I came across this dialogue mentioned in Hayatus Sahaba where one of the early Sahabiyat had a very interesting reflection on one of Rasulullah’s (Salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) commands. After pledging allegiance to the Prophet (‘alayhis salaam) that she would not commit certain actions prohibited in Islam, she came to the last point which was that she would “not bury her children neither in public not in secrecy”. Then she says, “I knew well what Rasulullah meant by publicly burying children alive but I did not ask Rasulullah what burying them alive in secrecy meant, neither did he inform me. However, it occurred to me that it refers to spoiling children. By Allah, I shall never spoil any child of mine.”
I took a long pause after reading this, reflecting of the profundity of the early allegiance and how much could be extracted from a few words of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam). When we read ayaat prohibiting parents from burying their children, it’s easy to pass over them and think of the practice as something obsolete and unrelated to our time, but when we look at this deeper meaning, we can start to think of the many ways children can be smothered, neglected, and buried by the fitan surrounding their every day life. It’s very convenient to blame societal pressures on the way Muslim kids may choose to behave, but how many parents can honestly say that they’ve put in 100% into raising their kids with good akhlaq, tarbiya, and a home environment focused on the laws of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger? It’s a small percentage, I’ll tell you that.
Abbu shared an easy example with me when I asked him about this waqiya. He said that one of the main problems he sees today is that as Muslims, our concerns are displaced. A mother wants her son to become an engineer, but she doesn’t care too much if he misses his Fajr regularly or only expresses himself through foul language. A father wants his daughter to start making six figures and bring home a nice big piece of paper, but the fact that her ‘awrah is exposed for the world to see is a minor issue, if one at all. The fikr is practically non-existent in many homes.
Another example followed. Picture this – A young boy is riding his bike carrying a bag of sugar on the back. As he passes through the neighborhood, the bag tears and sugar starts to pour out onto the road. Anyone from the community witnessing this would immediately let him know his sugar was falling, would they not? Everyone would make an effort to prevent him from losing all the sugar he just paid for. Why then, does a father make his Salah but allow his son to sleep till the sun rises, all because he was tired the day before or has an exam the next morning? Why? That’s like buying cigarettes for him and facilitating his destruction! The father doesn’t realize that his son is practically constructing his home in Hell .. It doesn’t even cross his mind. A mother covers herself up with multiple layers to make sure not a strand of hair is left out, but she doesn’t think twice about her beautiful sixteen year old daughter going to school with skinny jeans and lame excuse for a shirt. What will it take for the mothers and fathers of our Ummah to be like the Sahabiya mentioned above? She pledged never to physically bury her child in secret, but more than that, she promised herself never to spoil, ruin, destroy, screw up, .. any of her children.
So what can we do to make Tarbiya a means and a goal rather than a peripheral lesson for children? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, good homeschooling or excellent Islamic schooling seem like the best two options in my opinion. Do I think it’s possible for Muslim kids to turn out okay after going to public school? Yes, I do. But the sheer amount of fitan they will have to guard themselves against is almost unimaginable. Many people ask me why I’m so gung ho about homeschooling while I myself went through the Public School system. Fair question. Simple answer. The kinds of things kids these days are experiencing in the school systems compared to what I went through are again, unmatched. And to be honest, I was nerd. As I’m sure you already know, nerds get picked on but they don’t really care and the fact that I wore hijab and abaya and spent most of my time in the Library naturally made people keep their distance. But just to give you a rough idea, think about the bullying, lack of morals, the types of ‘acceptable’ behaviors, encouragement of early intimacy, drugs, violence, foul language, media, disgusting role models, and the list goes on. How a Muslim parent (who claims to love their child) in their right mind would [willingly] expose their child to such tests that literally hurl themselves at one’s Iman, is beyond me.
Yes, it’s hard and I don’t think everyone can accept either or both options but if public school is really your only choice, please make every effort to communicate with your child(ren) and build the best relationship with them early on. In addition, make sure that after school, they are around good company and have social circles within the masjid. This is what I do with my youngest sister. She goes to AlMaghrib classes, Islamic conferences, masjid halaqa’s, youth activities, etc. and these environments have been critical to building her Islamic identity.
Just to give a little more background about my upbringing, Elementary school was never a huge issue for me alhumdulillah. I was in all the GT classes and all my friends were nerdy Caucasian kids. :) Middle school was a bit of a rocky road. Intellectually, I loved it. Socially, let’s just say I probably wouldn’t cross the same street today with the crowd I knew back then. High school was great. I felt like I got a lot out of it alhumdulillah. I came out fluent in Spanish, an AP Scholar, Valedictorian, an MSA tyrant (lol, jk.), a skilled writer/reporter, pretty good graphic designer, World History enthusiast, a leader in many ways, awesome scholarships, with piles of awards and certificates, a few really good friends, and some great memories. (I’m not mentioning these accomplishments to brag, but to clarify the fact that I highly value education and I believe we all need a ‘piece of paper’ in this society but our worldly aspirations should never supersede our obedience to Allah. Excel in school and work, but be even better in deen). That’s not to say I didn’t have my downs. I did. Many of them. But the amount of growth that came from my mistakes is something I can’t put into words. My parents were patient with me and more than anything, Allah was patient with me. Despite the minor hiccups I faced and the situations I got myself into, I never lost sense of my Islamic identity and the belief that one day, I would have to answer to Allah. And where did this come from? My parents, early Islamic teachers, and a home filled with mention of Allah and His Messenger (salallahu ‘alayhi wasallam).
So there. That’s my public service for the day. :) To all the parents and parents to be, invest in your kids. Love them, appreciate them, but most of all, raise them to be true believers in Allah ‘azzawajal and develop in them a love for His Messenger. Why? Because if you had any idea what kinds of things your kids are either into, might get into, or are very familiar with, you would weep. Not cry, weep. Put time and effort into making them good people in the sight of Allah, and bi’ithnillah you will be rewarded manifold. Their Islamic identity is what’s at stake today and it’s your job to work on making them feel proud to be believers. Please don’t ‘bury’ them or leave them to fend for themselves. They don’t need the X Boxes, Justin Bieber concert tickets, or a cell phone at age 10. What they do need is you, your du’as, and your sincere attention to the problems they’re facing. ‘Azza bint Khaabil, the Sahabiya mentioned in the story, took care and caution to raise her children properly with good tarbiya and so should we. In these times, anyone can sink far beneath the turmoils and fitan of our changing society and the only way out is through obedience of Allah subhanahu wata’ala.
رَبَّنَا هَبْ لَنَا مِنْ أَزْوَاجِنَا وَذُرِّيَّاتِنَا قُرَّةَ أَعْيُنٍ وَاجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا
O my Lord! Grant unto us wives and offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and give us (the grace) to lead the righteous
P.S.: The picture is dope. Admit it.
P.P.S: ‘Eid Mubarak!! :)