Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Children Are Awake: Post-Election Spiritual Lessons

We woke our children up with extra gentleness the morning after election day. The night was too long, filled with sad, sleepless thoughts about the road ahead.

Calls for optimism filled our social media feed, but many of us were still busy calming the anxiety within ourselves and our homes. We had some dark dreams that night, but it's morning now, the children are awake, and God is the light of the heavens and the earth.

Islam teaches us that the wisest, purest, and bravest things result from the burn of trials and patience. The only way forward is through painful labor, which also carries the promise of ease and the beginnings of something great: “Do not lose heart or despair-you will have the upper hand if you believe--if you have suffered a blow, they too have suffered one like it. We deal out such days among people in turn, for God to find out who truly believes, for Him to choose martyrs from among you-God does not love oppressors...Did you think you would enter the Garden without God first proving which of you would struggle for His cause and remain steadfast?” (Quran 3:139)

While many pundits assure us that all will be well in the upcoming years, we should still brace for a tough time ahead. We will all raise our children a little differently, a little more purposefully. Over the next few weeks, Muslim parents will be drawing from a rich reservoir of verses, remembrances, and practices from their faith to help their children navigate a changed world. Here is a sample of what they may be sharing and teaching:
  1. Allah is in charge. “God always prevails in His purpose, though most people do not realize it.” (The Quran, 12:21) No matter who is in the oval office, who lives next door, who stands in front of the classroom, our Lord is always, always in charge.  He owns the soul of every evil-doer and can give and take life in the blink of an eye. He is the best planner: “They made their plots, but even if their plots had been able to move mountains, God had the answer.” (14: 46)
  1. The Hadith of Ibn Abbas. These words of the Prophet should be present in the minds of every Muslim child. If your child has not memorized them yet, now is the perfect time. They will carry her through every test and fear, in every time and place:
Young man, I will teach you some words. Be mindful of God, and He will take care of you. Be mindful of Him, and you shall find Him at your side. If you ask, ask of God. If you need help, seek it from God. Know that if the whole world were to gather together in order to help you, they would not be able to help you except if God had written so. And if the whole world were to gather together in order to harm you, they would not harm you except if God had written so. The pens have been lifted, and the pages are dry.

  1. Life is a test. There will be easy times, and there will be tough times. No one can escape hardship and difficulty in this life. Tests teach us how to be strong and become better people. “Do you suppose that you will enter the Garden without first having suffered like those who passed away before you? They were afflicted by misfortune and hardship, and they were so shaken that the messenger and the believers with him cried, ‘When will God’s help arrive?’ Truly God’s help is near.” (The Quran, 3:142)

  1. Be generous and do good. Immediately following the verse above is one about spending for the sake of God by giving to our families, orphans, needy, and homeless. Hard times should make us turn to action. We need to think long and hard how to help our children rise out of apathy and helplessness. Helping them serve others and be proactive will deflect the anxiety and build confidence and a sense of agency.

  1. Tell the stories of the Prophets. Our legacy, the legacy of all of the Prophets from Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Jesus, to Muhammad, is a cycle of difficulty and ease, corruption and purification, failure and success. Tell these stories to our children, often and many times over, so they learn what to expect when walking on the path of struggle and faith.

  1. We have great friends. Allah is the protector of the believers. He blesses us with each other, to strengthen one another and encourage us upon the path of activism. There are good people, friends, neighbors, and classmates who will help us and join us in working for a better country. Draw your children’s attention to the helpers, the people who reach out, and the people who stand out against injustice. “The believers, both men and women, support each other; they encourage what is right and forbid what is wrong; they keep up the prayer and pay the prescribed charity; they obey God and His Messenger. God will give His mercy to such people: God is almighty and wise.” (The Quran 9:71)

  1. Learn the supplications for protection. The Prophet taught us words to say in the morning and evening and words to say when leaving the house. Teach our children the power of these supplications and the power of Allah’s protection. Mothers and fathers can recite these words for their children every day until they learn to recite them for themselves.

  1. You are escorted by angels. Everywhere you go, every time of day, there are angels in front of you, behind you, and on your sides protecting you from harm by the will of God. Nothing can come to you unless Allah has permitted it. “Each person has angels before him and behind him, watching over him by God’s command…” (13:11)

  1. Light is stronger than darkness. As dark as it may appear, light is always stronger. Bad words are like an upturned tree, good words are a tree with deep roots and high-reaching branches. Goodness will drive away the hate: “They wish to put His light out with their breaths. But He will complete His light, even though the disbelievers hate it.” (The Quran 61:8)

  1. When you are feeling low, remember Allah. One of our primary jobs as Muslim parents is to remind our children of God, everyday, constantly. Remembering Him, praising Him, soothes the hearts and calms our fears. It also helps us restrain our own anxiety, which may cause us to have short tempers. “Verily in the remembrance of God do hearts find tranquility.” (13:28) And: “We are well aware that your heart is weighed down by what they say. So celebrate the glory of your Lord and be among those who bow down to Him: worship your Lord until what is certain comes to you.” (15:97)


Prophet Abraham and Prophet Yusuf, Salman, Bilal, and Ammar came of age amidst flames, persecution, and estrangement. Maybe our children growing up amidst this confusion will become bolder than we are. The frivolous things in life, which so consumed us yesterday, will occupy less space in their minds. May God guide, protect, and empower every human soul with goodness in his or her heart.

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