Holding your newborn child in your arms is an amazing feeling. The wrinkly face, small body and gangly legs. This tiny baby wrapped up in a snug blanket with its little feet sticking out from one end. One thing that amazed me every time I held my newborn child was their feet. It may sound strange but I was fascinated by my children’s feet. Perfectly formed, with little toes.
My family’s feet are strange. Good children’s shoes are so expensive, as expensive as adult shoes. With growing feet, the life expectancy of shoes in my house is 6 months maximum. With 4 girls I was hoping for a lot of shoe recycling from elder to younger sibling, but no. Rumaysah has long, thin and skinny feet and Nusaybah even longer feet, but wide and stocky. Now my youngest has started to stand and is showing signs of walking, so she will be due her first set of shoes soon.
My families feet are growing. As our beach picture shows, Rumaysah now wears socks in preparation for adulthood and even little Faatiha feet aren’t little anymore. However, walking on the beach with the sand slipping under me and then sinking into the wet sand, I realised that the most important thing, irrespective of shape, size or even smell of the feet is that my children have firm feet.
Walking and traversing through the complexities of life requires firm and well-grounded feet. The temptations and the distractions of this life are many and it is easy to forget that the life of this world is temporary in comparison to the hereafter.
Allah (swt) reminds us “Nay! you prefer the life of this world. While the hereafter is better and more lasting” [TMQ al-Ala: 16-17]
Although we know that Jannah is better than the world and all it contains, the mind soon forgets and gets distracted from the real objective of worshipping Allah (swt). As a parent I have many dreams and aspirations for my children. I want them to get a good education, good jobs, have good health, have nice things etc. All these things are great but how many of my aspirations for them are focussed on them gaining firm conviction in Allah (swt) so that their future is one devoted to Allah (swt). In this society the sand quickly slips from under the feet as everything is focussed on the here and now with no concept of afterlife. The sands of the world will suck you in and only firm feet will help you get to your final destination.
Allah (swt) informs us “If you help in the cause of Allah, he will aid you and make your foothold firm” [TMQ Muhammad: 7]
Although this verse was revealed in the early stages of Madinah and refers to fighting the disbelievers in order to cement the authority of Islam, this verse also has lessons for us. Allah (swt) will help us, but Allah (swt) wants us to make effort. I want my girls to grow up as strong Muslimahs and ambassadors of Islam. That achievement requires effort and a realignment of priorities from myself and my wife. To maintain a firm footing in the world, my children will need to make effort. In a secular environment, attaining an Islamic identity is hard, but maintaining it is equally difficult. It requires effort, introspection and an external focus – whilst working to improve themselves as Muslims, they should be looking to help others.
In hindsight I now realise the work to establish firm feet, started the first moment I saw my little babies gangly legs and funny feet sticking out of the wrapped up blanket. It continues every day when I pick up the endless pairs of odd socks lying around the house. The quest for firm feet will continue until, by the will of Allah (swt) our feet carry us into Jannah.
May Allah (swt) make all our footholds firm.
May Allah (swt) establish the Ummah in authority and make her foothold firm
May Allah (swt) enable our feet to carry us all to the promised destination.