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Abdul Nasir Jangda | Happiness in the Home

Lecture by Abdul Nasir Jangda | Transcribed by Sameera

[The following is the video and transcript of Shaykh Abdul Nasir’s lecture “Happiness in the Home.” The transcript includes slight modifications for the sake of readability and clarity.]

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One of the most important concepts within our religion (our dīn) is something that the Qurʾān talks about extensively and something that is very, very prominent from the study of the life of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), the prophetic biography, the sīrah.  Similarly, this is something that is very extensively and emphatically addressed by the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in the sacred traditions, the aḥadīth of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).   It is something that is a very obvious need of human beings and a part of the human experience, and that is the issue of family.

The issue of family is something that each and every single one of us can experience and deal with in our own ways, shape, and forms.  It is something that is relevant to each and every single human being.  When talking about the issue of family, I feel that it is very important, crucial, and critical for us – and when we look at any issue or situation such as in the āyāt the shaykh recited in the prayer on the concept of the belief in one Allāh and believing in one god and one deity, the concept of tawḥīd and oneness of God.  What is very beautiful and very important to note about how Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) addresses the issue of tawḥīd within the Qurʾān, Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) presents the problem.  He talks about the partners you associate with Allāh –  the false gods, false deities, false idols that you have taken other than Allāh.  One very important way in addressing any situation and one very consistent pattern throughout the Qurʾān and teachings of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) that if we are to truly address any issue, any concern, any situation, then we first and foremost must come to terms with the reality of the situation.

When we talk about rehabilitation and solving any problems and resolving any type of issue, the very first step of rehabilitation is accepting that there is a problem, being aware of the problem and being cognizant of the situation and not being ashamed and not being afraid and not shying away from admitting the fact that there is a problem.  That is the first step to solving any situation and problem.

When we talk about the situation of family, something that is very near and dear to our hearts, and I think that anyone who has any level of experience in community leadership, community matters, and community affairs will very readily admit and stand up hear with me and preach about the dire need of addressing family issues, not just in society and not just in community but specifically even within the Muslim community, from our imams and our shuyukh who are on the front lines to even community leaders and community activists.  A basic khaṭīb can tell you the importance.  A Sunday school teacher and a weekend Islamic school teacher can speak to you for hours and hours about the critical need of addressing the family situation.

Coming to Terms with the Reality

What is the reality at hand?  What are our issues? What are our circumstances?  What is going on with us?

1.  One thing that we have to understand in our very unique circumstance and our very unique situation as a Muslim minority living here in America and need to come to terms with is that the problems that we are experiencing in Muslim families are the same that others are experiencing outside of the Muslim community as well.  Meaning there are certain things that are unique about our circumstances and situation, but generally speaking, a lot of what we are experiencing are general problems across the board.

We have to deal with a very specific reality, and that reality is that we live in this same society as every other faith-based community and every other ethnic community:  current, modern-day United States of America.  We are being impacted by those same social elements.  It is very important for us to understand and deal with the reality that we are similar to any other community, meaning we will be impacted by our society and the culture we live in.  The media and the impact that it is having on them is also having the same impact on us.  The effects of the school environment and interacting with other children has the same effects on them as us.

I always tell this story that I have a little bit of a unique experience.  There are many other people who have extensive experience in this regard, but I feel that in terms of a lot of people in our community today, I have a unique experience, which is simply the fact that I was raised during the 80s, which was not too young ago.  I still may be a kid to many of our elders here, but that still is a significant time ago.  I grew up during the 80s and I was a teenager during the 90s.  I grew up in a place where there were very few Muslim families.  The Muslim community is still relatively young.  It was very, very small.  Minuscule back then.

Growing up at a time like that, I got to see the evolution of the Muslim community, the development of the Muslim community until the point where we are today.  At the same time, there was amongst the immigrant Muslim community this notion and idea – and I don’t mean to offend anyone – and this delusion that we’re all eventually going “back home.”  That was the tone of the immigrant Muslim community in the 80s.  That was their mindset during the 80s and even leading into the 90s – that they are all eventually going back home.

There was a certain amount of denial about dealing with the issues at hand.  I remember very vividly that when people would even address social issues and social evils and family issues that were very, very common at that point in time in general American society, there was this distancing from those issues and concerns by saying, “Those are their problems, not ours.  That happens with them, not us.”

I still remember during the early 90s, one of my main teachers and mentors and senior shuyukh Mufti Naeem (ḥafiẓahullāh) used to visit the United States on an annual basis.  He would travel around and talk to communities.  I was a very young ḥāfiẓ of the Qurʾān at that time.  I was leading ṣalāt’l-tarāwīḥ for a community at a masjid and he came to visit and check on me and see how we were doing.  We had close family relationships as well.  He came to the tarāwīḥ prayers to check on me and see how I was doing, and of course we requested him to address the congregation like I am addressing you now.  He started talking about the family issues.  He was trying to emphasize adhering to the dīn and learning the dīn and the importance of instilling a system of tarbiyah within the homes and within the community so that our children could grow up with the proper Islamic perspective.  Otherwise, the social evils in family issues that we saw “out there” and “amongst them” – notice the specific language that I am using – before we know it, it will be standing at our own doorstep and be inside of our own homes and communities.

I remember being very young and shocked by the reaction.  I remember some community members becoming very angry, shouting at the shaykh and interrupting him saying, “How dare you!”  He was talking about issues like divorce, kids running away from home, children rebelling against their parents, families breaking apart and cutting each other off and disowning each other – things that have become commonplace in our communities today, right?

I still remember very vividly some community members becoming very angry.  “How dare you even talk about this stuff?  Don’t even mention the word divorce!  Our children and families are here.  How dare you talk about this stuff!  These aren’t our problems.  We’re Muslims.  We don’t have these problems.  Those are their problems.”  Pardon my use of the word – I don’t condone speaking in this manner, but I’m trying to paint the picture for you of what the mentality was – “Those are the kuffār’s problems.  Those aren’t our problems.  We don’t have those issues.”  There was such a complete denial and obliviousness and delusion present in our communities at that time.

Before you knew it, my same teacher visiting year after year, it was literally a number of years before he was opening up and giving a lecture on taqwa or ṣabr or fasting or the importance of Qurʾān and he was specifically being requested to talk about marriage.  He is specifically being requested to talk about divorce and children rebelling against their parents.

This is the reality that we have to come to terms with.  “Their problems” are the same problems we have.  There is a certain common thread between a lot of these issues; therefore, the factors are the same.  Some solutions might also be very, very similar.  We will, of course, have our own take on them because of the guidance of Allāh and the guidance of His Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).  Nevertheless, there are some common threads that we have to understand.  We also have to understand that we are not immune, as Muslims, Muslim families and Muslim communities, to the evils, problems, circumstances and situations that may be “out there.”  That is the very first reality.

2.  There is a second reality that I would like to address here before getting to some specifics of the family situation and the condition and situation of families.  It is very important, and we have to understand this.  A lot of times, for us, this is not wrong or incorrect in any way, shape or form, but nevertheless it is a concern and some people are very focused in this regard.

For some people, the bottom line is just spirituality.  Just Islam, īmān.  They translate Islam and īmān as just a connection with Allāh and the spiritual part of it – the spiritual relationships and the spiritual connection to Allāh.

Understand one thing:  family struggles, family difficulties, unrest, trouble, chaos, distress in the home, and unhappiness in the home affect spirituality.  It affects people’s relationship with Allāh.  It has a very profound impact on an individual.  When someone is struggling in their marriage, in their relationship with their children, in their home, and the harmony in the home is gone, that will affect a person’s spiritual condition.

How often has it been the case that when you are having a fight at home and are in the middle of a very serious situation with your spouse – yes the mind initially goes to making du‘ā’, but when it goes on and persists and becomes a serious problem and serious issue, how common is it that you forget to pray?  You don’t think of the prayer.  You don’t feel like getting up and praying.  You become neglectful of even your ṣalāh.  How common is that?

Understand that even unrest within the home and the emotional distress that a human experiences due to concerns in the family and distress in the family affects spirituality.  Make no mistake about that.

Key Dynamics & Relationships of the Family

Having said that, what are some of the key dynamics and key relationships of family where we are struggling, and what are some of the struggles that we are experiencing?  Then, very briefly, we’ll talk a little bit about – it is a very short lecture, so obviously we can’t solve the problems here and can’t even in detail address the issues and solutions, but we can at least raise awareness.  Understand that raising awareness is the first step to solving any problem.  After a person admits that there is a problem, the next step is raising awareness about the issue and about some of the solutions.  We need to at least start talking about this and becoming aware.  That’s what we’ll do here.

Parent-Child

The very first universal dynamic of family relationships is the parent-child relationship.  Everyone is either a parent or a child.  We’ll talk about marriage and some other things, but the very first universal application of family is the parent-child relationship.  Everyone is either a parent or a child.

Something very beautiful about the Qurʾān, the Book of Allāh, the ultimate source of guidance, ultimate reminder and ultimate lesson is Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) talks about this relationship.  Allāh highlights both the problems and the solutions.  Allāh presents problematic, difficult parent-child relationships to us in the Qurʾān, and He presents to us harmonious, beautiful, happy, functional, beneficial, flourishing parent-child relationships within the Qurʾān as well to both present the problem and the solution.

The Qurʾān is not a storybook.  The Qurʾān is not a history textbook.  The Qurʾān is guidance.  It is a reminder.  It presents and solves problems.  It points out our problems to us and solves those problems for us.  When Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) chooses to mention something in His Book and in His Speech, it is there for a reason and purpose because it is very important and very relevant.

Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) in Sūrah Maryam, and other places as well, very extensively presents the difficult and strained relationship of Ibrāhīm 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) with his father.  A father is frustrated with his son, and the son is frustrated with the father.  Both have their own perspectives.  The father is frustrated with the son because the son has abandoned the culture, the religion, the ways of his father, family, community, forefathers.  The son is frustrated with the father because the father is in denial about the truth – believing in one God.  They are going back and forth.  The son is telling the father very respectfully “O abati (O my dear father),” which is like how we would say, “Dad, please.  Abu, come on, please.  Baba, please.”  He is pleading with his father and says “ya abati” four times.  At the beginning of every statement, he says, “Dad, please.”  Ya abati, ya abati.  He is trying to be respectful and not point any blame.  “You are not bad, dad.  Shaytan is bad.”  He is trying to plead with the father, and the father is frustrated with the child.  “So you’re trying to tell me my gods aren’t good enough for you, Ibrāhīm?”  He doesn’t say “my dear son.”  “I’ll kill you!”  It literally means in Arabic, “I’ll stone you,” which is an expression in Arabic meaning “I’ll kill you.  I’ll hurt you.  You need to stop know, I’ll hurt you.”  “Get out of here, you are dead to me.  You are nothing to me.”  Look how difficult that relationship is.  Allāh presents such a parent-child relationship.

Ya‘qūb 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) with the older sons is a strained relationship.  They are jealous:  “He likes Yūsuf better than he likes us.  He chooses Yūsuf over us.  He loves Yūsuf more than he loves us.  Why?”  The father is trying to make the sons understand.  “What is wrong with you guys?  Why would you even say that?  Why would you even think that?”  The father knows that the sons have taken their younger brother and disposed of him.  The father knows they are lying to his face, but what can he do?  This is a difficult relationship.

A parent-child relationship is something that Allāh tells us:  “There are lessons.”  There will be difficulties in the parent-child relationship.  The child will feel like the parents just don’t understand them, and the parents will be frustrated with the child.  “I only want good for you.  Why won’t you listen to me?”  The child says, “You don’t understand me!”  The parent says, “You don’t listen to me!”  I think all of us have experienced that.  SubḥānAllāh something that is unique about this relationship, this is not only when the children are young.  This is not only in the teenage years.  Those who are older and have older parents also know the struggles and the challenges.  That is why you know that very famous ayah of the Qurʾān from Sūrat’l-Isrā’, “Don’t even say uff to your parents.”

Do you know what context it is in?  It is specifically talking about when one or both of your parents have reached senility and have become old and senile.  Now they are angry.  They are frustrated and their body is falling apart.  They are ill and sick.  They can’t eat properly, they can’t sleep properly, they can’t walk properly.  Do you know how difficult that is?  As young, able-bodied people we have no understanding of how frustrating that must be.  Imagine living your life on your own feet and being independent for 50, 60 years and then one day you cannot even get up and go get a glass of water by yourself and can’t get a glass of water by yourself.  Imagine what that’s like.  They are angry.  They are short-tempered, frustrated.  Even the mind begins to go.  The emotions become frail.  Allāh tells us, “They get returned back to the worst of ages.”

One of my dear, dear friends, one of my best friends, accepted Islam in middle school and we grew up together.  He is a convert and his parents are not Muslim yet.  Make du‘ā’ for them inshā’Allāh.  May Allāh bless them with guidance, hidāyah.  Both of his parents are old and have health issues, but his mother suffered a very severe stroke recently to the point where she lost a lot of function in half her body.  He told me, “Nasir, you know when life hits you and you wake up to the reality of life, the reality of so many things hit you in the face.  60 miles per hour.”  He is working and working hard.  He travels for work and has to be away from his parents because he is financially supporting them and paying the medical bills for the nurse to be there to take care of his mother.  All of the responsibility is on him.  He said, “I was visiting my parents over the weekend, back home from work and off the road.  I went back to my parents and was with them over the weekend.  I sat there and fed my mother with a spoon.  I spoon-fed my own mom.”

SubḥānAllāh.  That’s when I realized.  You know when you sit there and feed your child?  I have a two-year old at home.  When you sit there and feed your child and say, “Come on, come on.  Open up.”

Another one of my dear, dear friends, we studied together.  We grew up together and are like brothers.  His mother also has very difficult health and suffered a stroke and is dealing with a lot.  I visited him and his mother with him.  Having to force her to speak and to talk and to interact and to eat, asking, “Come on, did you eat your food?”  SubḥānAllāh.

Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is talking about when parents reach old age.  My grandmother raḥimahā Allāh (may Allāh have mercy upon her), may Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) bless her and grant her Jannat’l-Firdaws, developed Alzheimer’s before she passed away.  SubḥānAllāh.  I witnessed that and I witnessed my mother, aunt, and uncle experiencing that.  The mind was gone.  Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) in that context is speaking about our parents becoming old, the difficulty and the frustration with parents.  Teenagers say, “You are making my life difficult.  God, you hate me.  Why do you hate me so much?  You never want to let me do anything.  You want to ruin my life.”  Usually it is about sleeping over at a friend’s house on a Friday night.  “But everyone is going to be there.  You are destroying my life.”  The frustration that kids have with parents is not relegated to teenagers.  Anyone who has elderly parents and is an adult now and mature now – “I’m an adult.  I’m mature now.  I don’t have drama.  I don’t have teenage hormones.  I’m not going through that phase in my life.  I’m not an adolescent” – you still know about the frustration with parents, don’t you?  You might be an adult and you might not have drama anymore, but now your parents are old and fragile and senile and demanding.  They don’t want your money.  “I’ve paid their bills, what more do they want?  I send money every month, what more do they want?”  They just want to sit and talk to you.  That’s all they want.  They still want to know that they exist and matter to you.  They still want you to ask their opinion about something like you used to.

Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is speaking specifically.  Frustration with parents is a universal thing.  Everyone is dealing with it.  Similarly, frustration with the children and disappointment with children is a universal thing.  When they are kids, they don’t listen, they don’t learn, they don’t pay attention.  The world is opening up to my four year-old and she is starting to become more and more independent every single day.  It is already awkward for her now.  I dropped by her school and walked into the classroom and saw her working.  You know, when your children are small, or at any age for that matter, when you look at your children, you are overcome with love.  The love just fills your heart.  I hadn’t seen her for three hours – she went to school at 8 in the morning and I’m there at 11 and it already feels like a lifetime.  What did I do?  I walked up to her from behind her and hugged her and kissed her.  She said, “Abuuu, stop!”  When she got home later that day, she tells my wife, “Mommy, Abu hugged me and kissed me in front of everybody.”  I’m like, “What’s wrong with that?  Of course I hugged you and kissed you because you are my baby girl!”

It starts there, and they start to become independent.  Anybody who has teenagers, they know.  I was recently talking to a friend and colleague, another imam, and we were all getting together and talking about how much we love our communities and how amazing our lives are, māshā’Allāh.  We are all fairly younger and all have small children and babies except for one of colleagues who has a teenager.  It struck me.  I asked him, “We talk and lecture so much and preach all the time.  How is it having a teenager?”  He says, “Ya, Al-Salām. Make du‘ā’ for me.”  That’s all he could say.

The disappointment and frustration with children is universal, whether they are kids or teenagers and even when your children are all grown up.  You think my parents don’t still get frustrated with me?  Of course they do.  Even when they are all grown up and have kids of their own and are responsible individuals and have a job and a home and a family, they is still always going to be frustration because of what I just mentioned.  “You don’t have time for me anymore?  You can’t come and say ‘hi’?  You can’t say salām to your mom?”

My mom text messages me, which weirds me out.  There is something that seems unnatural about an older Pakistani woman text messaging.  It’s like, why do you even know how to text message?  She text messages me and she expects a text message back.  If I don’t respond back in the next couple of minutes because I was lecturing or teaching, then I get a follow-up text message with a question mark.  The next one has two question marks.  The third one has three question marks.  “Where are you?”  It’s a universal thing to be frustrated with your children.  All of us experience this.

That’s one of the situations and dynamics in which we require some guidance and need some direction.  I’m going to lay out some of the key family relationships and what are their issues, and then we are going to talk about implementation of some of the solutions.

Marriage & Spousal Relationship

The second family dynamic that we struggle with and are experiencing problems in regards to is marital discord, starting all the way from pre-marriage, how to get married.  It is a universal problem and has become a very common problem.  You can ask the shaykh.  How many young people show up at his doorstep?  “I want to get married to so-and-so but this problem or her parents or my parents or this or that…”  It starts from there.  Even problems in the marriage.

Sometimes in a rush of emotions or even in religious overzealousness, “I have to avoid the sin and avoid the fitnah and get married.”  Who, when, why, what, how – “Doesn’t matter, brother.  It’s the Sunnah.”  I’m pretty sure getting married blindly is not the Sunnah, but that’s what happens.  Very, very young people are getting married in religious overzealousness or a rush of emotions.  A couple of years into marriage, they realize they didn’t know the person they got married to.

It’s becoming so common for young people and newlywed couples to be divorced within a number of months or even a couple of years if not a couple of months.  Lack of responsibility in a marriage.  A husband not taking his responsibility seriously.  A wife not behaving responsibly.  When you have young children, so many couples experience marital issues and problems.  Why?  “He is not being a father to his children.”  “She is not being a good mother.”  Lack of responsibility.

In-law interference. 

This is a term I came up with.  You know pass interference for football fans?  In-law interference (TM).  It is a major issue.  You have a clash of cultures and a clash of worlds and dimensions happening.  Is all interference from in-laws bad?  Absolutely not.  Nevertheless, the dynamics of that interference and how that interference is causing problems.  The in-law problem.

Lack of Maturity

Rushing into decisions and rushing into marriage.  Prioritization.  For some people, work comes before the family.  For some people, the religious cause, the organization, the association, the movement, the spreading of the dīn comes before family.  That is becoming a problem.  Families are being torn apart why?  Honestly, this is an oxymoron.  If somebody’s family failed because of their service to the dīn and because of da‘wah, it doesn’t even make sense and is a contradiction.  It is an oxymoron and impossible.  It obviously means that somebody did not understand the dīn or religion.

Lack of Communication

In prioritization, there is another thing.  Sometimes it can be the religion and sometimes it can be work, money, greed, and that is justified by saying, “But I want to give you guys a nice home to live in.  I want to give you guys the life that I never had.  I want our kids to go to the best school.”  What happens because of that?  We destroy the family that we were using for justification to chase after money.

