Category Archives: Family

Freedom from School? 10 Reasons Why Families Homeschool

By Shehnaz Toorawa

As the new school year begins, more than 80,000 children in Canada will not enter a school building3. What motivates these parents who remove their children from the long-standing, and sometimes free, school system and educate their children themselves? Consider the ten reasons that follow.

Many families choose to homeschool their children because they want to: Continue reading

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What Does It Take To Win Over Your Dad’s Heart?

By Taha Ghayyur

I have always wanted to do one extraordinary thing for my dad to express my deep appreciation for his every little and munificent act of kindness and affection towards me.

I looked for material gifts, unique private moments, ways to fulfill his dreams for me, and every opportunity to win over his heart.

I often recall the things that my father did for me that only a loving and caring father could do: waiting patiently for hours at the doctor’s office when I was sick after an excruciatingly long day at work; making special efforts to help me learn the rules of Quran recitation and beautifying it; encouraging me to write and speak as he spent weekends editing my writings and speeches when I was 12 years old; walking around the Kaba in the jam-packed season of Ramadan with me on his shoulders; driving me to my friends’ parities and Islamic events in the middle of a blizzard; gently advising me when I got into trouble at school; his teary eyes as he raised his hands asking Allah to guide me and to make me an achiever in this life and the hereafter; and countless other sacrifices that even a book won’t be able to justice to.

You may be able to list similar favours that your dad has showered on you throughout your life.

Of course I realized I can never make up to my parents for their lifelong care and training, which is affirmed by the words of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.

But I wondered, how could I truly implement God’s command: “We have enjoined on man and woman (to be good) to his/her parents; show gratitude to Me and to your parents; to Me is (your final) Goal” (31:14).

As I grew up, graduated, got married and became a father myself, I realized there really isn’t just “one special thing” you can do to express your gratitude to your father. There isn’t “one special day”, such as his birthday or the Father’s Day, that you can set aside to celebrate fatherhood. It would be unfair to “payback” your father with a material gift or a celebration once a year for his years of devotion and painstaking efforts to raise you and to transform you into a successful person.

It is supposed to be a lifelong commitment on your part to take care of your father, his needs, and his wishes. It is the little things you can do for him on regular basis that really count.

There are many genuine and proven ways to connect with your dad, to sincerely thank him for the remarkable sacrifices he has made for you, to raise his spirits, and to assist him as he ages.

1. Understand Your Dad’s Nature: Dealing with father is quite different from dealing with mother, especially in the traditional families.  Father is commonly perceived to be emotionless, difficult to comprehend, and hard to please. 

You may not ever be able to discover your dad’s true feelings at times for multiple reasons:

  • Like many traditional fathers, your dad usually holds his composure and rarely reveals his emotions;
  • He may not be able to spend as much time with you as your mother due to long work hours and community work commitments;
  • He is an introvert and a quiet person by nature;
  • He may not consider spending quality time with children a priority for one reason or another.

This fundamental understanding of your father’s nature and expressions will help you connect with him more effectively.

2. Acknowledge Your Dad’s Worries and Concerns for You:  What is the utmost concern as your father jumps out of his bed every morning? What stresses him out the most as he juggles multiple tasks at work? What goes on in his mind when he prays? What emotions and fears make his nights sleepless at times? What are his aspirations?

Chances are a majority of his anxieties, stress, prayers, and hopes involves you. Whether your father regularly shares his feelings or concerns with you and the family, make sure you make an attempt to identify and recognize his worries for you and your future. As parents grow older, they want to be heard. You may not agree with everything, but this simple gesture of listening to your father will give him the respect and sense of authority he deserves.

3. Involve Your Dad in Decision-Making: When was the last time you consulted your father regarding your academic or career goals? Did you ever update him on school grades (apart from the reason that the grades may be floating ‘below the C level’)? Do you discuss with him the criteria that you wish to use in selecting your marriage partner? Did you get his suggestion on naming your child?

This process of mutual consultation or ‘Shura’ is not only healthy, but it is a right of every family member, specially your parents, to be part of. Of course, you can’t incorporate everyone’s wishes in the making of you career or marriage, but the fact you sought your dad’s feedback and gave it a serious thought should be enough to ease his heart.

4. Fulfill Your Dad’s Dreams for Success: If there is one paramount concern shared by every father in the world, it is his son’s or daughter’s success. How often do you hear your dad say, “The only thing I want for you is success,” or “I want you to focus on building your career so you can be successful”.

