Raising Boys vs. Raising Men

FD

We’ve all heard the phrase “Boys will be boys” when a boy does or says something immature or silly. However, there comes a point when a boy becomes a man. However, having the characteristics and physical traits that a man has doesn’t make one a man it makes one a male. We need to make a distinction between men and boys. A guy can be well into his mid-20s, 30s, 40s or even 50s and still be a boy. This is due to the nature of his inability to emotionally, spiritually and psychologically mature. We cannot seriously say the phrase “he’s just a kid” for 18-40 year old guys. This phrase removes any responsibility or accountability for a guy’s actions by simply writing it off as “they’re just being boys” or “they’re just being kids.”  That argument won’t hold any water in the court of law and it most certainly doesn’t in our day to day dealings with others. Our actions and words have consequences. Every action has an equal or stronger reaction.

 

Yes, we’re all learning about life in every stage of our lives, but to not be in a mode of learning, self-reflection, self-improvement and introspection at every point in your life will not help you to mature. Many guys today simply live with their egos, lusts and desires. They seek to simply feed all three (ego, lusts, and desires) and don’t care if in their pursuit of self-gratification of harming others in the process. The guys I see today are obsessed with athletes, celebrities, movies, TV shows, food, and sports. This may not be the case for all youth, but is definitely a trend I see in our youth today. The question is how can we slowly transition these youth out of this mindset to a more mature mindset of thinking deeply about life, reflecting about how they’re living life, and how to better themselves every day? The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was surrounded by youth who took on positions of leadership, took initiative and were key figures in the early history of Islam.

The question is, do we see that same level of maturity in our male youth today?

Sadly, many youth are growing up with this mentality of fast and simple self-gratification. These youth then become college students, then young professionals, and then husbands of families. Yet, as they may have progressed academically and career wise they still are emotionally, psychologically and spiritually at the level of a middle school kid. It’s scary to think that one day the youth that I see at the masjid and in our communities will be future husbands and fathers.

 

It’s easy to think and acts like a boy for all of your life. You can think that your actions and words have no consequences. You can think that everyone needs to respect you, demand respect from other and if anyone disrespects you you put them in their place by cussing them out or yelling at them. You can think that everything must come to you immediately. It’s sad to say though this type of behavior will not fly in the real world. If you have this boyish mentality in your school work, your work life, your family life, and with others you won’t live a very happy life. You’ll meet conflict after conflict, drama after drama and get yourself into more trouble than you want.

 

This is why I say there’s a difference between being a MAN and being a boy or simply thinking you’re a man because you’re male. A man is one who has good character, strong morals, ethics, and principles. A man is someone who is self-confident, respectful to others, builds people up and doesn’t tear them down. A man is someone who doesn’t demand respect, but earns it through his actions. A man is someone who respects women and doesn’t talk about them in a derogatory manner. A man is someone who doesn’t use bad language, yell at others or lose his temper. My question is where are the men today?

 

When I actually sat down to think about why there is such a level of immaturity in our male youth today I can only find one problem: bad parenting. Yes, there are different cases here and there that may be contrary to my finding, but at a core level the level of immaturity stems from bad parenting. If the father or mother doesn’t play a big role their son’s life by teaching him early on about ethics, morals, principles and values then how do you expect him to start adhering to them when he’s well into his teens? If a father doesn’t encourage his son to come to the masjid in his son’s early years and stress the importance of deen (Islam) in their lives how do they expect their sons to know the importance when they become 19 years old? We have parents going to imams, youth directors and the “cool uncle” and ask them “can you speak to my son? Can you encourage him to come to the masjid and remind him about Islam?” It’s sad that it’s come to this point where parents can’t even talk to their own children about their concern for the way they’re living their lives.

 

Another issue that leads to this immaturity is that we’re pampering our boys.We provide them early on with the latest gadgets, clothes, toys and demands early on and continue this trend into middle school, high school, and college. They learn to expect to get their demands at the drop of a hat. They feel entitled to certain things. They feel connected or attached to their gadgets and clothes. They feel that the latest brands are what make them better than others. They feel that can do whatever they want with no consequences.

 

This sets up our sons for failure in life. You can’t expect by giving your sons every luxury in this life at their fingertips while neglecting their Islamic education that they’ll be good human beings and successful in their lives. If you’ve given all the luxuries in the world to your son and not a firm understanding, appreciation and love of Islam then you’ve given your son nothing. We stress the dunya (this world) to such an extent to our sons that their entire lives are consumed by gadgets, clothes, TV shows, movies, etc. Lastly, as parents we can’t demand our kids to be more “religious” if we aren’t even practicing what we’re preaching. If you aren’t going to the masjid on a consistent basis, not reading Quran, not learning more about Islam how can you expect your son to take your request seriously?

