April 17, 2003

Helping Parents Come Closer to Allah


?I have spent several sleepless nights praying to Allah to guide my
parents,?
is what Karima, 15, once wrote.

?My parents are so corrupt that I just hope they could make it to
Paradise!?
is how Tariq, 19, once vented
his frustration over his parents? un-Islamic practices.

Perhaps in every home today, there is a Karima
or Tariq, a youth who is concerned about their parents? moral condition.
This phenomenon involves a youth whom, perhaps not so long ago, Allah has
blessed with His choicest guidance, and they are now struggling to revolutionize
their life-style in the light of this new-found faith.

In this energetic ?Super-Muslim? phase of our journey
to Islam, we find two types of youth:

A-??? style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>The model of Karima- who
is constantly seeking Allah?s help in making her parents understand and
live Islam; humble and sincere, but simply over-whelmed.

B-??? style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>The example of Tariq- who
is sincere in his relationship with Allah, striving to change himself for
the better. In the process, however, he has become a bit arrogant; even
though he desires his parents to change and reach Jannah (Paradise),
due to his judgemental attitude, he is often frustrated and confrontational
with his parents.

The stress and grief a concerned Muslim youth experiences
at the spiritual/ moral/ religious state of their parents is only natural.
Inviting our culturally-oriented parents or elder siblings, closer to Allah
is perhaps the most pains-taking and distressing task a young Muslim would
have to undertake.

We
must, however, persevere because we love our parents and would not want
them to be among the ?losers? in the Hereafter. How could we rest
in peace? They have spent their whole life caring for us at times when we
were too young to even recognize and appreciate their patience and compassion
towards us. At the same time, we could only do so much to help our parents
change their lifestyle. After all, it is Allah who is ultimate changer of
the hearts.

Before we embark on a ?crusade to save? our parents from the clutches
of Hellfire, it is imperative that we take the following tips and words
of wisdom into consideration:

1. style=’font-size:7.0pt;color:navy;font-weight:normal’>?????
Before anything else, Thank Allah lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy;font-weight:
normal’> to have guided you and empowered you with the beautiful message of His
Deen!
Express your gratitude through Du’a, praying extra voluntary
prayers (Nawafil), and helping those in need. As a result, your relationship
with Allah will strengthen and your humility will increase. At the same
time, ask yourself: ?What and where would I be today, had Allah not blessed
me with?His Message and Mercy? What makes me feel that I am the only
chosen one?? These questions should soften your heart and evoke greater
sympathy towards your parents and elders.

2. lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:7.0pt;color:navy’>????? lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>Your Task: ?Simply
Convey the Message of Islam
lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy;font-weight:
normal’>through your actions and counselling
style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>, while expressing your
sincere love, obedience, care, and wisdom. It is ultimately their decision
to choose or not to?choose to come closer to Allah.

3. lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:7.0pt;color:navy’>????? lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>Avoid Preaching
to your Parents.
i.e. Help them realize their ?opportunities
for improvement? ?through indirect, non-verbal, and non-confrontational
means. Perhaps, by now you have begun growing a beard as a brother or have
observed Hijab as a sister, memorized a few Arabic words and Hadiths,
use phrases like ?In-sha-Allah? in your conversation more often,
and you are all puffed-up and well on your way to becoming a ?Super-Muslim?.
These dramatic changes in your appearance and style of speech may be shocking
enough to your parents. So please, remember not to fire Quranic verses or
Hadiths at your parents for the sake of preaching or argument. Parents do
not want to listen to their children lecturing them on how and why they
are wrong and sinful.

4. lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:7.0pt;color:navy’>????? lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>Emphasize: Strengthening
Relationship with Allah
style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>, through understanding
and studying the Quran. Ultimately, after our death, it’s our intimacy with
Allah that really matters.

5. lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:7.0pt;color:navy’>????? lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>Adopt Flexibility,
Give up Rigidity:
style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’> Using wisdom means, doing
the right thing, at the right place, the right time. Often, due to our desire
for the well-being of our parents, we become stubborn on our stand and expect
our parents to follow it immediately. We fail to realize who we are speaking
to and the age difference; etiquette and respect is disregarded in the name
of ?establishing the Truth?. How often we come across young Muslims making
a great fuss over their parents celebrating birthdays? (which is often
part of family custom) to the extent that emotions run high, party is boycotted,?
and parents/elders are branded ?ignorant?, ?corrupt?, ?people of innovations??etc.