While you may consider such wishes as insignificant, it is essential to pay due attention to his genuine desires. No doubt, most immigrant Muslim parents exhaust their time, energies, and finances to get their kids the best level of education.  This is their way of contributing to your success.

Learn to show gratitude and concern. You cannot always fulfill your dad’s academic or career dreams for you by becoming either a doctor or engineer, but you can certainly excel in a profession that you are passionate about and could specialize in. Prove to him that you are ‘successful’ in your own way. Explain to him that ‘success’ is relative. What could be of greater joy to a father to see his son or daughter a winner in both worlds? Showing your dad you are achiever is a sure heart pleaser.

5. Attribute Your Positive Traits and Success to Your Dad: Many of us think that our success in life and positive qualities are exclusive to us. We ‘earned’ all the fame ourselves. We deserve all the credit.

If you are a successful business person, recall how your father trained you to deal with people and transferred his business acumen to you. If you are a charismatic leaders today, recognize the confidence your dad instilled in you to lead and move people. If you are a rising artist, remember how you father encouraged you to express yourself and helped you practice. If people praise you for gentle demeanour and honourable character, recount the noble manners of your father.

Studies on parent-child relationships and child welfare show that father’s love is a vital factor in predicting the social, emotional, and cognitive development and functioning of children and young adults.

Give your parents the credit they deserve. Say it publicly. Let people around you, who benefit from your success and positive qualities, about the source of your success. Even if your father didn’t play a direct role in your success and fame, acknowledge your father’s patience, support, and love in getting you there. Nothing could win over a father’s heart faster than a simple credit to his lifelong commitment to your development.

6. Spend Quality Time with Your Dad: It is strange that many of us, including practicing Muslims, could hang out at events and parties, or simply chat over the phone with friends for hours, yet have no time to spare for our parents. Such an attitude indeed reminds me of the reality of Prophet’s, peace be upon him, statement about the Day of Judgement: A time will come when people will greet their friends warmly, and approach their parents with a cold attitude (Bukhari).

Carve out a day and time at least once a week to visit your father and have a heart-to-heart conversation with him. Go on a long walk or take him out for lunch.

7. Express Your Gratitude: How often do you say a simple “Thank You” or “Jazakallahu Khayran” to your father for daily favours? What about expressing your gratitude to him for raising you as a good Muslim? You owe him big Jazaks, every breath of your life!

As the Prophet stated, “The one who does not give thanks for a small blessing will not give thanks for a great blessing, and the one who does not give thanks to people will not give thanks to Allah” (Abud Dunya).

Be a little creative when you really want to express your gratitude to your dad. Say it with a personal thank you card. Show it with flowers. Accompany it with a genuine smile. Charge it with emotions. Enhance it with a meal or a meaningful gift.

8. Be Extra Caring and Concerned in Your Dad’s Difficult Times: Whether it is an illness, chronic depression, or a job loss, this is the phase of life when he really needs you and your time. Your presence, physical help, comforting words, and prayers are crucial to his healing and happiness. Remember, nothing would hurt him more than him witnessing your insensitive attitude and indifference to his trying situation. These moments would haunt him for the rest of his life. Don’t delay your service to him. The Prophet, peace be upon him, once warned us, “May he be disgraced,” repeating it three times, “who finds his parents, one or both, approaching old age, and he does not enter Paradise by serving them.” What other chance will you have to serve your father?

As your father’s strength fails, he would require more attention and care, and more consideration of his even more sensitive feelings. He may become irritated and uneasy much quicker now. It’s regarding this phase of life, Allah tells us, “Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him and that you be kind to parents. If one or both of them attain old age with you, do not say a word of annoyance (Uff) to them nor repulse them, but speak to them in gracious words and in mercy lower to them the wing of humility and say, My Lord, bestow Your mercy on hem, as they cherished me when I was little” (17:23-24).  A practical example to illustrate the import of this verse would be if your father is ill and unable to go to washroom by himself, you don’t make an undesirable facial expression or say ‘uff’ in annoyance as you clean up after him. That is a true test of your gratitude towards your father.

