Letters to the Editor
Q: I am a 21 year old Engineering student. From my childhood days (as far as I can remember), I came across no situation when my father has shown any love or affection towards me or helped me in my studies or guided me. The reason why he did so, I am not able to understand. Due to this situation, my mother had to face a lot of problems. Although I was used to it, I realized recently that the whole situation of my career would have been different if he had not been so negligent.
Due to some misunderstandings that have crept in between me and my father, and due to which, I give him rough answers and occasionally do not obey him. Considering the position of father and mother in Islam, I would like to ask you if my behaviour towards my father is correct?
Hope you understand my problem and guide me as per Qur’an and Sunnah.
You have levelled a few charges against your father but have not substantiated with examples as to what exactly is his fault. Let us take your allegations one after another, and examine them.
You say your father has not exhibited his love for you. Now, not to love a child is one thing, and not to exhibit it is another. We are sure you cannot say he does not love you simply because he does not make a show of it. Who knows what he has in his heart? We know of at least one case where the father and the son disagreed over everything. But, when the son went away overseas, the father was quite in despair over the son’s absence. You see, between those who live together, it is extremely difficult to judge from their attitudes if they love each other or not. Little things happen that spoil the atmosphere. But whatever said because of those little frictional events, love stays firm in the heart.
Again, there are certain types of individuals who do not like to demonstrate their love or concern, even if they are deeply in love.
As for your mother facing hardships, again, it is not clear why she had to undergo suffering in consequence of hardships, if she suffered at all. Hardships are nothing uncommon in the world. Most people face hardships at some time or the other in their lives. But, facing hardship does not mean suffering too, although quite a few suffer also. But that is true mostly of Western countries where people suffer even without facing hardships. You see, hardship is physical, whereas suffering is mental, psychological or spiritual. In the Muslim world, hardships do not necessarily mean suffering too. And, even if they do, many people suffer for no reason other than that they are sentimental, emotional or fretful over little things. Moreover, if your mother suffered at your father’s hands, then, unless your father was a drunkard, or suffered some such horrible character failure, unless that is the case, this is a “no go” area for you. It is something only the two can settle between themselves. It’s not for you to comment, take sides, or judge. For, there may be lots of background details that your parents will never disclose to you.
Your another allegation about your father being negligent of your career is also unclear. Did he not guide you to the course of studies you wished to adopt? Or, did he force you into a course that you disliked? If he did not guide you to a course of study you wished to adopt, then, we do not know the reason. Maybe he wished you to make an independent judgement. Alternatively, if he forced you into the present course, then, perhaps, he thought that was the best choice for you. Perhaps you need to discuss the issue with him a quiet evening.
In the overall, we might tell you that unless it is a clear moral failure, it is very difficult for a son to judge his father. To the children, all parents are extremely lovable initially. Then comes the period in their lives when they become indifferent to their parents while the parents continue to fret over them. Then comes the great transition phase of the teenager into manhood. In this stage, the parents sound funny to their children. If not handled properly, this can be carried into adulthood also. In the next stage, all scores seem to be settled as the parents get old. Finally, with death, all is forgotten and forgiven. In some cases, death is followed by regrets, grief and pangs of love. But that too dies off, and the person, the child of yesterday, the man of today, himself dies uncaring of anyone in the world, just as when he was born. Our advice to you is not to be in a haste to judge your father. You cannot attribute your failures to him.
Everyone gets what he strives for, and there is a way out of every situation of dissatisfaction. Again, generosity is a marked character of a Muslim. And parents are first of those who deserve it. Sometime later, when you have grown older, maybe your father will be in a mood to discuss the past with you. Perhaps, you will then know the true motives of his behaviour now.
Q: I am a regular of reader your digest and am writing this letter with full hopes that you will answer my question and help me in leading the right path.
You ought to pin your hope on Allah, more than on us, anyone else, or even on yourself. Allah is the Guide, the Protector.
Q: I am a 26 year old professional graduate married with one child. I am very short-tempered and I end up quarrelling with everybody.
Normally, people lose temper because something goes wrong. But, it is impossible that things shouldn’t go wrong. Which means it is impossible that one shouldn’t get angry. What’s the solution then? Well, the solution lies in lowering the scale of expectations from the people and of life in general. This is one of the most successful ways to avoid losing temper.
