An Excellent Role Model

BismilLah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim

I read a short biography on a Sahabah (Companion) of Prophet Muhammad salla allah alayhi wassalam and am inspired by his behavior and attitude. Please read about Abdullah ibn Umar r.a. from this link:

http://www.muslimaccess.com/sunnah/sahabah/ABDULLAH_IBN_UMAR.htm

Even though he lived more than a thousand years ago, how he thought and behaved is very much relevant and inspiring to anyone who seeks the Truth and believes in the Last Day. Allah knows best.

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Gentle Reminder to Myself

BismilLah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim

Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) said, “How wonderful is the situation of the believer, for all his affairs are good. If something good happens to him, he gives thanks for it and that is good for him; if something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience, and that is good for him. This does not apply to anyone but the believer.” (Sahih Muslim #2999)

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Love is…

BismilLah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim

Being incessantly bombarded by advertisements and messages promoting Valentine’s Day (Oof! I hate misplaced capitalism!), unfortunately my world view is very much influenced by it and my thoughts are on Love right now and this is just my honest view on what love is to me.

Love is having a big, fat grin on my face when the one I love says something funny or does something that makes my heart smile…

Love is the kiss on my forehead that I got from my dad a few years ago, a kiss which told me, “I’m sorry I wasn’t a better father for you but I’m so proud of who you’ve become now”…

Love is the pain of seeing the question in my son’s eyes, “Mummy, why are you letting me feel this pain?” and knowing there was nothing I could do to stop it…

Love is the feeling of being in a cocoon of safety and comfort, surrounded only by TLC…

Love is the humility I experienced and the awe I felt, standing in prayer, of Allah’s Mercy and Compassion…

Love is the sinking feeling I got in my stomach when I realised I was about to lose the most important thing in  my life…

Love is the loneliness I experienced, longing for companionship and care…

Love is the joy bursting in my heart when I see good things happen to the ones I love…

Love is the fear of  losing my mother before I’ve had the chance to repay her for everything she’s ever done for me… (I’m crying)

I owe my mum so much. She is full of love and concern for others.

Love is wanting so badly to give more of myself to help others…

Love is feeling my heart constricting painfully, wanting so much to meet Prophet Muhammad salla Allah alayhi wassalam…

Love is the kiss that hurt so much, it made me cry from the sheer joy of it…

Love is being held in someone’s arms and feeling safe…

Love is the overwhelming anger I feel when I see injustice, oppression and  abuse occurring to people who are vulnerable…

Love is watching my sons sleep and praying that they will be protected and guided throughout their lives…

I can only pray for safety and protection for them and hope they will always be guided to the Truth

Love is to me hurt, sadness, fear, joy, anger, humility, awe, longing, hope and faith.


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LifeParenting Series: Potential Awareness

BismilLah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim

Al Quran, Surah Al Baqarah, verse 30, ” Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: “I will create a vicegerent on earth.”

When we study Surah Al Baqarah, verses 30 to 34, it is clear from these verses the immense honour that Allah subhana wa ta’ala has bestowed upon Man. Throughout Al Quran, we can find verse after verse establishing Man’s true potential and his role as khalifah of Allah.

Al Quran, Surah At-Tin, verse 4, ” We have indeed created man in the best of moulds

Al Quran, Surah Al Hijr, verse 29, ” When I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My spirit, fall ye down in obeisance unto him

Once the significance of this awareness of our true potential hits us, there’s no turning back. No longer can we continue thinking, ‘I’m not smart enough for that job.’ or ‘ I wish I had it in me to succeed.’ You ARE smart and you DO have it in you to succeed!

Try this little challenge. Take a piece of paper, write in block letters the word ‘POTENTIAL’ and then try to find as many new words as possible from just that 9-letter word. By the way, this challenge comes with a warning: Make sure you’re free for the next 2 hours (at least!) because you will be so caught up in finding the new words, you’ll soon lose track of time… At last count, the number of words from that single word ‘POTENTIAL’ is 130!

The POTENTIAL Word Challenge was the confidence booster this girl needed. She found the most number of words among the girls.

The ‘POTENTIAL’ Word Challenge clearly demonstrates the potential that is inside all of us but we don’t realise it until we actively seek it out. The best example of how potential awareness can bring about positive change in a person is the story of the girl in the photo above. During the first day of camp, she was an uncooperative and rebellious partictipant, often ignoring the facilitators and slouching in her chair.

But, after the POTENTIAL Word Challenge, when she realised she was the best scorer among the girls, a dramatic turnaround in her behavior occurred! She was active and responsive, sitting up straight in her chair AND I was told that she even joined the next camp and helped facilitate! Stories of these stunning transformations still awe me, even for someone who believes strongly in the inherent potential of each person.