9. Ease Your Father’s Transition into Retirement and Senior Phase:  Every aging father has a fear of the unknown and financial insecurity, as he approaches 60’s. Comfort him constantly that you will do your best to support him in your capacity. Request him not to stress over the retirement phase. Brainstorm ideas and develop a plan and budget together so he feels secure. Also suggest creative projects and community activities for him to get involved as he retires. Knowing he has a loving and caring companion to rely on in the arduous journey ahead should be heartening and reassuring enough for him.

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Seven Strategies to Train Kids this Ramadan

By Shehnaz Toorawa 

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “No father has given a greater gift to his children than good moral training.” (Tirmidhi)

The many aspects of Ramadan—fasting, prayers, moral values, charity, Qur’an, family, `Eid—provide a valuable opportunity to train kids. Whether they are your own kids or kids you teach, education or training isn’t an automatic or easy process. Children don’t bring empty minds and fill them with what we say. Training requires effort, energy, and a few techniques to take off.

Here are some training tips and techniques to transform your children’s minds and memories this Ramadan:

(1) Let them get their Hands Dirty

“The great aim of education is not knowledge, but action.” Herbert Spencer

Children learn by “doing.” On average, students retain 75% of a lesson when they learn through hands-on activities compared to 5% through a lecture or 10% through reading (Brunmer, Jerome).

If, for example, you want to teach your kids the concept of zakah, get them to help you calculate your zakah, decide where to send the money, and mail the envelopes. Action and implementation can occur while children learn, not necessarily after!

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to bring his grandchildren Hassan and Hussein to the mosque as toddlers before they knew how to pray.

A concept becomes real and important to children when they experience it rather than simply read about it. They’ll remember how to do it years later when you may catch them telling their friends “I’ve been calculating zakah since I was a kid!”

(2) Involve their Emotions

When children get emotionally involved in an activity, they rarely want to leave it. Video games and TV shows target children’s emotions. As parents and educators, we can use the same technique for training.

Stories, songs, skits, crafts, and games grab children’s emotions. Once a child is interested and excited, they’re more likely to stay attentive till the end and get the message you want to give. Just as we remember events in our lives that were emotionally significant, children remember concepts learned through activities that were “fun,” “funny,” “exciting,” or “different.”

Don’t be afraid to stir some fun into your training—you don’t have to lose any content. Write a song about `Eid, create a Hadith treasure box, organize a Ramadan trivia night, or read a story about Ramadan in Madinah. If the kids enjoy it, they’ll come back for more!

(3) Reveal the Purpose

We often hear students complain, “why do we have to do this?” or “this math exercise is pointless.” Unfortunately, we often hear responses like “because I’m telling you to,” or “because you have to,” or worse, “you’ll get a new CD player if you finish the book.”

Like us, if children don’t see the purpose or importance of an action, they won’t have the motivation to complete it. To avoid getting similar comments from your kids about prayer or fasting, make sure they understand the purpose. Before you begin any lesson, whether it’s a story about the companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)or an `Eid craft, explain exactly why you are the doing the activity and what benefits the children will gain from it.

Remind your children that they are doing acts of worship to please Allah, not you. Explain why we need to please Allah and how every action, including washing dishes or math homework, will help us achieve that goal. If children are praying only to please you, when you leave, their motivation and prayers will disappear.

If children are motivated to fast Ramadan or complete the Qur’an for a material incentive (like a CD player), they may never develop a love of Allah or an intrinsic desire to perform the action. They may, instead, learn to value material rewards and when the rewards disappear, the actions may disappear with them.

Help your children understand that for Muslims, rewards don’t necessarily always come in this life. They may have to wait for the bigger and better rewards of the hereafter.

(4) Highlight the Big Ideas

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten everything he learned in school.” Albert Einstein

Ask yourself how many equations or formulas you remember from your Grade 12 math textbook. It may be five, two, or none. Let’s be honest—most of us retained very little of the details we learned.

Children will not retain all the fiqh rulings of zakah, wudu’, or Salah, and they won’t need to! Make sure the little that they retain is exactly what you want them to remember. Focus on the big ideas, such as the awareness that Allah is watching us, that we get our rulings from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, that Prayer is a means of self-purification, etc. Repeat these ideas every day in different ways. While your children instil these principles in their minds, show them how to learn the rest on their own when they need it.

Help your kids learn “how to learn.” Teach them where to find the fiqh information they need or how to research a topic and who to ask for information. They will be better prepared if they master the basics and know how to get the specifics. Memorizing every ruling will be a waste of their time and yours.

(5) Let them Lead!

