Interview

Raising Muslim Children Abroad

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Deep respect to parents, the elderly, neighbours, friends.  Gentleness to children and the young. Protecting one’s chastity and modesty. Staying away from lurid behaviour or anything that can hurt oneself or someone else. Sincerity in words and actions. Praying on time and early; above all, nurturing a relationship with God.  

Having lived abroad both as a student and as a parent, I know firsthand what it’s like trying to be a practising Muslim within a predominantly non-Muslim society. Parents, especially, often find themselves at odds with their children, who may feel alienated when they practice Islam as a minority. Meet sister Mifrah Mahroof, who willingly shared her personal experiences growing up in a non-Muslim country. ~ Jamilah Samian. 

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Jamilah: Tell us about yourself, your country of origin, where you’re residing now, your interests, educational and professional background.

Mifrah: I am in my twenties, an Australian Muslim with a Sri Lankan background. After completing my high school studies, I went straight into the business world. Along with my two siblings, I was a part of running a FX business. Through this, I was able to develop a variety of skills in different areas of the business. Eventually, I found myself at home in the marketing and I.T side of things.

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Jamilah: What do you think are the issues that plague Muslim youths today?

 Mifrah: There are many things that plague our youth but one thing I have noticed is that we as a society have underestimated our youth and they in turn, have failed to realize what they are capable of doing.

One thing that pushes a person towards taking control of their life is a sense of responsibility but unfortunately in the society we live in, this is not expected until they become ‘an adult’ at the age of 18. Therefore anytime before that, even if they are mentally and physically capable of being fully responsible for their actions, it is not expected from them.

On the other hand, if we look at the lives of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, we see that some of them were as young as 15 and yet they accomplished great things. Even if we fast forward a bit in history and look at some great figures, it is not uncommon to see young people making big contributions.

How did they do this? One reason I believe was because the society perceived them as adults and expected them to take responsibility once they came of age and what was the result? They lived up to that and they took charge of their lives.

Therefore, if we can believe in our youth and give them responsibilities then insha’Allah I believe this will help make them better individuals.

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Jamilah: How can Muslim youths contribute better to the world?

 Mifrah: We can have an entire article dedicated to this question but to keep it short and sweet; this is my advice to a Muslim youth on how to contribute better to the world:

– Have a sincere intention to bring goodness to the world for the sake of Allah.

– Ask Allah to help you discover your strengths so you can use them for His sake and to guide you onto a path that will allow you to make the biggest contribution. One thing I have learned in my life, time and time again is to never under estimate the power of dua. Dua is truly a weapon of the believer.

– Constantly develop yourself because if you want to change the world, then you must start with first changing yourself. Thus increase your knowledge in the religion, open your mind to new insights and ideas, read books, listen to lectures, get out of your circle & talk to people from different walks of life and most importantly be humble.

– Finally, remember that contributing to the world does not mean that you need to be famous and recognized. The very fact that Allah knows about what you do is sufficient because only He has the power to let your contributions have a bigger effect and continue to benefit humanity after you pass away.

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Jamilah: It’s so common to see Muslim youths not practising Islam these days despite their parents trying to teach them otherwise. Your thoughts. Perhaps you can share with us what your parents did right here, if any.

Mifrah: Reflecting back on my life and some things my parents did to help nurture an Islamic upbringing, here are my thoughts:

Regularly Make Dua: A dua made by a parent for their child is one that holds much weight in the sight of Allah and alhamdulilah, my parents would do this for us regularly.

Your deeds have an effect on your children. In Surah Al-Kahf, we come across the story of orphan boys whose father had left them a treasure when he passed away. In it we see that his father was a righteous man therefore when he passed away, Allah took care of his children. So if you take care of your relationship with Allah, Allah will take care of your children.

