Thursday, May 17, 2007

Saving Your Family

Saving Your Family
Morshed Abul Ala & Taha Ghaznavi

For a believer one of the most hurtful feelings is when he or she watches their own family going astray from the path of Islam. Most of the time, we do not know how to react. Here are some points to keep in mind when we are in such situations:

1. Do Not Give Up on Your Family
This should never be an option. The Prophets ('alayhim salaatu was-salaam) never gave up on their families because of the latter's disobedience to Allah. They did not consider the task of inviting one's family to Allah as an 'extra duty' performed by them, but as part of their own salvation. They kept reminding their families of dedication and obedience to One God, Allah till their natural death came or the punishment of Allah overtoke them. And we ask Allah's protection from that.

2. Show them Your Love and Care
Your family needs to realize that you care for them deeply and it hurts you seeing them going astray. They need to see that your concern for them stems from your genuine love and not a sense of superiority or self-righteousness. They don't need emotional black-mail or repeated nagging, but sincere advice in everyday matters and guidance in any doubts and questions they may have. Give gifts, help them in their day-to-day tasks, and be there in their times of distress and need, whether they be practising or not.

3. Take it One Step at a Time
Do not expect your family to completely change overnight, just because you did! Some, in fact most, people take time to change. Think about the fact that the majority of the Makkan people during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) became Muslim after having been with him, the Prophet of God, for 13 years!
Do not jump into telling them what they have to do or what not. Tell them why it is good or bad, your own reasoning process, and prepare their mind before mentioning what Allah wants them to do. For example, instead of lecturing or ordering them to wear Hijab, explain why it is such an important part of Islam and Muslim identity, its benefits and rewards. Whenever you say such-and-such is Halal or Haram, prepare to answer why!
And be careful about what you lay emphasis on. There is a wisdom in priorities. For example, it does little good to speak about watching too much TV when the person does not even pray. For every Haram, you must provide a better Halal alternative or it will be replaced with more Haram or idleness.

4. Have regular Family Gatherings
How about one weeknight after dinner? Or spending a weekend morning together? You can use these opportunities to talk about your family issues, discuss Islamic teachings, and where you as a family should be headed, etc. This gathering will bring your family members close to each other, allow them to express their thoughts and feelings openly and realize that they are one mutually-supporting entity.

5. Do Not Coerce but Pray for them
We should know that guidance comes from Allah alone, no matter how hard we try. Our duty is to present Allah's message in a loving and wise manner so they can help themselves make up their mind. But throughout all this, we turn to Allah alone for guidance, for ourselves and our loved ones, and put our trust in Him alone, lest we lost heart in our own efforts.

6. Be True to Yourself
They know you too well and love you, so be yourself! Your greatest duty is to be a shining example of a sincere, trying, albeit naturally imperfect, Muslim not to give the impression of a 'super-Momin' who is never wrong. That natural and simple way of living and thinking will insha-Allah be an irresistable attraction that will draw you and your family closer to Allah.


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