic right to inheritance.  However, if Khalida needs public benefits, Salma does not want her daughter disqualified because she has her own money.

Her solution is something called a “stand-by special needs trust.” This type of trust is done in conjunction with an Islamic Inheritance Plan and is typically part of a living trust, though it could also be a trust drafted into the last will.  I will describe more about what a special needs trust is below. For Salma, she is the Trustee of her trust. After she dies, she names her husband (or someone else) the successor Trustee. The trust is drafted to prevent it from becoming an “available resource” used to determine eligibility for public benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid and other benefits that go with that.

If it turns out that Salma passes away when Khalida is 5, and her assets are held in trust for her until she is 18 and her Trustee determines she does not need a special needs trust, she will get her inheritance precisely like everyone else based on their Islamic right.  If she does need benefits, the Trustee will only make distributions to Khalida that would not harm her eligibility.

This way, there is no need to deny Khalida her inheritance because of her disability, and she is also making sure giving her daughter inheritance would not harm her daughter’s healthcare or other necessary support.  

Munir Vohra is a special needs advocate and an athlete

The Shape of Special Needs Trusts

A stand-alone Special needs trusts, which is sometimes called a “supplemental needs trust” the kind without the “stand-by” variation I described above, are a standard device for families that have children with special needs. A trust is a property ownership device. A Grantor gives the property to a Trustee, who manages the property for the benefit of a beneficiary. In a revocable living trust, the Grantor, Trustee, and Beneficiary are typically the same person.  

When the trust is irrevocable, the Grantor, Trustee, and Beneficiary may all be different people. In a special needs trust, the person with a disability is the beneficiary. Sometimes, the person with a disability is also the Grantor, the person who created the trust.  This might happen if there is a settlement from a lawsuit for example and the person with special needs wants it to be paid to the trust.  

In many if not most cases, the goal may not be to protect the beneficiary’s ability to get public benefits at all. Many people with a disability don’t get special government benefits.  But they do want to protect the beneficiaries from having to manage the assets. Some people are just more susceptible to abuse.

The structure of the arrangement typically reflects the complexity of the family, the desire of siblings and extended family to continue to be involved in the care and attending to the needs of the person with a disability, even if they are not the person directly writing checks.   

Example: Care for Zayna

Example: Zayna is a 24-year-old woman with limited ability to communicate, take care of her needs and requires 24-hour care.  Zayna has three healthy siblings, many aunts, uncles, and cousins. Her father, Elias, earns about $70,000 per year and is divorced. Zayna’s mother Sameena cannot contribute, as she is on social security disability. However, Zayna’s adult brother and sisters, brother in laws, sister in law and several aunts, uncles want to help Zayna meet her needs E.lyas creates a third party special needs trust that would ensure Zayna has what she needs in the years to come.

Zayna receives need-based public benefits that are vital to her in living with her various disabilities and her struggle to gain increasing independence, knowledge and dignity.  So the trust needs to be set up and professionally administered to make sure that when Zayna gets any benefit from her trust, it does not end up disqualifying her ability to get any needs-based benefit.  

Contributions to the special needs trust will not go against Islamic Inheritance rules unless made after the death of the donor.

If Zayna dies, her assets from the special needs trust will be distributed based on the Islamic rules of inheritance as it applies to her.

When disability planning is not about Public Benefits

Perhaps most families with special needs children do not use any needs-based public assistance.  They are still concerned about special needs and planning for it.

Example:  Khadija, 16, is on the autism spectrum. For those familiar with the autism spectrum, that could mean a lot of things.  For her parents, Sarah and Yacoob, other than certain habits that are harmless and easy to get used to, it means Khadija is very trusting of people. Otherwise, she does well in school, and her parents don’t think she needs way more help than her siblings and she has just as good a chance of leading a healthy and productive life as any 16-year-old girl.  

The downside of being too trusting is that the outside world can exploit her.  If she ends up getting inheritance or gifts, she may lose it. The parents decide that when she gets her inheritance, it will be in a trust that would continue through her life.  There will be a trustee who will make sure she has what she needs from her trust, but that nobody can exploit her.

