Thursday, November 26, 2009

Rights of Children in Islam and Thoughts on the Children of Reverts to Islam

Muslims are told that children are a gift from Allaah (swt) and they are the adornment of the worldly life (Your Flesh and Blood: A Lecture on the Rights of Children, Sh. Baazmool).

Sh. Baazmool writes that the prophets and virtuous people would ask Allaah (swt) to grant them righteous offspring.

People have a great responsibility toward children. Many of us do fulfil our obligation toward children, but many of us do not.

I am not only talking about our responsibility toward OUR children, our flesh and blood, but responsibility toward ALL children, including those that some of us Muslims perceive as "non Muslim" children.

After all, the Messenger (saw) of Allaah (swt) told us that "There is no child except that he is born upon true faith (fitrah), but it is his parents that make him a Jew or a Christian or a Zoroastrian. Just as an animal gives birth to a baby animal that is whole, do you find it mutilated?"

"Mutilate." Ya Allah. Such a strong word!

How do we mutilate our children? We do so by not fulfilling their rights upon us.

Yes, children have rights.

Sh. Baazmool mentions 12 rights of children in his lecture. Basically, they are:

1. Choosing a good name for him.
2. Holding an 'Aqeeqah for him.
3. Breastfeeding him.
4. Paying his expenses.
5. Being fair when giving out gifts.
6. Commanding them to pray and being patient with them upon that.
7. Beware of supplicating against them.
8. The order to restrain children during the Hours in which the Jinn spread out.
9. Inciting them to keep good company and warning them about bad companions.
10. Being merciful and compassionate towards them.
11. Serving as good role-models for them.
12. Teaching them the aspects of the Religion that they are required to learn.

At the risk of standing on my soapbox and ranting, just review the above list and I am sure that you can come up with numerous examples of how Muslims trample and violate the rights of children.

I personally have no biological children. But, I am in contact with a lot of children in my role as an Islamic weekend school teacher, and general all-around Muslim Auntie.

Some sisters have said that I can "never understand" because I don't have children of my own.

Well, sisters, it's not rocket science.

For example, I have a pre-schooler in one of my classes (age 3, almost 4) who can recite the al-Fatiha.

Then I have a 7 year old child in my kindergarten class who cannot recite the al-Fatiha.

One doesn't need to have children of her own to understand why that is so.

One of my friends came to my house the other day. I keep toys and games for child visitors so they don't feel the need to explore my aquarium or china cabinet. Anyhow, her children were playing with a game that had a LOAD of pieces to it. To my shock, when the kids were ready to go home, the entire game had been put back in its box nice and neat. All the game cards. All the game pieces. The game was neater when they were done with it than how I had given it to them, lol.

Why "to my shock?" Because at the masjid, the majority of the children think I am their maid. And so do some of their parents.

Again, one doesn't need to have children of her own to understand why that is so.

(Okay. I know I said I wouldn't get on my soapbox.)

Which brings me to the dear sweet children in the pictures of this post.

They are the children of a new Shahadah that is like a daughter to me. What's so unusual about that? What's so special about these pictures and these children, Safiyyah?

Well, these are "Christian" children. They live with their Christian father and grandmother. When they come to my house, they want to wear hijab. When it is time for salaat, they stand in line, and mimic our every movement. It is so precious to see the little one moving her finger during the Tashahud!

No one forced or told these kids that they had to pray when it was time for prayer.

No one asked them to put these amira hijabs on their heads.

They asked me for hijabs. Last time they visited me, they returned the hijabs to me when they left. This time, the oldest one asked me if she could take the hijab with her. Subhan'Allah!

And when we lined up for prayer, they lined up.

"... the fitrah of Allaah which He created mankind upon." (Ar-Room: 30)

A hadith states that a Muslim should order a child to pray when they are seven years old. If by age ten, the child refuses, the parent can "beat them to it" meaning the prayer.

Ya Allah. I don't think that beating a child will make him love salaat and Islam. And the thought of beating a child to make him pray Insha Allah horrifies most Muslims.

The point is that the parent has 3 years to teach the child the importance of salaat. Three years to facilitate the child's love for salaat.

If a child does not appreciate that importance in the three year period, I believe we should reconsider who it is that needs the beating.

Yes, you have some rebellious children, but most children WANT to please a parent or an adult. It is our job to be patient with kids and make them LOVE Islam.

But if a parent or adult doesn't lay the framework, the child will end up with his rights and has imaan mutilated.

These children are curious for Islaam because they see the role of it in the lives of Mommy and Auntie Safiyyah.

Your children copy you. If your kid doesn't do this or doesn't do that, perhaps it is because they do not have a role model in the house?

For the new Shahadahs with children: be patient with your kids and set a good example. Make your kids hungry for this deen. On their own! If this happens, I believe that kids will always be in it for Allaah (swt) and themselves. No one will have to "order" them or "beat them to" any act of worship or deen!

