A Letter to my Children: Words I Want You To Know Before My Death

Dear son(s) and daughter(s),

I am writing this letter to you with all of my heart and conviction. I ask the Lord to guide me in my words for this letter is not meant for me, but for you. I’ve never written a letter like this until now and I want to let you know the truth. I want you to hear the truth before someone else tells you. I want to expose my own flaws so you can learn from me. I want you to question everything that I am telling you because I want you to educate yourself and never take anyone’s word as truth. It wasn’t until now that I’ve realized how important it is to think for yourself and to obliterate all boundaries. Never restrict yourself even if others tell you to do so. You will never know your full potential until you begin questioning boundaries and why they were put there in the first place.

First, I want to tell you that I love you and you are beauty. Not only are you beautiful but you are smart. You are more than your physical appearance and this world will make you think that you’re only what you are outwardly, but that is a lie. You are personality, words unspoken, stories untold and a life ready to be lived in search of truth. I want you to know that no person can tell you that you are ugly because you’ve been created by the Most Perfect and anything created by the Most Perfect is beautiful. There is no mistake in your creation. There is nothing wrong with your hair, your complexion, your name, or anything in which they may define you outwardly. Never define your existence by superficial factors.

Secondly, never stop seeking truth. Always run towards truth. Never allow anyone to tell you that truth is simple to obtain because it is not. Truth is not readily available to those that aren’t willing to hunt for it. You may never find it in your textbooks at school or in your local library, but you must search for it until your soul finds contentment. I remember listening to a lecture a year ago and found something interestingly true. As people, our hearts will never be content when there is chaos residing within it. Our hearts can’t accept falsehood because this is opposite of truth. So, when you find truth your heart will be most content. It wasn’t until I read about Malcolm X that I learned that as people we can be in search of truth over the period of an entire lifetime. We may have to undergo several transformations until we become content with ourselves. So, never stop striving for truth and once you get it…hang onto it, inshaALLAH.

Thirdly, never stop educating yourself about the world. You will find yourself being stopped from seeking the knowledge of the world by narrow-minded people, but never listen to them. Always remember that an educated mind is free. Knowledge is power. You are your own person that is filled will potential. When you seek knowledge…give it to others. Never keep hidden what you learn for what you learned can free another person’s mind too. Never believe that education is something you should take for granted because there’s been those before you and now that have died to get educated. Also, be critical of the knowledge you learn. I want you to deconstruct, break-down, analyze, and think critically about the content of that in which you digest.

Fourth, I want you to remember that we are all sisters and brothers in humanity. Never forget that. We were created to know one another, not to despise each other. We are all working together and striving to keep ourselves above water. So, make your existence on this Earth worthwhile. Serve others and do it well. Do everything with ihsan. Do everything with excellence and to the best of your abilities. Never turn a blind-eye to the ills of the world for this perpetuates the cycle of social-ills that are present. You must enjoin the good and forbid the evil. Never stand around and accept bad. Always aim to make the world a better place.

Fifth, I want you to love. I want you to love with all of your heart. I want to aid in helping the world by instilling love in yourself, others and those that will come after you. Love is the key to this world. In loving someone, you must respect them. So, love and don’t regret doing so.

Sixth, I want you to keep your head up and never stop aiming for greatness. You are powerful. You are unstoppable. You are individuals of greatness. I know how hard it is to see the world and its inadequacies, but you have to keep going no matter what. We just have to do this. We can’t give up even when the world pushes us to our knees. You have to get up and keep going. This world can’t contain the power that lies within your mind and your will.

Seventh, I want you to be you. It’s a whole world out there. So, go out there and shine. Never negotiate yourself in order to please others. There’s beauty in you. There’s this thing called mass-media and it will steer you into being this and that. However, you are you. So, constantly evaluate yourself and your goals. Do you.

