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Parenting Series | Part I: Swimming Against the Current

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Part I Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | | Part V(b) | Part VI | Part VII | Part VIII | Part IX

We are living in a strange time of rat races, struggling to keep up with others around us. This race is not only limited to our wealth, status, or any other type of materialism, but also includes the way we carry out many of our daily roles in life, especially as parents. The way we raise our children and the values/goals we set for them has become a matter of competition. The definition of a good parent, in our world, revolves around how comfortably our children are raised, how much money we are able to collect and spend on them, the amount of good, fresh food that is provided daily, and what “type” of secular education we are able to provide for them. The more we are able to provide of these worldly things, the better we are perceived as fulfilling parents.

As bound by our nature, we follow the herd, meaning the norm of our society. Similarly, we pass on the same goals and priorities to our children. Even if someone desires to live a different lifestyle, it is very easy to succumb to the daily grind because of our surrounding environment.

However, as Muslim parents we are entrusted with responsibilities beyond the success of this world. Hence, we cannot afford to go with the flow if we do not know where this flow will ultimately take us. Therefore, it is binding upon a Muslim parent to know:

  • What our goal is as parents
  • Who our role models should be

If our ultimate goal is strictly bound to the benefits of this world, then we can follow the trends of this world and our worries are limited; wishing only for our children a good education, a college degree, and a STDs/drug free life. On the other hand, if we have the next world in mind, then we must set ourselves additional values and goals which probably require swimming against the current, which is an extremely challenging and almost impossible task, unless stimulated by a solid motivation.

Why Set Superior Goals?

Why do we have to be the odd parent struggling to move against the current and creating more trouble for ourselves and complications for our child/ren? In a nutshell, remember we are alive not to focus on this world but rather to aim for the next world.

In my humble opinion, a loving parent is not one whose only focus is to fill his/her children’s stomachs, find them the best clothing, provide them with a comfortable place to live, and concentrate on their higher education.  I believe that TRUE love is reflected in how much attention is paid to the real purpose of their existence and to their final destination.

I was told about a young Pakistani man who had recently graduated with a Master’s degree from abroad and then returned to his motherland. He was an only child and his parents had “done it all” for their only son from the time he was born; they provided him with a luxurious upbringing and the best education of their time. However, and unfortunately, it didn’t include any religious guidance as that did not seem to be of value or importance. Disappointing to say, the young man fell sick and was diagnosed with cancer in its last stages. When he was hospitalized, he met an old man who talked to him about life after death, heaven and hell, and his last journey. That day, the young man cried like a little baby for he was not prepared for his journey, and he had nothing to take to his real destination. He questioned his parents about their negligence, looking at his degrees and achievements in dismay. How can his Master’s help salvage him? His parents realized their error but could only rue their heedlessness. Nevertheless, he was blessed during his final hours with a teacher who helped him learn salah, the Qur’an, and more of the basics of Islamic knowledge. I do not know if this young man lived or if he rests in his grave now, but I do hope and pray that Allah‘azza wa jall accepted his efforts, grants him Jannah, and forgives him and his parents.Ameen.

Let’s keep in mind that not everyone gets a last minute opportunity to make up for life-long negligence. Death comes unannounced and at the least expected moments; it is a reality that we can all be assured of. The question is, how many of us are preparing our children for that inevitable moment?

My daughter is fatally allergic to peanuts. A few years back, she had an accidental exposure to peanuts, causing an extremely dangerous reaction. On our way to the ER, she was throwing up, breathing abnormally, and her lips were turning blue. As I held her head in my arms, she whispered to me, “It’s okay mama, everyone has to die some day!” Her eyes rolled backwards (I will never forget that sight), and I thought we were going to lose her before we made it to the hospital. She was in indescribable pain, and as a mother I felt helpless because I couldn’t do anything for her.  All I wanted was for her to stop hurting, but I couldn’t take her pain away. To make a long story short, alhamdulillah no ill became of her; a short stay in the ER of the hospital and we were able to return home the same night. Still, that day I realized my limitations as a parent. When I thought I would lose her, I was willing to exchange my soul for hers, but it was a useless and absurd bargain to even think of. I realized that if those were her last moments, nothing would have benefitted her except her preparations for her final destination. My children might travel on their last journey before I do, and it is a journey they have to take alone. I will not be able to help them at this time and can only help them get ready for their meeting with the angel of death.

So, dear parents, while we prepare our children for their interview at an Ivy League school or for a big job, we cannot and must not forget about their ultimate interview and meeting with the angel of death. And with this in mind, we must aim to raise our children in a way appropriate and safe for their akhirah as well as their dunyainsha’Allah.

Having said this, I am not undermining secular education by any means. I am a firm believer that a secular education is very important for our children, particularly during this era. They must know and understand the world they live in, which is for their benefit; they must also be educated to secure a good job and be self-sufficient as a Muslim should be.

Yet, we must find a balance when we raise Muslim children while aiming for the akhirah, all the while doing well in this dunya. Our children study at school for 8 hours a day and come home with tons of homework, so where do we “fit in” Islam into their lives?  This is the question posed in every Muslim parent’s mind whose kids are not homeschooled or are not attending an Islamic school.

I wish I had a step-by-step guide for every parent according to their child’s type and age. Unfortunately, I don’t. And although I am not an expert in this field, I have a few suggestions to offer parents, some based on my own experience as a parent, some from counseling teenagers and other parents, and some based on simple observations.

Let us keep in mind that Islam is not a “subject” that we teach as a second-language or like sports training for soccer or football where we train/educate for a few hours during the day and then forget all about it until the next class. Rather, it is our religion, a way of life, and should be dealt with and taught like any daily ritual of our lives. In other words, instill our religion in their everyday lives, so it is indigenous to them.  It obviously requires a lot of effort from us as parents but be assured our good effort is never wasted:

“…then Allah surely does not waste the reward of the doers of good.” (12:90)

Better yet, we will thus achieve our goal, insha’Allah, and our children will become asadaqah jaariyyah (ongoing charity) for us, not to mention that they will secure theirakhirah, by the mercy of Allah.

