To Do List After Ramadan

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Ramadan ended. (May Allah accept all our prayer, fasting, du’a, and good deeds during this blessed month — ameen!) How should we, as Muslims, act now?

We graduated from the school of Ramadan; can life simply return to normal?

Our scholars mention a few points about this:

  • Allah says, in surah Baqarah, that Ramadan was prescribed on us in the hope that we gain taqwa. Did we achieve that goal of the school of Ramadan? Or did we simply fast because of our parents, our friends, our spouse, or our culture?
  • The continuation of our deeds shows the acceptance of our deeds (even if we continue them at a smaller scale than during Ramadan).
  • We live life for a purpose, not haphazardly; just like we create dunya goals (get a degree, get a job, get a spouse, get a house, etc.) we must create deen goals, and work towards improving ourselves. Ramadan puts us through an obligatory one-month “boot camp” of self-improvement every year.

Did you pass the test of Ramadan? Did you benefit from Ramadan? The litmus test is: are you better after Ramadan than you were before Ramadan?

You can’t compare to yourself to in-Ramadan, because it’s not sustainable. At the same time, scholars say, if you live your life like you did in Ramadan, the Day of Repayment will be your Eid. That’s what this is all about. That is a goal worthy of setting.

Now, the game plan: the secret sauce of what to do after Ramadan comes from one key hadith of rasulullah (ﷺ):

أَخْبَرَنَا قُتَيْبَةُ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا اللَّيْثُ، عَنِ ابْنِ عَجْلاَنَ، عَنْ سَعِيدٍ الْمَقْبُرِيِّ، عَنْ أَبِي سَلَمَةَ، عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، قَالَتْ كَانَ لِرَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم حَصِيرَةٌ يَبْسُطُهَا بِالنَّهَارِ وَيَحْتَجِرُهَا بِاللَّيْلِ فَيُصَلِّي فِيهَا فَفَطِنَ لَهُ النَّاسُ فَصَلَّوْا بِصَلاَتِهِ وَبَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَهُمُ الْحَصِيرَةُ فَقَالَ ‏ “‏ اكْلَفُوا مِنَ الْعَمَلِ مَا تُطِيقُونَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ لاَ يَمَلُّ حَتَّى تَمَلُّوا وَإِنَّ أَحَبَّ الأَعْمَالِ إِلَى اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ أَدْوَمُهُ وَإِنْ قَلَّ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ ثُمَّ تَرَكَ مُصَلاَّهُ ذَلِكَ فَمَا عَادَ لَهُ حَتَّى قَبَضَهُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ وَكَانَ إِذَا عَمِلَ عَمَلاً أَثْبَتَهُ ‏.‏
It was narrated that ‘Aishah said: “The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: ‘Do as much of good deeds as you can, for Allah does not get tired (of giving reward) until you get tired. And the most beloved of deeds to Allah are those that are continuous, even if they are few.‘ Then he stopped that prayer and did not return to it until Allah took him (in death), and if he started to do something he would persist in it.” (Sunan An-Nasaai, 9/21)

(You can click the link to read the full English translation, instead of just this excerpt.)

In Ramadan, think about the actions we performed. We:

  • Prayed a lot.
  • Prayed in jama’ah/congregation
  • Prayed Qiyaam Al-Layl
  • Fasted. Every day.
  • Gave charity. Lots of it.
  • Reached out to our family.

We can continue all these deeds after Ramadan:

  • Don’t pray 5x a day yet? Start. Improve yourself. Add just one prayer to what you pray now.
  • Don’t pray qiyaam? Start. Pray two short rakahs right after Isha, and gradually make it longer and later and larger in quantity.
  • Don’t fast any extra fasts? Start. Aim for three times a month (the White Days), or every Monday, or every Monday and Thursday.
  • Don’t give sadaqah outside of Ramadan? Start. Give sadaqah, even if only a dollar once a week.
  • Don’t have a good relationship with some of your relatives? Fix it. Talk to your family, especially distant relatives.
  • Don’t read the Qur’an regularly? Start. Read something every day. Start with just one page a day, but read it with tafseer.

And a final warning: aim for slow, steady improvement over time. One trick Shaytaan capitalizes on is to encourage us to do everything and anything, all at once. Just like you can’t quit smoking today and run a marathon tomorrow, you can’t change full-force in a short amount of time.

Don’t even try. This may appear to work — for a day or two, or a week — until you burn out, and give up completely. Don’t fall for it. Start slow, and improve yourself until you become a much better person than you are.

May Allah allow us to seek the true, long-term benefits of Ramadan and better ourselves as people.

Source: Friday Khutbah at ISNA by shaykh Alaa Elsayed, August 7, 2015.


Powerful Tips for the Last 10 Nights

By Sheikh Tawfique Chowdhury

1. Do not let your ‘performance’ until now affect your last 10 days. The moment of forgiveness could be today or anytime in the coming days! It is not all lost! If you sincerely wish it could have been better – Chin up and get ready to make it your best yet! Start with a positive, sincere intention!

2. Today, take a little time to read the Tafseer of Surah al-Qadr to understand what actually happens this night! You will feel its power & greatness so much more!

3. Do not wait for the 27th Night to give it your “all”. The entire last 10 days should be your target. Stay up each night! Would you want to miss Laylatul Qadr even “by chance”?

4. Do not fall into any innovations/celebrations any masjid or culture might try to promote. Follow the Sunnah! The Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) guided us simply: “Whoever stays up and prays on Laylat al-Qadr out of faith and in the hope of reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.”

5. Memorize and keep asking the dua’ taught by Rasulullah (sallAllahu ‘alaihi wa sallam): Allaahumma innaka ‘afuwwun tuhibb al-‘afwa fa’affu ‘anni (O Allaah, You are forgiving and You love forgiveness, so forgive me).

6. Prepare a short dua’ list. Remember this is as awesome as it ever gets for a servant of Allah! The Night of Qadr, of Destiny! Consciously pick each and everything you crucially wish for in this dunya, in your deen, family, and in your aakhirah! Don’t forget to include the brothers and sisters around the world who are suffering and in grief!

7. Take brief naps during the day, if possible. Keep your stomach light and sleep as soon as you have prayed ‘isha. Do not delay! After a brief nap, refresh yourself and get. ready for worship.

