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Making Families Work – Tips for Muslim Parenting | Yasir Qadhi

Lecture by Shaykh Yasir Qadhi | Transcribed by Zara T.

[The following is the video and transcript of Shaykh Yasir Qadhi’s khutbah “Making Families Work.”  The transcript includes slight modifications for the sake of readability and clarity.]

The khutbah can be viewed here.

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My dear brothers and sisters in Islam, in  today’s khutbah inshaAllah ta’ala we will talk about the importance of parents and some of the Islamic principles and tips that we as parents need to know when we deal with our children.

We all know, my dear brothers and sisters in Islam, that children are of the greatest blessings of life. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells us in the Quran “Al maalu wal banuuna zeenatul hayatid dunya”. Money and children, that’s what makes life beautiful for us. What makes life worth living even for those who don’t believe in a God – for us, of course we have the akhirah but even for those who don’t have any iman, what makes life sweet? Al maalu wal banuun. And Allah mentions this as a blessing for us, as a blessing that He has given us. Allah says in the Quran, Allah is the One who has given you, He has aided you, He has helped you , He has blessed you with money and with children and that is why having children, this is a natural desire in every human being. It’s ingrained  in us. Allah says in the Quran “It is pleasing to men, it is alluring to men that they desire women and they desire children.” Every single person, and of course the ayah is directed to men that they want women, and of course women as well want husbands, women as well they have the same desire, they want a loving spouse, they want a healthy relationship and they want children as well.

And in the Quran we have so many stories of those who did not have children and they want to have children, so much so that they will even adopt in order to have a child. The famous story of Imra’atul Aziz in the Quran, Yusuf, the story of Yusuf and the family that adopts him, they did not have a child. What does the wife say? And in fact the exact same phrase that this woman says, another woman also says in the Quran; and that is the wife of Firawn. Firawn and Aziz, two different people in two different time places, they both did not have children. When Asiya the wife of Firawn sees this child and when the wife of Aziz, when Aziz brings home Yusuf, they both say the exact same thing: “This child, hopefully he will benefit us and we will adopt him as a son, we will take him as a son.”

You see, parents, they want children that when they grow older, these children will benefit them. That when they grow older, somebody will take care of them. Parents, they have it inside of them to see their children flourish, to see their children grow. It is an amazing psychological reality that no human being on the face of this earth wants to see another human better than him except for the father when it comes to his son or the mother when it comes to her daughter. You don’t want to see your cousin richer than you, or your uncle smarter than you, even if you accept it grudgingly. But you’re not happy to see another person richer than you. You’re not supportive to see another person with a better job than you. You will accept it as a reality of life, okay there are people that are above, there are people that are below. But the only time that you will feel happy that someone is better than you is your own son or daughter.

You will genuinely feel proud. That’s my boy, that’s my daughter, he’s done this he’s done that. no jealousy at all, 100% support. And this is an amazing psychological reality that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) created in every one of us. And that is why, as I said, it’s a natural desire to have children.

 

Ibrahim [as], he doesn’t have a son or child, he makes duaa to Allah. So Allah sends him an angel to tell him yes you’re going to have a child, you and Sarah will have a child and after this child you’ll even have a grandchild. And Zakariya [as], he’s making duaa to Allah, that beautiful, that poetic duaa. He makes duaa to Allah in a language that is so beautiful that we cannot even translate it into English, but he makes duaa that he wants a child, that I want a child that shall inherit from me, that shall carry my progeny on, and therefore it is indeed a sign of mercy from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) that He has allowed us to have children and that we take care of these children. And taking care of children as well is a human emotion. It transcends religion and culture. Muslim and kafir, we all love our children.

The famous story of the bedouin who came to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and he saw the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) kissing Hasan and Hussain, playing with them, throwing them up in the air -and this is his grandson. can you imagine what he would have done with his own children. We don’t have any stories of how he raised Fatimah and Umme Kulthoom when they were babies because this was pre-Islam. But we have stories of Hasan and Hussain, that he would kiss them and he would play with them and he would allow them to come on his back when he was in sajdah, the most humbling and the most religious position. But when Hasan is on his back, crawling, he allows Hasan to play even if this is kind of interfering with salah, but that love that he has for his grandson, it allows him to remain in sajdah longer so that Hasan is not harmed when he stands up. So he’s playing with his grandchildren, and he kisses them, and this Bedouin, he’s amazed, he’s astonished, and he says, “Do you kiss your children?” because in their culture, it was considered unmanly to show this love. It was considered a sign of weakness to show love to your children. Do you kiss your child like this? “By Allah, I have ten children and I’ve never once kissed one of them.” He’s trying to boast that he is so manly, he’s so macho that he’s never kissed any of his children. And the prophet [saws], even though he was the gentle rahmatal lil alameen and he had the height of adab, when he saw such callousness he could not help but give a callous response back. Because sometimes you have to be harsh and sometimes you have to be strict. This man is boasting that he is not merciful to his children. And he’s swearing by Allah, wallahi, and he’s using Allah’s name to feel a sense of pride that I’m so detached from my kids.

And what did the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) say? Do I have any control over your attitude, that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has snatched away rahmah from your heart? Is it my fault that you have no rahmah, that you’re boasting that you don’t kiss your own children? And this is a harsh response, this is a verbal slap on the face to this man, but sometimes harshness requires harshness. And this boast, it required a firm response back to it. That, are you boasting that you’ve never kissed your children, and then you expect me to sympathize or have mercy? Its not my fault, he said, that Allah has stripped your heart of any mercy. And this clearly shows us, brothers and sisters, that in our religion, to have a loving attitude towards your children, this is a sign that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has blessed you. It’s a sign that you have rahmah in your heart.

 

As we said last week, that it is not the sign of a man to mistreat his woman. Now we say in this khutbah, it is not the sign of a man or a woman, it is not the sign of a loving parent to mistreat their own children, to always be harsh, to always be strict on their children.

And indeed as Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has blessed us with children, with every blessing comes responsibilities. With every blessing comes responsibilities. There is no blessing that comes with no strings attached. Children are one of the biggest blessings of life. In fact they are really what makes life worth living for everyone amongst us who does not even, as we said, even people without any religion, children will make their life worth living. How about us who have iman? Of course children make our life much better living. So, with that blessing comes responsibility, and the primary responsibility that muslim parents have is to raise their children to be righteous muslims, to be good muslims.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says in the Quran “Oh you who believe, it is your responsibility to protect yourselves and your families from the punishment of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)”. And our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said “Every one of you is a shepherd and you are responsible for your flock.” And number one, he said, the father is responsible for his flock and the mother is also responsible for her flock. The father and the mother, he mentioned the both of them in this hadith. They are both responsible for their flock and their flock is but one because their children are the same. Both mother and father are responsible for the same flock. They’re responsible for the same set of sheep if you like. And both of them will be asked by Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) about how they dealt with their flock, with their responsibility.