In some ways, what Khadija’s parents Sarah and Yacoob are doing is not so different from what parents might do if they have a child with a substance abuse problem.  They want to give their child her rights, but they don’t want to allow for exploitation and abuse.

Considering your own needs

There are many people who are easy marks for scammers, yet you would be unlikely to know this unless you are either a close friend or family member, or a scammer yourself.  While this often happens to the elderly, it can happen at just about any age. Everyone should consider developing an “incapacity plan” to preserve their wealth even if they lose their executive decision-making ability.   

There is this process in state courts known as “conservatorship.” Indeed, entire courtrooms dedicate themselves to conservatorships and other mental health-related issues.  It is a legal process that causes an individual to lose their financial or personal freedom because a court has essentially declared them not competent to handle their affairs. Conservatorships are a public process.  They can cause a lot of pain embarrassment and internal family strife.

One of the benefits of a well-drafted living trust is to protect privacy and dignity during difficult times.

Example: Haris Investing in Cambodian Rice Farms

Haris, 63, was eating lunch at a diner.  In the waiting area, he became fast friends with Mellissa; a thirty-something woman who was interested in talking about Haris’s grandchildren.  The conversation then turned Melissa and her desire to start a business selling long distance calling cards. Haris was fascinated by this and thought it made good business sense. Haris gave Mellissa $20,000.00. The two exchanged numbers. The next day, Mellissa’s number was disconnected.

Haris’s wife, Julie became alarmed by this.  It was out of character for her husband to just fork over $20,000 to anyone on the spur of the moment.  What was worse is that the business failed immediately.  

Three months later,  Haris meets Mellissa at the diner again.  She then convinces Haris to invest $50,000 in a Cambodian rice farm, which he does right away.   His wife Julie was pretty upset.

How living trusts helps

As it happened though, Haris, a few years before, created a living trust.  It has a provision that includes incapacity planning. There are two essential parts to this:  The first is a system to decide if someone has lost their executive decision-making ability. The second is to have a successor Trustee to look over the estate when the individual has lost this capacity.  This question is about Haris’s fundamental freedom: his ability to spend his own money.

If you asked Haris, he would say nothing is wrong with him.  He looks and sounds excellent. Tells the best dad jokes. He goes to the gym five times a week and can probably beat you at arm wrestling. Haris made some financial mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes.

Julie, and his adult children Haroon, Kulsum, Abdullah, and Rasheeda are not so sure it’s just a mistake.  The living trust created a “disability panel.” This panel gets to vote, privately, in if Haris should continue to act as Trustee of his own money.  If they vote that he should not manage his own money, his wife does it for him.

The family has a way to decide an important and sensitive issue while maintaining Haris’ dignity, privacy and wealth.   Haris’s friends don’t know anything about long distance calling cards or a Cambodian rice farm; they don’t know he lost his ability to act as Trustee of his trust.  Indeed the rest of the world is oblivious to all of this.

Planning for everyone

Islamic inheritance is fard and every Muslim should endeavor to incorporate it into their lives.  As it happens it is an obligation Muslims, at least those in the United States, routinely ignore or deal with inadequately.  However, there is more to planning than just what shares go to whom after death. Every family needs to create a system. There may or may not be problems with children or even with yourself (other than death, which will happen), but you should do whatever you can to protect your family’s wealth and dignity while also fulfilling your obligations to both yourself and your family.

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Cleaning Out Our Own Closets This Ramadan: Bigotry

Why Eliminating Hate Begins with Us

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Before Muslims take a stand against xenophobia in the U.S., we really need to eradicate it from our own community.

There. I said it.

There is no nice way to put it. Muslims can be very intolerant of those outside their circles, particularly our Latino neighbors. How do I know? I am a Latina who came into Islam almost two decades ago, and I have experienced my fair share of stereotypes, prejudice, and just outright ignorance coming from my very own Muslim brethren.

And I am not alone.

My own family and Latino Muslim friends have also dealt with their daily doses of bigotry. Most of the time, it is not ill-intentioned, however, the fact that our community is so out of touch with Latin Americans says a lot about why we are often at the receiving end of discrimination and hate.

“Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves…” (The Qur’an, 13:11)

Recently, Fox News came under fire for airing a graphic that stated, “Trump cuts aid to 3 Mexican countries,” on their show, “Fox and Friends Weekend.” The network apologized for the embarrassing error, but not before criticism of their geographical mishap went viral on social media. The reactions were of disbelief, humor, and repugnance for the controversial news channel that has become the archenemy of everything Islamic. People flooded the internet with memes, tweets, and comments regarding the ridiculous headline, Muslims included. American Muslim leaders quickly released statements condemning the lack of knowledge about the difference between Mexico and the nations of Central and South America.

Ironically, however, just about two months ago, my eldest son wrote an essay about the bullying he experienced in an Islamic school, which included insults about him being Mexican and “eating tacos” even though he is half Ecuadorian (South America) and Puerto Rican (Caribbean), not Mexican. I include the regions in parentheses because, in fact, many Muslims are just as geographically-challenged as the staff at Fox News. When a group of Hispanic workers came to replace the windows at his former school, my son approached them and spoke to them in Spanish as a means of dawah – teaching them that there are Latin American and Spanish-speaking Muslims. His classmates immediately taunted him saying that the laborers were “his cousins.” Although my son tried countless times to explain to his peers the difference between his origins and Mexico and defended both, they continued to mock Latinos.

On another occasion, a local masjid invited a famous Imam from the Midwest to speak about a topic. My family and I attended the event because we were fans of the shaykh and admired his work. A few minutes into his talk, he made a derogatory remark about Mexicans, and then added with a smile, “I hope there aren’t any Mexicans in the room!” A gentleman from the community stood up behind my husband, who is Ecuadorian, and pointed at him saying, “We have one right here!” Some people chuckled as his face turned red. The shaykh apologized for his comment and quickly moved on. We looked at each other and rolled our eyes. This was nothing new.

Imam Mohamed Alhayek (Jordanian Palestinian) and Imam Yusuf Rios (Puerto Rican) share an intimate moment during the 16th Annual Hispanic Muslim Day. Photo/Caption by Melissa Barreto — at North Hudson Islamic Educational Center (NHIEC).

Once, I visited a Pakistani sister, and as I enjoyed a cup of warm chai on her patio, she turned to me earnestly and said, “You and (another Latina Muslim) are the only educated Hispanics I know.” She then asked me why Latinos did not have “goals and ambitions” because supposedly, all the Hispanic students in her daughters’ school only aspired to work in their parents’ businesses as laborers. She went on to tell me about her Hispanic maid’s broken family and how unfortunate it was that they had no guidance or moral values. I was shocked by her assumptions, but I realized that this was the sentiment of a lot of Muslims who simply do not know a thing about our culture or have not taken the time to really get to know us.

When I accepted Islam back in 2000, I never expected to hear some of the narrow-minded comments and questions I received from those people who had become my brothers and sisters in faith. After all, I came to Islam through the help of an Egyptian family, I declared the Shahada for the first time in the presence of people from Pakistan, and I was embraced in the masjid by worshippers from places like Somalia, Sudan, Palestine, India, Turkey, and Afghanistan. A white American convert gifted me with my first Ramadan guide and an Indian sister supported me during my first fast. I expected to be treated equally by everyone because Islam was for everyone and Muslims have been hearing this their whole lives and they preach it incessantly. I do the same now. As a Muslim Latina, I tell my people that Islam is open to all and that racism, colorism, classism, and xenophobia have no place in Islam.

Nevertheless, it did not take long for me to hear some very ugly things from my new multi-cultural community. I was questioned about whether I was a virgin or not by well-meaning sisters who wanted to find me a Muslim husband. My faith was scrutinized when my friend’s family introduced me to an imam who doubted I had converted on my own, without the persuasion of a Muslim boyfriend or husband. I was pressured about changing my name because it was not “Islamic” enough. I was lectured about things that I had already learned because foreign-born Muslims assumed I had no knowledge. I was even told I could not be a Muslim because I was Puerto Rican; that I was too “out there,” too loud, or that my people were not morally upright.

