Friday, December 14, 2007

So, I've been wondering for some time how to make this a more interesting and readable blog, but I haven't really put forth much effort. I have read some fascinating blogs in the past few years and I think those bloggers must devote a lot of time to them. Time is a luxury that I sort of have. I can't say that I don't. In this day and age, we all devote portions of time to so many things that we spread ourselves thin and appear to be busier than we really are. For example, I have posted maybe ten times on this blog. Whooptido. Ten times is probably what I should have done in the first month. It's not like I'm not on the internet. Before school and after school I find the time to sneak on. I am regularly seen on as well as a couple of other sites, so it's not that I don't have the time. I was very hesitant about setting up a blog because you have to give the public a bit of your self. I am pretty private - a. I'm a niqabi so few people know how I look in the first place. b. I am active online more so than in real life; I have three small children so they take up quite a bit of my day (and night). c. I don't really feel like taking the time to weed out the garbage one is bound to get on a blog in the comments (not that I have any readers, lol). So, chalk it up to shyness, busyness and a bit of laziness too.
Anyway. My daughter is doing surprisingly and exceptionally well. Her uncle is five and he's in public kindergarten. He's up to "E" in the alphabet and I'm pretty sure he can't spell his name yet. It's December and we have just about finished the curriculum. She's reading first and second grade books (and everything around the house: cans, bottles, boxes, etc.). I am quite proud of her success and pray that InshaALLAH she keeps at it. I myself feel burnt out from time to time because it takes lots of patience to sit back and watch a child learn. You start itching to "help". That's part of the whole fast-paced society thing, I guess. It's training for the adult to learn how to sit still and let things happen as they may.
It looks like Eid-ul-Adha is going to be on Wednesday, InshaALLAH so I have to prepare for that. We will be adding balloons and such like last Eid so the kids should really get a kick out of that. I think they will be getting some puzzles and books mostly - especially something from the Melissa and Doug collection. Their stuff is expensive but it rocks. We got their abacus for the kids and it is quite handy abacus. Read More...

Thursday, November 1, 2007


As salaamu 'alaikum.

How do you feel about television? Is public t.v. alright? Islamic movies only? I think I want to cut it out altogether. My kids are little and really have no business in front of the tube and I know that they will gladly sit there until I turn it off. They do other things as well, but I would like for them to feel that t.v. is a luxury, not a right. I stopped watching it so long ago (we don't have cable) but I admit that I miss cable network news and all the home/d.i.y. networks. Read More...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Time to shift gears


It's been quite a while since I last blogged and it's time to shake the cobwebs from my head. Now that Ramadan is over we are trying to pick up the pieces and plow ahead in the curriculum. It was tough to focus toward the end of the fast. My daughter is quite ahead and I need to sort of regroup and figure out new activities for her to do so that we don't skip any important details.
We celebrated Eid on Friday, October 12 but it looks like the local celebration was on the 13th. We did our gift exchanging Stitch by stitch
and attended the salat on Friday but also went to the Eid celebration downtown on Saturday. Fun for the kiddies
There was quite a turnout which made the wait extremely long for the rides. Sadly, the bazaar wasn't all that spectacular, yet I managed to purchase a tiny dishdasha for my son for about ten dollars. I hope they have Eid ul Adha in a different place because it was so humid! Humidity is hard on a niqabi! Prayer mats are all trampled now
The cool thing about this Eid is that I met a sister from the States! I haven't seen any African American sisters who live in Canada since I got here. The bonus is that her family attends the local mosque. I also met another African American sister from Florida who is a motivational speaker. She and her husband were here at our local mosque trying to assist with organizing halaqa's and other general social events. We also met a family on Friday's Eid prayer who invited us over for breakfast and we ended up staying the whole day, AlhamduLILLAH. May Allah grant mercy and peace to all the wonderful Muslims we met and the ones that we did not have the opportunity to meet. Ameen.
If you knit, there is a website which you may or may not have heard of called ravelry. It is a good place to organize and show off your knitting and there is even a group for Muslim knitters! Read More...