8. Don’t neglect your family! Rasulullah made it a point to wake up his wives throughout these nights! And yes, your children are not too young to stay up some part of the night – if they can be allowed to play video games or watch TV, they can be inspired to be up atleast for sometime! Prepare them, make them excited, plan some activities for them to do!

9. Look the Part: The way we dress and prepare.has a big effect on our psychology. Wear your best, perfume yourself, and feel the energy!

10. Choose a spot, whether in the Masjid or in your home, where you can have peace and solitude. Keep your mushaf, praying mat, and water at hand so that you are not distracted by constantly getting up for this or that.

11. IMP: This is not the night to tweet pics or update FB statuses about how amazing the night is and how you are feeling & worshipping Allah! Let that be a secret between you & your Rabb! So switch off those phones, wifi, laptops and computers. Disconnect with the world, and connect with al-‘Afuww!

12. If you find yourself feeling sleepy, vary your acts of worship. Alternate between qiyaam, heartfelt dua’a, reading the Qur’an. Do not spend the night listening to lectures or recitations. Or do it only for a short while when you feel the sleep coming on!

13. Patience is the Key: The last 10 days might be tiring. You might still have work or school. This is the time to bear all that hardship, and keep firm sabr. Think how Allah has blessed you with this tremendous opportunity that might NEVER come again in your life again. If you knew for sure that this was your last Ramadan , if you knew certainly that Jannah was up for grabs, wouldn’t you sprint for it no matter what it takes?

14. This is most important: Keep husn adh-dhann bi Allah (good expectations from Allah). When you ask, remember you are asking the Most Generous King. If you hope for the best, He will give you the best. Don’t hold back. Trust in Him, pour out your heart in front of Him, and let no doubt, no barrier, no evil thoughts keep you away from ar-
Rahman, ar-Raheem!

Allahumma ballighna laylatal qadr..


10 Examples of How Rasulullah Treated Children

a child praying
Image credit: Farazk007

The sunnah contains many examples of how rasulullah (ﷺ) dealt with children.

Why is this important? Because he’s our uswah, our role-model, our example to follow. Many of his companions met him once or twice, saw him doing something once or twice, and as a result, would keep doing that thing until they died. Not because he told them to, but because they loved him, and sought to follow him as much as possible.

Could we please try to do that? We can never reach their level, but whoever follows their footsteps will reach them, inshaAllah.

On to the examples.

Anas ibn Malik’s Ten Years of Service

I served the Prophet for ten years, I lived with him for ten years and not once did he rebuke me. Not once did the word “uff” come from his mouth. He never said to me, “why did you do this?” or “why didn’t you do that?” (Source)

Anas ibn Malik was a well known scholar among the sahaba. His mother gifted him to rasulullah (ﷺ) while he was a young child, in order to give him the best possible upbringing and Islamic education.

Personally, I feel this hadith serves as a general-purpose, all-encompassing rule (and guideline) by which to follow with child-raising. We learn some important lessons from this, which we can apply to our own families:

  • Don’t rebuke them (or tell them off).
  • Don’t appear exasperated or frustrated in front of them.
  • Don’t ask them why they did something, or didn’t do something. (They don’t know why.)

Anas ibn Malik was also a young child at the start of his service of the messenger of Allah (ﷺ).

However, rasulullah (ﷺ) didn’t just let things go; when children did something wrong, he did not simply let it slide, but he told them:

حَدَّثَنَا عُبَيْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ مُعَاذٍ الْعَنْبَرِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبِي، حَدَّثَنَا شُعْبَةُ، عَنْ مُحَمَّدٍ، – وَهُوَ ابْنُ زِيَادٍ – سَمِعَ أَبَا هُرَيْرَةَ، يَقُولُ أَخَذَ الْحَسَنُ بْنُ عَلِيٍّ تَمْرَةً مِنْ تَمْرِ الصَّدَقَةِ فَجَعَلَهَا فِي فِيهِ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ كِخْ كِخْ ارْمِ بِهَا أَمَا عَلِمْتَ أَنَّا لاَ نَأْكُلُ الصَّدَقَةَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏

Abu Huraira reported that Hasan ibn ‘Ali (radiallahu anhum) took one of The dates of the sadaqa and put it in his mouth, whereupon the Prophet (ﷺ) said: Leave it, leave it, throw it; don’t you know that we do not eat the sadaqa? (Bukhari and Muslim)

Note that, as mentioned in another narration, he physically removed the date from Hassan’s mouth — he didn’t just tell him not to do it.

His Daughter Fatima

A longer hadith clues us into a key habit of rasulullah (ﷺ):

حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ الْحَكَمِ، قَالَ‏:‏ أَخْبَرَنَا النَّضْرُ، قَالَ‏:‏ حَدَّثَنَا إِسْرَائِيلُ، قَالَ‏:‏ أَخْبَرَنَا مَيْسَرَةُ بْنُ حَبِيبٍ قَالَ‏:‏ أَخْبَرَنِي الْمِنْهَالُ بْنُ عَمْرٍو قَالَ‏:‏ حَدَّثَتْنِي عَائِشَةُ بِنْتُ طَلْحَةَ، عَنْ عَائِشَةَ أُمِّ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهَا قَالَتْ‏:‏ مَا رَأَيْتُ أَحَدًا مِنَ النَّاسِ كَانَ أَشْبَهَ بِالنَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم كَلاَمًا وَلاَ حَدِيثًا وَلاَ جِلْسَةً مِنْ فَاطِمَةَ، قَالَتْ‏:‏ وَكَانَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم إِذَا رَآهَا قَدْ أَقْبَلَتْ رَحَّبَ بِهَا، ثُمَّ قَامَ إِلَيْهَا فَقَبَّلَهَا، ثُمَّ أَخَذَ بِيَدِهَا فَجَاءَ بِهَا حَتَّى يُجْلِسَهَا فِي مَكَانِهِ، وَكَانَتْ إِذَا أَتَاهَا النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم رَحَّبَتْ بِهِ، ثُمَّ قَامَتْ إِلَيْهِ فَقَبَّلَتْهُ، وأَنَّهَا دَخَلَتْ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي مَرَضِهِ الَّذِي قُبِضَ فِيهِ، فَرَحَّبَ وَقَبَّلَهَا، وَأَسَرَّ إِلَيْهَا، فَبَكَتْ، ثُمَّ أَسَرَّ إِلَيْهَا، فَضَحِكَتْ، فَقُلْتُ لِلنِّسَاءِ‏:‏ إِنْ كُنْتُ لَأَرَى أَنَّ لِهَذِهِ الْمَرْأَةِ فَضْلاً عَلَى النِّسَاءِ، فَإِذَا هِيَ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ، بَيْنَمَا هِيَ تَبْكِي إِذَا هِيَ تَضْحَكُ، فَسَأَلْتُهَا‏:‏ مَا قَالَ لَكِ‏؟‏ قَالَتْ‏:‏ إِنِّي إِذًا لَبَذِرَةٌ، فَلَمَّا قُبِضَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم، فَقَالَتْ‏:‏ أَسَرَّ إِلَيَّ فَقَالَ‏:‏ إِنِّي مَيِّتٌ، فَبَكَيْتُ، ثُمَّ أَسَرَّ إِلَيَّ فَقَالَ‏:‏ إِنَّكِ أَوَّلُ أَهْلِي بِي لُحُوقًا، فَسُرِرْتُ بِذَلِكَ وَأَعْجَبَنِي‏.