 

We can no longer afford to continue this trend or it will hurt our community and our world. We cannot look and say in retrospect “where did I go wrong?” when our sons don’t listen to us, or they go down the wrong path or don’t listen to you when you tell them they should go to the masjid. We reap what we sew. “It’s easier to build strong children than repair broken men” as Franklin Douglass said. We cannot easily reverse years of lack of guidance and nurturing after-the-fact of realizing the wrong we did. Sadly, for most of the immature boys we have in our community it will take a tragic event or a life-shaking event to open their eyes to change their ways, wake up and mature. I pray it doesn’t come to that and may Allah protect us from tragic events (ameen), but it will take something to shake them to wake them up to change their ways and become mature adults and men.

 

 

We need to begin raising men and not simply raising boys. We need well-balanced men who live their lives with purpose, with a vision, with a mission, and understand how to live their lives with balance. We need men who live with a strong understanding of their Islamic identity, morals, ethics and values. We need men who can become strong husbands for their families. We need men who can protect our women from the ugliness of the world. We need men who can become strong leaders for our communities.

 

We need men, not boys. No more “boys will be boys,” let them be MEN.

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15 Ways to Recharge Your Imaan This Ramadan

Ramadan Recharge

So a few of my friends have asked how to make the most of this Ramadan and that they were feeling spiritually low. I sat down and thought about it and here are my simple ways to recharge our imaan (faith) this Ramadan and inshallah for year to come.

1. Tune out Distractions/Drama + Decrease Socializing

-Spend as much time as you can by yourself by making dua, dhikr, etc.

-This isn’t to say to not be nice to people and turn down invites to iftar dinners, but don’t make food the focus of your Ramadan

2. Read more Quran + Review the Meaning

-Find a Quran Translation You Find Easy to Understand

-Find a Quiet and Peaceful Place to Read Quran (I like to read Quran after fajr up until sunrise and then pray Ishraq after)

-The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said: “Whosoever offers his morning (fajr) prayer in congregation, then remains seated making the dhikr of Allah until the sun rises, and thereafter offers two rak’ats, they will receive the reward of performing a Hajj and Umrah.” (Sunan Tirmidhi, no: 586)

 

3. Make Dua Daily

-Create your own dua list

-OR buy: http://www.amazon.com/Accepted-Whispers-English-Translation-Munajaat/dp/B0021IZYEQ

-Dedicate a special time to make your dua with sincerity and focus)-After Fajr or Every Salah

-Here is my list of duas: http://www.scribd.com/doc/101667123/Dua-List-Final

 

4. Add one Small Sunnah to Your Routine

-Add the Sunnah Before Fajr

– 2 rakahs after Maghrib, Dhuhr, Isha

5. Slow Down Your Salah!

-We all rush through our salah, but try to slow down and understand what you’re saying and what position you’re in relation to Allah in your salah. Think to yourself: ok I’m in prostration to Allah, this means I am submitting myself to Him, I’m in Ruku, I am in a position of weakness and am proclaiming His strength.

-Great Lectures about how to gain tranquility in salah:

The Prayer! The Prayer! The Prayer! -Mokhtar Maghraoui(Short Imaan Booster)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0efbrGqO1Os

Understanding Salah-Mufti Ismail Menk (Short Imaan Booster)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGPCMJZ7zto

Sweetness of Salah-Sh Omar Sulaiman(Short Imaan Booster)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3k3ZkQUHYU

 

Sweetness in Prayer (Salah) – Moutasem Al-Hameedi(1 hour)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O724d95udWg

 

Salah in Focus-Abdul Nasir Jangda(1 hour)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhV4p0_QGxk

 

Khushoo-Shaykh Yaser Birjas(1 hour)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KRqNv22F6E

 

Meaning of Tashahud-Sh. Abdul Nasir Jangda(50 mins)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IevbR3-SnSk

 

 6. Learn Daily Duas

-Post Duas Up On Your Fridge so whenever you open the fridge you read the dua

-Post Duas in Common Places like Your Front Door (Dua When Leaving the House and Dua when Entering on the Other Side of the Door)

IMG_20140306_092951

 6. Reconnect with the Seerah

-Seerah Series by Sh. Abdul Nasir Jangda: http://www.qalaminstitute.org/category/podcast/seerah/

-Omar Ibn Khattab (RA) TV Series:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMu_654ASDk&list=PL7839C1DDE0524207

-Omar ibn Khattab (RA) TV Series Study Guide

http://www.scribd.com/doc/231024116/Omar-Ibn-Khattab-MBC-TV-Series-Study-Guide

 

 7. Learn Tafsir, Learn the Meaning and Memorize Short Surahs (Juz Amma)

-Juz Amma Tafsir by Nouman Ali Khan

http://podcast.bayyinah.com/category/juz_amma/

-Word for Word Translation:

http://www.islamicstudies.info/wordtranslation.php

 

8. Make a Dua List (of Things You Need in Dunya/Deen)

Make a dua list where you divide your needs for your dunya (immediate needs) and your deen (i.e. spiritual needs). Also, make a list of things you’re grateful for and thank Allah for them.