Eighth, I just want you to know that I love you and I am proud of you. I know you have big things in mind, so go out there and do them. Never believe you can’t achieve your dreams because you can. I am trying to achieve my dreams too, so just know that you can do so as well. We may not achieve our dreams in a year or two years, but we can achieve them. So, never stop aiming for achieving your dreams. However, if you don’t achieve your dreams or all of them I am still proud of you. I will always find you as a success. I will always keep my heart open for you.

Lastly, I am writing this letter not just for you, but for me. I want you to know that life is hard and confusing at times. Sometimes you may encounter difficulties and hardship, but you can’t allow that to stop you in your goals and dreams. All you can do is just keep going and have self-confidence. I’m writing this at 21-years old, so just know that I’m still trying to discover myself in the midst of this thing called life.

And to you my future children, I want you to know that every word in this letter is meant for you from the bottom of my heart. If I happen to not be alive to give or read this letter to you, I just want you to know that your mom loved you and only wanted the best for you in this life. And may the Creator give you strength and tawfiq (success). Ameen.

Love,
Your mom

The Song of Struggle: My Litany, My Prayers for the Mothers of the World

I’ve seen mothers’ backs broken in two

Too much of the world trying to keep them down

while they hold up their households

This is my litany for them

my prayers

sending up my prayers for them

through these tears/my open hands facing God’s heavenly skies

Dear Allah,

I’ve seen broken sunsets in her eyes

struggle flowing through her tears

strength dancing in her words

But God/Allah

I’ve seen her broken in the places she’s too blind to see

I’ve seen agony lying awake too many nights in the bed of her thoughts

I’ve seen her assasination take place right before my eyes

her beautiful face looks back at me when I see

the image in the mirror that stares back at me

She is 400 years entrenched in pain and struggle

nestled in the broken and shattered dreams of her yesterdays

dangled deep within her most sacred and worthy soul

Believe me when I say that she’s my best teacher, Allah

She’s too worthy to be employed for anyone but you

I’ve seen her carve away too many parts of herself

for us to have the love we need to be sustained in this world of illusions and deceptions

My tears drop like bombs whenever I see tears drop from her most beautiful brown and hurting eyes

Her eyelids drooping over the windows of her tattered/abused/scared soul

If I could catch her tears before they fall/shattering upon these unworthy streets

I would

I would wipe away her pain/hold onto her tears/stitch up her ripped and torn heart

and let her know that I love her

that her tears will never be worthy of being dripped/dropped upon these less-than-sacred grounds

Because I haven’t heard her sing the song of life yet Allah

even through the beauty of her spirit

she’s been kept down for too long

kept imprisoned to this struggle

this problem

this issue

this matter of womanhood/motherhood

she’s died too many times for everyone else

I’ve seen her traveled down these endless roads of pain

far too long

Ya Allah, Oh God

for every tear she sheds

for every ounce of pain she feels

for every part of herself she carves out for the world

please give her endless mercy

fill her tears with joy

in between of her pain and hopelessness

give her strength

in the burial site of her soul

resurrect life within her deadened body

in the privacy of her soul

release the dreamer in her

let her dream in color again

let her back become more than just a resting ground for the world

to lie upon

make her feel love again like the taste of hot-chocolate in cold weather

make her hear the birds sing her song of joy through their whistling

let her fling her arms open wide and hug herself in her shattered tunes of overcoming

let her dance upon these streets of hardship and find beauty in her days of struggle

let her write her story through the lives of her children

so that they can learn

so that they can know

so that they can understand that life is not without its struggles

that living is not without its pain

that living is not without its infinite beauty of struggle and pain and overcoming

Ameen.

Dear Allah,

Let the mothers of the world know that I love them

Let them know that my love is deeply buried in the broken sunsets of my mother’s soul

Let them know that I love them for I’ve seen the struggles of a struggling mother

Let them know that my tears will never stop bleeding in love of them

Let them know that my heart will do nothing but pump endlessly with them in mind

that I will count my days and nights with them on my mind

that I will pray that their children/my children will keep in mind our mothers/their mothers

Let them know that their children/my children will never ask if their mother love them

even if she’s too far gone in her own struggles

Ameen.

