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What’s The Matter?|My Brother’s Wife and My Husband Exchange Friendly Glances

Question:

I am happily married to my husband for 11 years. We have three children together. My siblings and I usually get together along with our spouses. We are a practicing family. My brother and his wife are less practicing. When we gather, we try as much as possible to sit separately. However, sometimes it happens where we are all sitting in the same room, either eating or in the living room. I try to prevent it as much as possible, but for some reason it happens beyond my control, especially if we are at my brother’s house. 
Not long ago, I had noticed that my brother’s wife would gaze at my husband’s direction. At that time, I noticed that my husband didn’t notice or was just ignoring it. I tried to talk to her and was unsuccessful about it.

Alhamdulilah, I was able to convince my sister to have that conversation with her. My sister told her in a very clear way that she needs to control her staring at people. She took it lightly and didn’t really respond. 
Anyway, as time went by, my brother’s family and my family started to see each other a lot. My brother is very attached to me. He would ask me when we will go on vacation if he can come with us. We did travel together, and we stayed in the same apartment for a day. We went out as a family. We rented the same car, ate at the same restaurant, etc.. At one point, during the hurricane last year, the electricity went off at his house, and my brother and his family stayed with us for a week. At those times she wasn’t doing (or I had not noticed) the stares. It was after we became closer as families, I had noticed her. 
Recently, I have seen my husband taking part of these glances. I saw him on occasion smiling towards her as they exchanged glances. At another instance as we were leaving to go home, they exchanged a glance with a smile then she looked at me as I looked at her, and I felt like her face was full of shame. When I first realized it, I doubted that it was even happening. I always told my self it was coincidental. I respect my husband and his level of deen very much. But then I was still monitoring the situation. 
Once I felt that my beliefs were confirmed. I became extremely angry.

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The first thing I did was avoid getting together with my brother. I would feel guilty because he wouldn’t know why I was avoiding interaction with him. But as we are a close family, there were still opportunities to meet, either at one of my sisters’ houses or my father’s house. The glancing was still going on every time we met. I thought about confronting my husband. I spoke to him once about him giving her salams. I thought it was inappropriate for him to initiate the salams to her. I don’t personally give salams to any of my brother in laws. I usually give a general salam. He said that we have been family for so long it would be weird if he sees her and not give her salams. 
He is a very egoistic man. He gets offended very quickly. When he gets upset, the first thing he does is he gives me the silent treatment for weeks, on things that seem petty to me. I am driving myself crazy every time the family gets together. I feel like I am a detective, and I have to stay on top of being around my husband the entire time we are with the family.

Even if he gets up to get a cup of water, I am always on the look. But this is preventing me from enjoying my time with my family. I am getting a lot of bad dreams about my husband and I separating. Please advise me on how I can handle this situation without cutting my ties completely with my brother. Also, I don’t want to ignore the situation and it escalates into something beyond glances. Please let me know, if I am overreacting. Is this something that was bound to happen? Is this a form of insecurity on my part?

Jazzakum Allahu Khairun,

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Answer:

I truly understand how uncomfortable it can feel when you sense that someone is attracted to your husband.  It’s natural to feel protective of him and prevent any possible dangers in the future.  It becomes much more concerning when you see your husband being receptive to the attention and smiling back.  In your situation it is important to strike a balance between being careful to avoid the haram and being secure of yourself and your marriage.

Majority of men I have worked with admitted enjoying the attention of women.  They find it very flattering when someone other than their own spouse finds them attractive.  Even if they are not in any way attracted to the woman, they still enjoy the ego boost.  This can start very innocently, but it can escalate if the right (or should I say the wrong) opportunity presents itself.

There is definite hikma (wisdom) in not mixing.  I have had clients that get involved with their husband’s best friends because they become so comfortable with them that they put down all guards.  If there is mixing then a certain decorum needs to be upheld and boundaries need to be respected.

It’s critical to reflect on what is making you feel so insecure.  If you are insecure about the quality of your relationship and/or your love for each other, it’s important to focus on improving your quality time together to help increase the love.  It may be that your husband is craving more attention from you.  Make more effort in making him feel attractive by giving him sincere compliments in addition to flirting with him in a way that will satisfy his ego and bring playfulness back into your marriage.  If you are feeling insecure because you are not at your best, then I suggest setting attainable goals where you will be more happy and confident.  I know how challenging it is to get into shape after having 3 kids, because I had to go through it myself.  Our body image affects our confidence and sense of security.  If you feel that you have let yourself go, focus on getting back into shape so that you will feel your best.  As you increase your sense of security about yourself and your relationship, you will feel less threatened by others.

I would recommend getting together with your brother and his family since selatel rahem (bonds of kinship) is critical in Islam; however you can try to spend some one on one time with your sister-in-law without making it too obvious.  You need to be able to relax and enjoy your time with your family without feeling so frightened and suspicious the entire time.  In order to do that you need to really have trust in your husband.  If he has never done anything to make you doubt him, then I think you are overreacting a bit. It is essential to have trust for one another yet at the same time be watchful and aware of the circumstances.  Having said that – do not dismiss your concerns because I believe you should pay attention to your intuition.  Just be careful not to go overboard with your worries & concerns.

 

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Haleh Banani holds a Master's degree in Clinical Psychology. A faith-based counselor, life coach, and mental health professional who has served the community since 1998 by saving hundreds of marriages and helping thousands of people around the world overcome their challenges and become the most amazing version of themselves. The host of "With Haleh" on Al-Fajr TV and was a featured expert on Al-Jazeera international and other media outlets. She is an international speaker and writer. https://halehbanani.com

45 Comments

45 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Diah

    April 17, 2014 at 7:55 PM

    Beautiful, practical and sincere answer. MashaAllah

    • Avatar

      LogicalLeopard

      April 22, 2014 at 1:21 PM

      I agree. Let me preface my statements by saying I am not Muslim, but I am a Christian, and can certainly understand maintaining good interaction with purity. However, to me, one problem that wasn’t highlighted is the manner in which the sister-in-law was addressed. The writer says that she tried to talk about it with the sister-in-law and was unsuccessful. Why? How did she address it? Then, the sister is recruited to talk to the sister in law, and she tells the sister in law that she needs to control her staring problem. Well, when you don’t speak to people in a respectful, problem solving way, people aren’t necessarily going to respond well. I would think it would be better to talk to the sister in law, say, “I know that our relationship may have gotten off on the wrong foot, but I really would like to talk to you about a concern of mine. And I would like to hear what your view on the subject is.” Starting off like that, and sincerely listening to the sister in law, instead of saying, “Fix your staring problem” is likely to get a better response. Who knows, maybe the sister in law DOES have a staring problem. Maybe she’s unaware of her behavior. Maybe the husband reminds her of someone, like her father. Who knows why she’s staring? But if the writer knew the answer, maybe she’d be more comfortable. I know I’ve been in situations (as a man) where I’ve looked at people and been embarrassed, because my stare was too long. Sometimes I was trying to figure out if I knew a person, or who that person looked like. Sometimes it’s because I’m thinking about something and staring off into space, only at the end of that “space” is an actual person! The worst was when I saw a woman crossing the street and she was wearing shorts, and I saw what looked like a bruise on her leg. I saw that it was a tattoo, but then when the woman spoke, I looked up and realized she was a neighbor. And that she may have thought I was just staring at her legs for more sordid reasons. I’m still horrified by that one, and it’s been a good ten years or so….

