Category Archives: Raising Muslim Children

“Thank You, God.”

Last night I was talking to my son about God.  (I know that the proper name for God is Allah, but for some reason, I feel more comfortable referring to Our Creator as “God.”)  We were reading a Curious George book about the Dinosaur Museum.  George goes with The-Man-With-The-Yellow-Hat to a digging site and while George is getting into mischief, he creates a rockslide and accidentally uncovers a collection of dinosaur bones.

At the end of the book, there is a picture of the dinosaur bones all linked together to represent the dinosaur, with a photo of the actual dinosaur named “Georgosaurus.”

We looked at that picture, and Kareem asked me what those “holes” were in the skull, which led me to explain to him that our bodies are made up of bones, that these are our ribs, this is your leg bone, these are the bones in your fingers, in your hands, and even your head has its own bone – the skull.  He asked if our ears have bones and if his neck had bones, and we talked about how muscles are attached to the bones, and if we didn’t have bones, we’d be a big lump of jello pudding.

Then I explained that God made our bodies – our skin and our bones and our muscles.  At that point, he said “we should thank God.”  I said, “You’re absolutely right, we should thank God.  Go ahead, tell God thank you.”  He said, “How?” and I said, “You just say it.  God will hear you.”  “Out loud?” he asked.  “Yes,” I told him.

He said, “Thank you, God.”  We talked a little more about how God is everywhere and He sees everything.  How he is close to us, very, very close.  That He doesn’t sleep because He never gets tired.

We’ve never talked like this before about God.  I’ve mentioned God to him, but we never discussed the idea of God this in depth.  For a moment I worried it’s  confusing for him, the concept of an all-powerful Creator.  But something tells me he gets it.

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An-Nas, or Mankind

Surah 114  Mankind

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem (In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
Say:  I seek refuge in the Lord (and Cherisher) of Mankind,
The King (or Ruler) of Mankind,
The God (Allah) (or Judge) of Mankind, –
From the mischief of the whisperer (of Evil), who withdraws (after his whisper), –
(The same) who whispers into the hearts of Mankind,-
Among Jinns and among Men.

Surah 114 1:6

Oh Allah, please accept my dua’s (my prayers), please forgive me.  Please give me the strength to accept myself for who I am.  Thank you for my many blessings, thank you for my gift of writing, thank you for my children, my husband, the roof over my head.  Oh Allah, thank you for giving me this day, this beautiful day to continue to pray to you and to care for my children.

There are many who are so worse off than me.  There are many people with many problems that I do not have.  I am thankful today for the fact that Allah has given me so much and so many wonderful things in the Life of this World.  Family who cares for me.  Children who are loving and healthy and beautiful and everything I could have never even imagined.  Smart and funny and sleepy and hugg-y, masha’allah.

Please read Daughter of Guidance’s post Loving Allah as this post truly helped me to remember that it is important to love Allah but we can’t love Allah unless we truly love ourselves.

Qur’anic Guidance – Parenthood

It is late at night here – 2:20 am.  I am up reading the translation of the Qur’an, as this is usually the time when I get most of my reading done.  It’s not that odd for me to be up this late – my husband and I often are up late into the night as he works the midnight shift, so even on his days off, we end up keeping that same irrational, unnatural flip-flop of our nights and days.  But it is quiet in the house.  And he is asleep.  And so here I sit, desk lamp illuminating the 1/30 of the translation of the Qur’an designated for this 9th day of Ramadan. 

I’m still not finished, but there were a couple of things that popped up in my mind and I had to get them out.  My first thoughts came to me when I read an ayat about having children:

7:189 It is He who created you from a single person and made his mate of like nature, in order that he might dwell with her (in love).  When they are united, she bears a light burden and carries it about (unnoticed).  When she grows heavy, they both pray to Allah their Lord, (saying):  “If Thou givest us a goodly child, we vow we shall (ever) be grateful.”

7:190 But when He giveth them a goodly child, they ascribe to others a share in the gift they have received:  But Allah is exalted high above the partners they ascribe to Him.

The commentary in this particular Qur’an, translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, says more about this ayat:  Continue reading

Reborn Newborn During Ramadan

As I kneel down, facing the direction of the Kabbah, ready to focus my energy and attention on my prayers, I pause and think of the blessings Allah has granted me.  My thoughts center on my womb, where the tiny being inside me is perfectly encapsulated from all harm, where Allah has allowed the child to grow and develop into the creation He desires, where body and soul transform rapidly to produce the beautiful bundle of joy that will enter into the world.

Three years ago on the Night of Power in Ramadan, I took shahada over the phone with a Muslim friend who had helped me to understand and accept Islam as the one true faith.  I was ill-prepared for the struggles that lie ahead, but I knew with Allah ta’alla’s help, I would become the kind of Muslim that I longed to be. 

Now, married and expecting my first child, I feel an even stronger connection to Islam.  Islam teaches us how to live our lives here on earth in the way that pleases Allah, through the guidance given to us in the Holy Qur’an.  As a young parent, I feel the fear of the unknown.  I sense the immense responsibility that has been handed down to me, and I fear that failing as a parent will mean my failure in this life.  But I know that the Qur’an is the best parenting manual I can find.  I know that succeeding as a Muslim will be my success as a parent.  And I know that Allah is with me through it all.