 

And therefore in today’s short khutbah, I wanted to remind myself and some of you of some practical advice about tarbiyah, about raising children.  And today’s khutbah is primarily directed at the parents. Today’s khutbah, the emphasis is on the parents, so those who are parents, pay heed. Those who are not yet parents, pay extra heed; because every one of us, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) blesses and tests and tries through the issue of children.

 

The first advice to myself and all of you, and really the most important advice, the best way to raise one’s children is to be a role model yourself in their lives. If you yourself are not of good character, there is no way your children will have a good character after you. And this is the ultimate reality. Brothers and sisters wallahi the media is to blame a lot, television is to blame a lot, internet is to blame a lot, society is to blame a lot. But the number one blame for a disrupted family, the number one blame for a broken family is the parents themselves. This is the number one blame. And before any of us, and I speak to myself before I speak to any of you, before any of us is ready to point our finger anywhere else, be prepared to take a solid look in the mirror. Because the number one guilty person in any broken family, in any broken relationship is the person you’re looking at in the mirror. If you have not been a role model to your son or daughter, if you have not lived up to the ideals that you should live up to,  then how can you blame your own child for failing to live up to those responsibilities?

And there are two elements here by the way. When it comes to being a role model, there are two elements here. There’s a worldly element and there’s a religious element. There’s a deeni and there’s a dunyawi. There’s a psychological and there’s also a spiritual. When it comes to psychological, when it comes to the worldly element, there’s a simple common sense here; that as you do, it shall be done unto you. It’s not a coincidence, brothers and sisters, there are thousands of surveys done, it’s not a coincidence that children who grow up with parents who are smoking are much more predisposed to smoking. Children who grow up in abusive households, abusive relationships, when the husband is beating the wife, that these children will also beat their spouses when they grow up. It’s not something that takes rocket science. As you do in your family, your children will do when they grow up. This is the reality. This is the fact of science, of psychology, and it doesn’t take rocket science.

And the fact of the matter, husbands, if you’re mistreating your wife, if you’re abusing your wife, are you going to blame your son when he grows up and he also then starts abusing his wife? If all you do is scream and shout at your wife, ask yourself, do you want your daughter to have a husband like you? Ask yourself this. Do you want your daughter to be treated the way you treat your own wife, the mother of your daughter? So, relationships begin in the house. Relationships begin with oneself. As you do unto others, your child will learn to do unto others. And this is wallahi the fact that scientists, psychologists, everyone can tell you and it doesn’t take a genius to figure this out. So the first way to have good children is to be a good man or a good woman yourself. The first way to have children who are polite, children who are respectful, is to be polite and respectful in your own life to others.

 

And I have seen with my own eyes, brothers and sisters, I am now of middle age and I have grown up here. I’m of that generation that is of the first generation to immigrant parents here in America. And I have seen plenty of horror stories and plenty of good stories of the children of my generation that are now young adults, that are  now reaching their maturities and primes. I have seen with my own eyes, brothers and sisters, that every time a husband and wife, a couple, had good Islamic values in their life, the child eventually returns to Islam. Eventually. Yes I have seen some times children go away, especially in the teenage years, especially in the young twenties. But if the husband and wife raised them with an atmosphere of love, with an atmosphere of Islam, then when the child comes of age, when the child becomes twenty five or thirty, becomes a married adult, automatically they revert back to the only memory they have of living like a family, and that’s the memory of their parents. And I have seen with my own eyes so many of my friends go through rebellious teenage years, go through a lot of evil, dating, womanizing, drugs, alcohol, then they grow into young men and women, they get married, they start their careers, and all of a sudden, they turn over a new leaf.

And why is this the case? Because when they are blessed with children, when these children have children of their own as young men and women, and they realize, you know what, I can’t afford to let my son or daughter go. They have to change their own lives around. And how do they change it around? As I said, to the one memory that they have, the one role model that they grew up with, and that is their parents. And I have yet to see one example of a young man or woman who has grown up in a religious environment who permanently leaves that religious environment. I have yet to see one example in my own extended relatives and family and extended acquaintances that I knew growing up, this is the reality that I have experienced and of course there might be one or two exceptions, but the general rule of thumb: as the family is, so too when this child grows up, he will replicate that family in his own family.

And so, you want to have good children, start with yourself. Start with your own relationship with your spouse. This is the human level. There’s a spiritual level as well. And the spiritual level, I’ve spoken about it here on this mimbar many times. And the best example is the story of Khidr and the young boy that he killed. Why did Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) spare those two parents from this boy? Why did Allah give them another boy that was better for them? Allah says in the Quran, the parents were righteous, the mother and father were good people, they were believers in Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), so Allah did not want to test them with a rebellious, with an evil child. Allah wanted to give them a good child, a respectful child. And so Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) blessed them with another child that would be good to them, that would be righteous. Because they were righteous, Allah gave them righteous children. So you want to have good children, you have to start with yourself. You have to start at home. You have to start with your relationship with your spouse. This is number one and this is something that religion tells us, science tells us, psychology tells us, every single doctor, every single person who knows anything about sociology, humanities, will tell us. This is the way of the world. As you do unto others, it shall be done unto you.

 

The second advice to myself and all of you: As salah, as salah, as salah. This cannot be overemphasized. We need to make sure that our children grow up praying on time.

Why? Not just because salah is important in our religion. Of course that is a big issue which we can get into, but we don’t have time for this. Not just because our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said,  make sure that your children are praying at the age of seven and then force them to do so at the age of ten.  Not just because we’re required to do so, not just because Allah says in the Quran, “command your family to pray and be persistent in that command”.  Not just because all of this, no. There’s also a selfish reason that every one of us should want our children to pray. When our children pray regularly, we are teaching them that there is an authority higher even than their parents. There is an authority that must be obeyed even more important than the authority of the parents.  And you see brothers and sisters, the one real authority to keep children in check when it comes to their parents is not the parents themselves, this is circular logic . The parent cannot force the child to respect the parent simply because it’s a parent. This is a circular logic. You have to go to a higher authority, and that higher authority is only Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

So when your child knows there is Allah, and Allah is watching me, and I believe in Allah; when your child is praying regularly, when you child has that relationship with Allah, and then he learns Allah has told me to be good to my parents, our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) has said my mother, then my mother, then my mother, then my father. Our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) has said that jannah is underneath the feet of the mother. Now he learns the Quran and Sunnah. It has an impact on him. Why? Because you have taught him to believe in Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). You’ve made him a good Muslim, you’ve given him those values. He knows who is his lord, he’s praying on time, and now when his lord tells him “be good to your parents,” he will listen to his lord because this is not circular logic.

