Would You Permit Me?

في بلاد يغتال فيها المفكرون، ويكفر الكاتب وتحرق الكتب، في مجتمعات ترفض الآخر، وتفرض الصمت على الافواه والحجر على الافكار، وتكفر اي سؤال، كان لابد ان استأذنكم ان تسمحوا لي..

In a country where thinkers are assassinated, and writers are considered infidels and books are burnt, in societies that refuse the other, and force silence on mouths and thoughts forbidden, and to question is a sin, I must beg your pardon, would you permit me?

 فهل تسمحون لي

ان اربي اطفالي كما اريد، وألا تملوا علي اهواءكم واوامركم؟


to bring up my children as I want, and not to dictate on me your whims and orders?

Your sad note rightly makes the point about the two elements that grip the Muslim society by its neck, strangling its full blossoming; the same two elements that you targeted in your “Al-Deek” (the Rooster). We are with you in your protest – and, in your helplessness. May we inform you that imprisonment, assassination, and refusal to discuss except with a gun at the temple, are activities that are now conducted by eagle and the ravens more than the pigeons?

The obvious answer in any case is, yes, you are free to raise the children as you want. But it may not be forgotten that you will not escape deep troubles on their account, no matter how you try, by methods Eastern or Western, taking it for granted that a purely and exclusively Revelational directive is not on the cards, in view of, as it is commonly said, changed circumstances of the modern times.

It is common knowledge that since the last two centuries, when the West assumed leadership of the world, Islamic and non-Islamic, every new generation, Islamic or non-Islamic, is, despite efforts towards the contrary by both sides, worse than the previous one, measured by any parameter, Western or Islamic.

While you criticize the Muslim society, a product of Western influenced, Islam-denying botched stew of good and bad, virtue and evil, truth and untruth, Islam-inherited, un-Islam infatuated, you may, as you try raising your children, also do well to realize that, without acceptance of a set of values, without identification and submission to the source of those values, and companionship of those who hold dear those values, no matter how few, (seeing that the majority are as you describe) – without these elements, it will be demanding too much, from what they call as the changed circumstances, to grant you your wish.

You must acknowledge that the changed circumstances they talk of, is the very cause, and the primary factor, that will thwart your every effort to produce a different generation, no matter how you try. So, do not lose yourself while trying to save your children, and do not lose your own direction, while trying to fix their direction.

هل تسمحون لي

ان اعلم اطفالي ان الدين لله اولا، وليس للمشايخ والفقهاء والناس؟


to teach my children that the religion is first to God, and not for religious leaders or scholars or people?

Yes, you are permitted to teach that, indeed, it is a demand on you, except for the modification that religion is not merely “first to God,” as you say (out of slip we are sure), but rather, “first and last to God.”

But the wayfarer needs tangible, palpable, reachable guides. If you break the children away from all and every adherent, promoter, and representative of religion, the acceptable as well as the unacceptable, then, mobiles, internet, TV, film-stars, sportsmen and the celebrities will be their companions and guides. Do not, in fear of sheep-viruses, throw them to the pigs. Break away from the unclean, yes, but do not fall into the filth. Pick the flowers, cast away the thorns.

Instead of revolting against the society, whose revolting elements are plainly visible to all of us, you need to identify and separate the grain from the chaff, get together the grains, as diligently as the ants, and make them available for your children as worthy companions for their journey to a destiny worthy of them – as sons of enlightened fathers, God-devoted mothers.

The task is definitely tough, and, in the changed circumstances, quite hopeless, we acknowledge, but let you not be disheartened, because, he who fears and is god-conscious, God finds a way for him.

هل تسمحون لي

ان اعلم صغيرتي ان الدين هو اخلاق وأدب وتهذيب

وامانة وصدق، قبل ان اعلمها بأي قدم تدخل الحمام وبأي يد تأكل؟


to teach my little one that religion is about good manners, good behaviour, good conduct, honesty and truthfulness, before I teach her with which foot to enter the bathroom or with which hand she should eat?

The clash of the profound and the trivial is the imaginary clash of the kernel with the chaff, the crystal and the crust. No character of good depth can be a bad example of external behavior. Where there is seed, there has to be the flower.

