Sunday 2 June 2019

Finding Your Bliss and Losing It Again

(Subtitled Don’t Compare Your Children)

Last week I wrote about stepping away from the daily grind and every day routines and spending three days in the path of Allah (SWT).  I stayed with sisters a few miles from home and spent the time in prayer, dhikr, contemplation and learning and doing dawah alhamdulillah.

It was a beautiful three days. I was very grateful for both the opportunity and the beautiful company of gracious sisters.  I came home at the end of the three days feeling inspired, contented and with a bit of an iman boost.  Once I got home, the contentment lasted about 15 minutes with the following wonderful activities killing my good vibes:
There was nothing for iftar apart from a little fruit salad that my mother-in-law had made.
My husband decided to invite another family over because they had no arrangements for iftar.
The time to break our fast was exactly 10 minutes away.
The kids started complaining vociferously about their grandparents and another child that had been staying at ours because his parents had been with us in jamaat.
This super-naughty kid wouldn’t stop annoying my youngest two children.
My in-laws started complaining about my children and the other child – and how they spent the weekend trying to keep them all apart to stop them from killing each other.
The lady who had been invited for iftar wore niqab, so I asked my boys to stay out of the room, Gorgeous was having a silly moment and kept barging in, only for me to shout at him and chase him out again.
I felt bad because the older three were fasting and were the last to be fed
And the kids hadn’t seen me for three days and I barely asked them how they were.
The poor lady guest looked so embarrassed at putting us to last-minute trouble and kept apologising.
I kept telling her it wasn’t her; it was the kids playing up because they were hungry…

There was nothing to do, but head straight for the kitchen, pull everything out of the fridge and freezer I could find and get the kids to start setting things out in both rooms – front room for men, back room for women.  I got everyone to open their fast and kept heating or frying until everyone had something.

I was so embarrassed at being a poor host and embarrassing the lady.  Guests are a blessing for Muslims and deserve to be honoured. I was annoyed that I hadn’t seen the kids for three days and they had organised iftar, kept an eye on their grandparents and cleaned the house and I barely had time to thank and praise them.

The last straw came after the guests had left, I had yet to eat and was trying to clear some space in the kitchen when I heard my in-laws complaining about the kids and hubby moaning they hadn’t even said salaam when he came in.  It might have been the hunger, it might have been the stress hormones pumping in my blood, it might have been annoyance at hubby inviting people last minute or it might have been because I missed my children and barely got to greet them coming home.  It was probably a combination of all of these things, but my brain just blew.

I stormed into the living room sobbing with rage and hurt.  I yelled at all three of them.  The boys happened to be there and took one look at my ugly crying and fled the room forgetting all complaints about grandparents and the naughty boy. 

I had simply had enough of trying to defend my children.  Every time my in-laws come to stay (which is every summer for five months), I find my relationship with my children deteriorate. I tell them off more, I criticise more, I seem to be stopping them from everything more.  The constant comparisons to the perfect children in Pakistan has me thinking that I am doing a poor job and my children are not turning out well.  The constant complaining to me rather than the rest of the adults in the house dealing with poor behaviour when they see it, means I get turned into judge, jury and executioner for the whole household.

Hubby sees all of the perfect boys in the masjid who pray taraweeh, are memorising Quran or are polite and compares to his boys.  I have a friend who tried so hard with her son that she put him through three different Islamic schools until he had a mental breakdown and ended up in a hospital.  Now when her husband compares she tells him “yes he is not good and I am no good, lets leave it at that”.  But the pain etched on her face is hard to see and her guilt is palpable, her son no longer speaks to her.  I felt so guilty when I took Little Lady out of Islamic school, but her behaviour had deteriorated too and I could see no point in forcing her to continue.

The neighbourhood where I spent the three days in jamaat was in east London and one which seem to have an issue with drugs and crime which is now affecting Muslim youth.  One of the ladies who visited us both days to sit in the study circle and lectures and even made us food for iftar, would sit with us and cry asking us to pray for her.  Both her and her husband had been very religious but had been too strict and this had pushed their sons away both from them and their faith.  I kept hearing these stories again and again.