The mother cannot say “be good, I am your mother.” This is circular, right, this is going back to her. The father cannot say “you have to respect me, I am your father.” These are going to fall on flat ear-sand by the time the kid is a teenager, khalas he wont care anymore. But when the child believes in Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), when the child is regularly  praying five times a day, and he knows who is his lord, now you tell him, now he learns, now he hears in the khutbah, now he understands it is not my mother and father telling me to respect them. It is the Creator of my mother and father. It is my Creator, it is my Prophet, it is my book that is telling me this. Now all of a sudden the whole paradigm shifts, the whole reality shifts. And therefore, brothers and sisters, salah is of the utmost important element to make sure that your children are respectful, are good. And of course there’s a whole other set of issues with salah in terms of routine, in terms of punctuality, in terms of responsibility, in terms of habits. All of this we can talk about in a different khutbah. But the person who prays regularly, all types of blessings open up, including the blessings of having good children, and this again goes back to my first point. If you’re not praying five times a day, how do you expect your child to be praying five times a day?  If you’re not living the life of the Muslim, how do you expect your child to do this?

And realize in the advice of Luqman [as], that famous advice of Luqman, which is the most comprehensive passage in the Quran about parent and child relationships and parent and child advice and perhaps in one khutbah, that’s another khutbah to be done, the advice of Luqman; what does Luqman say to his son? Of the first things that he tells his son, my dear son, make sure you pray regularly. Establish the prayer on time. This is in the top three pieces of advice he gives: Believe in Allah, worship Allah, then right then and there, right on the top of page, “ya bunaya aqimis salah”. Oh my son, make sure you’re doing your salah. and therefore brothers and sisters, the second piece of advice to myself and all of you: the salah, the salah, the salah. if you’re not praying, make sure you start praying and then have your family pray as well.

 

The third piece of advice: Make duaa for your children. Regularly, sincerely, make duaa for you children. Let me ask you, and ask yourselves this: When was the last time you raised your hands up to Allah and asked Allah to make sure your children are good, asked Allah to guide your children, asked Allah to protect your children from the evils of society? Wallahi brothers and sisters, ask yourself this. If you’re not asking Allah for it, why do you think you’re going to get it? How do you think you’re going to get it? if you’re not asking Allah for good children, if you’re not asking Allah to protect your children, frankly, where is your love for your children? Wallahi one of the most important duaas you should always be making, the Quran tells you to make this duaa, its in the Quran, pick it up. “Rabbana hablana min azwajina wa dhurriyaatina qurrata ‘ayun wajalana lil mutaqeena imama”. Allah tells you in the Quran..make this duaa that “Oh Allah bless us with good wives and good children , those that give us coolness of the eye” (i.e they make our lives easy, they don’t make our lives difficult). Min azwajina wa dhurriyaatina qurrata ‘ayunin. This should be our regular duaa.

And our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said that the duaa of the father for his son, meaning the parent for the child, the duaa that the parent has for the child, Allah never rejects that duaa. Allah always accepts it. SubhanAllah one of the most acceptable duaas, one of the most highest chances of a duaa being accepted, the duaa of the parent for the child. When was the last time you made duaa? How often do you make duaa for your children? From now on, almost every duaa that you raise your hands up to Allah,  include something about your children. Make sure you ask Allah, oh Allah protect my children from this environment, protect my children from the evils. Oh Allah, make them good Muslims. Oh Allah, guide them and guide others through them. Make that duaa from the heart and you know what, once again there’s religious and psychological effects. Religiously, Allah will bless them. Psychologically, when you’re always asking Allah, then when you see an opportunity to protect your children from evil, you will do it. When you see an opportunity to help your children religiously, you will do it. Because its on your mind all the time. If you don’t even ask Allah, then how will it come? If you don’t even ask Allah, you yourself will forget about it and you’re not going to take advantage of every opportunity.

 

The fourth piece of advice, and I speak as somebody who straddles both cultures of the east and the west, as somebody who has lived for long periods of time in the east, and was born and raised in the west. As somebody who was born as the first generation, basically the first born generation here of my parents who came and I speak very frankly, that oh parents amongst us who have come from different cultures to America, realize that we now live at a different time and a different place and a different society and a different culture. Frankly, you cannot raise your children with the same rules and relationships that your parents had back home with you. It’s not going to work any more. It’s a different reality. It’s not just times that have changed. You have literally uprooted yourself from one culture and planted yourself in a completely different culture. The techniques and tactics that your parents used with you, you cannot replicate them for this generation in this land. And therefore, you are the ones that need to learn, not the other way around. It’s not your children’s fault that they were born and raised here. Frankly, it’s yours. You came here, not them. You’re the ones who decided to come to this land. They were born in this land, they’re looking at the society, they’re absorbing the culture, then you’re going to get angry at them, “how can you do this, how can you do that?” think about it brothers and sisters, who brought them here? Who’s raising them here? You are. So cut them some slack and realize you are going to have to learn more than they will. This is their culture, it’s not your culture. And in order for you to have an effective parent,  you will need to broaden your horizons. You will need to develop a new type of relationship with your children and that is a topic that is far beyond the khutbah  This is a life long experience, but I just want to point out certain elements here.

No doubt, and wallahi there’s no question the media, and television and the internet, but you know this khutbah is not about blaming them and blaming those things. That’s a reality. It’s a reality I cannot change, you cannot change. What can we change? Well, what we do at home. How we filter those things out. I can’t change the internet or Nickelodeon or whatever, the music videos  they’re watching. This is the reality of the world we are living in. So instead of just blaming everything on that -and it might be true, there’s a lot of blame there- instead of  blaming everyone else, ask yourself proactively, what can I do to better the situation? Yes the music videos are there, yes the evil stuff on the internet is there, yes drugs are everywhere, but instead of just cursing and slandering and blaming, ask yourself: what can I do to protect my son and daughter?

This is the proactive mentality. Instead of  just every pointing finger, see what is reality. See what is the best way to raise your child, and I have some basic points of advice here. First and foremost,within this area  of changing cultural paradigms, do realize, brothers and sisters  that our children, they do have a sense of  know it all, a sense of I know better than my parents . Understand this. And they get this sense because of many facts of life. I mean, lets be realistic here. Our children know better than we do about technology. Our children know better than we do about the latest gadgets, about the latest this and that. And I will tell you, I grew up here. I thought that I knew this society and culture. Now that Allah has blessed me with children of my own, believe me I don’t know the difference between this and that  and sometimes my kid comes and tells me oh you need to get the iphone 5 because this has this and this has that and I don’t know these things anymore, because now I’m getting out of touch. Even though when I was growing up, and I grew up in a western environment, I felt this way about my own father, that I’m more technologically advanced, that I’m in tune with everything. But this is a reality that when we reach a certain age, our children are more in tune with technology.

Now let me ask you, put yourself in the shoes of that 10 year old, that 12 year old. When he knows his father does not know how to operate a computer as well as he does, when he knows every single gadget on the market, he is more aware than his father, isn’t it natural for this 10 year old to think I know about life and reality and culture and society and people better than my father does? Put yourself in his shoes. Do you blame him? And then it is true: the media also, television also, it gives the sense that the parents are backward and the child is know it all and the child is right. Yes it is true we can blame the media, but lets also sympathize a little bit.  Is it really this child’s fault now, to think this way? It’s our job to educate the child: you know what? You don’t know everything. You might know the iPod or the iTouch or the I this better than I do, but you don’t know human society. You don’t know interactions. You haven’t tested humanity the way that I have. You haven’t lived amongst people the way that we have. And that’s your job in a gentle manner to teach the child.