‘A’isha, the Umm al-Mu’minin, said, “I have not seen anyone who more resembled the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, in words or speech or manner of sitting than Fatima.” ‘A’isha continued, “When the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, saw that she had come, he would greet her and then he stood up for her, kissed her, took her hand and brought her forward and made her sit in his place. When the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, visited her, she greeted him, stood up for him, and kissed him. She came to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, in his final illness and he greeted her, kissed her, and told her a secret. She wept. Then he confided something else to her and she laughed. I said to the women, ‘I see that this woman is superior to other women, let she is one of them. First she wept and then she laughed.’ I asked her, ‘What did he say to you?’ She replied, ‘I would be telling a secret.’ When the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, died, Fatima said, ‘He confided to me, “I am dying,” so I wept. Then he confided to me, “You will be the first of my family to join me,” so I was happy and pleased at that.'” (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad)

He always greeted his daughter, kissed her, and gave her his spot to sit in. This is a habit of his — so much so that when he couldn’t do this (before he died), she immediately became concerned with his situation. This is a habit that we should all strive to adopt.

Kissing Children

حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو الْيَمَانِ، أَخْبَرَنَا شُعَيْبٌ، عَنِ الزُّهْرِيِّ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو سَلَمَةَ بْنُ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ، أَنَّ أَبَا هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ قَبَّلَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم الْحَسَنَ بْنَ عَلِيٍّ وَعِنْدَهُ الأَقْرَعُ بْنُ حَابِسٍ التَّمِيمِيُّ جَالِسًا‏.‏ فَقَالَ الأَقْرَعُ إِنَّ لِي عَشَرَةً مِنَ الْوَلَدِ مَا قَبَّلْتُ مِنْهُمْ أَحَدًا‏.‏ فَنَظَرَ إِلَيْهِ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ثُمَّ قَالَ ‏ “‏ مَنْ لاَ يَرْحَمُ لاَ يُرْحَمُ ‏”‏‏.‏

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) kissed Al-Hasan bin ‘Ali while Al-Aqra’ bin Habis at-Tamim was sitting beside him. Al-Aqra said, “I have ten children and I have never kissed anyone of them,” Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) cast a look at him and said, “Whoever is not merciful to others will not be treated mercifully.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Kissing children (and grandchildren) is also an easy way to show them affection and make them feel loved.

Shortening his Prayer for Crying Children

حَدَّثَنَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ بْنُ مُوسَى، قَالَ أَخْبَرَنَا الْوَلِيدُ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا الأَوْزَاعِيُّ، عَنْ يَحْيَى بْنِ أَبِي كَثِيرٍ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ أَبِي قَتَادَةَ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ أَبِي قَتَادَةَ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ إِنِّي لأَقُومُ فِي الصَّلاَةِ أُرِيدُ أَنْ أُطَوِّلَ فِيهَا، فَأَسْمَعُ بُكَاءَ الصَّبِيِّ، فَأَتَجَوَّزُ فِي صَلاَتِي كَرَاهِيَةَ أَنْ أَشُقَّ عَلَى أُمِّهِ ‏”‏‏.‏ تَابَعَهُ بِشْرُ بْنُ بَكْرٍ وَابْنُ الْمُبَارَكِ وَبَقِيَّةُ عَنِ الأَوْزَاعِيِّ‏.‏
Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abi Qatada: My father said, “The Prophet (ﷺ) said, ‘When I stand for prayer, I intend to prolong it but on hearing the cries of a child, I cut it short, as I dislike to trouble the child’s mother.'” (Bukhari)

Rasulullah (ﷺ) loved praying, and he used to pray long prayers in private; yet, in public, he shortened his prayer for children so that their mothers would not feel sad. That’s the care and attention he took for children (and mothers).

Praying with Children

أَخْبَرَنَا عَبْدُ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنُ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ سَلاَّمٍ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا يَزِيدُ بْنُ هَارُونَ، قَالَ أَنْبَأَنَا جَرِيرُ بْنُ حَازِمٍ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ أَبِي يَعْقُوبَ الْبَصْرِيُّ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ شَدَّادٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، قَالَ خَرَجَ عَلَيْنَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي إِحْدَى صَلاَتَىِ الْعِشَاءِ وَهُوَ حَامِلٌ حَسَنًا أَوْ حُسَيْنًا فَتَقَدَّمَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَوَضَعَهُ ثُمَّ كَبَّرَ لِلصَّلاَةِ فَصَلَّى فَسَجَدَ بَيْنَ ظَهْرَانَىْ صَلاَتِهِ سَجْدَةً أَطَالَهَا ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبِي فَرَفَعْتُ رَأْسِي وَإِذَا الصَّبِيُّ عَلَى ظَهْرِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَهُوَ سَاجِدٌ فَرَجَعْتُ إِلَى سُجُودِي فَلَمَّا قَضَى رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم الصَّلاَةَ قَالَ النَّاسُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنَّكَ سَجَدْتَ بَيْنَ ظَهْرَانَىْ صَلاَتِكَ سَجْدَةً أَطَلْتَهَا حَتَّى ظَنَنَّا أَنَّهُ قَدْ حَدَثَ أَمْرٌ أَوْ أَنَّهُ يُوحَى إِلَيْكَ ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏ “‏ كُلُّ ذَلِكَ لَمْ يَكُنْ وَلَكِنَّ ابْنِي ارْتَحَلَنِي فَكَرِهْتُ أَنْ أُعَجِّلَهُ حَتَّى يَقْضِيَ حَاجَتَهُ ‏”‏ ‏

“The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) came out to us for one of the night-time prayers, and he was carrying Hasan or Husain. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) came forward and put him down, then he said the Takbir and started to pray. He prostrated during his prayer, and made the prostration lengthy.” My father said: “I raised my head and saw the child on the back of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) while he was prostrating so I went back to my prostration. When the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) finished praying, the people said: “O Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), you prostrated during the prayer for so long that we thought that something had happened or that you were receiving a revelation.’ He said: ‘No such thing happened. But my son was riding on my back and I did not like to disturb him until he had enough.'” (Sunan An-Nasai)

In this hadith, as in the last hadith, we see the concern of rasulullah (ﷺ) to not disturb children, even while praying. (We also see him praying with small children, as many parents do today.)