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Ramadan is coming to an end

So, I have been fasting for what seems like forever. I have never had trouble with fasting until this Ramadan. Also, I don't think I have ever been so busy! I have been teaching every day - including a couple of times on the weekend. My daughter is doing quite well and has progressed in ways that I hadn't foreseen.

She's reading early reader phonics books and can sound out words slowly on her own. She's also really good at mathematics - especially abstract concepts.

Working hard

I need to stop by the local mosque bookstore, InshaALLAH, and pick up a set of Islamic curriculum books by Good Word like these. They sell the whole set at cost so it's $15.

This should, InshaALLAH be a good Eid for the kids because the older they get, the more excited they get. I like to watch them open their gifts, I get a real kick out of that. Read More...

Friday, August 31, 2007

Almost time to start

So, I am getting ready for the homeschool. I have the Calvert School Curriculum and I must say I am excited. My oldest is begging to start school but I told her that we will wait until after Labor Day, InshaALLAH. I think we will have Islamic/Arabic school year round but the secular curriculum will follow the Ontario designated school year.
I definitely feel elated after getting that heavy whiteboard hung. stud finder
My arms hurt after all the stud finding and drilling. I must say, it really gives that classroom feel.
I still have more to do but it's a start. I think I will expand beyond the curtain and put up a bulletin board/display area on the hallway wall and make that a play area for the little ones. Zellers is open 24 hours Friday through Sunday so I am sure we will be stopping by there to grab a couple of backpacks for them (not that they have anywhere to go but backpacks are great fun).
One thing we are doing is taking the disciplined approach, meaning wake up, get dressed properly (proper Islamic school dress), and start class with Fatihah.
The only concern I have about all this is that we will be starting right before Ramadan. AlhamduLillah for Ramadan. Hopefully, the routine will be easy to follow and I will exercise much patience, InshaALLAH while I am fasting. I did manage to find some Ramadan activity books for them to color and I think we can make some type of decorations for the classroom. I need to really brainstorm or check the internet for inspiration. Read More...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

8th grade

Mingle2 Free Online Dating - Science Quiz

ha ha. That was fun. It's been a loooooooong time. Read More...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Friends are family

So I talked to my friend about the whole doll issue and we are straight. Turns out I was being too sensitive and need to lighten up. Well, with her. There are some others who don't even come close to supporting me but I will let them be.
This past weekend, we snagged a mega saucer for the baby from EBay for twelve bucks. I was happy about that since it retails for at least $80 CAN.
So we decided to go with a curriculum after all. I looked at Calvert School and they have an excellent program. The lesson samples are explicit and complete. I realize the time it would take to put together something like this and I see the value in it. Of course, I bought mine used from good old EBay. The one that I bought did not include the math so I still need to hunt for that. I don't know, maybe Calvert, maybe Saxon for math. Of course, I have heard good things about these guys too. Sigh. So many choices. What ensures a program is the right one for you? Reputation is one thing but I think we are in need of a homeschool co-op in the area so that I can pick the brains of the members. I found links to two Muslim homeschool support groups that were dead. Yay. I wonder if any exist around here anymore....
I also found which gives free shipping for orders over $75.
I took a quick detour into a thrift shop this weekend and scored big. I got these and plenty of other stuff. We saw a man selling used office and classroom furniture so we picked up a HUGE whiteboard and two partitions for $85 including delivery (down the street) to our house. Now we have to figure out how to safely mount it. I scored some other things too but my camera battery is not so strong so those will have to wait until next time, InshaALLAH.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Curriculum at this age?