 Children often take responsibilities more seriously than adults. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) appointed Usamah ibn Zaid who was a young boy at the time, as commander of the Muslim army although many older and more experienced companions were present. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) trusted Usamah’s capability for the position.

Give children leadership over important tasks and step out of the picture. Assign one child to wake up all his siblings for suhur. Let someone else be in charge of updating the iftar time every evening. Allow the children to plan, budget, and buy `Eid gifts for all the relatives. Let them choose which task they want to be in charge of.

Allow children to make mistakes and realize on their own what they should have done. Experience often trains better than instruction. Once a child goes out into the cold without a jacket, he’ll remember, before you can remind him, to put on his jacket next time.

Train kids to be responsible for their own learning. If a child asks, “Does brushing teeth break my fast?” a simple “yes” or “no” may give them the answer, but it won’t provide any long-term training. Ask them instead, “Where can you look to find that answer? Let’s do some research.”

Begin the month of Ramadan by asking your children to do a research project on what breaks the fast and what does not. If they find the information themselves, they are likely to remember it and know exactly where to get it again next year.

“The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.” Carl Rogers

(6) Get Excited!

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” W. B. Yeats

Kids catch on to your enthusiasm. Show some excitement and passion about the topic you’re teaching. Show your kids that you can’t wait for Ramadan to begin. Be cheerful at Prayer times. Decorate the house in anticipation of `Eid.

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) taught by example. His character and actions motivated people to love and emulate him. Be the example you want your kids to be. Make a genuine effort to love the activities you want your kids to love.

7) Combine Love with Learning

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) would greet children warmly by hugging them, kissing them and picking them up.

Abu Huraira reported that al-Aqra’ b. Habis saw the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) kissing Hasan. He said “I have ten children, but I have never kissed any one of them,” whereupon Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said: He who does not show mercy (towards his children), no mercy would be shown to him. (Muslim)

Show children that you love them, regardless of how they perform. Allow each child to progress at their own pace. Saying, “look at your cousin Aminah! She’s already finished the 15th Juz,” will only lower your child’s self-esteem and discourage what she’s already accomplishing.

Excessive competition and comparison can often result in helplessness and lack of motivation for children who learn in different ways or at a slower pace. Allow children to judge their own progress and compare themselves to their former level rather than that of others.

Make this Ramadan the beginning of a memorable and long-lasting training experience for you and your children!

Sources:

Bruner, Jerome S. The Process of Education. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1977.

Published on IslamOnline.net and SoundVision.com

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Helping Parents Come Closer to Allah

A guide for young Muslims in their ‘Super-Muslim’ phase

By Taha Ghayyur

I have spent several sleepless nights praying to Allah to guide my parents,” is what Karima, 15, once wrote.

My parents are so corrupt that I just hope they could make it to Paradise!” is how Tariq, 19, vented his frustration over his parents’ un-Islamic practices.

Perhaps in every home today, there is a Karima or Tariq, a youth who is concerned about their parents’ moral condition.

This phenomenon involves a youth whom, perhaps not so long ago, Allah has blessed with Guidance and they are struggling to revolutionize their life-style in the light of this new-found faith.

In this energetic ‘Super-Muslim’ phase of our journey to Islam, we find two types of youth:

A- The model of Karima– who is constantly seeking Allah’s help in making her parents understand and live Islam; humble and sincere, but simply over-whelmed.

B- The example of Tariq- who is sincere in his relationship with Allah, striving to change himself for the better.

In the process, however, he has become a bit arrogant; even though he desires his parents to change and reach Jannah (Paradise), he is often frustrated and confrontational with his parents.

The stress and grief a concerned Muslim youth experiences at the spiritual and moral state of their parents is only natural. Inviting our culturally-oriented parents or elder siblings, closer to Allah is perhaps the most pains-taking and distressing task a young Muslim would have to undertake.

How could we rest in peace? They have, after all, spent their whole life caring for us at times when we were too young to even recognize and appreciate their compassion towards us. At the same time, we could only do so much to help our parents change their lifestyle. It is Allah who is ultimate changer of the hearts.

Before we embark on a ‘crusade to save’ our parents from the clutches of Hellfire, let’s consider the following tips:

1.  Before anything else, thank Allah to have guided you and empowered you with the beautiful message of His Deen! Ask yourself: “What and where would I be today, had Allah not blessed me with His Message and Mercy? What makes me feel that I am the only chosen one?”