There is no clash, no contradiction, no first and then the next, no prioritizing and no sequencing. They do not go hand in hand either, but the latter is an automatic emergent consequent of the former. One sits deep in the mind and heart, the other is visible on the body and through subtle signs. A deeply disciplined heart knows what foot to take forward and what hand to activate – and when.

Lessons are not necessary as the simple minds think, yet a few hints are necessary once the core is cleansed, the soul is bleached.

So, worry not about whether values come first, or demeanor. If one is there, rightly conceptualized, the other will be there as its reflection. But – caution – the nature of both will depend on the absence or presence of god-consciousness: with it, take the natural child with you, without it, let him be a hypocrite who has a bottle .. for the unexpected guest .. on the same cupboard of the living room, along with a copy of the Revelation, and a work of art in the nude, against a sacred calligraphy on the opposite wall. 

هل تسمحون لي

ان اعلم ابنتي ان الله محبة، وانها تستطيع ان تحاوره وتسأله ما تشاء، بعيدا عن تعاليم أي أحد؟


to teach my daughter that God is about love, and she can dialogue with Him and ask Him anything she wants, far away from the teachings of anyone?

The word ‘love’ evokes respect because everyone hankers after it, and to gain that of Allah (too!), everyone will claim loving Him. But, attached to a vague concept, a dubious mind will generate dubious ideas. The conception has to be concretized. Who is He? What are His Qualities? Where is He to be found?

The ‘anyone’ you mention includes you. And, since vacuum does not yield anything, that ‘anyone’ will be surreptitiously substituted by ‘someone.’ See who that ‘someone’ is? It could be mobiles, internet, TV, film-stars, sportsmen and the celebrities, in the lap of a culture which has created this dilemma for you, without giving you any clue about how to get out, with the children safe and sound, chaste and bound, free but profound. 

هل تسمحون لي

 الا اذكر عذاب القبر لاولادي، الذين لم يعرفوا ما هو الموت بعد؟


me not to mention the torture of the grave to my children, who do not know about death yet?

Undoubtedly, those who attempt it are in grave error. Trying to create virtue out of fear is bound to replace tenderness of love with dryness of the lips and coldness of the heart.

But, curiously, by the age of three, children seem to become conscious of death although not yet of life. A dead insect is deeply peered at to discover signs of life, and nothing scares them more than ‘becoming dead’ – like the insect.

هل تسمحون لي

ان اعلم ابنتي اصول الدين وادبه واخلاقه، قبل ان افرض عليها الحجاب؟


to teach my daughter the tenets of the religion and its culture and manners, before I force on her the ‘Hijab’ (the veil)?

If Hijab is not one of the tenets of religion, its culture and manners, then what is it?

Aren’t you aware that Man’s civilization is the result of Woman’s, that the presence of one of them (even if veiled) in a company, forces the males to control their tongues, look into the mirror, and broadly smile? Will you not ever understand why the Qur’an addresses the male? Have you not heard your Prophet say, “None humiliates a woman but a dreadfully mean (person)”? Will you miss the deep meanings behind simple words?

Whoever thought of removing the veil, is an enemy of culture and civilization.

هل تسمحون لي

ان اقول لابني الشاب ان ايذاء الناس وتحقيرهم لجنسيتهم ولونهم ودينهم، هو ذنب كبير عند الله؟


 to tell my young son that hurting people and degrading them because of their nationality, color or religion, is considered a big sin by God?

You are permitted. Today, Islam is incurring greater damage from Arab prejudice and nationalism, than at anytime in its history.

On the other hand, we may not miss a truth: loss of respect for those who are devoted to false Gods comes through the reverse channels of love of God. It is impossible not to receive it, but religiously unallowable to express it, in words, deeds or gestures.

هل تسمحون لي

ان اقول لابنتي ان مراجعة دروسها والاهتمام بتعليمها

انفع واهم عند الله من حفظ آيات القرآن عن ظهر قلب دون تدبر معانيها؟


to tell my daughter to revising her homework and paying attention to her learning is considered by God as more useful and important than learning by heart Ayahs from the Quran without knowing their meaning?

