Ayat ul Kursi is Allah’s introduction of Himself, His self-definition.
Hadith: “Everything has a summit and the summit of the Quran is Ayat ul Kursi”
HP (saw) cream of the Quran is in Suratul Baqara and the cream of Suratul Baqara is in Ayat al kursi
Imam Ali (as) : “I have not spent a single night . . .without reciting it.”
This episode is from a live Quran Study Group session in 2007 when we spent 3 weeks studying this verse.
Getting along with in-laws and the extended family
I need your help!
Many women struggle with their relationship with the in-laws once they get married. They may start out with the best of intentions or they may have preconceived (negative) assumptions. Regardless, many women experience this relationship as one of the biggest challenges of adjusting to married life, whether they are living with, close to, or far away from their spouse’s family.
I am in the process of creating an online course that provides support for many of these challenges, including how to tell if it is you or if it is them and how to manage if your in-laws are truly “toxic”.
In order for the course to be helpful to as many people as possible, I want to get an idea of what are some of your biggest challenges around your relationship with your in-laws. Please take a few moments to fill in the survey to get this process started.
Thank you so much for your time. I truly appreciate it. Here is the link for the survey
Laylatul Qadr is a night wherein Allah swt decides our “qadr” – He makes decisions regarding what to grant us to fulfill our full potential. One way to think about this is to consider that He is asking us to be co-creators in our own destiny by allowing us and inviting us to worship on this Grand Night and ask for what we need in order to live our purpose on this planet. This is a night which is filled with the opportunity to change the story of our lives.
While considering what to ask for (in addition to the health and safety of ourselves, our families and the Ummah) it is worth taking some time to reflect on our purpose in life, how we can fulfill it and what we need to get going. This important reflection will help us in beginning to take responsibility for our lives and become proactive in creating a life that is meaningful and fulfills the purpose for why we are here. It is only once we have a purpose that we can ask for meaning help in fulfilling it.
Here is a short exercise that might help.
Take a few minutes to write out your answers without overthinking them. The process of engaging in these questions and writing them out is very powerful and will greatly help on Laylatul Qadr when we are doing Dua:
- 1. What is my number one goal for the coming year? The one thing that will make the greatest positive impact on my life if I work towards it or get it done? This can be goal related to self development/improvement or working towards a project that is meaningful to you.
- 2. What are some of the talents and abilities that I have to get started?
- 3. What are some of the barriers that I face in this regard? What do I need most help with?
- 4. What do I need to do to get started? What is the first step in this direction? This is the probably the most important question. We need to get in motion to fulfill our purpose, the more we think about it without taking action, the less likely it becomes that we will fulfill it.
- 5. What sources of support do I have that I can call upon?
- 6. What is my greatest stumbling block? How do I get around it?
This short but powerful exercise will make our duas towards our life plan much more meaningful.
What would your life look like if you had achieved this goal?
Who would notice?
What impact would it make in the world?
Being open to something even better
Once, you have visualized success, pray to Allah that you are open to a different reality for fulfillment of this goal. This is an important step.
Once we start working towards our life plan, it is important to be open to the possibility that the outcome may look different from what we originally planned but it will be so much better. He is involved in fulfilling our life plans and what we ask for and His vision is infinitely vast regarding our potential and what is possible for us, whereas even when we pray, we are limited by own limited view of our potential.
So while it is essential to have a vision for the realisation of our goals, it is also important not to be overly attached to exactly what this will look like.
When we intentionally open to the possibility that the realization of our goals may look different that what we are presently considering, it helps us recognize the opportunities and avenues that He puts in our way and allows us to say YES to them.
While mothers have always been celebrated as being vital in the upbringing of children, popular culture and even science, until recently, has mostly ignored the crucial role that father’s play in the healthy development and success of children. Attachment literature, therapists and parenting experts alike have focused on the child’s relationship with the mother, maintaining that it is this relationship that predicts whether a child will be emotionally and mentally healthy and well adjusted in life. While this is true, it does not mean that the role of the father is any less important. Thankfully, research has recently begun to recognize the different but equally important role that fathers play in their family.
Fathers foster emotional intelligence and confidence in children
According to the American report “Fathers and Their Impact on Children’s Well-Being“: “Even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections”.
Playing with fathers has many important benefits for children
It is sometimes tempting for mothers to minimize the way that fathers interact with children, believing that they are left to the heavy lifting while the father “merely” plays with the children, getting to do the “fun stuff”.
Studies have found that this “fun stuff” and play is in fact very beneficial for the children. The same report found that: “The way fathers play with their children also has an important impact on a child’s emotional and social development. Fathers spend a higher percentage of their one-to-one interactions with infants and preschoolers in stimulating, playful activity than do mothers. From these interactions, children learn how to regulate their feelings and behavior”.
A good relationship with Dad is good for grades
The report went on to say that: “Children with involved, caring fathers have better educational outcomes. The influence of a father’s involvement extends into adolescence and young adulthood. Numerous studies find that an active and nurturing style of fathering is associated with better verbal skills, intellectual functioning, and academic achievement among adolescents.”
According to another study from the University of Illinois, fathers who take the time to ask about what their children learned in school and their day-to-day social activities and relationships have children who do better in school than kids who don’t have that kind of interest from Dad.
A role model for boys and a high standard for girls
There is no doubt that having a positive male role model in a father helps boys develop positive gender-role characteristics. Researchers at the University of Oxford have reported that boys who have involved fathers are less likely to get in trouble with the police as they get older. They are also more likely to be more in touch with their feelings and emotions.
In other words, it is fathers who model what a true gentleman looks like. Boys emulate the ways that their father leads the family and treats women, particularly their mother.
Girls also benefit from a close relationship with their father. Because he’s the first man she’ll get to know in life, he will set the standard in her mind for what to expect from men.