Sh. Baazmool reminds us that it is our hope that a child will supplicate for his parents.

Abu Hurairah (ro) reported that Allaah's Messenger (swt) said: "When a person dies, his good deeds come to an end except for three: A recurring charity, knowledge that is benefitted from, or a righteous child that supplicates for him." (Muslim)

May all of our children become righteous Muslims and supplicate for us when we are gone/Ameen!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This Blog is Moving ...

Image Credit: © BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons

Yes, this blog is moving. In a few days, the transition will be complete for a REAL WEBSITE!

Please change your bookmarks to

I'm not sure how long http://www.shaalom2salaam.blogspot/ will work, so be sure to update the link.

In the meantime, please be patient with some of the messed up configurations on my sidebar.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Seeking Shalom

On Sunday, the local rabbi, Nina Mandel, and I joined a group of Christians to celebrate peace.

It was a very beautiful affair (other than the rags comment) and everyone felt real warm and fuzzy after it was all done!

Church Women United is the group who sponsored the Seeking Shalom event.

They honored Nina and I with their Human Rights Award.

Here's a link to the local news coverage of the event.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Image credit here

I was at an interfaith event today. It was actually a very beautiful experience.

After it was over, people were milling around, talking ...

Someone actually said to me, "If I were you, when September 11th happened, I would have ripped that rag off my head and said I didn't want anything more to do what that religion."

Jeez ... what is it with people?

Major Hasan?

The 9/11 trials in New York City?

The masjid assets being taken over as a result of Iranian money?

The GITMO prisoners moving to Illinois?

The Virginia sniper execution?

Since the Major Hasan horror, I feel a little like I did after 9/11 happened ... scared ... tired ... sooo tired.

A rag is such a dirty thing. My hijab is not a dirty thing.

"This is not a rag, ma'am," I replied. "It's called a hijab."

How else can you respond to such an offense without being offensive yourself?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lou Dobbs

Well, it's happened: CNN has pushed out Lou Dobbs.

CNN has been under pressure by "immigration" and Latino groups to get rid of Dobbs.

I'll tell you; I have been a loyal fan of Lou Dobbs for years.

I do not think he is a racist. Nor do I think he is against immigration.

What he does speak out against is "illegal" immigration. I put the word "illegal" in parentheses because some people do not like the word, stating that no human being is illegal. That is not the purpose of my post.

Why do people believe that America does not have the right to sovereign borders?! Anyone reading this who has been to Hajj can tell you that the Saudis keep your passport until you leave their country. And at that, you need an exit visa.

Other countries in the Middle East also require you to surrender your passport while you are visiting. And some of them also have exit visa requirements.

So, why not America? America has a very generous immigration system, although there are some bureacratic problems with it that need to be fixed.

You may say that America does not belong to the people who currently live here. That many who enter the US "illegally" are just coming to their own country anyhow. That we, who currently inhabit America, are the illegal people.

If you believe that, you should be prepared to pack up and move to the country where your ancestors came from. Give America back to the indigenous peoples.

But I digress from Lou Dobbs.

Lou Dobbs. Racist? Anti-Latino? Few people know that his wife is a Latina!

Sometimes when Caucasian people give their opinions or tell the truth, or what they perceive to be the truth, others accuse them of racism.

These accusations did not stop Lou Dobbs.

Lou also spoke out - very early - before anyone else was talking about it - against the outsourcing of American jobs. Against the tax cheating and greed of some multinational corporations.

He also spoke out against corporate greed within our American borders - long before the current economic crisis.

Lou also exposed the corruption of some politicians in Washington. Exposed the danger of the "beltway" attitude.

Whether you like or dislike Lou, or agree or disagree with him, the biggest tragedy, and the purpose of this post, is that CNN has caved in to special interest groups.

I'm sure that CNN management tried to get Lou to "go with the flow," and the "official" version is that Lou left to explore other opportunities. But as Sarah Palin said - only dead fish go with the flow.

How sad that CNN, one of the largest cable media networks in the world, has decided to silence a voice that provided debate and conflicting views.

God forbid that the American people should hear a viewpoint other than the liberal media talking points.

Debate and conflicting views are part of what makes America great. The voice of Lou Dobbs and others will not be silenced though.

See you on the radio Lou!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sunday, November 08, 2009

No Care for the Caregiver

This morning on TV, I saw U.S. Army Chaplain, Michael Spikes, who is based at Fort Hood, TX, give an interview about the challenges of being a military chaplain during a crisis.

He explained that "counseling the wounded" is about more than physical concerns. In a crisis or emergency, the chaplain provides an opportunity for people to talk about their feelings so spiritual healing can begin. The chaplain also encourages a person to seek out support from wherever it exists for the person. Chaplains assure people that it is okay to ask spiritual questions, such as "Why did God allow this to happen?"

All chaplains (military, prison, university, hospital and others) provide counseling. It is referred to as pastoral counseling.

