Monday, July 18, 2005

The Positive & Negative C's of Islamic Parenting

by Shahina Siddiqui

One of the greatest challenges a Muslim will ever face is being a parent. This is one challenge, however, many of us are least prepared for.

Allah tells us in the Quran that our children are our trial and as such we should take the task of parenting seriously, and start learning from each other. In my experience in dealing with my own family and counseling other Muslim families, a model has developed based on what I call "The Positive and Negative C's". I pray to Allah that this humble contribution will help parents and children alike in diagnosing and repairing the health of their families.


Compassion (Rehmat)

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) stated, "He is not of us who does not have compassion for his fellow beings".

It is interesting to note that when it comes to Hadith like this or Quranic quotes dealing with human behavior, we never stop to think that our children and family members are also our fellow human beings and that these golden rules must also be applied to them.

Compassion is only one component of the concept of mercy (Rehmat) — the others being kindness, respect, and of course love. Remember the displeasure of Prophet Muhammad when a Bedouin told him how he had never kissed any of his ten children.

Consultation (Shura)

The Prophet has related that Allah says "Oh My servant. I look on high handedness as something not permissible for myself, and I have forbidden it for you. So do not oppress each other".

When we consult with each other in the domestic realm, both husband and wife must show respect for each other. This is one of the best ways to bond and to learn to listen to each other and to resolve conflicts. However, the consultation will only be fruitful if it is sincere and not merely a formality. Imposition of one's ideas with scant regard to the welfare of the whole family unit defeats the purpose of the most important Quranic principle of Shura.


This concept of cooperation in Islam is most beautifully illustrated in Sura Al-Asr: "… counsel each other to the truth (Haq), and counsel each other to patience and fortitude (Sabr)".

When a family unit cooperates in this manner, they truly capture the spirit of Islam — the welfare of each member of the family becomes the concern of the other.


It is extremely important that our families commit themselves as a unit to Allah and His Prophet(s): "Obey Allah and His Prophet and those in authority over you" (Nisa). This collective commitment gives us an identity and maps out our purpose — namely that we all belong to Allah and are accountable and responsible to Him.


Communication is more than talking. It is an essential part of family life. It is both talking in a manner in which others can understand you, and hearing in a manner in which you can listen and understand others.

So many times people claim that they have no communication problem since they are always talking. However, the majority of the time they are talking "at" and not talking "to". This mode usually results in the recipient tuning out. Many children at an early age learn to tune out their parents.

When communication is a means to listening, understanding, and exchanging ideas, it is the most powerful tool to effective parenting and the best shield against peer and societal pressures.

It also teaches children skills to problem solving. An important component of positive communication is a sense of humor when parents and children can laugh together. Communication can also be instrumental in passing down family history and thus creating oneness and togetherness by sharing a mutual heritage (children love to hear about family stories).


Effective parenting requires that we are consistent in our value judgments, discipline, and moral standards. Many parents inadvertently apply double standards to boys and girls when it comes to social behavior and domestic chores. This is unacceptable, and leads to sibling rivalry and stereotypical males and females.


Family is with whom we can feel safe and secure. Where we know our secrets are safe and where there is mutual trust. Unfortunately, parents often betray the trust of their children when they discuss their concerns, which they confide in them to outsiders. This leads to mistrust, and sooner or later our children will stop confiding in us. This may take them to find confidants outside the family, sometimes non-Muslim peers, and this can be detrimental to their spiritual and moral growth.

Contentment (Tawakkul)

The greatest gift we can give our children is that of contentment. This can be developed very early in life by encouraging our children to give thanks to Allah for all they have by discouraging materialism by word and example, and by counting the blessings every night and remembering the less fortunate.


It is the duty of parents to build confidence in our children through encouragement and honest and sincere praise. By developing confidence, we give our children the courage to stand up for themselves and their beliefs and to be able to deal with opposition.