Abu Umair’s Sparrow

In one hadith:

حَدَّثَنَا مُوسَى بْنُ إِسْمَاعِيلَ، حَدَّثَنَا حَمَّادٌ، حَدَّثَنَا ثَابِتٌ، عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ، قَالَ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَدْخُلُ عَلَيْنَا وَلِي أَخٌ صَغِيرٌ يُكْنَى أَبَا عُمَيْرٍ وَكَانَ لَهُ نُغَرٌ يَلْعَبُ بِهِ فَمَاتَ فَدَخَلَ عَلَيْهِ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ذَاتَ يَوْمٍ فَرَآهُ حَزِينًا فَقَالَ ‏”‏ مَا شَأْنُهُ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالُوا مَاتَ نُغَرُهُ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ يَا أَبَا عُمَيْرٍ مَا فَعَلَ النُّغَيْرُ ‏”‏ ‏.

The Messenger of Allah (May peace be upon him) used to come to visit us. I had a younger brother who was called Abu ‘Umair by kunyah (nickname). He had a sparrow with which he played, but it died. So one day the prophet (May peace be upon him) came to see him and saw him grieved. He asked: What is the matter with him? The people replied: His sparrow has died. He then said: Abu ‘Umair! What has happened to the little sparrow (nughayr)? (Bukhari, Muslim, and a lengthier narration in Abu Dawud)

Scholars derive many (hundreds) of benefits and rulings from these ahadith. Of relevance here: rasulullah spent time with children, and they were comfortable around him; he cared about them, and even their pets, and even tried to cheer them up when they were sad.

The Dying Jewish Boy

حَدَّثَنَا سُلَيْمَانُ بْنُ حَرْبٍ، حَدَّثَنَا حَمَّادٌ ـ وَهْوَ ابْنُ زَيْدٍ ـ عَنْ ثَابِتٍ، عَنْ أَنَسٍ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ كَانَ غُلاَمٌ يَهُودِيٌّ يَخْدُمُ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَمَرِضَ، فَأَتَاهُ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَعُودُهُ، فَقَعَدَ عِنْدَ رَأْسِهِ فَقَالَ لَهُ ‏”‏ أَسْلِمْ ‏”‏‏.‏ فَنَظَرَ إِلَى أَبِيهِ وَهْوَ عِنْدَهُ فَقَالَ لَهُ أَطِعْ أَبَا الْقَاسِمِ صلى الله عليه وسلم‏.‏ فَأَسْلَمَ، فَخَرَجَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَهْوَ يَقُولُ ‏”‏ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي أَنْقَذَهُ مِنَ النَّارِ ‏”‏‏.‏

A young Jewish boy used to serve the Prophet (ﷺ) and he became sick. So the Prophet (ﷺ) went to visit him. He sat near his head and asked him to embrace Islam. The boy looked at his father, who was sitting there; the latter told him to obey Abul-Qasim and the boy embraced Islam. The Prophet (ﷺ) came out saying: “Praise be to Allah Who saved the boy from the Hellfire.” (Bukhari)

Rasulullah (ﷺ) took interest in where the boy was when he fell sick, although he was not a Muslim; he visited him; he encouraged him to become a Muslim, and was overjoyed when the boy accepted and was saved from Hellfire.

Telling Them he Loved Them and Making Du’a For Them

حَدَّثَنَا حَجَّاجُ بْنُ الْمِنْهَالِ، حَدَّثَنَا شُعْبَةُ، قَالَ أَخْبَرَنِي عَدِيٌّ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ الْبَرَاءَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ رَأَيْتُ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَالْحَسَنُ عَلَى عَاتِقِهِ يَقُولُ ‏ “‏ اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أُحِبُّهُ فَأَحِبَّهُ ‏”‏‏.‏

Narrated Al-Bara: I saw the Prophet (ﷺ) carrying Al-Hasan (his grandson) on his shoulder an saying, “O Allah! I love him, so please love him.” (Bukhari and Muslim, with another, longer narration in Bukhari)

Tell children you love them, and make du’a that Allah loves them too.

The Infant who Urinated On Him

حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ الْمُثَنَّى، حَدَّثَنَا يَحْيَى بْنُ سَعِيدٍ، عَنْ هِشَامٍ، قَالَ أَخْبَرَنِي أَبِي، عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَضَعَ صَبِيًّا فِي حِجْرِهِ يُحَنِّكُهُ، فَبَالَ عَلَيْهِ، فَدَعَا بِمَاءٍ فَأَتْبَعَهُ‏.‏

Narrated ‘Aisha: The Prophet (ﷺ) took a child in his lap for Tahnik (i.e. he chewed a date in his mouth and put its juice in the mouth of the child). The child urinated on him, so he asked for water and poured it over the place of the urine. (Bukhari)

From this hadith, we see that he (ﷺ) took children into his lap; he made tahneek for them; and when they urinated on him, instead of getting angry, he simply took water and washed it off. How many of us react more severely to our children when they do less than this?

