Transcript of a talk I gave on the topic of Raising Muslim children in the West at BIA lounge, Small Heath, Birmingham; 21/05/2014.
I want to start by asking you a question
Do your children give you sleepless nights? Do you feel scared walking letting them walk in the streets of Britain? Do you feel scared letting them play outside by themselves? Do you worry about raising your children in the west? I imagine we all have some if not all of these concerns because the welfare and upbringing of our children is of paramount importance to Muslim parents.
Just think of that moment when your child was born, when you held your child in your arms. Yes you felt joy but i imagine you also felt the weight on your shoulders – the weight of the task you were about to undertake. This little child – this bundle of joy was my responsibility. This precious gem could be the source of great reward or immense humiliation on the Day of Judgement
This is the reality of parenting.
The sleepless nights are not only because the baby is crying – but the sleepless nights are because inside we are crying – how are we going to raise them in line with Quraan and Sunnah – especially in the non-Islamic society
What is the reality of children raised in Britain today? What goes through your mind when you send your precious little one out in the morning.
Lets just look at what the BBC website reported in just one day in the UK
Firstly Rolf Harris – accused of indecently assaulting young girls – the headline was “Harris introduced girl to kissing”. Boy aged 15 admits to raping girl aged 10. Woman in Huddersfield and her 4 children stabbed. Man charged in North Wales care home abuse enquiry – and this was abuse of boys aged 9 – 13. Teacher found guilty of child sex offences – a teacher (not Muslim) grooming girls on facebook. Deputy head from a Cardiff school jailed for 5 years after secretly filming children going to the toilet
My wife was telling me of a little 6 year old that innocently typed into google “how to have a good sleepover” and i leave it to your own imaginations what came back in the search results.
We live society that is built upon a certain way of life, that propagates secular liberal values. A society where people are fed the poisonous cocktail of freedom, individualism, sensual gratification with no accountability
And the results?
Children who don’t fear anyone, not their parents, the police of Allah, who are disrespectful and disobedient who as toddlers have a tantrum when they don’t get their own way. Who as adolescents stab their teacher to death when they don’t get their own way
This is the reality and don’t think things will get any better – most likely things will get worse. Any society that adopts freedom and benefit as a means for determining right from wrong is bound to gets worse
In reality what has freedom and liberalism brought Britain?
The unfortunate fact is it has brought, broken homes, binge drinking, pornography, knife crime – and so on.
So it is only natural that we will seek to protect our children from the values that produce such behaviour. But when we try to build within our children the Islamic values – We hear “extremist, Islamist, oppressive, backwards, barbaric, medieval” and so on
What have we been hearing in the press over the last few months?
“Islamist extremists attempting takeover of schools”
The demonisation of Islam in unparalleled, unrivalled – whether it be halal meat, niqaab, homosexuality, segregation, support for Syria even legoland – the list is endless.
There is a clear agenda here. The government has made her intentions plain and clear for all to see – Muslim mothers, Muslim parents, Muslim children, Muslim schools, Muslim community, Muslim act of worships, Muslim food. There is a clear trend, a clear thread and that is Islam and the Muslims. Islam is under attack, Islamic values are being placed in the dock. We are being asked to accept liberal values, not by choice because we would never accept them, but by stealth and fear.
They would rather your 16 year old daughter come home pregnant because she exercised personal freedom – than her maintaining her chastity and morality because of Islamic values. Mothers have been asked to spy on their children – what websites are they visiting, do they sympathise with the mujahideen in Syria. Teachers have been asked to spy on pupils – what do you think of non-Muslims, what do you think of homosexuality, what do you think of boys and girls doing PE separately. The threat of radicalised babies being taken off their parents.
There is a clear agenda here.
Ofsted asking Muslim children about their views on homosexuality? Ofsted asking Muslim girls about headscarves. Newspaper reports about teachers facing the sack if they don’t teach homosexuality in schools.
The debate and discussion is bigger than
Parkview, Oldknow and all the other schools mentioned in the press. It is bigger than halal meat or segregation. This is a debate about the future of Muslims in Britain. Will we as a community maintain our Islamic identity or will we succumb to the decadent western values?
Our children find themselves caught in a crossfire of values. Naturally, we want to bring them up in line with Islam, but Islamic values have been criminalised and demonised. So as a community we cannot stay silent on this issue – silence is not an option, because silence is acceptance of liberal values and rejection of Islamic values.