By teaching restraint and avoiding excess we develop in our children control so that they do not become slaves to their desires (Nafs).


By encouraging and showing calm in matters of adversity and in times of panic we improve our Taqwa (God consciousness) and teach our children to rely on Allah and to turn to Allah alone for all needs.


Courage of conviction can only be achieved when we have been able to teach our children true Islam. We should take advantage of every learning opportunity as a family so that our faith (Iman) flourishes and evolves towards Ihsan as a family unit. In this manner we can be a source of strength to each other.

Critical Thinking

The Quran encourages us over and over again to think, reflect, ponder, understand and analyze. However, very rarely do. Parents must encourage children to ask questions. Our response to difficult inquiries from our children is to say "do it because I said so". This discourages the children from developing critical thinking. They become lazy and complacent and easy prey to cult type following. To take things at face value makes us vulnerable.


The most important attitude of a Muslim personality is, as Prophet Muhammad stated : "Do you not wish that Allah will forgive you? Then forgive your brothers and sisters". Many relationships break because people are not able to forgive each other. It is important that parents make up in front of their children by forgiving each other after an argument. Prophet Muhammad stated, "Like for your brother what you like for yourself". So if husband and

wife expect respect from each other they should give respect.

A charitable nature also encourages us to overlook people with their shortcomings and to be sensitive and to have empathy.


There are many negative C's, which should also be identified so that we can avoid them or at least be aware of them. As you will notice when you go through the whole exercise, the presence of one negative C cancels out a positive C.


In an authentic Hadith the Prophet Muhammad said: "Look up to one who is greater in piety so you strive to be like him and look upon one who is below you in material status so that you may be thankful to Allah's Grace".

As a Muslim community we are experiencing the opposite. We are literally killing ourselves to gain bigger and better material goods than others and passing this same competitive spirit to our children.

If Br. X's son is going to Yale, my son must go to Harvard otherwise he is a failure, no matter how good a Mumin (believer) he is in comparison to Br. X's son. We are inadvertently putting so much pressure on our children to compete in Dunya (this world) that we are actually hurting their self-esteem and pushing them away. Remember if children don't find acceptance of who they are and what they are capable of at home, they will find it elsewhere.


Comparison is an outcome of negative competition it is cruel and breeds resentment and anger. Many parents compare their children to others and get in the habit of complaining. Grass always seems greener in the neighbor's yard, but closer inspection may reveal the opposite. None of us are perfect, and therefore we should stop looking for perfection in others.


The negative aspect of control shows in the form of a controlling personality e.g. I am the boss so you do as I tell you. In extreme cases this need to control leads to abuse and neglect. Anger is also a weapon of a control freak. In most cases it is the father, however mothers also exhibit this trait.


Constant, destructive criticism is a sign of dysfunctional parenting. Continuous put downs and verbal clashing destroys the tranquil atmosphere at home. The self-esteem of the recipients of this criticism is extremely low developing in them a victim mentality. They will either seek abusive relationships or turn their backs on their families. Many runaways come from such a family background.


"If the truth was to follow their whims, the heaven and earth and all their inhabitants would be corrupt" (Quran part of 23:71).

Weak Nafs and diseases of the heart lead to poor character, which of course is the result of grudging submission and conditional faith. When we corrupt our Deen (religion) by picking and

choosing what we want, practicing what suits us best and resisting and outright opposing what does not suit our fancy, we pay an enormous price by losing ourselves to the Dunya, and driving our children away from Islam.


Parents are confused about their identity and their values. They have not been able to develop a structure of right and wrong based on Quran and Hadith and as such when it comes to implementation give conflicting signals to their children.

We must as parents develop an Islamic frame of reference, which would serve to develop a Muslim conscience in our children and a basis for judgment. Sifting through our cultural baggage and increasing our knowledge can only achieve this.