Arabic curriculum So, I'm wondering which curriculum I should be using for my daughter. I mean, she's three and a half and I don't want to rush and spend hundreds of dollars if I don't have to. Actually, I am quite content to wing it for the moment, especially when I find things like this: There are many lesson plans available online so I am rather happy to go through them and devise my own plan based on these. On the other hand, AlhamduLILLAH I have everything I need to start teaching Arabic, InshaALLAH. I have lots of books that we purchased over the last few years with worksheets and vocabulary with lessons from kindergarten through high school. Arabic curriculum
Also, I want to make sure they have a well-rounded education so I need to scour the Internet for arts and crafts ideas as well as incorporate storytelling into the agenda. I have some excellent Arabic books with stories of the Prophets for that but I need to translate them for the kids. That means I have to get to work with my trusty Hans Wehr Dictionary Studying.
Speaking of arts and crafts, I discovered the Waldorf doll recently and attempted to make something similar using items that I had on hand Carefree. I think she's not so bad although I got a little negative criticism from a friend and that hit a sour note with me. She said, "sheesh, what a scary doll", nothing positive, no affirming the hard work I put into crafting something with my own hand for my daughter. It took me about three weeks altogether and I was quite proud of her. I didn't sew eyes because I thought it Islamically inappropriate. Sigh, some people are always on a negative trip. Simmy was a great help - she gave me the body pattern. If I do it again, I will make it totally in the tradition of Waldorf, including following directions for the head and stuffing.
I've also joined the ranks of knitters on to showcase my knitting and meet other knitters. I hope to find some Muslim knitters out there but so far I haven't been fortunate. I first started knitting after becoming intrigued with a sister who was knitting at a conference. I wanted to knit before this because of my dad's mother who crocheted many a project in her time (and still does even though she's in her late eighties). Read More...

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The upbringing of Muslim children

The upbringing of Muslim children
Published: Friday, 25 May, 2007, 12:49 PM Doha Time
Choosing the right spouse
Religion is the most important criterion in choosing the right spouse. Abu Hurairah, radiallahu ‘anhu, narrated that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “A woman is married for four things: her wealth, her family status, her beauty and her religion. So marry the religious woman if you do not want to be a loser.” [Bukhari and Muslim.] Choosing a spouse who is observing the correct Islamic behaviour in life will establish the Muslim home on sound Islamic principles from the first day and will prevent children from learning bad habits from their parents.
Mental and physical sanity is another criterion. The spouse should not have a grave physical sickness with a high risk of being inherited by the children, or be mentally sick and unable to raise children.
The family status of the spouse is also a criterion in choosing the best spouse. Spouses coming from families that are strongly committed to Islam have a better chance of succeeding in raising good Muslim children.
Observing the rights of the unborn child
A child who is still in the womb has legitimate rights, among which are that:
*The father must support the pregnant mother until she delivers even if the two spouses are separated. Allah said: “And if they are pregnant, then spend on them until they deliver.” (Qur’an 65:6)
*The pregnant mother may break her Ramadan fast if she is afraid for her well-being or the well-being of her child.
*A child in the womb has the right to inheritance. All scholars agree that the inheritance should not be divided until the child is born and that he should get his share.
Making Athan and Iqamah in the ear of the newborn baby. Abu Rafi, radiallahu ‘anhu, reported that he saw the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, making athan in Hasan’s ear when Fatima gave birth to him. (Related by Abu Dawud and At-Tirmithi who said it is an authentic hadith). This is to make the words that glorify Allah the first ones to reach a child’s ear and affect his heart.
The second wisdom is to prevent the Shaitan from getting close to the unborn child. Abu Hurairrah, radiallahu ‘anhu, narrated that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “When the athan is pronounced, Shaitan runs back and breaks wind during his flight in order not to hear the call being made. When the athan is completed, he comes back. When Iqama is pronounced, he turns his back and after its completion, he returns again and whispers into the heart of the person (to divert his attention from his prayer) and makes him remember things which he does not recall to his mind before the prayer and this causes him to forget how much he has prayed.” [Bukhari and Muslim.]
Tahneek is to chew a piece of date and then to rub it inside the newborn’s mouth. Aisha, radiallahu ‘anha, said: “Babies were brought to Allah’s Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. He blessed them, and after having chewed some dates, he rubbed therewith their soft palates.” [Muslim]
Shaving the head of the baby is a Sunnah. Samurah Ibn Jundub related the Messenger of Allah as saying “A newborn is in pledge for his aqiqah. Sacrifice is made for him on the seventh day, his head is shaved and he is given a name.” (Abu Dawud, At-Tirmithi, An-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah, Ad-Darami and Ahmad).
Choosing a good name for the child is one of the baby’s rights upon his parents. Ibn Umar, radiallahu ‘anhu, said: Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “The most beloved names for Allah are Abdullah and Abdur-Rahman” [Muslim]. Bad names should be changed to good names. Ibn-Umar reported that Umar had a daughter who was called ‘Asiya (Disobedient). Allah’s Messenger gave her the name of Jamila (good and handsome). [Related by Muslim.] Parents should be careful not to give their children names that will make them a mockery with their friends and will prevent them from playing in a group.
Making aqeeqah to the baby: Salman ibn Amir narrated that he heard Allah’s Messenger saying: “Aqiqah is to be offered for the newborn child, so slaughter for him and relieve him of his suffering.” [Bukhari.] The Sunnah is to slaughter one sheep for the baby girl and two sheep for the baby boy.
Imam Ahmad was asked about a father who did not have money to offer the aqiqah for his newborn child: Should he borrow money? He answered: Yes because it is a revival of a Sunnah of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. He was also asked whether it is better, instead of slaughtering a sheep, to offer its price to the poor. He answered: No.
Among the benefits of the aqiqah is that it lets the child intercede for his parents on the Day of Judgment, it strengthens the social bonds between Muslims, it is a help for the poor and a revival of the Sunnah of the Prophet.
Making circumcision is one of the acts of fitrah. Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “The actions of the fitrah are five: circumcision, shaving the pubic hair, trimming the moustache, clipping the nails and plucking the armpit hairs.” [Bukhari.]
Confirming the descent of the child: Abu Hurairah, radiallahu ‘anhu, reported he heard the Messenger of Allah saying: “Any women who brings to her family one who does not belong to it has nothing to do with Allah (ie expects no mercy from Allah), and Allah the exalted will veil Himself from any man who disowns his child when he looks at him, Allah will disgrace him in the presence of all creatures first and last.” [Abu Dawud, Annasai, Ibn Majah, Ibn Hibban and Al-Hakim.]
Allah has ordered us to confirm the line of descent of the child. Allah said: “And call them by the name of their fathers, that is more just in the sight of Allah. But if you know not their father’s names, they are your brothers in faith and your friends.” (Qur’an 33:5)