Sometimes it’s my own hobbies and indulgences.  “I’m married but I still have to play Modern Warfare all night long with my friends.”  “I’m married but I still have to go to the basketball tournament.  I work all week and Saturday is the basketball tournament and the wife is waiting, and we’re finally going to spend some good quality time together but I have to go ball with the boys.”  My own personal hobbies and my own personal indulgences.  This is football country.  I come from Dallas, another football area, so you guys will understand what I’m talking about.  Saturday is college ball and bowl games, which equals twelve hours of fun in front of the television.  “What the spouse does is their problem. I’m sorry, I’m not going to change me.  I’m not changing for anybody.  You married me and that’s what you get.  I heard you say, ‘I accept,’ so you accepted ASU football as well, as terrible as it is.”  Sunday is football – NFL game day.  I have the NFL package where it is 8 screens on the TV at one time.  In a 12-hour period, I watch 15 games simultaneously.  Congratulations.  Mubarak.  Do you want a cookie?  Or maybe a laddoo?  What do you want?

Prioritization

Prioritization and a lack of sense of what the priorities are.  In this culture we have a challenge.  I was born and raised in Dallas, TX.  From this culture’s perspective, I will tell you one huge problem we have with prioritization, something that we put before families that is very unique and specific to this culture.  There is a phrase and expression that guides you.  I can’t repeat it here.  It is offensive and inappropriate and this is the masjid and House of Allāh, so it’s impossible and I wouldn’t because it is inappropriate.  They basically say, “bros before ____.”  Don’t say it!  They use a very derogatory word about women.  It is basically putting your friends before women even though that word doesn’t even apply to a person’s wife, astaghfirullāh.

Nevertheless, that same concept is applied to marriage.  “Uh-uh, my friends come first.  Going to hang with the boys.”  This isn’t even specific to the guys.  It is even in regards to the women.  If a woman gets married and is a wife now, how dare she not go out with the friends to dinner?  They get shunned and outcast by their unmarried friends.  They get pushed out by their unmarried friends.  This is a real struggle that people are having.  They literally have to reinvent their friends circle and rediscover friends.  First when they get married, the unmarried friends want no part.  “She has no time for us anymore.  She has to go and spend time with her husband.”  Like that is a ridiculous concept.

The young married friends who don’t have children say about the first one to have children, “God, she’s so lame to hang out with now.  Everything is about a diaper and milk.”  God forbid she be a good mother, right?  Now she is being again outcast by her friends and she has to go out there and discover other mom friends.  This is a struggle people have.  People crumble underneath that pressure.  “My friends have to be put first.  What am I going to do without my friends?”  The marriage, the children, everything will come second.  The marriage struggles because of a lack of prioritization.

Lack of communication.  That’s one of the most universal issues and problems.  Never establishing a line of communication let alone being comfortable communicating concerns, problems or even good things.  Nothing is communicated.   Lines of communication are never established.  Again, this is a culture in which we pride ourselves in individuality and independence.  “I’m independent and my own self and I don’t need anybody’s help.”  That manifests itself and creates problems even in marriages.

Unwillingness to Compromise

“Why should I change anything about myself?  If you don’t like the way things are, then you deal with it.”   Complete total lack of compromise.  Absolutely no motivation and no inclination to sacrifice anything.  “I should not have to sacrifice anything.”  This on both sides of the marriage.  I’m not sitting here giving some old school lecture about women having to sacrifice.  This is on both sides.

I feel that especially some of the very unique dynamics we have, I can speak about my generation and our challenges.  I feel that lack of sacrifice and unwillingness to sacrifice exists actually more amongst the guys than it does amongst the girls.  Just complete and total unwillingness to sacrifice anything.

Sibling Rivalry

Then a third manifestation, which I’ll talk about more briefly, of family issues or family problems is sibling rivalry.  It’s a little more unique that even marriage, but nevertheless it is a problem and issue, whether it is the parents favoring unknowingly and unintentionally one child over another that harbors and creates resentment amongst the children for each other.

As families and parents, we have to learn to be sensitive to the strengths and weaknesses of each and every child.  Be cognizant of what is each child’s needs.  If something works for one child, maybe that is not what will work for the other child.  Be cognizant of their specific needs.

Not creating and not fostering an environment of competition amongst the children where they feel they have to compete for the parents’ love and approval.  I hate to bring up personal things, but I’ll mention it.  Abdullah, the crazy guy running around and setting up all of the gadgetry here, is my younger brother.  From what you see here, that’s exactly what you get.  I’m the one talking on the microphone and he is the one recording, editing, and uploading the videos, doing all the back-end video work, but there’s not a sense of competition.  We have to learn to appreciate what everybody brings to the table.  We have to learn to respect everybody and not compete with each other in regards to what we are doing.  We need to not create an environment of competition but one of collaboration.  When we collaborate and come together, how unbelievable of a strong unit we can become as a family and siblings and brothers and sisters.

I know I’m going to date myself with this reference, but does anybody remember Voltron?  It’s like Voltron.  For somebody a little younger, Captain Planet.

Solutions

What are some solutions that we can begin to implement to repair this family situation?

1.  Spirituality

I talked about this in the beginning, and I’ll bring it up here again.  When we repair our relationship with Allāh – understand that our relationship with Allāh is the basis and foundation of everything in our lives.  This is something we say in the Qurʾān, this is something we say in adhkār, this is something we say in supplications and du‘ā’s.  That is:  “Allāh is the source of all blessings.  Allāh is the One that grants blessings.”

There are aḥadīth and traditions and narrations to the effect that when we repair our relationship with Allāh, Allāh will repair everything else.  When a person is beloved to Allāh, Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has what announcement made in the heavens and on the earth as well?  “Allāh says, ‘I love him, so everybody else love him as well.  O Jibrīl, I love him so you love him.’  Jibrīl 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) says, ‘Allāh loves him, I love him, so all of the inhabitants of heaven love him.’”  The inhabitants of the heavens, the malā’ikah, come down to the earth and say what?  “Allāh loves him, Jibrīl loves, we love him, so therefore all of you love him or her.”

When we fix things with Allāh, Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will but barakah and blessings in everything else in our lives.  This is something that is very obvious.  That’s why the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Tell your families to pray, and you be regular and punctual about prayer yourself. You be steadfast about the prayer yourself.  Tie yourself upon the prayer.”

Talking about the parent-child relationship, we have to learn to repair our relationships.  The parents must repair their relationships with Allāh.  That is why we are taught a du‘ā’:  “Rabbana habb lana min azwājina wa dhurriyyātina qurrata a‘yun waj‘alna lilmuttaqīna imāma.”  Make our spouses and our children the coolness of our eyes, and make all of us the leaders of the muttaqīn.  We have to repair spirituality – the parents and the children – and do it together as a family.  Pray together as a family.  Make du‘ā’.  First fix your relationship with Allāh, and that will put barakah and blessings and start to repair the relationship with the family members.

Marriage:  In āyah 238 of Sūrat’l-Baqarah, Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says, “Very carefully, very cautiously, very diligently watch over the prayers.”  Do you know what is very interesting about this ayah?  Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mentions this ayah in the middle of a passage which talks about divorce.  In the middle of giving us advice about divorce, Allāh says, “Watch over the prayers.”  Why?  Because maybe you are having problems in your marriage because you are having problems with your relationship with Allāh.  Go back and fix your relationship with Allāh and put barakah and blessings and raḥmah and the Mercy of Allāh back into your marriage.

The houses in which Qurʾān is recited, the inhabitants of the heavens and skies have the stars shine onto the inhabitants of the earth.  Our houses become filled with nūr and barakah and blessing when we recite Qurʾān in them.  The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) would pray the farḍ daily prayers in the masjid.  Where would he pray his sunnah and nawāfil prayers?  In the home.  Do you know what that means for the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)?  This is the masjid and that’s the home.  Do you see the difference?  He would take four steps and be in his home, but he would still go and make the distinction and establish the fact that he would take those four steps, cross through the curtain, and pray in the home where the wife and family members were.  Bring spirituality back into your life, home, parent-child relationship, and marriage and see how it repairs.

When you have spirituality and a good relationship with Allāh, it makes you secure in yourself.  It gives you confidence and removes the insecurities.  The parents are not insecure about their children.  The children are not so constantly skeptical or paranoid about the parents.  Even sibling rivalry – they become secure in themselves through their relationship with Allāh.

The Prophet of Allāh ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was told this same point.  In Sūrah Ya Sīn, Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says, “Don’t doubt yourself, you are most definitely from the messengers.”  It gives you that sense of security.  First spirituality needs to be re-established.  We need to fix the relationship with Allāh.  Family relationships will start to get better.

2.  Establishing Communication

The second basic step is establishing communication. If you don’t have it, establish it, as awkward and as difficult as that might be.  Initially when you establish communication, it is like pulling teeth, but establish it.  If you have it, then broaden it and work on it and continue to build on it and maintain it.  Open it further.  Communication is very important.

I told you how Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) presents certain difficult parent-child relationships in the Qurʾān.  Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) also presents beautiful parent-child relationships in the Qurʾān.  Luqmān does what to his son?  Does he yell at him?  Does he say, “Hey, you stupid boy, come here”?  He says, “Ya bunaya,” which literally means in Arabic “my small son.”  This is an Arabic expression for saying “my dear son, my beloved son.” Like when you have a nickname for your child, when you speak to your child with love.  He talks to his child.  He is advising him, not lecturing him and not wagging his finger at him.  He is not yelling at him.  He is not scolding him and not constantly telling his son how disappointed he is in him.  He is having a conversation with his son.  “My dear son.”

Yūsuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) sees a dream, a life-altering and life-changing dream.  What did he do with that dream?  Go and tell his friends?  Text message his friends?  Updates his Facebook status?  No.  He goes and talks to his father.  He says, “Ya abati (my dear, dear father),…”  He speaks to his father and communicates to his father.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), the best husband of all times, did what?  He would communicate with his wives. ‘Ā’ishah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) says, “I never saw anyone do more counsel and shūrah than the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).  Nobody would consult in anything more – not just community affairs or religious affairs but even the affairs of the home.  He would talk to us.  He would communicate to us.”  At udaybiyyah when the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was frustrated at the ṣaḥābah who were dumbfounded and speechless, he is telling them to shave their heads, sacrifice their animals, and open their iḥrām, and they were not getting up and going because they were dumbfounded and overwhelmed and almost traumatized by what happened that they have to go back without doing ‘Umrah, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) did what?  Who does he speak to?  His wife, Umm Salamah.  He speaks to his wife about being a prophet and the affairs of prophethood.  He communicates.  He doesn’t go there and throw a fit.  “Where is my food?  Why is this place always dirty?  What is wrong with you?  Why are you looking at me like that?  What is your problem?  Why are the kids always making noise?”  He doesn’t take it out on her.  He goes in there and says, “I don’t know what to do.  What is wrong?  They are just not moving.”  It’s not like they are not listening or not obeying.  Wa na‘ūdhu billāh.  These are the ṣaḥābah raḍyAllāhu 'anhum (may Allāh be pleased with them).  But they are dumbfounded and traumatized.  She gives him advice, and subḥānAllāh that advice works.

The wives of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) felt so comfortable openly speaking to him.  There is a famous story about Umar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) saying something to his wife, and his wife says, “Uh-uh.  I ain’t about to do that.  I don’t agree with you.”  From back in the day and old school mentality of Makkah and the Quraysh, he was like, “What?  Did you just speak back to me?”  She says, “Yes.  What’s wrong with that? The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) doesn’t mind.”  “What do you mean the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) doesn’t mind?”  The daughter of ‘Umar raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), Ḥafṣah, was one of the wives of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), umm’l-mu’minīn.  “She speaks emotionally and he doesn’t mind.”  He says, “What?”  He rushes over there and says, “Girl, have you lost your mind?  You speak back to the Prophet of Allāh ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)?”  She says, “No, it’s communication.  He tells us to speak our minds.  He asks us what we think about things.  He doesn’t mind.”  Communication.  It helps in the parent-child relationship as we see in the example of Luqmān and Yūsuf.  It most definitely helps in a marriage.

Establishing communication.  Then paying attention to how you communicate.  In a parent-child relationship, the parent might say, “Yeah, I talk to him everyday.”  But if all you say to your child is “clean up your room,” then yes, you speak to your child everyday.  “Clean up your room.  Did you do your homework?  Why do you fail your tests?  Why are you so stupid?”  If you speak to your child, that is not enough.  How you communicate matters as well.  What do you say?  How do you speak?  Lovingly.  Kindly.

When spouses speak to each other, if everything is a sarcastic jab: “So you didn’t make food today, huh?” – that is not a question, by the way.  You know that is not a question.  “Oh, so I guess you are busy today, huh?”  That is not a question.  That’s a slap in the face.  Nothing good comes from communication like that.  You have to give the benefit of the doubt and be open and loving and caring and considerate.

Having credibility and understand when you start to communicate, the problem will not fix itself overnight.  One day you try to have a nice conversation:  “What’s going on with you?  I hope you are doing well.  Everything is good.”  And for now you have a history of ten or fifteen years of bad communication and have one nice twenty-minute conversation and the other side is not warming up to you yet, don’t be like “See, you are obviously wrong.  I tried and I was nice, and it didn’t work.  See, it doesn’t work.  My way works.  You don’t know what you are talking about.”  It doesn’t change overnight.

The Prophet of Allāh ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was ṣādiq’l-amīn and then he presented the message.  You have to have some credibility and establish that credibility.  You have to establish trust, and it won’t happen overnight.

3.  Prioritization

Spirituality, communication, and the third area where we can work on to improve these family relationships is like what I mentioned extensively:  prioritization.  We have to put these family relationships in the right priority, and that is making time for family whether that is a parent-child relationship or a spousal relationship, make time for each other.  Even the sibling rivalry can be solved by spending time together and making time for each other.

Just as a clarification for the father who works tirelessly, and that is fine and respected, but understand that you might say, “I spend eight hours a day at home,” but you spend those eight hours a day sleeping on your face.”  That doesn’t count as family time.  “You know, I come home, don’t I?”  Yeah you come home, use the bathroom, and go to sleep.  That doesn’t count as spending time with your spouse.  You have to spend good, quality family time with each other.  You have to make time for each other.  Put each other as a first priority.

Here comes the shocking part.  We have to redefine the boundaries of ‘ibādah.  There is no guilt in spending time with family.  Yes, it should not deter you from your basic responsibilities to Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)Ṣalāh is ṣalāh.  Prayer is prayer.  But at the same time we do have to redefine the boundaries of ‘ibādah, of nafl (extra worship).  Having a nice, quiet intimate dinner with your spouse and having a candlelit dinner with your wife is ‘ibādah.  It is a virtuous deed.  Good deed.  Reward.  Yes!  I’m not crazy.

You know when you wrestle around with your children and play with your kids – my kids are young – and play hide-and-go-seek (where my daughter constantly cheats, all the time, so when it’s my turn to hide and her turn to seek, she counts while looking at me.)  Alḥamdulillāh, I’ve developed a lot of upper body strength.  Do you know how?  Swings.  Non-stop.  These kids never get tired. I think there’s a possibility my daughters could grow up to be pilots.  They never get tired of being on a swing.  My younger one is two-years old, and the first thing she does after she wakes up in the morning is go to the backdoor because we have a swing set in the backyard, and she says, “Outside!”  That is code for “let me outside.”  She doesn’t waste a lot of time and is very impatient.  If her request is not immediately obliged, then the second time, “Outside!”  And the third time, it is a straight up scream.  “Outside!!!”  Spending quality time with them.  Making time for them.  You know what?  Playing hide-and-go-seek with your kids and pushing them on the swings is an act of worship.  It is an act of ‘ibādah.

The Messenger of Allāh ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) told the ṣaḥābah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) that when spouses (husband and wife) experience intimacy with each other – I’m going to speak in general terms because we have a broad audience.  When a husband and wife experience intimacy with each other, physical intimacy, the Prophet of Allāh ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “It is a virtuous act.”  The ṣaḥābah were shocked just as much as you probably are.  Are you serious?  Is that for real?  The Prophet of Allāh ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) had very simple logic.  If you were to commit the same physical act outside of a marriage, would it be a sin?  Yes.  This is an act of reward and an act of virtue in marriage.  What lesson we learn from that is engaging in the actual relationship and seeking emotional pleasure in the relationship is a virtuous act and an act of reward.

Something that is established through research and something I learned a practical lesson from my own father as a role model for me was:  My dad was very involved at the masjid and one of the founders of the masjid that we all grew up going to, and alḥamdulillāh at retirement age he was able to found another masjid in a new area we moved to.  My uncles and dad were always involved in this frontline, and māshā’Allāh alḥamdulillāh I learned from them.  But you know, one thing though?  Being on the board of the masjid, being a founder of the masjid, being involved in the da‘wah activity at the masjid, it never got in the way of the family and was never put before family.  There could be a meeting going on in the masjid and my dad would get a call and he would say, “Excuse me, I’m not going to be able to make it to the meeting at the masjid.  If that gets me kicked off the board, fine then kick me off.”  My dad owned his own business, by the way.  How many people here own their own business?  A businessman knows that the job never ends.  A businessman never clocks out.  A businessman lives, eats, and sleeps his business.  But everyday there was a cut-off time for my dad.  5 o’clock, done.  Doors closed, the phone goes off.  “You’ll pay extra if I come right now?  It’s okay, I guess I’ll just see you tomorrow.  You’re going to go to somebody else?  Then I guess you’ll go to somebody else.   My rizq is given by Allāh.  I’m not going to sacrifice my family.”  5 o’clock everyday.  Then he came home and sat with us, talked to us, played with us, helped us with our homework.  Then we ate dinner together as a family.  Then when dinner was done, he went for ṣalāt’l-‘ishā’at the masjid and I went with him.  But that was every single day.  Nothing would get in the way of that.  Not the business, not the meeting at the masjid, not the da‘wah activity, nothing.  Family first.

We have to learn that prioritization and that attitude, redefining these boundaries of ‘ibādah and worship and understanding what’s important.  It’s very, very important that we understand what’s important.

The Center for Substance Abuse and Addiction at Columbia University published research and Time magazine ran the story in June 2006.  I recommend you go and look it up and read it.  It talks about how families and homes where they eat one meal together every single day are happier, healthier homes and families because they spend quality time together.

One of the recommendations that I mentioned from the Qurʾān is praying ṣalāh together.  Merge family time and spirituality together.  When you are going to go to the park, pray ẓuhr and then head out to the park.  You are going to go for ice cream?  Pray  ‘ishā’ and then go out for ice cream.  Merge these together and create a positive association.  That is how you can do tarbiyah with your family and children and instill the dīn within your children.  Eating meals together brings the hearts together.

4. Expressing Love & Appreciation

The fourth area that we can work on is expressing love and appreciation for each other.  There is no such thing as showing too much love.  Expectations have its place, rules and boundaries have their place.  I’m not talking about that.  We confuse love with those things.  Have discipline, have boundaries, have limitations, have rules, have consequences.  Have all of that, but express love.  Tell your children how much you love them.  Tell your spouse how much you love them.  Show appreciation.  Don’t just have appreciation.  “Oh, but I do appreciate you.  Do I have to show it?  Do I have to buy you flowers?”  Yes, you do!  Do you have to take her out for a nice meal?  Yes.  Do I have to tell you how much I love you, and do I have to hug and kiss you?  Yes!  Very, very, very important!

I understand that this breaks certain cultural taboos.  In certain cultures, its awkward and strange for a father to tell his children “I love you” when they put them to bed at night and when they wake up in the morning and when they salām. “Alsalāmu ‘alaykum.  How are you guys doing?  Everything is ok?  I love you guys.”  I know that it seems awkward or taboo in certain cultures, but again, I go back to the very first point that I made, you have to understand where you children are coming from.  You have to understand human expectations and in the parent-child relationship and marital relationship, expressing love and appreciation.

