Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Muslim Parenthood

Surprising title to this one, yes? I know you had to look twice. (Amber, you might want to treat that whiplash.) After all, you're thinking "What on earth can a confirmed childfree Muslimah have to say about parenthood?". And you're right - I don't have kids, I don't want kids, I don't even really like kids; I tolerate a select few, but only for about two hours at a time if they're behaving well and I can stick them in the playground at McD's or something. LOL

Let me give you the background on this post. I have a friend, a convert to Islam (of about three years now), who is married to a "born" Muslim Arab. They've been married for twice as long as she's been Muslim. They have three kids. My friend wants to teach her kids about Islam - she wants it SO BADLY. Her husband is Muslim only in the cultural sense, in the way that many "Christians" in the US are Christian; namely, "my family is this and so I identify as this, but I don't do anything to actually practice it". He doesn't pray, attend jummah, read Qur'an, but he will fast during Ramadan. Those are his choices and I can respect that.

The problem, dear readers, is that he will not teach his wife and kids about Islam. He refuses. My friend has been Muslim for some three years now and she's only just starting to get down the ritual prayer on her own. "Why, with all the videos, etc, online has it taken her so long?" you may wonder. Not everyone has the luxury of access to such things. "Then why doesn't she go to the mosque to learn?" you wonder. The only mosque in town charges $50 for a prayer class.


My friend's husband is the sole breadwinner and they don't have much money. For her, $50 may as well be a million dollars. The masjid is also completely Arab-centric and the community doesn't like converts (another issue for another day), particularly one who "stole" one of "their" Arab men from the Arab women. But I digress.

Over the last few years my friend has asked her husband for help repeatedly. "Teach me." "Teach our kids." He won't. He doesn't want a religious wife. He doesn't want to teach his kids. He wants them to be as blasé about Islam as he is.

I see how my friend suffers over this, and my heart breaks for her. I can see how much she wants to incorporate Islam into her life, how much she wants to pray and teach her children how to pray, to expand her knowledge for the betterment of herself as a person, as a wife, and as a mother. This is the hardship of marrying someone who is so different from you - not just culturally, not just educationally (she's working on her master's, he didn't finish high school), but on the fundamental level of commitment to the deen. Having one person who wants to live Islam and another who identifies with it only vaguely is one of the most unequal of yokes in the world.

Now, after my rambling, here comes my point: who will teach your kids if you will not? What will you say, on the last day, when Allah holds you to account for your children? If you had the knowledge to teach them Islam but didn't, how can you justify it? You can't. Allah will know the truth. The only thing I can think of is that such people, at heart, don't believe they will be held to account for what they have done. SubhanAllah, man.

If you aren't teaching your kids, not for lack of knowledge, but for other reasons, ask yourself "WHY?".

My friend lives an hour away, so I don't get to see her much, but I help her as best I can. I'm going to keep her and all other Muslim parents who don't have the knowledge to teach their kids in my du'a, and also make du'a for the parents with knowledge, that Allah change their hearts so that they see the great injustice they do their families by not teaching their spouses or children.