Giving Advice: Ask Allah

Finally, rasulullah (ﷺ) gave advice to Ibn Abbas (radiallahu anhumaa), a child who grew into a world-class scholar:

حَدَّثَنَا أَحْمَدُ بْنُ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ مُوسَى، أَخْبَرَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ الْمُبَارَكِ، أَخْبَرَنَا لَيْثُ بْنُ سَعْدٍ، وَابْنُ، لَهِيعَةَ عَنْ قَيْسِ بْنِ الْحَجَّاجِ، قَالَ وَحَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ، أَخْبَرَنَا أَبُو الْوَلِيدِ، حَدَّثَنَا لَيْثُ بْنُ سَعْدٍ، حَدَّثَنِي قَيْسُ بْنُ الْحَجَّاجِ الْمَعْنَى، وَاحِدٌ، عَنْ حَنَشٍ الصَّنْعَانِيِّ، عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ، قَالَ كُنْتُ خَلْفَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَوْمًا فَقَالَ ‏ “‏ يَا غُلاَمُ إِنِّي أُعَلِّمُكَ كَلِمَاتٍ احْفَظِ اللَّهَ يَحْفَظْكَ احْفَظِ اللَّهَ تَجِدْهُ تُجَاهَكَ إِذَا سَأَلْتَ فَاسْأَلِ اللَّهَ وَإِذَا اسْتَعَنْتَ فَاسْتَعِنْ بِاللَّهِ وَاعْلَمْ أَنَّ الأُمَّةَ لَوِ اجْتَمَعَتْ عَلَى أَنْ يَنْفَعُوكَ بِشَيْءٍ لَمْ يَنْفَعُوكَ إِلاَّ بِشَيْءٍ قَدْ كَتَبَهُ اللَّهُ لَكَ وَلَوِ اجْتَمَعُوا عَلَى أَنْ يَضُرُّوكَ بِشَيْءٍ لَمْ يَضُرُّوكَ إِلاَّ بِشَيْءٍ قَدْ كَتَبَهُ اللَّهُ عَلَيْكَ رُفِعَتِ الأَقْلاَمُ وَجَفَّتِ الصُّحُفُ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ ‏.‏

Ibn ‘Abbas narrated: “I was behind the Prophet (ﷺ) one day when he said: “O boy! I will teach you a statement: Be mindful of Allah and He will protect you. Be mindful of Allah and you will find Him before you. When you ask, ask Allah, and when you seek aid, seek Allah’s aid. Know that if the entire creation were to gather together to do something to benefit you- you would never get any benefit except that Allah had written for you. And if they were to gather to do something to harm you- you would never be harmed except that Allah had written for you. The pens are lifted and the pages are dried.” (Jaami’ At-Tirmidhi)

This statement which he told Ibn Abbas contains many points of benefit: aqeedah (belief in destiny), eman (faith in Allah) dealing with people, and understanding where the source of good and harm comes from. How many of us can give children encompassing advice like this?

As to the extent of asking, another hadith clarifies:

حَدَّثَنَا صَالِحُ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، أَخْبَرَنَا جَعْفَرُ بْنُ سُلَيْمَانَ، عَنْ ثَابِتٍ الْبُنَانِيِّ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ لِيَسْأَلْ أَحَدُكُمْ رَبَّهُ حَاجَتَهُ حَتَّى يَسْأَلَهُ الْمِلْحَ وَحَتَّى يَسْأَلَهُ شِسْعَ نَعْلِهِ إِذَا انْقَطَعَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ وَهَذَا أَصَحُّ مِنْ حَدِيثِ قَطَنٍ عَنْ جَعْفَرِ بْنِ سُلَيْمَانَ ‏.‏

Thabit Al-Bunani narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Let one of you ask his Lord for his every need, until he asks Him for salt, and asks Him for the strap of his sandal when it breaks.” (Jaami’ at-Tirmidhi)

You ask Allah for major things, and you ask Allah for minor things; nothing is beyond His capability to give, and nothing is too small or too big to ask. So ask!

May Allah make us among those who follow in the footsteps of rasulullah and raise righteous children, ameen.

Source: AlKauthar Institute: Parenting Matters. Taught by Shaykh Alaa Elsayed. University of Toronto, Toronto, November 2014.


Attributes of a Successful Parent


The sunnah mentions several characteristics of successful parents. Let’s dive into some of them.

Hilm (Forebearance) and Hayaa (Modesty)

حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو إِسْحَاقَ الْهَرَوِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا الْعَبَّاسُ بْنُ الْفَضْلِ الأَنْصَارِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا قُرَّةُ بْنُ خَالِدٍ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو جَمْرَةَ، عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ، أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ قَالَ لِلأَشَجِّ الْعَصَرِيِّ ‏ “‏ إِنَّ فِيكَ خَصْلَتَيْنِ يُحِبُّهُمَا اللَّهُ الْحِلْمَ وَالْحَيَاءَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏

Translation: It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas that the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said to Ashajj Ansari: “You have two characteristics that Allah likes: Forbearance and modesty.” (Sunan ibn Majah)

This hadith mentions two characteristics: al-hilm (forebearance), and hayaa (modesty).

Allah characterizes hilm with his name, Al-Haleem. It means: “the one who is angry, and justifiably angry; and who has the power to do something about it, but still withholds his anger.”

Children test you. They intentionally push limits and push your buttons to provoke a reaction. (They even know which parent/caregiver goes easy on them — that’s who they ask when they want something.)

Rifq (Active Gentleness)

حَدَّثَنَا إِسْمَاعِيلُ بْنُ حَفْصٍ الأُبُلِّيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو بَكْرِ بْنُ عَيَّاشٍ، عَنِ الأَعْمَشِ، عَنْ أَبِي صَالِحٍ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ قَالَ ‏ “‏ إِنَّ اللَّهَ رَفِيقٌ يُحِبُّ الرِّفْقَ وَيُعْطِي عَلَيْهِ مَا لاَ يُعْطِي عَلَى الْعُنْفِ ‏”‏ ‏.‏

Translation: “Allah is Rafeeq (gentle) and loves gentleness, and He grants reward for it that He does not grant for harshness.” (Sunan ibn Majah)

Rifq means active gentleness, kindness, and compassion. Another hadith in Saheeh Muslim mentions that rifq decorates actions.

Rahmah (Mercy)

وعن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال‏:‏ قبل النبي الحسن بن علي رضي الله عنهما، وعنده الأقرع بن حابس، فقال الأقرع‏:‏ إن لي عشرة من الولد ما قبلت منهم أحدًا‏.‏ فنظر إليه رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فقال‏:‏ “من لا يرحم لا يرحم” ‏(‏‏(‏متفق عليه‏)‏‏)‏ ‏.‏

Translation: The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) kissed his grandson Al-Hasan bin ‘Ali (May Allah be pleased with them) in the presence of Al-Aqra’ bin Habis. Thereupon he (Aqra) remarked: “I have ten children and I have never kissed any one of them.” Messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) looked at him and said, “He who does not show mercy to others will not be shown mercy.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

This hadith illustrates a very simple, easy act of mercy: kissing children. Yes, it is considered manly to kiss your children!