Contempt for others is a result of pride, arrogance, and conceit. We must discourage arrogance in children and be constantly vigilant about it as many Muslim youth are falling prey to this trait and developing contempt towards their parents. It is one thing to praise and quite another to set them up on a pedestal. We should always remember "knowledge is proud it knows so much — wisdom is humble it knows no more".


Consumption, a vice of this society, is creeping into Muslim communities. When wants become needs, and parents start compensating for their lack of time spent with their children with material gifts, we are perpetuating consumerism — anything can be bought. This, however, is not true. So many young people I counsel always say "I could do without this new computer if only my parents would spend more time with me".

The legacy of materialism survives generations since it caters to our baser self. Please watch out for it.


When there is contradiction in word and deed it is called hypocrisy. Children are very sensitive to this vice and can pick a hypocrite a mile away.

When we behave holier than thou in the Masjid but present a different side in other settings, we are giving our children the message it is okay to be a hypocrite.


As Prophet Muhammad reminded us in his last sermon "Shaytan cannot mislead us in major issues of Faith but in minor issues". This is where our carelessness and lack of diligence can lead to weak character.


This is a mind set that many immigrant parents have passed down to their children — a sense of inferiority, a complex as such, that European and Western cultures are superior and better than that of their country of origin. This is a mentality that encourages imitation, following and serving rather than leadership.

There are many more positive and negative C's that I could discuss but perhaps it would be entertaining if families could sit together and see how many they can come up with, and perform a diagnostic test of their own families based on this humble contribution.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Defining our roles

"God dignifies both men and women in their distinctiveness, not their
sameness." - A profound insight!

March 30, 2005
Female-Led Prayers: A Step Forward for Women?
On March 18, 2005 Amina Wadud led the first female-led Jumu`ah Prayer. On
that day, women took a huge step towards being more like men. But, did we
come closer to actualizing our God-given liberation?

This answer was kindly provided by Sister Yasmin Mogahed, a member of Ask
About Islam Editorial Staff. Yasmin is an Egyptian-American journalist
based in Wisconsin, USA. She is currently studying for a Master's degree in

Salam, Sarah.

Thank you for your inspiring question!

Well, answering your question, I can say that I don't think so.

What we so often forget is that God has honored women by giving them value
in relation to God-not in relation to men. But as Western feminism erases
God from the scene, there is no standard left but men. As a result, the
Western feminist is forced to find her value in relation to a man. And in
so doing, she has accepted a faulty assumption. She has accepted that man
is the standard, and thus a woman can never be a full human being until she
becomes just like a man-the standard.

When a man cut his hair short, she wanted to cut her hair short. When a man
joined the army, she wanted to join the army, and so on. She wanted these
things for no other reason than because the "standard" had it.

What she didn't recognize was that God dignifies both men and women in
their distinctiveness, not their sameness. And on March 18, Muslim women
made the very same mistake.

For 1,400 years, there has been a consensus of scholars that men are to
lead Prayer. As a Muslim woman, why does this matter? The one who leads
Prayer is not spiritually superior in any way. Something is not better just
because a man does it. And leading Prayer is not better just because it is leading.
Had it been the role of women or had it been more divine, why wouldn't the
Prophet have asked Lady `A'ishah or Lady Khadijah, or Lady Fatimah-the
greatest women of all time-to lead? These women were promised heaven and
yet they never led Prayer.

But now, for the first time in 1,400 years, we look at a man leading Prayer
and we think, "That's not fair." We think so, although God has given no
special privilege to the one who leads. The imam is no higher in the eyes
of God than the one who prays behind. On the other hand, only a woman can
be a mother. And the Creator has given special privilege to a mother. The
Prophet taught us that heaven lies at the feet of mothers. But no matter
what a man does, he can never be a mother. So why is that not unfair?

When asked who is most deserving of our kind treatment? The Prophet replied
"your mother" three times before saying "your father" only once. Isn't that
sexist? No matter what a man does, he will never be able to have the status
of a mother.