“When a person dies, all his deeds come to an end except three: ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge (which he has left behind), or a righteous child who will pray for him.”

Let us be assured that it is, perhaps, the bare minimum requirement of being a “Muslim” parent, for the Prophet of Allah (sallAllahu alayhi wasalam) said:

“Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock. The imaamis a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. A man is the shepherd of his family and is responsible for his flock. A woman is the shepherd of her husband’s house and is responsible for her flock. A servant is the shepherd of his master’s wealth and is responsible for his flock…” (Bukhaari; Muslim)

Our children are entrusted to us by Allah ‘azza wa jall, so we must set proper values for them and direct their lives in the correct direction. If we neglect our responsibilities, then not only do we become partially responsible for spoiling our children’s akhirah (if they go astray), but we also subject ourselves to punishment. Remember the Day when we will flee from our children; it will not be for any other reason but out of fear that they might question us about their neglected rights:

“That Day shall a man flee from his brother, And from his mother and his father, And from his wife and his children. Every man, that Day, will have enough to make him careless of others.” (80:34-37)

After all this, how can we not have the akhirah as the ultimate goal for our children, and how can we not aim for Jannah for our children? How can we neglect their akhira and not prioritize their deen in their lives?

Dear parents, it is strange that when it comes to this world, we always have high goals for our children and our expectations know no bounds, but when it comes to their real destiny, we aim for the bare minimum. We never settle for just high school, but rather from the time of their birth we remain ever consistent with the hope of at least a Bachelor’s degree. On the other hand, when it comes to their akhirah, we are pleased with ‘as long as they pray’, ‘fast Ramadan’, or ‘fulfill the fundamental 5 pillars’ for the entirety of their existence!

The upcoming articles in this Parenting series are a brief summary of “The Parenting Workshop” I have given in the US and in Doha to a Western audience. Henceforth, let us proceed to practical steps of achieving our goal, insha’Allah.

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MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Saba Syed (aka Umm Reem) is the author of International award winning novel, "An Acquaintance."Saba has a BA degree in Islamic Studies. She studied Arabic Language & Literature at Qatar University and at Cairo Institute in Egypt. She also received her Ijaazah in Quranic Hafs recitation in Egypt from Shaikh Muhammad al-Hamazawi.She had been actively involved with Islamic community since 1995 through her MSA, and then as a founding member of TDC, and other community organizations. in 2002, she organized and hosted the very first "Musim Women's Conference" in Houston, TX. Since then, she's been passionately working towards empowering Muslim women through the correct and untainted teachings of Islam.She is a pastoral counselor for marriage & family, women and youth issues. She has hosted several Islamic lectures and weekly halaqas in different communities all over U.S and overseas, also hosted special workshops regarding parenting, Islamic sex-ed, female sexuality, and marital intimacy.

38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Your sister in islam

    December 15, 2010 at 1:42 AM

    Salamualaikum Wr Wb

    JazakAllah Khair Dear Umm Reem! :)
    May AllahSWT increase you in sincerity and guidance and bring great benefit to the ummah thru ur work!

  2. Avatar

    AbuMarjaan

    December 15, 2010 at 1:49 AM

    Assalam alaikum,

    Masha Allah !
    Hope to benefit from this series .May Allah make these “sadaqa jaariya ” for you
    Eagerly waiting for the upcoming articles..

  3. Avatar

    Abeer

    December 15, 2010 at 2:26 AM

    Assalam alaikum,
    Thanks for sharing the knowledge and thought. Here we are talking about huge resposibility. And I couldn’t agree more on your statement “On the other hand, when it comes to their akhirah…….”
    May Allah bless all of us!

  4. Avatar

    AnonyMouse

    December 15, 2010 at 2:49 AM

    Masha’Allah! I’m so glad you’ve taken the time to do this for us :)
    Looking forward to the rest of the series…

  5. Pingback: Tweets that mention Parenting Series | Part I: Introduction | MuslimMatters.org -- Topsy.com

  6. Avatar

    Sadaf Farooqi

    December 15, 2010 at 4:07 AM

    Barak Allahu feeki, Umm Reem.
    Looking forward to this series!
    I loved the 2 practical examples you gave to illustrate your points viz. the fatally ill young son and your own daughter’s allergic reaction. I think each of us has seen or witnessed such moments with loved ones in our lives, which poignantly remind us of our actual destination: our Akhirah that begins with death.

    • Avatar

      Mantiki

      December 15, 2010 at 6:10 AM

      It is true that there is more to life than money and worldly success.

      Anyone who is interested in what happens when you die might like to visit http://www.nderf.org/

    • Avatar

      Nayma

      December 15, 2010 at 7:14 AM

      Jazak Allahu khairan Umm Reem, esp. for sharing those practical examples. I’ve felt those feelings too. What can we give to our precious ones which will help them as the angel of death comes. That is one journey they will have to take themselves.

  7. Avatar

    Faatimah

    December 15, 2010 at 6:15 AM

    Assalamu’alaikum Wa Rahmatullaahee Wa Barakaatuhu

    Jazaakillaah Khayran sister Umm Reem. It is a very useful reminder Alhamdulillaah.

    SubhanAllaah the plight of the Ummah today is that most Muslim parents love their children in this world only and not their aakhirah. It is important to reinforce the aqeedah of Muslim parents on aakhirah Insha Allaah.

    Looking forward for the next series Insha Allaah

    Ma’salaama

  8. Avatar

    s

    December 15, 2010 at 8:19 AM

    Alhamdulillah! I can’t wait for this series! Jazakillah Khayran Umm Reem. I hope you will discuss parenting issues from the very earliest ages onward inshallah.

  9. Avatar

    Bushra

    December 15, 2010 at 8:20 AM

    Jazakallahu khair, Umm Reem. Such valuable advice, masha’Allah.

