Striving for Excellence in Taqwa & Character

Posts tagged ‘character’

I want to be invisible

I want to be invisible

I felt her anguish, pain and confusion.

I couldn’t tell her off for uttering those words. Neither could I bring myself to present her with those old images that attempt to exemplify the status of women in Islam.

As a Muslim woman she felt that she was under the spotlight, all the time. Whatever she says and does is under scrutiny. Whatever she doesn’t say and doesn’t do is also under scrutiny. She felt like a damned creature by her fellow human beings.

In her attempts to practice Islamic teachings her shortcomings were pointed out first or her strict adherence criticised instead of being encouraged and advised in a gentle manner. In her attempts to fulfil her roles as a daughter, sister, wife or mother, she is told that she could’ve done better rather than being told what she was doing well. In her attempts to be part of society and greater community she was seen as oppressed and someone who needs liberation rather than being appreciated for her actions and willingness to participate. She was expected to be fluid enough and transparent enough to fit into any situation without disturbing the status quo.

Among this confusion she ended up becoming so fluid and transparent that she no longer had a sense of who she was. She had become invisible but in reality that was not what she wanted. She wanted to be acknowledged for the human being she is. To feel that she is loved and accepted with all her flaws because in her heart she knows that no one can attain perfection.

My dear sister, know that you are loved and honoured by your creator Allah. He has made you in the best of forms and he has placed you on this earth for you have a great purpose.  A purpose that is great because it will give you satisfaction and closeness to your Lord. Seek not the approval of others because you are right in that no one can attain perfection. Instead, seek the Perfect, the Wise and All Merciful Allah.

Know that what he has given you of talents, skills and abilities are for you to draw nearer to him. Know that when you shine bright in service through him you are acknowledging and being grateful for what he’s given you. Know that when you listen to the lessons  your ‘shortcomings’ and past drawbacks are teaching you you’ll be able to hear lessons you’ll use on the journey ahead.

 

Advertisements

What Baraqish did…

Dog_Glasses_clip_art_hight

 

In a town far far away, in a time long forgotten a man owned a guard dog he named Baraqish. One day, she kept barking nonstop that the people thought there must be something seriously wrong. As nothing was out of the ordinary in their town, they sent one of them outside of the town to check and he came back with a warning that a group of thieves is heading towards them. They decided to hide in a nearby cave until the thieves passed through their town. As they were hiding in the cave and the thieves were almost gone, Baraqish noticed them and started barking. This alerted the thieves of the location of the townspeople and they were captured. This is the story of the Arabic saying “على نفسها جنت براقش”, which translates to “Baraqish brought destruction upon herself”.

Coming back to more recent times… three of us were at a community event discussing the lectures and other matters. One of my companions made a passing comment that I should take on a leadership position in one of the organisations we know.  While I was considering this I noticed that our third person did not seem to like that suggestion.  I felt disappointed and even belittled. How can this person think like this?

When I calmed down from this internal shock, the Arabic saying “Baraqish brought destruction upon herself” came to mind … how odd?

(more…)

Excellent is the Reward

branch_on_sky_background_198333

One of the many beauties of the Quran is that it keeps giving. Verse 2:138 in Surah Al-Baqarah tells us the wisdom behind prescribing fasting for Muslims and nations before them:

{O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become al-muttaqun}. Al-Muttaqun are those who are God conscious.

And later on in Surah Aal-Imran we get introduced to the qualities of al-muttaqun:

{And hasten to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the muttaqeen. Who spend [in the cause of Allah ] during ease and hardship and who restrain anger and who pardon the people – and Allah loves the doers of good; And those who, when they commit an immorality or wrong themselves [by transgression], remember Allah and seek forgiveness for their sins – and who can forgive sins except Allah ? – and [who] do not persist in what they have done while they know. Those – their reward is forgiveness from their Lord and gardens beneath which rivers flow [in Paradise], wherein they will abide eternally; and excellent is the reward of the [righteous] workers.} (Quran 3:133 – 136)

I absolutely love the prelude; ‘a garden as wide as the heavens and earth’. Wouldn’t that make you pay attention and listen? What did these people do to have such a reward prepared for them?