And yet even when God honors us with something uniquely feminine, we are
too busy trying to find our worth in reference to men, to value it or even
notice it. We too have accepted men as the standard; so anything uniquely
feminine is, by definition, inferior. Being sensitive is an insult,
becoming a mother is a degradation. In the battle between stoic rationality
(considered masculine) and selfless compassion (considered feminine),
rationality reigns supreme.

As soon as we accept that everything a man has and does is better, all that
follows is just a knee jerk reaction: if men have it, we want it too. If
men pray in the front rows, we assume this is better, so we want to pray in
the front rows too. If men lead Prayer, we assume the imam is closer to God, so
we want to lead Prayer too. Somewhere along the line, we've accepted the
notion that having a position of worldly leadership is some indication of
one's position with God.

A Muslim woman does not need to degrade herself in this way. She has God as
a standard. She has God to give her value; she doesn't need a man here.

In fact, in our crusade to follow men, we, as women, never even stopped to
examine the possibility that what we have is better for us. In some cases,
we even gave up what was higher only to be like men.

Fifty years ago, we saw men leaving the home to work in factories. We were
mothers. And yet, we saw men doing it, so we wanted to do it too. Somehow,
we considered it women's liberation to abandon the raising of another human
being in order to work on a machine. We accepted that working in a factory
was superior to raising the foundation of society-just because a man did

Then after working, we were expected to be superhuman-the perfect mother,
the perfect wife, the perfect homemaker, and have the perfect career. And
while there is nothing wrong, by definition, with a woman having a career,
we soon came to realize what we had sacrificed by blindly mimicking men. We
watched as our children became strangers, and soon recognized the privilege
we'd given up.

And so only now-given the choice-women in the West are choosing to stay
home to raise their children. According to the United States Department of
Agriculture, only 31 percent o f mothers with babies, and 18 percent of
mothers with two or more children, are working fulltime. And of those
working mothers, a survey conducted by Parenting Magazine in 2000, found
that 93 percent of them say they would rather be home with their kids, but
are compelled to work due to "financial obligations." These "obligations"
are imposed on women by the gender sameness of the modern West and removed
from women by the gender distinctiveness of Islam.

It took women in the West almost a century of experimentation to realize a
privilege given to Muslim women 1,400 years ago. Given my privilege as a
woman, I only degrade myself by trying to be something I'm not, and in all
honesty, don't want to be-a man. As women, we will never reach true
liberation until we stop trying to mimic men and value the beauty in our
own God given distinctiveness.

If given a choice between stoic justice and compassion, I choose

And if given a choice between worldly leadership and heaven at my feet, I
choose heaven.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Disclosure Policy

This is my personal blog written and edited by me. Interviews and product reviews may be emailed to me at themuslimhomeschooler at I do require an actual product or equivalent (log-in code to website, trial membership, etc.) in order to write an honest review. If a product is being reviewed for monetary gain, it will be disclosed on this blog. Read More...


I'm a 34 year old Muslim mom of four little ones, ages 6, 4, 2, and 1. I started homeschooling when my oldest was almost four. It's funny because I remember when my mom was 34 and I don't feel that I've reached the maturity level of my mom at this age. I'm still the same dreamy kid that I always was. I'm always looking for a way to be a better Muslim, wife, mom and homeschooler, in that order, InshaALLAH.

I'm a native Texan who grew up mostly in Europe (Army brat), Virginia. I've traveled all over, even as far as Malaysia, Taiwan and Australia. I was always somewhat different from the crowd, (my mom is somewhere nodding in agreement, lol), and I thank ALLAH for leading me to Islam and away from that which is of no benefit to me, AlhamduLILLAH.

I love to read when I get the chance, and on occasion - mostly when I'm feeling guilty and lazy, I get up and exercise. I'm a kettle-bell lifting, indoor cycling kind of girl.