To explain: if you asked somebody to do something, then, think over in your mind: what do you think the person will achieve? What kind of accomplishment it is that will make you feel satisfied? Having made it clear to yourself, what you expect of the person, (mostly, good results), next begin another exercise within your mind. Tell yourself that for sure the person is not going to do it the way you want it done. Surely, he or she will spoil it, or do it badly, or not do it at all. Having assured yourself that what you have entrusted to the person, will end up in a failure, prepare yourself as to how you will receive the news. What will you say when the person turns up bringing in the disappointing result.
To give you a concrete example, let us say you sent someone to buy mutton from the market. Now, before the person comes back, tell yourself the man is not going to buy mutton. He will say, he couldn’t go, or he forgot, or the shop was closed, or the meat wasn’t good, or whatever. Having assured yourself that the errand will be a failure, prepare your reaction to the failure. What will you say when he turns up. Also, prepare yourself to cook vegetables instead.
Now, suppose the man turns up without the meat, surely, you wouldn’t be too angry. You will say to him and to yourself, “I knew you wouldn’t bring it.” Also, being ready with an alternative, (cooking vegetables in place of mutton) will cut down the intensity of your anger. At least you will save yourself the immediate outburst.
Now, you can’t do this sort of exercise with every little thing. But it should work with major events, and should cut down on instances when you completely lose your temper.
Further, you’ll have to analyze as to when is it that mostly you lose temper. Let’s say in the kitchen early in the morning when you have to prepare the breakfast, look after the child, things are not arriving on time, somebody is rising late creating inconvenience, etc. So, one way to curb the temper would be “not” to say to yourself early in the morning that today Allah willing you are not going to lose your temper. Rather, you should tell yourself: “Now, everyday something happens that makes me lose temper. It’s funny. Everyday something new happens. Let’s see what happens today that will make me lose my temper.” Having said that, be on the watch for something that will make you lose your temper. Being on the watch will lessen the chances of its occurrence.
Another way to fight off bad temper, is to make fun of yourself in the presence of others. When you ask someone to do something, then also add, “Now. Don’t go and spoil it. You know how short-tempered I am.” Or, “Do you know that I suffer more than you when I lose my temper. So, for God’s sake, don’t go and spoil this. Do it the way I want it. Do you want me to shout at you?” Or, “Man, do it properly. There is somebody in the house who is short-tempered.” These kinds of statements will not only curb your anger but also make it easier for others to bear when you flare up.
Finally, if the anger is really too hot, just leave the place. Go wash your face. Drink some cold water. If that doesn’t work, pour some water on yourself. Wetness of your clothes, will on the one hand cool you down, and, on the other hand, require a change of dress, diverting your mind and thought away from what made you angry.
Q: I read the Qur’an regularly with Tafsir. I want to control my temper, but unable to do it in spite of my several attempts. I get angry easily and, in that mood, I lash out my tongue at everybody – even my elders.
Your short-temper seems to be a trial from Allah. You will have to take it as a challenge. You must try and come on top of it.
As a practical action, take account everyday of your lashing out instances at the people during the previous day, and seek their forgiveness the next day when you are cool. You might not always be able to say sorry to them, or seek forgiveness, since, after all, you’d have a feeling that it was they who provoked you to anger.
With that thought, saying sorry will be very difficult. Rather, when you notice them sort of out of mood, or cold towards you, or indifferent, say, “Take it easy, man. What’s said in anger is not to be taken too serious.” Or, “Cool it off, man. Fire will not quench fire.” Or, “Ah. I see you put off. But I think it is an over-reaction.” Or, “So, you haven’t forgotten yesterday’s brawl. Let me make you a tea to make you forget it. Shall I?” Or some such words of compromise. That, perhaps, is the best you can do after you have been angry with someone.
Q: Due to this, I am very unhappy knowing very well that my good deeds are getting destroyed and I am becoming a sinner. I even disobey my parents in that temper.
It should be much easier to say sorry to the parents. Also, at normal times take good care of them. Attend to all their needs in a most diligent manner. Ask them, “Papa/ Mama, where do you think I got this bad temper from. Anyway, you must pray for me. Only your prayer can help me get rid of it,” etc.