2. Your task:  simply convey the message of Islam through your actions and counselling, while expressing your sincere love, obedience, care, and wisdom. It is ultimately their decision to choose to come closer to Allah.

3. Avoid preaching to your Parents. i.e. Help them realize their ‘opportunities for improvement’  through non-verbal, and non-confrontational means. Perhaps, by now you have begun growing a beard as a brother or observing Hijab as a sister, memorized a few Arabic words and Hadiths, and you are all puffed-up to become a ‘Super-Muslim’. These dramatic changes in your appearance and style of speech may be shocking enough to your parents. Parents do not want to listen to their children lecturing them on how and why they are wrong and sinful.

4.  Emphasize strengthening relationship with Allah through understanding and studying the Quran. Ultimately, after our death, it’s our intimacy with Allah that really matters.

5. Adopt flexibility, give up rigidity. Using wisdom means, doing the right thing, at the right place, the right time. Often, due to our desire for the well-being of our parents, we become stubborn and fail to realize who we are speaking to; respect is disregarded in the name of ‘establishing the Truth’. How often we come across young Muslims making a great fuss over their parents celebrating birthdays  (which is often part of family custom) to the extent that emotions run high, party is boycotted,  and parents/elders are branded ‘ignorant’, ‘corrupt’, ‘people of innovations’…etc.

While such celebrations are not considered Islamic, we need to evaluate and set our priorities straight: What would you gain by using such offensive language and by boycotting a function that is so dear to them? The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) once advised his companions: “Make Islam and its affairs easy for people, and do not create hardships for them (through your behaviour). Spread the glad tidings, and do not make people run away” (Bukhari.) Sometimes, it is better to remain silent in the heat of the moment and discuss the Islamic perspective in greater detail at a later stage.

6. Change comes gradually. Let’s try not to pick the fruits before they are ripe. You can’t expect your mother to observe Hijab right after a two-day intense Islamic conference. Nor should you suppose your father praying 5 daily prayers on time the day after his friend took him to a Masjid! There are no ‘quick-fixes’ in the area of faith and guidance. However, parents do change over time, as they feel embarrassed to see their children striving hard to serve their parents and maintaining their Islamic identity.

7.  Help them distinguish between “Islam” and “their Culture”. It is indeed very challenging for parents, grown up in a certain Muslim culture, to realize the difference between Islamic values and their cultural practices. For instance, in the case of choosing marriage partners for their children, parents’ criteria are naturally more inclined towards cultural influences, than Islamic principles. Moreover, there are parents who believe that speaking the mother-tongue is a tenet of Islamic faith, an oft-debated issue among the elders and youth in the West. It is not necessarily the fault of parents; it’s the way they were brought up and were taught Islam.

8. Discuss Islamic alternatives because mere criticism without any solutions is usually harmful. For e.g. suggest some Halal entertainment to replace cinema trips. Demonstrating Islam’s relevance to the contemporary social issue helps a great deal in orienting our parents’ thinking towards Islam.

9. Dealing with Inferiority-Complex: Due to the sense of inferiority to the Western lifestyle in the sub-conscious of our parent’s generation (since most of them have experienced and lived under prolonged western colonial rule in the past), it is difficult for them to understand how Islam could be ‘modern or relevant enough’ to face today’s challenges. To many parents, due to this inferiority-complex, any religious expression seems to be an obstacle in the way of financial and academic progress. Many elders still think Islam is just about rituals, dealing only with ‘rewards and sins’ in the next life, i.e. Islam has no constructive role to play in one’s social, academic, personal, political, and economic spheres of life. Be sensitive to their cultural.

10.  Fulfilling your parent’s dreams: How often do we hear our parents say, especially to those children showing signs of religious-orientation, “The only thing I want for you is good career and education. Once you are done your school and establish yourself financially, you may go ahead and spend as much time as you like calling humanity to Islam.”

