Writers' Articles

Taking it to Heart

The purple ring... that was the favorite from her stackable toys as a toddler.  Her parents gave her everything they could to enrich her life and ensure that she mentally and physically developed as rapidly as possible.  Hour after hour, day after day, they played with her trying to teach her how the world works.

She learned quickly.  Sometimes more quickly than her parents wanted like after only seeing them put something in the VCR once she was keen to shove her toys into that fascinating movable slot too.  Although they had taken the covering the plugs and latching the cabinet doors precautions, it seemed she was constantly teaching them something new about raising children.

From the beginning, her parents tried especially to nurture her spiritually.  The first words whispered into her ears after she was born were, "Allahu Akbar (Allah is the Greatest), Allahu Akbar...," the adhan in one ear and the iqama in the other with the hope that she might live a life modeled after the Prophet.  Every night her mom would recite verses of the Qur'an to her to protect and inspire her.  And during the day, she would watch colorful children's videos about being a good Muslim.  Her parents could see all this effort giving fruit when they noticed her intrigue as she rushed to join her parents as they prayed.

But somewhere along the way, things seemed to go wrong.  Maybe her parents hadn't been good enough examples.  Maybe it was carelessness as to what was on television resulting in unwanted exposure to examples of extreme independence, i.e. disrespect or even mockery of parents, in the popular media.  Maybe it was the simple process of a child growing up in affluence and being given too many choices.  For example, "So which bedroom set do you want?"  SubhanAllah!!! She hadn't even learned the value of money or held a job to know the hard work it takes to earn that money much less the vast difference between picking out a candy bar verses a set of furniture!  Regardless, her parents were trying their best and praying that Allah would help them all through their shortcomings.

Unfortunately, as this youngster grew into a teen she became more and more flagrant in her taking what she had for granted.  Initially rolling her eyes and talking back, she gradually expressed more and more disdain.  Her parents counseled her and tried to help her realize the folly in these ways.  Alhamdulillah, she was praying and even started wearing the hijab, but she also started saying "ooph" whenever her parents said something she didn't like.  More and more, she threw ingratitude in the face of her parents' love and generosity.  They warned her with Allah's words:

...And do good unto [thy] parents. Should one of them, or both, attain to old age in thy care, never say "Ugh" to them or scold them, but [always] speak unto them with reverent speech, (Qur'an 17:23)

But it didn't seem to make a difference.  Sure her parents had faults, but their love, patience, and efforts were being taken for granted.  Always having had food, clothing, shelter, education, and love, she had never known poverty.  She had never known hunger.  She had never known homelessness.  She had been blessed again and again, but it seems that this was her test in life.  She had been raised learning hadith like the one recorded in Muslim by Abu Huraira stating that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said:

Look at those who stand at a lower level than you but don't look at those who stand at a higher level than you, for this would make the favors (conferred upon you by Allah) insignificant (in your eyes).

What good did this advice do if she didn't take a moment to sincerely count the favors that Allah has bestowed upon her...  If she just thought for a moment about what it means that her brothers and sisters in Africa, for example, are struggling to survive on one dollar a day, if they can even find work...  If she just considered all those children without one or even both of their parents... If she just considered that Allah is watching her to see if she will give all that knowledge she has acquired so easily about goodness, truth, justice, and righteous conduct a chance to sink in, might it cause a change in her ways toward her parents?

Truly no one can make another believe or act righteously.  With so much good in her, it is hard to watch her behave this way.  Her parents pray for her to make the right choice, grow in faith and good conduct, and that the harm she has done to herself will be erased by the good that can follow.  But they have also been forced to realize that memorizing is not understanding.  What is contained in the head but not in the heart is of no benefit.  The choice is hers. May Allah forgive us all and help us to appreciate the blessings we have, especially that of our parents.



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