    Just a quick correction on the ayah:

    “That Day shall a man flee from his brother, And from his mother and his father, And from his wife and his children. Every man, that Day, will have enough to make him careless of others.” (80:34-37)

    Something I learnt from Yahya Ibrahim about the translation of this ayah is that men will not flee from their children on the Day of Judgement, but from their SONS. Why? Because they will run around looking for their sisters and their daughters who will testify to the kindness of this man towards them. This is based on the following hadith:

    “The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever takes care of two girls until they reach adulthood, he and I will come like this on the Day of Resurrection,” and he held his fingers together. Narrated by Muslim, 2631.”

    and also:

    Ibn Maajah (3669) narrated that ‘Uqbah ibn ‘Aamir (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: “Whoever has three daughters and is patient towards them, and feeds them, gives them to drink and clothes them from his riches, they will be a shield for him from the Fire on the Day of Resurrection.” Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Ibn Maajah.

    Otherwise, an excellent post and something to think about when raising children. Whenever my mother reprimanded me for anything, she always said to me at the end of it – “You will thank me for this one day.”
    At the time, I thought “Ummmm…really??” But now I think that those words are so true. Alhamdulillah for the upbringing my parents gave me, it is far more valuable than the education they gave me. May Allah(swt) reward them for bringing us up with Islam, forgive them for their shortcomings and grant them Jannah…Ameen.

    • Umm Reem

      Umm Reem

      December 17, 2010 at 9:32 AM

      Something I learnt from Yahya Ibrahim about the translation of this ayah is that men will not flee from their children on the Day of Judgement, but from their SONS. Why?

      hmm…wAllahu ‘alam why he would say this because there are PLENTY of Muslim families that totally mistreat their daughters…
      so those who have not fulfilled the rights of their daughters, will run away from their daughters too…and those rights include giving them an Islamic upbringing, wAllahu ta’ala ‘alam…

      • Avatar

        Bushra

        December 18, 2010 at 9:16 AM

        If you look at the second hadith, that’s the basis for his reasoning. Of course, the mistreatment of girls amongst Muslims is circumstantial evidence, but the ahadith give many people a reason to treat sisters and daughters well, if not for the sake of humanity, then at least for the sake of reward and saving themselves from the Fire.

        Also, he mentioned that it’s due to the Arabic translation in the Qurán of that ayah. From what I recall, it may be the masculine plural of ‘children’.

  10. Avatar

    Um Aneesa

    December 15, 2010 at 9:30 AM

    um reem
    Where can I find out the meaning of the man being responsible for his family, while the woman is responsible for her husband’s house, what does the hadeeth mena by “family” and “house”
    Jazakillahu khayra!

  11. Avatar

    Sabeen

    December 15, 2010 at 10:23 AM

    “Let us keep in mind that Islam is not a “subject” that we teach as a second-language….”
    The tragedy is that sometimes the religion is not prioritized even by those parents that are themselves leading very observant lives.
    Jazakallah khair for an invaluable reminder. Looking forward to the rest of the series!

  12. Avatar

    Shuaib Mansoori

    December 15, 2010 at 1:57 PM

    Assalamu Alaikum Umm Reem,

    JazakiAllahu Khairan for this excellent endeavor. I ask Allah to reward you and your family immensely.

    This struck a chord with me:

    My children might travel on their last journey before I do, and it is a journey they have to take alone. I will not be able to help them at this time and can only help them get ready for their meeting with the angel of death.

    My elder sister passed away in 2003 when she was 17, rahimahallah. I can never thank Allah and my parents enough for bringing us up in a practising household and inculcating a love of Islam in our hearts. The night which was going to be her last, she lay close to my mother whispering some words. When asked about what she was saying, in her last breaths she said, “I’m reciting the 3 Quls (Mu’awwadhataan)” and she slowly and peacefully departed from this world. It was a sign of a husnal khatima and we hope that Allah enveloped her in His Mercy and sent noble angels to shroud her in garments from paradise.

    I look forward to the rest of the series and I ask Allah to Bless your children to be from the A’immah of the Muttaqoon and from the Revivers of this Deen.

    • Umm Reem

      Umm Reem

      December 17, 2010 at 9:34 AM

      I look forward to the rest of the series and I ask Allah to Bless your children to be from the A’immah of the Muttaqoon and from the Revivers of this Deen.

      amin ya Rabbal ‘alameen

  13. Avatar

    BrownS

    December 15, 2010 at 10:37 PM

    Jazakillahu khair for taking the initiative to start this series. I look forward to creative and practical methodologies being shared in the articles and comments. I don’t have any children yet but I think often about how I might achieve the goals you outlined above, especially when I see far more negative examples of parenting around me than positive ones.

  14. Avatar

    Asmaa

    December 16, 2010 at 6:47 AM

    Much needed topic, just published about at the right time.. JazaakumAllaahu kul khair..

  15. Avatar

    UmmAasiya

    December 16, 2010 at 11:27 AM

    Bismiallah,

    Jazhakhallah for taking on this topic. You have given a great voice to my constant worry!!! As a parent of a 6 year old and a 3 year old – I have constantly worried and no wonder tired – because as you said riding against the tide is hard! I am eagerly awaiting your upcoming articles. May Allah reward you and may Allah cure your daughter completely of her allergy as He the Almighty is capable of everything. May Allah preserve her and guide her and all of our children onto the correct path and make them leaders of the mumineen iA. Greatly anticipating the upcoming articles…

    • Umm Reem

      Umm Reem

      December 17, 2010 at 9:36 AM

      amin!
      wa jazakiAllah khair :)

  16. Avatar

    Cucumberr

    December 16, 2010 at 10:52 PM

    Jazakillah Khair! Looking forward to the series inshaAllah :)

  17. Avatar

    Terry Martin

    December 17, 2010 at 5:24 PM

    I have a sincere question that I do not know the answer to. In a Muslim home, what do parents tell the children of Christians and Jews? If I were to ask your eight year old child what they think of a Christian or a Jew, what would they tell me?

    I can be reached at terrymartinor@gmail.com and I would appreciate anybody’s response.

    • Amad

      Amad

      December 18, 2010 at 4:47 AM

      I asked two 10 yr olds. One:
      Some are good, some are bad. Christians believe that Allah is 3 in 1. Christians that don’t worship like this may go to paradise. Christian friends r alright as long as they wash their hands after using the bathroom! [Kids notice the strangest things]. Jews make me think of Palestine and I have to ask my dad what’s going on? Then I feel angry as they r killing Palestinians, esp the ones that r not following the Torah. If they followed the Torah, they wouldn’t kill and would tell those killing not to.

