A lump of Clay

Children- A lump of Clay

Passion Islam By Zaythoun Suleman- Imagine being handed a lump of clay with the challenge of moulding it into something beautiful. You have seven years “wet” time when it will be easier to mould, followed by seven years “drying” time when you are able to correct those imperfections made during the wet period followed by a lifetime of back seat viewing to be there for when the finished product needs attention.

Although, you have absolutely no idea on how to mould clay, you naturally accept the offer as it resembles you or your partner. After an undefined amount of time (1 day – many years), the rightful owner will take it back and you will be asked about how you dealt with the challenge.

Yes, the lump of clay is a baby. Even though we carry them for up to 42 weeks whilst fathers wait eagerly, nothing can prepare us for the first time we lay our eyes on them. Although, they are purple and look like something out of a science fiction movie, to us they seem like the most beautiful person ever.

I remember the first time I saw my eldest son, he was so small with shiny black hair and as his little eyes scanned the surroundings, I found myself repeatedly saying “You are so beautiful!”

Hours later, when alone with him; I stroked his soft face gently, amazed to finally meet the one who had been living inside me all this time. It was then the realisation hit me – I was a mother. A huge sense of responsibility overwhelmed me and for the first time since becoming pregnant, I felt fear. What do I do with the baby? How do I take care of him? What kind of upbringing do I give to him? All these new problems started popping up and I felt a feeling of awe of the creator. How small and insignificant I really was that I did not even know what to do with a newborn baby and I dreaded to hear him cry!

In the weeks following, it became a common practice that he cried for food, cried when wet, cried when bored and cried when in pain and the fact of the matter was it all sounded the same for a while. Crying was all he knew. He worked both day and night shifts without prior warning, resulting in countless sleepless nights and bags under my eyes and my weekly shop to the supermarket consisted of a chance to meet up with new mothers in the nappy aisle to discuss best nappy brands. Welcome to the countless problems of parenthood!

I knew that I wanted the best solutions for my child just like any parent. However, what was the best? I did not just want him to be successful in this life I wanted him to be successful in this life and the Akhirah. I wanted him to enter Jannah and to achieve that I would have to teach how to pray at seven so he could be regularly praying by ten, I wanted him to be a walking, talking Qur’an like the Prophet Muhammed sallallahu alahi wasalam and the sahabah. The only problem was I was not practicing and children learn from what we do not what we say!

I suddenly realised I had two paths in front of me; years later, I compare this to how Neo from Matrix must have felt when he was offered the choice of the red or blue pill. In my case and many other parents who embark on the journey of Islam the taking of one pill would keep us in the rat race life which would have surely lead us to our destruction and the fire or the other pill which would lead us to an undiscovered path into Jannah.

That day, I chose the pill, which would lead to Jannah Insha Allah.

I began by naming him after Usamah ibn Zaid. (The son of Zaid – Prophets adopted son) We shaved his hair on the seventh day, endured the pain of circumcision six weeks later all for the love of Allah Subhana Wa Ta’ala and his beloved Prophet.

Every problem, I came across had many solutions, given by mums, parenting books and western specialists. I took the positive, which did not contradict Islam and left the ones that did.

I remember the midwife telling me to leave my baby crying and to only feed him every two hours but when he cried, my natural reaction was to comfort and feed him because he seemed hungry. It became a constant battle between trusting my instincts or trusting the “professionals”. I came across the hadith of the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa salam making the prayer shorter because a baby was crying and he knew the amount of distress it was causing the mother. He did that so the mother could tend to the baby. I compared the two reactions to a baby crying and found the Islamic solution a better option and my baby did too…

How do our children learn?

Learning begins in the womb and continues with admission into the world, by hearing voices and watching actions. Children are like sponges. They absorb information at an alarming rate, they boogy with boogy beebies and stick pencil crayons between knuckles imitating Wolverine. With the wide variety of TV programmes, movies, pop idols, internet, magazines and graphic novels available – you will find them picking up some bad habits too.

It begins with a word which becomes a habit, a continued habit becomes apart of their personality and their personality determines their success in the present, future and Akhirah.

So, what is our role as mums and dads? Should we sit and watch our cherished lump of clay turn into a prickly cactus, or do we try to reshape it back into the intended flower before it becomes dry?

Form a bond of affection with them so they will turn to you when they have problems InshaAllah

One of my toughest challenges was to show affection in the early days as all he wanted to do was cry, which I later understood was his way of communicating needs. As I had not been shown affection as a child, I did not know how to give it until I came across the story of a Bedouin who came to the Prophet

Muhammed sallahu alaihi wa salam and said “Do you kiss your sons? As we do not.”

