• Raya Shokatfard

STRENGTHENING FAMILY TIES IN RAMADAN

Updated: Jul 3, 2020



By: Raya Shokatfard


Many wonder if it is the West and its lifestyle that has distanced families from Islam.


Sadly, a closer look at Muslim countries one sees a similar pattern.


Why?


Many may agree that the nature, function, and much of the structure of the family have changed dramatically in the era we live in.


While the modern era considers any form of union between two consenting adults a family,

Islam takes a more conservative stance, and argues that the only legitimate family structure is the one divinely ordained, with marriage at its core.


What Caused the Gap?


Not only the family structure has lost its value with many, the family unity, which is the basic building block of Muslim society, is also under considerable threat presently.


It is well agreed that in Muslim culture, respect and esteem increase with age. Elderly

parents were respected on account of their life experiences and their hierarchic position within the family unit. In fact attending to the needs of one’s parents in their later years is viewed as a gift from Allah. But this has also been changed.


Let us take a look at some elements that may have contributed to the change over the years within Muslim societies.


In many Muslim countries, the family bonds were tight and the youth lives were interwoven with parents. It was a norm to see practicing Muslim parents having practicing kids.


Another important element was that most mothers stayed home and consider motherhood a sacred task and took it very seriously. They bore financial hardship but did not leave the home to seek a job.


The third element has been the development of ever-expanding technologies, internet and gaming – replacing family time with self-centered activities.


Fourthly the increase in cost of living has forced parents to be more occupied with work than the upbringing of their kids or practicing and imparting religious duties to family members.


These elements are not the only elements, but seem to be major ones.


Now we see kids who do not want to hear anything about religion from their practicing parents, and parents who are not practicing do not bother to tackle this issue, fearing to alienate their kids.


In fact, the best relationship between parents and kids seems to be the one where kids are left free to do as they wish. Parents support and love them unconditionally and all is good to go. But is it?


What is lacking in all these elements is God-consciousness or any desire to return to the Creator and to know Him.


What to Do?


One way to unite parents and kids in an Islamic fashion may be joining active Muslim communities


Dear reader, you might be a parent, or son or daughter of caring parents. You might have noticed that you call yourselves Muslims without Islam. Do not despair! It is never too late.


Here are some tips.


One way to unite parents and kids in an Islamic fashion may be joining active Muslim communities.


This is quite simple in western countries. Many mosques have events for the entire family.


But sadly, some mosques, especially in the U.S. hire an Arab Imam who speaks in Arabic only and gives sermons in Arabic for the Arabic speaking crowd. You will find these mosques lacking any youth participation.


Nowadays, things are changing and many good programs are being offered for the entire family.


In Muslim countries there are also programs available for families but depends on each area and activities.


Yet, the best chance of all for uniting parents and kids is Ramadan, where they all eat, fast and pray together.


In fact some of my own best childhood memories were in Ramadan. I remember my mother’s loving kindness. She was up early to prepare suhoor for us and toiled all afternoon in heat and cold to have the iftar ready on time. Her unconditional love for us was so obvious in these blessed days.


In Egypt, I witnessed incredible family connection at this time. Practicing or not, they got together for the fast. It was natural to see even the ones careless about praying and going to mosque, joining the family members for all these activities. This was surely a great example of the point being made here.


This reminds me about the famous American phrase: “The family that prays together stays together!”


People in general are resistant to blames, orders and guilt trips.


Let us now look at some helpful hints that parents and kids can use for encouraging each other to return to Islam.


Besides the above hints, it would be helpful to consider some important factors about human nature. People in general are resistant to blames, orders and guilt trips.


If the case involved practicing kids advising non-practicing parents, it would be best to do so in soft and kind words. Any action or words that would make them angry should be avoided at all cost, as it would be ineffective in the long run.


Imam Al-Hasan, the Prophet’s grandson, was asked about children advising their parents (enjoining them to do good and forbidding them from doing evil), he said, “They should admonish the parents as long as they do not get angry”.


According to various Quran verses and narrations of our blessed Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), it is obligatory for Muslims to keep family ties and cutting these ties is a major sin. So treating them in an unwise manner might result in cut family ties.


Allah warns:


{Would you then, if you were given the authority, do mischief in the land, and sever your ties of kinship? Such are they whom Allah has cursed, so that He has made them deaf and blinded their sight.} (47:22-3)


This goes both ways for parents and kids. In order to please Allah and aim to achieve one’s goal, all efforts must be made to have kind, loving dialogue with family members. This does not mean forsaking one’s religions duties in order to please the family. In fact it means being steadfast in one’s practice. In many cases, actions speak louder than words.


I also recall other instances where new Muslims were able to bring their non-Muslim parents to Islam due to their spirit of humbleness, sacrifice and loving kindness in Ramadan.


{And your Lord has commanded that you shall not serve (any) but Him, and goodness to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say not to them (so much as) “Ugh” nor chide them, and speak to them a generous word.} (17:23)

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Published on:  Wednesday, 11 June 2014

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    About Me

    Raya Shokatfard is an international speaker, film maker, and writer with a focus on women’s issues, Islam, and cultural issues. She holds BA and MBS degrees in Journalism and Mass Communication as well as a BA in Islamic Studies and an MD in TV Journalism.

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