It is best that the mother nurses her child as her milk is the most beneficent nutrient for him and she is more merciful to him than any other woman. Allah said: “The mothers shall give suck to their children for two whole years, that is for those who desire to complete the term of suckling.” (Qur’an 2:233)
Modern research proved that the mother’s milk strengthens the child’s immune system at a time when the child is most vulnerable.
Ibn ‘Umar, radiallahu ‘anhu, reported that a group of merchants arrived to Madinah and settled in the mosque. So Umar told Abdurrahman ibn Awf, radiallahu ‘anhu, “Let’s guard them tonight from thieves.” So they spent the night watching and praying as much as Allah had destined to them. Umar heard the weeping of a child so he went towards him and told his mother: “Fear Allah and be good to your child” and he went back to his place. He heard the child crying again and told his mother the same thing and went back to his place. By the end of the night he heard him crying again so he told his mother: “You are a bad mother, your child did not sleep all night.” So she said: “I am trying to wean him but he refuses.” He said: “Why are you doing that?” She said: “Because Umar does not prescribe child support except for children who are already weaned.” He said: “How old is he?” She said: “Such and such.” He said: “No! Do not hurry him.”
Umar prayed Fajr and was weeping during the prayer to the extent that his recitation was barely understandable. After he made tasleem he said: “Misery is for Umar. He has killed Muslim children.” He then asked someone to make the call that people should not rush their children to weaning, child support is prescribed to every child. And he sent letters to that effect to all the Muslim land.” (The History of Umar ibn al-Khattab by ibn Aljawzy, pages 74-75.)
Spending for all the needs of the child
Thawban reported Allah’s Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, as saying: “The most excellent Dinar is one that a person spends on his family, and the Dinar which he spends on his animal in Allah’s path, and the Dinar which he spends on his companions in Allah’s path.” [Muslim.]
One should be kind and merciful to his children

