Thursday, March 25, 2010

‘Teach our children to respect God’

In the name of God, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate; blessing and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.

Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. slept upon a mat and got up with marks on his body made by the mat. Someone said, “O Messenger of God! If you had ordered me, I would have spread a soft bed for you.” Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said; “What business have I with the world? My state in respect of the world is that of a man on horseback who stops under the shade of a tree for a while and then leaves it.”

“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.” I found this interesting quotation while surfing the internet, its words were beautifully arranged; its meaning captured my imagination.

Yes, I tried hard to teach my children about life and a great opportunity arrived when I took my whole family for a northern trip (from Malacca to Kedah) during the short school term break (13-21st March).

We travelled in a MPV, and how happy my wife and I because our three teenage boys and two girls were all together. In recent years, it was rare for us to have this opportunity to be together because school holidays do not coincide with the eldest sibling’s university term breaks.

Once, during the journey, I gave a ‘tazkirah’ (talk) lasting more than an hour to them. I began with mentioning how lucky we are because we are born Muslims. Therefore we had to ‘bersyukur’ (be thankful) to Allah the Almighty for that special gift. And how lucky we are because we are chosen to be followers of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Even prophets before Muhammad (pbuh) and their followers wished to the Prophet’s ‘ummah’.

Then I told them the importance of talking about Allah SWT greatness again and again. Allah should be always on Muslims’ minds. At every event, people should be reminded about His greatness. So always mentioned Allah-u-Akbar (Allah is Greatest).

“If Allah SWT is always on our mind, then we could not go wrong in our lives. All our deeds are subjected to the laws of Allah SWT; whether they are ‘halal’ (permissible or lawful) or ‘haram’ (forbidden or unlawful). Then there are laws such as ‘makruh’ (detestable, less than degree than haram) and ‘sunat’ which means something or some practices you need to follow/to perform but not mandatory.

Each time before beginning our task, ask our hearts sincerely whether it is ‘halal’ or ‘haram’.

“If the answer is ‘halal’ go ahead; if it is ‘haram’ just abandoned it. For example, earning from odd jobs such as washing cars is ‘halal’ but stealing is ‘haram’, so just don’t do the latter.

“To know what is ‘halal’ and what is haram’ is not difficult. Just ask your heart sincerely, feel the inside of your heart. It will give you an automatic answer; for example you know that drinking soft drinks is ‘halal’ but taking alcoholic drinks is ‘haram’. So you do what’s permissible (halal) and abandon all the forbidden (haram) activities and things.

“But the truth is that you must learn what is ‘halal’ and ‘haram’. You must be knowledgeable on the teaching of Islam. It is a must for Muslims, men and women to learn about Islam. Every Muslims should know what’s ‘halal’, ‘haram’ ‘makruh’, ‘sunat’ and so on, we should have a sound knowledge on Islam.

“Each of you would enter workforce one day. If you became an engineer, be an engineer who summits to Islam. If you became a doctor, be a practising Muslim doctor. It is no point if you became a renowned professional but one who never put one’s foreheads on the ground; submitting himself/herself to the Almighty (solat).

“Always be humble in life. When you receive your first pay, don’t keep all the money to yourself. Set aside 2.5 percent of the money to pay ‘zakat’ (a tax at a fixed rate in proportion to the worth of property, collected from the well-to-do and distributed among poor Muslims). Then, it’s no harm to ‘belanja’ (spend) your office mates. Order two big kettles of coffee and tea and a tray or two fried mee and beehon; recite the du’a (prayers) and invite them to ‘taste the first fruit of your labour’.

“It’s normal if you had a girlfriend or boyfriend and decided to get married. But please don’t hang around the girl or boy or bring them home; if you are serious with your girl, start saving money; the earlier the better to prepare for the marriage. Nowadays ‘hantaran’ (dowry) is expensive, perhaps RM20,000. If you save RM200 a month, it would take 10 years to have that amount. If you start working when you are 23 years old after graduating from university, you would be 33 years then!

“But don’t worry. Father would help you. The important thing is to follow the Islamic way of life, including when seeking partner (wife or husband) and holding marriage celebrations.”

I lectured my children until we reached our destination. Some of them looked bored, but they have no choice but listen to my ‘ceramah’. As for me, that’s a golden moment that should not be wasted; it’s difficult to have all my children gathered around me since they had started moving their different ways; the eldest in university, the second in college and the others to residential schools. Only the youngest stay with us.

Watching my children made me remember an encounter with an aged and abandoned Sikh man named Jami Hal Singh near a LRT station recently. I wished him ‘good day’; then gave him some money for his breakfast.

I called him ‘Uncle’; he was touched and said, it was the first time in many years a person had called him so. He then pulled me by his side and told me his story.

“I have a daughter in a high position working in a well known institution. Well, for years now she doesn’t care about me. After she married, she went away with her husband, and I was left here to be rotten, waiting for death.

“My friend,” he told me, “Teach your children to have respect of God; when they had the respect for God, only then they will respect you. If they do not respect God, how would they respect you?

“I had learnt my greatest mistake, I didn’t teach my child to respect God; I gave her treasures of happiness, now it’s my turn to swallow the bitterness of life.”

How true, the quotation mentioned earlier fit well for this man: “While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.”

Looking at frail body of the old man, I remember a ‘hadith’ (tradition of the Prophet s.a.w.), “On the Day of Judgment, one will not be able to move away before Allah until he has accounted for his life (how it was spent); knowledge (to what use it was put); wealth (how it was acquired and spent) and body (how it was utilized?)”

The Holy Qur’an warns: “O ye who believe! Ward off yourselves and your families a Fire whereof the fuel is men and stones. Over which are set angels strong, severe, who resist not Allah in that which He commandeth them, but do that which they are commanded.” (66:6)

“Know that the life of this world is only play, and idle talk, and pageantry, and boasting among you; and rivalry in respect of wealth and children; as the likeness of vegetation after rain, whereof the growth is pleasing to the husbandman, but afterward it drieth up and thou seest it turning yellow, then it becometh straw. And in the Hereafter there is grevious punishment, and also forgiveness from Allah and His pleasure, whereas the life of the world is but a matter of illusion.” (57:20)

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