What To Remember When Parenting In The Western World
Raising kids Islamically in the Western world is one of the most written about topics in Muslim parenting. When my husband worked for a multinational company, we had to move a great deal. I tried to prepare myself for the challenges of raising kids outside my home country of Malaysia as a nucleus family. I knew that to prepare our family to live in other countries, especially in the West would be difficult and require a lot of effort and sacrifice as a Muslim. For instance, we may not easily find an Islamic school or we may not live in a Muslim majority community.
As soon as we learned that we needed to relocate, we would do a lot of research to prepare for the kids’ well-being in an unfamiliar country.
Emulate Rasul’Allah and the Sahaba
Throughout my journey, I have raised six children in six different countries, and I have constantly reminded myself to emulate our Prophet (pbuh) and the sahabah.
Reading the seerah of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the stories and biography of the sahabah as much as possible is very helpful. Their stories are relevant for us even if we are raising our kids in western countries. Why? The Prophet (pbuh) and his sahabah were living in a place where the majority of the people practiced polytheism, worshipping others besides Allah subhana wa ta’ala. It is fascinating to know how they brought themselves and their kids to live up to the standard that pleases Allah swt. It is good that we learn and emulate their life stories.
An Example of Sabr
There are many values that we can learn from the story of Umm Sulaim (may Allah be pleased with her). She was one of the great woman companions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Umm Sulaim had accepted Islam from the very beginning when most of the people of Makkah were idolaters. She remained patient and persevered in defending her religion even though her first husband was a disbeliever. She raised her kids with the values of Islam practiced in her life and her household. Her kids observed the values and emulated them. She made hijrah to Ethiopia and Madinah to safeguard her religion.
Umm Sulaim sent her son, Anas Bin Malik, to serve Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) at the young age of 10 years old for ten years. She did this to make him learn from the best teacher.
An important note here is that adults with good Islamic values should surround our kids to be their companions.
Use the Power of Dua’
Umm Sulaim always made supplications and showed her love towards Anas Bin Malik (ra). She also asked Prophet Muhammad to make dua’ for her son. Anas Bin Malik (ra) grew up being a prominent sahabi who devoted himself to Islamic teaching. He had memorized numerous ahadith of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
From this short summary of Umm Sulaim’s life (ra), we can learn that it is not impossible to raise our kids with rich Islamic values in Western countries. Even though we live with many challenges, we should emulate the best of teachers, the Prophet (pbuh) and his companions (ra).
I pray that this short article gives us some awareness and insight about following the best examples that Allah swt has bestowed upon us, including in parenting. Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported that the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:
“The best people are those of my generation, then those who come after then, then those who come after them. Then, there will come people after them whose testimony precedes their oaths and their oaths precede their testimony.”
[Sahih al-Bukhari 6065, Muslim 2533]
Dr. Fadzidah Ariffin UmmAbdullah
Dr. Fadzidah is a medical doctor by profession and has lived in six different countries, learning different cultures raising her six kids. She is pursuing her study in the Higher Diploma in Islamic Studies.
Dr. Fadzidah is the founder of Knowledge Dunes, where she teaches children online Islamic studies topics such as Tafsir of Surah Al Fatihah, History and Facts about the Qur’an, basic Aqeedah, and hadith on character building.