      Second:
      When I think about Jews, I think about what’s happening in palestine. I also think majority of them are nice people. Only the bad Jews are killing. When I think about Christians, i think they are kind people and sister religion of Islam, closest to Islam. Then I also think of warfare, like the president of USA are Christians most of the time, right? And they have started wars, like Iraq.

    • Umm Reem

      Umm Reem

      December 19, 2010 at 9:52 AM

      Terry,

      I think we should tell them what we believe. Jews and Christians are people of the book, those who followed the book properly will enter Jannah. However, in this world we must be nice to them as they are our neighbors, school teachers etc. Plus we represent Islam so we must be at our best behavior.

      Some parents do not encourage telling their children about the fate of Jews and Christians in akhira, but I had my children read the Qur’an with the meanings from the age of five, so by the time they turned eight they had read a lot about them in the Qur’an, which really helped them build an understanding towards them.

      hope it helps.

  18. Avatar

    africana

    December 17, 2010 at 6:47 PM

    Well, I think, generally speaking, Muslim parents will tell their children that thethe Jews and Christians, as people of scripture, follow revelations which, although originally from God have been changed through time. On account of this, there is some common ground and some difference.

    Many 8 year olds will also know that Christianity, as it stands, contains objectionable elememts like pagan customs (foremost , of course being Christmas) and ascribing partners to God.

  19. Avatar

    UmmAdam

    December 17, 2010 at 10:03 PM

    Wonderful article! Looking forward to the rest of the series, inshAllah.

    @ Terry Martin: I have an 8 year old son….if u asked him what he thought of Jews and Christians, he’d answer, “Tyler is Jewish and he’s my friend, and Christopher is Christian and he’s my friend.” Pretty plain and simple.

    On another note, in this holiday season, my children know “the truth” about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the rest of the folly that others follow. My innocent child’s reaction: “Why do their parents lie to them?”

    I think a big difference in the way Muslim children are raised vs. the way Christians and Jews are raised, is that we don’t “sugarcoat” things. It’s very important for our children to have a firm base in reality. I speak honestly with my children regarding life, death and the Hereafter. I do tell them that this world is temporary and that to God is our ultimate return.

  20. Avatar

    Hebah Ahmed

    December 18, 2010 at 2:32 PM

    Asalam ALikum we Rahmat Allah we barakatu,

    Masha Allah Umm Reem…excellent intro to your series…many personal experiences and thoughts that help bring the points home. Your story about your child’s allergic reaction broke my heart as a mother who constantly worries about my children. I realized that if anything ever did happen to my children, the thing that would cause me the most grief is if they did not seem prepared for their akirah and the thing that would give my heart the most comfort is if I believed they were well prepare and saved from any punishment after death.

    It seems to me that at this point and time, if you are not “swimming against the tide” in your parenting, you must be doing something wrong, cuz the tide is producing a sad state of affairs indeed.

    So glad tidings to the strange ones!!!!!

    Your advice is much needed and welcome with an open heart.

    Love you for the sake of Allah.

    Hebah

    • Umm Reem

      Umm Reem

      December 19, 2010 at 3:03 AM

      hebah, you need to share your parenting techniques with us, seriously. Please do help out here :)

      • Avatar

        Hebah Ahmed

        December 19, 2010 at 4:05 AM

        Masha Allah you have had more time to see the results of your methods! If you want to hash out aspects of your articles with me just let me know and I can give my thoughts. :) Just know that you have been my mentor and role model!

  21. Pingback: Swimming against the current | ninjabistyle

  22. Pingback: Parenting Series | Part I: Swimming Against The Current : MuslimMums

  23. Avatar

    Safia K R

    January 7, 2011 at 1:40 AM

    ASA

    I think this is such a to-the-point and practical article also relevant to all of us who are parents and especially of younger children. Please do keep us posted of your efforts so inshallah you can benefit from the knowledge and sharing.
    JKK

  24. Avatar

    Adil

    January 12, 2011 at 11:43 AM

    As Salaam Alikum Sister,

    It was indeed a good article and very true in sense.
    Understanding and following of Islam is very important to parents and parents can mould their children according to tenants of Islam.

  25. Avatar

    Umm

    March 21, 2013 at 12:26 AM

    Where’s the article? I only see the comments and a picture but no article. Please advise.

    Jzk,

  26. Avatar

    Ammena Tarannum

    December 12, 2013 at 8:24 AM

    Another beneficial and important writing from you dear Umm Reem. I just love reading your posts. MashaAllah! JazakAllah! I am really worried about my son’s future who is 4 now. I fear his akhirah being spoiled by dunya’s perversion and corruption so much. May Allah guide our children and accept our efforts. Ameen. Ma-assalam.

  27. Avatar

    Umm Haneefah

    December 17, 2014 at 8:08 AM

    Assalamu alaykum Umm Reem,

    Jazakillahu khayran for this series of articles….it is what I have been waiting for! SubhanAllah. Can I have your email, I would like to discuss somethings with you or can you contact me.

    Jazakillahu khayran

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#Life

Convert Story: To Ask Or Not to Ask, That is the Question

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Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

“How did you convert to Islam” is a question that is commonly asked to those who convert to Islam. While the short answer to this question is, “I said shahada”, the long (and more detailed) answer is one that is commonly expected.

It is important to acknowledge that the majority of “born Muslims” who ask this question do such out of good intentions. For this reason, I wrote this piece out of a place of love and not out of a place of judgment or hatred. While it is important for “born Muslims” to be mindful of how they ask this question, it is equally important for converts to not hold ill will towards born Muslims who ask this question. Due to the fact that Islamophobia is rampant in both the media and political discourse, many “born Muslims” are naturally shocked and emotional when they meet people who accept Islam. Some “born Muslims” have also had limited interactions with converts and therefore, to them, it is not only shocking for them to meet converts, but they are genuinely unaware of certain etiquettes when it comes to asking a convert for his or her story.