 

And one of the best ways to do this brothers and sisters, and this is very difficult for those amongst us who have been raised in a different society and culture. We need to learn, there’s a common expression in America here that parents have to be friends with their kids. You know perhaps that’s not going to happen, let’s also be realistic, but let me tell you one thing frankly. Perhaps you’re not going to be friends with your kids, but you will have to learn to have conversations with them that are beyond just rebuking or ordering or commanding. You’re going to have to learn  to talk to them and not at them. Look now, examine your own life. When you talk to to your children, what is it about? Is it always “do this” “don’t do that” “how could you have done this”? if this is your whole relationship with your son or daughter, frankly you’re setting yourself up for failure .When is the last time you actually had a conversation that was not rebuking, not commanding,  not derisive, not sarcastic? Yes they deserve a little bit of harshness every once in a while but if that’s the only thing you can show them, what do you think their attitude will be towards you? Especially when they grow older, especially when they hit the teenage years, especially when they get their car and they get their first taste of freedom. I agree perhaps in our culture you can’t be a friend to the child, okay. But you must be friendly with them. You must have some positive relationship that is above and beyond just rebuking and always getting angry at them. Have a conversation “what’s happening?” “what’s going on?” “what did you learn in school?”

Take them out, spend some quality time with them. And this is one of the biggest differences maybe between the previous generation and our generation. That perhaps for many of us, our fathers didn’t really go out and play soccer and play basketball with us, with our friends. Perhaps. And you know I’m not criticizing them, maybe that works back there, I don’t know. But over here, in this land, over here where we are, you have to have some type of friendly relationship with your own son or daughter. Let me put it this way, let me be really frank here. If your son or daughter does  not feel comfortable coming to you for a problem that they’re facing because of a mistake they might have done, then wallahi this is a very big problem. If your son or daughter has committed a mistake, and lets be honest, they’re all going to commit mistakes because that’s a part of growing up. Did you also not commit some mistakes when you were teenagers? Let’s be honest here. If your son or daughter commits a mistake and then they don’t want to come to you for help to clear that mistake up, well then honestly how are you being a good parent there? You need to have the doors of communication open. If your son or daughter is going through a standard problem of the teenage years, when they reach 13, 14, hormones are going to kick in, they’re going to want to be interested in someone of the opposite gender, they’re surrounded by drugs, pornography is everywhere. If you’re not going to open up the channels of communication, if your son or daughter feels awkward coming to you, well then they’re going to go to another teenager, they’re going to go to the internet, they’re going to go somewhere else for help.

No doubt maybe our parents could never have spoken to us about these issues. But I am telling you as somebody who straddles both generations, we need to be frank with our children. We need to tell them about things and honestly they probably know about these things before you mention them. But the very fact that you open up the topic, the very fact you take your 13 year old son and you tell him about the problems of internet pornography -and believe me every 13 year old knows about pornography, believe me every single teenager knows about this- if you’re not going to open up  the door, if you’re going to be so taboo oh I cant do this, well then how do you expect him to come for help to you if something happens that he needs some help about. There has to be open channel of communication. Mothers, talk to your daughters about the realities of this world. Talk to your daughters about basic biological facts. Let them know that you’ll listen if they need any help, I’m here for you. Just give a generic statement like this. “If you need anything, come to me first, I will help you out”. Just generic statements like this so that they know that their parents are there to help them in case they need that help.

 

Few more points, point number six in our list here, the Quran tells us -to basically summarize- the Quran is saying test your children with responsibilities. Test the orphans in this case they’re being raised in the family, give them responsibility and see how intelligent they are. So a part and parcel of  raising children is to stop treating them like kids when they’re no longer kids. As our children grow up to become young men and women, and when do they become young men and women? According to Islamic shariah, when they hit puberty. And what that means at the age of 13, 14, 15 max, but usually 13, 14, Islamically speaking, these young children are now fully grown adults, according to the shariah; which means they are legally responsible for their sins, for their personal lives, for their salah, for their relationships, when they hit puberty they are young men and women according to the shariah.

And I have said this many times before, one of the biggest complaints that I have about modern culture is this period of adolescence, of teenage years where children are treated like children even though intellectually, biologically, they’re adults. Personally I don’t believe in this. You start treating a 13 year old like a young man or woman because they are, at this stage, a young man or woman. You give them responsibilities, now obviously not all at once, you test them bit by bit. As the Quran says, the verse is about an orphan, when do you return the money, but again it applies to our own children. Give them responsibility. And our scholars of fiqh explain this and they say so you give some money to the child and you say, when he’s in the marketplace, “go buy this” and then see does he buy the right item or not. And then you increase that responsibility. This is a part of our culture. You cannot pamper your kids until they’re 18 years old, it’s not going to work that way. Our children are going to face the real world, so we have to prepare them with responsibilities at home. And yes, you can quote me on this to your children: chores as well. It’s a very important part of growing up. They’re not always going to have their mother to clean after them. You have to have children learn to become self sufficient. This is a reality for their own good. You need to wash your dishes, you need to take care of your room, clean your room, do your clothes. This is a part of the responsibility to grow up. If you’re going to treat them like kids, well then don’t complain when they’re 18 and they’re still acting like kids. You need to start treating them like young men and women.

 

And the final point -time is of the essence here, there was much more but time is of the essence- the final point that I have for today’s khutbah: A good environment, Islamic environment, the masjid, Islamic classes, Sunday schools, and I put this the last because many of you put it number one and they don’t realize this is in fact the very last issue. Number one is yourself. Number one is your own house. Number one is the family environment. If that is in order, everything else is secondary. But many families, they literally think of Sunday school or the masjid one hour a week to be the magic cure. They drop their kids off, then they pick them up in an hour, and then they complain and they say “Sheikh, my kid is rude to me.” And that’s the only exposure they have to Islam is that one hour of Sunday school. No, this is the very last thing but it is also important.

Come regularly to the masjid. Let them see what is Islam. Let them see the Muslims. Let them interact with other Muslim children. And that’s why here we are very eager about not just building a masjid, we want to build a family center. We want to build a place where our youth, they are pushing us to come and go; they’re interested to come to chill out, to play basketball, to just socialize because we want them to be in this environment. Islam is not just about the salah, it’s about living your life and that’s what we want over here as well. So yes it is important, but I put this right at the end of the list because the most important is at the home. The most important is you and your wife, then everything else is secondary but outside of the house what can you do?  No doubt outside of the house the most important thing is to have a good environment for your children, to make sure that their friends are also Muslim children, that you go to the masjid as frequently as possible.

