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Calm Down- Its Nothing!

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We will try to describe the average young Pakistani in today’s world. (This may apply to all youngsters around the world) + (This could apply to females but for the sake of this article, we will use ‘he’ as most of our interaction on the streets is with the guys!)

If you feel you can relate to this, then please read the article till the end.

Reflect upon this deeply. Remember, Allah knows us better than we know ourselves- and the first step to correcting ourselves is to realise where we’re going wrong!

We have observed that your average youngster will sin so much on a daily level, that we fear, it will come back to bite him later in his life and definitely in the hereafter. No matter how menial it may seem at the time, this is divinely guaranteed to happen.

“..And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.”
Surat Az-Zalzalah (The Earthquake) – سورة الزلزلة 99.8

The moment you step outside your house, if you see a female dressed in bright clothing, you will crane your neck to see her better. You’ll want to see her face and the whole of her. Just a couple of seconds- that’s all, before you move on..

Is this you?

When your parents call you and ask you to do them a ‘favour’, for example, “Betaa, waapsi par thora sa doodh le anaa,” (Get some milk on the way home), you will  most probably mutter “ufff” or “oho” or wear a frown on your face. Don’t your parents realise that the shops are completely out of your way, and that you already have a lot on your mind?

Whilst you are walking towards your school or college, your friends who are in a car, drive up beside you offering a lift. You jump in. There is loud music blaring through the sound system. There are swear words in the song. There are detailed lyrics describing the body of a woman. You and your friends listen attentively and nod your heads in approval throughout the whole journey. You’re having a good time chilling, that’s all.

Does this happen to you?

Whilst playing cricket or football on the streets or on a pitch, a slightly mistaken decision takes place and for some reason, it boils your blood, gets you very angry and makes you lash out. Long before you know it you begin swearing at your opponents, followed by flying fists. You need to teach these kids a lesson. You need to teach them who’s boss.

Recently, you’ve gotten to know this girl from school or college/university. You started off with being ‘just friends’ a few months ago, but now strong feelings have developed. You exchange text messages all night long. You are secretly speaking to her on the phone, trying to keep your voice low, so that your parents do not hear you. You send her Facebook messages. You sometimes use whatsapp or viber. The nature of these messages, becomes increasingly ‘flirtatious’. What began as innocent compliments like ‘you have amazing eyes,’ have now been upgraded to ‘that top you were wearing earlier got my heart racing ‘ and so on and so forth…

Because we don’t consider most of the things above as ‘sins’, we increasingly justify our actions with excuses like:

 ‘That was only a 2-second lustful glance’,

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‘I’m listening to music but not producing it’

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‘I’m very close to a girl from college but at least I don’t have a physically intimate relationship with her’,

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‘all I said was ‘uff’ to my parents, I’m not exactly swearing at them or abusing them physically’,

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‘Ok I get angry during matches, but I’m not spilling blood and it’s not anger…it’s passion!’.

We all have a thousand excuses ready at a split second, don’t we?

Yes, indeed, you could argue all the above but think about it for a moment …are they not still SINS?!

And if you multiply these daily, weekly, monthly and for years, will they not add up? Don’t these so called small sins lead to major ones? Don’t they create a habit so bad, that it’s almost impossible to rid yourself of them?

The above were just a small fraction of potential sins that the average youth commit today; there are many many more that we tend to overlook.

After going through the list, do think about all the actions that you engage in daily. Maybe there are certain acts you commit, which you genuinely do not consider as a sin or a ‘Gunnah’, but which fall into the category. The only way you could identify if something is an error in the sight of your Creator is by seeking knowledge about that act, and by studying religion. Knowledge is truly the only way to dispel darkness.

To conclude, if you have realized that you have committed way too many sins and want to change but your mind keeps telling you that it is too late (and that you’ve gone too far) then do not worry. Satan, as man’s enemy,  is making you feel helpless and defeated. Take up the offer of repentance that Allah gives to you with open arms, regardless of what your mind tells you. Sincere tawbah (repentance) can help you inshaAllah. Take strength from the following powerful Hadith  gives great hope for all of us:

Allah, the Almighty, has said:

“O Son of Adam, so long as you call upon Me and ask of Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done, and I shall not mind. O Son of Adam, were your sins to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O Son of Adam, were you to come to Me with sins as great as the earth, and were you then to face Me ascribing no partners to Me, I would bring you forgiveness nearly as great as it!” (Hadith Qudsi)

Sincerely,the YC Street Dawah team.