Everything That Glitters Ain't Gold: Real Talk Concerning Children and Teenagers

Tonight, my brother had asked me to watch a cartoon with him, so I had given in and watched. Oddly,I usually find myself too busy to sit down to watch television, but I thought this would be a good way to spend some quality-time with him. I had never watched the cartoon he had asked me to watch with him. So, I fixed my dinner that I had cooked and sat down to watch the cartoon. As I watched I soon saw one of the characters with a joint hanging out of his mouth with the next few words being curse words. This was quite troubling because this seemingly innocent cartoon was anything but innocent. Unfortunately, the parent of any child would probably be fine with their child watching a cartoon. However, I strongly urge parents to just take out time to see what their child is watching on the television screen before giving the remote over to your child. I don’t have any children, but it was unsettling to hear seemingly innocent characters present drug-usage and inappropriate language. Sometimes we may find it easy to just give a child the remote if we’re busy, baby-sitting or doing something of importance, but be warned.

I remember taking an adolescence development class a year ago and it changed my perspective on television. I had a project that forced me to look at two different cartoons and to analyze it with a critical-eye. My professor wanted us to look at the values and ideologies being presented and to find any discrepancies. Of course, we will find what is and isn’t acceptable according to our standard for determining morality. However, I remember just watching and seeing the different roles in which the women/men/girls/boys would play and possible stereotypical roles that certain genders would perform. Or I would watch and see if there was biases being presented in regards to racial-groups or certain religious-affiliations. I was definitely given the opportunity to see how crucial it is in understanding that everything isn’t how it may seem.

This seemingly innocent cartoon was inappropriate for a younger audience. Yes, the network may let you know before the show comes on that the show is rated G,PG, R, and etc. However, cartoons are usually associated with children and being innocent. Sadly, those days of innocent cartoons are over. As a babysitter, parent, teacher, or guardian you have to be proactive in what is being watched in the classroom and at your home. It is almost unbelievable what you will find on television.

So, it’s even more important to realize that these external factors can influence and shape the ideologies of your children which will grow into teenagers and soon after-teenagers. In a Western country, such as America, there is a lot sexuality that is open and freely expressed. So, how does a parent deal with this? The media is swamped with constant images of sex, sexuality and sensuality. Advertisements sell the idea of sex even to young audiences. Children are sexualized at a very young age in these current times. Sometimes we may think that children and teenagers are innocent and aren’t getting affected by the world around them, but they are. The world doesn’t go away because we tell the younger generations to lower their gaze and to stay in those books. No, they are constantly interacting with and within the world around them. They are constantly having to make choices on their own. For some parents, this is really hard to come to terms with, but its the truth.

Not only is it important to realize that things aren’t always how they may appear, but people aren’t always what they appear either. Parents shouldn’t assume that their child or teenager is free from being influenced by the world. They should acknowledge and understand the different factors that are affecting their children. At a certain point, the child will grow into a mature individual and will choose to live their lives as they choose. They are no longer ignorant or helpless, but they are full-thinking beings. And parents will have to be honest with themselves and their teens about the realities of the world. Simply turning a blind-eye isn’t going to eliminate the realities that may face their child/teenager. The only way to create and facilitate healthy relationships with children and teenagers is to be honest and to keep that open line of communication. In keeping that open line of communication, children and teenagers will be more apt to tell about their experiences within the world and will be more apt to vocalizing their concerns.

In a world that is filled with facades and fronts, it is important to keep in mind that everything that glitters isn’t gold. This phrase may known by it’s presence in a song by Aerosmith, but in it is much truth. We can’t always what is on the surface, so we have to open ourselves up to discovering what is under the surface. We can’t believe that children and teenagers aren’t experiencing the ills and bad parts of the world because they appear functional. In sitting down to eat my dinner and watch the cartoon my brother had invited me to, I realized that everything on the outside isn’t always true for what it really is. We have to look beyond exterior appearances and seek to dig deeper. In comparison, we have to stay aware of the world around us and the people that we have under our care. Simply ignoring the world and its effects on others may land those under your care in a bad place and will cause you to live a life of deception. So, remember that everything that glitters aint gold.

