The Muslim Identity

Identity: noun \ī-ˈden-tə-tē, ə-, -ˈde-nə-\ a : the distinguishing character or personality of an individual

When we bear witness that there is NOTHING worth of worship except ALLAH and that Muhammad is His Messenger, we are distinguishing ourselves and professing that we believe in One God with no partners and His final Messenger Muhammad bin Abdullah.

One of the pleasures of life for parents is seeing their children imitate the rituals of worship when their sons say Allahu Akbar and wants to lead the salah or when a daughter is putting the khimar around her head and looking for positive reinforcement. When a baby is just 1 yr old and they are imitating the movements of salah is refreshing for a parent without question.

What Muslim parent doesn't want their children to carry on this deen and develop a love for it? I trust that all parents want the best for their children and want them to be a means to enter Jennah.

We are distinct in our worship and sometimes we don't notice how blessed we are. Many non-Muslims notice because they don't possess the same unity in their religion.

Some of the things that shape our Islamic identity and show our unity are;

  •     Facing the same direction when we pray (Qiblah facing the Kaabah)
  •     Universal Greeting of As salaamu alaykum (Peace be upon you)
  •     Praying in congregation
  •     Recitation of Quran in Arabic no matter the mother tongue
  •     Hajj to Makkah while men wearing the same two pieces of white cloth
  •     Our Fasting during the Month of Ramadan

There are many more areas, but these are just a few behaviors that point to our unity and our unique identity. alHamdulillah, we have this part of our identity yet we still come from many different walks of life and very diverse cultures. Islam doesn't require that we lose our uniqueness and become like a band of zombies, it is rather dynamic, and uplifts any culture that it affects to a higher status by cleansing it from kufr ideas and thoughts. For example; statues are a heavy part of many European societies and their art. Well, Islam prohibits statues of any living thing so we must abandon any statues and submit to Islam which is the definition of the word Muslim.

Today, due to many factors, including the advancement of western entertainment through satellite television, internet, and the relatively ineffective Muslim governments throughout the Muslim world, many Muslims, our youth in particular have feelings of indifference when it comes to their personal identity.

As parents, we should know that we are more instrumental in developing a strong Muslim personality than we many times would like to think! It goes a long way when a father and mother praise their child when they attempt to offer salah, when the daughter tries to put a khimar over her little head, or when a son puts on a kufi. EVERYONE wants praise and recognition and it is very important in the growing years. It is even important when in our teens and older. There is an old saying that goes, "Recognition, babies cry for it & men die for it!"

Our individuality and style is a gift from Allah and our deen is the best! We must be able to instill in our children Islamic values without being preachy and condescending as though Islam is a bunch of Do's and Don'ts!

I recall when my father would say, "do what I say do, don't do what I do!" I would wonder in amazement, to myself of course, and ask myself, then why are you doing other than what you are telling me to do? I never did get an answer, however as I grew older I was able to ascertain that his actions were not consistent with his words and caused me at a young age to lose respect for him in bits and pieces.

So as a Muslim Parent, it is your first job to make sure you emulate the behavior you want to see in your child. Just like when that baby gets up to offer salah next to you and is trying to recite Surahtul Al-Fatihah, they respect more what you do than what you say do. I mean, hey, if we are to have high expectations of our children, then it should go without saying that we must raise the bar for ourselves and be the example, the role model, the Outstanding Parent, right?!?

It's not as hard as some think either. There is no obedience to the creation in disobedience to the Creator. This one principle makes it easy to pray when out and about on a busy day. It gives you serenity and gratefulness to be able to pause and stop what you are doing to offer salah, to go to Salatul Jumuah, to wear your hijab, and to feel comfortable in your Muslim identity. Yes there are steps we discuss in particular for the one whose children may be older and they just converted to Islam and there are those that are new to a country but their children are born in the 'new country' and the concept of 'back home' is alien to them. But alhamdulillah for now, concentrate on being a better parent, raising the bar, and begin implementing things that you may have put off in the future for when you had time to do them.

Prayerfully, you will be able to strengthen yourself, your personality, and be the role model that is needed for your child(ren) because you have more influence than you know (as the celebrity) and Allah knows best!

Remember a WISH changes NOTHING but a DECISION changes EVERYTHING!

jazkAllahu khayr,

Nazir binNaseeb Al-Mujaahid

Author of Muslims Parenting on Purpose Vol. 1

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