  1. They spend on good causes regardless of their own situation of ease and hardship. I read in one of the commentaries that spending was mentioned first because it is hardest to depart from their wealth. Human general tendency is to withhold out of fear of poverty. So in a way this quality does not only show that those who are God conscious are generous but that their generosity comes from a place of trust in God; trusting that he is the provider and sustainers.
  2. They restrain their anger. This sounds to me like they do get angry as any human being would but choose not to act upon that anger and bear it with patience. That is strength.
  3. They pardon others. It is an interesting choice of words, to pardon, rather than to forgive. Al-muttaqun don’t just forgive, they forgive and forget. They hold themselves to higher ideals because they are hoping in the pleasure of God, The Pardoner (Al-‘Afuww).
  4. They are not angels! They do mistakes and commit sins but are quick to return and seek forgiveness as soon as they are aware of their wrong doing. They are not so proud that they would persist and not admit their wrong doing. Quickly acknowledging ones mistake and seeking forgiveness for it was the manner of the companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Though most of these characteristics seem outward and visible, they require much internal work and struggle to be expressed: trust in God’s provisions, personal strength to control one’s emotions and disciplining the soul to be humble & forgiving. They require that one is truly conscious of God and what pleases and displeases Him. And the reward is no less than the one who is being sought: {… excellent is the reward of the righteous workers}.

 “O Allah, You are pardoning and You love to pardon, so pardon me

Building your child’s Islamic Character

By Shamim F

Kids_Hiding_Behind_Autumn_Tree (2)

Moulding your child’s akhlaq, moral conducts

Our moral conducts (akhlaq) are like our garments, visible to all. Working on perfecting our akhlaq is part of our religion.

Principles of moral conduct:

Adab is that which is praiseworthy in actions and utterance and considered the best of ethics. Islam offers boundaries and measures by which adab can be taught, for instance in dealing with one’s parents, interacting with scholars, family and neighbours etc., how to dress, how to worship and general politeness.

Truthfulness – taught by way of example as children often learn from what they see.

Trustworthiness and honouring confidences – raise your children to be discreet and honourable, even a statement said in confidence is a trust that must be honoured.

Pure of Heart – train your children to pure in their hearts and discourage spite, envy or insincerity by nipping it in the bud. Teach them to forgive and move on.

 

Emotional and Psychological welfare

Principles of building emotional and psychological strength:

Affection/Play– always try to be affectionate and loving. Play with your children. The Prophet of Allah would show affection to children and demonstrate his love and concern for them by wiping their hair, particularly the orphan children.

Give gifts – as the Prophet of Allah said ‘Exchanging gifts lead to love’

(al- Tabarani)

Meet them smiling – let your children feel you value their company and enjoy them being around you.

Show your concern – by asking them how they are, showing interest and sympathy.

Be just and fair – always be fair in dealings with your children to avoid breeding jealousy amongst them.

Restrain yourself – do not fall into the trap of over-indulging your children as it will be destructive in the long term.

 

Developing healthy children

Play is a natural instinct that Allah bestows on all children. It is a means to develop their physical body and an education in life. Physically healthy bodies are better able to worship Allah with consistency and energy, and a healthy start in life will increase you child’s likelihood of succeeding.

Principles of building a healthy body:

Child’s right to learn sports – it is one of your child’s rights to be permitted physical exercise. Archery, horse-riding and swimming are recommended. In addition to being both physical and educational sports have many other benefits, including:

Social: learning how to interact with people in different situations

Moral: a lesson in right and wrong, dealing with success/failure

Innovative: they often encourage new ideas

Confidence boosting: opportunity to learn new skills.

Stress reliever: sports often provide a vent to release any stresses etc.

Friendly competition and play – competitions are good motivators and allow a sense of ‘community’ and ‘togetherness’ to develop between the competitors.

Play with your children – the Prophet of Allah would play with his grandsons and would allow them to play with him.

Note: never allow your children to play out of doors after sunset.

 

Intellectual and academic development

Acquiring knowledge is an obligation on all muslims. As per Hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari, our Prophet Muhammad (May peace be upon him) said: ‘Educate, make it easy ; not difficult,..’

Principles in developing the intellect:

Motivation – plant the love of knowledge an learning in your child early on. Inspire them with the Hadith extolling knowledge and those who seek it. Recognise their achievements with tangible rewards.

Memorise the Qur’an – create an achievable plan for Qur’an memorisation and work on their and your ikhlas.

Find righteous teachers  and tailor goals according to each child’s needs and capabilities. Work towards maximising their strengths and passions.