We agree with your suggestion that learning the Qur’anic ayahs by heart with meaning is considered by God as more useful and important than revision of homework and paying attention to (secular) learning·

هل تسمحون لي

ان اعلم ابني ان الاقتداء بالرسول الكريم يبدأ بنزاهته وامانته وصدقه، قبل لحيته وقصر ثوبه؟


to teach my son that following the footsteps of the Honourable Prophet begins with his honesty, loyalty and truthfulness, before his beard or how short his thobe (long shirt/dress) is?

If it is the question of priority, you couldn’t be more correct. But, do not make it look as if one can be had at the cost of the other, or ignored, or that there is any littleness attached to certain forms and appearances. Let loose love, and let it decide how he would like to be identified.

هل تسمحون لي

ان اقول لإبنتي ان صديقتها المسيحية ليست كافرة، والا تبكي خوفا عليها من دخول النار؟


to tell my daughter that her Christian friend is not an infidel, and ask her not to cry fearing her friend will go to Hell?

This is NOT permitted.

There is something called Truth. Its opposite is untruth. There is something called virtuous. Its opposite is evil. There is something called right. Its opposite is wrong.

By what logic you wish to declare two opposites equal?

You cannot be on both sides of a fence. You cannot win the head – and the tail too – in one toss. By what system of classification, ranking and evaluation, can you declare those who love Jesus and curse Muhammad, as on the same footing before God as those who love Muhammad and love Jesus? By what common qualities can you place together in Paradise those whose God is Jesus, with those whose God is the Lord of the worlds, of Muhammad and Jesus, and of Paradise?’

Yes, you can change places. You can place the Christians appearing after Muhammad’s advent in Paradise, and place Muslims in Hellfire. That you could do and that would be your choice. But you cannot place them together neither in Paradise nor in Hellfire.

هل تسمحون لي

ان اجاهر، ان الله لم يوكل احدا في الارض بعد الرسول لان يتحدث باسمه

ولم يخول احدا بمنح ‘صكوك الغفران’ للناس؟

Would you permit me to argue, that God did not authorize anyone on earth after the Prophet to speak in his name nor did he vest any powers in anyone to issue ‘deeds of forgiveness’ to people?

Whoever said God speaks to him, or has revealed to him, or will forgive him whom he forgives, is an unbeliever in what Muhammad has brought.

هل تسمحون لي

ان اقول، ان الله حرم قتل النفس البشرية، وان

من قتل نفسا بغير حق كأنما قتل الناس جميعا، وانه لا يحق لمسلم ان يروع مسلما؟

Would you permit me to say, that God has forbidden killing the human spirit, and who kills wrongly a human being is as if he killed all human kind, and no Moslem has the right to frighten another Moslem?

Nobody can dare to disagree with unambiguous statements of the Qur’an and remain a Muslim.

هل تسمحون لي

ان اعلم اولادي ان الله اكبر واعدل وارحم من كل فقهاء الارض مجتمعين؟ وان مقاييسه تختلف عن مقاييس المتاجرين بالدين، وان حساباته أحن وارحم؟


to teach my children that God is greater, more just, and more merciful than all the (religious) scholars on earth combined? And that his standards are different from the standards of those trading the religion, and that his accountability is kinder and more merciful?

 Yes, you are permitted to teach this. Condemned of Man, is not necessarily condemned of God. Jesus Christ’s immortal words ring in every censured man and woman’s year: “Let him cast the first stone who has not sinned.”

Nonetheless, you might also teach your children that they look upon these elements and other sectors of human society, including those exclusive ones who think Paradise is made for them, with the same sympathy and kindness that they expect their Lord to show to them.

 هل تسمحون لي


 نزار قباني

Nizar Kabbani

 [Nizar Qabbani was a Syrian diplomat and a popular poet. We do not know when it was that he wrote this piece. It was sent to us recently, and we felt that it might be answered for the interest and benefit of those who have similar questions on their minds. We have retained the Arabic text for the joy of our Arab readers. The script itself, and its English translation, was forwarded to us by our dear Mohammad Assami. Ignorant as we are, we learnt of the poet’s expiry (in 1998) only after penning these lines, may Allah show him mercy. But this piece is still alive on the Net].

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