Tag Archives: parenting

My Son, You Taught Me…


By Umm Ibrahim 

My Dear Son,

It has been a year since you entered into our world. When I saw you, I felt my heart would burst with love and happiness, although my body was broken and aching. What a roller coaster of a year it has been since then. It was tough but totally worth it.

Son, your Baba often reminds me that you are an amanah of Allah. Allah has placed the enormous responsibility of your upbringing on our shoulders. And what a momentous task it is! I often think of the long lists of things I have to teach you. I want to teach you to always love and obey Allah and His Messenger. I want to teach you the Quran and make you fall in love with the book and the pen. I want to teach you everything from Arabic to algebra. I want to teach you swimming, archery and shooting. I want to equip you to deal with the fitnahs of this day and age, and to revive the beautiful deen of our Prophet Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wasallam).

But today, my love, I actually want to talk to you about something else. I want to tell you about some of the amazing things that you have taught me. Yes, you heard it right!

I always wanted to be your mama. I always prayed for you. But you took your sweet little time coming. I remember I was almost losing hope at that time. When all of a sudden, I got the good news that a new life had already started to grow inside of me. I fell down in Sajdah and cried a lot that day. (Your mama does cry a lot. Most women cry it out when their heart is brimming with any emotion.  I hope you understand that well and lovingly support your wife through her tears, just like your Baba does.) Good news of you renewed my faith in my Duas. You taught me to believe whole-heartedly in Allah’s Loving Mercy.

During the pregnancy, you being inside me made me take care of myself. I felt weak at that time, but now that I think of it, you actually strengthened me physically, emotionally and spiritually. For your sake, I ate better and healthier. I tried to stay happier and think positive always because everything I thought and did was affecting you.  I recited more and got closer to the Quran. Son, you pushed my limits. You taught me that I was stronger than I thought. You taught me to love like I never knew even before you were born.

Your delivery was the toughest thing I have gone through. Before you, I would kick up a fuss even when swallowing a medicine.  You made me so much braver and confident in my own self. With Allah’s Help with me, I feel ready to face anything and everything now.

My son, you taught me the true meaning of the hadith which mentions that Allah is more merciful to his slaves than a mother to her child. Now, I understand why Allah chose a mother’s love and mercy as an example. I can never quantify my love for you. The fact that He loves me way more than I love you just boggles my mind and makes me fall in love with Him. It gives me hope in His Mercy and Forgiveness. I feel relaxed leaving all my matters in His Hand.

My son, you taught me that love conquers all and makes all things easy. I could smile in the day despite being sleepless in the night. I could endure endless pain and fatigue for you. And one smile of yours would melt it all away.

You taught me to love my husband more. He is your Baba, and the way he takes care of you and me is amazing. Seeing him playing and goofing around with you is one of my favorite things to watch. Taking care of you has been stressful for both of us. We have fought and snapped at each other. But we have also taken care of each other through it all. All in all, you have strengthened our relationship and made it all the more beautiful.

My son, you have taught me to love and appreciate your grandmothers too.  Becoming your mama has put so many things in perspective. After becoming a mom myself, I have developed immense respect for your nani. I now realize fully how much she went through and sacrificed for me. She is an amazing super-mom. I can never ever repay her. I feel sorry for every time I disappointed her or was rude and disobedient. No mother’s heart should go through pain. I feel more love and respect towards your dadi, my mother-in-law too.  You are my first-born. Baba is her first-born. I can only imagine the way she loves him. She has raised him well. And for that I am really thankful to her. I feel more empathy towards her concerned behavior which might otherwise feel annoying or interfering. I know it is all coming from a place of selfless love. Baba owes a lot to her. And her prayers are his asset.

My dear son, I love your innocence and the way you giggle over small things. You have taught me that the small things are actually the big things. You have taught me to live in the moment, to be thankful for every small blessing.

8ce5c01a121ca4fea8780cec760e5f22--baby-hands-baby-feetYou love me so much too and those cute expressions of love make me so happy and proud. Everyday, you push me to be a better version of myself, to learn more, to grow more. Because I am your first school and your first teacher. You look up to me and I cannot let you down. I have to be a good role model for you. Before I can teach you good conduct, I must try and work on my own personality and guide you through example.

My son, you are sleeping peacefully at this moment and I must wrap up this letter before you wake up and demand all my attention. Being a mom is definitely the toughest yet most rewarding job ever. I will always make dua for you. I will always love you. I really have no words to express that love. I hope you grow up a fine young man, and are successful in the deen and dunya.

Your Mama.

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Build a Home in Your Hearts for Your Parents!