And realize brothers and sisters, a khutbah or two is not going to solve the problem. It is a change in my lifestyle and your lifestyle and the final point of the first khutbah: realize that SubhanAllah there is no magic cure, there is no solution to all of this. Even if you follow all of these guidelines, it is indeed possible that Allah tests people with calamities and difficulties. Look at the prophet Nuh [as] and his son and what happened with his son. And Nuh [as] is a prophet. And Nuh did all of these things and much more than these things but Allah chose to test him in a certain manner. So, do realize that there is no magic cure. It’s a learning process, it’s an ongoing process and we do what we can with duaa to Allah, with help from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He),with our own akhlaq and manners, and we put our trust in Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

 

Brothers and sisters, the rewards of raising a good family, a righteous family, are too many to mention. And the losses for not doing so are also too great. I conclude this khutbah by simply reminding us of one ayah that talks about the blessings and one ayah that talks about the opposite of that. As for the blessings, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says, “those people who believed and their children after them, they followed them in that belief, we shall join those children with their parents up in jannah”. And Ibn Kathir comments and other scholars comment and they say what this means is that if the parents lived a good life and they tried to have their children follow in that life, then even if the children didn’t reach that high standard, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will bless them and upgrade them to be with their parents as they were like one family in this dunya they shall be like that family in the akhirah. And what a beautiful blessing that is. What a beautiful blessing that is.  That  Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will bless parents through their children and children through their parents but if one or two of them was insufficient, was weak, then Allah will over look that because of the family. This is what the ayah is saying. That if the general family, they were upon a righteous mentality, they were good people, one or two of them fall short, we’ll raise them up, we’ll bring them back to the whole family. As they were in this life, they shall be in the next life. What a beautiful blessing is that.

And what is the opposite of this? If you don’t live up to this, Allah says in the Quran that, who is the worst loser, Allah says, “the worst loser is the one who’s lost himself and his family on yawmul qiyamah”. Neither did they benefit themselves, nor did they benefit their families because they had this materialistic, nihilistic, completely dunyawi lifestyle, not caring about Allah and His Messenger not having anything of Islam. They might have enjoyed this life  but then in the akhirah they lost themselves, they lost their families, they lost everything. That is the ultimate loss. May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) protect us from ever facing that loss.

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Sh. Dr. Yasir Qadhi is someone that believes that one's life should be judged by more than just academic degrees and scholastic accomplishments. Friends and foe alike acknowledge that one of his main weaknesses is ice-cream, which he seems to enjoy with a rather sinister passion. The highlight of his day is twirling his little girl (a.k.a. "my little princess") round and round in the air and watching her squeal with joy. A few tid-bits from his mundane life: Sh. Yasir has a Bachelors in Hadith and a Masters in Theology from Islamic University of Madinah, and a PhD in Islamic Studies from Yale University. He is an instructor and Dean of Academic Affairs at AlMaghrib, and the Resident Scholar of the Memphis Islamic Center.

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Avatar

    mom of 7

    May 10, 2013 at 6:55 PM

    SubhanAllah, sometimes you do everything “right” and your children still go astray, Children are a fitna.. May Allah help us and them.

    • Avatar

      Umm ZAKAriyya

      January 20, 2014 at 1:56 PM

      Our immediate descendants are not the end of our progeny.( inshAllah)

      What if Allah grants us some of the most righteous of people as our offspring.?who we may never meet in our lifetime but will meet in jannah.

      See how Allah rewarded Nooh (pbuh) for being patient from his rebellious son! Today all the people on earth are only from his progeny! And that includes Ibrahim and all the prophets in his line( pbut) , Muhammad pbuh, all the pious muslims . See how many pious children he has ! That one bad son is nothing when compared to what Allah blessed him with.Allahu Akbar .

      Surely, Allah would never let the efforts of anyone go waste. Which is why we should have hope and never give up.

      • Avatar

        Umm ZAKAriyya

        January 20, 2014 at 1:57 PM

        Typo. Patient with * his son

  2. Avatar

    Mohammad Rafique Etesame

    May 13, 2013 at 7:55 AM

    My Dear brother Yasir Qadhi Assalamoalikum! you are right in saying that the parents want children that when they grow older , their children must benefit them and when they grow older, their children should take care of them. Masha Allah, it is very informative islamic article.

  3. Avatar

    samia

    May 13, 2013 at 2:12 PM

    children are through parents but they are not the property of parents. we cant program them but we can only help them grow with their unique character.

    • Avatar

      UmmNusayba

      October 31, 2013 at 7:05 PM

      Asalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullah Samia. Speaking of unique characters, I have daughters that have very annoying to say, characters. Does that mean I should not enforce more positive characters in them?

  4. Avatar

    smary, sting

    May 24, 2013 at 6:27 PM

    jazakAllahukhairn nice and useful

  5. Avatar

    Ismail

    May 27, 2013 at 4:02 AM

    hope i retain the message for future

  6. Avatar

    aliyasir

    June 15, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    its true and and as a parent we should practice the best way to be a better parent

  7. Pingback: Top 10 Parenting Tips - 1st Ethical Charitable Trust | 1st Ethical Charitable Trust

  8. Pingback: Parenting, Psychology and Islam: Notes from Haleh Banani’s Seminar | Eat, Write, Be!

  9. Pingback: Abang, kenapa Balik Lambat? | airmien

  10. Pingback: Comment on Making Families Work – Tips for Muslim Parenting | Yasir Qadhi by Abang, kenapa Balik Lambat? | airmien | Souqhub | Blog

  11. Avatar

    Muhammad Yusuf

    June 26, 2016 at 10:24 AM

    Baraka llahu fih,this article is more than enough for an intellectual muslim.

  12. Pingback: Making Families Work | catatan bunqil

  13. Avatar

    Mohamed

    November 4, 2017 at 8:21 AM

    Fantastic speech.May Allah reward all those involved abundantly.May I please request more transcripts to be uploaded.Many thanks

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#Islam

Principles of Success from Surah Al-Mu’minoon

Success; something which everyone desires. There has not been a person who has walked the face of this Earth, or who will come to this dunya except that they spent their life striving for success. What is success, however? We all have our very own perception of success. If you ask people “what is success to you?”, you will receive varied responses. For some, success is doing well in education, whilst for others, it is about excelling in one’s career. For some, success is driving a nice car, having a beautiful spouse, lovely children, a spacious dwelling etc. People have various perceptions of success. As Muslims, we must know and acknowledge that our religion has provided clarification for everything that we need to know. There is no issue that we will come across within our life, from the time we came out of the wombs of our mothers till we reach that grave, except that the shari’ah has provided some sort of guidelines for it. So, do you think that the religion of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will leave out this imperative issue that is at the forefront of every mind?