Seeing the world through the eyes of a parent now, I view the outside world as a collection of temptations and worldly pleasures.  Each decision I make has and always will be recorded, but now will also be viewed through the impressionable eyes of my child.  In the choices I make, I will not only affect my own life and the life of the Hereafter, I will also be sending a ripple of influence through the life of the child Allah has granted me.  And that, too, will be recorded. 

This Ramadan is a special one.  Because I will be pregnant for the duration of Ramadan and therefore cannot fast, I strive to find new ways to strengthen my faith and make this month more meaningful than any before it.  I have started to learn the prayer after many years of internal struggling.  Finally I am worshipping Allah as He has intended for us as Muslims.  As I bow down in worship, my baby follows with me.  Every salat I perform, my baby is there, experiencing with me the wave of intense emotions I feel when in Allah’s presence, when performing this most sacred of pillars.  I feel him moving, alive and eager, and I am grateful to Allah for giving me this most precious gift in this life.

None of us is a perfect Muslim – we are far from it.  All of us can do better and strive to control our desires and increase our nafs.  But always we are an example to our children.  They are the ones we often fail to remember during times when we get angry, impatient, or fail to carry out our duties as Muslims.  They are watching all that we say and do closely and they do not forget.

I pray that Allah may guide me in the right direction, throughout the month of Ramadan, while I prepare mentally and physically for bringing a child into this world in the most appropriate time of this year, and I pray that my humble demeanor will lay a solid foundation for the tiny blessing that I will soon, insha’Allah, bring into this wonderful world.

Who Says Tweens Are In Control?

What is with this “tween” thing?  Who says these kids are controlling our culture?  Who are the ones giving them the control?

This morning I was reading the USA Weekend magazine from the Sunday Free Press (okay, yes, I know it’s already Tuesday but this is how long it takes me) and usually I don’t read that kind of garbage, but the front page article caught my attention.  It mentioned how “Tweens” are spending millions on “pop culture products.”  Where are these tweens getting the money to spend on the pop culture products, if tween ages are from 8-14 and the legal working age is 15 or 16?

Now, I am feeling a little cautious about preaching on this issue, because this could be one of those instances (and probably is although I really hope not) where I am just standing on my soapbox shouting “wah, wah, wah” with no kids of my own to speak of my experience, and then when the time comes for my little tween to be begging and begging for the pop culture products of his or her generation, I’ll give in and just say okay.  I have no tween, I don’t even have a pre-teen nor do I even have an infant (yet), so where do I get the right to spout off about this issue?

I would hope that by the time my baby in the womb is old enough to walk and talk and request this or that doll or remote control car or fashion accessory, I should hope that I still rule by the same moral compass that rules me now.  I strongly feel that it is simply a matter of saying “no” to our kids.  In the past, I have worked with young kids of this age group in a treatment facility for childen with behavior and emotional problems.  Often they would make demands that were unreasonable, demanding to go off by themselves (truancy risk) or demanding to sit by their “dates” (other boys or girls in the program) at the movies, demanding dessert at the fast food place we took them to on our already limited budget.  Yet they felt they had a “right” to these things, as many of them had never learned the word “no.”

I can hear my own voice preaching this, and it sounds too eerily familiar as being the statement of a non-Mom commenting on the behaviors and attitudes of “other” moms – so feel free to set me straight if I am wrong (or if this is totally not how parenting goes), cause I do admit my own inexperience in raising children.  But after working with these pre-teens at a behavior management treatment facility, I feel I have some knowledge about setting boundaries and limits and all that good stuff, and I also became increasingly good at using the “no” word and facing the music.  Sure they whined, sure they screamed, they threw fits in public and called me names, but at the end of it all, I felt proud to have taken a stand for what I knew was better for them in the long run.

With my own kids, I should hope that “no” also comes along with a patient, one-on-one, eye-level explanation from Mom about why this product or that toy is not a healthy choice or doesn’t fit into the Islamic paradigm, but come on, let’s be real.  In the middle of a busy store with a cart full of groceries and two wailing children, I doubt I’m going to have the time or the patience to say more than just a simple “no” and hope the matter is done with.  But I feel as long as I am consistent, my kids will know what to expect from me, and know that Mom is not likely to say okay to the thigh-high Miley Cyrus boots or the Jonas Bros baseball hat.

I’ve sat and watched the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon and as a Muslim Insha’allah-Soon-To-Be Mother, I whole-heartedly disapprove.  I also am aware of the fact that my kids are SURELY going to watch way more TV than I would like them to, and probably play more video games than I would hope.  I think we all have the ideal versions of our parenting in our heads before they are born, and I know for one that mine is over-bloated with rules carried out to perfection and happy smiles and understanding moments of mutual agreements.  This is all a joke, I know.  But on the very basic level, I hope that I can still stand for the morals and beliefs that our Islam provides for us, and if my children can gain a knowledge of their religion, I would hope that this saves them in the long run from the evils of marketing and advertisements, Western pop culture and Miley Cyrus boots.

So be real with me, Moms…tell it like it is and let me know – is this too much to hope for?