      • Hena Zuberi

        Hena Zuberi

        April 22, 2014 at 6:24 PM

        Thank you for visiting Muslimmatters and your insightful comment.

      • Avatar

        Haleh Banani

        April 22, 2014 at 11:56 PM

        It’s nice to get your feedback! You are absolutely right that assumptions need to be checked because they really clear the air. There may be nothing at all to worry about. The key is to communicate and get the reassurance needed. Thanks for sharing your personal experiences – we all fall into those embarrassing situations.

      • Avatar

        Yusuf

        April 23, 2014 at 4:09 AM

        I wish there are more people like you. May The Almighty guide you through straight path. :-)

      • Avatar

        YV

        June 26, 2015 at 7:27 PM

        Wow, that’s quite a bit of a good perspective!

    • Avatar

      K Singh

      December 7, 2015 at 2:06 AM

      I don’t agree with Diah and others, appreciating the answer as “Beautiful, practical and sincere answer”. I am a Hindu and always considered Islam as a tough religion, but with passage of time, I realized why Islam is so tough, particularly for male-female mixing. All religions have talked of complexity of this relation and advised for precautions, but it is only in Islam that strict measures are put into practice, like veil,not having even eye contact with Be-Haram persons etc . Thus, even after such strong measures, if the discussed relation is flourishing, the suffering lady should immediately rush to religious Ulamah . Otherwise, only pious advices to the suffering lady shows no difference between Islam and other religions.

  2. Avatar

    Abdelkareem

    April 17, 2014 at 8:15 PM

    Beautiful answer indeed.

  3. Avatar

    SarahJaved

    April 17, 2014 at 10:17 PM

    I believe this is very good advice, and I hope it helps this sister.

    • Avatar

      arif gulzar

      April 18, 2014 at 5:18 AM

      As your husband iz practicing muslim, the best option iz to have open conversation with him regarding the problem of starring and gazing, the apprehension u have
      It will not only make the air free, but also wll b caveat for your husband , not to fell prey , which he might be unaware off.
      u will b protecting hz deen as well as ur family, but try to discourse in conducive atmosphere, not in blame game..

  4. Avatar

    umabdullah

    April 18, 2014 at 1:01 PM

    I think a hallmark of a healthy relationship is open communication. I as a married woman of 10 years consider what you are going through to be concerning because it needs to be nipped in the bud now with wisdom and tact.
    I wonder whether your sister speaking to your brother might solve the issue-if they are close enough that such a convo could go down easily. Also you know your hub best so take or not take this advice accordingly. I would share my feelings using I statements n also give the example of smiling and glancing at brother in laws n how that may make him feel. Mixing definitely needs boundaries n I find that in these situations that even if one follows guidelines others dont always do. If you feel this convo with yur hub will backfire..(although I would argue that coming to common ground on how to handle this situation will simply cause the relationship to grow more.) a heart to heart with your bro might b in order. However having said all this don’t ignore your instincts. This is very much about putting eachother first. About care n consideration n about protective jealousy. What is happening is indeed inappropriate I myself went thru something somewhat similar n my husband realized he needed to give priority to my feelings while being polite to the female relative.

    • Avatar

      Haleh Banani

      April 23, 2014 at 12:10 AM

      Communication is the key! The best thing would be to address the husband if he was mature and approachable. The way the sister described her husband it sounded like he was not capable of hearing her out and being compassionate towards her feelings. Any good man would reassure his wife and make sure she feels comfortable. It’s hard to go through this especially when it’s a family member.
      .

  5. Avatar

    Umm ZAKAriyya

    April 19, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    Beautiful advice! MashaAllah.
    I hope it benefits the sister .

    I would like to suggest something that I do .lol. – Find out ways to melt his (husband) heart . Try being cute and loving and shed tears to tell how much you love him and how jealous you feel when there are women around him. Be playful and express in ‘words’ how possessive you are of him! (This is a great ego boost to the husband.) But do not EVER make him feel that you don’t trust him .

    Look out for such women.Trust the husband but not the shayateen.

  6. Avatar

    umabdullah

    April 19, 2014 at 5:21 PM

    I have experience regarding ayn/sihr issues and this caught my eye. You said “I am getting a lot of bad dreams about my husband and I separating”. This is not your subconscious messing with you alone as will most likely be told. This is a classic symptom of ayn/hasad/sihr. Unfortunately it is not something that is common knowledge among our communities in the west especially. My advice to fight off this possible ayn is to recite surah baqarah every 3 days and stick to your morning and evening adhkar. And lotssss of istighfar and adhkar and salam on prophet. Inshallah this should take away the dreams and their possible cause. My wild guess is you may have other symptoms like fatigue or irritability or random dizziness and extra waswas or others in addition to the dreams if you are indeed suffering from ayn but that you may not connect them altogether. Seek the means to protect yourself and put your trust in Allah.

    P.s you can blow the surah baqarah/fatiha/ayatulkursi/falaw/naas on water/zamzam and everyone in your family can drink from it. Another form of protection inshallah.

    • Avatar

      Jennine Nicole

      April 22, 2014 at 8:52 PM

      I’m not understanding why this comment has more dislikes than likes. Sihr is real. That’s why certain surat are identified as protections.

  7. Avatar

    Nadia

    April 20, 2014 at 10:41 AM

    Is it just me that thinks this is overreaction? Is it not normal to look at someone when you are talking to them? They aren’t alone together what’s the big deal?

    • Avatar

      Sherri

      April 22, 2014 at 8:34 AM

      I most definitely thought it was an over-reaction at first ..I even was beginning to wonder if the letter was made-up. Why would one woman spend so much energy and waste so much family time constantly looking another woman’s to make sure that that woman is not looking at her husband..Then I realized I was reading a Muslim advice column and I so respect every culture/religion sacred customs… It does sounds to me like the brother’s sister is insecure about herself..So whether it’s over-reaction to me, the advice MashaAllah is very good and beautiful indeed.

