I guess this is the challenge of parenting. In fact, it’s probably the one area where most parents fail as well. It makes it even more difficult to deal with when living in a world of instant gratification. I can assure you that parenting is anything but instant gratification. 🙂
It reminds me of that dua regarding parents that says, “My Lord, bestow on both of them Your mercy just as they did bring me up when I was small”. I think it’s only through being a parent that we realise how difficult it is. It’s not about having authority over our children, or being able to exercise that authority at will (though not always successfully either), but it’s about trying to forge a bond that spans a generation gap the likes of which we have never seen before. I think it was Ali (RA) that said:
Do not force your children to behave like you, for surely they have been created for a time which is different to your time
It’s not always easy to remember this when it’s most needed.
My daughter’s mother died in a car accident two years ago. We were divorced for a few years before that, and as these situations tend to get bitter quite often, I was denied access to my daughter for the better part of that time. So when her mother died, I automatically got full custody being the only surviving parent. I recently got married to tmihijabi and Alhamdulillah my daughter is wrecking her brains more than mine these days… 🙂
May I ask how old is she? I’ve found that kids pick up their parents ideals by observing them, so maybe it will take a while but slowly she will come to adopt them 🙂 and I agree about the staggering disappearance of ideals from our society.
She’s seven, going on eight, with a mouth of a 65 year old. I guess I’m extra sensitive about this because the slightest hint of despicable mannerisms that she displays from the family that raised her before her mother died, it sends me into panic mode that she may grow up to be like them after all in spite of our best efforts. It’s not fair on her, or us, but it is what it is. She was unfortunately exposed to horrendous behaviour entirely inappropriate for adults, let alone a 5 year old before I obtained full custody of her two years ago. So it’s been a somewhat difficult path in trying to get her to unlearn all the adult behaviour she picked up on, and trying to get her to understand what is age appropriate for kids her age.
The sweetness of this month of Ramadaan is always tainted at the beginning and at the end because of the stubborn insistence and double standards of the people that proclaim themselves to be the leaders of the Ummah. Their very own offices will release perpetual salaah time tables that can be used throughout the year, publish calendars that include to-the-minute exact times for starting and ending fast, all based on scientifically calculated methods, while still insisting that the moon for Ramadaan cannot be accurately predicted and therefore must be sighted with the naked eye.
But the ridiculous double standards don’t stop there. They go on further to accept that if someone in another part of the country sights the moon, we can accept that as sufficient proof that the month of Ramadaan has started and therefore we can act on that. However, what they fail to acknowledge is that once again, a double standard exists. On the one hand, they’re trying to leverage off the permissibility of acting on the sighting of the moon in another town close to your own, but fail to acknowledge the practicality of the time taken for travel between the two towns during the time of the sahaba relative to our own experiences now.
For example, in South Africa, if I’m living in Johannesburg and the moon is not sighted in time for Esha salaah, it is common practice to check with the Muslim communities in Cape Town if they possibly sighted the moon since sunset is usually 45 minutes to 2 hours later than Johannesburg. Given that they’re on the coast with low humidity, their skies are considerably clearer as well making the conditions perfect for sighting the moon. However, Cape Town is 1200km (750 miles) away, which means that it would have been physically impossible to travel from Cape Town to Johannesburg in a single day on horseback or camel back or any other means of transport available during the time of the sahaba. In case I’m not making sense here, the double standard that I see in this is simple. We’re willing to exercise the leniency of making news of a sighting from another town a permissible indicator to start Ramadaan, but we’re allowing scientific/technological progress to be the basis on which we confirm it? Put differently, we’re happy to apply one part of the Hadith while relying on modern technology to fulfil the means.
There’s a verse in the Qur’an that always echoes in my head when this debate comes up. It says in Surah 21 verse 33:
And it is He who created the night and the day and the sun and the moon; all [heavenly bodies] in an orbit are swimming.
And He it is Who has created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon, each in an orbit floating.
It is He Who created the Night and the Day, and the sun and the moon: all (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its rounded course.
Anyone want to hazard a guess as to what will happen to this earth if the moon suddenly floated in an orbit disproportionate to that of the earth or the sun? Yet we’re willing to abide by calendars that tell us to-the-minute when to start and when to stop performing each salaah, but still insist on having pointless debates about the sighting of the moon whose cycle can be predicted as accurately as the sun?
In the interests of unity, the Sunnah is that we follow the majority opinion of our community so that we don’t create divisions. For this reason only do I continue to follow the decisions published by our local masjid. But I pray that in time, this issue as well as the insanity around the use of the moon and star symbols will become a thing of the past and that Muslims around the world can move beyond the pettiness that erupts every single year without fail just because we can’t separate principles from rituals and apply them consistently. Insha-Allah. Ameen.
Looking across the table at my daughter leaves me wondering if she’ll ever grasp the extent of the struggles and sacrifices that I and many others have gone through just so that she may have a normal life. She already takes so much for granted which goes against so many principles that I always thought were established laws of nature, so much so that I foolishly assumed that she would automatically adopt them as her own.
I’ve been cautioned before about not being able to change the genes of a person, but being the pragmatic idealist that I am, words like that do nothing more than spur me on to prove that idealism still has a place in this world. I’m not so sure any more. There was a time when I was unshakeable in my views about what principles could or could not be compromised in life, but these days it seems as if nothing is sacred any longer. Reciprocation is a luxury while selfish individual rights supersede everything else.
This must sound extremely selfish since a parent’s role by default is supposed to be a selfless one. I don’t think selflessness exists. It’s a nice idea, and makes for really wholesome use in the embellishment of people’s efforts, but at the root of it all, of everything we do, lies a single common thread that contains just two words. Gratitude and affirmation. There is only so much any individual will do for the sake of the greater good, before we expect that greater good to return the favour.
There is no balance any more. The echoes no longer just remind but now they taunt as well. Echoes of what this world is and for what it was created. I once heard a wise man say that this world was created for respite, not justice. I hate how true that statement is. For this reason the good will always be trampled upon while the usurpers will continue to flourish – in this world only.
Looking at my daughter tonight made me realise how insignificant we can be in the face of the most significant challenge in our lives. How oblivious others can be about the sacrifices we make on their behalf, while they live as if the world owes them everything leaves me staring vacantly at the future.