9. Ask Forgiveness for People You May Have Hurt

Write an email, text or call someone you may have hurt recently or in the past to ask for their forgiveness and also make a point to forgive others who have wronged you as well!

10.Make a Commitment to Repent for and Stop Any Sins You Are Engaged In

This is easier said than done, but if you look at the way your life is going you’ll begin to realize your sins have already caught up with you or will catch up with you one day or another. Key is to keep struggling against the sin(s) or temptation and never give up.

 11. Attend Tarawih Prayers

Here some tips to get the most out of your tarawih prayers:

http://www.atlantamuslim.com/2014/jul/05/5-ways-improve-tarawih/

12. Learn About the Stories of the Companions of the Prophet SAW

-Learning About the Companions can be a source of Inspiration for Us

-Here is a Great PDF: http://www.missionislam.com/knowledge/books/compprophet.pdf

-Youtube Sh. Zahir Mahmood lectures on Youtube, he has some great short clips about the Companions that are Imaan Boosters. There are other lectures too so find them on Youtube.

 13. Make a Commitment to Fast Mondays and Thursdays

-Plan now to fast the extra 10 days after Ramadan–you’ll get used to fasting so why not fast Mondays and

Thursdays?

14. Try to do Ithikhaaf if You Can in the Last 10 Days

If you can’t go to the masjid and stay in the masjid for the full 10 days at least dedicate a few hours on weekends or evenings and make the intention of it counting as an ithikhaaf and inshallah you’ll get the reward for it from Allah. Dedicate the last 10 days of Ramadan just for you and Allah time to ask Him for any of your needs, forgiveness, and use it as a time to realign your life according to the Quran and Sunnah

15. Make it a Habit to Go to the Masjid for Salah

If you’re attending the masjid for Isha and tarawih then after Ramadan stick to at least coming

 

 

Myths of Manhood*

Manhood

*As defined by modern society

We often focus on the negative impact of society, media, magazines, movies, and TV shows on women, but have forgotten that just as women have been affected men have been too. Men are told how to treat women, how to feel, how to conduct themselves, how to dress, how to talk, etc. The ugly consequences show themselves in the form of domestic violence, degradation of women, rape, and other psychological and emotional effects.

 With that said, let’s get to the myths of manhood in today’s society:

Myth #1: Men should never show emotions or affection, it’s a sign of weakness

 

Men are encouraged not to show emotions or even affection. To do so is a sign of weakness and not “manly.” We tell our boys to stop “acting like a girl” when they cry or show any emotion. We see some awful consequences of this are men’s ability to communicate how they feel to their parents, friends and future spouses.

Myth #2: Showing affection to another dude in the form of saying “thank you” or “I love you man” is considered gay or girly

There seems to be such a strong homophobia in guys today to be seen even remotely as homosexual in one’s words or actions is avoided at all costs. Saying “I love you man” or saying “Thanks man, I appreciate you” is neither gay nor is it girly. Showing appreciation for someone is great and we all need to show it.

Myth #3: Saying sorry or admitting you’re wrong is a sign of weakness

 

Saying sorry or admitting you’re wrong is not a gender-specific problem, but for men our egos are a bit bigger thus, admitting to being wrong is a hard. Saying sorry or admitting you’re wrong is OKAY, it’s not the end of the world. You won’t lose any “Man Points” if you admit you’re wrong or apologize for a wrong action or statement you made.

Myth #4: Sleeping with/having many girlfriends is considered “good experience”

In a world where we fight so hard for women’s rights and respect for women it’s odd that we glorify and respect people who have had many girlfriends and slept around. In average gathering of guys you’ll see that some of the conversation will delve into ex-girlfriends, sex lives, and their relationships. The details can get pretty detailed and explicit. Sleeping around and having several girlfriends isn’t considered “macho” nor is it “good experience.” Why steal a girl’s virginity or let’s say she already lost it compromise her privacy by talking about her body and your intimate sexual actions you had with her? How would you like for your dad to talk about previous women he’d been with prior to your mother? How would that make you feel? Would it be respectful or honorable?