      • Avatar

        gunal

        April 22, 2014 at 8:58 AM

        Overreaction! Nevertheless, it is a reaction. Just like an allergic reaction an overreaction is uncontrollable. If one of your loved ones is suffering from an allergic reaction what will you do? Say; just get on with it and suffer silently? Would you not at least show some concern and ask if there is anything you could do to comfort them? This is what a responsible adult should do. This poor woman must already be beating herself up about her paronoa like thoughts and behaviour. She cannot control it. She cannot put those thoughts to rest by herself. People who contribute to her irrational behaviour are responsible for her wellbeing. Because they are the cause of her discomfort.

      • Avatar

        Haleh Banani

        April 22, 2014 at 11:33 PM

        As a therapist I have seen a large number of married couples experience infidelity. They tell me about how it starts quite innocently with a glance, a smile and a connection. This leads to a little flattering & flirting which makes all the feel good hormones gush like a waterfall. At this point it becomes harder and harder to decipher between what is and is not acceptable because it feels so good. When the person is not thinking clearly it becomes easier to break some rules and make exceptions. This pattern will very quickly turn into an affair which leads to either emotional or physical infidelity. I have had men in their 40s cry during the session saying that it’s an addiction and they simply can’t stop themselves. They wish that they had avoided this from the very beginning by simply lowering their gaze and not starting the relationship in the first place. In the 10 Rules for avoiding emotional infidelity by Gary Neuman he states how critical it is to avoid all those seemingly innocent acts in order to prevent any form of infidelity including: not talking about personal issues at work with the opposite sex and not sharing personal feelings to mention a few. The concern of this wife may seem trivial but keep in mind that most relationships start with a glance & a smile.

  8. Avatar

    aiyah

    April 20, 2014 at 11:08 AM

    i do not think this is overreaction. a woman knows when something isnt quite right. its like we have radar. it is easily distinguishable when you see an innocent glance between 2 people and it is also easily distinguishable when there is a lil more to it than just a salam. trust your gut sister. keep your eyes open but dont be a stalker….it is well know that when a man and woman are alone the third is shaytan. with that said be careful of suspicion. both men and women were ordered to lower their gaze, so to answer ur question nadia….yes initial eye contact at first but then both parties should lower their gaze. the writer is not concerned with just ur normal everyday interaction she is noticing something within the glances that are making her uneasy. the best advice i can give u sis…pray istakara….then decide if your sis will speak with ur hubby or if u will. if i need to talk to my hubby about something i feel might anger him…i ask him “do you mind if i talk freely (which i do anyway lol) without you getting upset”? this way he knows im not looking to quarrel and gives him time to brace himself lol. usually works. sis just be open, im sure he dont want to see u hurt or make you feel badly. if the glances continue and it seems as if ur bro wife is initiating this u might need to talk to ur bro. i usually dont advise this but to be honest if you notice so do others! may Allah ease your situation and gurard your marriage against the attacks of shaytan. May Allah grant you the ability to solve this manner in the least disruptive way. May Allah ease your worries and suspicion and grant you the best outcome in this situation. May your marriage and family be blessed and may you all be companions of jannah….ameen

    • Avatar

      Haleh Banani

      April 23, 2014 at 12:20 AM

      Approaching the brother may create problems in his marriage – I don’t advise that. The best solution is to talk with her husband if he is receptive or the sister-in-law. This way the two people involved can have a chance to self-correct without making it bigger than it needs to be.

  9. Avatar

    aiyah

    April 20, 2014 at 11:11 AM

    **May Allah grant you the ability to solve this matter in the least disruptive way. May Allah ease your worries and suspicion and grant you the best outcome in this situation. May your marriage and family be blessed and may you all be companions of jannah….ameen

  10. Avatar

    Salman

    April 20, 2014 at 4:18 PM

    This is such an amazing response mA. Speaking as a man, it is extremely important to maintain that spark and keep things fun/interesting. This paragraph from the response sums it up beautifully as the “bottom line” so to speak for men.

    “It’s critical to reflect on what is making you feel so insecure. If you are insecure about the quality of your relationship and/or your love for each other, it’s important to focus on improving your quality time together to help increase the love. It may be that your husband is craving more attention from you. Make more effort in making him feel attractive by giving him sincere compliments in addition to flirting with him in a way that will satisfy his ego and bring playfulness back into your marriage. If you are feeling insecure because you are not at your best, then I suggest setting attainable goals where you will be more happy and confident. I know how challenging it is to get into shape after having 3 kids, because I had to go through it myself. Our body image affects our confidence and sense of security. If you feel that you have let yourself go, focus on getting back into shape so that you will feel your best. As you increase your sense of security about yourself and your relationship, you will feel less threatened by others.”

  11. Avatar

    Amira

    April 21, 2014 at 12:47 AM

    I agree with Ms. Banani’s comments about working her putting more effort into strengthening her relationship with her husband. But I also feel like the husband should put just as much effort into the relationship as well. The wife should not be doing all the work. He should not be making her feel like she cannot trust him. And why would he give her the silent treatment for weeks when all she is trying to do is be honest with him by communicating openly? That is one of the worst things to do in a marriage: completely close off from your spouse and make them feel like it is his/her fault.

    Also, another commenter mentioned her talking to her brother. But I’m not sure if she should do that because perhaps he may get angry with his wife. Talking about one’s relationship with a spouse is not a good idea, even if it is with a close family member.

    • Avatar

      Haleh Banani

      April 23, 2014 at 12:03 AM

      There is a mutual responsibility for husbands and wives to honor their relationship and remain loyal in their marriage. Many people get tested by being attracted to others while married and it is up to them to control their desires and do the right thing which is avoiding doubtful matters. Each person knows in his heart when he is flirting inappropriately and that’s when he has to put on the brakes and stop anything further from happening. I addressed the wife in this answer because she is the one who wrote in and she is the one motivated to change. If the husband was reading this answer I would tell him to be cautious and not to jeopardize his relationship with his wife and brother over something like this. I would also tell him to be more approachable so his wife can communicate her concerns.

      • Avatar

        gunal

        April 23, 2014 at 8:09 AM

        Yes Haleh, I agree with everything you said except that you said (I am sorry I may look like knit-picking but I feel this is important);

        “Each person knows in his heart when he is flirting inappropriately..”