In this piece, I am going to write about a pet peeve that is shared among many Muslim converts. While I cannot speak for every single convert, I can say that based on innumerable conversations I have had with fellow converts, there is one thing most of us agree on and it is this; it is rude to ask a convert about his or her conversion story when you haven’t built a relationship with the convert. This piece will explain why many converts consider such a question to be intrusive. The purpose of this article is to better educate the “born Muslim” community on how they can do a better job in support of converts to Islam. In this piece, I will break down the reasons why this question can come off as intrusive if it isn’t asked in a proper manner. I will also include personal anecdotes to support my position.

I would like to conclude by saying that I do not discourage “born Muslims” from asking this question entirely, rather I am merely arguing that this question should be asked with the best of adab.

Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said:  “Part of a person’s being a good Muslim is leaving alone that which does not concern him.” (Tirmidhi) For this reason, such a question should be asked for purpose and it should be done with the best of manners. This is supported by the fact that Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) said, “I have been sent to perfect good character.” (Al Muwatta)

Note: For the sake of avoiding confusion, the term “born Muslim” is defined as anyone who was brought up in a Muslim household.

To ask a convert “Why did you convert?” is to ask about the person’s personal relationship with God

Within the context of a friendship, it is generally understood that friends will share personal details with each other. However, it is also generally understood that it is rude to ask people you just met personal questions. To ask a new acquaintance a personal question in most cases comes off as intrusive. This is especially the case in which you ask a person about his or her relationship with God.

For example, there are women who do not wear hijab. Even if we do (for a moment) ignore the Islamic ruling concerning hijab, we should all agree that a woman’s reason for wearing (or not wearing) hijab is a personal matter that is between said woman and God. If one was to ask a woman who doesn’t wear hijab why she doesn’t wear it, that would be intrusive because such a question would involve interrogating said woman about her relationship with God.

Another example concerns a married couple. If one was to meet a married person for the first time, it can be considered rude to ask said person about his or her relationship with his or her spouse.

When one asks a convert about his or her choice to convert, one is literally asking said convert about his or her relationship with God.

I am not saying that it is wrong in all cases to ask such a question. However, one should be mindful of the fact that because this is a personal question, one should have at least have built some form of a friendship with said person before asking.

convert friendship hugs

To ask a convert “Why did you convert?” is another way of asking, “Why do you believe in Islam?”

Many people identify to a faith tradition because it was part of their upbringing. If you were to ask a person who was born Muslim, “why are you Muslim?” you might hear said Muslim respond with, “I am Muslim because I was raised Muslim” and you wouldn’t hear a detailed answer beyond this.

In most cases, a convert to Islam (or any other religion) did such after research and critical thinking. To convert to a new religion involves not only deep thinking but a willingness to step into the unknown.

I have on many occasions told my story to people. In most cases I will ask the person “why do you believe in Islam?” I am then disappointed when I find out that the only reason the person is Muslim is due to upbringing. While I am not saying that said person’s faith is invalid or less than mine, a person who only identifies with a religion due to upbringing is a person who didn’t engage in critical thinking.

Any relationship should be built upon equality and mutual benefit. If I as a convert am able to provide a well thought out answer as to why I believe in Islam, I expect a well thought out answer to the same question from the person who initially asked me.

Again, while I am not saying it is wrong in all cases to ask, a born Muslim should ask himself or herself “why do I believe in Islam?” In my opinion, there are many who are born into Muslim families who don’t truly believe until later in their lives. Those Muslims in my opinion (and mine alone) are similar to converts.

To ask a convert “Why did you convert?” is to ask the convert to perform labor.

In some cases, “born Muslims” expect converts to tell their stories. I can remember a few incidents in which I have been asked to tell my story and I politely declined. In response, the person became angry. This to me is a symptom of entitlement. Nobody is entitled to know anything about anyone else (aside from people with whom one has a natural relationship with).

In addition, one should be cognizant of the fact that converts typically get asked this question repeatedly. Thus after a significant amount of time, a convert is prone to get tired of repeating the same question over again repeatedly. Naturally, it can become exhausting eventually.

While I do not believe it is wrong to ask this question in all cases, one should not ask this question to a convert from a place of entitlement. I can think of cases where I have been asked this question by “born Muslims” and when I have refused to provide an answer, they have gotten angry at me. This is entitlement.

To ask a convert “Why did you convert?” is to ask the convert to explain his or her personal life.

Backbiting is one of the worst sins in Islam. Another major sin is to disrespect one’s parents. Thus we can conclude that backbiting about one’s parents is a huge sin.

This is evidenced by the fact that Allah has said (ﷻ) “We have enjoined on humankind kindness to parents.” (Quran 29:8)

A typical follow-up question to “Why did you convert?” is “How did your parents react?” This in many cases puts the convert in a position where one may feel pressured to mention some negative details about his or her parents. In Islam, parents are to be respected, even if they aren’t Muslim.

Before asking a convert this question, one should be mindful of not putting unnecessary pressure on the convert to commit this injustice.

convert friendship

Cases when it is appropriate to ask

However, I do maintain a firm belief that in any true friendship, things will be shared. I don’t think it is wrong in itself to ask a convert about his or her story provided that there already exists a relationship where personal information can be shared. It is highly suggested to hang out with the person first and then ask the convert for his or her story.

As a personal rule of mine, unless I have hung out with the person one on one at least once (or a few times in group gatherings) I don’t tell any born Muslims my conversion story. Naturally, I only share personal details with people I consider to be a friend. If I would hang out with the person, I consider that person to be a friend.

The reason I am also hesitant to share my story with just anyone who asks me is because I can think of countless cases of when I have shared my story to people I have never seen or heard from again. I choose to exert my agency to share personal details of my life to people who I consider to be part of my life. While many Muslims are happy when people convert, many Muslims also fail to provide any form of support for said convert after conversion. I have seen too many cases of when a person recites shahadah, people pull their phones out to record it, but very few will give the convert his or her number. I genuinely believe that many “born Muslims” fail to see the big picture in this regard.