Facilitate Ease for Them

وَحَدَّثَنِي عَنْ مَالِكٍ، عَنِ ابْنِ شِهَابٍ، عَنْ عُرْوَةَ بْنِ الزُّبَيْرِ، عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، زَوْجِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَنَّهَا قَالَتْ مَا خُيِّرَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي أَمْرَيْنِ قَطُّ إِلاَّ أَخَذَ أَيْسَرَهُمَا مَا لَمْ يَكُنْ إِثْمًا فَإِنْ كَانَ إِثْمًا كَانَ أَبْعَدَ النَّاسِ مِنْهُ وَمَا انْتَقَمَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم لِنَفْسِهِ إِلاَّ أَنْ تُنْتَهَكَ حُرْمَةُ اللَّهِ فَيَنْتَقِمُ لِلَّهِ بِهَا ‏.‏

Translation: ‘Aisha, the wife of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, did not have to choose between two matters, but that he chose the easier of them as long as it was not a wrong action (i.e. haraam). If it was a wrong action, he was the furthest of people from it. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, did not take revenge for himself unless the limits of Allah were violated. Then he took revenge for it for Allah.” (Imam Malik’s Muwatta)

Don’t Get Angry

وعن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه ، أن رجلاً قال للنبي صلى الله عليه وسلم‏:‏ أوصني، قال‏:‏ ‏”‏لا تغضب‏”‏ فردد مراراً، قال‏:‏ ‏”‏ لاتغضب‏”‏ رواه البخاري‏.‏

Translation: A man asked the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) for an advice and he (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “Do not get angry”. The man repeated that several times and he (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) replied, “Do not get angry”. (Saheeh Bukhari)

Pray Short Prayers

If you pray with your children, pray short prayers:

وَحَدَّثَنَا قُتَيْبَةُ بْنُ سَعِيدٍ، حَدَّثَنَا لَيْثٌ، ح قَالَ وَحَدَّثَنَا ابْنُ رُمْحٍ، أَخْبَرَنَا اللَّيْثُ، عَنْ أَبِي الزُّبَيْرِ، عَنْ جَابِرٍ، أَنَّهُ قَالَ صَلَّى مُعَاذُ بْنُ جَبَلٍ الأَنْصَارِيُّ لأَصْحَابِهِ الْعِشَاءَ فَطَوَّلَ عَلَيْهِمْ فَانْصَرَفَ رَجُلٌ مِنَّا فَصَلَّى فَأُخْبِرَ مُعَاذٌ عَنْهُ فَقَالَ إِنَّهُ مُنَافِقٌ ‏.‏ فَلَمَّا بَلَغَ ذَلِكَ الرَّجُلَ دَخَلَ عَلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَأَخْبَرَهُ مَا قَالَ مُعَاذٌ فَقَالَ لَهُ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ أَتُرِيدُ أَنْ تَكُونَ فَتَّانًا يَا مُعَاذُ إِذَا أَمَمْتَ النَّاسَ فَاقْرَأْ بِالشَّمْسِ وَضُحَاهَا ‏.‏ وَسَبِّحِ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ الأَعْلَى ‏.‏ وَاقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ ‏.‏ وَاللَّيْلِ إِذَا يَغْشَى ‏”‏ ‏.‏

Translation: ‘Mu’adh ib Jabal al-Ansari (radiallahu ‘anhu) led his companions in the night prayer and prolonged it for them. A person amongst us said prayer (after having separated himself from the congregation). Mu’adh was informed of this, and he remarked that he (the man) was a hypocrite. When it (the remark) was conveyed to the man, he went to the Messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) and informed him of what Mu’adh had said. Upon this the Messenger of Allah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said to him: Mu’adh, do you want to become a person putting (people) to trial? When you lead people in prayer, recite: “By the Sun and its morning brightness” (Surat Al-Fajr),” Glorify the name of thy most high Lord” (Surat At-Taariq) and” Read in the name of Lord” (Surah Iqraa), and” By the night when it spreads” (Surat Al-Layl.). (Saheeh Muslim)

Muadh ibn Jabal (radiallahu anhu) was a well-known scholar and one of the top teachers of the ummah. This hadith applies to companions of the prophet, salallahu alayhi wa sallam wa radiallahu anhum, the best of the best generations. How much more so for children who are not yet accountable for their deeds?

In Conclusion

‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab, radiallahu ‘anhu, once dismissed one of his governers from his post. Why? He says: “I have to take you out, you have no rahmah (mercy) on your own family, how will you have it on people?”

Please make sure you have rahmah on your children. Don’t let them just fear you, but let them love you. Don’t spoil them, but have a balance of both love and fear.

You have to be smart. Sometimes, you have to turn a blind eye, andpretend you didn’t see/hear it. Pick your fights. Don’t be a soldier, walking around in the house and kids start saluting you. Use moderation and give them their due rights.

Finally, pick your fights. If it’s worth it, do it. Two tips from shaykh Alaa:
Give chances, like three strikes Then what? “You’ve chosen this.” Turn the tables on them and make them realize the effects of their actions.
If they fight over things, and come to you, just take it away. What does this teach them? 1) share, 2) negotiate, and 3) don’t come to you for every problem.

May Allah allow us to instil these qualities in our hearts and live and die by them. Remember, some special few individuals are gifted these qualities; the rest of us have to work, hard, constantly, to acquire them. You can achieve anything, just give it time, and don’t expect change to happen overnight.

Source: AlKauthar Institute: Parenting Matters. Taught by Shaykh Alaa Elsayed. University of Toronto, Toronto, November 2014.


The Elephant Theory

Leg of a chained elephant

As we mentioned with the sandwich theory, with children, always separate the behaviour from the person. Never say things like, “I hate you” or “you’re a loser,” “idiot,” “stupid,” “I wish I never had you!” Some of us heard this from our own parents. Are we now our own parents? Are we passing on this disease? This DNA has to be out.

The elephant theory is quite simple: young elephants are trained, with one leg that’s shackled to a cement block. When shackled, they can’t move it no matter what. It forms a psychological block; as soon as the shackle goes on, they surrender. As mature elephants, despite having the strength to rip out the shackle and cement block, they give up when shackled.