        Not necessarily we all realise when we are flirting. Wouldn’t we stop if we did?
        From religious point of view, I think the ‘seed of our ego boost’ gets nourished as soon as when we are wooed in some ways. This could be by way of just a glance or even innocent kind words from others. In my opinion, we have to uproot that seed of ego boost within us. And I think this is a very difficult thing to do. Because we like being looked at personally selected from a crowd of others, being smiled to (again selected amongst others), chosen…this leads us having the sense of admiration of our good qualities, sense of pride!

        As I said it is difficult to uproot this seed. I have done some observations on this and realised that you can achieve uprooting the seed of ego by asserting professionalism -by treating every aspect of my life professionally. Even marriage. Create professional boundaries. As the head of my family I am responsible in helping others around me. Others look(ing)-up to me is natural because in my own world I am the boss. This may be a naive sister in law. She may want my attention. However, I will need to treat her as a learner with no professional boundaries of her own. Be subtle, don’t expect professionalism back. Just one person being professional and treating each situation with set boundaries is most of the time enough to gradually get everyone realising their own responsibilities, and notice the existing boundaries. Just like a great teacher I must know how to deal with an attention seeker; Help them establish or notice their goals so that they can focus on them.

        • Avatar

          Haleh Banani

          April 23, 2014 at 10:32 AM

          You have made some very good points. I understand that not everyone has the same level of self-awareness or self-control and it isn’t easy to avoid something as gratifying as getting the attention and admiration of others. I like what you said about being professional in all interactions. It is enough to have just one person establish very solid boundaries. Thank you for your feedback and it is refreshing to read about a person who has their priorities straight!

  12. Avatar

    gunal

    April 21, 2014 at 8:00 PM

    When there is a smoke there is a fire! If your husband is such a practicing man he should obey the rule that ‘he MUST lower his gaze’. On top of returning the gaze if he is smiling, this behaviour suggests that he is flirting back, he is enjoying that.. If he feels he is allowed to do that then, I feel he has already sold his soul to seytan. Sorry sister. I am not a believer in love. A man doesn’t cheat on his wife because he thinks the other woman is more attractive or he stops loving his wife. It is useless advice to say to you that you should attempt to make yourself more beautiful/appealing to your husband. Your husband is married to you. And therefore as a proper Muslim, he must be committed to you, respect how you feel, and never cheat on you. My advice to you is; stop worrying for your husband’s afterlife/his obligatory commitment to you. Only worry for your own deen and your afterlife. Always pray to Allah that no matter what challenges come to your way you successfully learn your lessons in order to prepare you for a rewarding afterlife. If somebody causes me upset or pain I would pray that I would never be the cause of such pain to anybody. This is how I would learn. Reading about the needs of lowering your gaze in Quran is obviously not so effective. But now you know first hand how it feels. And why it is needed. You should consider yourself lucky. Imagine if you were the one ‘innocently’ enjoy gazing to your brother in law.

    • Avatar

      Haleh Banani

      April 23, 2014 at 10:23 AM

      Dear sister I know that you mean well and it’s good to want to be cautious, but it’s really critical to have wisdom and use diplomacy when dealing with issues regarding your life partner. I agree that he should lower his gaze, but to jump the gun and advise the sister to get out of the marriage is foolish. Nothing has occurred and even if a man does make a mistake there needs to be room for reconciliation and forgiveness. If each time a person assumes there is something going on with their husband they ended the marriage there will be very few marriages left. The attitude of compassion, understanding and tolerance are critical to keep the marriage strong. Also, there needs to be solid facts before taking any action. There is no evidence that anything is going on.

      • Avatar

        K Singh

        December 8, 2015 at 1:30 AM

        But how do you know the facts. Has it been so easy to know the facts in the complexities of male-female relations, the great Islam had not put in practice so may strong practices. So, I would request the author not to dilute the strong instructions of Islam and use Utopian advises as given in other stale languishing religions.

  13. Avatar

    nick ick

    April 22, 2014 at 8:13 AM

    talk to him about it.. if it still has a problem .. initiate divorce… a trash is a trash.. remember you can;’t change a person.. it’s life long.. so you decide.. I seen it in my parents and to me it wasn’t worth it.. I rather have them go separate ways then live in sadness and lies..

  14. Avatar

    Zaid Shakil

    April 22, 2014 at 9:54 AM

    All praise is due to Allah

    I would like to add that its better if male and female sit in separation. As the brother’s wife is a non-mahram to this sister’s husband. Its natural that when all people sit together gaze can happen and it can lead to the ways of shaitan. Why not avoid this in the first place by sitting and talking in separation, the law that actually Islam imposes.

    Jazak’Allahu Khairan

    • Avatar

      Haleh Banani

      April 23, 2014 at 10:39 AM

      It is easier to prevent it all together, but there are circumstances that cant’ be avoided and it’s important to have some guidelines to follow. Even if others don’t follow the same principles it’s critical to maintain boundaries.

  15. Avatar

    little ole me

    April 22, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    In marriage one has promised to forsake all others. Love is not just mere strong feelings of affection but the putting the needs of the other person before yourself. It seems to me that the blame is being shifted to the wife, for the way she looks or overreacting, yet I see nothing about the inappropriate way the husband is responding ,it is not just the wife who is responsible for keeping the marriage strong, that he responds in a favorable manner to these subtle advances shows that he has a lack of respect for his wife and himself a problem that HE has to fix. A married individual has no business flirting with anyone else. Marriage is not a game, it is a lifelong commitment of mutual love and respect a powerful emotional bond that breaks people when it is broken or damaged. The wife should first talk to her husband frankly about her concerns. Not accusing him, just revealing her fears and concerns) . He should then do everything in his power to correct the problem easing his wife’s concerns and preventing a possible negative scenario for himself. He should take action to limit his conversations with this woman and he should certainly not be anywhere alone with her, his actions and body language should show the other woman that he is not available and he is not an option because he is a married man. After all he willingly made the marriage vow and he must live up to it. In order to be trusted you must first be a trustworthy individual. Yet how can you be that if you are toying and rousing up the desires and feelings of someone other then your spouse (which is really what flirting is) You can’t toy with your spouse’s feelings by promoting jealousy and expect there to be trust? But if his own wife can’t even speak to him without him having a weeks long tantrum, how can anything be done? Unfortunately, no matter how much you may want to keep him, no matter even what you do to keep him ultimately if he doesn’t have enough love and respect for his wife and his marriage and there’s no way you can make him see that he is going down a wrong path then there is nothing one can do . Perhaps you would be better off without someone so selfish . Without commitment there is no marriage anyway.