Myth #5: Calling women derogatory words is ok and manly

 

Calling women bitches, sluts, whores, etc. is wrong. Not even in a jokingly or seriously it’s plain wrong. If anyone spoke of your mom like that how would it make you feel? Would you be ok?

Myth #6: Commenting on girl’s bodies at stores, shopping malls, etc. is okay  

 

Gawking at a girl and visually raping her is wrong…please don’t tell me you’re “just admiring beauty.” Talking about a girl’s body is utterly screwed up and makes you look like a kid who just went through puberty. Just stop…

This also goes for the guys who have no honor and actually holler at girls too…please stop and have some self-respect and dignity.

Myth #7: Being crude, cussing and telling  sexually explicit jokes is fun, okay and makes me look cool             

 

Men who use bad language, tell explicit jokes, and have an overall dirty mouth are going the wrong way when it comes to becoming a man. Neither is it attractive to the ladies nor does it make you look cool. Yes, it may be a societal norm, but overall cussing and explicit jokes make you look like a complete fool and a person who has no morals, ethics or values.

Myth #8: Speaking loud and acting obnoxiously attracts the ladies

 

Being the loudest guy in the room will not attract the ladies. Being loud and obnoxious shows a signs that you’re immature, egotistical, self-absorbed and attention-seeking. Anyone who wants to be the focus of attention at all times and every time is like a dog looking for someone to play with him ALL the time.

 

Myth #9: Disrespecting women in front of your guy friends is cool and shows how manly you are

This is another example of immaturity and a sign of insecurity. If you need to put someone else down to feel better about yourself…you’ve got insecurity issues. Imagine someone talking to your mother the way you’ve spoken to the women you’ve verbally abused. Would you be ok with it?

 Also, calling a woman fat or ugly is NOT ok.

Myth #10: Sex jokes, jokes about rape, women’s body parts, jokes about beating women, and just derogatory and mysogynstic jokes about women are so funny and ok

 

Again, this type of behavior reflects one’s immaturity and state of their mind. If we constantly joke about women, their bodies, beating them, raping them, and disrespecting them and their bodies we’ll only continue to perpetuate the belief that rape and disrespect of women is okay.\

 Myth 11: Girls like money, cars, clothes and shiny things. The more I have of those the more girls I can attract

 

First, if you’re pursuing money or a career for girls you’ve got the wrong motivation. Secondly, if you’re attracting girls who are only into material things you’re pursuing the wrong girls. If you want a quality girl, you should pursue girls who are girls with character, morals, ethics, strong conviction, honor, integrity and confident. If you get a girl who’s just in “love” with you for your money you’ve got the wrong girl.

 

Myth 12: Bragging about my wealth, accomplishments, job titles, etc. is attractive and shows how cool and popular I am

 

This is another example of insecurity within men and men who want to seek attention. Bragging and being arrogant is not attractive, nor does it make you look cool or popular. Humility and proving yourself with your actions is far more powerful than just being all talk and no action. Also, people get tired of others talking about themselves…so switch up the conversation!

 

Myth 13: It’s ok for me to fool around, sleep around, and have a lot of girlfriends but my future wife needs to be an angel, unblemished and perfect

 

Men have this double standard when it comes to women. They become extremely judgmental when it comes to their future wives. Men seemingly have a green light to do whatever they want and not get blamed, but when a girl slips up or makes a mistake she’s condemned for life and blemished forever. Men: it’s NOT ok for you to fool around and expect your future wife to be an angel when you’ve been a devil in the past. If you’ve been able to forgive yourself for your mistakes, be prepared to forgive others for theirs. No one’s perfect—we all make mistakes.

Myth #14: As a married man, my only duty is to put food on the table and pay the bills

 

Many marriages and families are crumbling due to the lack of involvement of fathers in the lives of their children. It’s crucial for men to be active participants in the parenting process for their kids.

Myth #15: My wife has to be a supermodel, but its ok for me to be out of shape and live sloppily….I pay the bills anyways she should be happy

 

Having a double standard for beauty and cleanliness is a recipe for disaster in a marriage. If you want your wife to look beautiful, you should look handsome for her too. This isn’t a one-way street—it’s a two-way and mutual deal between two people to love, respect and care for one another. So fulfill your side of the deal!

Myth #16: Disrespecting and ordering my wife around in front of my family and friends is ok and shows who’s in control

Disrespecting and ordering your wife around your family and friends is not only disrespectful and demeaning but against every moral and ethical code of conduct. If someone were to order your mother around as a servant, slave or maid would be ordered—how would you feel? A woman’s role is not to serve you as a slave would a master.

Myth #17: Physically and verbally abusing my wife is okay and reminds her who’s in control

 

This is a problem that’s been growing in the Muslim American community and become more common in general. We need to stop domestic violence in all forms and stress to men that physical, verbal, emotional and psychological abuse is not acceptable in any situation or with anyone under any circumstance.