5. Make Du‘ā’

The last and final point I’ll make here:  make du‘ā’.  Never forget to make du‘ā’.  Allāh taught us a comprehensive du‘ā’:  “Rabbana habb lana min azwājina wa dhurriyyātina qurrata a‘yun waj‘alna lilmuttaqīna imāma.”   Coolness of the eyes.  Do you know what coolness of the eyes means?  It is an ancient Arabic expression.  To understand an expression sometimes, you have to look at them and understand them from the perspective of the people who used that expression.  You have to understand it from their perspective.  The ancient Arabs would say this.  You guys living in Arizona will be able to relate to this.  Imagine the summer time in the middle of the desert.   It is 120 degrees outside, but imagine you don’t have these comfortable buildings and structures.  Imagine you don’t have air conditioning and fans.  You are out there in the middle of the desert in the scorching heat.  Hot winds are blowing the hot sand into your eyes.  Even now with air conditioning and everything that you have, sometimes in the summer how dry do your eyes get?  How irritated do your eyes become, and how much do they itch?  Imagine being out in the desert without all this luxury and experiencing that.  Your eyes feel like they are on fire.  Your eyes feel like you want to rip them out and scratch them until they are gone.  Then you come across some cool, clean water, and you take that water and splash it into your eyes and on your face.  How refreshing and invigorating and how amazing that would feel.

We are saying, “O Allāh, when I look at my spouse, when I look at my children, make it feel like I just splashed cool, clean water in my eyes and face.  Refresh me.  And make all of us from the muttaqīn imams and leaders of the most pious and righteous.  Make us role models for generations to come.”

In connection with this, these are just like I said initially, some topics and concerns that have been on my mind for a long, long time. As you see from the context of the Qurʾān and sīrah and ḥadīth of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), this is a very core concept of our religion and faith and this is a basic human need and concern. Alḥamdulillāh, this is just a short conversation that I wanted to share.  This is part of a larger project that I am embarking on through Qalam Institute.  We are going to have a traveling program called Happiness in the Home where we will be traveling around the country to different communities and have a full seminar talking about some of these concerns and implementing more practical solutions so we can better the condition and situation of families throughout our communities, inshā’Allāh.

These are just some thoughts and things that I wanted to share with the community here today.  Again I want to thank you for being patient and listening and being attentive.  I hope and I pray that this was a source of benefit for everyone.  Jazākum Allāh khayran.

May Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) accept from all of us and give us the ability to practice that which we have heard.  Alsalāmu ‘alaykum wa raḥmatullāh.

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Abdul Nasir Jangda is the founder and director of Qalam Institute. He is a hafiz and specialist in Sīrah & Hanafi Fiqh with a Bachelor's from Jamia Binoria, a Master’s in Arabic from Karachi University, and a Master’s in Islamic Studies from the University of Sindh.

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    #Society

    Our African American Siblings Are Speaking, Are We Listening? Here Are 15 Things African American Muslims Want You To Know

    African American Muslimss

    In the Fall of 2018, we surveyed Muslims of Hispanic/Latino descent and asked what is the one thing they would want the Muslim community to know about them. We gathered 25 responses and released an article called, “25 Things Latino Muslims Want you to Know.” The purpose of the piece was to educate the general Muslim body about the Latino Muslim community and its dynamics, to debunk common stereotypes about Latinos, and to lend a voice to a marginalized sector in the Islamic community and in the United States.

    Now, with the current climate of racial tension in the U.S. and the revival of the national movement for Black rights, I thought it not only imperative, but seriously overdue to put together a similar list of reactions from our African American brethren. Moving away from the obvious fact that there should be no racism in Islam, we want to open up about the racism and anti-blackness that unfortunately does exist within the Muslim community and how that affects our relationships with each other and hinders the struggle for change.

    When I was collecting responses for this article what I found was that, unsurprisingly, Latino Muslims and Black Muslims have similar messages to send to the general Muslim community. Our shared experiences fuel a mutual call for justice and equality in society and within our own places of worship. I also had a difficult time gathering the same amount of feedback, because I began at a time when images of the murdered Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Rayshard Brooks were still circulating social media as a constant reminder of the injustice happening all over the country, specifically the targeting Black men and women. These wounds, so deep and raw were gaping in the collective psyche of African Americans, both Muslim and non-Muslim, fueling sentiments of anger and mistrust, and rightfully so. Many people refused to comment while others could not find the right words to use to address the Muslim brothers and sisters who have often failed them, as well.

    The following is a list of 15 things the African American community, not only want you to know, but have been saying for decades. Are we listening?

    • I think people should know that civility (avoidance of controversial topics for the sake of being polite and getting along) undermines anti-racism work. Anti-racism demands frank discourse, active listening, and reflection. None of that can take place if we cannot clearly define the problems we face. – Candice Elam, Nurse, New Jersey
    • Our culture is not the antithesis of Islam. We do not come from broken homes. Umm Layyan Zainab, Mental Health Counselor/Recovery Specialist, Brooklyn, New York
    Our culture is not the antithesis of Islam. We do not come from broken homes. – Umm Layyan Zainab, Mental Health Counselor/Recovery Specialist, Brooklyn, New YorkClick To Tweet
    • We are not your religious underlings. Many foreigners, especially Arabs and Indo-Paks, feel as though they have religious and cultural superiority over us. Just to list a few reasons they may feel this way: Firstly, they never really took the time out to learn and understand the history of oppression the indigenous people have been going through for over 500 years. But when it comes to them and their people back home, it is a top priority and the world must hear about the tears of the people of Palestine, Yemen, etc. This mentality is counterproductive to our religion of Islam because our beloved Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was a mercy to mankind, not just one nation, but all nations. Secondly, we are viewed as guests in their religion so, therefore, we should follow and adhere to their way, like somehow, we lack the ability and capability to understand and apply the teachings of Islam. I have always said that the slave master said we were 1/3 of a human, but now in the eyes of some Muslim foreigners, we are 1/3 of a Muslim. Our shahadahs are not truly recognized in their eyes. Thirdly, I believe some foreigners have the disease of racism in their hearts and it is present in their own countries towards dark-skinned people. What I am saying is based on what I and others have experienced. Abu Taahir Jalal, Islamic teacher/Youth Advocate/Mental Health Coach, Yonkers, New York
    • One thing I would like non-black Muslims to know is that not all African Americans are the same.  We have differences in culture depending where we are from.  I grew up in the Midwest. Our culture is vastly different from those who grew up in the South compared to those who grew up in the North. Then you have those who are Muslim compared to those who are not.  Lifestyles are different.  People do not realize this. – Zaneta Trent, Homeschooler/Health Educator, Baltimore, Maryland
    • All Black Muslims are not African American. There are also Afro-Latinos, Caribbean Muslims, etc. Halleemah Munoz, Educator, Atlanta, Georgia
    All Black Muslims are not African American. There are also Afro-Latinos, Caribbean Muslims, etc. Halleemah Munoz, Educator, Atlanta, GeorgiaClick To Tweet
    • I would like the immigrant and/or non-Autochthonous Muslim community to understand that the Indigenous/Autochthonous “Black American” community facilitated the changes in the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization laws through the Civil Rights Movement and we are the reason why your family was able to immigrate and prosper here. Therefore, we should be acknowledged and respected for our struggle for equality that led to your presence. Additionally, you need to understand that your opportunities here lie solely on the U.S.’s agenda to make us a permanent bottom caste and to deny our right to equal opportunity, reparations for chattel slavery and upwardly mobility. This is called the racial wealth gap inequality where, through structural racism, we have been denied equal opportunity and access to wealth accumulation and resources. Please do not conflate our poverty with lack of drive, lack of self-determination, laziness, or apathy. Please do not believe that we are criminals and vagabonds. On the contrary, we built this country and through our blood, sweat, tears, struggle, and resistance, you have benefitted. – Elenia Norman, disabled, former Educator, Baltimore, Maryland
    • All black Muslims are not converts/reverts to Islam. – Shareefa Carrion, Designer/Entrepreneur, Atlanta, Georgia Designer/Entrepreneur
    • We did not become, and we do not remain Muslim to switch slave-masters. We do not “convert to Islam in jail/prison en masse.” We do not aspire to be Middle Eastern/Arab, Desi, African, Asian, etc. via our religious adherence to al-Islam. We support #Blacklivesmatter. – Gareth Bryant, Chaplain, Muslim Afro-American, New York
    • I want all Muslims, and people in general, to know and understand that Islam and Muslims are not “new” or “foreign” to America. In fact, Muslims have been in America since BEFORE it was even a nation by way of over 400 years of the African Slave Trade. Some scholars have estimated that between 30%-40% of the Africans brought to this country were Muslim. Slave traders actually identified those who were Muslims and sold them for higher prices because they were educated. Therefore, African American Muslims were the first Muslims in the United States of America. So, there are African American Muslims who have been Muslim for generations here. Kyosanim J., Assistant Martial Arts Instructor and NASM-CPT, Maryland, USA
    • Another thing we would like everyone to know and understand: Just because we are African American, and not from a “Muslim country,” do not assume we know nothing about Islam. Do not think that our knowledge is somehow “less than” someone from a “Muslim country” or that of our Arab and southeast Asian brothers and sisters. Many of us are well educated in Islam; many times even more so. Especially when it comes to areas of how to navigate being Muslim in America. We are way more equipped to answer these questions than someone coming from outside who does not understand the subtle ins-and-outs of this country, its laws or its history. The majority of African American Muslims, mainly those of us who have slave-trade ancestry (not with an African homeland e.g. Nigerian, Somalian etc.), don’t get caught up and lost in semantics, culture and traditions considering the Quran and Hadith. Therefore, we take the message as it is. Islam is Islam period. No cultural or traditional baggage attached. No matter what time you live in whether it is 6th century, present, or future.  Kyosanim J., Assistant Martial Arts Instructor and NASM-CPT, Maryland, USA
    • We are not new to Islam. Our ancestors were the vanguard of Islam in the Americas, starting with the Spanish occupations of the Caribbean in the 1500’s to the mass exodus of African Americans into Sunni Islam in the 70’s due to the influence of Islamic leaders such as Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, W. Deen Muhammad, and even members of the Black panthers. Abu Yazid Dumas, IT Tech, student of religious studies, Detroit, Michigan
    We are not new to Islam. Our ancestors were the vanguard of Islam in the Americas, starting with the Spanish occupations of the Caribbean in the 1500’s to the mass exodus of African Americans into Sunni Islam in the 70’s due to the influence of Islamic leaders such as Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, W. Deen Muhammad, and even members of the Black panthers. Abu Yazid Dumas, IT Tech, student of religious studies, Detroit, MichiganClick To Tweet
    • I want people to know that Whites, Pakistanis, Indians, and Arabs do NOT speak for me as a Black American Muslim Woman. I have my own voice. WE have our own voices. Furthermore, I am tired of news outlets and reporters thinking that THE ABOVE ETHNIC GROUPS, especially Arabs, Pakistanis, and Indians are the ONLY voices of Islam. Moreover, NOT every Black American MUSLIM embraced Islam via the Nation of Islam or the Warith Al-Deen community. Barbara L., Islamic & ESL/EFL Teacher, Chapman University Graduate Student, Anaheim Hills, California
    • If you are truly sincere about helping in the battle against oppression in this world (and only Allah knows the hearts of His servants), I’ll say this: Whatever you do, understand that truly standing up against oppression has two battlegrounds. your internal world, and your external world. There is no standing up for justice in the truest sense without both of these aspects working together, and simultaneously—at all times. This is true for all social justice work, anti-racism or otherwise, and it is true irrespective of your “work experience” and ethnic background. If a single one of us—whether Black or non-Black, privileged or underprivileged—subtracts any one of these two components in our fight against oppression, then our efforts are false, insincere, or steeped in harmful self-deception. There really is no exception to this rule. Not a single one. This rule applies to every ethnic group, even amongst those who are underprivileged and oppressed, but it applies most especially to those who are benefiting from the system of oppression, even if they wish to live in self-denial about this. Umm Zakiyyah, Author/Educator, Baltimore, Maryland (Read more about how you can help fight oppression and anti-blackness in “First, Remove the Chains from Your Heart” on her blog: uzauthor.com)
    • Because our people were once enslaved, does not make us “less than” and somehow not worthy of marrying your son or daughter. Which, unfortunately, is how many of our other immigrant “Muslim brothers and sisters” view and treat us. Many of our Muslim “Brothers and Sisters” need to go back and read the last sermon of our beloved prophet Muhammad (SAWS) where he touches on many points, one of which is race relations, where he says plainly, “An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab…a white person has no superiority over a black, nor does a black have any superiority over white except by piety and good action.” (Agreed upon) Kyosanim J., Assistant Martial Arts Instructor and NASM-CPT, Maryland, USA
    • As Autochthonous American Muslims, we deserve respect because our struggle has carved out a space for you among a predominantly White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Christian hegemony that would otherwise reject your Muslim immigrant identity. Join us now in the fight against anti-Black racism, anti-Muslim bigotry, White Supremacy, and Imperialism. Help us reach White Americans in the academic and medical institutions we have been locked out of with the message of la ilaha illallah instead of choosing the decadence of wealth acquisition, suburban comfort, and cozy seating  at the banquet table of White Supremacy. – Elenia Norman, disabled, former Educator, Baltimore, Maryland
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    According to a 2017 Pew Research Center Survey, non-Hispanic or mixed-race black people accounted for 20% of the Muslim population in the United States, meaning 1 in every 5 Muslims is Black, and that is not counting Afro-Latinos or Americans of mixed-race backgrounds. Just a little under half of that 20% are converts to Islam, and this also highlights the obvious fact that Black Muslims are not newcomers to our communities. In fact, they are pioneers who have been here since before the establishment of this country and paved the way for immigrant Muslims to migrate here to settle and build Islamic centers and schools. To deny our brothers and sisters fair treatment, companionship, or support based on the color of their skin is delusional and self-destructive.