It just takes one person to believe; in yourself or in someone else. Hold on to that belief, even when everyone around you thinks you’re wrong. There was a boy who enrolled in Khalifah Model School late in the year. Against everyone’s advice, I put his name forward as Head Prefect of the school and he was duly elected.

Unfortunately, he began causing trouble and even got into a fight with a girl. This became a serious issue at school and it was suggested he be stripped of his position as Head Prefect. But I fought hard to keep him on as Head Prefect because I knew he had immense potential in him to excel. And true enough, when he realised there was someone who believed in him, he started to change and he progressed, academically and spiritually. Masha’Allah, I have tears in my eyes when I think of him and the struggles he had to face.

The 1st graduates of Khalifah Model School; they set the excellent standard for later generations

I cannot stress enough just how important the concept of potential awareness is to further the continuing changes that the child is going through. It becomes the motivation when we feel stuck and not seeing any positive changes. We just have to remind ourselves that the potential to excel is there, we have to be patient and trust the child to  chose to change for the better, even if it takes longer than we expect.

Even after all these years, believing in Adam and Daniel’s inherent potential is what keeps me going on. I know they have the potential to excel, I believe in their potential to excel, so I won’t ever give up on helping them realise and believe in their own potential to excel.

This potential awareness can also be described as self-efficacy, which is defined as belief in one’s capability to execute required courses of action, govern one’s choice of behaviours and aspirations, and the mobilisation and maintenance of effort. (Bandura, 1986, 1997) Cite: Phan, Huy Phuong(2009) ‘Relations between goals, self-efficacy, critical thinking and deep processing strategies: a path analysis’, Educational Psychology, 29: 7, 777 — 799

Being aware of your potential is one of the first steps towards a sustainable, positive change that will begin to empower your mindset, character and behavior, Insha’Allah.

To recap, brain rules # 5: Repeat to Remember

  • The potential to excel is inherent in all of us
  • Always believe in the potential to excel of your child
  • Potential awareness is a key factor for positive change to occur
  • Awareness, Change, Empower

May Allah subhana wa ta’ala give you courage and strength throughout your journey as a LifeParent and khalifah. Ameen.

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LifeParenting Series: Khalifah Method

BismilLah ir-Rahman ir- Rahim

A few days ago, I discovered that my youngest son had done something inappropriate, which violated one of the boundaries I had established years ago. It stunned me and I was slow to react, not wishing to let my anger cloud my judgement.

Unfortunately, I waited too long to sit down with Daniel to discuss his wrong behavior and impose a suitable consequence. The best opportunity I had to help Daniel learn from his mistake was lost. I sat him down and explained since too much time had passed, giving him a consequence now for his behavior wouldn’t work because it would be hard for him to see the link/ relevancy of the consequence to his behavior and would only think “Mummy is so unfair!”.

Instead, I told Daniel that I had brought up both of him and Adam  to remember they are khalifah and that their behavior should always be good. I told him that I was disappointed that he chose to take that first step to the wrongful behavior but I prayed that he understood that it cannot be repeated ever again. Then, I left it at that, without punishing him.

One of the reasons for this was the realisation that his inappropriate behavior could have been halted earlier. I was able to track back the point at which Daniel made the conscious decision to do something wrong and saw that it was out of boredom. I made the mistake of not checking on him and be more aware that a wrong behavior could occur.

Alhamdulillah, since that talk, Daniel is more obedient and calmer i.e.  speaking to me in gentler voice and showing more respect. I know that conflicts between parents and children will always occur but, Alhamdulillah, because Khalifah Method was implemented in our home, those conflicts usually are resolved effectively and quickly.

Introducing Khalifah Method into the home is necessary because it is a formula that works if you commit to it wholeheartedly. The founder of this method, Professor Dr. Muhammad al’Mahdi spent his lifetime understanding children and helped to establish the immensely inspiring concept of khalifah or vicegerent of  Allah, on this earth.

In Al Quran, Surah Al Baqarah, verse 30, ‘Behold, thy Lord said to the angels: “I will create a vicegerent on earth.”

Oxford dictionary defines ‘vicegerent’ as ” a person exercising delegated power on behalf of a sovereign or ruler.

 

Islam promotes actively seeking knowledge so the reading habit was instilled very early on

Teaching children their true role on earth is being khalifah of Allah is the single, most effective tool a parent can utilise in the home, and at school. There are countless of parents, besides myself, who have reported wonderful progress in their homes after introducing Khalifah Method to their children. Khalifah Model School students are shining examples of empowering children with knowledge of their true potential.