Now, you are the most important person in your child’s life. They see you with an “S” on your chest. You’re the world to them. You support them, nurture them, that’s what you do.

So if you care for them, love them, protect them, provide for them, and you’re the one saying “you’re stupid” over and over and over, then they think “well I must be stupid if my own father says I’m stupid.” “My own mother says I’m a loser, I must be a loser.” Then your kids grow, just like the elephant, and even though the grown elephants can destroy the shackle, they give up.

You just destroyed your son or daughter.

Please understand what this is all about. The sandwhich theory and elephant theory, apply them and do the right thing. Don’t be a pushover or doormat, but pick your battles.

May Allah give us the ability to understand and implement this and to keep our children safe from our mistakes and shortcomings (ameen).

Source: AlKauthar Institute: Parenting Matters. Taught by Shaykh Alaa Elsayed. University of Toronto, Toronto, November 2014.


The Sandwich Theory


The sandwich theory encapsulates the idea of how to advice others (children, spouse, etc.) with the goal of minimizing resistance. Human beings naturally resist being told that they’re doing something wrong and need to change.

The sandwich theory is simple: a sandwich consists of a nice, soft bun, followed by meat, followed by another soft bun. The heart of the sandwich (or burger) is really the meat.

How do you implement this?

  • When you give advice, start with something nice, soft, gentle, and positive.
  • Follow up with the beef — the main issue or concern.
  • Conclude, again, with something positive.

Other points to keep in mind:

  • Never phrase it as a problem, merely a concern.
  • Always provide the solution. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
  • Always differentiate person from behaviour (see: the elephant theory). Don’t make it their identity.

For example, imagine your son took a toy or candy without permission. Your conversation could be structured like this:

  • “Son, you know I love you, and I know you love candy …” (bun)
  • “I’m concerned that you took a candy without permission.” (meat: issue)
  • “Please ask before you take it, and I will give it to you” (meat: solution)
  • “I have full belief in you, that you will do the right thing next time” (bun)

Some key phrases shaykh Alaa suggested using:

  • “What I suggest is …”
  • “Here’s how I can help you do this: …”
  • “I’m here to help you, we’re on one team, …” meaning “I am not pointing the finger at you or speaking from a high horse”
  • “And I have full belief in you, that you will do the right thing.”

And Allah knows best.

Source: AlKauthar Institute: Parenting Matters. Taught by Shaykh Alaa Elsayed. University of Toronto, Toronto, November 2014.


Twelve Things About the Terrible Twos


Definition and Asl

Definition: “Terrible twos” occur when children are between the ages of one and three years old. This is usually when children throw a lot of tantrums, and rebel, saying “no!” to many things you tell them. How can you effectively deal with this situation?

First, understand the root (asl): children cannot keep their strong emotions inside. They cry, they scream, they stomp, they fling themselves on the floor. As a parent, you feel embarrassed or even angry by this behaviour.

Remember what rasulullah (ﷺ) said:

The pen has been lifted from three; for the sleeping person until he awakens, for the boy until he becomes young man and for the mentally insane until he regains sanity. (Jaami’ at-Tirmidhi and An-Nasaa’i)

Right. So children are not accountable, or sinful, for their actions. What do we do?

Dealing with Difficult Situations

  • Think about it from the child’s perspective: They don’t now better. Often, we give them completely ineffective or incomprehensible responses (that they don’t understand). You have to deal with them in their language and on their level of understanding. As Allah says in Surah Nahl, 16:125: Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction [...]
  • Give them a choice: This, often, makes the difference between compliance and a complete meltdown. (Choices can even be tough, like choosing between broccoli or eggplant.)
  • Build routines: Children thrive on routines. It makes them feel safe and that things are under control.
  • Lead by example: How you react directly affects them. If you act cool in stressful situations, they will too. If you freak out, yell, and panic, they will follow your lead.
  • Use positive enforcement: don’t be that parent that ignores their child until they do something bad; that encourages bad behaviour. From their perspective, they crave attention; give them due attention for good things they do (even if small) with complements and new toys (remember, speak to them in the language they understand) for good behaviour. This leads to good habits.
  • Don’t be a control freak: Give them the independence they crave. Gradually, push them into it. Start with simple choices, like letting your two year-old do things without your permission.
  • Enforce reasonable consequences: Take away toys for a period of time, and remove them from the situation. They will learn and adjust their behaviour.
  • Don’t give in: children will learn that they can get their way by repeating their behaviour. (If you have multiple caretakers in your house, like two parents, they will learn which one goes easy on them and gives in.)
  • Stay in control: when you take their behaviour personally, you engage in negative energy. Just separate yourself emotionally from their behaviour. See them as a child that they are, think about what they’re feeling, and influence the situation based on that.
  • Remove them from the public: take them somewhere private, like to the car or into a dressing room or a private corner, so they calm down. Talk to them about what happened, how they reacted, and behavioural alternatives. (As Imam Ash-Shafi’ee said, naseeha (advivce) in public is not advice, it’s humiliation.)
  • Encourage healthy eating: sugar can impact their emotions a lot. Keep it to a minimum.
  • Be consistent: this is the *number one rule of parenting.** If they know there will always be a consequence, they will think twice next time.

Behaviour Doesn’t Change Overnight

Remember that behaviour changes over months, not overnight. If something doesn’t work, experiment, and try something else.

Finally, always always always make good du’as for your children. As rasulullah (ﷺ) said:

ثَلاَثُ دَعَوَاتٍ مُسْتَجَابَاتٌ دَعْوَةُ الْمَظْلُومِ وَدَعْوَةُ الْمُسَافِرِ وَدَعْوَةُ الْوَالِدِ عَلَى وَلَدِهِ
Three supplications are responded to: The supplication of the oppressed, the supplication of the traveler, and the supplication of the parent (for or) against his child. (Jaami’ at-Tirmidhi)

One mom, when angered at her child, would say “may Allah make you imam of the ka’bah.” Guess what? He was (Imam Sudais, hafidhahullah).

Wallahu a’lam.

Source: AlKauthar Institute: Parenting Matters. Taught by Shaykh Alaa Elsayed. University of Toronto, Toronto, November 2014.