To which the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa salam replied, “What can I do for you if Allah Subhana Wa Ta’ala has removed mercy from your heart?”

In a beautiful hadith, where Aaishah radhi alllahu anha reported that whenever Fatimah came into the room, the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa salam would stand up, welcome her, kiss her and offer her a seat, and whenever he came into the room, she would stand up, take his hand, welcome him, kiss him and offer him her seat. SubhanAllah, this is a beautiful example of how our child can learn from us with the simplest of habits.

I realised that if I wanted him to be affectionate, I would have to show him affection, so from that moment on, I cuddled and kissed him when he was sad and happy, stroked his hair as I passed him, I tickled him for no other reason apart from showing him affection. When we meet, we give salaam and when we depart, we give salaam.

My youngest picked this up alhamdulillah, you will see him running up to aunties with hijabs on he does not know in the supermarket and giving salaam to them and he will be stroking babies heads in a loving manner and shushing the crying babies in the masjid for Jumah prayers.

Give them a sound education so they are able to distinguish right from wrong.

Allah Subhana wa Ta’ala reminds us “O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a fire whose fuel is men and stones…”Surah 66 verse 6

So what is education? Is education just academia?

When I began home schooling my sons, years ago – It was the scariest moment ever but I did it for the pleasure of Allah swt and his deen and he swt made it easy for me.

I realised the definition of education from Islam wasn’t just academia, it was about having an Islamic personality which would be distinct from the western personality, it would be someone who knew what was right and wrong and be aware that all actions had an affect in this life and the Akhirah. Someone who would do that which pleased Allah Subhana Wa Ta’ala and keep away from those actions which displeased him. They would feel the love of the Ummah when it cried, when Gaza was in pain, these children would join marches, demos, and make sincere du’as in their prayers. They would defend the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa salam when others made fun of him. The Qur‘an would be entwined in their life. They would dream about meeting the Prophets one day and imagine the questions they would ask them. They would draw paintings of what they would like in Jannah…

Make sure they have good friends.

The Prophet sallallahu alaihi wa salam reminds us “The good companion and the bad companion are like the bearer of musk and the one who pumps the bellows. With the bearer of Musk, either he will give you a share, or you will buy from him or you will smell a pleasant scent from him; but with the one, who pumps the bellows, either he will burn your clothes or you will smell a foul stench from him (Bukhari and Muslim). Therefore, we must guide our children to choose good friends.

Discipline on which displeases Allah Subhana Wa Ta’ala rather than the people

When children misbehave, ask yourself “Have they done something to displease Allah Subhana Wa Ta’ala or the people?” Is their a difference?

A child spilling a drink on the floor isn’t displeasing Allah Subhana Wa Ta’ala as the child is not accounted for this action but the recording angel will note down the parents reaction. Understanding the child is not held accountable by Allah Subhana Wa Ta’ala shines a different light to the scenario.

In many homes, you will find Mothers wiping up spills asking their child in a calm manner to be careful next time and educating the child to be more responsible by watching their drink. They understand their reward is from Allah Subhana Wa Ta’ala Insha Allah.

When you chose the solution from Islam over other solutions, you feel totally liberated, almost as though the shackles have been broken and you can breathe the fresh air. You feel the peace and tranquillity flow through your veins instantly.

I recently asked a father how he managed to discipline his 14-year-old son, to which he replied, “Our children always knew we were the parents” They set this principle from the beginning and kept it consistent in their life.

How do you deal with challenges that children face in the west?

“We talk to our children about all issues they come across in great detail openly, It’s then up to us to trust them enough to make correct decisions”

Another parent jokingly replied, “I have told him that if he has a relationship with a girl, I will perform their nikah straight away!” Giving clear solutions from Islam at all times SubhanAllah.

We need to remember that children are an amanah (trust) for a set period; they may leave this earth before or after us.

We have no guarantees of how they turn out and that is the beauty of Islam. We will not be asked about how they turned out by Allah Subhana Wa Ta’ala, just what we did with the time we had with our little lump of clay.

The prophet sallallahu alaihi wa salam reminded us: Beware! Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible and answerable for his flock. The leader and the ruler is a shepherd over the people and shall be questioned about his subjects; a man is a guardian over his family and shall be questioned about them; a woman is the guardian over the household of her husband and his children and will be questioned about them….Beware! Every one of you is a guardian and every one of you will be questioned with regard to this trust (Bukhari & Muslim)

It is true what a loving sister once wrote “What we do in this life truly echoes in eternity” And as Muslims, we want what we do in this life to echo in this life and in the Akhirah Insha Allah…

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