While you may consider such wishes as insignificant, it is extremely essential to pay due attention to your parents’ genuine desires, especially if you desire their reform. No doubt, most immigrant Muslim parents exhaust their time, energies, and finances to get their kids the best level of education. Learn to show some gratitude and concern. You cannot necessarily always fulfil their academic dreams for you by becoming either a doctor or engineer, but you can certainly excel in a professional field that you are passionate about and could specialize in. What could be of greater joy to a parent to see their son or daughter a winner in BOTH worlds?  Your ‘success’ in academic career and Islamic activism will In-sha-Allah leave a profound imprint on their thinking, hearts, and perception of Islam

11. Abu Hurairah’s success story: Keep Obeying and Serving your Parents and be Respectful. Obey them as long as they do not ask you to disobey Allah as the Prophet (pbuh) has advised us, “There is no obedience in the disobedience to the Creator” (Bukhari). Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him), a companion of the Prophet (pbuh) who narrated the greatest number of Hadiths, would often become upset at his mother’s stubbornness in rejecting the message of the Prophet (pbuh). Abu Hurairah would engage in verbal confrontation with her because she constantly accused the Prophet (pbuh) of being a magician. One day he went to the Prophet (pbuh) and described his situation in pain, “O Messenger of Allah! I have always been trying to make my mother accept Islam, but she always refuses to accept it… But today, when I asked her to believe in Almighty Allah, she became extremely angry and started insulting and rebuking you, which I could not stand and tears began to flow from my eyes. O Messenger of Allah! Please pray to Allah that may He open the heart of my mother to Islam.” Abu Hurairah has perhaps echoed the voices of many distressed religious youth today going through the ‘Super-Muslim’ phase.

Interestingly, the Prophet (pbuh) advised him to be kind to her, as Allah would soon open her heart to Islam. Then he prayed, “O Allah! Guide the mother of Abu Hurairah.” As Abu Hurairah returned home that night, he realized her mother had just taken a bath and was ready to declare Shahadah, Al-hamdulillah!

12. Maintain a light sense of humour. A pleasant environment and good sense of humour win many hearts and develop a healthy dialog. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was big on light, decent jokes that made others feel special and closer to him.

13. Spend quality time with parents: It is strange that so many practicing Muslim brothers and sisters could hang out at Islamic events or simply chat over the phone with friends for hours, yet they have no time to spare for parents. Ever wonder why your parents don’t feel the need to listen to you and ‘your’ message any more? Such an attitude indeed reminds us of the reality of Prophet’s (peace be upon him) statement about the coming of the Day of Judgement: A time will come when people will greet their friends warmly, and approach their parents with cold attitude (Bukhari).

14.   Biggest Mistake: attacking your parents in front of other family members! Very often we loose our credibility by simply ridiculing, or even politely pointing out the mistakes of our parents in front of others. It only makes matters worse for your Dawah and generates tension in the family. Perhaps we do it thinking if we discuss ‘the fault’ in other people’s presence, our parents may decide to rectify themselves due to the embarrassment.However, exactly the opposite happens! Don’t forget, in most cases, even if they realize their mistake, at that very moment they would make sure to defend their stand. Last thing your parents would want to do is to admit to their young ones that they were wrong and sinful!

15. Give a gift:When was the last time you presented a sincere gift to your parents? Are you aware of the Prophet Muhammad’s words, “Exchange gifts to reinforce love and intimacy”? If your parents like reading books, give them a thought-provoking and appealing book on Islam or on the purpose of life.If they like watching or listening, there are numerous tapes available from the Islamic media today to assist you.

16. Be extra caring and concerned in their difficult times: such as illness, financial problems, depression, etc. This is the phase of life when they need you and are more willing to listen to you; they may finally come out of their superficial world of comfort and taste the reality. In fact, most people change their lifestyles and beliefs around in the low phases of their lives. Your presence, physical help, and religious counselling are crucial at this point. Remember, on the other hand, your insensitiveness and indifference to their trying situation, would haunt them for the rest of their lives. Don’t delay your service to them. The Prophet (peace be upon him) once warned us, “May he be disgraced,” repeating it three times, “who finds his parents, one or both, approaching old age, and he does not enter Paradise by serving them.”

17. Have your meals together as a family whenever possible! Sharing food together brings people’s hearts together, coupled with Allah’s blessings. It’s a proven way of effective communication and of increasing affection.

18. Arrange an exquisite pot-luck: Organize a one-dish party, where all your close friends and their parents are invited. Make sure the parents have minimal involvement in cooking and logistics. Parents should come as guests, and you, the “religious” kids, should serve that evening! At first, your parents may laugh at the idea even. However, when they come together and see your love and dedication as a group, they cannot but help understand your desire for their guidance. Moreover, it will help them realize that their ‘kids are in safe hands’ and that they are ‘fun-loving’ people. It will give the parents a sense of belonging in a more religious setting.

