Thursday, May 31, 2007

Parental Responsibilites

Translation of a speech by Shaykh Abdullah Kapodravi
Condensed version from

On 7th April 2006, Shaykh Abdullah Kapodravi, a prominent scholar
from India made an impromptu speech before Salatul Jumma at Jumma
Masjid, Batley, England. He highlighted the dangers facing
Muslims in today’s turbulent times, pleading Muslim parents
to focus on their responsibilities, and asking the audience to
implement the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alayhi
Wasallam. The Shaykh is a prolific writer, orator and
educationalist, who served as chancellor of Darul Uloom
Tadkeshwar, India for 28 years. He has travelled extensively in
the Islamic world and the West. He is aged 74, and currently
resides in Canada. The speech was translated and edited by
Sulaiman Kazi.

All praise is due to Almighty God, Allah, and may He, the
Exalted, bestow His peace and blessings upon Prophet Muhammad,
Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam, upon his good and pure family, as
well as upon all of the noble companions, and upon those who
follow them in righteousness until the Day of Judgment.

Friends, a very serious issue that confronts the Islamic world
today is the character of our youth, which is far removed from
Islamic teachings. When I read newspaper accounts about the
behaviour of our youth my heart cries with pain. I anguish where
is the Ummah heading? Could anyone have imaged that in this Ummah
a mother would have an illicit relationship with her son?
Lamentably, this is happening. A Muslim youth would be drinking?
A Muslim youth would be stealing? A Muslim youth and s/he has no
respect towards his/her elders? Bad character is manifesting
itself everywhere. And the Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alayhi
Wasallam, was sent into the world to correct human conduct and
morals. As the famous poet Shauki said: “In the world
communities are raised with noble conduct, communities are
obliterated with bad character.”

We have become addicted to criticising others. So and so is doing
such and such. Day and night we are accustomed to levelling
accusations against others. Do we not consider what we are doing?
Which direction our community is heading? The biggest
responsibility that falls on the Muslim Ummah is to provide
correct Islamic teachings and instil excellent morals and
character in our children. No matter what education they pursue
the paramount consideration must be for our children to develop a
strong Islamic moral character. They must never lie, never
deceive anyone, nor look towards strange women. Should they be a
shopkeeper then they must not misappropriate even five pence. A
community imbued with good morals always ascends. This is a
universal principle that holds true in all times. And a morally
bankrupt community always degenerates and becomes devoid of
progress. We need to inculcate good habits in our children. This
is imperative for our progress.

Pitifully our situation is such that we send children to Maktabs
(supplementary religious schools) from the age of 6 or 7 but when
they attain the age of 12 they leave the Maktabs but continue to
pursue schooling. These children then have no contact whatsoever
with the glorious Quran or any Islamic books. In fact between the
ages of 12 and 24 a young person is most susceptible. This point
is confirmed by educationalists. During this period if a
child’s guidance and upbringing is overlooked or neglected
then s/he will not remain steadfast on Islam.

Rasulullah, Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam, used to discern even
minor things. Once Hussain, Radhiallahu Anhu, placed a piece of
date in his mouth which was designated as Sadaqah (voluntary
charity). Rasulullah placed his finger inside the mouth and made
him vomit it out, saying “This item is earmarked as Sadaqah
and it cannot be consumed by you.” If the same scenario was
before us we would allow the child to eat the date saying,
“He’s a kid. What’s wrong with him having a date?
When he grows up he will understand the difference between Halal
or Haram.” No, Rasulullah immediately stopped Hussain
Radhiallahu Anhu.

Similarly, once a boy was eating with Rasulullah, Sallallahu
Alayhi Wasallam. Instead of eating food which was near him he was
taking food from different places. So Rasulullah explained to him
gently, “My dear son, first recite Bismillahir Rahmanir
Rahim, eat with your right hand, and eat from in front of
you.” This illustrates that Rasulullah, Sallallahu Alayhi
Wasallam, used to sit with children and observe their eating
habits. Do we ever do the same? Nowadays children are eating
whilst walking, standing and on their way to school. We don’t
even reprimand them saying this is contrary to the lifestyle of
Muslims. In the lifestyle of Rasulullah, Sallallahu Alayhi
Wasallam, we have a comprehensive mode of living. Rasulullah,
Sallallahu Alyhi Wasallam, has taught us an entire way of life
which is distinct and supreme. We have neglected that lifestyle
and become careless and as a result our children have fallen prey
to an un-Islamic lifestyle.