 

Khalifah Model School students read Al Quran during their break and before jema'ah prayers begin

 

Rewards are merit-based and given when the child/ren is deserving of it

The three steps of Khalifah Method are:

  1. Teach children their role as khalifah of Allah in an exciting and motivating way and constantly remind them in a positive manner.
  2. Reward children with loving praise and gestures for each positive thing that they do. I also reward my kids when I see them make an effort to change.
  3. Set firm and reasonable boundaries (rules) and enforce them consistently and with Kind Discipline (without harshnesstegas dan berhikmah)

In Al Quran, Surah Al Nahl, verse 125,invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.

Dr Muhammad al'Mahdi was a master communicator, able to explain complex theories in layman terms. May Allah reward him greatly for his work. Ameen

Professor Dr. Muhammad al’Mahdi said that Khalifah Method is ‘ simple but not easy’. It takes commitment and acceptance of the struggle for progress and change to occur successfully in the family. But, if you can see the wonderful benefits and rewards it will bring into your family, you will gladly face any difficulties that come. Allah knows best.

To recap, brain rules # 5: Repeat to remember:

  • Each of us have the potential to excel as khalifah on this earth
  • Three steps of Khalifah Method:
  1. Teach children their role as khalifah of Allah
  2. Reward right behavior and effort with loving praise and gestures
  3. Set firm boundaries and consistently enforce them with Kind Discipline
  • Be patient and stay committed throughout the Shaping Process

May Allah subhana wa ta’ala give you courage and strength throughout your journey as a LifeParent and khalifah. Ameen.

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LifeParenting Series: Family Vision

BismilLah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim

This is the 2nd installment of the LifeParenting  Series. The topic is on creating a Family Vision statement as a tool to help your family progress. It is necessary for everyone in the family to be involved in the development and changes that occur, even if it was initially meant to focus on changing the behavior of one particular child.

In Al Quran, Surah Al Baqarah, verse 148, ” To each is a goal to which Allah turns him; then strive together (as in a race) Towards all that is good. Wheresoever ye are, Allah will bring you Together. For Allah Hath power over all things.

Your family will grow positively when everyone participates in the Shaping Process

Writing a Family Vision statement was one of the activities that participants of my parenting programs did together with their spouses. I can honestly say that 9 out of 10 couples differed in what they wanted for their family and that the one couple who shared the same Family Vision, didn’t need any parenting programs; their family’s foundation was already strong. It is no wonder that husbands and wives argue a lot; they don’t share the same values and principles that is necessary to build a strong family. The husband says’ getting top grades is important’ but the wife says ‘ as along as he is trying hard, it doesn’t matter what his grades are.’ A recipe for many disagreements in the future…

Children are easily and negatively affected when their parents fight.

I realised because I had created a Family Vision and Mission statement at the beginning of implementing Khalifah Method in my home, and had the collective agreement of everyone to the terms of the statement, the positive changes that I hoped for to happen, came relatively more easily and quickly.

This is really down to the fact that everyone became a part of the vision. I took time to explain to Adam and Daniel, who were about 4 and 5 years old, what we were going to do and why we were doing it. I’d like to share a quote from Rudyard Kipling, from the Elephant’s Child, which relates to this.

I keep six honest serving men, (They taught me all I knew), Their names are What and Why and When, And How and Where and Who.

As I began the Shaping Process by creating boundaries, re-organising the boys’ daily routines and building a more Islamic environment in the home, the boys became active participants in the changes.

A vision statement says what the company wants to achieve. For example, Avon’s vision statement is, “To be the company that best understands and satisfies the product, service and self-fulfillment needs of women – globally.” If you look at Avon’s market share, it is global.

Your Family Vision statement should describe what your family wants to achieve, as a family, in the least possible words. Otherwise, it will turn out to be a mission statement instead!

Daniel winning best Irish/Gaeilge student after only 3 months learning the language

My Family Vision statement is “To Achieve Excellence and Balance in Body, Mind and Soul.” It is important that the boys understood that in anything they do, it needs to be done excellently. I always remind them (my motivational nagging!), ‘If you have to do something, you might as well do it right.

We always share our food when we eat out.

I also encouraged the boys to be moderate in their wants and desires. In Al Quran, Surah Al An’am, verse 141, “…But waste not by excess: for God loveth not the wasters.” As they became older and my knowledge of Islam grew, we began expanding the scope of our boundaries and behavior to match as closely as possible the criterion given to us through Al Quran and the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad salla Allah alayhi wassalam.

This was the point at which I realised the enormity of Khalifah Method’s premise; that when an individual or group is given

  1. a positive, accurate and motivational worldview i.e Islam according to Al Quran and Sunnah
  2. a good understanding of the Laws of Learning

then, that individual or group will naturally move towards all that is good and right.

We were seeing positive changes in all of us. I was calmer and firmer with the boys; Adam was making conscious, logical decisions on his own and Daniel started having better self-control over himself, which meant the earth-shattering, ear-piercing temper tantrums were now at an end. Alhamdulillah!

