“And remember Our servants, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – those of strength and [religious] vision. Indeed, We chose them for an exclusive quality: remembrance of the home [of the Hereafter]. And indeed they are, to Us, among the chosen and outstanding. And remember Ishmael, Elisha and Dhul-Kifl, and all are among the outstanding.” (Surah Sad 38, 45-48)
From all the thousands of people that came to pass this world, these prophets were certified by the Lord of the worlds with His pleasure; radhiallahu anhum. Yes, our heroes are the Prophets of Allah, the last prophet Muhammad and his righteous companions, the Sahaba . Our heroes are those who followed them in goodness and piety, the tab’ieen and those that came after them, the taba’ tab’ieen, for these were declared as the best of generations by the tongue that never lied. Our heroes are those who served the religion and strove for its life in every era.
Prophet Muhammad said: “The best people are those of my generation, and then those who will come after them (the next generation), and then those who will come after them (i.e. the next generation).” 1
In a Muslim country, a professor asked the students appearing for an admission test in his medical college about the names of the first four caliphs of Islam and unbelievably many of them answered him wrong! Similarly, when asked simple questions like names of Prophet Muhammad’s children or the ten given glad tidings of Paradise, they were clueless. Not that they had never heard about them, for they had all passed twelve years in educational institutions with Islamic Studies as a compulsory subject. However, they were never made to connect with them emotionally; only a few facts had been rote learned to pass the exam.
As a whole, the Muslim Ummah has been slyly cut off from it’s past. Our youth can easily relate to players, singers and actors because they are projected by the media. They not only know their names but elaborate information like their favorite celebrity’s favorite color, and aim to imitate them in every way possible. If you were to mention a Sahabi in front of them, he’ll just be an ancient holy figure that they don’t know much about.
The question arises: what can we do? How can we undo our mistake and make the best people come alive for our children? How can we make them likable to our youth?
Parents: Pay Attention!
This responsibility lies heavily on your shoulders. Parents are not only accountable for providing their children with the best food and clothing but also for presenting to them the best role models. No school, no television program, no media and no society today is going to teach your offspring about Sa’d bin abi Waqas or Imam Bukhari. To raise exemplary leaders of tomorrow, YOU have to strive to become an exemplary parent; invest double the time (Hint: time, not money!) and double the energy.
First and foremost, we must straighten out our own role models and equip ourselves with the love of the best generations. We can only inspire our children if we ourselves are inspired. Following is an exercise for both parents and their children, to learn and grow together in faith.
A Celebrity a Week
Every week, choose a celebrity. You may follow some sequence i.e, starting from Adam , then the rest of the prophets, Prophet Muhammad , his companions and then the tab’een. Or, you may choose according to the personalities and likes of your children. For adding some fun element to the activity, you can also write the names of some celebrities on little pieces of paper and draw out a name each week. These celebrities can be people from the best of generations or other Muslim personalities like the Imams of fiqh, the scholars of hadeeth (e.g. Imam Muslim) and Muslim commanders (e.g. Salahuddin al Ayyubi)
After the celebrity has been chosen, dig out information and stories that inspire awe and love in the hearts. If the children are old enough to read, parents can provide them interesting books about these figures. And if they are young, then parents should read and re-tell in their own words, keeping in mind the mental level of their child. Discuss about them as a family and share the inspiring events or words that you may have come across. Highlight their prominent characteristics (for e.g. courage, wisdom, patience etc.), their struggles and their services for Islam. The purpose is not to learn each and every ‘fact’ about them, it is to instill their love in our hearts and aim to be like them.
Also, introduce these Muslim personalities in your daily conversations. If your girl is being inquisitive and asking good questions, you can complement her like this: “Masha’Allah! You are asking questions just like Aisha !” and definitely she would like to know more about Aisha and her questions.
A few days ago, an acquaintance found her little son being particular about his appearance and especially his hair. So, she took out some Seerah books and read to him the appearance of Prophet Muhammad and some of his companions and how their hair looked like. When they read that Prophet Muhammad had long eyelashes, she told him that he too has long eyelashes and this made him really pleased. We just have to grab the opportunity to capture our children’s hearts.
When they are knowledgeable enough, games about these figures can also be played. For e.g. asking 20 questions to guess the personality.
Let us all aim high; our ummah needs rebuilding. Let us all re-connect to our past glory. Let our hearts fill with the desire to regain it. Let us raise the future of tomorrow with great care. However, don’t forget, we can get nowhere without the help and permission of Allah . So keep the oars of Dua in your hands, making sure that the last part of your nights are dynamic and your tears flowing in abundance; seeking His mercy and guidance till the last breath, for yourself and your children.
And be of those who say, “Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous.” (Surah Al-Furqan, 25: 74)
Written by Ummu Salih, a passionate mother, student of knowledge and a freelance writer striving to seek the pleasure of Allah (swt).