Coming to Terms with Familial Issues

And Allah has made for you in your homes an abode (An-Nahl 16:80).

Are we playing our part in making our home a peaceful, serene abode? Is our sense of responsibility towards other family members still substantial enough to make our family an institution within itself?

We’re living in times when shamelessness, rebellion, corruption and self-obsession are at their peak. A righteous, practicing Muslim has to be all ears of the social dilemmas that surround him/her. In this day and age, one of the biggest shields that can protect us from falling trap in the social issues is being united with our family and home.

Most of us quickly jump to expectations first. We tend forget the transient nature of this Dunya and the perpetual, yet to come Akhirah. The temporariness of this world implies that nothing here would be perfect or ideal, because perfection is the attribute of Jannah. Nouman Ali Khan in his talk highlighted that an ideal Muslim does not exist rather there are ‘ideal ways’ to deal with one’s family.

One of the biggest realities of life is that we have to deal with that tough member(s) of our family, who we get hurt by occasionally. Family issues, within the home have become really common and we all need a way out of them. However, like all other problems, there are no shortcuts to this. After having considered the basics of parental psychology and relationship psychology, I have realized that we have to encounter the tough relative to our best capabilities rather than wanting them to change.

I observed around, within my family, friends and my work place, I looked for the common error that most of the families were making. That sibling who comes home late, that parent who argues with you on wearing Hijab or not, that uncle who calls you a Mawlana, or the in laws who are always sarcastic about you, all have to be faced at some point in life. The indifference, the carelessness or rudeness within a family can rust the ties until one of us realizes that improvement can be made. Instead of hopelessly closing the file and locking that cabinet, we need to reconsider that relationship in a number of ways. The best of people in Islam have had the toughest of family members, even sometimes non-Muslims. Aasia had Islam’s enemy as her husband and she prayed for a house in Jannah; Yaqoob (as) had disobedient sons except Yusuf (as) despite of his hard work into parenting. We can take numerous examples by reviewing the Ahadeeth and boost our morales.

We need to reconsider this reality; no matter how hard we try, we can’t change the person if he or she is not willing to change. We can only work on ourselves as the biggest room is the room for self-improvement. Nuh (as) did not change his wife neither did Ibrahim (as) change his father. They kept their duty to Allah (swt) and are the blessed legends of Islam today.

In dealing with an apathetic family member, we often make the mistake of repeatedly quoting Ahadith and Ayats, in the hope that they will realize. This can work at times but not always, because we are not working on the root cause; each family member has a need to be heard, to be understood and respected. We need to first identify what they are responsive to and then give our sound advice.

Yusuf Estes, in his talk Family Development, highly discourages the blame games we play at home with our family or even our relatives. After a particular situation, we start talking in ‘if’ terms. ‘If you had listened to me, you could’ve . . .’. Such statements only ruin the Islamic atmosphere of the home. Today’s parents and even youth have developed the habit of cursing each other. If a 13 year old doesn’t listen to the mother, the mother yells ‘Allah will deal with you.’ If the brother doesn’t switch off the music while the sister is praying, she yells right after finishing her Salah, ‘Allah will ask you’. We should really stop and ponder over our choice of words and the temperaments at our homes today. Is the love for our family so less that we can think of Allah (swt) questioning them on the Day of Judgement?

It was narrated from Abu Hurairah (rta) that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said: “The strong man is not the one who wrestles others; rather, the strong man is the one who controls himself at times of anger. (Muslim)

A strange heated friction exists between siblings, parents and even grandparents. We have become so aggressive verbally and non-verbally that it ruins the very roots of our relationships. This friction prevents the youth from coming home early or the parents to get up and have discussions with their kids. The interpersonal relationships are deeply affected shaking the grounds of trust, sincerity and love. We need to choose our battles wisely, we need to prioritize the unwelcomed advices we give. Before taunting a young boy to keep a beard to become a true Muslim, we need to find Khushoo in our own Salah and ensure its regularity.

