Mixing culture with Islam dilutes the Islamic character which results in an identity crisis for Muslim youth living in the West. Islam is a complete way of life and as such, it cannot be compromised regardless of where one lives. Teaching the youth Islam must become the priority for each and every parent.
Last week, the Toronto Star reported that a father living in London, England had ordered the killing of his daughter due to the fact that she had pre-marital relations with another man and that she had also adopted many Western customs and traditions. The article labelled the act as an “honour killing” and claimed that such acts are to be blamed on the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism.
Contrary to media claims, this tragedy is not a by product of Islamic Fundamentalism but rather, a result of the absence of a true Islamic society. It is also the result of a failure to implant the correct Islamic concepts and values in our children’s minds by not raising them according to the true and correct purpose of life –worshipping Allah the All Mighty.
We Found Our Forefathers Doing It
When some Muslims emigrate to the West, they bring with them a mixture of their culture with the Islam that they know. This often results in the dilution of the laws of Allah (swt) through a loose set of guiding principles that are rooted in customs and traditions which usually contradict Islam. The behaviour of mixing customs and traditions with Islam will initially cause confusion in children’s minds as they will have difficulty separating the two. Eventually they will discard the ways of their parents and adopt the customs and traditions of the society that surrounds them.
Islam: A Complete Way of Life
Islam is a complete way of life, not just a collection of moral guidelines and rituals. Allah (swt) says:
We have sent down to you the Book explaining all things, a Guide, a Mercy, and Glad Tidings to Muslims. [TMQ 16:89]
This means that Islam governs the way we live our lives – to understand the purpose of life and the way we should conduct our day-to-day actions. Once we have accepted Islam, then we must follow all of Allah (swt)’s laws and not “pick and choose” based on what is most convenient. Allah (swt) says:
"Then is it only a part of the Book that you believe in, and do you reject the rest? But what is the reward for those among you who behave like this except disgrace in this life? And on the Day of Judgment they shall be consigned to the most grievous penalty. For Allah is not unmindful of what ye do." [TMQ 2:85]
We must therefore be mindful of the fact that all of our actions should conform to the Quran and Sunnah rather than customs and traditions.
Give Me a Child of Two and I Will Make Him a Man
As parents, our obligation expands to ensure that our children – the future of the Ummah –are taught everything they need to know about Islam. Allah (swt) says:
"O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who flinch not (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do (precisely) what they are commanded." [TMQ 66:6]
In the tafseer of this ayah, Qatadah says, “He [the father] commands obedience to Allah, to not disobey Allah, he orders his family to obey His orders and helps them to act upon His orders. When one sees disobedience, he stops them and forbids them from doing it.''
Clearly, the responsibility falls on the parents to teach their children about Islam in order to provide them with the criterion that will by Allah (swt)’s leave guide them both in this world and the hereafter.
The Prophet (saw) said, “A father gives his child nothing better than a good education.” [Tirmidhi & Baihaqi]
It is not sufficient to solely rely on the Islamic schools or local Imams to convey Islam. Rather, any and every opportunity should be sought by the parents to pass the proper Islamic thoughts to their children as it is they who will stand before Allah (swt) accounting for how they raised their children.
The Prophet (saw) said, “Each one of you is a shepherd. And each one of you will be asked about your flock. A ruler also is a shepherd and he will be asked about his flock. And every man is a shepherd to his family. And a woman is the custodian of her husband's house and his children. Thus each one of you is a shepherd, and each one will be asked about his flock.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
One of the most critical aspects of ensuring that children maintain an Islamic character is to begin teaching them at a very young age. While it is often perceived that it is okay for the children to “do whatever they want” until they are legally responsible (i.e. puberty); parachuting Islam onto them at an older age may result in the rejection of a way of life foreign to what they have been accustomed to.
The Prophet (saw) would teach Islam no matter how young his companions were.
Abu Hurairah reported: Al-Hasan bin ‘Ali took one of the dates of the Sadaqah and put it in his mouth, whereupon the Messenger of Allah (saw) said, “Leave it, leave it, throw it away. Do you not know that we do not eat the Sadaqah?” [Bukhari & Muslim]
‘Umar bin Abu Salamah reported: I was a boy under the care of the Messenger of Allah (saw) and my hand would wander about the dish. The Messenger of Allah (saw) said to me, “Mention Allah’s name, eat with your right hand and eat what is near to you.” I always followed this way of eating after that incident. [Bukhari & Muslim]
Where to Begin?
It is not sufficient to know what our responsibilities are. We need to incorporate a plan to fulfill them. With respect to raising a child, he or she should learn the following:
Rational Aqeedah – Each Muslim should have a rational understanding and an intellectual conclusion as to the existence of a Creator, the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad (saw) as a messenger.
Arabic – While there is a lot of reward attached to reciting the Quran in Arabic, learning the language will allow the understanding of the meaning behind the recitation. Furthermore, it will allow access to the many Islamic texts that have not been translated in such areas as Fiqh and Usool Al-Fiqh.
Seerah – Knowing the Prophet Muhammad (saw)’s life will increase love and admiration for him. It will also give insight as to why he (saw) was referred to as, “the walking Quran”.
History of the Righteous – Knowing the stories of the Prophets (as) and the Sahabahs (ra) will provide proper role models for children to emulate and look up to.
Rewards for Good Children
We should also remember the glad-tidings to those children who are good Muslims:
The Prophet (saw) said: “There are seven whom Allah will shade in His Shade on the Day when there is no shade except His Shade: a just ruler; a youth who grew up in the worship of Allah, the Mighty and Majestic; a man whose heart is attached to the mosques; two men who love each other for Allah's sake, meeting for that and parting upon that; a man who is called by a woman of beauty and position [for illegal intercourse], but he says: 'I fear Allah', a man who gives in charity and hides it, such that his left hand does not know what his right hand gives in charity; and a man who remembered Allah in private and so his eyes shed tears.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
The Prophet (saw) said, "When a person dies, the opportunity of gaining more rewards ends except for these three: Sadaqa Jariyah, knowledge from which there is a benefit, or a pious child supplicating to Allah for him.” [Ahmad & Muslim]
The Prophet (saw) said, “If anyone cares for three daughters, disciplines them, marries them, and does well to them, he will go to Paradise.” [Abu Dawud]
The Prophet (saw) said, “Learn Surat Al-Baqarah and Al `Imran because they are two lights and they shade their people on the Day of Resurrection, just as two clouds, two spaces of shade or two lines of (flying) birds. The Qur'an will meet its companion in the shape of a pale-faced man on the Day of Resurrection when his grave is opened. The Qur'an will ask him, 'Do you know me' The man will say, 'I do not know you.' The Qur'an will say, 'I am your companion, the Qur'an, which has brought you thirst during the heat and made you stay up during the night. Every merchant has his certain trade. But, this Day, you are behind all types of trade.' Kingship will then be given to him in his right hand, eternal life in his left hand and the crown of grace will be placed on his head. His parents will also be granted two garments that the people of this life could never afford. They will say, 'Why were we granted these garments' It will be said, 'Because your son was carrying the Qur'an.' It will be said (to the reader of the Qur'an), 'Read and ascend through the levels of Paradise.' He will go on ascending as long as he recites, whether reciting slowly or quickly.)'' [Ahmad]
May Allah (swt) allow us to please Him (swt) and may He (swt) protect us from the Hell fire.