19. Consult your parents’ religious friends. Sometimes finding a religious friend or relative of your parent, who has some influence on them, could also help. It’s been observed that some people just change and return to Allah as soon as they find a good environment and a role model that they admire.

20. A simple thank you: How often do you say simple “Thank You” or “Jazakallahu Khayran” to your parents for daily favors? And what about their perseverance in raising you as a good Muslim? Don’t forget, most likely they are the first ones to have taught you “La-ilaaha illallaah…” (There is no God but Allah), the first pillar of Islam that we claim to live by today. You owe them a big Jazaks, every breath of your life!

21. Involve parents in decision-making: When was the last time you consulted your parents regarding your academic goals? Did you ever update them on school grades (apart from the reason that the grades may be floating ‘below the C level’, hence not too impressive!)? Do you discuss with them the Islamic criteria that you wish to use in selecting your marriage partner? Simple acts of mutual consultation or ‘Shura’, gives everyone opportunity to ‘open up’, share, and listen.

22. Do not stress yourself out. We know even the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was warned by Allah in the Quran to not to be so distressed over the state of his beloved uncle, Abu Talib, after the Prophet (pbuh) had exhausted all the efforts to remind him about Allah’s message, promises, and punishment. Allah says, “Perhaps, you would kill yourself (O Muhammad) in grief (and concern) over their footsteps (for their turning away from Allah), because they do not believe in this narration (Quran).” [18:6]

23. Don’t give up the Dua! Sincere Dua (supplication) to Allah can change many things. Therefore, make Du’a as your primary tool in helping your parents come closer to Allah.

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Ten Reasons to Take your Kids for a Walk this Summer

By Shehnaz Toorawa

As the days lengthen and the weather warms, parents search for halal ways to keep their children amused. Along with trips to amusement parks, swimming lessons, and barbeque parties, consider a simple walk in the neighbourhood park or conservation area.

With a little creativity, your kids can gain numerous benefits from a walk in the forest.

Grab the opportunity for your kids to:

1- Do some hands-on science. Touch and observe things around you and talk about them. Pick up an acorn and ask your kids, “What’s inside?” and “How does it get there?”. Discuss the “green stuff” growing on a rock, see if you notice signs of succession, or ask your kids why the leaves are green in summer. Let your children’s natural curiosity guide the learning. You don’t have to know all the answers. Take some samples home for further experiments, research, or ‘show and tell’.

2- Remember Allah. Ask your children who created the things around them. Encourage them to point out signs of Allah’s existence and to praise Allah when they see something that amazes them. Remind them of ayahs in the Quran about nature like:

Behold! in the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of the night and the day; in the sailing of the ships through the ocean for the profit of mankind; in the rain which Allah Sends down from the skies, and the life which He gives therewith to an earth that is dead; in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth; in the change of the winds, and the clouds which they Trail like their slaves between the sky and the earth;- (Here) indeed are Signs for a people that are wise. (2:164)

3- Get some exercise. Children often spend their day in stationary activities like television, video games, and internet. A walk gives them physical exercise to refresh their mind and bodies.

4- Appreciate art and beauty. Comment on the natural beauty in Allah’s creation. Reflect on the colours, contrasts and lines you see in nature. If art interests your kids, encourage them to paint or photograph the scenes.

5- Learn to conserve. Ask your kids how the resources they see benefit us and how we harm them. Remind them of their responsibility towards the environment, as the Prophet, peace by upon him, said, “The world is green and beautiful and God has appointed you as His stewards over it. He sees how you acquit yourselves…” (Muslim). Brainstorm ways you and your kids can change your lifestyle to protect these resources.

6- Identify species and sounds
. Pick up reference books from the library and help your kids identify the trees, flowers and birds you see. Learn the names of local birds and animals and count how many you spot.

7- Start a collection. Children love to collect. Find something that interests your kids—leaves, wildflowers, insects, pebbles—and help them collect, label and display their project. Show them how to collect without damaging nature.

8- Strengthen your bond. Talk about school, work, friends, and future plans as you walk. The time you spend on weekly walks will strengthen your relationship with your kids.

9- Clear their mind and lungs. You and your kids will appreciate fresh air and a peaceful break after a busy day indoors.

10- Pick up navigation skills. Take a map and compass on your walk. Plan a route together, follow it on the map and learn how to use a compass as you go.

Originally Published on IslamOnline.net

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