Unfortunately, what has become of us? The intrinsic values that the Sunnah of our Prophet (sa) imbibed in us are gradually sinking somewhere. A significant issue that exists between families and within a family is the different opinions they have about Islamic aspects; the elder brother follows the Hanafi school of Fiqh while the younger sister follows the Sha’afi school of Fiqh. Moreover, there are other minute differences such as the sister ridiculing the younger brother for listening to the lectures of Shaykh or an Ustadh regularly instead of respecting her. One method of dealing with such a scenario when one faces opposition through opinion is to motivate the relative or the family member to seek further knowledge and also humbly accept the imperfection that one’s knowledge might possess. Over and above, the Sahabah (ra) and the Salaf (ra) spent their entire lives as students of the Deen and never complained. Similarly, the Shaykhs we tend to criticize harshly have spent much of their life studying Deen and serving people. How can we question the sanctity of their knowledge in a second?

I genuinely feel for the current familial crisis that we are in. I see in my home and other families that we have reduced the home to a place of eating, sleeping and resting or worse, using it as a place of entertainment. We should strive forth and amend our modes, tone and even our non-verbal gestures. Each act of kindness and piety should begin from within the home.

When making changes to our behaviour towards our family, we should keep in mind that each step that we take for improvement is for Allah’s (swt) pleasure. Ibn-e-Taimiyyah rahimullah has magnificently summed up an advice regarding relationships:

“Anyone whose heart is attached to the creation, hoping for someone from the creation to help him or provide for him or guide him, then his heart submits to them and to the degree that his heart submits to them, he becomes their slave. This holds true, even if he is outwardly a ruler or a guardian over those whom he treats as masters. The wise one looks at realities and not appearances. So if a man’s heart is attached to his wife, even though it is permissible, his heart remains a prisoner to her, and she may rule over him as she pleases-though outwardly he is her master and her husband. In reality, he is her prisoner and her slave, who cannot escape or go free. Indeed for the heart to be taken as prisoner is a much greater matter than for the body to be taken as a slave or prisoner. Even a body that is slave can have in it a serene heart, peaceful and happy heart. As for the heart, that is a slave to other than Allah (swt), then that is true humiliation, imprisonment and slavery.”

Originally published by Hiba Magazine.
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Serving the Creation-Hiba Magazine

Welfare of the creations does not necessarily have to be a profession or an association to it rather, it is a lifestyle. Our lifestyle should depict it; serving the all the creation of Allah Az Wajjal, with our body, mind and soul.

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Reinforcing Spirituality in the workplace

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I did not realize that relationships at the workplace could be so gratifying in terms of Ibadah until I sat down with my father to delve into his experiences about human resource management. His answers left me inquisitive and I set to search for the ideal virtues in a Muslim employer and employee that please Allah SWT.

Motivation, communication, cooperation, conflict management, wage compensations, promotion, job description, rotation and enrichment are the key components outlined in an employment agreement. To fortify the faithfulness in daily roles played by a manager, supervisor and a subordinate, I rummaged though admirable work of Imam Ghazali rahimullah to the rejuvenating lectures of Nouman Ali Khan.

To begin with, ayah 57 from Surah Yusuf is of utmost significance for both the manager and the worker.

Allah swt says, And verily, the reward of the Hereafter is better for those who believe and used to fear Allah and keep their duty to Him (by abstaining from all kinds of sins and evil deeds and by performing all kinds of righteous good deeds).”

Thus, a mandatory virtue for both parties is to never lose sight of the perpetual mission of life. The subordinate should trust in Allah swt as the Ultimate Provider for hard work and service and the supervisor should learn from the leadership qualities exhibited by Prophet Muhammad (saw), the four caliphs, Hazrat Yusuf (as) and all the beloved messengers of Allah. In the light of the above verse:

  • The Muslim manager ought to devise the employment agreement around the 5 prayers (salah) negotiating time management, submission deadlines, rest pauses and work shifts.
  • Another principle characteristic is built upon ukhwat i.e. Islamic brotherhood. Both should know the fruits that lie beyond this temporary life of a heart-warming brotherhood.
  • Another important lesson which can be absorbed from this ayah is that when Satan intrudes the mind of the employee in the absence of the supervisor, he should remember that Allah swt is All-Seeing; He knows the conflicts created by nafs. Such a self-reminding habit ensures that one understands the importance of honesty and sincerity to his leader.
  • This verse steers me to an aspect also mentioned in Ihya-Ulum-Ud-Din (The Revival of Religious Learnings) under ‘Seven things that make the religion of a businessman perfect’ i.e. the worker and the manager should both remember that they are setting up accounts with everyone they deal with. Allah swt will have the debit/credit records on the Final Day.