    • Avatar

      Haleh Banani

      April 23, 2014 at 11:11 AM

      Your perspective about marriage is correct. The intention was not to blame the wife, but to help her to understand her insecurity about the marriage. As I mentioned earlier, it was the wife who wrote in not the husband so I addressed her needs. Obviously the man is responsible to honor his wife and keep his commitment in his marriage. remain calm, get all the facts, use logic & diplomacy before There is no excuse for flirting with others when you are married – it’s unacceptable. However, it’s critical to get all the facts before deciding to leave your spouse. People do get weak from time to time and we need to learn to work through the problems rather than just end the marriage.

  16. Avatar

    Sanah

    April 22, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    I think you should tell your brother to talk to his wife if the situation escalates too much. He should know.

    • Avatar

      umabdullah

      April 22, 2014 at 5:02 PM

      There is brother’s wife one day. Another day it could be the neighbor’s wife. Who will speak to the neighbor? This goes back to husband and wife relationship. This isn’t about her fixing herself up. That is a complete side issue. This isn’t about her feeling insecure. Even if a wife knows her husb loves her looks and a wife notices this type of behavior .. there is going to be hurt involved. A real marriage that is passionate is passionate due to openness and growth and love and connection.

  17. Avatar

    HALIMA

    April 22, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    This is a pretty difficult circumstance. Considering she must not cut ties with her brother. The wife has reason to worry, but she shouldn’t let it overwhelm her. She has to place some trust in her husband that he won’t let things escalate. He should practice lowering his gaze, and respect his wife and the other woman as well. That’s why we’re always advised to lower the gaze. It’s just a door that can lead to many other issues…

  18. Avatar

    K Mirkami

    April 22, 2014 at 2:21 PM

    It sounds as though this woman is severely deficient in self esteem. There is nothing more unattractive than a desperate, needy woman.

  19. Avatar

    Saria

    April 23, 2014 at 12:13 AM

    You say you are “happily married.” Are you, really? If so, don’t worry about the glancing/staring/flirting. She is your brother’s wife. You do not wish to ruin the relationships between other members of your family. If you truly are “happily married” then you should not need to worry. Doesn’t your husband leave you to go to work or visit others? There has to be a sense of trust. Trust that he is faithful even when he encounters attractive women where ever he meets them. I sense that you are not “happily married.” Seek help and advice to rekindle that love and devotion you had in the past.

    • Avatar

      Ruby

      October 29, 2016 at 7:43 AM

      Its disrespectful when its in your family a man should understand that…

  20. Avatar

    Ruby

    October 29, 2016 at 7:48 AM

    Best if she explains to her brother to keep an eye open nx time

  21. Avatar

    Richard Adam

    December 22, 2018 at 6:23 PM

    “When we gather, we try as much as possible to sit separately. However, sometimes it happens where we are all sitting in the same room, either eating or in the living room. I try to prevent it as much as possible, but for some reason it happens beyond my control, especially if we are at my brother’s house”. I have tried to maintain an open mind towards Islam and judge people by their individual actions. Rather than form opinions based upon generalizations of large groups. Though I must admit this seems extremely backwards and counterintuitive to women’s rights for equal treatment. Why would familiy try as much as possible to sit separately? Why would family not all sit in same room? The underlying premise of such arcane concepts suggests men are incompatible of behaving in an appropriate because of sexual lust.

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#Life

7 Powerful Techniques For Keeping New Year’s Resolutions

Studies show the most common New Year’s resolutions revolve around finances and health.  Unfortunately, they also show only a relatively small number will keep most or all of them. The rest will mostly fail within the first few weeks. Here are 7 powerful techniques to make sure you’re not one of them.

New Year's Resolutions
Who uses sticky notes on a cork board #stockimagefail

It’s the end of the year, and I’m pretty sure I know what you’re thinking – after wondering if New Year’s is halal to celebrate, you probably want to lose some weight, make more money, talk to family more, or be a better Muslim in some way.  The New Year for many of us is a moment to turn a fresh page and re-imagine a better self. We make resolutions and hope despite the statistics we’ll be the outliers that don’t fail at keeping our New Year’s resolutions.

Studies show the most common New Year’s resolutions revolve around finances and health. Unfortunately, they also show only a relatively small number will keep most or all of them. The rest will mostly fail within the first few weeks.

Given such a high failure rate, let’s talk about how you can be among the few who set and achieve your goals successfully.

1. Be Thankful to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)

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Allah Gives You More if You’re Thankful

You’ve been successful this past year in a number of areas. Think of your worship, career, relationships, personality, education, health (physical, mental, social, and spiritual), and finances. Take a moment to reflect on where you’ve succeeded, no matter how trivial, even if it’s just maintaining the status quo, and be thankful to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for those successes.

When you’re thankful to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), He increases you in blessings.  Allah says in the Qur’an:

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“And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed, ‘If you give thanks (by accepting faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My blessings); but if you are thankless (i.e. disbelievers), verily, My punishment is indeed severe’” [14:7] 

In recent years, there’s been more discussion on the benefits of practicing gratitude, though oftentimes it’s not clear to whom or what you’re to be grateful towards. We, of course, know that we’re not grateful simply to the great unconscious cosmos, but to our Creator.

Despite this difference, there exist interesting studies on how the practice of gratitude affect us. Some of the benefits include:

  • Better relationships with those thanked
  • Improved physical health
  • Improved psychological health
  • Enhanced empathy and reduced aggression
  • Better sleep
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Improved mental strength

Building on Your Successes

In addition to being thankful to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), reflect on why you were successful in those areas.  What was it you did day in and day out to succeed? Analyze it carefully and think of how you can either build on top of those present successes, or how you can transport the lessons from those successes to new areas of your life to succeed there as well.

In the book Switch by Dan and Chip Heath, they note that we have a tendency to try to solve big problems with big solutions, but a better technique that has actual real-world success in solving complex problems is to instead focus on bright spots and build on those bright spots instead. You have bright spots in how you’ve worked and operated, so reflect on your successes and try to build on top of them.

2. Pick One Powerful, Impactful Goal

Oftentimes when we want to change, we try to change too many areas.  This can lead to failure quickly because change in one area is not easy, and attempting to do it in multiple areas simultaneously will simply accelerate failure.

Instead, pick one goal – a goal that you are strongly motivated to fulfill, and one that you know if you were to make that goal, it would have a profoundly positive impact on your life as well as on others whom you are responsible to.

In making the case based on scientific studies, James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, writes:

Research has shown that you are 2x to 3x more likely to stick with your habits if you make a specific plan for when, where, and how you will perform the behavior. For example, in one study scientists asked people to fill out this sentence: “During the next week, I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME OF DAY] at/in [PLACE].”

