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Desperate Mother: Children Are Tempted by the West

Questioner

K

Reply Date

Feb 24, 2018

Question

My husband and I have raised our children as Muslims in the Middle East. We had to leave this country because we couldn't afford to live there. We currently live in Australia because this is the only country where we can get citizenship. We've noticed our children drifting away from Islam, no matter how hard we try to bring them back to it. They attend to university and say that they don't have time to pray or participate in Ramadan. We feel that they are too tempted by their friends' lifestyle, and they listen to the whispers of Satan. My husband and I pray for them every day and speak to them often about Islam. What can we say to convince them that they can't delay their commitment towards Allah? They have this idea that Islam is something they don’t need to consider until they are older. There are not many non-Muslims here so the temptations to disobey are very strong. How can we convince them that this life is equal to a day compared to what is to come therefore they should prepare from now? Why do some youths consider Islam something to be taken care of only when one is older? We encourage them to find Muslim friends but they resist our suggestions. They consider us to be bad parents because we advise them against things that non-Muslims freely do. Our children don't eat pork, dress modestly, don’t have girlfriends and don’t drink alcohol, so they consider themselves to be very good compared to others at the same age. How can we convince them to follow Allah's guidance instead of the values of this society; to live an Islamic life and marry Muslim girls? My sons are very intellectual, so when I discuss Islam with them they offer very convincing rebuttals.

Counselor

Answer


Desperate Mother: Children Are Tempted by the West

Answer:

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.

Amin,

***

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About Karim Serageldin

Karim Serageldin, founder of Noor, completed his BA in psychology & religion, followed by an MA in east-west psychology with a specialization in spiritual counseling. He is a certified life coach with years of teaching and community outreach experience. His practical work and research includes developing a modern framework of Islamic psychology, relationship, family and youth coaching. He provides seminars and workshops in the United States. You can contact Br. Karim at: http://www.noorhumanconsulting.com or facebook.com/noorhumanconsulting

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