The phone rang well before the break of dawn yesterday morning. It was my daughter, Alia, who had gone into labour. There was no way her husband, a doctor in a hospital more than four hundred miles away, could get there on time, so my husband and I were in charge. For the first time in my life, I forgot that speed kills and isn’t a friend on the road. “Will you hurry up?” I urged Ahmad the moment we hit the highway.
Once Alia was wheeled in, Ahmad and I waited with bated breath outside the operating theatre. From the depth of our hearts, we prayed and hoped for a safe delivery. Long ago, I met with a family who had a ten-year-old daughter. Born with cerebral palsy, she was permanently strapped to a seat, unable to run wild like other kids her age. Nothing happens unless Allah wills it so. Yet I sometimes wonder if I would have the strength to deal with such a test, if it was meant to be.
It seemed like forever before a baby’s wail broke the stillness. Ahmad and I exchanged glances. That must be our new grandchild!
Moments later, a nurse called us in. Swaddled and swollen, I could have sworn the latest addition to the family is the most gorgeous creature I have set eyes upon. Of course I’m biased, but then again, is there such a thing as a baby that’s not gorgeous?
So much joy welcomes the arrival of a baby who is wanted and much awaited for. Which isn’t surprising because a baby, especially the firstborn, brings the parents’ sense of purpose sharply into focus. As a man once said, “Having a baby forces you to grow up, whether you’re ready or not.”
A child may become an unnatural source of pride. For some, how well your child is dressed from top to bottom, whether you can afford designer clothes and all the kiddo stuff, could be taken as a reflection of your wealth and status. Years later, down the road, the school your child attends, his grades, his achievements, the number of trophies he gets . . . for other parents, their children’s performance and achievements are a measure of their success.
A good friend once reminded me, “If our success is measured by the success of our children/family, then Prophet Nuh (Noah) and Prophet Lut (Lot) would have been considered failures.” Prophet Nuh’s son refused to listen to his father. Prophet Lut’s own wife and people refused to listen to him. Yet, these two prophets were role models in terms of their profound love, hope and fear of Allah. Who would dare suggest otherwise when their names are mentioned in the Qur’an?
It’s good to remember that every single thing we have – be it our children, our wealth and everything else – belongs to Allah. Nothing we have is truly ours. They are no more than a trust unto us. That is why, the focus on raising children should transcend beyond trophies and grades. With every birth, a new hope arises, for who could guess what lies ahead of him or her?
Yes, you can love your child like no one else does. But instead of feeling proud, how about nurturing a sense of gratitude in yourself? Why not shift your focus on raising him to become someone who represents a force of good, someone who cares deeply about others? Someone who would remain sincere in his thoughts, words and actions, and not yearn for the recognition from others? Someone who strives to become outstanding, not for the sake of praise or personal pride, but rather, to please the One True God who bestowed him with life, and the ability to think and reflect?
Will the new child’s heart be filled with gratitude with each step he takes, every drop of water he sips, every morsel of food he bites?
The birth of a child may be a momentous event in a family. Yet we know, just as everything else, the child is not ours. God creates whatever He wills. A child is a gift of kindness from Him, even if it’s only on loan to us for a while. Life is transient. A child opens the path of possibilities. Raise him right, and he can become a great source of happiness, a blessing not just to his family, but to others in the community. Imagine your child all grown up, waking up in the middle of the night, praising the One True God, pleading His Creator to forgive his parents, and to accept their good deeds. Here’s a door to Jannah.[ends]
This article was published in the December 2014 edition of Alwasat, the bilingual newspaper based in Melbourne, Australia. Read in online on page 30 http://issuu.com/alwasat2011/docs/december_2014].