 Check out these short videos discussing manhood/machoness

http://www.ted.com/talks/colin_stokes_how_movies_teach_manhood.html

Facebook Marriages

FB Marriage

In the Muslim community we have a marriage and divorce crises….one element that usually isn’t spoken about in detail is how we live our married lives on Facebook and other social media and  what a detrimental effect it can have on married life. With that said….let’s get started….

Marriage: A Sacred Trust

Marriage. Yes, we’ve all heard the many scholarly lectures, Quranic verses, hadith, and stories from the seerah regarding marriage.  We know it’s a sunnah and encouraged by the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and many of us seek to get married or are already married. However, while many of us may intellectually know what marriage is and have an image of what marriage is, but truly don’t understand the essence and institution of marriage. We may be married, but may be struggling to piece together the marriage to make it work or maybe it’s working (alhamdullilah for those couples and keep them strong) or you may be seeking to get married.

Regardless if you’re single or married, we need to realize that in our community we have a severe lack of knowledge and understanding about the institution of marriage and thus, we have a marriage and divorce crisis in our community. Many marriages may be crumbling or not functional at all. We have emotional and domestic violence issues that are swept under the rug, we have miscommunication between husband and wife, we have anger issues, and the list goes on and on. There are several internal and external forces that seek to rip apart the sacred trust and bond of marriage. We must make sure we are not the cause to the best of our ability and ensure that our actions and words in our marriages are in accordance to Quran and Sunnah. Now that may sound vague, we hear “Quran and Sunnah” far too many times, but what is meant by that is that we need to fulfill each others’ rights and lower our wings and quell our egos. This goes for every relationship even with Allah and also with His creation. Thus, our relationship with our spouse (or future spouse) is a constant test and also a blessing for us to ensure we’re fulfilling the rights of our spouse, fulfilling the commandments of Allah and the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), and also ensuring our own spiritual development and connection with Allah is strong.

After your relationship with Allah, marriage is the most intimate relationship you can have with another being. It is a sacred trust and relationship that helps individuals complete according to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) half of our deen. We are familiar with the oft quoted ayahs:

And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): Verily in that are signs for those who reflect.

 [Al-Rum: 21]

It is He Who created you from a single person, and made his mate of like nature, in order that he might dwell with her (in love).

 [AI-A`raf: 189]

Now, marriage is and can be a very beautiful and dynamic relationship in which both the husband and wife benefit from one another and grow spiritually and emotionally together. They learn about one another and learn about their Creator through their relationship. It can also be very challenging experience which both husband and wife can be tested severely with outside forces or internal forces in the form of weaknesses in both the husband and wife. What binds the husband and wife together is their sacred trust and commitment to one another and their duty to Allah.

As we mentioned before, there are several internal and external forces that seek to destroy marriages. We need to look at the institution of marriage like a fort. You and your spouse (or future spouse) are the guards and must ensure that no external forces breach your fort and cause chaos and destruction. At the same time, you need to ensure that you and your spouse (or future spouse) are working on your internal weaknesses and strive to become strong and build trust, caring, love, understanding, communication and mercy between one another. There are several doors of your fort that fitnah and challenges can enter through so it’s important to remain vigilant and also guard those doors jealously when it comes to your marriage. Our definition of jealousy can often be negative, but there is healthy jealousy in marriages when it comes to protecting the honor and dignity of your spouse and your marriage. Mutually agreed rules, regulations and modes of conduct must be agreed upon by you and your spouse to avoid misunderstanding, miscommunication, and fitnah in the marriage.

Privacy, Facebook and Marriage

 FB Marriage 2

With that said, we come to the main point of this: privacy in marriage. Just as we used the analogy of the fort and several doors being entry points, privacy is one of those doors. There are several ways to destroy a marriage and removing the hijab of privacy from your marriage can destroy trust between spouses. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) elaborated on maintaining the privacy of a marriage:

“On the authority of Asmaa’ bint Yazid who narrated “that she was once in the presence of the Prophet and there were both men and women sitting. The Prophet then said:  “Perhaps a man might discuss what he does with his wife, or perhaps a woman might inform someone what she did with her husband?” The people were silent. Then I said: “O, Yes! O Messenger of Allah verily both the women and men do that.” Then the Prophet said: “Do not do that. It is like a male Satan who meets a female Satan along the way, and has sex with her while the people look on! “

[Reported by Ahmad]

Yes, marriage can be a very joyous occasion and merits celebration. However, when it comes to a point where your married life is starting to be lived on Facebook or other social media it becomes problematic. Several young couples (or even “veteran” couples) post various pictures, statuses, etc. about intimate events, moments or quotes of them or their spouse. When you share intimate moments freely and openly online or with anyone for that matter, it cheapens the value of it. As we mentioned before, marriage is a sacred trust and one of the most intimate relationships you have with another being. Thus, the love, mercy, compassion and feelings you have for one another should be considered a sacred trust. Facebook and other forms of social media you may be connected to on it who neither care about your marriage or may harbor ill-will, may backbite about you and your spouse, use that information against you in a vile way, or may be jealous and overall may hate you without you knowing it.