    If we are not pained and haunted by the images of African American victims of police brutality and hate crimes, then we need to take a long look in the mirror and really check ourselves. Our Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, clearly defined true brotherhood when he stated, “The parable of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever.” (Bukhari and Muslim) Right now, we should all be breathless, we should all be restless. Until anti-Blackness is eradicated from our own families and communities, we should not feel comfortable to worship freely and go on about our lives. We may not be able to extinguish the ugly flames of racism worldwide, but we can start with ourselves.

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    #Life

    Drowning In Bottles: My Muslim Story Of Addiction And Substance Use Disorder

    I want to talk about a topic that I haven’t been able to discuss openly for most of my adult life; alcohol addiction and acute substance use disorder. I’m an African American Muslim and I grew up in the Washington, DC area. My intention is mainly to discuss my alcoholism, how it began, why I felt so secretive, and how I pulled myself out of it. I want this to be a source of strength and support for others like me who may feel hopeless or helpless in the face of such a situation.

    I was addicted to alcohol. It wasn’t because I liked drinking, it’s because being drunk made me forget the things that made me sad and anxious. I drank to calm my nerves in social situations or because I didn’t know how to say ‘no.’ Or maybe because I felt I couldn’t say no. Additionally, if I became embarrassed in public or anything, drinking was my way out. Right before you lose your balance and your inhibitions, being intoxicated is like being at a carnival. 

    When I was drinking, my tongue was looser and my jokes funnier. I was the life of the party. I sucked up the oxygen in the room until there wasn’t anymore. And then I kept going. It’s as though my stomach was bottomless. I drank until a trapdoor opened and all the contents of my stomach dropped out onto the floor; along with the bile and my guts. It’s a painful experience. But then, so is alcoholism. 

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    I remember taking sips of my parents’ wine from their glasses at holiday parties as a teen, feeling like I was doing something wrong, but excited at the same time. I loved holding my father’s mugs and thinking I was as adult as he was. 

    He kept his liquor in a cabinet on our entertainment center, right above his records. The cabinet made a creaking sound when you opened it. The pull of alcohol was really strong. I liked how it made me feel and how it numbed my emotions. I felt ashamed that I was taking something that didn’t belong to me; something I didn’t have permission to consume. But regardless, it became a routine. 

    Beginning in 9th grade, I often slept through my classes, because of poor mental health and exhaustion. Even as an athlete, I felt rundown on a constant basis. I later found out I have excessive daytime sleepiness and narcolepsy. It took years of tests to receive a proper diagnosis but by then, my life had been so disrupted by sleeping that I’d become severely overwhelmed. This caused me to feel worse about myself. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I drank as a result of how I perceived my health status. Drinking was my escape. 

    There were a few times where I got blackout drunk. This kind of thing started in my third year of high school. I wanted to numb my feelings and feel happy, but I’d drink too fast and too much. I’d consume alcohol until I got physically ill. Drinking like that is extremely dangerous. I realize now that I was passively suicidal and severely depressed. I was also dealing with many impulsive behaviors and had no safety net. 

    At my mom’s house I used to collect bottles of beer in large plastic trash bags in my room. I was ashamed for anyone to discover I was drinking, so I hid it. I’d finish a six-pack and shove the empty bottles into the bag hoping that somehow hid my ‘crime’. Eventually when the bag got too full, I’d sneak outside when no one was looking and stash it in the trash can. I got tired of that routine and I got tired of thinking people would find out. Sometimes I’d keep the bags in my room. I would hoard 3 and 4 bags of bottles at a time. I was drowning in my alcohol addiction. I couldn’t see my way out. 

    By college, my narcolepsy got much more debilitating. It was exacerbated by bipolar depression, anxiety and my response to trauma. I was bullied so much throughout childhood that my self-esteem suffered. No one knew how much I hated myself, and they didn’t know I had been molested and sexually assaulted at least three times in my life. My mom suspected something, but wasn’t sure who the culprit was. I couldn’t talk to my father or other family members because I was too shy and introverted; though my father was always supportive. So I drank to hide my pain.  

    During beach week I drank until I passed out, but before I blacked out, I went canoeing at midnight. I could have fallen overboard. I want this to be a lesson for my kids and other youth. When I woke up, there was so much vomit on my shirt and on my face. I was crying. My friends said they couldn’t stop me from getting sick and they didn’t know what to do. They tried turning me over during the night, but I still woke up on my back. 

    What they don’t tell you about an alcohol overdose is that it hurts. By that I mean it’s physically painful. It’s as if you can feel your cells shrinking, trying to get away from the poison of the alcohol. I’ve felt this too many times to count. When you OD or have alcohol poisoning you first feel really bad, like something is going to happen. It’s an aura, of sorts. You know you went too far with the drinking, and you wish you could take it back. 

    But it’s too late at that point. You feel queasy and you start sweating. You feel hot and dizzy. Your skin gets clammy too; first your hands, your upper lip, and then the rest of your skin. You start to experience a cold sweat even if you’re hot. Then your stomach starts to hurt. Like all the way at the bottom. You realize the vomiting is inevitable.

    It took me two days to fully recover and sober up. My parents didn’t know where I was or who I was with. I’ve never felt that awful before. Unfortunately, even after that, I still drank. This cycle is how substance use disorder and addiction work, and it’s deadly. I went through this painful ordeal many more times in college and even afterwards, subhanAllah. 

    I always found a liquor store or a beer and wine place wherever I lived. I knew exactly where to go and what time they closed depending on what part of the area I was in. You become a slave to your addiction. People think you’re a low life or you’re just a bad person if you drink. They think you have poor character and that your parents raised you wrong. I hate that mentality. Addiction doesn’t discriminate. It isn’t a character issue. It’s about trauma and a lack of proper coping skills. It’s about connection, and for some of us it’s also about impulsivity and self-will. And an underlying mental illness makes things more complicated. 

    Religious Conversion

    I was 21 years old when I converted to Islam. I felt as though I didn’t have anyone to turn to in order to share my past. I was scared that people would find out how chaotic my life had been, so I didn’t tell them anything. That left me feeling like I couldn’t trust anyone in my Muslim circles early on. 

