By Kulsum Shaikh
We are living in a time, where parents tell their kids to wake up on time for school, but don’t hold them accountable for waking up for fajr. Being late to Islamic school is okay, whereas being on time to regular school is a must. Kids are always asked, did you finish your homework, but are barely asked, did you pray Isha? I’m not saying that the former questions should not be asked, they should. But the questions related to deen should be asked as well, with just as much importance. It all comes down to priorities, whether we are prioritizing the life of the duniya or the life of the akhira. The Prophet Muhammad SWS said, “Allah (SWT) will ask every caretaker about the people under his care, and the man will be asked about the people of his household” (Nasa’i, Abu Da’ud). The question we need to ask, is are kids being raised to survive the duniya, or the akhirah. Is the young ummah prepared to survive in both of these lives?
I feel like part of the problem, is that people feel that they need to pick either one or the other to prioritize. Prioritizing both is never considered. However, the consequences of prioritizing the survival in the duniya and putting the survival of the akirah on the backburner is a detrimental one. When children grow up and start to become exposed to the deen from other sources besides their home, they begin to question the islamic foundation that their parents gave them, and then feel the need to start from scratch. This means throwing everything out the window that their parents taught them, and even leading to form a type of arrogance, where they believe that what they are learning is the only thing that is right. Ultimately, the child will begin to question their parent’s authority, and even begin to lose respect for their parents.
Allhumdullilah, I know what if feels like to be raised both spiritually and physically. As I grew older, I began to be exposed to the deen from other resources, but I never felt that I needed to scrap everything I had learned. I felt that my foundation was strong, and not only the Islamic knowledge that I had, but I also felt that my foundation ignited my thirst to be an activist in Islam. I learned to strive to keep pushing higher and higher, but not just in school, but in my deen as well. When I push to better my deen, I build upon the foundation that my parents instilled in me. At times, there are things I learn that are different than my foundation, but rather than developing an arrogance and feeling that only what I have learned is correct, I rather feel as though I am building upon the deen I have. Allhumdullilah, the majority of the respect I have for my parents stems from the strong Islamic foundation that they have blessed me with. However, it is sad to see, that not all parents feel the need to prioritize raising their kids both physically and spiritually.
Sheikh Abdul Nasir Jangda pointed out the severity of this problem very distinctly through a basic analogy. The parent-child relationship is actually very similar to a teacher-student relationship. When a child begins to feel insecure about their islamic foundation, they begin to second-guess everything, including the validity of that relationship and everything they gained from it. Eventually, the child will not have the same respect for the parent. The parent will not operate as an authoritative figure in the child’s life any longer, because the child will then rely solely on external sources to recreate a sound islamic foundation.
This phenomena, is one that can be avoided, simply if we learn to shift our priorities. Kids need to be raised with both priorities in mind: to raise them both physically and spiritually. Being raised to physically survive in this world is important, there is no doubt about that. Allah has blessed us with a life on this Earth, to live, learn, and make a difference, and in order to do that, one needs to obtain knowledge and should aim to excel in school. However, it is equally important to be raised to survive the akhirah, and this is done by raising a child spiritually to begin with, to nurture the child’s soul.
This mindset however, does not solely depend on the level of deen of the parents. Sheikh A.N Jangda points out how the most crucial element needed to raise children with both priorities in mind, is by spending time with them. This may sound like an obvious point, but it’s astounding how much this contributes to the prioritization problem. He compared two key examples: the first being parents who spend all of their time as Islamic activists in the communities, but barely spend any time with their kids and family. The second, being newly married couples who have just started their families, but are criticized for never being around. Sheikh A.N Jangda points out, that yes it is important to contribute to the community, however it is even more important to contribute at home. Therefore, it is not just the parent’s level of deen that shapes the mindset of how their kids are raised, but also how much time is actually being spent to think about this mindset in the first place.
The Prophet Muhammad (s) said: “Every one of your (people) is responsible, and everyone is responsible for whatever falls under his responsibility. A man is like a shepherd of his own family, and he is responsible for them” (Bukhari and Muslim). It is evident with the rise of the young ummah, that priorities need to be shifted. It is the responsibility of every brother and sister in Islam, to make sure that children are being raised both physically, and spiritually.
Picture Reference: http://www.virtualmosque.com/ummah/youth/inspiring-our-children-to-pray/