Do sit down with your family and share with them your intention of building a stronger family. Brainstorm on your family’s vision and begin enjoying the process of understanding each other a little better once you discover their visions and ambitions.

To recap with brain rules # 5: Repeat to remember

  • create a Family Vision statement
  • ensure that everyone in the family participates in writing it up
  • have the Family Vision fresh in your mind as you begin the Shaping Process
  • have fun and begin enjoying growing with your family!

May Allah subhana wa ta’ala give you courage and strength throughout your journey as a LifeParent and khalifah. Ameen.

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Introduction to the LifeParenting Series

BismilLah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim

The idea to work on a series of articles on parenting had been percolating in my mind since early this year. The boys and I were putting together our annual Inspiration Board when the desire to organise and compile a more comprehensive collection of articles on parenting took root in me.

The decision to call it the LifeParenting Series was influenced by the fact that when we become parents, it is for life. From the first moment of holding our child in our arms, our hopes, aspirations, concern and thoughts for our child never stops, even when we are in our 90’s.

This is Fatima. Her grandmother walked 300 miles carrying her to bring her to a clinic because she was weak from starvation.

The LifeParenting Series will be a culmination of the knowledge, experiences and advice I’ve received since I began to take an avid interest in becoming a better parent for my sons. Using Khalifah Method as the primary reference and Brain Gym plus other optimal brain and behavior strategies, the LifeParenting Series will offer parents an understanding of their true role as parents and begin to enjoy and love the experience of being a parent, Insha’Allah.

I can honestly say I had the best time bringing Adam and Daniel up!

Being a LifeParent starts with acknowledging that we are a parent to our children for LIFE. Full stop. Half my work is done now…

It doesn’t stop when the kids go off to university or start work. It’s very much alive when we know our children are thinking of starting their own family; the concern whether the woman they choose will be the best wife for them, whether or not we will get along with their chosen partner. Sigh…

This is a huge issue with me because I have always brought my sons up to honour and put their mother first based on the hadith where the Prophet Muhammad salla Allah alayhi wassalam repeated “the mother” three times when he was asked by a man who he should honour first after Allah subhana wa ta’ala and His Messenger. Yet, in today’s world, the wife expects and is expected to dominate the family over the her in-laws. I will just have to put my trust in Allah and in my sons that they will choose right. Allah knows best.

I love my mother so much...

Islam places parents in high regard and honour, that even saying ‘Oof!’ to the parent is not allowed and children must be taught to always remember this. In Al Quran, Surah Al Isra, verse 23 ” Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour.

Surah Al Furqan, verse 1 "Blessed is He who sent down the criterion to His servant, that it may be an admonition to all creatures"

It is only when we follow the criterion set by Islam in our every decision and action that we will truly enjoy the experience of being a parent. We can then bask in the warm feeling that we are doing right by our children, to share the pride they are feeling when they achieve something good, instead of being stressed and pressured to ‘keep up with the Jones’ and compare our children’s achievements to others. I hold the position that it is necessary to teach children to be competitive but this can be done by comparing effort instead of results.

We, LifeParents, set the ball rolling for our children through our own behavior. Children develop habits and behavior mainly through ‘modelling’ i.e. imitating the behavior of the primary adults around them.

Pretend that you are holding a mirror in front of you and you are seeing yourself as your child is seeing you. Do you like what you see? Are you okey knowing that your behavior will likely be imitated by your child?

Children love imitating the behavior of the people around them. Ensure what they imitate are the right behaviors.

I have a very good example of how a parent’s behavior can influence the child. One evening, when my eldest son, Adam, was three years old, we were having dinner at my parents’ house. Adam  spilled his drink on the table and nonchantly said, ‘Shit.’ Just like that. And he said it exactly the way I would say it.

There was stunned silence around the dinner table and then, my mother turned to me and just said, ‘Cher…’. They knew exactly who Adam had learnt the swear word from, because of the way he said it. Just like how his mother says it.

We can’t put entire blame on our children for any of their bad behavior. We first have to investigate where the behavior originated from. You would be surprised to realise a lot of them comes from us, the parents. The so-called role models of our children.

Three generations of khalifah; the result of when the choice of a spouse is made carefully.

So, take a stand now. Decide that you want to be a great parent for your children and then doing mushasabah/ self check on yourself. Develop the habit of using the Kaizen Process (continuous self improvements) in your every day decisions and you will find that not only will your home be more peaceful but you will also be more at peace with yourself.

To recap, using John Medina’s brain rules: Rule # 5: Repeat to remember

  • Acknowledge your role as parent is a lifelong responsibility
  • Use the criterion set down by Islam as your reference and standard
  • Be a good role model for your child
  • Consistently do self-check and be aware of any development in your family’s progress

May Allah subhana wa ta’ala give you courage and strength throughout your journey as a LifeParent and khalifah. Ameen.


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