Now more than ever, members of the Shīʿah community feel the pressing weight of the changing society and its effects on their children and families as a whole. The ills and degrading morals of the society are negatively impacting children who are quickly losing their faith and culture. It begs the question, do we weather the storm and stay or do we pack everything and leave to start afresh elsewhere?
The answer to this question will look different for each family in their individual and unique circumstances. However, to help determine a path, the speech (found here in Urdu: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5aXxoYww1) by Maulana Mehboob Mehdi can help provide a blueprint for what to look for in a home, a place to raise a family with the intention of nurturing pious, God-fearing children.
How do we make our children fireproof; resistant to the pressures, the Godlessness, and the hedonism the Western world has to offer?
Maulana Mehboob outlines three principles of choosing a home, that when combined with tawakkul (trust in Allah), you can have a fighting chance of preserving the religion of your children:
- There should be a masjid nearby
- You should have good neighbors
- You should have a way of earning lawful (ḥalāl) sustenance
The beautiful story of Prophet Ibrāhīm (ʿa) – in which he left his wife and son in the desert – allows us to better understand the principles mentioned above.
Prophet Ibrāhīm asked Allah to make himself and his offspring keep up prayer, when he says, “My Lord! Make me a maintainer of prayer, and my descendants (as well). Our Lord, accept my supplication.” We can understand that even though he was a Prophet and prayed to Allah for his needs, he himself also acted in accordance with his supplication and made his children pray as well.
In verse 37 of Sūrah Ibrāhīm , Prophet Ibrāhīm (ʿa) says, “Oh Lord, I have abandoned my son in a deserted place where no food or water exists.”
This is the prophet whose faith (Imān) was not only a model for all of humanity, but he is also regarded as a highly intelligent individual who never uttered or committed an illogical word or action.
Ibrāhīm (ʿa) demonstrated great intelligence when he destroyed the idols in the temple and caused the idolaters to reflect on their misguided beliefs by blaming the mightiest idol for the action, and putting the ax on his shoulder.
So, how is it possible for such an intelligent person to leave his child and wife in a desert? What is the deeper meaning behind the prophet’s actions? What is Prophet Ibrāhīm (ʿa) trying to teach us here? Should we abandon our family in a far off place as well? The answer to this question lies in what Ibrahim (ʿa) said next. “Our Lord, I have settled some of my offspring in a barren valley, near Your Sacred House..”2 So the reason Prophet Ibrāhīm (ʿa) left his offspring in a barren valley was because of the Sacred House of Allah. He did not say he left them with sustenance, and near material wealth, but rather he left them near the home of Allah (swt). He considered the success of the next generation and what he needed to do to facilitate that success. His conclusion was that the spiritual well being of his family was only going to be possible in a place where they could remember Allah and worship Him.
For this reason, when [we] move from one place to another, we must evaluate our criteria for a successful move. Are we considering the schools, neighbors, masjid, and scholarly presence? The Qurʾān doesn’t advise us to abandon our offspring in a desert or a jungle, rather the Noble Book tells us to take our children near the house of Allah–a place where they can remember Him– and let them grow near the House so that they may be guided towards the light.
The Story of Prophet Ibrāhīm (ʿa) proves that sacrifice is necessary for gaining those things that are beneficial to us. . He could have taken his children to Egypt where everything was available; good food, favorable dwellings, and other worldly comforts, but there was no House of Allah there. He chose the desert, with all its deficiencies, because there was a House of Allah in the deserted valley. What would you have done? Would you have chosen worldly benefits and blessings over nearness to Allah? Or vice versa?
Prophet Ibrāhīm (ʿa) was only content in the House of Allah. There were no neighbors, food, or water, but because he had acted with the sole purpose of being under Allah’s (swt) protection, Allah repaid Ibrāhīm’s sacrifice by turning that desert into the center of the world and miraculously provided sustenance (rizq) when the water of ZamZam began pouring out of the dry land. Why? Because Prophet Ibrāhīm (ʿa) put his trust in Allah and Allah never disappoints those who rely on Him.. Imām ʿAlī has said: Trusting in Allah is the best pillar [of support].
It is crucial in the training of the young child to remind them to love Allah and perform immense sacrifices for Him. Teach them to love the Ahl al-Bayt (ʿa) from a very young age and to plan for each other’s betterment just like Prophet Ibrāhīm (ʿa) planned for his next generations.