My friends, I am sitting in the Masjid and testify to you that
our society is in a state of decadence and our children and youth
are going astray, totally pursuing a wayward life. For Muslim
parents, the need to provide sound Islamic upbringing should take
precedence over all other responsibilities they owe to their
children. Life is constituted of good morals and character. The
Prophet, Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam, was sent into the world for
teaching good character to humanity. Within such a short period
of time, he established such splendid character among his
Companions. Today, there is no parallel to these people. The
character of Abu Bark, Umar, Osman, Ali, Radhiallahu Anhum –
who nurtured their character and made them who they were?
Undoubtedly, they were taught by Sayyidina Muhammad, Sallallahu
Alayhi Wasallam. Those who sat in the company of Prophet
Muhammad, Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam, their character was raised
to sublime heights. After departing from the Prophet’s
company, they would never again speak a lie, oppress anyone. And
if ever they happened to utter something wrong it would agitate
and stir great remorse. Once Sayyidina Abu Bakr, Radhiyallahu
Anhu, was seen pulling his tongue and rebuking himself: “How
could I have said a harsh word to my fellow Muslim brother.”
Nowadays we tend to lie, gossip, and backbite whilst forgetting
the heart of a Muslim will be hurt.

At this moment the most important duty that falls Muslim parents
is to impart correct Islamic education to their children and
inculcate sound Islamic character. Our character should be of
such a high standard that humanity is drawn to Islam. What kind
of bad character is this: there was a public demonstration in
Lucknow, India against the publication of cartoons in Denmark
depicting the Prophet, Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam. During the
demonstration evil slogans were being chanted, shop-keepers were
forced to shut their shops - including shops belonging to
non-Muslims, car windows smashed, cars set alight in the street.
What kind of emotional and irrational response is this? To
illustrate your protest at the publication of cartoons you are
recklessly damaging property. Where is the sense in this?

Recently, in France a government minister made controversial
comments about immigrants and Muslim youths rioted by burning
around 10,000 cars in Paris. At the time of this flare-up, I was
visiting Reunion Islands. Two representatives of the French
government were also there as guests to celebrate 100 years of
the establishment of the mosque in St Dennis. They became aware
that scholars were present from the Indian sub-continent. They
approached me and one of the first things they asked me was
regarding the burning of cars, how Islam viewed such acts? I
replied categorically that these actions had no bearing with
Islam. What is wrong must be pointed out as such. Sometimes there
is a tendency to cover up the wrong doings of Muslims, justifying
the actions by saying it was done by Muslims so it is acceptable
to turn a blind-eye. No, what is wrong must be categorised as
wrong irrespective of who has done it.

We have been taught moderation. How much injustice was
perpetrated against the Prophet, Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam, in
Makkah Mukaramah? You all know that thorns were placed in his
path and he was persecuted. But did he ever respond by asking his
Companions to take out a demonstration? In fact, when a lady who
used to lay thorns in the path of the Prophet, Sallallahu Alayhi
Wasallam, fell ill, the Prophet himself when to visit her. Such
was his character. He enquired “Why have you not laid any
thorns in my path recently,” she enquired, “Who are
you?” Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam, replied:
“I am the same Muhammad for whom you lay thorns.” She
started weeping profusely. As they say, “With character you
win, with character you respond.”

My dear Prophet, Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam, exemplified the
noblest character. Despite being hit with stones and bleeding
profusely, so much that when angels were sent asking him to order
that the mountains of Taif crush the perpetrators belonging to
Banu Thaqif, he replied, “O Allah, grant my people
guidance.” He didn’t retaliate in the least as he was
sent as a mercy for mankind and to guide humanity to the truth
and beauty of Islam.

Patience, steadfastness and good character are prerequisites for
being a good Muslim. Muslims need to create awareness and
understand the challenges they are facing. It pains me to see how
apathetic Muslims have become. We must always be on our guard
that our wrongdoings should not blemish or tarnish the image of

May Almighty Allah grant us understanding of the challenges that
face us, protect us and grant us all the Tawfiq (strength and
ability) to practice the wonderful teachings of Prophet Muhammad,
Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam. Ameen.

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Universe.

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