By Farozan Warsi
‘And hold firmly to the rope of Allah and do not be divided!’ Al Imran V. 103
Would you agree that there is a general sense of anxiety that is weighing the world down? Could it be due to a decline in its sense of morality? There is mistrust in people. Inappropriate relationships are normalized. Money is synonymous with happiness. Consumerist mindsets incline people towards compromising values for material gains. Morally speaking, perhaps the world has never ever been at such a low point. What is worse is that our children are fast growing in this toxic environment. We really do need to have a plan in place where their moral, emotional and spiritual well-being is protected.
Academic achievement is the focus and measure of success in a significant number of our communities. We then add non-academic activities to our children’s repertoire in the hope that we are nurturing well rounded personality traits in them. All that is tangible, is easy to do, and is important.
The primary goal behind academic pursuits is to gain formal knowledge of various subjects with the aim that they will eventually lead to a lucrative career. Of course, it is not rocket science to figure out that the ultimate intention is to acquire financial muscle ; to not just put bread on the table but to also have butter, jam and cheese with it. Non- academic interests are pursued because they lend weight to the curriculum vitae. They embellish the resume and help ace interviews. Again tangible, easy to do, and important.
The school curriculum includes the development of emotional well being of its students. Lessons in self-reliance, tolerance, self-esteem, self-awareness, self-motivation are all components of this plan. These might be great qualities to develop but every child’s path to achieving these skills vary. A variety of factors influence the development, including genetics, environments they grow in, nutrition, experiences etc. They still do not prepare children for the dangers ahead.
It cannot be denied that negative influences at school affect our children in a major way too. Particularly in their growing age, the forbidden will always be tantalizing. We worry for our children going astray. It feels like we are in a blind alley, not aware of what our children might be involved in, because our knowledge only extends to as much as they confide in us. There is plenty of evil out there. It is forbidden… but it calls.
The weak, unsupported, uninformed child will stray.
How are we going to combat this situation? The first step would mean that we acknowledge why it is happening.
- Full-time working parents/single parenthood with no time to devote to children, other than the basics.
- Lack of awareness of pressures in student life. Peer pressure might push children towards doing something they should not.
- Social Media
- Poor or no focus on the immediate concerns.
- It is understandable that parents/single parents need to work hard to meet the demands of everyday life. Certainly, a plan can be worked out that is free of work stresses and is dedicated in a wholesome manner to the kids. Creating a schedule will help both, parents, and children.
- Create awareness. Keep an open dialogue with children, asking all the right questions. Discuss what their thoughts are about what they observe in school, in their friends. Be aware of the school’s program. Keep in touch with other parents.
- Observe time spent on social media. Cut back on time spent and use that to connect with the child. Scrolling, commenting, posting, TikTok, watching Shorts are all time-guzzlers. And at the end of it all you stand to gain nothing. Using that time to inform yourself of what is going on in your child’s life will save his or her future.
- We tend to put on the back burner issues that we want to avoid. Facing issues upfront could save us precious time and stress. This may be done by consciously putting those down on paper to deal with by prioritizing them.
Permissible and Impermissible:
Using that saved time would be great to talk to the children about the “permissible” and the “impermissible” things in life; to let them know the millions of things that Allah has made permissible. Eg. Nutritious and pure food, quality books, appropriate clothes, selected entertainment, travel, arts, sports, games, clean relationships. There is a good reason why some acts have been made impermissible. Eg. Alcohol or drug consumption, inappropriate relationships, certain kinds of entertainment. That is because those can all lead to a lot of harm. Compulsive and insatiable desire for things, unaesthetic clothing, need for fame and popularity, body-image consciousness, constant need for entertainment, misuse of social media can all corrode the insides of a human being. Discussing this clearly with children will give them the ability to resist the wrong.
When we say ‘hold tight to the rope of Allah’ it really calls for awakening the spiritual side of our existence- that emotion that grows in the heart and makes a connection with its Creator. Holding tight to the rope of Allah would mean a few things:
- Be always conscious of right and wrong.
- Do good to others. Intentions should be clean. Doing good with ulterior motives takes away from the act.
- There are things that Allah has made mandatory because they are protection from evil – Salat, Zakat, Sawm. These are all exercises in self-accountability. Nobody comes to check on you. You are your own guard.
- Maintain clean speech and clean thoughts. It isn’t cool to swear.
When children are guided along these lines, they will be able to think before they act and stray clear of harmful temptations. We are born in a beautiful religion. It has laid out all the rules and regulations, the dos, and the don’ts. All that is needed is to follow them!
About the Author
Farozan Warsi is an Educator and Author who has an interest in child psychology and theology. She draws her inspiration from the hundreds of children she has taught and guided – specifically her three grandchildren. Her writing is an homage to them. Through her writing at Farozans Book Shelf she hopes to ignite a curiosity about Islam amongst this most thoughtful generation. With this specific work, she aims to exemplify the mysteries of Islam through a fun-filled genre. She comes from generations of writers and educators. She lives in Canada with her spouse where she paints pictures with her words.