There he stood. A grown man, towering to the sky. Broad shoulders, and so much pain in his eyes. I know it’s impossible, yet I could hear his heart sobbing. In reality though it was just the sound of my own pumping away. I stopped, asked, and what I was about to hear would break my heart in pieces. It’s a painful encounter I’ve heard over and over again of parents who’ve ‘lost’ their children for one reason or another to drugs, alcohol, fame, money, friends, etc.
As a father of two, Alhamdulillah, I can’t help but reflect on the idea that I may be in a similar situation one day. If the Prophets ‘alayhum salaam were tested with trials regarding their children, how can I feel secure? Why should I feel I won’t be tested with something similar?
Allah tells us in vivid detail the story of Nuh ‘alayhi salaam and his incident with the ark. When you read through the set of verses in Surah Hud, you can almost depict the entire scene in your mind…
Scary. Heart-wrenching. Emotional.
Zooming in on one part of the story. After Nuh ‘alayhi salaam built the ark and set sail, after calling out to his son and advising him to come on board, after his son defies the advice, and after his own son is perished in this matter decreed by Allah, you can almost sense the anguish of Nuh ‘alayhi salaam in his response:
وَنَادَىٰ نُوحٌ رَّبَّهُ فَقَالَ رَبِّ إِنَّ ابْنِي مِنْ أَهْلِي وَإِنَّ وَعْدَكَ الْحَقُّ وَأَنتَ أَحْكَمُ الْحَاكِمِينَ
And Noah called to his Lord and said, “My Lord, indeed my son is of my family; and indeed, Your promise is true; and You are the most just of judges!”
قَالَ يَا نُوحُ إِنَّهُ لَيْسَ مِنْ أَهْلِكَ ۖ إِنَّهُ عَمَلٌ غَيْرُ صَالِحٍ ۖ فَلَا تَسْأَلْنِ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ ۖ إِنِّي أَعِظُكَ أَن تَكُونَ مِنَ الْجَاهِلِينَ
He said, “O Noah, indeed he is not of your family; indeed, he is [one whose] work was other than righteous, so ask Me not for that about which you have no knowledge. Indeed, I advise you, lest you be among the ignorant.”
قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ أَنْ أَسْأَلَكَ مَا لَيْسَ لِي بِهِ عِلْمٌ ۖ وَإِلَّا تَغْفِرْ لِي وَتَرْحَمْنِي أَكُن مِّنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ
[Noah] said, “My Lord, I seek refuge in You from asking that of which I have no knowledge. And unless You forgive me and have mercy upon me, I will be among the losers.”
Subhanallah, even the Prophets were tested with the loss and defiance of their children. Yet, through all of it you find Prophet Nuh’s trust and overall submission to Allah and His plan to be strong as ever.
I don’t know what tomorrow holds for me or my children, however I do expect some shades of Prophet Nuh’s trials in my own life. It may not be in the exact way or even the extent to what Nuh ‘alayhi salaam was tested with, however at some level, I do expect it. Given this reality, I wanted to share a few pieces of advice to my fellow parents and to-be parents.
Firstly, the world we grew up in yesterday is not the world our children are growing up in today; nor will it be the world they’ll grow up in tomorrow. The world is less friendly, less vigilant to uphold good morals and ethics, and overall less safe. Our children will grow up in a hyper social and sexual society that encourages and even demands a ‘look-at-me-me-me’ life-style. They will enter puberty at younger ages. They will be exposed to differing thoughts and ideas more abundantly and at younger ages then we were. So please, step up to the plate and be parents. Put less reliance upon the Imam, the Masjid, the school, the teachers, etc. in raising your children. Stop outsourcing the job because more than anyone in the world, through all the trails they’ll face, your children need you. They need you to to listen to them, to play with them, to educate them… to parent them.
Secondly, instill within them ultimate dependence upon Allah. Children need to understand early on that more than themselves, more than their parents, family, friends, etc. that it is Allah who is in control and it is He who provides them with everything they need and want. The less we attribute blessings to Allah, the less our children will realize the true source of everything they have and the less they will seek it from Him. The less they seek it from Him, the more dependent they will become upon themselves. So what happens next? When they depend on themselves, their desires and limited knowledge become ilahs i.e. gods superior to the one and only ilah i.e. Allah. Look at what Prophet Nuh’s son says after Nuh ‘alayhi salaam tells him to embark on the ark in Allah’s name: “I will take refuge on a mountain to protect me from the water.” His dependency upon himself and his ways eventually destroyed him.
Lastly, Never give up on your children. Never. Undoubtedly you will face tough times with your children – some of you will face incredible amounts of difficulty. However through all the pain, the heart ache, the abandonment, you don’t get to give up on them. You don’t get to throw them to the wolves and have them left for dead. You keep protecting them and supporting them. There are many examples of children who were set aright only because of the love, prayers and constant reminders of their parents. You may face a few months of backlash, maybe a few years, maybe decades, but your constant loving reminders and prayers will help them when the time is right. You don’t guide anyone, not even your own children. However, the job at hand is still to convey, and to continue conveying until your last breath. The rest we leave to Allah. Even in the story of Nuh ‘alayhi salaam, you find him pleading with Allah until the last moments, even until after the death of his son. Subhanallah.
These are just a few pieces of advice from one father’s perspective. There is much more wisdom out there with you, the readers, who likely have your own set of experiences and pieces of advice that we can all benefit from. We’d love to hear it. Leave a comment below and if you found benefit in this article, please share. JazakumAllahu Khairan.