I know about good practicing Muslim men who have been turned down for marriage because they are Hispanic. On the other hand, I have seen sisters taken for marriage by immigrant Muslims to achieve citizenship status and later abandoned, despite having children. I have been approached by Muslim men searching for their “J-Lo,” who want to marry a “hot” Latina because of the disgusting exploitation of Latina women they have been exposed to from television, movies, and music videos. I have made the mistake of introducing this type of person to one of my sisters and witnessed their disappointment because she did not fit the image of the fantasy girl they expected. I have felt the heartbreak of my sister who was turned down for not living up to those unrealistic expectations, and who continues to wait for a Muslim man who will honor her as she deserves. An older “aunty” once said to my face that she would never let her children marry a Latino/a.

I met a brother named José who was told that he had to change his un-Islamic Spanish name so that he would be better received in the Muslim community, even though his name, when translated to Arabic, is Yusuf! I have been asked if I know any Hispanic who could work at a Muslim’s store for less than minimum wage 12 hours a day or a “Spanish lady” who can clean a Muslim’s house for cheap. I have spoken to Latino men and women who work at masajid doing landscaping or janitorial services who have never heard anything about Islam. When I approached the Muslim groundskeeper at one of these mosques with Spanish literature to give them, he looked at me bewildered and said, “Oh, they are just contractors,” as if they did not deserve to learn about our faith! I have heard that the child of a Latina convert was expelled and banned from returning to an Islamic school for making a mistake, once. I have been told about fellow Hispanics who dislike going to the masjid because they feel rejected and, worse of all, some of them have even left Islam altogether.

Latina Muslims share a laugh during the 16th Annual Hispanic Muslim Day.
Photo/Caption by Melissa Barreto — at North Hudson Islamic Educational Center (NHIEC).

A few weeks ago, news was released about the sentencing of Darwin Martinez Torres, who viciously raped and murdered Northern Virginia teen, Nabra Hassanen during Ramadan in June 2017. The story made national headlines and left her family and the entire Muslim community devastated. Although the sentence of eight life terms in prison for the killer provided some closure to the public, the senseless and heinous act still leaves sentiments of anger and frustration in the hearts of those who loved Nabra Hassanen. Muslims began sharing the news on social media and soon, remarks about the murderer’s Central American origin flooded the comments sections. One said, “An illegal immigrant from El Salvador will now spend the rest of his life in a U.S. prison where all his needs will be met, and his rights will be protected… When we attack efforts to stop illegal immigration and to deal with the criminals coming across the border every day, remember Sr. Nabra… we should all be united in supporting common-sense measures to ensure that our sisters do not walk in fear of attacks. (And no, this is not an ‘isolated case’…).”

Although I was just as relieved about receiving the news that there was finally justice for our young martyred sister, I was saddened to see that the anti-Hispanic immigrant sentiment within our own community was exposed: To assume that Latino immigrants are “criminals coming across the border every day” is to echo the very words that came from current US President Donald Trump’s mouth about immigrants prior to his election to the presidency. To blame all Latinos for a crime committed against one and claim it is not an “isolated case” is to do the same thing that Fox News and anti-Muslim bigots do when they blame all Muslims for a terror attack.

Why are we guilty of the same behavior that we loathe?

I do not like to air out our dirty laundry. I have always felt that it is counterproductive for our collective dawah efforts. It is embarrassing and shameful that we, who claim to be so tolerant and peaceful, still suffer from the very attitudes for which we blame others. As I write this piece, I have been sharing my thoughts with my close friend, a Pakistani-American, who agreed with me and said, “Just like a recovering alcoholic, our first step is to admit there is a problem.” We cannot demand our civil rights and expect to be treated with dignity while we mistreat another minority group, and this includes Latinos and also other indigenous Muslims like Black Americans and Native Americans. I say this, not just for converts, but for my loud and proud, half Puerto Rican and half Ecuadorian children and nephews and others like them who were born Muslims: we need a community that welcomes all of us.