There are also some unexpected benefits. According to research from Vanderbilt University, girls who had close, positive relationships with their fathers during the first five years of life tended to reach puberty later than girls who had more distant relationships with their fathers. In addition, the University of Oxford researchers noted that girls who had more involved fathers were less likely to face mental health problems later in life. Genuine praise and admiration from a father can help his daughter grow up to be an independent, confident woman and this in turn will help her make good decisions about her own relationships with men later in life.
Mother’s Role in Father Involvement
Given that a positive relationship with involved fathers has so many benefits for the family, why is it that some fathers today are not more involved in family life and parenting? In families where women are not supported in their parenting role, they often complain about the lack of support from their spouses around parenting and house keeping chores. It is encouraging to learn then, that what mothers say and do can have a big impact on how involved and supportive their spouse is.
The truth is that in many families, the mothers are the gatekeepers to their children which means that they can consciously or unconsciously keep others from getting too close to the children. While many women may not admit this openly, but upon self reflection, they confess concerns about their husband’s competence as a parent and many will confirm that even when their husband’s try, they do not do things in the “right way”. Because these moms are not comfortable about their spouse in childcare duties, they do not give their spouses many opportunities to be involved.
What happens in these situations is that Dad feels the criticism from Mom, decides that he cannot measure up to her standards and gives up. This cycle is quite damaging for the whole family as it leaves Mom feeling unsupported, Dad feeling undervalued and unappreciated and the ultimate loss is that of the children in the loss of opportunity in developing a close relationship with Dad.
So how can mothers encourage Dad to be more involved with the children?
- Validate his role:
Given the mother-centric nature of current parenting trends, fathers often feel like second-class citizens. It seems that with so many voices telling them that they are irrelevant for the family, fathers get more withdrawn than involved. Conversations and surveys with fathers show that if fathers are conscious of the value they bring to the parenting equation, they are more likely to be involved. When mothers view their spouse as a competent parent, when they provide encouragement and expect and believe that parenting is a joint venture, the men are more likely to be involved with, and responsible for their children.
So if mothers begin to appreciate and acknowledge the fact that fathers bring something important, although different to the parenting partnership, fathers can be more encouraged to participate in parenting and be supportive of their spouse.
- Work on your marriage:
Research also suggests that there is positive correlation between marital quality and the level of father involvement in childcare responsibilities. In other words, if you are in a generally happy relationship, your spouse is more likely to be involved with the children. On the other hand, if there is a high degree of marital conflict, it will negatively impact the father’s relationship with the children.
It is easy to ignore nurturing the marital relationship once children arrive. With so much to do, lack of sleep and the tiredness, young moms often feel overwhelmed and feel like they are barely able to keep it together. Even during this time, if mothers can still give some attention to their primary relationship, the entire period of active parenting can be easier and more supportive.
Moreover, practicing conscious parenting means being mindful of the lessons your children are learning from your relationship. If you pay attention to your spouse and give priority to the marriage, your children learn valuable lessons in relationship building.
- Get along with your in-laws:
More recently research indicates that a mother’s positive relationship with both the father and his family was found to predict a greater likelihood of initiated and sustained high father involvement. In other words, if mothers work at getting along with their in-laws, their spouses are more likely to be helpful around the house and involved with the children.
- Appreciate what he does do rather than focusing on what he is not doing:
What we focus on in life grows and this is no different in the parenting relationship. If we acknowledge and appreciate what Dad is doing rather than minimize what he is doing, he will be more encouraged to be more involved. It is much too easy to become critical of the lack of involvement and this often stops us from seeing the ways in which he might be contributing.
A study by Brigham Young University researchers finds that involvement in simple everyday activities, such as eating dinner together, watching TV, playing in the yard, and playing video games (yes!) are even more important to share with Dad than big outings or trips, although those contribute to children’s development as well. Children and youth whose fathers spent regular time engaged in everyday activities reported being very satisfied with family life.
- Make room for his way of doing things.
Some women struggle with letting Dad do things his way when doing childcare or household tasks, which is often different from theirs. This of course discourages more participation in childcare. So many fathers I speak to say something along the lines of: “I can never do it right. She finds something wrong with everything I do. It is best if she does it herself since she is good at it and I am not.”
As we can imagine, feeling that you can never measure up or do something right is not a good way to encourage participation. On the other hand, when mothers and fathers trust each other to care for their children in their own way, both are encouraged, participate more, get better and more confident at their roles.
When Mom starts out with criticism about Dad’s less-than-perfect efforts, she is unknowingly signing herself up for a lifetime of doing it herself, unsupported. It is no wonder that so many women feel burnt out and resentful of the over functioning that they have taken upon themselves. One of the best lessons in parenting I learnt was: “You can either do it your way yourself or accept help from someone who will do it their way.” To Moms who find it hard to let go and think it is for the good of their children, it is important to recognize that children’s lives are more enriched through father’s imperfect efforts rather than a burnt out mother who tried to do everything perfectly!
There are also differences in the way that Dads interact with their children as they grow. While mothers tend to encourage and foster security, collaboration and ‘playing nicely’, fathers encourage competition, independence, and achievement.
Research also shows that there are unique and complementary ways that fathers contribute to the parenting equation related to how they play with their children (including it turns out watching video games!), how they encourage risk taking and how they discipline which are often very different from the way mothers do these same things. It is actually from these different ways of doing these things that children learn so many valuable lessons. Here is great article on the specific differences and synergies of Dad’s parenting style.
To summarize, Mothers and Fathers are both doing the best that they know how, given their unique styles. If both parents appreciate the different ways of doing things, lives of their children will be more enriched from the input and contribution of each. The support and partnership, will of course, also make the parenting journey that much more satisfying and joyful.