I love the creative side of life and enjoy photography and knitting from time to time. I like to write but my skills are much neglected since starting a family and taking care of my little ones.

I moved to Canada after marrying my husband the programming geek in 2003, and I've been here ever since. In the beginning, it felt a little strange to be here but now I can't imagine living anywhere else - but you never know. Read More...


Suggestions? Questions? Wanna Talk? Email me

The Muslim Homeschooler at

Educating Muslim Children


by Ibrahim B. Syed, Ph. D.


Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.

7102 W. Shefford Lane

Louisville, KY 40242-6462, USA



Foundation of Education

Education is the birth right of every Muslim and Muslimah. Investment in education is the best investment one can make, because it eventually leads to intellectual property. Intellectual property is the intangible property, which no one can steal or destroy. This is the property on which no Government can levy a tax. Hence, the foundation for education should start from childhood. It becomes imperative that the education of children be given the utmost importance as the prime duty to every parent, society, Government and nation.

Islamic Traditions

To the Muslims a child is a trust from Allah (SWT) in the hands of the parents. The heart of a child can be compared to a fine and clean slate without any writing on it. Hence the child could be developed into any type of human being depending on what type of environment he or she is exposed to. If a child is educated in the traditions of goodness including the Noble Qur'an and the Seerah of the Prophet Muhammad (SAS), he or she will surely follow the truth when grown up and will attain health, happiness, and success both in this world and the hereafter. The reaching of great heights by the child gives the greatest pleasure both to the parents and the teachers. Even the community and the nation share in the child's achievements. On the other hand, lack of proper education destroys the bright future of the child. The blame and responsibility for this unpleasant and sad deed has to be shared both by the parents and the teachers, as well as the community and the nation. Therefore parenting is not any easy task. In some societies people literally spit on the faces of the parents whose children have gone astray. Right from the beginning parents should impart good conduct to their children and discourage them from bad company. Children should be taught to exercise control in self-adornment, extremes of pleasure and comfort.

The care of the child starts from the time of birth. Bottle-feeding should be kept away unless the mother has problems in breast-feeding. The virtues of breast-feeding to the child and the mother have been elaborated elsewhere by the author. The mother's milk not only nourishes the body and immunizes it but also builds up the mind and strengthens the emotional bonds of love and affection.

Teaching Manners

When the child reaches an age enabling him or her to distinguish things, greater care should be taken to teach good manners and respect for others. This is the time to teach table manners particularly Islamic traditions - recitation of Bismillah ("In the name of Allah"), using the right hand to eat, to eat from the plate the items near to him or her, not getting greedy at other's eating, to chew food thoroughly and slowly, avoiding haste, preventing of smearing one's hands on clothes. Mothers should be careful not to inculcate the habit of overeating. Parents should emphasize eating plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, reducing salt intake, discourage consumption of chocolates, sweets, candies, coffee, tea, soft drinks and encourage drinking of skim milk, fruit juices, low calorie, cholesterol-free, fat-free ice creams, yogurts.

Children must be complimented for moderate eating and for sharing food and toys with other children, so that they can learn sharing and self-sacrificing, as these qualities will lead to success in their married and professional lives. Children should be taught to develop simplicity and humility in their actions and behavior.

Teaching the 3 Rs

Children should attend schools to learn reading, writing and arithmetic, in addition they should be taught the Qur'an, Seerah of Prophet Muhammad (SAS), Islamic history and stories of the Muslim Heroes and Heroines, so that the values and virtues in these things may take root in their hearts. Apart from sciences and mathematics children must be allowed to read world history, poetry, literature, art, fiction, etc.

Child Discipline

Children should be praised for their good actions and behavior and rewarded but seldom monetarily. This will make the children pleased and encouraged to repeat their good deeds. Whenever children commit mistakes or undesirable acts for the first time, they should be forgiven and their acts or misdeeds should be corrected in a loving and affectionate way without any harshness. Children should not be scolded frequently, particularly in front of their playmates or other adults. Scolding makes them insensitive and they continue the bad acts and may acquire undesirable habits. However the parents should communicate with their children and the father should not only talk to them but also discipline them without any physical harm. The mother should show her love and affection and at the same time remind them of their father's warnings and tell them to keep away from evil things.