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19 Lessons Fatherhood Taught Me

19 Lessons Fatherhood Taught Me

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By Zaki Imtiaz

 As Muslims, we often hear the virtues of motherhood and the benefits that kids bring to their mothers. However, it seems that fatherhood and its joy and importance often get ignored in the process. So, I decided to compile a list of some things that I’ve learnt and experienced from being a father. All the fathers-to-be and new fathers will find it beneficial inshaAllah.

 So once you’re a father, you’ll find that the following things have happened:

  1. Your love for your spouse deepens.
  2. You have to take responsibility not only of your own actions but also of your family’s.
  3. You have to try and adapt yourself to you baby’s sleep time to get some rest. He is too small to follow your routine.
  4. Even if you start following your infant’s sleep cycle, you still have to strive hard to get a good, refreshing sleep. 😛
  5. All of a sudden, you start feeling much older.
  6. You have multiple jobs now. One that is outside your house, earning money for the family, and the other with your cute little angel at home.
  7. The unique feeling you get when your baby looks at you and smiles is priceless.
  8. You start to acutely realize the hardships that your parents have gone through: skipped sleep, suffered cramps in their biceps rocking you at night, declining all the fun with friends because they were busy with you.
  9. Time passes too quickly. You angel’s birth feels moments ago, as new milestones are achieved one after the other.
  10. Technically, you have lesser time to spend with you spouse, but your bond and the quality of that time improves.
  11. Most of the time you’re busy in nurturing your kid, either physically or spiritually, or discussing with your wife about his upbringing, values and character.
  12. You become more future oriented. You start to think proactively.
  13. Your mind works on over-drive as you plan your child’s schooling according to Islamic values and plan for him to become a Hafiz and Qari.
  14. You start seeing life as a grand opportunity to shape up a human being, to inspire a complete nation (through his progeny) to become Allah’s slaves, and for you and your wife to becoming the leaders of Muttaqoon (pious people) yourself.
  15. You sometimes find it difficult to manage your relationship with your wife, because now she has two babies to handle: you and your baby! She’s fragile, so handle with care 😉
  16. Your wife loves you even more, for helping her out in the baby chores, makes du’aa for you, and prays for you to stay with your family till the end.
  17. All your childish, immature and irresponsible behavior is gone. You have to be a DAD now and you need to be responsible. Expect your kid to be exactly like you.
  18. You are more concerned about savings now, because living in an expensive era, it’s important when it comes to good education and Islamic nurturing of your kids.
  19. Now you’re remembering Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala and his commandments more. You have a journey to walk together with you family. Your journey back to home, to Jannah!

Alhamdulillah I have found my experience to be life changing. Do you find yours? Please share more lessons with me so that I can learn even more 🙂

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The writer is a software engineer and can be contacted at zakiimtiaz1@gmail.com

Of Parents, Problems and Religion!

Of Parents, Problems and Religion!

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By Umm Ibrahim

So are you fighting a daily battle, where the two people (of all the people alive), whom you love the most and you’re supposed to honour the most, are actually stopping you from obeying Allah and His Prophet (sallalahu alaihi wasallam)?

Welcome to the band! You’re not alone. You’re in a situation faced by hundreds of thousands of practicing youth in this day and age. In fact, you will find numerous precedents from Prophet Ibrahim to the People of the cave to great Companions like Saad bin abi Waqas and Mus’ab bin Umair. Don’t you feel honoured to be mentioned among the likes of such?!

Anyways, I want to arm you with some no-nonsense practical tips to help you glide smoothly through each day with a clear vision and a strategy.

1- Make Dua:

Never under-estimate the power of Dua. I will not narrate the numerous Ayahs and Ahadith related to it, because we all know them. But, have we internalized and understood them? Look, Allah is the Turner of the Hearts. All matters go back to Him. All decisions, big and small, come from Him. If He forsakes you, who is there to help you? If He helps you, who on earth can defeat you? He can open your parents’ hearts, just as He opened yours. He is the Only One who can keep you steadfast in the face of all opposition. Turn to Him with all humility and certainty. Never quit making Dua!