As parents we have a responsibility, as parents we need to take the lead on these issues when they affect our children. Just like, the parents of Olive Tree Primary school in Luton took a lead, parents like you at me took a stand – a unified stand confronted Ofsted forcing them to abandon the inspection”
Allah (swt) describes us as the best nation raised but instead of calling to maroof of Islam we are being forced to accept and integrate into the munkar of the society. And if we do that then, we shouldn’t be surprised then if Ayesha comes home with Julie or if Abdullah comes home with Josh. We shouldn’t be surprised if Muhammad comes home one day from school and says that he believes in Evolution and the big bang. We shouldn’t be surprised if Faatima start drawing cartoons depicting the Prophet (saw) , because they believe it is their freedom of speech
I wonder why is our default position defensive, why is it that we always feel that we are in the backfoot when issues are raised concerning Islam. Why is it that when segregation is mentioned, our default position is ‘we don’t segregate’ or when hijaab is mentioned we say ‘it’s up to them’
Where is our Islam, where is our pride in our Islam. Allah (swt) honoured us with Islam, with Islam, Allah (swt) took us out of darkness and brought us into the light. So we shouldn’t have any shame in saying, Yes we segregate, normative Islamic values because people should learn and get educated without any external distractions Yes we cover because we value what a women has in her mind above her appearance. We need to be proud of our Islam, we cannot carry on ducking and diving – as we have been doing, practising our Islam in an apologetic manner
We should take head from the statement of Umar ibn al-Khattab
“We were of the most disgraced of people and Allâh granted us honour with this Islâm. Now, whenever we seek honour in other than that which Allâh honoured us with, Allâh shall disgrace us (once again).”
So how can we raise Muslim children in the west.
Firstly we need to realise that merely giving your child the best of Islamic names is not enough to raise them Islamically
Allah (swt) says:
O You who believe! Save yourselves and your families from the Fire whose fuel is men and stones – Tahreem : 6
So the obligation of raising the child lies with the parent. They are the one charged with the responsibility of protecting his family from the fire whose fuel is men and stones.
And Rasool (saw) said:
“All of you are shepherds and each of you is responsible for his flock. A man is the shepherd of the people of his house and he is responsible, the woman is the guardian of her husband’s home and she is responsible”
Guardianship of the family is more than just providing food, clothing and shelter. But guardianship is to build an islamic character built upon accountability, good manners and taqwa.
The Prophet (saw) said: “A father gives his child nothing better than a good education.” [Tirmidhi]
Imam Ibn Qayyim al Jauziyyah said:
“Whoever neglects to teach his son that which will benefit him, and ignores him, has done something very bad indeed. Most children go astray because of their parents who neglect them and fail them to teach them the duties of Sunnahs of the deen. They neglect them when they are young so they do not benefit themselves of benefit their parents when they grow up.” [Tuhfat al Mawdood]
We need to be proactive in our child’s upbringing and education. We need to play an active role in what they learn both inside the house and outside the house.
Everything in this society is detached from the creator, Allah (swt). Whether they discuss nature, politics, social relations, human behaviour, no mention is made to spiritual and moral guidance from Allah (swt). Our role, as parents is to link everything back to Allah (swt). Our existence, our life and death, belongs to Allah (swt). The lifecycles, the rotations in the universe, night and day, the water cycle, and photosynthesis are controlled by Allah (swt). Our political system is defined by Allah (swt). Allah (swt) is everything and we are nothing.
So we need to inculcate within our children belief in the existence of Allah (swt), not by simply saying that we believe in Allah (swt) and the Messenger (saw) but by showing from the reality the power, might and mercy of Allah (swt) through what he has created. This will naturally build the love of Allah (swt), the love of the Messenger (saw), the love of Islam and the need to follow the commands and prohibitions of Allah (swt). Not as obedience to us but as obedience to the creator, of the heavens and the earth, the one worthy of All Praise, Allah (swt). So our children will worship Allah (swt) in open and in secret and not when mum and dad are watching. They will even account us when we stray from Quraan and Sunnah
Respect and obedience are massive issues in this society. Children are characterised by disobedience to parents, elders and teachers. This society build personalities shaped by individualism, me myself and I, it’s my life I do what I want, I don’t care about anyone else. Our job as parents is to build within our children that it’s not my life, but my life belongs to Allah (swt), and that Allah (swt) placed responsibilities on them to their families, neighbours, the Ummah the wider society.