Q: I lose all commonsense, thinking, etc in that mood. My mother says that I have all bad qualities like, short temper, narrow-mindedness, jealously, etc. These accusations are making me much more depressed.
You have to realize that it is not easy to control one’s temper. It is a Herculean task. But, it can be curbed. And that’s what you should be satisfied with.
As regards your mother’s words, probably, your quick flare up leads her to think in those terms. You should have a good laugh at it and make fun of your anger. Make your mother also laugh at you, rather than get angry in return. If you take it easy, they will also take it easy.
Q: I perfectly know that these are all the features of a hypocrite.
They are not. In fact, hypocrites have a very good control of their tempers. They are deft at dealing with people and situations. Your anger is a trial from Allah. You curb it and earn the reward.
Q: I have tried, but in vain, to control and fight my inner bad self. I have desperately tried every method and this letter is the last step which I have taken.
Name and address withheld
Consulting us need not be the last step. Try out methods suggested by us. But lack of immediate results should not disappoint you. This life is a trial. Everyone is tried one way or the other. We have to win over what we are tried with. If you sit back in despair, then that is what Shaytan wants. It’s his victory. Don’t accept defeat, even if you lost this time. Remember that until death, there is always a “next time.” Let yours be the last laugh and the final victory yours.
Finally, say kalimah shahadah as many times as possible, all over the day. Not just repetitions at some time. Rather, every few minutes say it once, maybe about 8-10 times an hour. Not the whole of it, but simply, “Laa ilaaha illa-Allah.” It should have a soothing effect on your soul, Allah willing.
Q: To get a job in the government sector, or in private, is not easy in Manipur. So, people bribe to get a job. And now most of the people that are employed by doing so are engaged in da’wah works and pray five times daily. Will their good deeds will be accounted good in the sight of Allah. Where will they be in the Hereafter?
Islam is a very pragmatic and practical religion. It is an earthly religion. It is not the religion of ideals, ideologies and day-dreamers. It is down-to-earth in its solution to human problems.
Denial of jobs, to the deserving, whoever he or she may be, Muslim or non-Muslim, for any reason other than unavailability, is a crime. Now, the governments are there as law-keepers and not to commit crimes. If they do, then, obviously, the victims, the people, have to do something to safe-guard themselves and their rights.
When a man tries to bribe a government officer, the officer should get him punished and not reward him with a job. In contrast, if the official proves that that is the only way a man can get a job, then he is making a rule.
How can then, those bribing be called criminals. Aren’t they following a rule of law?
Islamic law is very clear on this issue. “The giver and taker of bribe, both are in the Fire,” goes a hadith. But, if your rights can only be got through bribes and by no other means at all, then there are two solutions. One, forego your rights, and two, go ahead and do what you are being asked to do, to obtain your right. But, in either choice, it adds a responsibility to the Muslim: work on getting the system changed. From active opposition, to verbal protest, to a stern dislike of the system, everything should be done to usher in the rule of the equitable law. If they fail to do that, then they’d be counted amongst the criminals. But, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t strive to get their rights.
As regards, Prayers, yes, if the circumstances are truly as you have portrayed, then their earnings are lawful and their Prayers are acceptable.
Q: One earns money illegally like gambling, black marketing, hoarding and interest transaction business, etc. Now, he becomes rich and prays five times daily and performs Hajj also. Is there no contradiction between his wealth and spiritual life?
Firstly, you have bundled up together crimes of various gravity. For instance, interest transaction is something totally unacceptable. But hoarding is not a crime of the same class.
Secondly, you haven’t stated the country and the government: whether it is at war with Muslims, or, is simply hostile to them, or, is indifferent, or protective, or, is it a Muslim state. The gravity of the crime will depend on the kind of government the concerned people live in.
Thirdly, whenever someone got rich, rumors are spread by the jealous that it was got through illegal means.
For instance some of the unfair means you have stated actually bring in poverty, such as, gambling and interest transaction. Whoever indulged in gambling, or borrowed money on interest, will end up as a pauper.
Finally, in general terms, free of all conditional statements, whoever earned wealth through unlawful means such as usury, or gambling, earned unlawful wealth, and his Prayers are not acceptable to Allah.