2- Get your concepts straight:

Go to the scholars, and discuss your situation with them openly. Know the rulings for what you are doing or intend to do. Do your research properly. You should be in a position to refute all arguments. Make sure you are clear-headed and not confused. This will help Shaitan from planting doubts in your heart. You should know clearly that:

“There is no obedience to any creation in disobedience to Creator.” (Ahmad and Hakim)

You should also know that you, and you alone, are responsible for what you do. You will be questioned in your grave alone. On the Day of Judgment, if you will call out to your parents to lift your burden, they will blatantly refuse to do so. As Allah says:

“Nor can a bearer of burdens bear another’s burdens if one heavily laden should call another to (bear) his load. Not the least portion of it can be carried (by the other). Even though he be nearly related.” (Surah Fatir: ayah 18)

3- Be extra-nice to your parents:

This is the tough part; but Allah has obliged you to behave in the best manner with them, even if they try to compel you to do Shirk. Just don’t obey them in forbidden matters. In every other matter, go all-out in being the very best you can to them. Again, we all know the Ayahs and Ahadith regarding this. But how good are we to our parents?

Take your good behavior with them to the next level. Be the ideal kid that they would like to see.

Remember all the things they ask you to do and start doing them: Cleaning your room, Learning to cook, Helping your siblings, Waking up early.

Remember all the things they dislike and stay away from them all: Staying up late, Long phone calls.

Whatever it is, make these sacrifices for the sake of Allah. Be so good that they notice the change, and keep it consistent.

Give time to them, listen to them, laugh with them, hug them, thank them. Be so good that they actually admit it and point you out as the role model in front of your siblings.

Pre-empt their needs and fulfill them. Make them feel loved every single day.

Whatever you do for them, it will never ever equal what they did for you. You can never repay one breath of your mother. SubhanAllah! I have heard youth saying to their parents: “What have you done for me?” These ungrateful brats literally make my blood boil. Although I am a cool-headed person, but this is something that makes me extremely angry and extremely sad at the same time.

You being a better Muslim should reflect in your treatment of our parents. They should be able to see what they are gaining from it.

4- Pacify their fears:

Do you think you will become a rigid extremist by growing a beard? Prove otherwise through your actions. Do they think becoming practicing will make you anti-social and isolated. Bust the myths. Indulge in socializing and fun activities as long as it is permissible in Islam.

There was a sister whose parents were afraid that she wouldn’t get married if she wore a Niqab. She conducted an impartial survey of 200 Niqabi and non-Niqabi sisters, and the findings proved their fear wrong.

Try to understand if they have a specific rational or irrational problem and try to find a way to solve it and to pacify their fears.

5- Don’t Argue:

Once you have explained your viewpoint calmly and logically (you must select an appropriate time and manner to do this), just do what you have to do calmly. Resist the urge to keep throwing your daleel (proofs) at your parents. Having a debate every day will only worsen matters. Take their taunts with a smile. Don’t answer back. Don’t hold grudges. Smile, forgive, forget. Easier said than done. But this is the way of the Prophets and all righteous people who followed them.

Plus, there is no ego in front of your parents. To them, you’re the squirming baby whose smelly diapers they changed. How dare you behave all high and mighty in front of them? Just be patient, and trust me, they’ll get used to whatever you’re doing pretty soon. The day will come, when they will consciously or unconsciously, directly or indirectly, support you in what you’re doing.

It will be awesome in the end. But it might get horrible before that. So just hang in there. This is true for most things worth fighting for in this world.

6- Choose Your Battles Wisely:

So there are 101 un-Islamic things going on in your home and you want to rectify it all overnight? Maybe you should study the biography of the Prophet again? Take it slowly and gradually, one step at a time. Stay in contact with the scholars to know which things take precedence over others. Sometimes, you will have no choice but to choose the lesser evil. Don’t try to change things overnight. You will fall flat on your face. Slowly and gradually, start bringing your family to interesting Islamic events. Get practicing and inspiring friends to visit your home for lunch or dinner.

Keep rinsing and repeating steps 1-6, and your family will thank you one day for being the trailblazer and lighting the way for others to follow inshaAllah.

Do you have more tips or experiences to share? Let us know in the comments section below!