Abu Hurairah reported that Al-Aqra’ bin Habis saw Allah’s Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, kissing Hasan. He said: “I have 10 children but I have never kissed anyone of them,” whereupon Allah’s Messenger, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, said: “He who does not show mercy, no mercy will be shown to him.” [Muslim, Kitab al-Fadail.]
Abdullah ibn abi Qatadah narrated: “My father said: The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “When I stand for prayers, I intend to prolong it but on hearing the cries of a child, I cut it short as I dislike to trouble the child’s mother.” [Bukhari]
Aisha, radiallahu ‘anha, narrated: “A lady along with her two daughters came to me asking for some alms, but she found nothing with me except one date which I gave her. She divided it between her to daughters, and did not eat anything herself, and then got up and went away. Then the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam came in and I informed him about this story. He said: “Whoever is put to trial by these daughters and he treats them generously (with benevolence) then these daughters will act as a shield for him from Hellfire.” [Related by Bukhari in the Book of Zakat.]
Playing with them and making them happy
For a child, playing is an important part of his daily schedule. It is by playing that he learns and develops affectively, intellectually and physically. Anas, radiallahu ‘anhu, reported that the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, was playing with Zaynab bint Umm Salamah and telling her: “O Zuwaynib O Zuwaynib ... several times” [Related in Sahih al-Jami’.]
Being just with them
One has to be fair in his interest in them, enthusiasm for them, cheerfulness to them, no difference being made between a boy and a girl. ‘Amir narrated: I heard An-Numan ibn Bashir, radiallahu ‘anhu, on the pulpit saying: “My father gave me a gift but ‘Amra bint Rawaha (my mother) said she would not agree to it unless he made Allah’s Messenger sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam as a witness to it. So my father went to Allah’s Messenger ssallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam and said: “I have given a gift to my son from Amra bint Rawaha, but she ordered me to make you as a witness to it, O Allah’s Messenger!’ Allah’s Messenger asked: ‘Have you given the like of it to every one of your sons?’ He replied in the negative. Allah’s Messenger said: ‘Fear Allah and be just to your children.’ My father then returned and took back his gift.” [Related by al-Bukhari in the Book of gifts.[
Parents are ordered to be just to their children so that the child feels secure at home. A child may not learn the meaning of justice if he is continuously oppressed at home.
Teaching them Islam
Jundub ibn Abdullah said: “We were with the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, we were boys and we learned Iman before learning Qur’an. We then learned Qur’an and it increased our Iman.” [Hadith with sahih isnad narrated by Ibn Majah.] This Hadith shows that the parents should first teach their children the pillars of faith, what it means to believe in Allah and in His oneness. When the child becomes able to understand, he should be taught how to make wudhu’ and Salat.
Sabura, radiallahu ‘anhu, narrated that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “Teach the child Salat when he reaches seven and spank him for it when he reaches 10.” [Related by Tirmithi who said it is a Hasan Sahih Hadith.] Hence, the parents have three years to get their child in the habit of offering regular prayers. By the age of 10, the parents should be more strict in their orders concerning the prayer. When the child reaches puberty, Salat becomes obligatory on him. The above hadith has singled out Salat because of its high position in Islam but the principle applies to all other acts of worship.
Teaching them good manners
Such as not to lie, steal or cheat. It is imperative in this respect that the parents themselves observe these manners. Children should also be taught to ask for permission to enter their parents’ bedroom during three periods of the day. Allah said: “O you who believe, let your legal slaves and those among you who have not reached the age of puberty ask your permission before they come to your presence on three occasions: before fajr prayer, and while you put off your clothes for the noonday rest, and after the ‘isha prayer. These three times are of privacy for you. Outside those times, it is not wrong for you or for them to move about attending to each other. Thus Allah makes clear the verses of this Qur’an to you. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise. But when the children among you come to puberty, then let them also ask for permission, as those senior to them. Thus Allah makes clear His commandments for you. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” (Qur’an 24:58-59)
Choosing the right friends for them.
Abu Musa narrated that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said: “The example of a good companion and a bad one is that of a person carrying musk and another blowing a pair of bellows. The one who is carrying musk will either give you some perfume as a present, or you will buy some from him, or you will get a good smell from him; but the one who is blowing a pair of bellows will either burn your clothes or you will get a bad smell from him.” [Bukhari and Muslim.]
Because children learn mostly from other children, it is important that we choose good friends for our children. Good friends reinforce the good manners and habits while bad friends reinforce the bad manners and habits.
Our children are a trust given to us by Allah. They are born with a natural predisposition to accept the teachings of Islam. Depending on the upbringing we give them, we may make them good Muslims or we may make them non-Muslims. That is how great our responsibiltiy is. This responsibility has to be borne by both the father and the mother. On the other hand, the reward they would get for upbringing a good Muslim is also great. When a child asks forgiveness for his parents from Allah, their position in paradise is raised. We pray to Allah to be from those who are saved on the Day of Judgment and not from the losers. Allah said: “Say: ‘The losers are those who will lose themsleves and their families on the Day of Resurrection. Verily, that will be a manifest loss!’” (Qur’an 39:15)