    I think this was irresponsible, even if unintentional. I think I should have been counseled by a licensed therapist and Imam, screened for mental health concerns and substance use disorders, and formally welcomed to a community.Click To Tweet

    When I converted, people told me to forget my old life. They said it wasn’t necessary to think about what had happened and that Allah had forgiven my past mistakes, but nobody asked me if I had any trauma, addictions,or  mental health issues. I think this was irresponsible, even if unintentional. I think I should have been counseled by a licensed therapist and Imam, screened for mental health concerns and substance use disorders, and formally welcomed to a community. And furthermore, I should have been guided in what to do if I developed any of these issues subsequently. That would have been ideal anyway. 

    Since none of that happened, I ended up trying to quit alcohol cold turkey, several times, and trying to manage my addictions and substance use issues without professional help. I tried to hide my trauma and anxiety and was not forthcoming with clinicians when I did finally find them. This was dangerous and proved almost deadly to me on multiple occasions. 

    I thought quitting cold turkey was best for me and my Iman. For some reason, I thought Islam distinguished me from other addicts because I’d only ever heard of recovery from a Christian perspective. 

    I remember my first Ramadan when I was in college. I stopped drinking so I could pray and fast, but I didn’t have guidance, so I didn’t know how to taper and pray as a dry alcoholic. I’d go back and forth, wrestling with my alcohol addiction. I’d stopped going to parties of course, but memories of the alcohol kept attacking my psyche. I still had strong cravings and some withdrawal symptoms. It was so hard to put the bottle down, metaphorically speaking. Sometimes, I’d make a mistake and take a drink. 

    When I met my future husband, I’d pushed all this down and forgotten it happened. I’d repressed memories of the abuse, my visits to the psychiatrist, my sexual assaults, the alcoholism, and so on. Anything I did remember, I kept to myself out of fear of judgment and shame. We didn’t have marital counseling; in fact, it wasn’t even recommended to us. At that time, there was no counseling center at the masjid, and of course, no place to discuss addictions or alcoholism. My marriage was set up to fail, in a way. 

    Going Without Alcohol 

    The first few Ramadan’s were peaceful for me. I forgot my old life and never told anyone about my addictions. I didn’t seem to need any additional support. I was in a kind of mental health remission, but then I had my son and it triggered something in me. The stress exacerbated my symptoms and my addiction resurfaced. 

    I had kids back to back, every two years. The hormones and stress of being a new mother made my bipolar disorder and anxiety return with a vengeance. I developed poor coping skills as a result. I wanted to drink, but couldn’t. I wished I had told someone that I’d been a heavy drinker in college, so I’d know what to do. When my midwives asked me about alcohol and substance use, I wasn’t honest. I also didn’t remember or realize the importance of the emotional issues I was dealing with. 

    I found other ways to soothe my pain and anxiety. When my husband wasn’t home, if there were pills in the house, regardless if they were mine or not, I’d take them. I was right back into my addictive behaviors before I knew it. I didn’t know how to reach out for help. I realized later I was substituting one addiction for another. So quitting alcohol cold turkey, without a support system, didn’t do anything positive for me at all. I began to use my husband’s work tools to cut myself, resorting to a teenage coping mechanism I used to employ. Self-harm was something I indulged in when I needed help managing tough situations. I’d cut, scratch my face, wring my hands, wrap things around my neck, injure my limbs, or re-injure them. I did anything to feel pain or hurt myself. I still have scars on both arms.

    This morning, I opened my nightstand drawers. They were a mess. I had pill bottles everywhere and drugstore receipts. I found a few loose trileptal pills (for mood regulation) too. Tops to empty bottles. Nail clippers. Trash galore. This is also a part of my addiction. It’s called hoarding and ocd. It’s a part of my ADHD and anxiety disorder, and it’s representative of my hectic life. I don’t drink anymore, but I’m disorganized. So I bought a lockbox, a pill minder, and pill pouches to organize things and it helped. 

    I still have a long way to go though. I don’t know how to take my meds properly, therefore my behavior still mimics addiction. I have the lockbox, but I don’t yet use it properly. I can’t figure out how to tell my doctors I need help with this entire process. I want to make a difference for others, and I wish I’d met someone like me along the way. I wish I’d been to a place like the women’s shelter I was at in Texas much sooner. What I miss about that area is someone coming to my room and asking me to go to a meeting. It was such a nice feeling. 

    Funny enough, when I was in Senegal, it felt much the same way. My family members would come to my door to give me attaya (Senegalese tea) or something. It’s about camaraderie and connection. 

    People often tell someone like me to reach out for help when we’re struggling with mental ill health or having an addiction problem. Often hotline numbers are passed around as well. This is helpful, but only to a point. The person who is in need isn’t always ready or able to ask for help when they need it the most. And the people who need to help don’t always know instinctively to reach out to their loved ones and check on them without prompting. This causes a disconnect. Maybe instead of all of us simply saying “reach out” to one another and “take care of your mental health,” we can direct these phrases and make them more meaningful. We can explain how we want people to connect with one another, that way we’re working on community building skills and creating better experiences. 

    They say addiction stems from a lack of connections. I’m noticing throughout my narrative, that what I’m often missing is a connection to family and friends, and a lack of a genuine connection with myself and to Allah. 

    When my iman is higher, I don’t want to drink or give in to my addictions. My impulse control issues, even if they do come up, are easier to manage, and I’m less apt to reject help than when my iman is lower. When I’m away from my deen, though, this isn’t the case. 

    It’s summertime as I’m writing this and getting pretty hot. I live close to two alcohol establishments. I don’t feel compelled to buy anything at the moment. But in the past I would have. I would have been so tempted to go grab an alcoholic beverage. I wouldn’t have been able to control my cravings. At times like this, it feels like my veins are reaching for the haram, day and night. I can feel it like I feel my heartbeat. It calls to me. 

    With alcohol, I’ve experienced acute intoxication, extreme drunkenness and poisoning. I don’t like to think about how many times I’ve had alcohol poisoning because my behavior was so self-sabotaging.. Hopefully now I’m taking much better care of myself. And I don’t have the need to tempt fate or see how much punishment my body can handle.

    Overdosing hurts. And I’m never sure if the last time will be my “last time”. I don’t want to keep thumbing my nose at Allah’s mercy without realizing how many times I’ve been saved before. 

    When I notice a craving, I think back to the mindfulness steps I learned in therapy. Though a trigger can produce powerful results, I’m often able to get control quickly. Depending on where I am, I’ll sit down and meditate for a few minutes and notice my breathing and my body. I’ll sometimes close my eyes and just try to focus my attention on what may have happened to bring about the feeling of anxiety in that moment. By then, the craving has usually passed and I feel better. If not, I take steps to alleviate it. Thankfully I have a good community with whom I feel safe and comfortable and I can communicate when my needs properly. And I have a mentor who always reminds me about my prayer. This helps tremendously. 

    I don’t think about drinking alcohol much anymore. By this, I mean I don’t fantasize about drinking when I’m alone. But sometimes when I’m out, I do get tempted. I don’t know what to do in those moments and sometimes I get nervous. The idea of getting drunk makes my stomach turn in knots, but when I pass a liquor store, I do check to see if it’s open. If I see the window sign flashing, my heart pounds. I actually feel butterflies in my stomach. I wonder if I’ll get the urge to go inside. 

    I wouldn’t want people to see me walk into a liquor store as a Muslim and as a muhajjaba. So I think about altering my appearance. I’m sure people think that means I unequivocally know right from wrong, I sometimes do. But what they’re missing is the impulsivity and the compulsive disorder outside of my control, with mania and psychosis both significantly altering perception and judgment. You cannot consent to anything in those kinds of conditions. 

    The first khutbah I ever heard was about depression and anxiety disorder. The Imam said if you need to take medication to stabilize your brain, you should feel free to do so. I enjoyed that lesson. But I didn’t think much about it at the time. I moved on with my life as a Muslim and forgot his words of wisdom. Years later, I remembered that sermon and regretted I hadn’t taken heed much sooner. Remembering that  khutbah might have saved me from heartache and turmoil. 

    I want others in this situation to know it’s ok to embrace your feelings and own your relationship with alcoholism. It helps me keep going when I remember Allah’s mercy and ask my friends for help. A sober network can also be helpful. My long-term goal is to be a successful mentor for those with substance use disorders in our communities, particularly the youth and anyone dealing with trauma/anxiety.

    Having Islamic resources for Muslims with addiction issues is important, because faith and spirituality can connect directly with recovery. I would like people to know that alcoholism is a lifelong illness which can affect people of any age. Someone can be an occasional drinker, a binge drinker or only indulge in social settings. As Muslims we need to educate ourselves about this issue and make sure those who need support feel safe to reach out to us.

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    Muslim Adulting 101: Tips And Tricks For Every Young (And Not So Young) Muslim Adult

    Social media is rife with complaints about how young Muslim men and women today aren’t ready for marriage, aren’t responsible enough for marriage, and are barely capable of keeping themselves alive without frantically calling their mothers or Googling how to make avocado toast. Having once been such a person (I got married at 18 and was incapable of making more than scrambled eggs), and having had around a decade’s worth of practise at adulting (I am now fully capable of making several egg dishes, though I have yet to achieve a round roti), it dawned upon me to help out the current generation of hapless almost-adults by providing a list of useful survival tips – not just for marriage preparation, but for life preparation.

    I learned roughly half these things in the year before marriage, and the rest during first year of marriage. I do not claim to be an expert. I was married at 18, had a kid at 19, and was adulting at a semi proficient level by 20… although yes, I still frantically text my mother even now. I learned most of this while living in Egypt (with occasional stints in the village) and in Kuwait (as a broke non-Kuwaiti, not as a spoiled Khaleeji). You learn a lot of things the hard way, like how to toast bread on the stove when you can’t afford a toaster.)

    Know How to Feed Yourself

    Whether male or female, you should know how to make at least 3 breakfast items (toast and frozen items don’t count) – depending on your culture, there will be many different options to choose from, but they should be basic and easy, e.g. scrambled eggs, oatmeal, fool mudammas, za3tar and laban, etc.