Further down, he states:

“However (and this is crucial to understand) follow-up research has discovered implementation intentions only work when you focus on one thing at a time.”

When setting your goal, be sure to set a SMART goal, one that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time Bound.  “I want to lose weight” is not a SMART goal.  “I want to achieve 10% bodyfat at 200 lbs in 9 months” is specific (you know the metrics to achieve), measurable (you can check if you hit those metrics), achievable (according to health experts, it can be done, realistic (it’s something you can do), and time-bound (9 months).

3. Repeatedly Make Du’a with Specificity

Once you lock onto your goal, you should ask for success in your goal every day, multiple times a day.  Increasing in your du’a and asking Allah for success not only brings you the help of the Most High in getting to your goal, it also ensures it remains top of mind consistently.

A few of the best ways to increase the chances of a supplication being accepted:

  • Increase the frequency of raising your hands after salah and asking for your intended outcome.
  • Asking while you are in sujood during prayers.
  • Praying and supplicating in the last 3rd of the night during qiyam ul-layl.

When you make your du’a, be specific in what you ask for, and in turn, you will have a specific rather than a vague goal at the forefront of your mind which is important because one of the major causes of failure for resolutions themselves is lacking specificity.

4. Schedule Your Goal for Consistency

The most powerful impact on the accomplishment of any goal isn’t in having the optimal technique to achieve the goal – it is rather how consistent you are in trying to achieve it.  The time and frequency given to achievement regularly establishes habits that move from struggle to lifestyle. As mentioned in the previous section, day, time, and place were all important to getting the goal, habit, or task accomplished.

In order to be consistent, schedule it in your calendar of choice. When you schedule it, make sure you:

  • Pick the time you’re most energetic and likely to do it.
  • Work out with family, friends, and work that that time is blocked out and shouldn’t be interrupted.
  • Show up even if you’re tired and unmotivated – do something tiny, just to make sure you maintain the habit.

A Word on Automation

Much continues to be written about jobs lost to automation, but there are jobs we should love losing to automation, namely, work that we do that can be done freely or very cheaply by a program.  For example, I use Mint to capture all my accounts (bank, credit card, investments, etc) and rather than the old method of gathering receipts and tracking transactions, all of it is captured online and easily accessible from any device.

Let’s say you wanted to give to charity, and you wanted to give a recurring donation of $5 a month to keep MuslimMatters free – all you have to do is set up an automated recurring donation at the link and you’re done.

Likewise, if you’re saving money for a goal, you can easily do so by automating a specific amount of money coming out of your bank account into another account via the online banking tools your bank provides.  You can automate bill payments and other tasks to clear your schedule, achieve your goals, and keep you focused on working the most important items.

5. Focus on Behaviors, Not Outcomes

We’re often told we should set up SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timebound.  However, one way to quickly fail a goal is by defining success according to outcomes, which aren’t necessarily in your hand.  For example, you might say as above:

“I want to be at 10% body fat in 9 months at 200 lbs.”

This is a SMART goal, and it’s what you should aim for, but when you assess success, you shouldn’t focus on the result as it’s somewhat outside the scope of your control. What you can do is focus on behaviors that help you achieve that goal, or get close to it, and then reset success around whether you’re completing your behaviors.  As an example:

“I want to complete the P90X workout and diet in 90 days.”

Here, you’re focused on generally accepted notions on behaviors that will get you close to your goal.  Why? Because you control your behaviors, but you can’t really control the outcomes. Reward yourself when you follow through on your behavior goals, and the day-to-day commitments you make.  If you find that compliance is good, and you’re getting closer to your goal, keep at it.

Read the following if you want to really understand the difference in depth.

6. Set Realistic Expectations – Plan to Fail, and Strategize Recovery

After too many failures, most people give up and fall off the wagon.  You will fail – we all do. Think of a time you’ve failed – what should you have done to get back on your goal and complete it?  Now reflect on the upcoming goal – reflect on the obstacles that will come your way and cause you to fail, and how when you do fail, you’ll get right back on it.

Once you fail, ask yourself, was it because of internal motivation, an external circumstance, a relationship where expectations weren’t made clear, poor estimation of effort – be honest, own what you can do better, and set about attempting to circumvent the obstacle and try again.

7. Assess Your Progress at Realistic Intervals

Once you’re tracking behaviors, simply mark down in an app or tracker that you completed the behavior.  Once you see you’re consistent in your behaviors over the long-term, you’ll have the ability to meaingfully review your plan and assess goal progress.

This is important because as you attempt to perform the work necessary to accomplish the goal, you’ll find that your initial assessments for completion could be wrong. Maybe you need more time, maybe you need a different time. Maybe you need a different process for accomplishing your goals. Assess your success at both weekly and monthly intervals, and ask yourself:

  • How often was I able to fulfill accomplish my required behaviors?  How often did I miss?
  • What was the reason for those misses?
  • Can I improve what I’m doing incrementally and change those failures to successes?  Or is the whole thing wrong and not working?

Don’t make changes when motivation dies after a few days.  Don’t make big changes on a weekly basis. Set an appointment on a weekly basis simply to review successes and challenges, making small tweaks while maintaining the overall plan. Set a monthly appointment with yourself to review and decide what you’ll change, if anything, in how you operate.

Be something of a Tiger mom about it – aim for 90% completion of behaviors, or an A grade, when assessing whether you’ve done well or not.  Anything below 90% is a failing grade.

(ok, so Tiger Moms want 100% or more, but let’s assume this is a somewhat forgiving Tiger Mom)

Putting it All Together

Set ‘Em Up

  • First, take a moment to reflect and be thankful to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for what you’ve achieved, and reflect on what it is you’ve accomplished and what you’ve done in the way you worked and operated that helped you succeed.
  • Next, pick one goal and one goal alone to achieve, and use the SMART goal methodology to be clear about what it is.
  • Once this is done, make du’a with strong specificity on a regular basis during all times, and especially during the times when du’as are most likely to be accepted.

Knock ‘Em Down

  • Schedule your goal into a calendar, making sure you clear the time with any individuals who will be impacted by your changed routines and habits.
  • On a daily basis, focus on completing behaviors, not the outcomes you’re aiming for – the behaviors get you to the outcomes.
  • Plan on failing occasionally, especially a week after motivation disappears, and plan for how you’ll bounce back immediately and recover from it.
  • Finally, on a daily and weekly basis, assess yourself to see if you’re keeping on track with your behaviors and make adjustments to do better. On a monthly basis, assess how much closer you are to your goal, and if you’re making good progress, or if you’re not making good progress, and try to understand why and what adjustments you’ll make.