Latinos and Muslims share countless cultural similarities. Our paths are the same. Our history is intertwined, whether we know it or not; and if you don’t know it, then it is time you do your research. How can we visit Islamic Spain and North Africa and marvel at its magnificence, and travel to the Caribbean for vacation and notice the Andalusian architecture present in the colonial era structures, yet choose to ignore our shared past? How can you be proud of Mansa Musa, and not know that it is said his brother sailed with other Malians to the Americas prior to Columbus, making contact with the indigenous people of South America (even before it was “America”)? How can you turn your back on people from the countries which sheltered thousands of Muslim immigrants from places like Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey after the collapse of the Uthmani Empire, many of which carry that blood in their veins?

Latino Muslim panelists during “Hispanic Muslim Day” at North Hudson Islamic Educational Center, Union City, NJ Photo/Caption by Melissa Barreto — at North Hudson Islamic Educational Center (NHIEC).

We need to do a better job of reaching out and getting to know our neighbors. In recent years, the Muslim ban has brought Latinos and Muslims together in solidarity to oppose discriminatory immigration laws. The time is now to establish lasting partnerships.

Use this Ramadan to reach out to the Latino community; host a Spanish open house or an interfaith/intercultural community iftar. Reach out to Latino Muslims in your area for support, or to organizations like ICNA’s WhyIslam (Por qué Islam) for Spanish materials. A language barrier is not an issue when there are plenty of resources available in the Spanish language, and we have the universal language that has been declared a charity by our Prophet, Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), and that is a welcoming smile.

There is no excuse.

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How to Teach Your Kids About Easter

Don’t tell my dad this, but growing up, I was sure I wanted to be a Christian. It had nothing to do with the theology though, it was – really and truly – all about the chocolate.

Zeba Khan

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Don’t tell my dad this, but growing up, I was sure I wanted to be a Christian. It had nothing to do with the theology though, it was – really and truly – all about the chocolate.

Don’t get me wrong, I did not grow up in any sort of conservative, chocolate-deprived bubble. My mother was – and still is – a Christian. My father was – and still is – Muslim, and our home was a place where two faiths co-existed in unapologetic splendor.

My mother put up her Christmas tree every year.  We children, though Muslim, received Easter baskets every year. The only reason why I wished I was Christian too, even though I had no less chocolate in my life than other children my age, was because of the confusing guilt that I felt around holiday time.

I knew that the holidays were my mother’s, and we participated to honor and respect her, not to honor and respect what she celebrated. As a child though, I really didn’t understand why we couldn’t celebrate them too, even if it was just for the chocolate.

As an adult I’ve learned that I’m not alone in this conflicted enthusiasm for the holidays of others. Really, who doesn’t like treats and parties and any excuse to celebrate? As a parent though, I’ve decided that the best policy to use with my children is respectful honesty about where we stand with regard to other religions.

That’s why when my children asked me about Easter, this is what I told them:

  1. The holidays of every religion are the right of the people who follow them. They are as precious to them as Eid and Ramadan are to us.
  2. Part of being a good Muslim is protecting the rights of everyone around us, no matter what their religion is. There is nothing wrong with non-Muslims celebrating their religious non-Muslim holidays.
  3. We don’t need to pretend they’re not happening. Respectful recognition of the rights of others is part of our religion and our history. We don’t have to accept what other people celebrate in order to be respectful of their celebrations.
  4. The problem with Muslims celebrating non-Muslim religious holidays is that we simply don’t believe them to be true.

So when it comes to Easter specifically, we break it down to its smaller elements.

There is nothing wrong with chocolate. There is nothing wrong with eggs. There is nothing wrong with rabbits, and no, they don’t lay eggs.

There is nothing wrong with Easter, but we do not celebrate it because:

Easter is a celebration based on the idea the Prophet Isa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was Allah’s son, who Allah allowed to be killed for our sins. Easter is a celebration of him coming back to life again.

Depending on how old your child is, you may need to break it down further.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) Created the sun, Allah is not a person whose eyes can’t even look directly at the sun. Allah Created space, Allah is not a person who can’t survive in space. Allah Created fire, Allah is not a person who cannot even touch fire. Allah is not a person, He does not have children as people do. Prophet Jesus [alayis] was a messenger of Allah, not a child of Allah.

Allah is also the Most-Merciful, Most-Forgiving, and All-Powerful. When we make mistakes by ourselves, we say sorry to Allah and try our best to do better. If we make mistakes all together, we do not take the best-behaved person from among us and then punish him or her in our place.

