By Sayyed | March 1, 2016
Muslim Parenting isn’t easy…..the older your kids become….the greater the challenges.
Ensuring that your kids succeed in marriage….
…is without doubt the greatest fear and challenge of them all.
In Muslim societies the parents have always supported their children in finding a partner for the purpose of marriage.
Whilst some consider this too traditional an idea for the modern age, reality shows that parents, irrespective of culture or religion have a vested interest in ensuring happiness for their children through the selection of a suitable spouse.
There is a fine line however between showing a keen interest in your children’s ongoing happiness through marriage and cultural arranged marriages…
….where the youth is given NO SAY in who they want to marry.
Arranged marriages that present themselves in this fashion are not a Islamic concept.
In fact it is a source of OPPRESSION.
I am happy to say that amongst Muslims living in the west this extreme form of parental involvement is on the decline.
This article therefore is not about the clichéd form of parental involvement, although perhaps in a later blog post we can explore in more detail the reason why Islam has outlawed such practices.
This post is about parental involvement in…
Most Muslim parents begin dreaming about their children’s wedding from a very early age. Those without children may find it hard to believe, but inshallah soon you too will experience this strange phenomenon.
As a parent of three young daughters all under the age of 5 I am increasingly conscious of the mutterings in the back of my mind…
….and the silent dua’s I often recite at night praying for my children’s happiness through marriage when they grow older.
The thought of my children being in an unhappy marriage draws a cloud over me.
So what one thing can parents practice or do that will lead to the greatest results in their children making the right choices?
To help answer this question let me introduce you to a profound hadith which has helped shape much of my approach to the continued education of children. Actually I am going to give you two hadiths!
The first one is a golden nugget from Imam Ali (RA). It is for all parents to ponder upon the wisdom of these words.
The second hadith is from our beloved prophet of Islam, Muhammad (SAW)
There is a wisdom in growing older. This is indisputable. But this wisdom is based upon the experiences that each individual themselves experiences.
In order to be in a position to support and advise youth to make the right choices in marriage, parents must first be able to perceive the world and it challenges through the eyes of their children and there experiences.
Perception, or rather correct perception, is based on correct understanding. It is only after we have applied the principle of understanding can we apply the principle of wisdom to achieve a desired outcome. In this case, lifelong marital happiness.
Having a correct perception and understanding of the needs of the youth requires one to have …
This is the idea that a problem can best be solved when one takes a step back and considers all the variables that could inform a solution.
I believe that Imam Ali (RA) is encouraging parents to have a wide focus lens when considering the upbringing of children which also extends to the methods parents employ in supporting their children in finding a spouse.
Particularly, you can not truly understand your children if you do not understand and engage with modernity.
That is with the modern world and the challenges that it brings to the youth of now. This is not to say that all principles of modernity need to be accepted.
Rather it implies that one method of being able to impart wisdom, including the universal and timeless wisdom of Islam is by establishing a unique connection with them.
A connection that is more then just mother or father but rather a connection of being a confidant, a friend and a trusted advisor.
The wisdom of Imam Ali (RA) saying links seamlessly with that of the Holy prophet of Islam’s advice on child rearing. In order to develop the most rounded individual, there are certain steps that one must adhere to.
The final chunk of this 21 year plan is for a parent to move from being in a position of..
a commander or law giver
to a position of being an
advisor and friend.
This is between the crucial years of 14-21 which incorporates the troublesome teenage years. It also incorporates the years when the natural inclination of the youth is to lean towards an awareness and attraction of the opposite sex.
The best formula then to support the youth of Islam is to make the right choices in marriage, and to lead happy and fruitful lives is for parents to play an active role.
In order to do so, parents need to take a step back because wise choices need to be based on using a wide focus lens.
Gathering the broadest range of information about your child including an understanding of your child’s hopes and dreams and their character traits both in terms of strengths and weaknesses.
These discussions will help to inform an understanding what could and could not constitute a suitable partner.
Is it really the best choice for your daughter to get married to their cousin who is a doctor when culturally, religiously and physically there is no match?
Or is wise to convince her to agree to act as an obedient daughter in law to the family of the engineer who live next door, when you know that your daughter has a fiery flare, a tendency to speak her mind and enjoys listening to heavy metal rather then the Quran first thing in the morning!
The verdict is out as to whether such marriages will work, however whatever choices parents support their children making, they must first spend time establishing a correct perception of all the issues.
This will lead to them being able to establish a correct understanding of the individual needs of their children which will in turn help to guide the selection of a partner that is best suited to the needs of your child.