Imagine if we were to live our lives in real life as we communicated on Facebook. Would we literally go up to everyone we see on the street and tell them about what we had for breakfast with our spouse, what vacation you went on with your spouse, how cute/handsome/beautiful your spouse looked, etc.? The obvious answer to that is no. We would not. We value our relationship with our spouse too much to go tell strangers. When you do expose too much information about yourself and your spouse that is intimate it’s basically like opening every door to your house and letting complete strangers into your house and telling them everything that goes on in your house.

Now, this isn’t to say we shouldn’t share our happiness or joy with others, but do so with discretion.

It’s funny, when we complain about the government spying on us or invading our privacy, yet when we put private lives out on the internet for all to see it isn’t a problem. Whenever we post something on the internet or any social media platform we need to make sure we are not exposing too much of ourselves to people who don’t care or don’t matter to us. Share your intimate moments with people who genuinely care for you and appreciate your comments, thoughts and ideas—not with a random social media network of thousands of people. You want to protect your fort from invaders who may spread rumors or seek to undermine your marriage in other ways.

Now, we mentioned the good stuff people share, but what about the bad stuff? When/if we have marital problems we shouldn’t share them with strangers period. Now this isn’t to say we shouldn’t seek the advice of counselors or trained therapists, but don’t go expose your problems with your spouse or their weaknesses to the world. As the Quran says, you are a garment for them and they are a garment for you, thus, you need to cover their problems and shortcomings just as you would expect them to. If you are going through marital problems and you do post them on Facebook or any other social media you may be causing more problems than solving them. When you use Facebook as your counseling tool you’ll realize it’s really not that effective and 99.99% of the time won’t solve your marital problem.

 

The righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in the husband’s absence what Allah would have them guard.

[Al-Nisa: 34]

The above verse addresses women, but also pretty much should be the same mode of thinking for men as well. Protect your spouse’s honor, dignity and character. There will be several shaytaans in the form of “friends” who may drop a rumor or make a comment to character assassinate your spouse. You must know and trust your spouse enough to defend their character, honor and dignity in public. Also, exposing your marital problems essentially opens the door to your house to complete strangers and allows them to literally know what’s happening in every inch of your house. That is the ultimate breach of privacy and allows for more invaders to come and destroy your fortress of marriage.

There have been several instances of how Facebook has broken marriages and caused divorces, so why expose yourself and your spouse to so much scrutiny and unneeded attention. If you value something or someone you should protect them and not put them unnecessarily in harm’s way and allow them to potentially become targets of jealousy and evil-eye.

Think Twice

FB Marriage 3

Facebook and other social media can be amazing tools for good and education, however, as with any technology they can have terrible consqeuences. As much as social media has made us more connected it has the ability to make us more narcissistic, self-absorbed and attention-seeking. It also has the ability to make us waste a lot of time which many of us agree 🙂

  With that said, we must be careful about what we post on Facebook and social media in general, but also when it comes to information about our spouse or married life and make sure that what post or say be misconstrued, misinterpreted or used against us. We need to ask ourselves: is this information I am posting up too intimate? Is it private? Can the information or post or comment I put up be misconstrued or misinterpreted? Who is this being shared with? Am I sharing this information with people who genuinely care?

What we post and what we post about can also become the object of gossip and backbiting. Why put someone you love in that position to be exposed to such filth?

“Man does not utter any word except that with him is an observer prepared [to record].” (Qur’an 50:18)

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet; said, “A slave (of Allah) may utter a word which pleases Allah without giving it much importance, and because of that Allah will raise him to degrees (of reward): a slave (of Allah) may utter a word (carelessly) which displeases Allah without thinking of its gravity and because of that he will be thrown into the Hell-Fire.”  ( Bukhari, Book #76, Hadith #485)

All in all, we need to think twice about what we post, what we post about and be more protective of our character, honor, dignity and the honor, dignity and character of our loved ones and our spouse (or future spouse).

We need to stop being so concerned with our virtual connections and stop having Facebook Marriage lives and begin having more intimate in-person relationships with our spouse and Allah.