Arabic language – Arabic is the key to the Qur’an and Hadith and allows one to access a vast library of Islamic works.

Make knowledge accessible – invest in good books and a comprehensive Islamic library.

……………………..

Alkauthar Institute Weekend Course – ‘Parenting Matters, The art of raising Righteous Children’. Taught by Sheikh Alaa Elsayed.

The Heart of the Matter

By Hasfa I

 Gilr_face_and_heart (2)

A community imbued with moral uprightness always ascends. This is a universal principle that holds true at all times.  Children of good character are the building blocks of a successful community. Cultivating strong Islamic values and identity in early learning prepare children to be well balanced and nurtures healthy minds.  We want to raise our children to be well rounded characters that are disciplined, responsible and contribute to the community, an asset to the ummah.  The following are a few tips to help you build that strong character Insha’Allah.

The Foundation of Eman

Connect your child to the pillars of eman: belief in Allah, angels, books and revelation, messengers, the last day, divine will and predestination.  Teach your child lailaha ilallah that there is no God worthy of worship except Allah. The first sound our newborn child hears is the testimony of faith via the adhan being read near his ear.  Children are born on the fitrah so belief in the oneness of Allah is a part of their natural make up.[i] As an example the prophet Luqman’s (as) main focus was to establish Allah in his son’s heart by teaching him tawhid, that Allah (exalted he)  is One and the Only and He has no partners or associates. That Allah has knowledge of everything and is aware of everything you do.[ii]

Your Child is Unique

Appreciate that your child is an individual and certain aspects of their personality traits you cannot change.  This will allow you to work with your child to nurture him and guide him to reach his full potential that Allah has bestowed him with.[iii]

To Love and Rely on Allah

Remember Allah and his blessings together.  Explain to your child that whenever you remember Allah, angels surround you, mercy covers you and Allah mentions you to his angels.[iv] Nurture your child to love Allah by teaching him through everyday conversation who is it that provides us with everything and why it is important to obey Allah. When your outdoors admire the creation and comment how beautiful it is and how Great and Perfect Allah is.  Through your actions teach him how to make dua to Allah using His beautiful Names and Attributes, do a dua list together. Try to make a habit of reading 2 rakaats with your child and make dua to Allah, your child will soon pick up that when he wants something to first and foremost ask Allah.

And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty).  And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him.  Verily, Allah will accomplish his purpose.  Indeed Allah has set a measure for all things.[v]

To Love Allah’s Messenger and His Companions

Children love stories, provide them with the best examples of role models. Teach your child according to his level of understanding the life of the Prophet  (peace be upon him)  alongside teaching them Quran.   Tell them of the stories of the children around the Prophet (peace be upon him) how they fought those who tried to harm him, how quickly they responded to his call and obeyed his commands. How the Sahabah loved that which the Prophet (peace be upon him) loved and how they memorized the hadeeth.

Anas (ra) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

‘You will be resurrected with whom you love’[vi]

Build a Relationship with The Quran

Ibn Khaldun said teaching your child the Quran is among the banners that must be raised when raising him.  Explain to your child what the Quran is and why he is learning to read and understand it.  If you as a parent love and have a relationship with the Quran it’s so much easier for your children to have that as that love rubs off on them. Children love to imitate their parents.  Teach Quran in a beautiful calm environment so that your child wants to stay there longer.  Motivate your child by telling them that there is reward even for the one who struggles with his pronounciation of the Quran in fact that person’s reward is more since he is struggling to learn the word of Allah.[vii] Spend time with your child discussing the meaning and tafseer of what is being recited.                                                                            

In conclusion, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said

“Shall I tell you who are the best among you? The best of you are those who when seen are a means of Allah being brought to mind.”[viii]                                   

May Allah grant us the ability to raise our children with Ihsan (excellence)  and  who remind others of Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him)  ameen.

 

………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Alkauthar Institute Weekend Course – Parenting Matters, The art of raising Righteous Children’. Taught by Sheikh Alaa Elsayed.

[i] Quran 7:172

[ii] Quran 31.16

[iii] Productive Muslim: Raising Productive and Confident Muslim Kids (part 1)

[iv] Muslim

[v] Quran 65:3

[vi] Bukhari/Muslim

[vii] Bukhari/Muslim

[viii] Tirmidhi