Already the dreaded "bad blogger"

As-salaam alaikum,

Can you believe it? My little newborn is now three months old and she's laughing. They grow up fast. I have been too busy to blog but I did manage to find a little time here and there to "play school" with my oldest. She's learning to spell even though she's not reading yet; I figure it's a good start. I have been scouring EBay for used children's books and she's delighted when she gets a new shipment. All in all, it's much cheaper than the bookstore chains.

The recent addition to our small library is the Little House on the Prairie series. I know there are a lot of Christian themes throughout the book but overall there are some good examples of modest family living that I admire.

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It also reminds me of where I'm from. The country. My husband would have a fit if he were anywhere that could only carry dial-up Internet service and some of your neighbors (most likely some sort of kin) raised cows or goats, lol. It's a whole other way of life.

Some day, InshaALLAH I might take the family down to visit my father's place, which is about fifteen acres of land with only one neighbor on the other side. My kids would love it and the fresh air would benefit them. He's eager to see them again and talks about taking them fishing and taking my husband on a deer hunt. It would be awesome to see them learn a skill like that. Nobody has ever been harmed by self-sufficiency.

I made some brownies the other day and let my oldest help out. Of course when I wasn't looking she was licking the chocolate and egg batter (ugh). The first batch was good, we couldn't stop eating them.

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The good thing is, she has a real interest in hands-on tasks and isn't shy about getting her hands dirty.
I've also been knitting up a storm in the past few weeks. I am reading a few books by Elizabeth Zimmermann.
I used it to make this <span class=

and this.
Those underarm holes are hard to darn. I need a good finishing book to improve my techniques. Knitting is only half the job. A shoddy sewing / finishing throws all of your hard work right out the window. Sigh. Sabr InshaALLAH. Read More...

Kids listen to our every deed

How many times have you told your kids to change their clothes/brush their teeth/do their homework/or anything else for that matter? There is really no right answer because there is really no limit to the number of times we have to ask our kids to do something.

For most of us, this is a normal part of our daily lives. We ask, and ask, and ask, and if we are lucky, our kids cooperate after the fourth request or after a loud but otherwise harmless scolding. We complain that our kids never listen to us; we ask other moms how they get their kids to behave, eat their vegetables, or go to sleep. We consult books and Internet sites at all hours on better childrearing and discipline and other parenting techniques. And still, our kids just don't listen.

But, they do observe. While we are yelling at them, they are watching us; while we argue with our husbands, they are watching; while we mutter curses under our breath at raging drivers, they are watching; and while we chat with our friends on the phone, they are watching us. If you have toddlers, you are beginning to see this already. You see them carrying on animated conversations on their battery operated toy cell phones. They pace around the house with their heads cocked, their little shoulders straining to hold up the fake phone with the blinking lights. Yup, our kids are watching our every move, even when they don't listen to one word.

The lessons they learn

The truth is that we shouldn't worry that our children never listen to us. Instead we should worry that they are always watching us. It is true. When we tell our kids to pick up their toys, they don't listen. We raise our voices, and they still ignore us. Then, we become irate and yell, and they have a temper tantrum or break down into a fit of tears. But not before they have taken careful note of our actions. In fact, every time we "tell" our kids to do something, we are teaching them a lesson. We are telling them to do one thing, but we are really showing them how to do something else. When we yell at them in anger, we are showing them how to get someone to listen to us. When we throw toys into the toy box or kick toys out of the way as we point our fingers, we are showing them how to display their anger.