10 Steps on How to Make Quality Friends

Friends 1

You may be thinking, why  do I need to learn to make friends? I learned how to do that in kindergarten and when I was little. Simple. However, for those of us who are older, we don’t often think of making friends or reflect on the quality of our friendships and relationships we have with others.

Reality begins to hit when one of our friends betrays our trust or we find is not truly a friend, but someone seeking to get some sort of benefit from you and never return favors. They may smile to your face, but seek to badmouth you, backbite about you or seek to lower your character in the eyes of others. These are not friends at all and it’s essential that you think about the type of friends you keep around you. In addition to this you want to ensure your friends are friends who truly care about your well –being and success and support you with love and caring.

The Prophet Muhammad(peace be upon him)’s friend was Abu Bakr who loved, respected, and cared for the Prophet more than himself. These are the types of friends we need around us to support us when we’re weak, correct us when we’re wrong and help us with no intention to seek reward or repayment.

You want friends who also are a good influence on you and push to be a better person at all levels: emotionally, spiritually, intellectually, socially and even health wise.  You want people who have a positive influence on you.

“A person is likely to follow the faith (or way of life) of his friend, so look whom you befriend.”

-The Prophet Muhammad

(Abu Dawud)

 “The example of a good companion and a bad companion is like that of the seller of musk, and the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows.. So as for the seller of musk then either he will grant you some, or you buy some from him, or at least you enjoy a pleasant smell from him. As for the one who blows the blacksmith’s bellows then either he will burn your clothes or you will get an offensive smell from him.”   

-The Prophet Muhammad

(Bukhari)

 

With that said, here are a few ways to reflect on and improve the quality of your friendships:

1)   Stop Trying to Be Everyone’s Friend

This a fairly blunt statement, but at the very core it’s true. You shouldn’t treat your pursuit of friends like you’re a freshman in high school. You don’t have to work hard to get everyone to like you and not everyone is going to end up being your friend. This isn’t to say you need to be a jerk to everyone and cut them off, but be more aware of the way you pursue friendships and relationships. Do you REALLY need to be everyone’s friend? Do you REALLY need more friends? What good is it that you have 1,000+ “friends” on Facebook or even personally when the quality of those “friends” is poor. Are the people in your life truly your genuine friends or just mere acquaintances or even freeloaders?

2)   Categorize and Take Inventory of Your “Friends”

This goes along with the last part of what was said before. You need to begin taking inventory of your “friends.” A way to do this is to categorize  your relationships into the following categories: close friends, acquaintances, and what I call Hi-Bye people.  Based on these categories you will know how to interact with them.

The first category should include friends who essentially are your intimate friends who you can essentially tell personal matters to and you can guarantee that they will not tell others. These close friends should essentially be an extension of your family. There should be a mutual feeling of love and caring between you and your close friend. These individuals are the ones you want to keep close to you and confide in. This group of friends should be extremely selective and you should be strict about whom you let enter this circle of friends. With these friends you can confide in, tell your personal issues to and seek advice from.

The second category includes individuals who you have a friendship with but nothing more than a business or work relationship. This category may include individuals you work with, go to school with, neighbors, etc.  With this category you keep good relations with them because they either are professional or academic or just personal connections/relationships that bring some level of value to your life.  You don’t let them into your personal life, but keep your relationship with them very professional and cordial.

The third category is individuals who are either freeloaders or individuals who do not see eye-to-eye to you on things, are on a totally different wavelength than you, or to simply put it out to seek your demise or failure. Maybe that last part was a bit dramatic, but there are individuals who have some sort of jealousy towards you that you simply must put distance between you and them for your peace and sanity. These individuals you treat nicely, but make sure to keep your distance from them and tolerate them by merely taking time to say “Hi-Bye” to them, i.e. “hello how are you doing? Oh that’s great, see you later.” These people you should not let into your close friends group and do not confide in them regarding personal matters.

Friends

3)   Don’t Waste Time and Energy on the Wrong People

Once you take inventory and categorize your “friends” it’s important to ensure who you invest your emotions, time and energy into. Don’t get dragged down by the Hi-Bye people or the haters. Invest your time and energy into relationships that matter and that bring you spiritual, emotional and intellectual fulfillment.

4)   Analyze Where You Get Criticism or Advice From

Often times you may get criticism from individuals (mostly from the Hi-Bye category) about the way you’re conducting your life, your actions, etc. While criticisms may be valid 9 out of 10 time they’re not valid. When it is 9 out of the 10 times that it’s not valid, the criticism most probably is coming from someone who really doesn’t care about you nor do they care about your well-being or success.

