October 7, 2013

Abu Layth on Being a Father

Abu Layth is an American father of two boys, currently residing in NJ, USA. He is the owner of Qays Design, a graphic design and printing firm committed to helping small businesses grow. You can visit his company’s website at https://www.myqays.com/.

Please share with us your experience being a Muslim father.
Just the thought of being a father has such as weight on it. Not weight that weighs you down but a weight of responsibility that you have to carry and that you’re not really prepared for. How could I prepare myself to be a father? It’s a whole different experience.

I’ve only been a father for a few years so the experience is still new. And being a father to children who are so close together is a blessing but it’s also a challenge. Sometimes I feel like I don’t even have children; it’s more like they’re my little brothers. At the same time, I think about how Allah tells us to be the best we can be in all that we do and I think about how the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was the best to his family. I know that I have to be the best that I can be to please Allah.

When it was just me, whether I chose to please Allah or not only affected me. But now that I have children, my responsibility to please Allah is greater. Because now it’s a matter of having to be the best I can be so that these little people who are following me can follow me in good character and good actions to please Allah. Now when I do something wrong, not only do I not please Allah and let myself down, but I also let down those who are depending on me. So it’s a struggle, and it’s not easy.

To be honest, it’s a difficulty. But Alhamdulilah it’s a difficulty that benefits because it forces me to better myself, maybe even faster than I would have if I wasn’t a father. I would never want my children to grow up the way that I did or go through the things that I went through, so I’m forced to be better so that they can follow me in good and not get lost to something worse, may Allah protect them. My children are my motivation in that way. And Alhamdulilah Islam gives us reason and purpose behind everything so that helps.

The one thing that I would like is to have more time with my children and not have to focus so much on working just to provide for them. We’re not going to get back these years and these seconds that we have with them now so I want to make sure that I cherish these moments.

Some might think they have plenty of time because their kids are still young. They think their children will grow and go to highschool and then to college and become professionals and live until they’re 65 or more. But as Muslims, we know that we’re not promised tomorrow. SubhanAllah there are people who lost their children at age 2, or 3, or 5, or even younger. The time we have now is not guaranteed in the future for any of us, so how can we not try to spend all the time we can with our children? But it’s hard because I still have to balance work and self-improvement in the deen and other things as well.

What do you feel is the responsibility of a Muslim father towards his family, especially with regards to his children’s upbringing?
I feel that my responsibility towards my family in general is that I fulfill their rights and uphold the responsibilities that Allah gave me as a husband and father. But I consider this to be the bare minimum. On top of that, I also feel the responsibility to strive to develop myself and become a better Muslim, to strengthen my relationship with Allah, subhana wa ta ala, so that 1) Allah blesses me and my family as a whole and 2) so that I can set a good example for my family in this effort.

Regarding the children’s upbringing, I think it’s my responsibility is to make sure that they understand and follow the Quran and the Sunnah and to give them the necessary tools so that they can grow up loving Islam on their own. Not love it because they’re forced to or because their friends do, but love it because they grew up learning about it and practicing it and built a love for it based on the sunnah.

I want them to be capable of standing firm upon the religion, especially if they are to grow up in the West where they have to face many things that may oppose Islam. I want to make sure they have the right tools for both the deen and dunya so they can be successful despite what they may face.

In what ways do you try to be present and involved with your children?
Right now, because my children are young, I just try to help and back up my wife with whatever she’s already doing with them. So if she’s teaching them Qur’an, I try to read with them too. If the kids are playing, I try to play with them. But I feel like as they get older and are able to comprehend more I want to be more involved with regards to their education and development as opposed to just play.

I also try to have them involved in what I do, like taking them to the masjid when we attend classes or jummah, or taking them to work with me occasionally. It’s not just so we can spend time together but it’s also so they can feel like they’re involved in our lives.

What has been your biggest challenge in being a Muslim father?
Practicing what I preach by being a good example to them within Islam. 

Sometimes I feel like a hypocrite when I try to instill certain morals and teachings but yet I fall short in them. It’s scary knowing that I’m going to be responsible for what I’m saying and what I’m doing. It’s the biggest challenge.

Also as a father in general, Muslim or not, making sure that I balance my time and am giving my family their rights is challenging. Another challenge is remembering to be grateful and appreciative to Allah for giving us children.

What has been your biggest joy in being a Muslim father?
My biggest joy is that I’m a father period. That Allah blessed me and has allowed me to be a father to healthy, beautiful children and to spend time with them is a joy. Just being able to see them and experience their personalities and habits, everything that they do you just try to soak it in and it’s nice to be able to do that, especially knowing that not everyone is allowed that.

How do you think Muslim fathers can help counter some of the negative and non-Islamic influences that their children are faced with growing up in today’s society?
I think the main thing for the parents, both the mother and father, is to learn about the deen, to gain knowledge of the Quran and Sunnah. Doing this would allow us to act accordingly and teach our children accordingly as their growing up in the house. The house is the first place they learn. Having that knowledge, inshaAllah, can allow us to give them the tools they need so when they have to face the world outside they’re able to handle themselves well.

Also, I think parents should understand the society and community the kids are involved in. Don’t just let the kids to go off without being involved in their activities, whether it be school, sports, friends, whatever. Never stop being part of their development. And inshaAllah by us being more involved in the community, we can have a good influence on others as well.

In what ways do you feel that Muslim fathers could come together to help and support one another?
I think being able to just come together for the sake of brotherhood, strengthening our bond for the sake of Allah, reminding and teaching one another is enough. We can all learn by surrounding ourselves with good brothers. Every family is different so the techniques we will use with our families will differ but if we’re around a good brother who shows us something good, we can take that thing and try to apply it at home. 

Just having the kind of community where we’re able to hang out and share things in common, I think would cover everything in terms of support.

How has being a Muslim father affected your relationship with Allah?
The main thing, even though I have a lot to learn and work on, is that this responsibility has made me more aware of my accountability to Allah. I just think more about Him, and try to be more conscious of the fact that He is in control of our affairs, and turn to Him.

What advice do you have for Muslim men considering becoming fathers?
To be patient and to accept the Qadr of Allah so that until that time arrives, you accept what Allah gives you and understand that He only gives you what you can handle. Also, prepare as much as possible deen-wise so that you can be good guides for your children inshaAllah. If children are given, appreciate them because they are a gift from Allah.

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