Watch what nourishes your children. By nourishment, I am not just referring to nutritious and halal food rather I am highlighting the importance of making sure the money that is used to purchase this nourishment has been earned through halal means. My father, may Allah preserve him, was the sole provider for the family and one thing I noticed about him was that he took care in making sure the income that was used to feed and sustain the family was halal.

Look at it this way, if there was a seed and you watered it daily with tainted water then surely, the plant would be affected by it. I am not looking at this from a fiqh perspective rather the point here is to be mindful of these things so that there will be more barakah (blessings) in your lives.

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Jamilah: What made you start writing?

Mifrah: Writing for me is a means of sharing my experiences and ideas with a wider audience. One thing that is lost today is the act of sharing, we tend to withdraw from sharing our experiences, our life lessons and other things we learn in life, possibly because we are scared of being judged and being vulnerable. This however is a baseless fear because vulnerability is actually power. Brene Brown, a research professor, explains this in her TED talk, the power of vulnerability.

Sharing allows us to connect with others on a humanly level and when we stop doing this, others who go through similar struggles as we have in the past, may think that they are the only ones and so they feel helpless.

Therefore, what encouraged me to write is simply a desire to connect with others, bring value to their lives and let it be a means of ongoing knowledge that can benefit others even after I pass away.

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Jamilah: What is your definition / description of a committed Muslim youth? What can Muslim parents do to raise committed Muslim youths?

Mifrah: A committed youth is someone who is conscious of Allah and tries his or her best to please Him. One who seeks His help when faced with hardships and is grateful to Him during the times of ease.

Muslim parents can help nurture such committed youth by providing them with an Islamic foundation and instilling in them love for Allah when they are young instead of forcing it upon them when they grow older.

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Jamilah: Have you always been interested in Islam, or was there a turning point in your life when you decided to take a deeper interest in Islam? If so, what & when was it?

Mifrah: Alhamdulilah, I grew up in an Islamic household therefore I did what was required however I began to appreciate Islam more after I started to increase my knowledge in it because this helped me develop a better relationship with Allah.

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Jamilah: Name the people who influenced you greatly and inspired you in your growing up years.

Mifrah: Allah has blessed me with the opportunity of crossing paths with many people; each had their share in inspiring and influencing me. They may not know who they are but these people include my family members, friends, mentors and teachers. May Allah reward them all.

If I were to name people specifically however, I would narrow it down to my older brother and sister. Although they may not be aware of this themselves, they have played a role in shaping who I am today. It was my brother who introduced me to the world of Islamic knowledge and the dawah scene and my older sister, a very selfless soul that has supported me and never grew tired of offering me sincere advice. They have served as great influences and inspirations. May Allah preserve them in His obedience & grant them the best in this life and the hereafter. Aameen.

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Jamilah: What do you think is the real value for youths to practice Islam? What are they missing if they don’t?

Mifrah: We live in a world in which we are bombarded with so many messages. Everyone is telling us what to do, how to lead our lives, how to think and eventually, we become a product of the society, another cog in the system but by practicing Islam, we actually get our lives back. We find our true selves because we choose to enslave ourselves to the creator instead of the creation and who knows what’s best for us than the one who created us?

Therefore, contrary to what people think, the real value of practicing Islam – proper Islam, not cultural Islam – would be freedom, freedom from the shackles of society and strong sense of purpose in life.

As for what they are missing if they don’t, it’s simply fulfilling happiness in this life and reward in the hereafter.

NOTE: Check out Sis Mifrah Mahroof’s blog http://www.muslimlifehacks.com/

She has created a Ramadan Maximizing Guide containing tips and tricks on how to maximize your next Ramadan. You can download it here:

http://www.muslimlifehacks.com/ramadanmaximizingguide/

 

 

About Jamilah Samian

Jamilah has written 433 articles.

Jamilah Samian is the author of "COOL MUM SUPER DAD", "COOL BOYS SUPER SONS", "THE GROOVY GUIDE TO PARENTING GEN Y & Z" and "THE KINDNESS MIRACLE".

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