Also, look at the manner in which the criticism or advice is given by someone offering you either advice or criticism. This isn’t to say be completely defensive about your actions and say: “I am right, everyone else is wrong,” but just think about who is saying it, why they’re saying it, the way they’re relaying it, and what the purpose is. And even if it is invalid it’s a way to understand who that person really is and what their principles/morals/ethics are. It’s also a way to learn about yourself, if there is invalidity in advice or criticism it’s a way to self-reflect and delve deep down inside to see if you truly need self-improvement or not. Your enemy exposes you your weaknesses and your friend helps you do the same.  So look at both as opportunities to learn.

Take criticisms from close friends seriously as well, but be wary of advice and criticism of people who don’t care for your well-being or success.

Ibn Hazm said: “Anyone who criticizes you cares about your friendship. Anyone who makes light of your faults cares nothing about you.”

(Abu Dawood, Hasan Hadith)

5)   Don’t Wear Your Heart on Your Sleeve

In life it’s easy to speak to everyone and think the best of individuals, which is great and a noble trait/characteristic. We should never discount a person and say they’re completely losers or lost or terrible people, but at the same time it’s important to watch what you say and to who. Not everyone cares about you, about your problems, your thoughts or ideas. In fact, when you do speak about yourself , your feelings, your ideas, or emotions to others they either may feel annoyed or jealous or just really not care at all. Thus, it’s important to realize who you’re talking to and be careful of what you say, how you say it and to who you say it to. Divulge only personal information to close friends and family, not every individual you talk to.

6)   Don’t Give Into Peer Pressure

A lot of times your “friends” may pressure you to do something you don’t like or are not comfortable in doing. It’s okay to say no and probably much better for you in the long run because you don’t want to ever feel that you have no control of your life or your actions. You never want your “friends” to look at you as a push-over. Be yourself, be comfortable in your own skin, your lifestyle, your beliefs, morals, ethics and values.  However, if any of these are lacking or deficient of course change them to be better!

To illustrate this point, imagine for a moment that a group of “friends” decides to go to a bar or a club and you decide not to go due to your lifestyle choice, religious beliefs or health reasons. They ask you why, they ask you why you’re being such a party pooper, why you’re so strict, etc. They may even bully you, tease you or call you names.  However, at the end of the day if you do hold your ground and stick to your principles you’ll be more respected by your friends at the end of the day than if you were to merely bend to the pressure.

Friends who pressure you to do things you don’t want to do that adversely affect you are really not friends at all, so those individuals would need go to into the Hi-Bye category. All in all, you need to learn to say no and stick to your principles. Don’t worry about what others will think or that you’ll lose friends.

7)   Balance Your Time with Your Close Friends

It’s important to invest adequate time with your close friends.  So this means ensuring you keep in contact and check up now and then to see how they’re doing to keep that relationship alive and well. Also, at the same time, it’s important to not spend too much time with them. You need time to yourself to reflect, think and improve yourself and do your own thing. Spending too much time with close friends can make the friendship lose its value and be seen as something cheap. As the saying goes, distance makes the hearts grow fonder. So balance your personal time and your time with friends.

8 ) Beware of the Close Friends or “Friends” who Use You

Often times when you’re friends with someone you will willingly do anything to help them. However, at the same time this can end up hurting you in the end. Sometimes close friends may abuse your friendship unknowingly by unfairly burdening you by asking you favors or asking for your help repeatedly. In this case you can talk to them and make them aware of the situation and explain to them how you cannot dedicate all your time to helping them solely and that it is unfair to you.

Now, for the individuals who are “friends” who call you, text you or message you out of the blue to ask you for favors or your help you should be wary about.  This isn’t to say to completely be wary of close friends you haven’t spoke to in ages, because some friendships don’t require constant contact, but be wary of individuals whose sole purpose for contacting you is to ask for a favor from you or ask for your help in some manner. These individuals can be pathological abusive individuals (not in the physical sense) who constantly abuse their connection to you and use you for their own personal gain or see the connection with you as a one-way street.

9)   Know When to Distance Yourself from People

If your close friend, acquaintance or Hi-Bye person betrays you or does something that adversely affects you it becomes pertinent (based on the offense, for example betrayal or lying) to distance yourself from that individual completely. People who are too drama-filled, egotistical, psychotic or just plain evil you need to avoid like the plague. So don’t feel bad about distancing yourself from individuals who betray your trust or hurt you significantly.

10)  Never Put Your Friends before Family

Remember that your family is more important than friends and you should never place priority over your family. Your family is your foundation and you should work well to establishing bonds of love, caring, and mercy within your family. It makes no sense for you to make friends and show them love, mercy, affection and caring when you don’t do the same to your own family. No matter how bad things are at home it’s important to do your best to respect, honor, and treat your family kindly and with compassion.