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    The same applies for lunch and dinner. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but you need to know the basics. Get up and go learn from your mom or dad or Pinterest or a YouTuber – as long as you just learn to do it instead of daydreaming about your spouse cooking for you. IT’S CALLED SURVIVAL SKILLS. (I learned from Canadian Living, before Pinterest was a thing. My mother still hasn’t forgiven me.)

    Always, always, always remember: eat halal and tayyib food. I mean this completely seriously, and not just in a zabihah vs non-zabihah way (although, yes, zabihah is extra halal and you should definitely eat zabihah only). The simplest of foods, if you have the intention to eat that which is beneficial, will provide incredible satisfaction. 

     

    Cleaning supplies

    Cleanliness and Household Basics

    Know how to clean your own bathroom. That means scrubbing the toilet at least once a week, the bathtub a few times a month, and generally sanitizing all surfaces. Flylady.com has some great tips

    There is nothing nastier than leaving a mess in your bathroom and doing nothing to clean it. (And no, gender stereotypes about men leaving messes on toilet seats will not be tolerated. Fiqh of Taharah, people!)

    Know how to clean your kitchen. When you do something in the kitchen, clean up after yourself as quickly as possible. Give your kitchen a deep-clean about twice a month. Clean your fridge, your microwave, under your toaster, and the top of your stove, which will accumulate a nasty layer of stickiness if you don’t wipe it down immediately after frying samosas. 

    Learn how to operate a vacuum, how to sweep effectively, and how to mop. 

    Never underestimate the importance of Tupperware. And by ‘Tupperware,’ I don’t mean the brand name – I mean washing out and using every yogurt tub, jam jar, and pasta bottle you use. You will indeed understand the wisdom of your foremothers. Make du’a for them when you reach this point of enlightenment. 

    Do your own laundry. Know the difference between hot water wash (and what items to use it for), and cold water/delicates. DON’T MIX A RED ITEM WITH WHITE. (Yes, I ruined my own delicates and my infant’s brand new onesies. Ugh.) When something says “dry clean only”… for the love of your wallet, dry clean only. (As a general rule, avoid buying dry clean only items.)

    Learn how to iron. I hate ironing, I avoid doing it as much as possible, I still don’t always have the hang of ironing men’s shirts (although I can starch a ghutrah like no one’s business), but LEARN THE BASICS OF IRONING and how not to burn your brand-new abayah.

    Men: this still applies to you. Learn to iron your own clothes. Also learn to iron women’s clothing. (Especially hijabs and abayas.) My grandfather ironed my grandmother’s clothes every day, and she always looked like she’d just stepped out of a Desi granny fashion mag.

    Learn how to sew a basic stitch in case of emergencies. I’m not asking you to embroider a tapestry or tailor make a suit, but knowing how to thread a needle and mend a tear or rip is super duper handy. (I failed every sewing class my mother put me in, and my current pile of torn clothing is at her house, but yes, I can technically mend a tear.)

    Most importantly, remember that as a member of a family unit – or any unit, including living with roommates – you must actively seek to be interdependent rather than selfishly and self-centeredly independent. Just as the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) spent his day serving his family, so too should we strive to be contributing positively to our households, being considerate of others, and even going out of our way to serve them. Service to those around us is neither humiliating nor offensive; rather, it is the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet.

    If you are not doing these things in your/ your parents’ home, you do not deserve to have a marital home.

    Hisham ibn ‘Urwa said that his father said,

    “I asked ‘A’isha, may Allah be pleased with her, ‘What did the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, do in his house?’ She replied, ‘He mended his sandals and worked as any man works in his house.'” 

    Hisham said,

    “I asked ‘A’isha, ‘What did the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, do in his house?’ She replied, ‘He did what one of you would do in his house. He mended sandals and patched garments and sewed.”

    (Al Adab al Mufrad)

     

    Manage Your Money

    Know how to make a budget, and how to stick to it. Be aware of bills, how and when to pay them. Learn how to avoid debt under all circumstances.

    Yes, this means being frugal.

    Yes, this means couponing.

    Yes, this means not spending $5 every day at Starbucks if you can’t afford it (and avoiding doing so every day even if you can afford it).
    Yes, this means buying things on clearance.

    Yes, this means putting aside money for sadaqah, and udhiyah and zakah if you required to distribute it according to your savings.

    Most importantly, this means knowing how to organize and prioritize your expenses, how to cut down on the big bills and costs, and how to incorporate self-care without blowing out your wallet. 

    If you weren’t raised by frugal Desi parents who taught you every budgeting trick there is, then go read a book, listen to a podcast or look up online how best to budget. Don’t just budget for your immediate needs – anticipate future expenses, create a savings account (for school, Hajj, wedding), and always have something stashed away for emergencies. In this economy, you need to scrimp as much as possible.

    Pro tip: Do not discount barakah as a major factor in your day to day living expenses. If you insist on only pursuing halaal rizq, if you make a point of avoiding interest-bearing student loans and mortgages, you will have barakah in your wealth. You will discover that a meager grocery shopping trip will leave you with food that lasts you for twice as long as you expected. You will learn that giving in sadaqah on a regular basis, no matter how minuscule the amount, will result in blessings in every aspect of your life. You will be happier, live better, and succeed in your daily living. In a culture where making money is considered the single most important aspect of one’s life, it is necessary to reorient ourselves as Muslims. Allah is ar-Razzaaq, and not a single penny will come our way unless He decrees; not an ounce of our wealth will benefit us unless we seek that rizq in a manner that is pleasing to Him. 

    Abu Huraira narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ  said:

    “Verily Allah the Exalted is pure (tayyib). He does not accept but that which is pure. Allah commands the believers with what He commanded the Messengers. Allah the Almighty has said: “O you Messengers! Eat of the good things and act righteously”. And Allah the Almighty also said: “O you who believe! Eat of the good things that We have provided you with. Then he (the Prophet) mentioned (the case of) the man who, having journeyed far, is disheveled and dusty and who stretches out his hands to the sky (saying): “O Lord! O Lord!” (while) his food was unlawful, his drink was unlawful, his clothing was unlawful, and he is nourished with unlawful things, so how can he be answered?” [Muslim]

     

    Hospitality

    Learn how to be a good host/hostess. Almost every Muslim culture is known for its generosity towards guests, and for good reason: the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) repeatedly emphasized the rights of guests over their hosts, and of the rewards of hospitality. 

    Abu Shuraih reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him honor his guest and recompense him.” They said, “O Messenger of Allah, what is his recompense?” The Prophet said, “It is for a day and a night, as good hospitality is for three days and after that it is charity.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

    Being a good host and hostess means knowing the adab (etiquettes) of having guests over, no matter how unexpected or informal. Offer everyone from the delivery person to the snootiest masjid aunty water or other drinks when they come in, seat them in the best place in the house, know how to turn half a package of Oreos and cheese sticks into a presentable snack tray, and so on. 

    As well, if guests come to your home bringing a dish, make sure not to return that dish empty-handed! Always include something with it, whether homemade or even just a small package of treats. 

    Growing up, I always saw my parents being extremely generous hosts, even when completely unprepared, and they trained my brothers and I without even realizing it. Having frozen samosas or a stash of “guests only” treats in your pantry is incredibly useful when you find yourself with a crowd of unexpected visitors in your living room. It’s a shame that so many people today have neglected the art of hospitality, when it has always been a traditional hallmark of Muslims.

    Beautiful Scents

    Good scents are from the Sunnah, and it is a habit that one should make regular for the household. There’s nothing quite like walking in through the door and inhaling beautiful incense.

    (Unless you or others in your home are allergic to perfumes and strong scents, in which case, never mind.) 

    Whether it’s bukhoor, agar bhatti, Yankee candles, or even scented diffuser oils, make it a habit to have your home (and yourself!) smelling beautiful. Your friends and family will always appreciate it! 

    The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was known for his love of good scents, as in the hadith “Beloved to me of this world is […] perfume...” (Nasa’i). Repeatedly, Muslims have been encouraged to cleanse themselves regularly, to use good scents, and to avoid offensive odours. (It should go without saying that one should always ensure to bathe daily, wear fresh clothing, and not to douse themselves in cheap cologne in an attempt to mask the reek of fried onions or stale sweat.)

    Jabir ibn Abdullah reported:

    The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever eats onions, garlic, or leeks should not approach our mosque, for the angels are offended by whatever offends the children of Adam.” (Muslim)

    Muslim-Specific Adulting Pro Tips

    Be the person who wakes everyone up for Fajr (or sets enough alarms that eventually, *someone* will wake up). In Ramadan, be the person who helps with suhoor and iftaar, instead of being a lazy bum who drags their butt out of bed to stuff their faces and then crawls back into bed until Fajr. 

    Be the person who reminds the rest of the household to fulfill the sunan of Jumu’ah – doing ghusl, wearing the best clothes, reading Surah al-Kahf etc.

    Call the adhaan for every salah and encourage everyone at home to pray together; do dhikr often, especially the daily adhkaar; remind yourself and your loved ones to recite Qur’an often in the home, and have it playing regularly on audio instead of playing background music. 

    Abu Huraira reported:

    The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Do not turn your houses into graveyards. Verily, Satan flees from the house in which Surat al-Baqarah is recited.” (Muslim)

    Keep standard Sunnah foods in hand and well in stock: honey, dates, black seed and black seed oil, olive oil. Make it a habit to ruqya-fy honey & oils (i.e. recite ayaat used for ruqya over your water, honey, olive and black seed oils. It is a means of protection and benefit, regardless of whether you have ayn or sihr issues; it is beneficial even for physical ailments. Pro tip: buy big jars/bottles and recite over them.)

    And that, folks, is a 101 to Basic Muslim-y Adulting. If you aren’t married yet, this will at least prepare you for some basic survival as you establish your own home; if you are married but don’t know or do these things… well… hopefully it’s not too late for you yet. I cannot emphasize enough that this entire checklist applies equally to men and women; the vast majority of these points can be found as sunan from the life of the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)

    May Allah make us all of those who uphold their responsibilities with Ihsaan, and establish households based on the best of Islamic values and ethics, ameen.

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