We had a get together for Big A's birthday over this past weekend. As she gets older and is becoming a women, I thought it would be great to have a sort of a rite of passage into womanhood. It didn't necessarily happen that way, however, a good friend of mine came up with another idea. To give Big A a book of letters, these letters or short notes were filled with good advise. I am so happy with the book Big A was given and I am extremely grateful to all that contributed.
Although, I see Big A going down a beautiful path towards God. (May she be steadfast on this path. Ameen) I also see the dangers out there. I am a little strange, I let my children climb trees and ride their scooters down hills, they explore the neighborhood without adult supervision and are given plenty of opportunities to test their personal limits. These things do not scare me, the dangers I speak of are the lack of values and corruption that plague the human soul. I know many parents who don't agree, but let me be frank, I don't want my Beloved children to be corrupted by their peers, adults, or corporate media.
|J Man, Big A, S Man & Z Man|
MashaAllah, Big A draws people into her. All types of people, children and adults alike. Many parents have come to me in request that Big A spend time with their children. Their objective is so she can be a positive influence on their children. My oldest son J Man, was the same, everybody loved him also. What I didn't understand in raising J Man, that I understand now, these type of people who have beautiful character need more protection. The more the heart is pure, the more sensitive it is, the more impressionable it is and the easier it is to become corrupted. Although, television and music is a big problem, the worse ideas that have been taught to my children have come from people that are close to them.
A man is on the religion of his friends, so you should be careful who you take for friends.
~ Prophet Muhummad, sal Allahu alaihi wa salaam
Just being Muslim is not enough, in fact, I am actually happier around practicing Christians than Muslims who are secularized and/or whose culture overpowers their Islam. I don't think religion in this context means an organized religion, but religion meaning a way of life or a state of mind. My dad always said before he past away "association brings on assimilation" We become like that which influences us. I know this, I see it everyday in my children, they are mirrors of what I do good and what I do bad. I am not perfect, I don't claim that at all, but I am conscious of my faults and even tell my children don't take this from me. The biggest issue is with adults who think their faults are virtues guided by their own whims and delusion, trying to guide others down the same path that has not worked for them. "Misery loves Company"
Then there are those parents who say "please let Big A come spend time with my children" . . . I always think to myself, so you are saying " you want my child to parent your child?" If you understand that your parenting style is not working, then change it, even ask for help. But don't push your child off on someone else to raise, especially not their peers or another child. These children who terrorize other children at 5 years old and have the mean girl character down before they are even eligible to watch the PG-13 movie, have already been influenced by behavior my children are not equipped to handle. These children may need a professional, but they definitely need a mom and dad, not so much a "friend". Because these type of children have strong dominating personalities and will end up corrupting the "friend", more than the "friend" can actually help.
I do have concern for these children and their parents. This is why I do Noor Janan, I really want to help people. But there is a saying, "you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, he will never go hungry again" I believe in teaching people to help themselves. I give advise on Noor Janan that I find beneficial in raising children. I wholeheartedly believe in protecting our children's hearts and their fitra (the pure state they were born into the world, until corrupted by parents and the world). Noor Janan means the enlightened heart/soul as this is our goal for ourselves and our children because this to me is the most important education we can instill in our children: learning to protect and purify their hearts.
Beware, in the body there is a flesh; if it sound, the whole body is sound and if it is corrupt, the whole body is corrupt, and behold it is the heart.
So what kind of friends do Big A have the most connection with. What mother doesn't like a child who is respectful, that says "yes mam" or "yes aunty" or "yes, sister Kamilah". These are the children invited over the most, in fact we have kidnapped one of Big A's friend who has been over our house for now 5 days. I am taking her home today, but she has a beautiful respectful character and is welcomed over anytime. Piety is a virtue and humbleness will win my heart. My personal pet peeve are children who are always begging for something and have little gratitude for what is given. Children who see McDonalds as you are driving by and are begging for you to take them there. Well, one we have never taken my 4 beloveds to McDonalds in their entire life and two, my children are not asking me to stop. Then when these children are given something, a thank you is seldom heard and because of this invites are seldom given. Big A loves Native Deen and other Islamic Nasheeds and she loves to recite and learn the Quran. Children who listen to music with horrible lyrics are usually children who exhibit grown sexual behavior in their speech and I pray not in their actions. Big A's closest friends usually come from families who also limit the music and television of their children. Big A loves to play games and stay active, I think this is a must for girls and will help give them alternatives to some other questionable activities. Big A really doesn't like to spend to much times with girls who sit around and gossip and talk about petty things. We also spend alot of time in the natural world, so friends who are explorers and are learning to be a khalifa of our Earth is important. As parents we like to put Big A in educational programs at colleges, we truly believe in the balance between developing the spirit, mind, and body. We encourage Big A's friends to join her in many of these programs. Some of her friends were on her softball team, others have attended science programs with her, but we are trying to really get a core group of girls who are developing their relationship with Allah.You can tell the difference between a child who has interaction with the Quran and a child that doesn't. I asked Anse Tamara at the recent al Maqasid Retreat what is the most important education we can give our children, and she said "have your child memorize the Quran".
Shaykh Salek also advised to get a core group of parents who are interested in raising their children in similar ways. He said the first rule should be to cut out the television. Shaykh Salek said this box is a companion to us, and he is right, many people are on the religion of corporate media. The values, thinking, beliefs, habits and mannerism of most people are influenced by television, it is the new religion guiding people. Yes, television is an easy babysitter and it may keep your child calm and quiet. It also may look like no damage is being done, but I advise you to look carefully at your child, to read books on the studies that have been done on the effects of television. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf encourages everyone to read: Homeschooling for Excellence. I also advise to try to not think about instant gratification, but future repercussions. I might loose some readers for saying this, but I feel Disney and PBS are one of the worse channels you can allow your children to watch. Christians have done a really good job of providing alternative movies, one of my favorites is Fireproof. I have invested in several Islamic DVDs and we are quite conservative on the movies we let our children watch, but there is no television in our house.
If you are looking for alternatives, check out Noor Janan youtube channel, shows like Misri Bunch and other Islamic movies are usually free to watch on youtube.
So what makes a good friend, someone whose heart is pure (pious) and someone who is actively working to get closer to Allah. Someone who stays active, who is curious about the world around them (intellectual), and enjoys life (fun-loving). These will be the same qualities a future spouse should also have.
As a parent, you can't protect them forever, so you must teach them to protect themselves, guard their heart, and to be careful of who or what (tv) they take as their friends.