Before asking a convert for his or her story, you should ask yourself if you are comfortable sharing personal details of your life to that person. If you are not comfortable sharing personal details of your life to that person, there is nothing wrong with that. However, you shouldn’t expect the convert to share personal details if you aren’t comfortable sharing personal details. Even if you have built a close friendship with someone, you still aren’t expected to share every detail of your life to someone. Even if you consider a convert to be a close friend, you should still respect a convert’s wishes to not share his or her story.

Conclusion

While I have addressed concerns about the tendency of “born Muslims” to ask converts about their journeys, I want to acknowledge that most people have good intentions. In Islam, the natural state of any person is one of righteousness.

I firmly believe that a friendship that isn’t built on trust and the sharing of personal information isn’t a genuine friendship. Therefore the key term in this context is “friend”. If you wish to ask a convert his or her story, please make sure the following conditions are met:

  1. You are already friends with the convert to a point where asking a convert about his or her relationship with God isn’t an intrusive question. Ask yourself, “Are we close enough where we can share other personal details of our lives with each other?”
  2. You have a well thought out reason as to why you believe in Islam.
  3. You don’t feel entitled to know about the convert’s journey and that you will allow the convert to choose not to share such information if the convert doesn’t wish to.
  4. You don’t probe into the convert’s relationships with other people.
  5. You aren’t just asking the question to somehow feel validated about your belief in Islam.
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Dawah and Interfaith

10 Lessons I Learned While Serving Those in Need

charity
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I have spent about a decade serving the impoverished domestically and recently, abroad. I don’t work for a major charity organization, I work for my community, through grassroots efforts. It was something embedded in me while learning Islam. Before starting a charity organization, I started studying Islam with Dr. Hatem Alhaj (my mentor) and various other scholars. The more I studied, the more I wanted to implement what I was learning. What my community needed at the time was intensive charity work, as it was neglected entirely by our community. From that, I collected 10 lessons from servicing those in need. 

1. My bubble burst

One of the first things I experienced was the bursting of my bubble, a sense of realization. I, like many others, was unaware of the hardship in my own community. Yes, we know the hadith and see the events unfold on the news and social media, but when a father of three cried before me because a bag of groceries was made available for him to take home, that moment changed me. We tend to forget how little it takes, to make a huge difference in someone’s life. This experience, made me understand the following hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “Every Muslim has to give in charity.” The people then asked: “(But what) if someone has nothing to give, what should he do?” The Prophet replied: “He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The people further asked: “If he cannot find even that?” He replied: “He should help the needy, who appeal for help.” Then the people asked: “If he cannot do (even) that?” The Prophet said finally: “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds, and that will be regarded as charitable deeds.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 524. I

t is simply an obligation, due to the amount of good it generates after you do this one action. I then realized even more how beautiful Islam is for commanding this deed. 

2. Friendships were developed on good deeds

Serving the poor is a great reward in itself. The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Save yourself from hellfire by giving even half a date-fruit in charity.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 498. But it is better done with a team, I began building a team of people with similar objectives in serving the needy. These people later became some of my closest friends, who better to keep close to you than one that serves Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) by helping the neediest in the same community you reside in. Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look whom you befriend.” [reported by Abu Dawood & Tirmidhee] This is turn kept me on the right path of pleasing Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Working with a team removes a lot of the burden as well and the depression that might occur seeing the saddest stories on a daily basis. Allah says in the Qur’ān, “Indeed the believers are brothers.” (49:10). Sometimes there is a misconception that you have to have a huge office or a large masjid in order to get work done. But honestly, all you need is a dedicated group of people with the right intention and things take off from there. 

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: 'If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.' - Al-Tirmidhi,Click To Tweet

3. Made me thankful

This made me thankful for whatever I had, serving the less fortunate reminded me daily to turn to Allah and ask for forgiveness and so be thankful. This kind of service also puts things into perspective. What is truly important in life? I stepped further and further away from a materialistic lifestyle and allowed me to value things that can’t be valued by money. I learned this from the poorest of people in my community, who strived daily for their family regardless of their situation — parents who did what they can to shield their children from their harsh reality. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1376. They had a quality about them, despite their poverty status. They were always some of the kindest people I have known. 

dardir

4. People want to do Good

I learned that people want to do good; they want to improve their community and society. I began to see the impact on a communal level, people were being more engaged. We were the only Muslim group helping indiscriminately in our county. Even the people we helped, gave back by volunteering at our food pantry. We have schools where small kids (under adult supervision) partake in preparing meals for the needy, local masajids, churches, and temples, high school kids from public schools, and college organizations (Muslim and nonMuslim) visit frequently from several cities in neighboring counties, cities, and states. The good spreads a lot easier and faster than evil. People want to do good, we just need more opportunities for them to join in. United we can rock this world.

“We need more light about each other. Light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience, and patience creates unity.” Malcolm X. Click To Tweet

5. Smiles

Smiles, I have seen the wealthiest smiles on the poorest people. Despite being on the brink of homelessness, when I saw them they had the best smile on their faces. This wasn’t all of them, but then I would smile back and that changed the environment we were in. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Charity is prescribed for each descendant of Adam every day the sun rises.” He was then asked: “From what do we give charity every day?” The Prophet answered: “The doors of goodness are many…enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms–all of these are charity prescribed for you.” He also said: “Your smile for your brother is charity.” – Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3, Number 98. Smiles are truly universal.

6. It’s ok to cry

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah said: “A man who weeps for fear of Allah will not enter Hell until the milk goes back into the udder, and dust produced (when fighting) for the sake of Allah and the smoke of Hell will never coexist.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and al-Nasaa’i. There are situations you see that hit you hard; they fill your heart with emotions, but that never swayed my concrete belief in Allah’s wisdom. Crying before Allah, not just out of fear, but to be thankful for His Mercy upon you is a relief.

7. Learning to say no

It was one of the hardest things I had to do, a lot (if not all) of the requests I received for help were extremely reasonable. I do not think anyone asked for anything outrageous. Our organization started becoming the go-to organization in our area for help, but we are one organization, with limited resources, and a few times we were restricted on when or how we could help. This is where learning to say no became a learned skill. Wedid do our best to follow up with a plan or an alternative resource.