Rasool (saw) said
“Whoever relieves a believer of distress in this world, Allah will relieve him of some of the distress of the Day of Resurrection. Whoever makes things easy for those who are in difficulty, Allah will make things easy for him in this world and in the next. Whoever conceals (the faults of) a Muslim in this world, Allah will conceal him (his faults) in this world and in the Hereafter. Allah will help the slave so long as the slave helps his brother.” (Muslim)
So it’s not about what I can take from this world, but about what I can offer. We are witnesses upon mankind and will be questioned on whether we delivered the message
As parents we need to build the correct concept of success in ourselves and in our children. In Islam the successful person is the one who gains the pleasure of Allah (swt) and thus enters into Jannah out of the mercy of Allah (swt)
Indeed in dua we always ask Allah (swt)
O Allah grant us the good in this world and the good in the next and save us from the fire.
So we attain the goodness that this life has to offer us, but this does not come at the expense of the akhirah. So as parents we need to be clear on who are the successful people as described by Allah (swt) and work to inculcate those qualities into our children so that they too may be successful.
Allah (swt) describes the successful in surah mu’minoon
Indeed successful are the believers
Those who offer their prayers in humility and full submission
Those who turn away from al-Laghw (vain, useless, and dirty talk, i.e. all that Allah has forbidden)
And those who pay zakat
Those who guard their private parts for illegal sexual acts
Allah swt describes in this ayah the mu’minoon as being successful. And He (swt) gives a description of the mu’min and I want to focus on 2 of those qualities; The ones who protect their tongues and their private parts from faahisha and munkar, and apply that to our society
Listen to the words that come out of children’s mouths next time you’re out shopping. Listen to how they speak to parents and elders. Listen to some of the lyrics of the songs that are in the charts – that our children download from iTunes. Think about the sexualisation of children in the West, teenage pregnancies, boyfriend / girlfriend relationships, now boyfriend – boyfriend relationships, these are normalized in the society.
We need to immunise ourselves and our children from kufr and our vaccine is the Quraan. Listen to what the Quraan has to say about guarding your tongue and private parts. The Quraanic personalities are not the ones characterised by faaisha and munkar, but the elevated personality that seeks closeness to his Lord Allah (swt)
And what does Allah (swt) promise those people
These are indeed the inheritors.
Who shall inherit the Firdaus (Paradise). They shall dwell therein forever.
We face an uphill task, we have some difficult decisions to make in coming months and years.
For some people the reality will overwhelm them. Hijrah – will appear to be the only option. But in the absence of Khilafah – we will always struggle to maintain our children on Islam. But for some, that may be an option.
But for the rest of us, infact the majority – we are here, hijrah will not be viable, at least not yet. So what should we do?
We need to stand as ambassadors for Islam. We want our children to stand as ambassadors of Islam.That means we want our children to be intellectual, have the best education, to be professional, to contribute to the society, to be an asset to the Ummah. We need to remove this street, ghetto mentality and produce children who play a positive role in society, but with a clear identity, vision and outlook on life which is shaped by Islam and not liberalism. We need Muslim children who can articulate Islam in a clear and eloquent manner to their classmates and peers.
Non-Muslims are confused about Islam – not sure whether to believe what they read in the papers. So we need to build Muslim children who are confident at engaging in the societal discussions on the basis of the Islamic aqeeda
British society is on its knees – broken Britain they call it. We can piece it together but in order to do that we need to live by Islam and manifest the Islamic values. This requires that we build ourselves and our children with a firm and unshakable foundation in Islam. A foundation that will not succumb to pressure – no matter how intense and a foundation that is not tempted towards compromise no matter how appealing it may be seem.
So, invest in your children, spend time with your children, have an open, warm relationship with your children, build within them a love for Islam and a hatred for anything that goes against Islam. So that Insha’allah our rank in jannah will be raised by our children after us who made dua for us and fulfilled their responsibility as being ambassadors of Islam carrying the dawah in the wider society.
And I leave you with this hadith – to act as a motivation of the immense reward that will await us, if we discharge the responsibility to our children effectively.
The Prophet (saw) said: “A man will have his rank raised and will say: ‘O my Lord how has this come about for me?’ Allah (swt) will reply: “Through your sons after you seeking forgivness for you.” [Ahmad, Ibn Majah]