What goals do you plan to achieve in the coming year?

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#Life

I Encountered A Predator On Instagram

A predator on Instagram posing as a hijab modeling consultant, going by the name of @samahnation, tried to prey on me- an underage, 16-year-old. We don’t know if the photos on Instagram page have been stolen from a victim. These predators operate under various names.

instagram predator

It was a Wednesday night in April and as I was getting ready to go to bed, a direct message popped up in my Instagram inbox. A little background; my personal  account on Instagram is private and it is rare that I let anyone, whom I do not know, follow me. But seeing that this was a grown “woman” with a baby and I had at least seven mutual friends, I let her follow me. 

I will say, I was definitely in the wrong to respond to someone I didn’t personally know. Somehow I thought her 105K followers gave her credibility. 

I was gravely mistaken. 

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I opened the direct message. 

She had sent me a message complimenting me. This wasn’t new to me because I often get messages with compliments about my appearance from friends — we are teenagers. However, the stark difference was that I didn’t know this person at all. (I came to learn that these types of messages can go under the category of grooming). After complimenting me, she asked whether I had ever considered modeling for a hijab and abaya company. 

Many young women are targeted by predators on Instagram. Here is my story. 'After complimenting me, 'she' asked whether I had ever considered modeling for a hijab and abaya company.'Click To Tweet

I replied, saying that if I had more details I’d consult with my parents and give her an answer the next morning; to which she responded demanding she must have an answer the same night as she had other offers to make. 

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I then went to ask my mother. Mama was sick with the flu, quite woozy, but despite her state she said,

“this sounds like a scam to me…”.



I decided to play along with it and test her. 

I told @samahnation to tell me more and how I could verify her and her company. She then sent me numerous copied and pasted answers —hecka long— about how I could trust her; how the company would pay me and how they will still make money in the meantime. 

hijab modeling scam

Thankfully, I was apprehensive during the entire ordeal, but as you can see, this type of manipulation is so real and possible for young women and girls to fall prey. This experience was honestly quite scary and jarring for me. I was so easily distracted by what she was portraying herself as on her profile. She had a GoFundMe for a masjid in her bio and posts of photos depicting her love for her baby.
predator

I began to do some research. I stumbled upon an article about a ‘Hijab House’ model scam. Using the title of ‘consultant director’ for a well-known hijab company, Hijab House, predators were allegedly preying on young girls in Australia. Hijab House has denied any link to this scam. 

Hijab House model scam

 

The predator went as far as to blackmail and pressure their victims into sending nude photos, or doing crazy things like smelling shoes! Eerily enough, @samahnation’s Instagram bio stated that she was based in Melbourne, Australia.


The more I engaged with this predator, the more ludicrous their responses and questions got. And this happened within the span of 24 hours. 

She went as far as to ask me if I would answer questions for a survey, saying all that mattered was honesty and that the purpose of the survey was to make me uncomfortable to see if I “won’t fall under pressure.”

Clearly, this last statement about being a speech analysis specialist was a complete fabrication. Again, may I reiterate that even older people can fall prey. You don’t have to be young and impressionable, these manipulative perpetrators will do anything to get what they want.



As shown below, the situation reached an obscene level of ridiculousness. You can see clear attempts to gaslight me and pressure me into answering or changing my stance on my replies.


This was the last thing I said to the predator before I blocked and reported them in an attempt to get them caught. Observe how as soon as I called this person out they immediately became defensive and tried to manipulate me into thinking that what they were doing and asking me was completely normal- that I was the crazy one for asking for proof. 

Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. They had asked me questions I found too lewd to even answer or take screenshots of.

This bizarre encounter was honestly astonishing. I do not even know if I was talking to a man or a woman.

Alhamdullilah, I am so glad because even if I was a little bit gullible, I was aware enough about predatory behavior that I didn’t fall victim to this perpetrator. I am especially grateful for my mother, who has educated me about predators like this from a very young age; whom even in her drowsy state was able to tell me it was a preposterous scam.

I could have been blackmailed.

Talk to your parents or a trusted adult

I am grateful for having an open channel of communication, that my relationship with my mother is based on trust and I could go to her when this occurred. This is a reminder and a learning opportunity for all of us how these scary things can happen to anyone. We must learn how to take caution and protect ourselves and our (underage) loved ones against such situations.

Sis, please talk to your parents. They love you and will be your first line of defense.

Grooming

Grooming is a very common tactic online predators use to gain the trust of their victim. According to InternetSafety101, young people put themselves at great risk by communicating online with individuals they do not know on a personal level. “Internet predators intentionally access sites that children commonly visit and can even search for potential victims by location or interest.

If a predator is already communicating with a child, he or she can piece together clues from what the child mentions while online, including parents’ names, where the child goes to school, and how far away the child lives from a certain landmark, store, or other location.
Online grooming is a process which can take place in a short time or over an extended period of time. Initial conversations online can appear innocent, but often involve some level of deception. As the predator (usually an adult) attempts to establish a relationship to gain a child’s trust, he may initially lie about his age or may never reveal his real age to the child, even after forming an established online relationship. Often, the groomer will know popular music artists, clothing trends, sports team information, or another activity or hobby the child may be interested in, and will try to relate it to the child.”

These tactics lead children and teens to believe that no one else can understand them or their situation like the groomer. After the child’s trust develops, the groomer may use sexually explicit conversations to test boundaries and exploit a child’s natural curiosity about sex. Predators often use pornography and child pornography to lower a child’s inhibitions and use their adult status to influence and control a child’s behavior.

They also flatter and compliment the child excessively and manipulate a child’s trust by relating to emotions and insecurities and affirming the child’s feelings and choices.

Predators will:

* Prey on teen’s desire for romance, adventure, and sexual information.
* Develop trust and secrecy: manipulate child by listening to and sympathizing with child’s problems and insecurities.
* Affirm feelings and choices of child.
* Exploit natural sexual curiosities of child.
* Ease inhibitions by gradually introducing sex into conversations or exposing them to pornography.
* Flatter and compliment the child excessively, send gifts, and invest time, money, and energy to groom the child.
* Develop an online relationship that is romantic, controlling, and upon which the child becomes dependent.
* Drive a wedge between the child and his/her parents and friends.
* Make promises of an exciting, stress-free life, tailored to the youth’s desire.
* Make threats, and often will use child pornography featuring their victims to blackmail them into silence.”

Gaslighting 

Another interesting observation I made is the clear gaslighting this pedophile was trying to perpetuate throughout my conversation with them. You may ask what is gas lighting? 