Narrated by Abu Hurairah (ra), Allah’s Messenger (saw) said, “Allah said, ‘I will be an opponent to three types of people on the day of Resurrection; one who makes a covenant in My name, but proves treacherous, second who sells a free person and eats his price and third, who employs a laborer and takes full work from him but does not pay for his labor.” (Sahih Bukhari).

Aforementioned hadith shows the intensity of love that Allah has for the hard-worker. The employees proffer their services in return of remuneration and benefits. Also, the religious-mandated practice of abiding by the agreement has been emphasized. A Muslim naturally tends to get psychologically attached to his Muslim brother. Reviewing Prophet (saw) management skills, it can be seen how Allah wanted him to boost the morale of the companions (sahabah) at all times and listen to their concerns. Our messenger’s (saw) life reveals his highest regard for employees’ services; their covenant was uncomplicated but magnificent in the context that the volunteers were the most important asset in the mission i.e. their supplications and services.

Isn’t it miraculous how our Creator, most Magnificent and most Merciful, has paved way for our self-evaluation in every field of life? Alhamdulilah! In Surah An-Nisa, Ayah 135, Allah swt says,

O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a Better Protector to both (than you). So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you may avoid justice, and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do.”

The know-how of justice, self-acceptance, embracing criticism, being truthful and avoiding discrimination lies in this verse. The righteous employee should keep an eye on any acts of discrimination around him; this divine code of life also defines discrimination in terms of favoring the rich staff over the poor. The intention (niyah) of the employer of any organization should be to facilitate his employees and make them intellectual and highly productive Muslims securing an abode in the loftiest compartments of Jannah.

Feeding on my brainwaves in cross-cultural psychology class day before yesterday, I observed my supervisor’s frown turning into a smile. I was overwhelmed when I reminisced a tradition that smile is also a form of sadaqah i.e. an act of charity. Such cheerful habits make us beloved in the eyes of Allah azzawajal.

Purification of soul can also be conquered at work which brings us to yet another attribute of an employer i.e. the ability to pre-plan training programs. Integrating Nouman Ali Khan’s lecture ‘People of Substance’ into the employment bond, positive and negative reinforcement done in accordance with Shariah will yield awe-inspiring results. For example, in a firm in Lahore, the supervisor sends his employees to a holistic nutritionist on performance-based work; she devises plans based on Prophetic Medicine and quantum health sciences which bring them closer to Allah swt’s creation, their body systems and the lifestyle of the Prophet (saw). Another effectual bequest to be given for employee’s recognition could be a book on Prophet Muhammad’s (saw) seerah. Regarding training programs, employees deserve a chance for rejuvenation of faith thus they can be registered into workshops, incorporated Quran and Hadith boot camp courses and conferences.

I believe to become mehboob (beloved) for Allah swt requires to master the blissful art of forgiving. It is perhaps the most heartwarming and fulfilling attribute to apply in jobs and role playing; the employer should forgive and let go of errors and mistakes as frequently as he can looking ahead to riches of Hereafter. On the other hand, the employee should forgive the judgments made about them and accept demotions as a form of test from Allah, the Most Generous.
Allah mentions in Surah Ale-Imran, ayah 136,

For such, the reward is Forgiveness from their Lord, and Gardens with rivers flowing underneath (Paradise), wherein they shall abide forever. How excellent is this reward for the doers (who do righteous deeds according to Allah’s Orders).

Jazak Allah khair!                                                                                                                              

 

Published originally in Hiba Magazine
April 2014 print issue.

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