8. It is part of raising a family and finding yourself

How so? Being involved in your community doesn’t take away from raising your family, it is part of it. I can’t watch and do nothing and expect my children to be heroes. I have to lead by example. Helping others is good for my family’s health. Many people living in our country are consumed with their busy lives. Running out the door, getting to work, driving the kids to their after school activities, spending weekends taking care of their families, etc. So people have a fear of investing hours in doing this type of work. But in reality, this work puts more blessings in your time.

One may feel they are taking time away from their family, but in reality, when one comes back home, they find more peace in their home then they left it with. By helping others, I improve the health and culture of my community, this in turn positively impacts my family.

I enjoy being a softie with my family and friends. I am a tall bearded man, and that image suited me better. I am not sure what made me softer, having kids or serving the poor. Either way, it was rewarding and defined my role and purpose in my community.

I learned that you make your own situation. You can be a spectator, or you can get in there and do the best you can to help. It gave me an opportunity to be a role model for my own children, to show them the benefit of doing good and helping when you can.

It came with a lot of humility. Soon after starting I realized that all I am is a facilitator, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is giving an opportunity of a lifetime to do this work, a line of work very little people get to engage in regularly. My advice to my readers, if you can serve the poor do so immediately before you get occupied or busy with life.

Helping others is good for my family’s health.Click To Tweet

9. Dawah through action

As I mentioned before I did spend time studying, and at one point developed one of the top dawah initiatives in the country (according to IERA). But the reality is, helping the less fortunate is my type of dawah, people started to associate our food pantry and helping others with Islam. As an organization with one of the most diverse groups of volunteers, people from various religious backgrounds found the environment comfortable and hospitable. I began working with people I never would have worked before if I had stuck to traditional dawah, studying, or masjid involvement, all of which are critical. This became a symbol of Islam in our community, and while serving, we became those that embodied the Quran and Sunnah. For a lot of those we served, we were the first Muslims they encountered, and Alhamdulilah for the team we have. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) also says in the Quran: “So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you” (3:159). It is our actions that can turn people away or towards Islam.

10. Once you serve the needy, you do this for life

I wasn’t volunteering on occasion,— this was an unpaid job that was done regularly. I got requests and calls for emergencies daily at times. It took up hours upon hours every week. As a charity worker, I developed experience and insight in this field. I learned that this was one of the best ways I could serve Allah [swt. “They ask you (O Muhammad) what they should spend in charity. Say: ‘Whatever you spend with a good heart, give it to parents, relatives, orphans, the helpless, and travelers in need. Whatever good you do, God is aware of it.'” – The Holy Quran, 2:215

I believe the work I do with the countless people that do the same is the best work that can be done in our current political climate and globalization. My views and thoughts have evolved over the years seeing situations develop to what they are today. This gave me a comprehensive outlook on our needs as a society and allowed me to venture off and meet people top in their fields like in social activism, environmentalism, labor, etc.

I want to end with three sectors in society that Muslims prosper in and three that Muslims can improve on. We strive on individual education (noncommunal), distributing and organizing charity, and more recently being politically engaged. What we need to improve on is our environmental awareness, working with and understanding unions and labor rights, and organizing anti-war movements. 

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#Life

Looking To Get Married? Here Are A Few Tips

will you marry me?
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It is a truth universally acknowledged that single young Muslims, despite not being in possession of any fortune, are always in search of a spouse.

However little prepared these people may be to undertake this ordeal is given little thought, and they are thrust out into the world of modern Muslim matchmaking. The generational divide in the community has meant that young people have received little training at home to navigate the process of finding a spouse. These individuals are seeking high-quality relationships, but few have the skills and emotional intelligence needed to find one. They are left to learn on their own through trial-and-error, and often a lot of pain.

With hopes of making this journey a little easier, we’ve compiled a few principles to keep in mind as you tread these cold uncharted waters.

You won’t attract what you want, you’ll attract what you are. Do you find in yourself the qualities that you seek in another?Click To Tweet

1. Work on yourself

You won’t attract what you want, you’ll attract what you are. Do you find in yourself the qualities that you seek in another?

Aspire to be self-fulfilled and complete on your own, rather than hoping for someone else to do that for you. Operationally, this entails refining both your inner and outer self. On the outside this could include basic things like being well-groomed (especially for men), knowing how to cook a healthy diet, exercising regularly and supporting yourself financially. You should also ensure you have good relationships with loved ones – do the people you care about love you back? Admit any wrongs you may have done to them and make amends to improve ties if they are strained. The state of your current relationships can be a good indicator of future ones.

On the inside, you should make a moral inventory and work to address your shortcomings in character. You must work on your selfishness, your anger, your dishonesty, your lust, your pride, your stinginess, your harshness, your resentments, your stubbornness, your fears, your jealousy, your self-righteousness, your vanity. This list is never ending and it’s a lifelong process; the sooner you get started the better off you’ll be.

You must also get help for any serious problems that you fear might affect a relationship – instead of hoping these problems will go away with the ‘right partner’. If you have a pornography problem, seek out help and don’t be deluded into thinking marriage will solve that for you. If you have no control over your desires before marriage, you won’t magically gain control afterward. If you have a substance abuse problem, join a 12-step program. If you feel you are emotionally unhealthy, get help from a professional. Bottom line is, have your house in order before you decide to build a new one.

2. Maintain good mental health throughout the process

Be purposeful in your search but don’t make it the purpose of your life. The process of finding a spouse can become emotionally draining and overwhelming if you don’t do it in a healthy fashion. Understand that this process entails too many factors that are completely out of your control; things won’t always go your way, so don’t be too attached to the outcome.  The only things you control are your responses and actions, so just focus on putting your best foot forward.

A common mistake people make is they give themselves a timeline e.g. ‘I want to be married by X age, or by X year’. This only results in unnecessary pressure that can lead to anxiety and poor mental health; it can also force one to make imprudent choices. Everyone has a different timeline; have trust in God’s plan for you.

Anytime mental health is disturbed, stop and revaluate. Some signs of poor mental health include: obsessive thinking, inability to focus on your everyday affairs, compulsive attachment and clinginess, disturbed sleep, anxiety, difficulty making decisions, inability to multitask, feeling overwhelmed, panic attacks, depression, irritability, changes in eating habits, and a loss of inner serenity. It is best to get help from counselors, such as those at Naseeha, if you feel stuck in this situation.

