[These are rough notes of a talk delivered by Shaykh Kamaluddin Ahmed (db)]
وَذَكِّرۡ فَإِنَّ ٱلذِّكۡرَىٰ تَنفَعُ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ
And keep reminding, because reminding benefits the believers. [51:55]
In UK, no matter how many problems the current generation has, the real decision whether Islam will survive in this country depends on your children. A lot of people, especially our Indian-Pakistani and Somali immigrant communities, are making a big mistake. That mistake is that you think the only thing you have to do is give your children deen. Actually, you have to give your children dunya also.
I was born and raised in NYC – which is famous for Pakistani cab drivers – there’s a very big difference between New York and Manchester. The difference is that the children of the cab drivers in NYC become accountants, engineers, they even become doctors. And because they are strong in dunya, they are also strong in deen. This is because they didn’t waste time. This is the same thing we tell our students on the path of tazkiyah also; you have to stay away from sin, and you have to stay away from ghaflah (idle, futile things). They made sure that their children stayed away from both of these things.
You see, children between the ages of 10 and 18, they cannot do deen all the time. That’s never going to happen. There’s going to be a very small part of their time that they spend on deen. The rest of the time they are going to spend on dunya. The problem is that England, as a country, is going down in terms of its values, in terms of the society. So the dunya that is out there for your children to participate in is much worse than what it was when you came to this country 10, 15 or 30 years ago.
You have to not only give your children deen, you have to manage their dunya also. This is a very important thing, and the masjid can play a role in this. The masjid should be the place where the children come and learn science. The masjid should be the place where they get tutored in their education. They need to get dunya in a clean way. It can never be that your children get the dunya in an unclean, sinful, haram, ghafil way, and somehow you will be able to insert deen into their lives – that’s never going to happen. And I have met so many people who are on deen and are following Sunnah, praying salah, but their children are completely out of control.
It’s not because they didn’t teach their children deen. They did teach them, they did send them to maktab. But they didn’t make sure that their children were not effected by dunya. So they inserted deen on top of a dunya which has sin, a dunya which has haram, a dunya which has ghaflah, so that deen didn’t have an effect on them, because the base wasn’t strong. That’s what Allah swt taught us in Qur’an: rabbana atina fiddunya – You have to be pure and noble in your dunya, then you can get the hasanat of akhirah in deen.
If you are impure in your dunya, which a lot of the youth are – that’s why I stopped coming to Manchester. Because in the masjid here, you either have people who are above 45 years, or under 12. You don’t have people between the ages of 12 and 30, illa mashaAllah. Why don’t they come to the masjid? Are their parents religious? Yes. They know about the maktab? Yes. It’s because they are so involved in the sins of the dunya, they are involved in ghaflah, they are involved in TV, music, movies, leisure, pleasure, entertainment, recreation, so they don’t want to be here. You just don’t see them.
I have been up and down this whole country, the lowest level of deen that I have seen in any city is Manchester. You are so much lower than other cities, even lower than Birmingham, the level of deen here is scaring me. And every time I come, it’s even lesser than before. And this is what I feel is the reason – that you think you just have to do the effort of deen, and somehow the kids will learn. No, you have to give them in dunya. The parents here don’t sit with their children – you have to sit with them and make them interested in science, so they are not interested in movies. You need to teach them about the civilization and history so that they don’t surf other things on the internet. You have to manage their engagement in dunya. If they can somehow be protected from the ills of this society, then they will come to deen.
If you don’t manage their dunya, you just let them be free – I don’t think you people realize how bad it is out there. The average English person from this socio-economic background in the ages of 12-20 is engaged in some serious sin, smoking is just the least of it. Drugs, drinking, immodesty, zina – it’s rampant. Even NYC is nothing compared to what this country has become. And America probably is also catching up. We don’t realize what a serious situation we are in.
It’s not enough that there are 10-15 of us who come to the masjid, or hundred of us who come to the bayan, or majlis, or gasht. If you can’t catch them through deen, catch them through dunya. Even if you can protect them this much, maybe they will never look like this (sunnah appearance), but at least their time in dunya is spent free from sin. If they don’t look at haram, they don’t speak haram, they don’t listen to haram – this would be a major accomplishment. If you can raise a child from 10 – 18 like that, when they are 19 they will choose the deen themselves, because they have a base, they are saleh, they are pure, they are free from sin. They will choose the deen themselves.