According to Psychology Today, gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. “Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed. For example, in the movie Gaslight (1944), a man manipulates his wife to the point where she thinks she is losing her mind,” writes Dr Stephanie Sarkis. 

Another interesting observation I made is the clear gaslighting this pedophile was trying to perpetuate throughout my conversation with them. You may ask what is gas lighting? Click To Tweet

Recognizing signs that you may be a victim of gaslighting:

Second guessing. Are you constantly second guessing yourself when talking to this person or questioning your own morals that you wouldn’t have thought twice about otherwise? For example, when this person popped up in my inbox I wouldn’t have thought twice about blocking or just deleting the message if it was a man but, since it seemed to be a woman I was duped into thinking that it was more acceptable or I could trust them more.

Feeling as if you are being too sensitive. Again I cannot emphasize this enough that you must trust your instincts, if you are feeling uncomfortable and your internal alarm bells are ringing- listen to them! Anyone can be a victim of gaslighting or manipulation. 

Feeling constantly confused. Another sign that you may be falling victim to gas lighting is when you are constantly confused and second guessing your thoughts and opinions.

Three takeaways:

1. Trust your instincts (I’m going to reiterate this, always trust your gut feeling, if you feel like you are uncomfortable whether it’s a situation you are in or if you don’t have a good feeling while talking to a certain person I advise you exit the chat or don’t answer in the first place.)
2. Never answer to someone whom you don’t know. I will say this was my first and biggest mistake that I have made: allowing this person’s messages into my inbox, and replying to their ridiculous claims and questions. Now that I think about it I don’t even know if this was a woman or not.
3. Set your boundaries! This is probably the most important tip to take away from this article. Setting up your boundaries from the beginning is so important. Whether it is a friend, partner or colleague, if you do not set your boundaries from the beginning of your interaction or relationship with that person; people will not respect your limits and choices later on. Especially if your boundaries have to do with religion, moral compasses, or even specific pet peeves you have. I cannot emphasize how much boundaries matter when it comes to any daily interaction you may have in your daily life.

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#Life

How Grandparents Can Be Of Invaluable Help In A Volatile ‘Me First’ Age

I grew up in a small rural village of a developing country during the 1950s and 1960s within a wider ‘extended’ family environment amidst many village aunties and uncles. I had a wonderfully happy childhood with enormous freedom but traditional boundaries. Fast forward 30 years, my wife and I raised our four children on our own in cosmopolitan London in the 1980s and 1990s. Although not always easy, we had a wonderful experience to see them grow as adults. Many years and life experiences later, as grandparents, we see how parenting has changed in the current age of confusion and technology domination.

While raising children is ever joyous for parents, external factors such as rapidly changing lifestyles, a breath-taking breakdown of values in modern life, decline of parental authority and the impacts of social media have huge impacts on modern parenting.

Recently, my wife and I decided to undertake the arduous task of looking after our three young grandchildren – a 5½-year old girl and her 2-year old sibling brother from our daughter, plus a 1½-year old girl from our eldest son – while their parents enjoyed a thoroughly deserved week-long holiday abroad. My wife, who works in a nursery, was expertly leading this trial. I made myself fully available to support her. Rather than going through our daily experiences with them for a week, I highlight here a few areas vis a vis raising children in this day and age and the role of grandparents. The weeklong experience of being full time carers brought home with new impetus some universal needs in parenting. I must mention that handling three young grandchildren for a week is not a big deal; it was indeed a sheer joy to be with these boisterous, occasionally mischievous, little kids so dear to us!

  1. Establish a daily routine and be consistent: Both parents are busy now-a-days earning a livelihood and maintaining their family life, especially in this time of austerity. As children grow, and they grow fast, they naturally get used to the daily parental routine, if it is consistent. This is vital for parents’ health as they need respite in their daily grind. For various practical reasons the routine may sometimes be broken, but this should be an exception rather than a norm. After a long working day parents both need their own time and rest before going to sleep. Post-natal depression amongst mums is very common in situations where there is no one to help them or if the relationship between the spouses is facing difficulty and family condition uninspiring.
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In our trial case, we had some struggles in putting the kids to sleep in the first couple of nights. We also faced difficulties in the first few mornings when our grandson would wake up at 5.00am and would not go back to sleep, expecting one of us to play with him! His noise was waking up his younger cousin in another room. We divided our tasks and somehow managed this until we got used to a routine towards the end of the week.

  1. Keep children away from screens: Grandparents are generally known for their urge to spoil their grandchildren; they are more relaxed about discipline, preferring to leave that job to the parents. We tried to follow the parents’ existing rules and disciplinary measures as much as possible and build on them. Their parents only allow the children to use screens such as iPads or smartphones as and when deemed necessary. We decided not to allow the kids any exposure to these addictive gadgets at all in the whole week. So, it fell on us to find various ways to keep them busy and engaged – playing, reading, spending time in the garden, going to parks or playgrounds. The basic rule is if parents want their kids to keep away from certain habits they themselves should set an example by not doing them, especially in front of the kids.
  2. Building a loving and trusting relationship: From even before they are born, children need nurture, love, care and a safe environment for their survival and healthy growth. Parenting becomes enjoying and fulfilling when both parents are available and they complement each other’s duties in raising the kids. Mums’ relationship with their children during the traditional weaning period is vital, both for mums and babies. During our trial week we were keenly observing how each of the kids behaved with us. We also observed the evolution of interesting dynamics amongst the three; but that is a different matter. In spite of occasional hiccups with the kids, we felt our relationship was further blossoming with each of them. We made a habit of discussing and evaluating our whole day’s work at night, in order to learn things and plan for a better next day.

A grandparent, however experienced she or he may be, can be there only to lend an extra, and probably the best, pair of hands to the parents in raising good human beings and better citizens of a country. With proper understanding between parents and grandparents and their roles defined, the latter can be real assets in a family – whether they live under the same roof or nearby. Children need attention, appreciation and validation through engagement; grandparents need company and many do crave to be with their own grandchildren. Young grandchildren, with their innate innocence, do even spiritually uplift grandparents in their old age.

Through this mutual need grandparents can transfer life skills and human values by reading with them, or telling them stories or just spending time with the younger ones. On the other hand, in our age of real loneliness amidst illusory social media friends, they get love, respect and even tender support from their grandchildren. No wonder the attachment between grandparents and grandchildren is often so strong!

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In modern society, swamped by individualism and other social ills, raising children in an urban setting is indeed overwhelming. We can no longer recreate ‘community parenting’ in the traditional village environment with the maxim “It needs a village to raise a child’, but we can easily create a productive and innovative role for grandparents to bring about similar benefits.

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