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.
– See more at: http://www.hibamagazine.com/coming-to-terms-with-familial-issues/#sthash.371yJOqs.dpuf

Advertisements

Raw Reality

1383595_246692265479292_1116131597_n

One of the starkest realities of life, highlighted by John Green!

Often, a dear friend of mine will remind me the mandatory property of pain. Well, it has to be felt before it is dealt with.

Let that pain make you regain your soul 🙂

Reflect on the following ayah for now:

Verily, We have created man in toil.

Surah Balad, Ayah 4.

Remember me in your heartfelt duas/prayers.
JazakAllah khair!

Release that grudge-improve your health!

Isn’t it ironic? I have taken the task of writing my first post today despite the fact that I have my Human Resource Management, mid-term tomorrow?
Well, the theme for my very first post was so important that I could just take out time for it anyways.

Holding a grudge against someone is not uncommon at all frankly. We all have that hard corner against someone who has wronged us, offended us or may be humiliated us at some point in time. We all have one of the following, a self-absorbed parent, a messed up sibling, an arrogant friend, a partner who lies to us. I and you, we all have a grievance story!

Before I further pen my thoughts down, I would like you to imagine something. Imagine that you are in an open field, and four to five helicopters over your head, are circling round and round in the air above, for weeks now.

That is how some sensitive people experience hurt or holds a grudge, when they take an event, situation or relationship too personally. Sticking in the past or holding onto a grudge or any wrong doing will continuously make thoughts and memories play repetitively in your mind. The feelings when you see the offender, the anxiety when you get the flashback of the hurt will bother you a lot. But hey, are you giving an event or a person too much power over yourself?

Recently, I too was stuck in some situation mentally. My friend provoked me with the same question and I considered the implications of unforgiveness. If you consider the meaning of unforgiveness it is probably drinking poison and indulging in false hopes that the situation can be undone, the hurt be fixed by someone who hurt you.

Forgiveness has some basic properties which I too was ignoring. Firstly, it brings peace. Secondly, the most misunderstood aspect of forgiveness is that the blame is on others for your hurt. Not at all! By forgiving, you acknowledge the sense of responsibility for your own feelings. Then there is the healing property of forgiveness which we don’t really value, unfortunately.

Don’t you have a story of how someone was unkind to you, shouted at you, mistreated you or the hurt that you continue to experience? We often disregard the importance of forgiveness, because we think we have forgiven. But that is incomplete. Forgiving someone is not forgetting, it is not reconciliation, neither is it denying that something happened. Forgiveness implies moving on from the past and empowering yourself in a way that gives you the power and liberty to feel good about yourself.

Consider the importance of learning to forgive as a skill from Epictetus’s quote:

It is the circumstances which show what men are. Therefore, when a difficulty falls upon you, remember that God, like a trainer of wrestlers, has matched you with a rough young man. For what purpose? You might ask. So that you may become an Olympic Conquerer; but it is not accomplished without sweat . .  No man has had a more profitable difficulty than you have had, if you choose to make use of it as an athlete would deal with a young antagonist.

Don’t lose sight of the bigger picture, the Hereafter! You have to empower your soul and comfort your mind by learning to forgive, in the real sense of the word. Have you considered that even if you take revenge, play back a prank or curse the person, it only brings short-term relief? It does not make you feel at ease perpetually.

Coming to the health implications of holding a grudge, they have mostly been rooted in the fight-flight concept. The dilemma of the flight or flight response from our sympathetic nervous system is that it only leaves us with two options; reacting or withdrawing. However, if you only depend on your biological system, then it means that you have not applied constructive thinking to deal with an interpersonal conflict, a betrayal, loss or abandonment. To recover the control over your emotions, you need to move beyond. You can rely on your nervous system to deal with immediate danger or pain, but your nervous system would not give you any short cuts to deal with a ten year old grudge with your parent or your partner. Under the influence of the fight-flight cycle and the collision of the stress hormones, our long-term vision becomes blurry. In our frustration, we give the power, the responsibility of our feelings to that person who hurt us, broken us. We become habitual of feeling bad about a person who had wronged us. Is there any significance of giving away the power to your relatives who don’t care for you? Haven’t you given them too much space in your head, majority reserves of your mind body and soul? Remember, that the rule in your mind, the expectation you have is not applicable to the one who hurt you. We can’t enforce the rule of apology onto someone else. Grab back that power as soon as possible to save yourself from frequent headaches, muscle tensions and other chronic issues.

Don’t remain imprisoned by grudges and complaints, for you will suffer the most! Forgiveness is a skill and everyone can learn it, when they first acknowledge the sense of responsibility over their feelings, their emotions. I or anyone proposing forgiveness for health does not mean that your pain is insignificant, or the cruelty you faced is justified. The important thing here is that you don’t deserve to be broken by the shackles of unforgiveness, so much so, that it starts affecting your health and well-being!

Islamic teachings always, always complete the problematic picture for me. The remedies that our deen offers are unique and highly effective. For now, you can ponder over the following ayaat from the Noble Quran, which I think explain the beauty of being a believer, and the honor of having the Quran and Ahadith for guidance! Soothe yourself from the following:

The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better (i.e. Allah ordered the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly), then verily! he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend [Surah Fussilat:34].

Verily, those who are Al-Muttaqun (the pious), when an evil thought comes to them from Shaitan (Satan), they remember (Allah), and (indeed) they then see (aright). [Surah al-Araaf:201].

Say: “Nothing shall ever happen to us except what Allah has ordained for us. He is our Maula (Lord, Helper and Protector). And in Allah let the believers put their trust [Surah Tawbah: 51].

Purity is half of faith. Alhamdulillah [Praise be to Allah] fills the scales, and Subhana’Allah [How far is Allah from every imperfection] and Alhamdulillah [Praise be to Allah] fill that which is between heaven and earth. Prayer is light; charity is a proof; patience is illumination; and the Quran is an argument for or against you. Everyone starts his day and is a vendor of his soul, either freeing it or bringing about its ruin.” [An Nawawi’s Forty Hadith, Number 22, Reported by Muslim].

…….Do you not love that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful [Surah An-Nur:22].

If you tend think about that painful experience again sometime, pause to reflect on Yasmin Mogahed’s quote too:

If you want to kill something, neglect it. It happens in both good and bad. Neglect a relationship, it dies. Neglect your iman, it dies. But the same principal applies when you want to kill something like a thought or a desire. Neglect it, it dies.

Till next time, remember me in your prayers and think over forgiveness as a self-prescription.
I shall try to focus on my HRM mid-term now 😉

Jazak Allah khairan kaseera, for reviewing my first post!

Bibliography:

The Noble Quran, Dar-us-Salam Publications

Forgive For Good, Dr Fred Luskin