Just the other day, I was discussing with my undergraduate class how the first verse of Surat al-Fatihah is often translated: “All praise (and gratitude) is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds”. Here the Arabic word Rabb is translated as Lord. You know what the trouble with translation is? Sometimes some of the richness of meaning contained in the original words is compromised or not fully conveyed. So, translation may, at times, take away some of the power, beauty and depth of the Glorious Qur’an. We can re-discover the magic of the verse by exploring a bit, by reading commentaries, by doing some research, so to say. The word Rabb here when it is translated as Lord probably does not convey a lot to the uninitiated mind. What Rabb means, among other things, is Cherisher, Sustainer and Provider. On a deeper level, Rabb is someone on whom you are entirely dependent for your existence every single second and the One Who consistently sustaining you. This single word Rabb is a beautiful, amazingly concise and comprehensive, one-word rebuttal to the doctrine held by some early mechanists that states that God did create the universe but after setting the universe into motion like a gigantic automatic machine, He receded into the background leaving the machine to run by itself according to predetermined laws. Rabb is an antithesis to that doctrine and that states that not only did God create everything; He is still controlling, protecting, nurturing and holding it; enabling the universe and all life forms in it to grow and develop their full potential.  Oh what depths of power, love and purposefulness does this one little word contain! Alas, how blind we are to the meaning and majesty of the marvelous Qur’an. All gratitude is indeed due to Him, the Bestower of bounties whose Hands are widely outstretched (Al-Qur’an 5:64); the Generous who attends to our countless needs including physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual ones. Alhamdulillah!

He demands gratitude from us and rightfully so. We owe Him all that we are and all that we have. We owe Him our very being. At the same time, He demands that we be grateful to our parents. “Be grateful to Me and to both your parents” (Al-Qur’an 31:14). The order of the words tells us that after Allah, we should be most grateful to our parents. They protect and nurture and guide. They do all that is within their power to fulfill and attend to our needs. Allah has put in their hearts immense tenderness and mercy to give us a sense of realization of how merciful and compassionate is Allah. It is narrated from Abu Hurayrah that Rasul Allah (SAW) said: “Allah has one hundred parts of mercy, of which He sent down one between the jinn, mankind, the animals and the insects, by means of which they are compassionate and merciful to one another, and by means of which wild animals are kind to their offspring. And Allah has kept back ninety-nine parts of mercy with which to be merciful to His slaves on the Day of Resurrection.” (Muslim, al-Tawbah, 6908).

The responsibilities of parents are immense. From tending to the needs for nourishment, safety and comfort of the totally helpless human baby to teaching him skills necessary for effective living, parents are there every step of the way through the child’s journey of development. But most importantly they are entrusted with the duty of nourishing his spiritual self, preserving and enhancing his natural goodness and bond with Allah, helping him see the difference between ‘the two paths’ (Al-Qur’an 90:10) and striving and praying constantly that he chooses the right one.

Parenting is hard work. Developmental psychologists attach the greatest significance to the role of the early childhood years and the nature of parent-child interaction in the healthy or pathological development of the person. Theorists like Erik Erikson, Karen Horney and Sigmund Freud make parenting sound like an extremely difficult balancing act akin to tightrope walking. Parents have to attend to the child’s needs but they must not over gratify his needs either (Freud); They must give the child a sense of trust but he has to be taught to mistrust also when appropriate (Erikson); The child must not be neglected e.g. in the form of other siblings being given preference over him (Horney); The parents must strike the right balance between autonomy and discipline (Erikson). This makes parenting sound like a superhuman endeavor. Or we can say that it takes the best of what it means to be human to be a good parent. Little wonder then that Allah Ta’ala gives them this special status and mentions them right after He mentions Himself. I am inclined to say that of all the rights of parents, this constitutes perhaps the most basic right: the right of having gratitude paid to them by their children. For it is from sincere, heartfelt gratitude that all the other required behaviors will naturally spring forth: respect, obedience, kindness and compassion. Let us not deny them this right. It is a fardh (obligation) to be grateful to one’s parents in the light of the clear Qur’anic injunction.

It is only fair to say that the rights of parents increase manifold when they reach old age, the time that brings failing health, diminished physical and cognitive capabilities and other vulnerabilities. We find support for this in the Qur’an as well when Allah Ta’ala states: “If either or both of them reach old age with you, say not to them (so much as) “ugh” nor chide them and speak to them a generous word” (Al-Quran 17: 23). This is the time when they need to be cared for most of all. They understood our semi-coherent words when we were learning to speak. We must reciprocate and understand them even when it is difficult to. They were there to support us with their strength and loving care when we were fragile and dependent. We have to do the same and shoulder their burdens. They spent on us without restraint. Let us not be stingy when they are no longer earning. We must return kindness for kindness!

The phenomenon of the “old home” is perhaps the supreme form of ingratitude to parents. This marginalization of the elderly in institutional settings following abandonment by their families is a brazen violation of the Islamic injunctions and of all that Islam stands for. It is the very opposite of what Islam demands from us: loving and protective care of elderly parents within families. By what standards of ethics and morality is it justified to any conceivable degree that your own parents who literally were your home, who gave you a home for all the years that you didn’t have one of your own be thrown out and deprived of home and hearth? We need to develop a special sensitivity for the rights of our parents and especially elderly ones. Let’s not build old homes. Let’s Build a Home in our Heart for our Parents!