Remember Your Children Are Watching and You're Responsible

Assalamu Alaykom,

One thing we all can agree on is that the upbringing of a child is important. However, we may differ on what qualifies as being a good upbringing. As a Muslim, Islam has laid out guidelines in raising children. Yes, we all are in different situations and have various circumstances when it comes to our children. Some Muslim families are nuclear, single-parents, extended, and inter-cultural and inter-faith based. So, we have this reality on the table. We cannot deny this is the reality for many of us globally.

Islam is meant to be a mercy for the people, so it shouldn’t be hard. Also, Islam is easy and simple. In knowing this, Islam can only provide easiness for a person who strives to practice this religion.

Islam has told the parent/guardian over children and teenagers that ” The Prophet (s) said: “Allah (SWT) will ask every caretaker about the people under his care, and the man will be asked about the people of his household” (Nasa’i, Abu Da’ud). Parents/Guardians are responsible for the individuals in their care and they will be held to this responsibility until they are asked about it by their creator.

In addition, the head of the household is told that their primary responsibility is to keep themselves and their families from falling into error and landing themselves in the hellfire. The head of the household should teach, educate and be active in the family. There should be mutual love and understand between the family members. Allah states in the Quran, ““O you who believe! Ward off yourselves and your families against a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the commands they receive from Allah, but do that which they are commanded” (Tahrim 66:6).

Also, It is really interesting to see how girls are one of the primary focuses for head of households because there was a time in which girls were simply ignored and seen as less than their male-counterpart in society. The prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) stated that “Whoever is in charge of any of these girls and treats them well, they will be a shield for him against the Fire” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5649; Muslim, 2629). Also, he said that The Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam said, was also reported to have said: “Whoever has a female (daughter) and doesn’t bury her alive nor scorn her nor give preference to his male child over her, Allah will admit him to Paradise.” (Abu Dawood)

So, It is a blessing to have and to raise a daughter in Islam.

Also, in rearing children it is important to be just and to remember they are individuals with feelings. The prophet Muhammad said that the one who is not merciful towards others than God will not be merciful towards them. So, one must be mindful of their treatment to their child(ren).

Furthermore, the children should be raised in a household in which Islam is taught or lived out on a daily basis. Sadly, some parents simply expect the local mosque or Islamic-school to raise their children but this is not the case. One must understand that education starts at home. Islam should be seen as a way of life. It should be seen as a beautiful thing too. Of course, there should be joy, laughter, love, playfulness and education all at the same time. Islam shouldn’t be seen as a way of life that is hard, bothersome and restrictive. If one was to live Islam in this matter than it would only lead to the children growing up to hate and to distance themselves from such a lifestyle.

Children Are The World's Visual Sign of Hunger

According to the 2013 World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics

“Children are the most visible victims of undernutrition. Children who are poorly nourished suffer up to 160 days of illness each year. Poor nutrition plays a role in at least half of the 10.9 million child deaths each year–five million deaths. Undernutrition magnifies the effect of every disease, including measles and malaria. The estimated proportions of deaths in which undernutrition is an underlying cause are roughly similar for diarrhea (61%), malaria (57%), pneumonia (52%), and measles (45%) (Black 2003, Bryce 2005). Malnutrition can also be caused by diseases, such as the diseases that cause diarrhea, by reducing the body’s ability to convert food into usable nutrients.

According to the most recent estimate that Hunger Notes could find, malnutrition, as measured by stunting, affects 32.5 percent of children in developing countries–one of three (de Onis 2000). Geographically, more than 70 percent of malnourished children live in Asia, 26 percent in Africa and 4 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean. In many cases, their plight began even before birth with a malnourished mother. Under-nutrition among pregnant women in developing countries leads to 1 out of 6 infants born with low birth weight. This is not only a risk factor for neonatal deaths, but also causes learning disabilities, mental, retardation, poor health, blindness and premature death.”