3. Adopt a mindset of giving

The measure you give is the measure you get back. Instead of worrying so much about what you want, focus on what you have to offer.

While you should certainly express your interest in someone you like, don’t taint it with desperation and neediness. If you’ve implemented the first point mentioned, you are already a confident and self-sufficient person. You will be fine no matter what. Focus on giving without expectation and building a healthy companionship. Be a giver and you’ll be surprised how easily you will attract the right people towards you. The ‘mindset of want’ is a self-defeating mindset: you might not find all the things you want in someone, and even if you did, there is no guarantee they’ll want you back!

4. Don’t overthink it

Living in a capitalist society, we’ve developed the bad habit of picking out people the same way we go shopping for a new product. We like to explore the market, do a cost-benefit analysis of various options, try to make sure the product isn’t damaged and hope to pick out the best possible item. We are careful about how we ‘invest our time’ and we try to ensure we can get an appropriate return on our investment. If we could, we’d ask for a money-back guarantee on people too!

Human hearts, unfortunately, cannot be picked out the way we choose commercial products. Each has its flaws and its strengths, you have to accept both the good and the bad; the pro-con list approach won’t work here. When we start taking this reductionist approach to relationships, we naturally get into overthinking, feel anxious and overwhelmed. With the widespread use of online dating, the choices seem limitless and it can seem impossible to try to figure out how to find the right person.

Marriage is a decision that’s to be taken with the heart; you have to rely on your guts and your instincts to steer you towards the person most suitable for you. This doesn’t mean throwing rational thought out the door, it means looking to your inner-self as the source of motivation for your decision making. It takes emotional intelligence and self-awareness to be able to determine what kind of a person you’ll be able to build a future with; it’s not always someone that looks best on paper. There are very few people with whom you’ll find compatibility and reciprocity, so don’t obsess over exploring as many possible ‘options’ with hopes of marking off all the items on your checklist.

We ultimately find the most fulfillment in caring for and taking responsibility for someone we sincerely love. So, look instead for the ingredients that will act as the foundations of love in your marriage. These could include the fact that you: enjoy someone’s company, find them beautiful, admire their character and kindness, respect them, find reciprocity in your interactions, have shared values and compatible temperaments. You are looking for that certitude, that good feeling in your heart; focusing on these factors will hopefully give you that and will get you out of the common mistake of overthinking and worrying.

One of the unique challenges Western Muslims face when looking for a spouse is finding religious compatibility. The diversity of our community, coupled with the individualized nature of faith in the West, has given rise to a plethora of ‘brands’ of Islam. Click To Tweet

5. Work to bridge religious differences

One of the unique challenges Western Muslims face when looking for a spouse is finding religious compatibility. The diversity of our community, coupled with the individualized nature of faith in the West, has given rise to a plethora of ‘brands’ of Islam. Personal levels of observance can vary vastly, even within members of the same family, so it can be challenging to find the right fit.

You will always find differences in religious observance and views between spouses. It is impossible, and foolish, to try to seek out someone at the exact same level. Some people might be more conservative than you, some might be more liberal. Do you really have to turn someone down because they don’t agree with your views on conventional mortgages? What if you like dressing up for Halloween and going trick-or-treating, and they’re opposed to it? What if they don’t eat zabiha halal like you do? What if they don’t pray all the five prayers on time like you were raised to do so?

Given the unique circumstances we live in, we must be flexible and open-minded about resolving such differences. We ought to be careful when making a judgment about someone’s beliefs; we don’t know what’s in someone’s heart. Some of us were taught to honour God through worship and observing His law, some of us were raised with an emphasis on serving His creation with good character. People have their strengths and their weaknesses in faith; sometimes these are apparent, sometimes hidden. Your relationship with God is not perfect and neither will be your partner’s; we are all a work in progress.

If approached with kindness, mutual respect and a willingness to compromise, these differing religious views could be resolved in many cases. While sometimes people really are on extreme ends, most of us fall somewhere in between and can find a comfortable middle ground. It is often our stubbornness, self-righteousness and a parochial understanding of religion that gets in the way. Good people are hard to find, so don’t let suitable matches go because they don’t follow your exact flavor of religious observance. This is certainly a sensitive topic and needs to be dealt with tact and wisdom; it is advisable to seek counsel of more experienced people.

6. Don’t expose your past and don’t pry about someone else’s

If you have a past you are not proud of and it doesn’t concern your future relationships, you should not feel obliged to expose yourself. In fact, if this relates to sins of the past, it is actually prohibited to reveal your sins to someone else – even in the context of marriage. Shaykh Nuh Keller summarizes this pitfall well, “In Islam, to mention a sin is itself a sin. How many a person has been unable to resist telling a friend or a spouse of the wickedness they did in their previous life, and Allah punished them with disgust and contempt in the other’s heart that could never quite be forgotten! There is no barakah in the haram”.

Similarly, it goes without saying that you shouldn’t be prying about someone else’s past and trying to dig up details on their misadventures. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) commanded us to have a good opinion of people; he warned against the destructive nature of suspicion and spying. He told us, “Beware of suspicion for it is the most deceitful of thought. Do not look for the others’ faults and do not spy, and do not be jealous of one another, and do not desert (cut your relation with) one another, and do not hate one another; Rather, be servants of God as brothers”

7. Istikhara is not a solution for indecisiveness

The prayer of seeking guidance, or Istikhara, is oft cited by those considering marriage. The mistake many make, however, is that we are really wishing for someone else to make the decision for us. We are so afraid of making the wrong decision that we find it difficult to make any. We hope for a divine sign or a miracle to happen that tells us that the other person is right for us and that we will live happily ever after with them.

Making big life decisions, emotionally prudent ones, is an important life skill that must be learned. These decisions come with inherent risks, uncertainties, and unknowns; there are no guarantees. If you habitually find yourself having a hard time deciding, it is likely due to external factors. It might have something to do with you, it might have something to do with the person you are considering. It is advisable to seek counsel if you are in this situation.

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