But we do not understand what you mean by the contradiction. If you mean he should forego his wealth, giving back the people their dues, or, spending off the unlawful in the way of Allah, retaining only the lawfully earned, then you are right. But, if you mean he should either do the above or give up his devotional acts, then you are wrong. He should continue with his devotional acts. It is expected that if he is sincere in his devotional acts, he will be led to repentance. Allah said, “Surely, Prayer prevents from the obscene and the evil.”
Q: My father asks me to join army as a Jawan, although I am physically unfit. He thinks that this problem can be solved with money. Only my father supports the whole family which is big. Now, we are in hand-to-mouth situation. I cannot agree with my father’s plan. Now, my condition is as follows. I am at presently TDC (core) Arts student in Economics. I learn Islamic course in the local Madrasah. My father does not have confidence that I’ll get a job after graduation. In his words, I will be in Islamic lines. Based on his past deeds, we the brothers of our family have repented. I aspire for civil service. I tried to earn some money but failed.
It is clear from the above details that your family is passing through a difficult economic phase. Further, the course of studies that you have undertaken does not seem to promise a quick job. Therefore, your father’s apprehensions are understandable, especially in view of the fact that it is not easy for Indian Muslims to find jobs. Whether you should join the army is your and your family’s decision. We cannot advise you either way.
But, surely, you could augment your father’s income by working. You say you have failed. But you might have been looking for white collar jobs. Instead, if you are ready to do any work, say for instance, cycle-repair, house-painting, helper in an industry, etc., you should be able to find some work. Especially during the vacations you could take odd jobs and augment your family income. Indeed, even in ordinary days you can earn some money by knitting sweaters, socks, caps, etc. Finding a decent well-paying job is difficult, but earning some money should not be so.
Q: In Manipur, the academic atmosphere is polluted with unfair means and corruption. In such an atmosphere, I cannot engage in any creative works, e.g. preparing for competitive examinations. Please help me in finding ways to build up self-confidence.
Your excuse is not a sound one. Many of those who do well in competitive examinations do not enjoy good academic environment at home or in the universities. One who applies himself seriously to the studies, forgets his surroundings.
Q: What is Kal-Bujari, a statement which is often made by the Tabligh Jamaat people. Why don’t they respect other forms of da’wah and self-reformation rules? What is the main obstacles to have Daras-e-Qur’an after prayers instead of Tabligh-Nisab? It sounds like that they want to keep away Qur’an and Hadith. Am I wrong to say that there is buzurg-culture in their speech instead of arguments based on Qur’an and Hadith.
The objections you have raised are nothing new. But, neither they have a satisfactory reply to their views, nor their critics are able to provide a viable alternative, or a solution to problems that they foresee. One answer to the above objections is that the Jama‘a does not disagree with the fact that the Qur’an and Sunnah are of paramount importance. But, they would not like to extend the right of interpretation of the Qur’an and Sunnah to the laity. They believe, therefore, that a proper Dars (lecture) on the Qur’an or Hadith is something that only a qualified scholar can handle. And, not finding any in most places, they end up opposing those non-scholars who engage in their studies, or pooh-poohing those who engage in such studies.
But, truly speaking, it is not the laity’s ignorance of the Qur’an and Sunnah that is deplorable. It is the ignorance of the so-called “khawas” (the elites) among them that is incomprehensible. It has seriously affected the quality of religion of the common adherents of the Jama`ah. The failure to bring in meaningful societal changes can only be attributed to the neglect of the sources of Islam. In the long run, it is feared that the Jama`ah will pay dearly for the neglect of the Qur’an and Sunnah. May Allah not show us that day, and may He guide everyone to the right course.
Q: Please suggest me some steps which I can successfully acquire degree of both secular and Islamic knowledge, noting that in the latter I am only a starter?
Md. Yushub Ali,
Moijing Chingya, Manipur
You have asked for the best of both the worlds. That is a big thing to ask. To get even the best of one world requires the devotion of a life-time. What about both the worlds then? If you look around at people who have been successful businessmen, doctors or artists, you will find that they have been working day and night for years on to achieve success.
Our answer then is, double up your efforts if you desire to get the two: this and the next world, the material and the spiritual, the earthy and the heavenly, the secular and the religious. We don’t mean that you double up “your” efforts. (Your efforts after all, don’t seem to be enough to solve your financial problems). Rather, look at the efforts of the most hard-working person around you, and double up those efforts for yourself, to achieve what you are desiring to achieve.