And think about when you are driving your kids to school in the morning. A hurried driver cuts you off and you swerve to avoid getting side swiped. "Moron!" you yell, as you correct the wheel. You shrug it off and silently thank Allaah that nothing happened. Your kids in the back saw what happened. In these situations, we rarely explain to our kids that the other driver made a mistake by changing lanes without signaling or by turning right just as we crossed a green light. Instead, we show them how to handle such situations: curse and complain.

The lessons we want to teach

It is almost impossible to handle every situation of every day in a manner befitting for teaching our kids lessons. But if we are aware of the opportunities (and the impending dangers) of such situations, we can at least make the most out of as many situations as possible. For example, we know that disciplining our kids is one of the most challenging aspects of each day. And, during the course of a day's worth of disciplining, we find ourselves yelling, getting angry, scolding, and then usually seeking some sort of repentance for angry words or sentiments. If we could only see ourselves the way our kids probably do, we might learn a thing or two.

Well, obviously, we can't see ourselves and we can rarely stop ourselves in the midst of heat and anger, but we can prepare ourselves for these moments. If we can decide ahead of time what we want to teach our kids, we can create a sort of game plan for situations. For example, we want our kids to learn that they don't have to yell to be heard. So, the next time you ask your son to pick up his puzzle pieces and get ready for dinner, brace yourself. If you want him to understand that he needs to listen to you and comply, then figure out a way to get him to hear you. Ask him to look at you or get down on your hands and knees and start showing him how to pick up the pieces and put them in the box. Do anything but don’t yell or scream.

The lessons we learn

If we make a conscious effort to remember that our children are watching us, it will keep us in check. We will mind our manners, we will speak more soothingly, we will control our emotions, and ultimately we will see that, by our kids watching us, we are beginning to behave the way we want them to behave. In other words, it is a cycle that eventually trains parents and their children towards better behavior and emotional restraint. If we know that our kids are watching our every move, we will be mindful of our behavior and set an example with that behavior. Then, our kids will model that good behavior and essentially everyone wins.

Making promises is one of the issues that cause sticky situations for parents trying to model good behavior. Parents, from all parts of the world, have their own way of making, keeping and breaking promises. It is easy to make promises, and it is even easier to break them. Many times parents make promises on a whim and later find out that they didn't or couldn't keep to their word. Sometimes, they even forget altogether that they ever made the promise. How many times have you told your child, "Yes, yes, Inshaa’allaah (Allaah willing), I'll get you that­­____­_[fill in your own word] soon," just to keep your child quiet? The moment the words leave your lips, you should consider that promise cast in stone. A child promised a coveted prize/toy/trip will never forget that promise and will never let you forget it. Actually, quite sadly, many children roll their eyes when they hear their parents say "Inshaa’allaah" for fear that Inshaa'allaah really means "maybe" or "yeah, right" or a plain "no."

Much of our behavior depends on our intentions. If you really mean to get that toy for your son, then assure him that you will. If you don't plan on buying it, then be honest. A dishonest promise might grant you a few minutes of quiet shopping time, but in the end it will lead you further into the depths of your child's distrust. Leading children on with false promises is a guaranteed way to display behavior that your children will never forget and will probably mimic in their own adulthood.

In essence, we are designing our children's futures by our own behavior. Why perpetuate behavior in our children that we ourselves should not be harboring? Keeping in mind that our children are not only watching us but learning from us should be reason enough for us to change our behavior before it is cast in the stone of generations to come. Read More...

Teaching children good manners

Just as a child should be taught ritual acts of worship, he should also be taught good habits and etiquette until they become second nature to him. The Prophet [peace be upon him ] said: "Believers who have the most perfect Iman (faith) are those who have the best manners."

Good manners are an acquired trait that must be adopted from a young age. Of such manners are the following:

1. Teaching the child to be respectful and dutiful to his parents:

The first person from whom a child learns good manners is the father. If a child is raised in a good Islamic home, then it would be natural for him to treat his parents respectfully.