Without a doubt, the greatest form of success is earning the pleasure of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)  as Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says in Surah Ali ‘Imran:

فَمَن زُحْزِحَ عَنِ النَّارِ وَأُدْخِلَ الْجَنَّةَ فَقَدْ فَازَ ۗ

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“…so the one who is saved from the Fire and admitted to Paradise has truly succeeded…” [185]

Having relief from the anger of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and achieving His mercy will be the only form of success in the akhirah. But that having been said, our religion is one which is comprehensive, and for that reason, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) knows that we will still crave success and have various perceptions of it within this dunya. There is nothing wrong with aiming for a top position that will accelerate your career, or working hard to earn a six-figure income; rather we are encouraged to excel and seek success within this dunya, but on the condition that we do not sacrifice the akhirah. From the mercy of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is that he Has never left us abandoned. He has revealed the shari’ah in order for us to know how to achieve success in the akhirah, but is that it? If that is the perception you have of the Qur’an and Sunnah; that it is only a source of guidance for our religious affairs, then know that Islam is more than that. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has not only given us the guidelines for achieving success in the akhirah, but he has also provided us with principles of success pertaining to the dunya. The Book of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is filled with gems and treasurers; it only requires us to analyse His verses carefully in order to extract those principles. The Qur’an will not give you details of a specific issue, but rather the Qur’an will give guidelines and principles, thus making it miraculously pertinent to every single time and era. The Sunnah of our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) will then go into detail and provide commentary on those guidelines and principles.

Within this article, I aim to highlight a number of principles contained within Surah Al-Mu’minun (Chapter 23 of the Qur’an) that can aid a person in their striving for success. These golden principles are generic (as mentioned before regarding the principles and guidelines contained within the Qur’an); what I deem success to be will probably be different to what you portray success as, and so from the beauty of these principles is that they can be applied to whatever worldly pursuit you have.

Principle 1: The desire for success

For a person to achieve success, they need to passionately desire it. If you force your child to study something they do not like, they may not do well in it because there is no motivation there. However, when a person puts their mind to something and has that passion, the desire for success kicks in. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) gives us a beautiful portrayal by describing paradise; but not just any level of paradise, but Al-Firdous: the highest level of paradise that will be inherited by a selected few. This mention of Al-Firdous is given here for us to have that desire to achieve the greatest form success within whatever mission we are open to,  making sure it is a halal path. Yes, even though everyone will not enter Al-Firdous, we should still aim for it, as having it as a goal builds our level of optimism, and our aspirations become robust. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“Paradise has one hundred grades, each of which is as big as the distance between heaven and earth. The highest of them is Al-Firdous and the best of them is Al-Firdous. The Throne is above Al-Firdous, and from it springs forth the rivers of paradise. If you ask of Allah, ask Him for Al-Firdous” [Sunan Ibn Majah No. 4331]

Principle 2: Realize how much time you have

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mentions the creation and the demise of the human being within a few verses to show how short this worldly life is:

وَلَقَدْ خَلَقْنَا الْإِنسَانَ مِن سُلَالَةٍ مِّن طِينٍ

And certainly did We create man from an extract of clay.”

ثُمَّ جَعَلْنَاهُ نُطْفَةً فِي قَرَارٍ مَّكِينٍ

“Then We placed him as a sperm-drop in a firm lodging.”

ثُمَّ خَلَقْنَا النُّطْفَةَ عَلَقَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْعَلَقَةَ مُضْغَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْمُضْغَةَ عِظَامًا فَكَسَوْنَا الْعِظَامَ لَحْمًا ثُمَّ أَنشَأْنَاهُ خَلْقًا آخَرَ ۚ فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّـهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ

“Then We made the sperm-drop into a clinging clot, and We made the clot into a lump [of flesh], and We made [from] the lump, bones, and We covered the bones with flesh; then We developed him into another creation. So blessed is Allah, the best of creators.”

ثُمَّ إِنَّكُم بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ لَمَيِّتُونَ

“Then indeed, after that you are to die.”

ثُمَّ إِنَّكُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ تُبْعَثُونَ

“Then indeed you, on the Day of Resurrection, will be resurrected.”

[Surah Al-Mu’minun; 12-16]

The objective here is to encourage us to be productive, efficient, and not lazy. By procrastinating, your motivation weakens, and as a result, your objective for success begins to die out. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mentions procrastination and laziness only twice in the Qur’an, and both references are pertaining to the hypocrites! The believer is the one who is always weary of their time and strives to make the most of it.

Principle 3: Remember Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) through the magnificence of his creation

In the next passage of this Surah, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) makes mention of some of His greatest creations and signs. When treading the path of success, ensure that you remember Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and take those practical means that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has created and provided for you in your conquest for success. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

هُوَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ لَكُم مَّا فِي الْأَرْضِ جَمِيعًا

“It is He who created for you all of that which is on the Earth.” [Surah Al-Baqarah; 29]

Principle 4: People will try to put you down

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) within the next passage narrates for us the stories of four of the previous Prophets who came before our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him); Nuh, Hud, Musa and Isa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). Even though their stories are mentioned in other places within the Qur’an, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) links these four stories by mentioning that when all of these four prophets came to their people and gave them da’wah, they mocked them and said “you are only men”.

Regarding prophet Nuh 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

فَقَالَ الْمَلَأُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِن قَوْمِهِ مَا هَـٰذَا إِلَّا بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُكُمْ يُرِيدُ أَن يَتَفَضَّلَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَلَوْ شَاءَ اللَّـهُ لَأَنزَلَ مَلَائِكَةً مَّا سَمِعْنَا بِهَـٰذَا فِي آبَائِنَا الْأَوَّلِينَ

“But the eminent among those who disbelieved from his people said, ‘This is not but a man like yourselves who wishes to take precedence over you; and if Allah had willed [to send a messenger], He would have sent down angels. We have not heard of this among our forefathers.”

إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا رَجُلٌ بِهِ جِنَّةٌ فَتَرَبَّصُوا بِهِ حَتَّىٰ حِينٍ

He is not but a man possessed with madness, so wait concerning him for a time.’” [24-25]

Then regarding prophet Hud 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says:

وَقَالَ الْمَلَأُ مِن قَوْمِهِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَكَذَّبُوا بِلِقَاءِ الْآخِرَةِ وَأَتْرَفْنَاهُمْ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا مَا هَـٰذَا إِلَّا بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُكُمْ يَأْكُلُ مِمَّا تَأْكُلُونَ مِنْهُ وَيَشْرَبُ مِمَّا تَشْرَبُونَ

“And the eminent among his people who disbelieved and denied the meeting of the Hereafter while We had given them luxury in the worldly life said, This is not but a man like yourselves. He eats of that from which you eat and drinks of what you drink.”

وَلَئِنْ أَطَعْتُم بَشَرًا مِّثْلَكُمْ إِنَّكُمْ إِذًا لَّخَاسِرُونَ

“And if you should obey a man like yourselves, indeed, you would then be losers.” [33-34]

Thereafter, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)says about Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and Harun 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him):

ثُمَّ أَرْسَلْنَا مُوسَىٰ وَأَخَاهُ هَارُونَ بِآيَاتِنَا وَسُلْطَانٍ مُّبِينٍ

“Then We sent Moses and his brother Aaron with Our signs and a clear authority”

إِلَىٰ فِرْعَوْنَ وَمَلَئِهِ فَاسْتَكْبَرُوا وَكَانُوا قَوْمًا عَالِينَ

“To Pharaoh and his establishment, but they were arrogant and were a haughty people.”