The Responsibility of Children + 21 Theory


Responsibility: Reward and Punishment

It’s our responsibility to take are of our children, especially their akhirah — their eternal life. Allah says:

Translation: O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones […] (Surah At-Tahrim, verse 66)

This ayah illustrates our responsibility: protect yourselves, and your children, from Hellfire — a fire whose fuel is stones and men. Would you raise your children, knowingly, that they are going to be firewood, or fuel for the fire?

Rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) says: “It is enough sin for a man that he leaves astray those under his care.” And in another hadith, he says: “Every one of you is a shepherd, and every one of you will be asked about his flock” (meaning, his family).

Scholars add, it is enough to leave your children ignorant and not teach them. Why? Because life will send tests at them, and without proper training and guidance, they will be lost in a wave of fitan, unable to protect themselves. Isn’t it enough that you left them to themselves?

On the flip side, rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:

مَنْ عَلَّمَ عِلْمًا فَلَهُ أَجْرُ مَنْ عَمِلَ بِهِ لاَ يَنْقُصُ مِنْ أَجْرِ الْعَامِلِ

The Prophet said: “Whoever teaches some knowledge will have the reward of the one who acts upon it, without that detracting from his reward in the slightest. (Sunan Ibn Majah, book 1, hadith #246)

Imagine the reward of teaching your children salah, of teaching them siyam, Qur’an, and good manners; you get their reward, and the reward of their children (whom they teach) and all your progeny until the day of judgement. That’s the real jackpot of mutli-level marketing!

As a general guideline, the best way to protect your children and take care of them is to be righteous. In Surah Kahf, after Khidr (alayhi salaam) repairs the wall of the two orphans, whose treasure lay underneath, he tells Musa (alayhi salaam):

Translation: […] And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and there was beneath it a treasure for them, and their father had been righteous. […] (Surah Kahf 18:82)

The word Allah used is “ab.” In Arabic language, this can mean the father, or the uncle; according to one mufassir, this refers to their uncle from seven generations ago. That’s how much righteousness protects your children.

In his tafseer, Ibn Katheer says:

[This piece of the verse] indicates that a righteous person’s offspring will be taken care of, and that the blessing of his worship will extend to them in this world and in the Hereafter. This will occur through his intercession for them, as well as their status being raised to the highest levels of Paradise, so that he may find joy in them. This was stated in the Qur’an and reported in the Sunnah. Sa`id bin Jubayr narrated from Ibn `Abbas: “They were taken care of because their father was a righteous man, although it is not stated that they themselves were righteous.” (Source: Tafseer Ibn Katheer Online: Interpretation for Why the Wall was Repaired for no Charge)

21 Theory

As a guideline, Ali ibn Abi Talib (radiallahu anhu) put forward his 21 Theory, which he states:

Play with them for the first seven years (of their life); then teach them for the next seven years; then advise them for the next seven years (and after that).

First Seven Years

In the first seven years, your goal is to build a strong connection to your child. This is the foundation, the base from which your relationship with them grows. If this is rock solid, the remaining years will be much easier. If this foundation forms poorly, the next years will be more challenging.

If you have young children, this (first seven years) is the time to roll up your sleeves and invest, heavily, in your and their future. In fact, you will be rewarded for all the righteous progeny that survives you, not just children, until the Day of Judgement.

Next Seven Years

Once children reach seven, they are ready to learn. (Perhaps this is why Finland starts school at age seven.) This is the time they are sponges, ready to soak up anything and everything you tell them, teach them, show them, and do in front of them. If you built that solid foundation in ages 0-7, they are now more than willing and happy to learn from you.

This is the time to teach them everything — aqeedah, halal and haram, fiqh, all the things they need to know to survive throughout their life. Qur’an and seerah are also very important; as one prominent tabi’een said, “we learned seerah (frequently and in details) from our parents the way we learned Qur’an.”

Teach them sports, too; Rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “Teach your children swimming, archery and horseback riding.” (source). They gain many benefits from it, including physical fitness, learning teamwork, and sportsmanship.

The Final Seven Years

Once your children hit 14, they are probably already mukallaf (full adults Islamically, and accountable for their actions) — this happens at puberty, or at age 15 at the latest.

At this age (grade 8-9), you are mostly out of the picture. Children achieve independence; their personalities manifest; they look more to their peers than their parents and families. During these critical years, befriend them, advise them, and do what you can; understand that they are now full adults, and the choices are theirs to make, right or wrong.

If you worked hard during the last two periods of seven years, you will already be that trusted confidant, that advisor, that go-to person when they need help or advice; maybe even that “cool” mom or dad who they adore. Be part of their lives, and advise them as best you can.

Thus ends this brief, but comprehensive, advice of Ali ibn Abi Talib (radiallahu anhu). InshaAllah next time, we will talk about the Terrible Twos, and what you can do during this interesting period of child development.

Source: AlKauthar Institute: Parenting Matters. Taught by Shaykh Alaa Elsayed. University of Toronto, Toronto, November 2014.


Pray as if This is your Last Prayer


You often hear the khatheeb or imam, right before the salah starts, saying “pray as if this is your last prayer.” Sure, but what does it mean, and how do we do it?

As one of the righteous people of the past said:

Pray as if Jannah is on your right side, Hellfire is on your left side, the siraat (bridge over Hellfire) is under you, the angel of death is behind you (waiting to take your soul any minute), your sins are above you (waiting to crush and destroy you), and this is the last deed, the one that decides if you go to Jannah or Jahannam forever.

Imagine that these are the last few moments of your life, of your last salah. Imagine the green, lush gardens on your right. Imagine the heat, the smoke, on your left. Imagine a bridge under you, thinner than a hair and sharper than a sword.

Imagine the angel of death, like the head of a team, waiting behind you; waiting to take your soul at any instant.

Imagine your sins, the ones people know about and the ones they don’t, the ones you make excuses for and the ones you justify, the things you know you should do but don’t, all hovering above you like a giant black mountain, waiting to crush you from their collective weight.

This is it; this is your last chance, your last moment, your last deed, before your books are closed, your story is over. Life is upon the ending; will your ending be good, or evil?

It’s your choice, to decide right now, in these last moments as you pray your final farewell prayer to dunya.

How would you pray in those moments? Nobody knows when they will be; they may very well be right now.

That is the feeling you want to capture in your heart and mind as you pray. Everything else in this life will fade away compared to that.

Try it. You will feel the difference for yourself.

Source: Friday Khutbah at ISNA by shaykh Alaa Elsayed, August 22, 2014.