The year is coming to an end. Another one. The entire world is a different place from what it was last year. So much more barbaric inhumanity prevalent, so much less generosity and love. Are we truly regressing as a society? Have we lost the ability to think or feel? Is all hope lost for us?
A few years ago, it was all the rage to believe that the future held an invasion by aliens from outer-space, an attack that would cause all of humanity (or was it just the Americans?) to rally together and join hands against a foriegn force.
Today, we are under attack, yes, but the alien is within us – it has surfaced as an ability to be so cruel, so brutal, so hateful, that we no longer recognise a human being in the other person we are looking at and in doing so, we are losing our own humanity.
I am sitting here, having spent the last couple of hours trying to get my daughter to sleep in her own little crib and after days of attempting to do so (with no success), I have settled her next to me and realised that this co-sleeping habit may seem like an inconvenience (and perhaps a dangerous habit to some), it is actually a wonderful blessing in disguise.
How can I ever express enough gratitude for the fact that my child is healthy, is warm, is breathing and has the energy and freedom to cry for my company? Or that I have the ability to provide her with all that she needs or even just wants?
Nothing breaks the heart of human being more thoroughly than not being able to provide a loved one with what it is that they have asked for, and never more so than when the heart is that of a parent.
Yet, how many thousands of parents in the world are at this moment unable to give to their children even something as basic as a place to sleep or food to eat.
I feel guilty for having so much, I feel afraid that the reason I am not tested is because I am too weak, I am terrified that thinking that thought might bring upon me these tests, because I know I am too weak to bear them.
How can I truly sympathise with someone if I am not willing to take on some of their burden? Doesn’t that work against the idea of an ummah? Would I survive with this kind of attitude if I lived during the time of the Prophet (pbuh)? Do I have what it takes to be a true Muslim? Will I be able to deliver when the time comes for me to be called?
Having children expands the area of influence that one considers when deciding on what to think or act upon. Everything becomes connected in terms of importance. It is no longer about how you can influence the world, but rather about how you can influence the world so that it becomes a better place for your child(ren) to grow up in.
With all these thoughts, the one thing that becomes more and more obvious every day is that there is very little I can do to change what’s out there. The only aspect I do have some control over is the kind of environment I provide for my daughter within my family.
That leaves so little room for mistakes and trial-and-error that it makes me realise why our literature emphasizes preparing for parenthood from one’s own youth. My daughter is observing and absorbing me on a daily basis and I have very little time to sort myself out and become the role model for what I want her to be.
Every day that I fail to better myself is a day lost for her to learn from. Every time I slip up, she has an opportunity to learn that mistake (as opposed to learning from it). Life has become more challenging, more confusing, more fearsome.
But it has also become more fulfilling. There is a sense of purpose in even the simplest of acts. A salaam in the morning seems to mean everything to this little child, teaching her to raise her hands in du’a comes coupled with the aspiration that she will constantly turn to God in her times of need, reciting the shahada or a short surah before bed is an attempt to instill a lifelong habit.
Introducing this new individual to her Creator is a task that is both intimidating and inspiring. And with the start of the new year, it will be almost one year since she came into our lives, one year by which to judge our success as mentors, as guides, as teachers, as guardians…as parents.
One year of many such years that await us…insha’Allah.