I told my husband and my in-laws, they could walk to the end of our street right now and buy drugs, they could see the main road full of prostitutes.  Or they could walk the other way to the back streets and see girls in hijab hanging out with boys at this time of night – my kids were in the house.  I told them I was one of the only girls in my class who didn’t smoke in high school – no one bothers with cigarettes now, it’s straight to weed and upward promotion from there.

I remembered how hard it is when your parents are telling you one thing and stopping you from everything and the world is inviting you to everything else with open arms.  At this time dad-in-law graciously tried to interject and said yes, it’s bad in Pakistan too, back in the village almost every boy is hooked on drugs.  But I wasn’t having it, I didn’t give a damn about his village and I was on a roll.

At this point I was still sobbing my eyes out and shouting at everyone.  Hubby tried to leave for taraweeh and I told him to come back and fight like a man.  He rolled his eyes and said he would deal with this later. My mum-in-law tried to skirt around me with her walking frame to get to the bathroom to wash up for prayers.  I wasn’t having it and side-stepped to block her way.

Hubby left for the masjid, the in-laws got another ten minutes of tears and somewhat more subdued lecturing about the state of the youth today and how I didn’t intend to alienate my children no matter how flawed they are (I might have used more colourful language about them…).  Then they went to pray, and I went back to the kitchen, cleared up and got something to eat at almost 11pm. 

I felt guilty and embarrassed, but I also felt like a load had been taken off my shoulders.  I may have done it with ugly crying, but I had got my point across.  Hubby may have acted like he wasn’t listening, but he has been more easy going with the boys since, bringing them take out after taraweeh and watching football with them.  The in-laws seemed to have stopped their moaning, or at least are being a bit more thoughtful before they make a compliant.

I lost my bliss pretty quick that day, but I have slowly gained it back – because I spoke up before things got worse, because the kids know I am on their side, because people will think twice before they make petty complaints and because the three days in jamaat made me realise we demand too much of our kids and forget how tough it is to be young and Muslim in today’s world – it’s our job to help make it easier not so hard that our kids walk away from both us and our faith.

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Indeed each of you is a shepherd and each of you will be questioned regarding his flock. The commander who is in authority over people is responsible and he will be questioned regarding his responsibility. The man is responsible over the inhabitants of his house and he is the one who will be questioned about them. The wife is responsible in her husband’s house and she will be questioned about it. The servant is responsible regarding his master’s property, and he will be questioned about it. Indeed, each of you is a shepherd and each of you will be questioned about his flock.” (Bukhari & Muslim, narrated by ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar)

“My Lord, grant me from Yourself a good offspring. Indeed, You are the Hearer of supplication.” ~ Quran 3:38

Ibn ‘Abbas (radhiallahu ‘anh) said: The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) used to seek refuge in Allah for al-Hasan and al-Husain, saying: “I seek refuge for both of you in the perfect words of Allah from every devil and every poisonous thing and from the evil eye which influences.” He would then say: “your father sought refuge in Allah by them for Ismail and Ishaq.” (Sunan Abi Dawud)

“Do not raise your children the way [your] parents raised you, they were born for a different time.” ~ Ali Bin Abi Thalib (radhiallahu ‘anh)


  1. So raw and thank you for your honesty! You make a very good point. It's really hard to balance the spiritual life with family and kids and expectations, and these things inevitably take a toll on yout mood and patience! And of course your husband should have ordered food in and not bombarded you with housework your first night back. But you got through it and In Sha Allah you will have lots of reward from this Ramadan.

  2. Thank you sharing so honestly and with so much wisdom. You have ALOT on. I'm glad you got to explain to your husband and in-laws your thoughts and feelings. You are totally right, we can't put as much pressure on our children as what put on us, as we will push them away from the deen. May be you could have an agreement with your husband that if he invites last minute guests, you order take out? We have that agreement and it works. I understand from what you've described your 3 days out was your me-time, but I wonder if you could go and your husband could stay at home, so at least you don't have to worry. Also, I understand you want to help others but is it too much on your in-laws to add an additional child to look after on top of all your children? It's quite an ask even for a young person. I know of families that go on jamaat, and from a safeguarding perspective, I would avoid having other children coming to stay or sending children to other people's houses to stay. In this day and age, it is just way too risky, and TJ elders really should not be advocating it.