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Moral & Ethics

WHEN YOU ARE THERE

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I read a post narrating the events surrounding the suicide of a 10year-old girl who was the assistant head girl of her school, and, I couldn’t but wonder how many more innocent little girls (and boys) are living the life she “escaped” from, living those nightmares and coping with them because they do not have another choice, or maybe already contemplating walking down the same path this little girl just walked.

First, it is imperative to affirm and even reaffirm that suicide is a great sin in Islam, as Allah says in Suratul Nisaa, Q4:29, “And do not kill yourselves (or one another). Indeed, Allah is to you ever-Merciful.”

There have also been narrations from the Sunnah of the Prophet forbidding this, one of which is that which was reported by Bukhari, “Whoever commits suicide with anything in this world, he will be tortured with that very thing on the Day of Resurrection” (Sahih Bukhari, hadith 6047).

Having got clear speech from Allah and His messenger on the impermissibility, in any situation, for a person to take his own life, we are left with the “rewarding burden” of helping one another stay out of overwhelming situations which could put us at risk of considering (not to mention, of attempting) suicide. Hence, we have to answer the question; what is our role in helping ourselves and others remain steadfast and hopeful in Allah, fighting through our battles and storms (knowing fully well that they are unavoidable), and expecting the reward of Allah for our patience and perseverance, in shaa Allah?

We are all humans after all, and it is important that we try to avoid all things that could lead us to feel the least amount of ingratitude to Allah, or worse, question His will and decree over our lives. Life is full of ups and downs, we all know and continue to believe, yet, we are to never get tired of pulling through each storm that hits us with full hope and trust in our Lord.

The nafs of each individual would grow weary and tired at some point, cause us to cry and pray fervently that the trials and tribulations be put to an abrupt and permanent end… the prophet ﷺremains the best of mankind who lived the most exemplary life for all to emulate, he had the best of conduct in both his relations with his Lord and with fellow humans. Indeed, the Prophet was a human with blood and emotions like us; he felt pains and anguish too. He was reported to have cried to his Lord at the death of his beloved son, Ibrahim, which made some of the Companions “ask” why the noblest of men would cry as such. To this enquiry, he was reported to have replied, “…verily, the eyes shed tears and the heart is grieved, but we will not say anything except what is pleasing to our Lord. We are saddened by your departure, o Ibrahim.” (As reported in Sahih Bukhari 1241).

Hence, we are assured that it is only normal that the soul gets tired and weary at some point in the face of trials and tribulations. However, it remains from the characteristics of the believers to remember that the world is only a temporary place to work for a place in the hereafter. Facing these trials and tribulations in good faith and seeking aid in Allah are part of this work.

What do we say that a 10year-old knows of the worries of the world that got her weary to the point where she decided she was tired of living? In this particular child’s case, and without undue generalization (as I’ve encountered more than a handful victims of such circumstances in a relatively short period of counseling practicum), the problem lied in the parent-child relationship, which fueled inferiority complex in the mind of the child and further damaged her already suffering low self-esteem.

Every adult on the surface of the earth had definitely been a child sometime in the past, they viewed life from the perspective of a young and innocent child who had nothing of the worries of life as baggage, they lived through time in the company of friends and played through most of the hours without a nagging fear of competition… the days of old were probably so much better than what we have for our children in the present generation. School came and presented the idea of “healthy” competition which earned “winners” valuable gifts and “motivated” others to strive to reach the peak as well. There is hardly a sphere of life, now, where there is no form of competition that fails to recognize the innate needs and abilities of “every” individual child, i.e. without undue generalization and unfair appraisals.

Not everyone will come first in class (it has to go to one, or a few when there is a tie), as we do not have the same brain capacity, or even personal zeal and dedication to study. Humans have been created in a variety for reasons best known to Allah, such that we have several alternatives open to us in whatever field we seek to offer or receive service from. The best in a particular field would come out worst in another; nobody has it all, we all know. And as such, it is unfair to our children (and ourselves) to have unrealistic expectations of them, make unbecoming comparisons of them with their colleagues and/or friends, as this works terribly for their self-concept and esteem.

We have all being children too, we know how it felt when our parents or other elderly people in our society compared us with our friends who were “better” than us in certain things; you hear things like “ah, omo daadaa ni Maryam yen, gbogbo ise to ba aburo e se pata lo gba” (translated: that Maryam is a good child, your younger brother’s assignment that she helped him with were all marked correct). Or, in another scenario, “mo like ore e yen gidi gan, ori e pe pupo, ti eyan ba fi oro lo bayi, amoran to bamu lo ma n muwa, toun ti bo se kere sie l’ojo ori yen” (translated: I like that your friend so much, whenever you consult her on any issue, she’ll always have an indispensable idea to share, despite her being younger than you in age). These are indirect comparisons, yet they send home the message. It is much worse when the comparisons are more direct.

In scenarios among siblings as well, you’ll hear a parent say things like, “I don’t even know how you’re able to claim seniority, your younger brother is better than you in every way! You should hide your face in shame, you know? I wonder if you’re really my child sometimes.” Even anger and frustration should never cause a parent to say this.

Many of us think that all a child needs is discipline and material benefits, we neglect their or are not aware of the fact that they also have the emotional needs. We fail terribly at that which is the most important in the nurturing of our children. We leave them at the mercy of the corrupt society to learn what “love” and “affection” mean, we make them feel “inadequate” in and about themselves, and they continue to see life as a “competition” where they can only either win or lose, no more and no less.

Our children need us to be there for them through these early formative years of their lives, and our presence isn’t just about giving them all of their material needs and wants, comparing them to their peers or even taunting them for having “second place” in some instances, especially when you are not someone who is fully involved in the life of your child: what do you “know” (and not think) is going through the child’s head for coming second? What do you know they make of themselves and their interpersonal relationships? What do you know about your child when it comes to their emotional and psychological state? What do you know?

Many parents think it rather unnecessary to communicate their love to their children, after all, it is a well-known fact that your parents are the ones who love you the most in the world: seriously? And that is why you expect your child to just “believe” that you love him when you don’t ever “show” or “tell” him so? Loving your child is a duty you owe him, and as such, you must work in all possible direction to ensure that you don’t default in that for you will have to account to Allah for it.

When you are there, be really there… be there in just the right way for your child; be there in just the right way for your child’s overall growth and wellness… Don’t just “watch” them grow, be a part of their growth and grow with them. Help them realize their blessings and appreciate their strengths while improving on their weaknesses. Let your children hear you tell them and believe that you love them and they are amazing just the way they are. Be really there!

Umm Muhammad Bint Yusuf Al-Bhaby.

Umm Muhammad Bint Yusuf Al-Bhaby

Writer

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