During a crisis, everyone looks to the chaplain to say just the right words of comfort, to make them feel better, to lighten the load.

In an interview with Diane Sawyer, former Muslim chaplain at Fort Hood, Major Khalid Shabazz, said that there is no care for the care giver. "We're supposed to be the strong ones," he said.

What happens when the chaplain struggles to be strong though?

For me, being a chaplain is the most emotionally difficult job I have ever had. I have seen and heard things that have shaken me to my core. Trust me, I'm no light weight. I worked in the prison many years before I retired from my job as a substance abuse counselor and then returned as the Muslim chaplain. And I spent years on the streets in my jahiliyah. But I had a professional crisis not too long ago, right after the Eid al-Fitr.

One of the Muslim sisters at our prison committed suicide. She hung herself. Unlike the other time, this time it was for real - she died.

She was a very young inmate, and a recent "shahadah." I knew her well, from when she first entered our institution. I did her substance abuse evaluation for classification, and she ended up in one of my substance abuse treatment groups when I worked full time as a counselor. You can imagine how thrilled I was when she made a decision to accept Islam! She looked so sweet in her hijab, Alhamdulillah.

But she was a tortured soul. And she had mental health issues.

She left us on a weekend, and I had a chaplain's conference to go to during the week. I was originally going to take the whole week off, but then changed my plans to return to work that following Friday to lead my community in a Janaza prayer for the young sister.

During the week leading up to Friday, I was grieving. I cried and cried. I also talked to my close friends about it.

When Friday came, I thought I would be okay, that I could be strong ... for the inmates.

I prepared a little something to read because we invited the entire inmate community to the Chapel. I was nervous, but felt I was being strong ...

Until the end.

When I started to say the duas, I fell apart. I choked up. The tears flowed. I could barely continue.

But I hung in there. I wanted to set an example. To let the inmates know that it was okay to openly grieve.

"You cannot mourn in jail," wrote Marta Green, D.Min., a Mental Health Specialist in Montefiore/Riker's Island Prison. "You have to be macho: any sign of weakness and you will be beaten, robbed, or raped ... The energy blocked from mourning goes to violence instead ... The jails are violent because they contain anxious, frightened men who have been deprived of the numbing power of drugs that so many of them are used to using as a means of not feeling. As a result, many are left with only violence to help them balance their inner worlds. If they had the safety to mourn, they might have a chance to learn other means of coping, but the jail culture does not allow for this."

I like to think that, Insha Allah, I was able to show the women at our institution that it is safe to openly mourn.

The chaplain sometimes leads by example. I made a decision that I didn't have to be strong that day. For this caregiver, this decision was a type of self-care.

Every chaplain should have someone that he or she can go to for comfort. I am blessed to have close friends I can talk to when I need to. I also take advantage of the great chaplain colleagues I have at the prison.

Chaplains who fail to do this can be at high risk for "compassion fatigue" which is similar to burnout. It's not a happy place to be for any professional chaplain. More importantly, it prevents the chaplain from being successful in helping those in her care who need her.

"We don't pretend to know the answers," Chaplain Spikes said this morning. "Chaplains help people to journey through the process."

It is my dua that Chaplain Spikes and all of the chaplains and other caregivers at the military base at Fort Hood, TX, will remember to take care of themselves so they don't become wounded healers.


Monday, November 02, 2009

Fall KaleidoLeaves

Once again, Jazaka Allahu Khayrn to my digital art mentoress, Marahm, for turning me on to the wonderful world of digital kaleidoscopes.

You can see all of the sister's digital imaging here. Her work will absolutely blow you away, Masha Allah.

Fall KaleidoLeaves is my first effort.

What do you think?!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween Mubarak?

Everywhere you find Muslims gathered, you will usually find food.

At Sunday school lunch today, there was a wide variety of goodies as usual. In addition to the usual pizza, some of the Pakistani sisters brought food.

I noticed the cookies and brownies and immediately took a "few." Then I noticed something strange on the cookies: there was an image of a witch riding a broom!

Apparently, someone had them left over from Halloween.

It got me to thinking about secular holidays and the holidays of other faith groups when I was a Jewish child.

I was always bugging my Jewish grandmother:

"Bubbe? Why don't we have a Christmas tree?"

"Bubbe? Will we be getting Christmas presents?"

"Bubbe? Can we make Easter eggs?"


My bubbe ... she had a simple response. She would tell me, "That's what they do. We're Jewish. We don't do that."

"Oh," I would respond. It was that simple for me.

But I can imagine how difficult it can be for some Muslim kids. And the Muslim parents don't want their children to feel left out from their friends, or feel weird or different at the school. So, they give in, figuring, "what can it hurt?" Yet others respond that they feel it is a "learning opportunity" for them and their families.

Why can't the parents just explain to their children that "We're Muslims. We don't do that. That's why they do?"

Is it that difficult?

If you're a parent, please tell me how you handle these situations. If you're not a parent, and have a respectful opinion, you can comment, too!