During the day time children should be allowed to study and also to play otherwise their intellect will be dulled, and their physical bodies will not be in good shape. At night they must go to bed early. "Early to bed and early to rise make one healthy, wealthy, and wise." Children should not be allowed to do anything in secret, as it may encourage them to bad things and hide them from parents, teachers and friends. Openness, frankness and honesty are great virtues of leadership. At the same time, the children must be taught not to boast to their friends about parents' possessions, their living conditions, and family matters. Children must be taught to respect others and to show gentleness and humility.

Teaching by Action

If parents are wealthy, their children should be exposed to the acts of Zakah, Sadaqah, fitrah charities towards the poor, kith, and kin, and other deserving poor people. If the parents are poor, their children should be taught to live within their means, to strive and work hard for a better life, but never to steal, rob, or cheat others for a living.

Children must be taught to respect parents and elders and to make room for them. Children should not swear in order to speak the truth. Their habit of taking oaths should be avoided. They should be taught good manners of sitting and speaking. They should be encouraged to ask questions, but should not become chatterboxes. They should distinguish the bad habits from good habits. They should avoid the company of those who have bad habits. They should keep away from children who smoke, drink alcohol, abuse drugs, violate morality, and ethics.


Bismillahnirahmanirahim - Understanding the Amanah from Allah

Assalamualaykum Dear Visitors

Alhamdulillah, with the availability of the internet, it is getting much easier for us to attain information on just about anything. And then, it became too complex as we are bombarded and spoilt for choices. Inshaallah, this site aim to provide information on child rearing for mothers and mothers-to-be in this fast track millenium world of ours.

My name is Oumu Salma, and my interest in child upbringing was spurred with the arrival of my daughter. Since she came, I've been going through many books on different kinds of caring and education concepts that is available in the market, Western philosophy and also Islamic ones. However, some practises and learning styles in some of those books may not be acceptable to Islam and contradicts its teachings, hence, my intention, is solely to share what we can and should use to aid us in the upbringing of our children.

What suprises me when reading the contemporary Western books is that, most of what can be found, is already taught and emphasized in Islam. One will notice however, through reading these books is that, in the early 60's - 80's, childhood rearing method has been simplified for the sake of working mothers in line with the former industrialization that was taking place in the Western world. This thus, resulted in the compromising of the child's mental, health and physical care and development. What is sad though, those very same damaging concepts, are still being practised by us till now because we fail to find out why we do things we do. I believe, its an Islamic trait to inculcate the responsibility of knowing why we do what we do. That includes questioning old-age traditions and practises which have no place in Islam.

The 'Amanah' from Allah, i.e, our children, said the Prophet s.a.w, is like a white sheet of cloth. It is up to us how we want to colour the lives of our children. It doesn't need much imagination to know that their lives decision will be made from the very lessons they learn at home. It is then, our priority in life, to start understanding this little being right from birth.

Inshaallah, this site will be useful for all mothers interested in giving the best for their children duniya and akhirah. For any questions, please do not hesitate to email me directly at

In future, visitors of this site can expect to see

1. Philosophy of raising children

2. Practical & Useful practices

3. Interesting Articles from muslim educators

4. Fine examples of what Quran says about raising children

5. Authentic examples from Hadiths/Sunnah's of the Prophet s.a.w

6. Children's entertainment - Games to Play/Nasheeds for sing-a-long

7. Recommended related sites

8. Recommended reading materials

9. Networking & Friendship opportunities with other Muslim Moms

10. Heartwarming stories about Moms & their children

Should you have any suggestion on how I can impove the website, do leave your comments.


Oumu Salma