While such celebrations are not considered Islamic, we need to evaluate
and set our priorities straight: What would you gain for your parent?s guidance
by using such offensive language and by boycotting a function that is so
dear to them? The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) once advised his
companions: ?Make Islam and its affairs easy for people, and do not create
hardships for them (through your behaviour and ignorance). Spread the glad
tidings, and do not make people run away
? (Bukhari.) Sometimes,
it may be better to remain flexible and silent in the heat of the moment.
When things cool down, you can discuss the Islamic perspective in greater
detail.

6. lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:7.0pt;color:navy’>????? lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>Change comes
Gradually.
?Let?s try not to pick the fruits before they are ripe.
You can?t expect your mother to observe Hijab right after a two-day
intense Islamic conference. Nor should you suppose your father praying 5
daily prayers on time the day after his friend took him to a Masjid! There
are no ?quick-fixes? in the area of faith and guidance. However, parents
do change over time, as they feel embarrassed to see their children striving
hard to serve their parents and maintaining their Islamic identity. Parents
would rarely admit their faults right away. Therefore, as a good Muslim,
remain patient and let the change flow naturally, Allah-Willing.

7. lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:7.0pt;color:navy’>????? lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>Help them Distinguish
between “Islam” and “Their Culture”.
lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’> style=’font-family:Tahoma;font-weight:normal’>It is indeed very challenging for
parents, grown up in a certain Muslim culture, to realize the difference
between Islamic values and their cultural practices
style=’font-family:Tahoma’>. For instance, in the case of choosing marriage partners
for their children, parents? criteria are naturally more inclined towards
cultural influences, than Islamic principles. Moreover, there are parents
who believe that speaking the mother-tongue is a tenet of Islamic faith,
an oft-debated issue among the elders and youth in the West.
It
is not necessarily the fault of parents; it’s the way they were brought
up and were taught Islam.
?
You may work around this problem by occasionally bringing up in your casual
family discussions the?horrible consequences of those who follow the
non-Islamic practices in your culture, such as mixed gathering of opposite
genders at social events, pre-marital relationships, practice of interest
(Riba), immoral/obscene movies and music, etc. At the same time,
do discuss an Islamic alternative as well, because mere criticism without
any solutions is usually harmful. For e.g. suggest some Halal entertainment
to replace cinema trips. Demonstrating Islam?s relevance to the contemporary
social issue helps a great deal in orienting our parents? thinking towards
Islam.

8. lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:7.0pt;color:navy’>????? lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>Dealing with
Inferiority-Complex
: Due to the sense of inferiority to the Western
lifestyle in the sub-conscious of our parent’s generation (since most of
them have experienced and lived under prolonged western colonial rule in
the past), it is difficult for them to understand how Islam could be ‘modern
or relevant enough’ to face today’s challenges. To many parents, due to
this inferiority-complex, any religious expression seems to be an obstacle
in the way of financial and academic progress. Many elders still think Islam
is just about rituals, dealing only with ‘rewards and sins’ in the next
life, i.e. Islam has no constructive role to play in one’s social, academic,
personal, political, and economic spheres of life.

This phenomenon explains why parents frequently encourage their kids to ?enjoy
life? and ?focus on your studies? in the youth because ?Islam and prayer are
to be kept for the old age or to be practiced by the Maulvis or Shaykhs.?
It is precisely the fear of losing us to old-fashioned values that they make
a great fuss over our one-hour of volunteer work at a food bank or attendance
at a Quran study circle, while they may have no qualms about us hanging out
at a mall or going on a school field trip. Be sensitive to their cultural baggage
and help them clear this load by demonstrating Islam?s practicality in solving
their problems, in the ever-changing modern world!

9. lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:7.0pt;color:navy’>???? lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>Fulfilling your
Parent?s Dreams:
How often do we hear our parents say, especially
to those children showing signs of religious-orientation, ?The only thing
I want for you is good career and education. Once you are done your school
and establish yourself financially, you may go ahead and spend as much time
as you like calling humanity to Islam.?While you may consider such wishes as insignificant, it is extremely
essential to pay due attention to your parents? genuine desires, especially
if you desire their reform. No doubt, most immigrant Muslim parents exhaust
their time, energies, and finances to get their kids the best level of education.
Learn to show some gratitude and concern. You cannot necessarily always
fulfil their academic dreams for you by becoming either a doctor or engineer,
but you can certainly excel in a professional field that you are passionate
about and could specialize in. Why can?t you help them understand that being
a practicing and Allah-conscious Muslim does not mean that you have to sacrifice
your professional career? As an ambassador of Islam to your family, you
have an added responsibility of proving to your parents that all their life-long
efforts have been worth it. And what could be of greater joy to a parent
to see their son or daughter a winner in BOTH worlds? ?Your ?success?
in academic career and Islamic activism will In-sha-Allah leave a profound
imprint on their thinking, hearts, and perception of Islam

 

10. lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:7.0pt;color:navy’>? lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>Abu Hurairah?s
Success Story: Keep Obeying and Serving your Parents and be Respectful.
Obey them as long as they do
not ask you to disobey Allah as the Prophet (pbuh) has advised us, ?
lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>There is no
obedience in the disobedience to the Creator
lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy;font-weight:
normal’>? (Bukhari).
Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with
him), a companion of the Prophet (pbuh) who narrated the greatest number
of Hadiths, would often become upset at his mother’s stubbornness in rejecting
the message of the Prophet (pbuh).?Abu Hurairah?would engage in
verbal confrontation with her because she constantly accused the Prophet
(pbuh) of being a magician. One day he went to the Prophet (pbuh) and described
his situation in pain, “O Messenger
of Allah! I have always been trying to make my mother accept Islam, but
she always refuses to accept it… But today, when I asked her to believe
in Almighty Allah, she became extremely angry and started insulting and
rebuking you, which I could not stand and tears began to flow from my eyes.
O Messenger of Allah! Please pray to Allah that may He open the heart of
my mother to Islam
.” Abu Hurairah has perhaps echoed the
voices of many distressed religious youth today going through the ?Super-Muslim?
phase.

Interestingly, when the Prophet (pbuh) heard him, he warned Abu Hurairah
of his negative attitude towards his mother and advised him to be kind to
her, as Allah may soon open her heart to?Islam. Then he?prayed,
O Allah! Guide the mother of Abu Hurairah.” As
Abu Hurairah returned home that night, he realized her mother had just taken
a bath and was ready to declare Shahadah, Al-hamdulillah!

11. lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:7.0pt;color:navy’>? lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>Maintain a Light
Sense of Humour
. A pleasant environment and good sense of humour
win many hearts and develop a healthy dialog. On the other hand, a negative
and argumentative person?often makes people hate himself/herself. Therefore,
make an effort to keep Islamic discussions in the family positive and even
entertaining if possible. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was big on light,
decent jokes that made others feel special and closer to him.

12. lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:7.0pt;color:navy’>???????????
Spend Quality Time with Parents style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>: It is strange that so
many practicing Muslim brothers and sisters could hang out at Islamic events
or simply chat over the phone with friends for hours, yet they have no time
to spare for parents. Ever wonder why your parents don?t feel the need to
listen to you and ?your? message any more? I remember a friend of mine,
who was Ma-sha-Allah always seen working hard at Islamic events over
the entire weekends, once complained about the failure in Dawah efforts
to his parents. I asked him a simple question: ?When was the last time you
sat with your parents, smiled to them, asked them about their day, health,
and their worries??? He immediately realized the root of the problem.
Such an attitude indeed reminds us of the reality of Prophet?s (peace be
upon him) statement about the coming of the Day of Judgement: A time will
come when people will greet their friends warmly, and approach their parents
with cold attitude (Bukhari).With such minimal and formal contact
with our parents, we can?t expect our ?product? to ?sell?.

13. lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:7.0pt;color:navy’>? lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>Biggest Mistake:
Attacking your Parents in front of Other Family Members!
lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’> Very often
we loose our credibility by simply ridiculing, or even politely pointing
out the mistakes of our parents in front of others. It only makes matters
worse for your Dawah and generates tension in the family.?Perhaps
we do it thinking if we discuss ?the fault? in other people’s presence,
our parents may decide to rectify themselves due to the embarrassment.

However, in reality, exactly the opposite happens! Don’t forget, in most
cases, even if they realize their mistake, at that very moment they would
make sure to defend their stand. Last thing your parents would want to do
is to admit to their young ones that they were wrong and sinful! Best way
is to develop a sincere and intimate relationship with them on personal
level, in order to win their hearts and trust for Allah’s sake. Refer to
a book Prophet?s (pbuh) Method of Correcting Peoples? Mistakes by
Shaykh Saalih Al-Munajjid for further assistance.

14. lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:7.0pt;color:navy’>? lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>Give a Gift:
lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy;font-weight:
normal’>When was the last time you presented a sincere gift to your parents? Are
you aware of the Prophet Muhammad?s words, ?
lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>Exchange gifts
to reinforce love and intimacy
lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy;font-weight:
normal’>?? If your parents like reading books, give them a thought-provoking and
appealing book on Islam or on the purpose of life.
lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’> lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>Reading is one
of the most effective ways of change. Reading makes a person evaluate, reflect
on, and absorb the message. If they like watching or listening, there are
a score of tapes available from the Islamic media today to assist you.

15. lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:7.0pt;color:navy’>? lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>Be extra Caring
and Concerned in their Difficult Times:
lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy;font-weight:
normal’>such as illness, financial problems, depression, etc.
lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’> This is the
phase of life when they need you and are more willing to listen to you;
they may finally come out of their superficial world of comfort and taste
the reality. They would be willing to turn to an effective ‘alternative’.
In fact, most people change their lifestyles and beliefs around in the low
phases of their lives. Your presence, physical help, and religious counselling
in coping with hardship are crucial at this point. Remember, on the other
hand, your insensitiveness and indifference to their trying situation, would
haunt them for the rest of their lives. Don?t delay your service to them,
until it?s too late. The Prophet (peace be upon him) once warned us, ?May
he be disgraced,?
repeating it three times, ?who finds his
parents, one or both, approaching old age, and he does not enter Paradise
by serving them.
?

Perhaps you may even take this opportunity to make them think about the
purpose of their life, the certainty of the uncertainty of death, and recommend
them to turn to the Quran and Allah for help. People’s hearts melt and are
overcome with peace and?tranquility as soon as they begin to understand
the meaning of the Quran. As one revert to Islam once put it, “ style=’font-family:Tahoma’>The most fascinating thing about the Quran is that
as soon as you begin to read its message, you automatically begin to realize
your mistakes
.” What more do you need?!

16. style=’font-size:7.0pt;color:navy;font-weight:normal’>? lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>Have your Meals
together as a Family, whenever possible!
lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy;font-weight:
normal’> Sharing food together brings people’s hearts?together, coupled with
Allah?s blessings. It is also perfect time for discussions. It?s a proven
way of effective communication and of increasing affection.

17. lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:7.0pt;color:navy’>? lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>Arrange an exquisite
Pot-Luck:
Organize a one-dish
party, where all your close friends and their parents are invited. Make
sure the parents have minimal involvement in cooking and logistics. Parents
should come as guests, and you, the ?religious? kids, should serve that
evening! At first, your parents may laugh at the idea even. However, when
they come together and see your love and dedication as a group, they cannot
but help understand your desire for their guidance. Moreover, it will help
them realize that their ?kids are in safe hands? and that they are ?fun-loving?
people. It will give the parents a sense of belonging in a more religious
setting.

18. lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:7.0pt;color:navy’>? lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>Consult your
Parents? Religious Friends.
style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy;font-weight:normal’>Sometimes
finding a religious friend or relative of your parent, who has some influence
on them, could also help.
style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>It’s been observed that
some people just change and return to Allah as soon as they find a good
environment and a role model that they admire. If you know some friend of
your father or mother, who is caring, social, and a practicing Muslim, you
might want to?request them to communicate with your parents more often
and invite them to the social gatherings of the noble people.

19. lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:7.0pt;color:navy’>???????????
A Simple Thank You: How often do you say simple ?Thank You?
or ?Jazakallahu Khayran? to your parents for daily favors? And what
about their perseverance in raising you as a good Muslim? Don?t forget,
chances are, they are the first ones to have taught you ?La-ilaaha illallaah??
(There is no God but Allah), the first pillar of Islam that we claim to
live by today. You owe them a big Jazaks, every breath of your life!

20. lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:7.0pt;color:navy’>???????????
Involve Parents in Decision-Making: style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>When was the last time
you consulted your parents regarding your academic goals? Did you ever update
them on school grades (apart from the reason that the grades may be floating
?below the C level?, hence not too impressive!)? Do you discuss with them
the Islamic criteria that you wish to use in selecting your marriage partner?
Simple acts of mutual consultation or ?Shura?, gives everyone opportunity
to ?open up?, share, and listen. It also generates a sense of confidence
and trust in parents.

21. lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:7.0pt;color:navy’>? lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>Do not Stress
Yourself out.
We know even the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon
him) was warned by Allah in the Quran to not to be so distressed over the
state of his beloved uncle, Abu Talib, after the Prophet (pbuh) had exhausted
all the efforts to remind him about Allah’s message, promises, and punishment.
In fact, in Surah Al-Kahf Allah says, style=’font-family:Tahoma’>Perhaps, you would kill yourself (O Muhammad) in grief
(and concern) over their footsteps (for their turning away from Allah),
because they do not believe in this narration (Quran).

[18:6]

Remember Allah’s words: “O
you who Believe, seek help through Patience (Sabr) and Prayer (Salah). God
is with those who are patient.”
?[2:153] Have you
been praying the Salah (daily prayers) regularly yourself?

22. lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:7.0pt;color:navy’>? lang=EN-CA style=’font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Tahoma;color:navy’>Don’t Give up
the Du’a!
Sincere Du’a (supplication) to Allah can change many
things. Therefore, make Du’a as?your primary tool?in helping your
parents come closer to Allah.

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