As-Salaam ’Alikum sister,
May God reward you and your husband for all your efforts! It is not easy to raise good children these days nearly anywhere. Society at large has very powerful and alluring lifestyles that contradict our Islamic ideals. You are not alone in this. Try to seek support from Muslim families in your area.
As someone who grew up in America with caring Muslim parents, I can tell you that no matter how “off the path” I seemed to them, I eventually came around because of the seeds they planted in my heart and mind. Do not despair regarding your efforts; verily they will not be fruitless, in sha’ Allah. Your children will ultimately come around when they are ready and if they choose to do so. But I do think you should keep in mind the following strategies in your continuous efforts:
- It’s important that the da’wah you make to your children is rooted in intellect and spirituality, love and logic, and not any of the following:
- Find a community with Muslim converts; converts are examples of people who chose Islam, usually for very profound reasons unadulterated by “Muslim culture.” Perhaps you can invite converts to your home to meet your sons and have them converse in a relaxed setting.
- Cultural version of Islam; this is the biggest turn off to most Muslims who grow up in the West. Remember, your focus must be on the fact that Islam is a path to one’s Creator.
- Your version of Islam; by this I mean you are calling them to live life the way you want them to, leaving little room for their own difference of opinion around the religion. This can also be a turn off.
- Do not make your children feel guilty or fearful. Focus on the mercy and forgiveness of God. The human psyche is more likely to respond to a kind God than a wrathful one.
Your da’wah must be rooted in the Quranic worldview as it is the most powerful discourse and calls us to use wisdom (Quran 16:125). You should know the Quran well and use its arguments.
- Ultimately your children must make their own choices about their relationship with God. There is no compulsion in religion, even for Muslims (Quran 2:256). People will practice based on their understanding and intention of devotion. They seem to have some practice of Islam, but it might not be the way you want them to practice. You have to be open to the idea that each of us will know and find God in our own way and when the time is right. Constant pressure and worry will not change destiny.
- Since your children are not committing major sins, this means they have a good foundation to navigate their environments. You cannot expect them to live up to your standards and level of practice of Islam right now. University is a setting of deep inquiry and critical thinking as well as social flexibility. They must find their own path. As all the prophets could only warn, guide and give advice, you must continue to do so, but know that you cannot control their choice.
- You should trust in their fitrah (natural inclination towards God.) It may be rusty today, but through experiences, trials, and errors, anyone with a good heart will come to know what is important in life and come back to the truth. The more they feel trusted and loved by you, the more they will feel bonded and naturally gravitate back to the family and Islam, in sha’ Allah.
- You mentioned your sons have strong rebuttals towards your da’wah; this means that your arguments are not strong enough. I feel my second point can shed light onto why this is the case. You said your children feel “Islam is something you do when you get old.” This means Islam was not presented to them in a way that allows them to feel they can be in their society and function. Muslims make this mistake a lot thinking “If I am a good Muslim, I must be isolated from society.” This means the understanding of Islamic practice is too narrow. Muslims are meant to engage with society and aim to transform their surroundings. I understand that you live in a non-Muslim society, but this is part of the experience your family has to go through. It is inevitable that people are shaped by their societies. So, focus on the good and guide with wisdom around the negative.
God bless you sister and I pray God provides you wisdom and patience to unify your family on the straight path.
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