فَقَالُوا أَنُؤْمِنُ لِبَشَرَيْنِ مِثْلِنَا وَقَوْمُهُمَا لَنَا عَابِدُونَ

“They said, ‘Should we believe two men like ourselves while their people are for us in servitude?’” [45-47]

There will be people who will work hard to put you down. Know, that even though those who love you will only want the best for you, there will be people who will try to put you down because of the jealousy and hatred they have within themselves. There will be people on your path who will not want you to succeed and thus, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) highlights this here in the Surah. However, through mentioning these stories of these previous prophets, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) also wants us to know that even if everyone is against us, if he wants success to come us, it will surely be delivered!

Principle 5: Seek protection from Shaytan

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) warns us time and time again within the Qur’an, of the tricks and traps of Shaytan. Our human bodies have been designed to detect danger; there is a part of the brain known as the amygdala that is programmed by the grace of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to detect danger. For instance, when you smell gas in your home, or when your young child lets go of your hand whilst walking down a busy street, you will automatically detect danger. But as for the Shaytan, the amygdala cannot detect this danger and so Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) warns us time and time again within His speech, because the traps of Shaytan come in steps and are subtle. You may have your noble goal of success, however, Shaytan will come and try to distract you, cause you to procrastinate, or lead you astray. But from the mercy of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is that not only has He warned us from Shaytan and his allies, He has also mentioned a supplication from within Surah Al-Mu’minun that we can use for ourselves and children to supplicate to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for protection:

وَقُل رَّبِّ أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنْ هَمَزَاتِ الشَّيَاطِينِ

“And say, ‘My Lord, I seek refuge in You from the incitements of the devils,”

وَأَعُوذُ بِكَ رَبِّ أَن يَحْضُرُونِ

“And I seek refuge in You, my Lord, lest they be present with me.’” [97-98]

If Allah, Al-Muhaymin (The Protector) wishes to protect you with his divine protection, who is there that can harm you?

Principle 6: Stay on the Path of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)

The final principle highlighted in Surah Al-Mu’minun is knowing the path of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). That is why in this last passage of this beautiful Surah, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) distinguishes the believers from the disbelievers and ultimately what their final fate will be:

فَمَن ثَقُلَتْ مَوَازِينُهُ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ

“And those whose scales are heavy [with good deeds] – it is they who are the successful.”

وَمَنْ خَفَّتْ مَوَازِينُهُ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ خَسِرُوا أَنفُسَهُمْ فِي جَهَنَّمَ خَالِدُونَ

“But those whose scales are light – those are the ones who have lost their souls, [being] in Hell, abiding eternally.”

تَلْفَحُ وُجُوهَهُمُ النَّارُ وَهُمْ فِيهَا كَالِحُونَ

“The Fire will sear their faces, and they therein will have taut smiles.”

أَلَمْ تَكُنْ آيَاتِي تُتْلَىٰ عَلَيْكُمْ فَكُنتُم بِهَا تُكَذِّبُونَ

“[It will be said], ‘Were not My verses recited to you and you used to deny them?’”

قَالُوا رَبَّنَا غَلَبَتْ عَلَيْنَا شِقْوَتُنَا وَكُنَّا قَوْمًا ضَالِّينَ

They will say, ‘Our Lord, our wretchedness overcame us, and we were a people astray.”

رَبَّنَا أَخْرِجْنَا مِنْهَا فَإِنْ عُدْنَا فَإِنَّا ظَالِمُونَ

“Our Lord, remove us from it, and if we were to return [to evil], we would indeed be wrongdoers.’”

قَالَ اخْسَئُوا فِيهَا وَلَا تُكَلِّمُونِ

“He will say, ‘Remain despised therein and do not speak to Me.”

إِنَّهُ كَانَ فَرِيقٌ مِّنْ عِبَادِي يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا آمَنَّا فَاغْفِرْ لَنَا وَارْحَمْنَا وَأَنتَ خَيْرُ الرَّاحِمِينَ

“Indeed, there was a party of My servants who said, ‘Our Lord, we have believed, so forgive us and have mercy upon us, and You are the best of the merciful.’”

فَاتَّخَذْتُمُوهُمْ سِخْرِيًّا حَتَّىٰ أَنسَوْكُمْ ذِكْرِي وَكُنتُم مِّنْهُمْ تَضْحَكُونَ

“But you took them in mockery to the point that they made you forget My remembrance, and you used to laugh at them.”

إِنِّي جَزَيْتُهُمُ الْيَوْمَ بِمَا صَبَرُوا أَنَّهُمْ هُمُ الْفَائِزُونَ

“Indeed, I have rewarded them this Day for their patient endurance – that they are the attainers [of success].” [102-111]

What is the point of succeeding in this temporary worldly life and then being from amongst those whom Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) does not even talk to the on the Day of Judgement? This final principle culminates our whole life and existence: regardless of your worldly pursuit of success, do not forget the greatest goal or objective of this worldly life; to earn the pleasure of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and attain his salvation.

 

I ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) with His mighty names and lofty attributes that He fulfils all of our aspirations, goals and objectives. May He allow us to truly understand the Qur’an and grant us success in the hereafter by giving us salvation from the fire of hell.

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#Life

What Repentance Can Teach You About Success

When losing weight, one piece of advice you’ll hear often is the following – if you fall off your eating plan one day, pick yourself back up and think of the next day as a fresh start.

Annoying, isn’t it?

You’ll hear this advice from people who have “made it” – they’ve lost a lot of weight, their lives have changed, and they’ll tell you to stick through it, and you’ll be like, yeah, I have, I tried, and I keep failing. I keep trying, I can’t sustain the motivation, I have life factors, I have stuff going on that makes this difficult.

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And you’re right.

You don’t have millions of dollars, a dedicated personal trainer and chef, the free time and lack of commitments others do, the lack of sleep, the injuries, or personal life circumstances that advantage others, nor do they have those that disadvantage you.

That’s not the point.

When you make a mistake, if you run through the process of regret, repentance, and retrying to do the right thing, Allah (swt) is pleased with you. And if you keep failing, repenting, and trying again, and again, and again, until you die, Allah keeps forgiving you.

The process of both recognizing your weakness, of getting out of denial, and humbling yourself and not thinking yourself so high and mighty has its own sobering effect. Not only does it help you in dealing with that atom’s weight of arrogance you don’t want to meet Allah (swt) with on the Day of Judgment, it helps make you a better human being, a more compassionate one, a more empathetic one, when calling others away from mistakes.

I’m not perfect, and you’re not perfect. Perfection is only for Allah (swt). But we’re trying. And the process of recognizing your weakness and at least attempting to rectify it means that maybe you’ll sin a little less, maybe you’ll still not invent excuses for mistakes and you’ll teach others, “Hey man, I know this is a sin, I know this is wrong, I hope you can do better than me.” And maybe they do change, and you’re both better for it.

Maybe in trying and failing again and again, what you end up doing is coming a little bit closer to success, and that process of trying and failing is the teacher you needed to get you out of your weakness and to then help others do likewise. Maybe that learning process serves you in succeeding elsewhere down the road in other treacherous turns and trials of life.