I will tell you another thing, in a society like this, basically, people have to choose deen for themselves. The parents, or masjid’s imams can no longer shove it down a person’s throat. A child will have to come to deen on their own. The best we can do is to protect them from sin. It’s very interesting, in our own line of mashaikh of tasawwuf and tazkiyah, every few years we see this that they keep talking more and more about dunya. Yes there was a time when they used to recite love poetry, a time when they would talk about the qurb and marifat of Allah swt, but those topics are now beyond the reach of most of the people. So actually the need of the time is to simply lead a life free of sin.
وَذَرُواْ ظَـٰهِرَ ٱلۡإِثۡمِ وَبَاطِنَهُ
Leave outward sin and inward sin. [6:120]
You must leave all sin entirely. This is an accomplishment. If your child is not hafiz, if he is not this, he is not that, but if you can tell me that I raised my child such that from 7-18 they didn’t do sin, I think that child can become a great hafiz, ‘alim, wali on his own now. People say my child is hafiz, but I couldn’t stop him from smoking, I couldn’t stop him from this sin, or that sin. If this is the case then that ummah doesn’t need that – ummah doesn’t need sinners who look like sunnah. We need people who have the sunnah heart of Nabi sws, who no longer have sin in their heart anymore.
Nabi sws said that he would be happy in front of Allah swt at the children the ummah had. So mashaAllah a lot of you have a lot of children! You have to work on these children. You have to sit with them. A lot of the mothers go to parenting courses, they go to talks, they are trying to become better, but the fathers are absent. You are the missing ingredient in your child’s life. You have to find time to spend with your children no matter how many shifts you have to drive on the taxi, no matter how many take-aways you are on.
I’m telling you, the Pakistani cab drivers in NYC, the Pakistani restaurant take-aways in NYC, they used to sit with their children. He probably wouldn’t be able to understand, but he would still sit, he would always tell his child, we don’t have people in UK who tell their child “son, I don’t want you to be like me”. It’s impossible, literally, I’m sitting on the mimbar and telling you this, I have not seen even 1 person who was born in America and drives a taxi. Every single Muslim who came and drove a taxi, he made sure that his children who were born there were going to do something else. And they became better in deen than their parents also.
Here, I have met people who were born in this country and they are taxi drivers, they are real estate workers, they are postmen. I have never seen one like that in America. So the immigrant community, you must fix the dunya of your children. I’m not talking about making them rich, I’m talking about making them sin-free. The reality is that if the child is forced to work hard in their studies, they have less time for sin. When the child isn’t given that message from home, then they just goof around, and they are free all the time.
They have bad role models already in all of these Muslim communities in Manchester. They have twenty role-druggies in front of them. They have twenty role highschool drop-outs and postal workers in front of them. That’s their role-model. Unless their parents give them a strong signal otherwise, the children are going to go in that direction also. The ones who are lazy in dunya, they become lazy in deen. Maybe 1 or 2 of them, when they hit their 20s or 30s, some ‘alim, shaykh, some jama’at might be able to change them. But for everyone you catch back, there are still so many you don’t recover.
Why are you letting yourself lose them in the first place? The effort is not supposed to be after they are 25 and the effort is not on us. The effort is on you, the fathers, when your children are between the ages of 10 and 18. You have to catch them. You should be catching 99% of them, and 1% of those who slip through your fingers, the ulema, mashaikh and jama’at will try to go out and catch them. But you’ve made it the other way around.
You have to get serious. You must sit with your children. You must talk to them about everything that’s halal and permissible in this world. This is something that Syedna Rasulullah sws used to do – he would tell stories to Syedna Aisha (ra). When did he do this? He sws used to do this when she was young, this is the sunnah of the Prophet sws. He taught us how to talk to people who are 16-18 years old. Don’t give them heavy hitting lectures on deen. Just be with them, befriend them, talk to them, keep them connected.
This is our message for you. May Allah swt accept this from us. May Allah swt protect our children. May Allah swt make each and everyone of us a better husband, a better father. And may he make us a source of inspiration, such that each and everyone of us ourselves become the role-models for our own children.
وَآَخِرُ دَعْوَانَا أَنِ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