Allah is Justice Himself. He is The Kindest, Most Merciful, Most Forgiving Being in the entire universe. He always was, and always will be capable of forgiving us. No one needed to die in order for Allah to forgive anyone.

If your teacher failed the best student in the class so that the rest of the students could pass, that would not be fair, even if that student had offered that. When people say that Allah sacrificed his own son so that we could be forgiven, they are accusing Allah of really unfair things, even if they seem to think it’s a good thing.

Even if they’re celebrating it with chocolate.

We simply do not believe what is celebrated on Easter. That is why we do not celebrate Easter.

So what do we believe?

Walk your child through Surah Ikhlas, there are four lines and you can use four of their fingers.

  1. Allah is One.
  2. Allah doesn’t need anything from anyone.
  3. He was not born, and nor was anyone born of Him. Allah is no one’s child, and no one is Allah’s child
  4. There is nothing like Allah in the universe

Focus on what we know about Allah, and then move on to other truths as well.

  1. Christians should absolutely celebrate Christian holidays. We are happy for them.
  2. We do not celebrate Christian holidays, because we do not accept what they’re celebrating.
  3. We are very happy for our neighbors and hope they have a nice time.

When your child asks you about things like Christmas, Easter, Valentines, and Halloween, they’re not asking you to change religions. They’re asking you for the chance to participate in the joy of treats, decorations, parties, and doing things with their peers.

You can provide them these things when you up your halal holiday game. Make Ramadan in your home a whole month of lights, people, and happy prayer. Make every Friday special. Make Eid amazing – buy gifts, give charity, decorate every decorat-able surface if you need to – because our children have no cause to feel deprived by being Muslim.

If your holidays tend to be boring, that’s a cultural limitation, not a religious one. And if you feel like it’s not fair because other religions just have more holidays than we do, remember this:

  • Your child starting the Quran can be a celebration
  • Your child finishing the Quran can be a celebration
  • Your child’s first fast can be a celebration
  • Your child wearing hijab can be a celebration
  • Your child starting to pray salah can be a celebration
  • Your children can sleep over for supervised qiyaam nights
  • You can celebrate whatever you want, whenever you want, in ways that are fun and halal and pleasing to Allah.

We have a set number of religious celebrations, but there is no limit on how many personal celebrations we choose to have in our lives and families. Every cause we have for gratitude can be an opportunity to see family, eat together, dress up, and hang shiny things from other things, and I’m not talking about throwing money at the problem – I’m talking about making the effort for its solution.

It is easy to celebrate something when your friends, neighbors, and local grocery stores are doing it too. That’s probably why people of many religions – and even no religion – celebrate holidays they don’t believe in. That’s not actually an excuse for it though, and as parents, it’s our responsibility to set the right example for our children.

Making and upholding our own standards is how we live, not only in terms of our holidays, but in how we eat, what we wear, and the way we swim upstream for the sake of Allah.  We don’t go with the flow, and teaching our children not to celebrate the religious holidays of other religions just to fit in is only one part of the lesson.

The other part is to extend the right to religious freedom – and religious celebration – to Muslims too. When you teach your children that everyone has a right to their religious holidays, include Muslims too. When you make a big deal out of Ramadan include your non-Muslim friends and neighbors too, not just because it’s good dawah, but because being able to share your joy with others helps make it feel more mainstream.

Your Muslim children can give their non-Muslim friends Eid gifts. You can take Eid cookies to your non-Muslim office, make Ramadan jars. You can have Iftar parties for people who don’t fast.   Decorate your house for Ramadan, and send holiday cards out on your holidays.

You can enjoy the elements of celebration that are common to us all without compromising on your aqeedah, and by doing so, you can teach your children that they don’t have to hide their religious holidays from the people who don’t celebrate them.  No one has to. And you can teach your children to respect the religions of others, even while disagreeing with them.

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are bound by a common thread, and there is much we come together on. Where the threads separate though, is still a cause for celebration. Religious tolerance is part of our faith, and recognizing the rights of others to celebrate – or abstain from celebration – is how we celebrate our differences.

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