Whether it’s in losing weight, fixing broken relationships, pulling away from a heavy nafs addiction (eg pornography), don’t ever put yourself mentally in a position where “you’ve lost” and “you may as well give up” because “there’s no hope for me”. Don’t identify yourself by your failures.

So then, what is the point?

The point isn’t that you hit your goal perfectly. The point is that give your best, even with the little that you have, and that is good enough for you and for all of us. Ask Allah (swt) to help you better yourself, and in these 10 Days of Dhul-Hijjah, increase in your du’a, cry to Him for help, in whatever area of life it is you’re trying to improve.

And whatever you fail at, don’t fall off for weeks on end. Acknowledge your mistake, own it completely and take full responsibility. Try to figure out where you went wrong in your process, get help from others if you need to. Forgive yourself, and don’t resign yourself to an identity based on your mistakes.

Never get tired of failing, getting knocked down, and picking yourself back up and trying to do and be better again.

It’s always a brand new day tomorrow.

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#Islam

How to Optimize Your Free Time

Time passes by. Many of us muddle through time, day in and day out. Only the wise and the prophets talked about the art of utilizing time in order to exist. The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“Take advantage of five matters before five other matters: your youth before you become old; your health, before you fall sick; your wealth, before you become poor; your free time before you become preoccupied, and your life, before your death.”

Time, therefore, is the commodity of all endeavors. We all have 24 hours a day, and we choose how to use them. If you think you have wasted much time on miscellaneous activities last night, weekend, month, or even the years that have passed, then be hopeful that tomorrow inshaAllah you will have a balance of 24 hours. A new slate of opportunity. How will you make use of it?

Let’s take a case study of how an average professional spends his time through a weekday.

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Ahmed is in his mid-20s and works as an engineer. He wakes up for Fajr at 6am, and then gets ready for work to leave home at 8am. The 45 minutes he takes to commute to and from work each day is his favorite time to scroll through his social media and stay up-to-date with the latest news. He spends 8 hours at work. He arrives home in the evening at 6pm, and then eats dinner with his family. He dabbles in and out of conversations with his parents or siblings, and at 7pm he begins watching his favorite show on Netflix -and that’s an hour or two depending on the persuasion of the “Next Episode” button. His social media presence is most alive at 9pm, during the minutes after his show and before his bedtime. He looks at the clock on his wall and thinks about getting to bed soon. At 10pm he takes a dive into YouTube, and sometimes reads an article or two. Ahmed loses his sense of time between shows, likes, and endless scrolls. By the time he regains his consciousness of time, everyone else has fallen asleep.

What Ahmed is unaware of, is that millions of dollars are spent on algorithms for social media and entertainment platforms to keep people engaged. They are all competing for our time, and in exchange, provide us with only instant gratification. Finally, Ahmed falls asleep at 11pm to wake up early again for Fajr the next day.

Shall we do the count? Before we do, let us take no interest in how Ahmed spends his 8 hours at work, including his lunch hour. But the rest are for us to dissect.

Ahmed arrives home at 6pm and goes to bed at 11 pm; 5 hours each day that passes by untamed. In order to bring about any change to his day, Ahmed must then assume that there is another day that starts at 6pm. A day within a day[1]. He says he comes home tired, but we are only urging him to make use of 90 minutes out of the 5 hours. As for the rest, he can do with them as he pleases. Ahmed agrees, but asks what to do about the temptation to be on social media. Here are some tips:

  • Create friction between your finger and the undesired applications on your phone. Don’t place social media applications on your home page; this will give your brain the chance to think twice before utilizing them.
  • Most smart phones allow you to set screen time for each application. Set a daily time limit of one hour for all them.
  • Fast from social media for a duration of 24 hours once a week, and utilize that time to appreciate the small things. Make a conscious effort to spend quality time with family or call an old friend.

Now shall we talk about the 90 minutes?

Now that Ahmed has generously vowed to account for 90 minutes of his day, I want to give back to him the days of his weekend.

هَلْ جَزَاءُ الْإِحْسَانِ إِلَّا الْإِحْسَانُ 

“Is there any reward for good other than good?” [Surah Ar-Rahman; 60]

Therefore, let us deal with the daily 90 minutes between Monday and Friday. 90 minutes a day over 5 days gives you nearly 8 hours. Those 8 hours are your self-realization hours. They are your bread and butter. They are yours. Do with them what your natural inclination calls for; go to the gym, write poetry, write stories, get a start at memorizing the Quran, read, attempt a new language, start a business , volunteer at your local masjid or nonprofit, help organize fundraisers for humanitarian causes, or even start a conviction circle. Let these hours be sacred for you to protect with sword and shield.

I speak humbly from experience. For me, these 8 hours are my reading time. For example, in the past I used 2 months of 90 minutes a day reading on Islamic history, therefore, I read Lost Islamic History, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and Islam Between East and West. I hadn’t planned on reading those particular books, but one led to the other. I could have also finished Lost Islamic History and chosen a  few of the sources from its bibliography. My next topic was Art, and currently it’s Seerah; I started with Yasir Qadhi’s – Seerah series, then I plan to read Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources by Martin Lings (for this subject such order is important). I have also used the 90 minutes attending reading groups, organizing weekly halaqas, and strategizing with my local masjid board on how to increase voter turnout during elections.

You’re probably assuming that I have figured out the formula of time management. I must tell you I don’t. It’s all a matter of process, and I took am still working on it.

So, whenever it is that you decide to start productively using time that can be spared, my personal experience has shown that it’s best not to ask questions or plan a year ahead. Just start as if you’re jumping inside a pool, and as the days pass, you will develop the appreciation of time passing by. You will acquire the muscle to make use of it. Also, start slow. Don’t listen to your blind motivation in the beginning; do little, but be consistent, for Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) loves this too. As The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said:

“The most beloved deed to Allah is the most regular and constant even if it were little.”

Eventually, making better use of those 90 minutes will become a habit, but when it does, don’t worship it. If you are sick or have a family obligation, take it as a reminder of your humanity. We are wingless creatures that strive for the stars, and some days we must fall on our faces. Brush off the dust and aim to do it again the next day.

One last note: be humble. Don’t be self-righteous, and begin to talk about how many books you’re reading or reps you’re reaching.

وَلَا تَمْشِ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَرَحًا ۖ إِنَّكَ لَن تَخْرِقَ الْأَرْضَ وَلَن تَبْلُغَ الْجِبَالَ طُولًا 

“Walk not on the earth with arrogance. Verily, you can neither penetrate the earth, nor can you attain a stature like the mountains in height.” [Surah Al-Isra; 37]

It helps me breathe and reorient my priorities. Be still, keep your feet on the ground and vision aimed at the skies.

Ahmed, my old friend, now is your turn to begin to feel time— pass by.

 

 

[1] Bennett, Arnold. How to live on 24 Hours a day, George H. Doran Company 1910.

 

 

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