Allah says: "And your Rabb (Lord) has decreed that you should worship none but Him and be kind to parents. If one or both of them reach old age during your lifetime, never say 'uff' (an expression of displeasure), nor scold them, but address them politely. And humble yourself to them out of mercy and say, 'O my Rabb (Lord,) be merciful to them for having reared me from young age.'" (Holy Qur'an, 17: 23, 24)

2. Teaching them to maintain good relations with relatives:

Sound rearing also stipulates teaching children to maintain good relations with their relatives. Allah says: 'Worship Allah, and associate no partners with Him, and be kind to parents, next of kin, the orphans, the needy, the related neighbors, the next-door neighbors, the wayfarer and to the slaves that you own." (Holy Qur'an, 4: 36)

The fulfillment of this Divine command can be accomplished only by sound rearing which makes them grow attached to their relatives out of obedience to Allah.

Since relatives are an extension of the family, then strengthening ties with them strengthens the whole family and it is like strengthening the whole community and this reflects an Islamic community that enjoys a cohesive structure. The Prophet said: "The believers in their reciprocal love and mercy are like a human body, when one of its organs suffer, the rest of the body is kept awake and suffers fever."

3. Inculcating in children brotherly love:

Brotherly love and believers' solidarity must be embedded in the children's minds and that the believers are brothers-in-faith. For example to follow the pious predecessors, the Muhajireen and the Ansar, whose brotherly love and altruism Allah commends in His Book.

Giving a friendly gesture or a happy greeting to Muslim brothers generates friendliness in their hearts and, strengthens the love among the believers. This indeed is a fine trait, which is instructed by Allah, the Exalted. He describes the believers saying: "They are merciful to one another but harsh to the infidels." (Holy Qur'an, 48: 29)

Allah also addressed His Messenger saying: "And were you to be harsh and hard-hearted, they would have broken away from you." (Holy Qur'an, 3:159)

4. Good words:

Giving a good word is a type of remembrance of Allah, telling the truth, guarding one's own tongue against slandering other people are good deeds. The best Muslim, according to the Prophet is the one from whose tongue the Muslims feel safe.

Parents should make their children aware of the gravity of abusing others with their tongue and of the fact that the tongue is a double-sided and dangerous weapon. Therefore, they should be warned in particular against abusing it.

Warning children against backbiting and slandering

Children should be taught that backbiting is speaking slanderously about an absent person. The Prophet said: "Do you know what is Gheebah (backbiting)?" They said: "Allah and His Messenger know best." He said: "It is to attribute to your brother what he dislikes." He was asked: "What do you think if what I say about my brother is true?" He said: "If what you attribute to him is true, then you have backbitten him, and if it is not true, then you have lied about him."

While Nameemah (talebearing) is to circulate slanderous rumors between two persons to damage or sever the ties between them. The Prophet said: "No Nammam (talebearer) will be admitted to Jannah (Paradise)."

Deriding people in their presence by making negative facial expressions or by hand gestures while they are unaware is forbidden in Islam.

Warning them against lying

Children must be taught to tell the truth and to keep away from lying, which is the most horrible habit. The Prophet said: "There are four traits whoever possesses them is a sheer hypocrite, and he who possesses one of them, possesses a trait of hypocrisy unless he quits it. They are: when he speaks, he tells lies; and when he enters into an agreement, he acts unfaithfully; and when he promises, he breaches his promise; and when he litigates, he behaves treacherously. While the liar receives the anger of Allah on the Day of Resurrection."

He also said: "Lying leads to Hell-Fire and truthfulness leads to Jannah."

Parents should not take this evil habit lightly, or consider it funny when their children tell lies because later on it becomes easy for them to lie without any compunction.

Abusing others

Among the worst of manners is reviling people and swearing at them. If this bad habit is not redressed while the child is growing up, it becomes hard for him to avoid it later on.

Islam enjoins guarding the tongues. The Prophet said: "He who guarantees, what is in between his jaws (tongue), and what is in between his thighs (private parts), I guarantee Jannah for him."

This means guarding one's own tongue against uttering anything that displeases Allah, and guarding one's own private parts against committing illicit acts or fornication.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Food for Thought

You have to try the New York Times no knead turned out very nicely with a crusty outside and a chewy inside. I hope the kids like it. If they don't it will be good as little pizzas.... Read More...