Caught between the Mother and the Wife

Caught between the Mother and the Wife

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By Zaki Imtiaz

 The best thing about getting married is partnership, isn’t it? Ask those who are happily married. A marriage may survive without money, but can’t survive without the mutual partnership. Newly married couples enjoy their lives in the most halal way. Allah has described them as Libas (garments) of each other, covering each others physically, covering each others faults and helping each other to cope up with the external damaging elements. SubhanAllah, what great wisdom there is in this analogy! [1]

 Whilst they enjoy themselves, they might not realize the change that this union has brought not just in their lives, but also in the lives of their parents and siblings. If we see it from the groom’s perspective, before marriage, he just had to take care of his family and be dutiful to his parents. After marriage, he has to take up the responsibility of his wife also, the woman who has left her comfortable home and loving parents far away, and has come to live with him, despite all of his negative and bad habits.

Every house has a pre-defined set of norms, and it takes time for a new person to settle in and get accustomed with everyone. In such situations, there may arise conflicts between the wife and the husband’s family over simple issues. They will obviously have a difference of opinion on how to handle everyday big and small affairs: be it cooking, handling the home chores, arranging and scheduling daily tasks, dealing with the the servants etc. The notoriously famous battles are the ones which take place between the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law. If timely firefighting is not carried out, minor tussles can erupt into major fights.

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 Stuck between a rock and a hard place is the poor man, the son and the husband, trying to restore calm in the house, and keep the two most important women in his life happy. The role of this poor man is indeed very crucial. He has to balance the rights of his wife and his mother. He has to ensure that no injustice takes place. He has to walk the tightrope. He has to be the firefighter, the juggler and the peace maker. My whole-hearted sympathies are with this man! For the benefit of this man, here are some tips and tricks that I have learned through different experiences in my own life and in the lives of others:

  •  Never say no to your parents, especially if it doesn’t harm your personal life. Allah says:

وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حُسْنًا ۖ

“And We have enjoined on man to be good and dutiful to his parents”. [Surah al-‘Ankaboot: 8]

  •  In case of conflict between wife and parents, listen to both sides carefully and analyze the situation. Don’t jump to conclusions. Allah says:

إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ

“The believers are nothing else than brothers (in Islamic religion). So make reconciliation between your brothers” [Surah al-Hujurat:10]

  •  Talk to each party separately and try to clear the misunderstandings by explaining the matter, without making it seem that you are taking sides. Trust me, this works. They want someone to listen, sympathize and talk rationally.
  •  Love your wife much and unconditionally. Avoid scolding her and gently explain the importance of being good to the your family and its benefits. The Prophet (sallalahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said:

 “The best of you is the one who is best to his wife, and I am the best of you to my wives.” [Ibn Majah]

  •  Love you parents unconditionally and lower your wings of humility over them, no matter what. They are old now; bear with their quirks; their age may have left them with no other choice apart from behaving the way they want to behave. They still love and care for you. Allah says:

وَاخْفِضْ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ الذُّلِّ مِنَ الرَّحْمَةِ وَقُل رَّبِّ ارْحَمْهُمَا كَمَا رَبَّيَانِي صَغِيرًا

“And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: “My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was small.” [Surah al-Israa: 24]

  • Make everyone understand that things shouldn’t be based on the way they are carried out, rather they should be based on results. Make them sit together and decide the outputs of things which are causing friction. As long as everyone agrees upon the output, they do not have to fight on how things get done. Focus on the destination, rather than the route taken. [This principle taken from the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey works wonders.]
  •  Be emotionally strong; be the man. Forgive them and hold no grudges.

وَإِن تَعْفُوا وَتَصْفَحُوا وَتَغْفِرُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

“But if you pardon (them) and overlook, and forgive (their faults), then verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Surah at-Taghabun :14]

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May Allah make our homes among the gardens of Paradise.  May He make us the coolness of our parents’ eyes, and make our wives and children the coolness of our eyes.

[1] See Tafsir Ibn e Kathir 2:187 for details

You’re dying to marry, but are you ready to marry?

You’re dying to marry, but are you ready to marry?

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By Zaki Imtiaz

Do you know what is the most discussed matter among the Muslim youth these days?  At least, among those whom I know.  Yeah, you guessed it right: Marriage.  You say the word and you see these Colgate smiles on their faces.  Everybody wants to get married, don’t they?

Indeed, Nikah is an amazing blessing from Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala; it is a Halal way out for fulfilling our emotional and physical needs.  Muslims are advised in the Quran to lower their gaze, guard their chastity, and keep themselves away from all sorts of indecent acts.  The culture of Islam disciplines the society by encouraging marriage and by disapproving all relationships outside wedlock.

I have observed over the past couple of years that our educated youth are zealously reverting to these Islamic principles and values.  I’ve been teaching at a university, and whenever I interact with the youth, I find that they are motivated and ready to get married, wanting to keep themselves safe from the indecent and highly sexualized society around them.

I often advise them to take bold steps and talk to their parents about this issue and get married.  It’s better to have daal roti (a simple meal) prepared by your lovely wife in a single room apartment, which is filled with Iman (faith), instead of luxuries and unlawful relationships with nothing to claim in the hereafter.  However, these youngsters often do not have the guts to talk to their parents seriously, nor are they ready to compromise on their luxurious living and beauty standards.  The brothers continue to dream of a Hijabi Miss Universe, and the sisters continue to wait for their Prince Charming.

Most of the time, such brothers and sisters think that marriage is the solution to all their problems: their getting up late, their time mismanagement, loss of focus due to the fitnah (trials) posed by the society, untamed temper, bad relationship with parents and what not.

Let me bust this myth.  Marriage is not the solution to all your problems!  Write it down and paste it on your wall.  Marriage is not the solution, it can only facilitate some things for you.

Consider these scenarios:

“Oh Mom! Give me a break.  Don’t scold me all the time.  I’ll learn this stuff when I go to my next house.  Let me enjoy for now.” 

Remember what Allah says:

وَاخْفِضْ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ الذُّلِّ مِنَ الرَّحْمَةِ

“And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy” (Surah al-Israa: 24)

“Dude, I just can’t seem to wake up for Fajr these days.  When my wife will come, she’ll wake me up inshaAllah!”

Fix YOURSELF because Allah says:

فَإِذَا جَاءَتِ الصَّاخَّةُ يَوْمَ يَفِرُّ الْمَرْءُ مِنْ أَخِيهِ وَأُمِّهِ وَأَبِيهِ وَصَاحِبَتِهِ وَبَنِيهِ

“Then, when there comes the second blowing of the Trumpet, that Day shall a man flee from his brother,  and from his mother and his father,  and from his wife and his children.” (Surah ‘Abasa: 33-36)

“Dad! I gotta dine out with friends.  Please give me some more money.”

If you can’t bear your own expenses, how will you bear those of your wife, who will be solely your responsibilty?

The affairs of marriage are not joke and play.  Nor is marriage a solution to all your discipline and personality issues.  If you are not willing to change and sacrifice, then no one can help you.

Here are some pointers to these youngsters who are over-zealous to get married soon, and are obsessed with this matter:

 1- First and foremost, you need to get your faith and deeds corrected.  If you yourself don’t pray, observe proper Islamic dress code, speak truth and be just, you should then least expect to have a pious spouse.

2- Learn how to respect your parents. If you are unable to respect them before marriage, you won’t be respecting them after it as well. Remember, your spouse and children will learn from you.

3- Talk to your parents about your intention for Nikah. Don’t just tell them but show them through your actions by acting wise and not childish all the time, by dealing with them respectfully and submitting to their their lawful demands.  Show them that you’re ready to say #QaboolHai (“I do”).

4- Get yourself financially stable.  At least, you should be able to support a couple of dresses for your wife for one season, her daily requirements, a separate room and three meals/day to stay healthy.

5- Begin with the end in mind.  Write down what kind of tarbiyyah (upbringing)you want your kids to be given.  If your potential spouse himself/herself fails to live up with these values, then there is no compatibility whatsoever.

6- Get yourself disciplined.  You need to throw your dirty clothes in the basket yourself, tidy your room, straighten your bed and be responsible for your own actions.

7- Last but definitely not the least, pray to Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala to help you out.  Make dua especially in the last part of the night, after the obligatory prayers and beg Allah of His forgiveness and Mercy.  For all affairs are in the Allah’s Control, and he who is given Allah’s Mercy is indeed successful.

May Allah make our spouses and children the coolness of our eyes! Ameen.

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The writer is a software engineer and can be contacted at zakiimtiaz1@gmail.com

Build a Home in Your Hearts for Your Parents!

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!

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