Ibn Abbas once said “ the one I respect the most is the one sitting before me- he who stepped over people’s necks until he sat before me. If I were capable of preventing a single fly from landing on his face, I would have done so”
The greatest practitioners of Tarbiyah impart their own wisdom and learned experiences, thus giving tools to deal with certain situations to those under their care. Whether they are Quran teachers, parents, caregivers or older siblings, they have mastered the art of delivering criticism without breaking confidence, sharing experiences in a way to send a message and modelling self-respect for themselves and others.
Seeing as the home is the first place where someone receives their education about their place in the world, it is here where we must confront pathologies that disenfranchise and oppress children. As the role of parents is sanctified in our faith we have a responsibility to exercise the honour that Allah gave parents judiciously, and be careful to not use this position to harm our children. For example, instead of listening to our young ones, we may quickly label their complaints as disrespect and ingratitude, and then use the ayat of Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى to silence them. What we don’t think about is how this firstly shapes the perception that children have of Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالَى and His religion, and they may think that their thoughts and opinions cannot be expressed because parents are always right. This can create confusion and conflict in the child’s mind and this behaviour can make the child question the very meaning of Islam. It can also build resentment in the child towards their caregiver, and frustrate the parental influence in the child’s life. Tarbiyah is about acknowledging the humanity of all groups, including those that we don’t belong to. When we respect the one’s in our care, we acknowledge their rights, and their worthiness of respect. But in order to pass that lesson on, we must begin with ourselves and walk in our own autonomy and dignity. If we don’t govern ourselves by principles of justice, accountability, how can we morally educate our children to work towards peace and faith outside? True Tarbiyah begins with people confronting themselves and as teachers to the new generation we have to model what that looks like in our lives if we hope to reap the fruits of our work in the afterlife.
Verily the merchandise of Allah is valuable; surely the merchandise of Allah is paradise
sunan al Tirmidhi
adab al Mufrad 1145-46
It’s 4:30 in the afternoon and the adhan on your phone goes off. Collecting your books and laptop you make your way to the washroom where you will perform a quick absent-minded wudu, forgetting mid-way if you washed your arm 3 times or was it twice? You pull your sleeves over your damp arms, and re pin your hijab, sighing as you watch the wetness of your hair begin to seep through your chiffon headscarf. Momentarily forgetting that these same spots, which are a cause of annoyance to you, will be illuminated on yawmul Qiyama.
“They (my followers) will come with bright faces and white limbs because of Wudu and I will arrive at the Haud (Al-Kauthar) ahead of them.”
You stand and raise hands to ears professing God’s greatness and recite the opening chapter as you slip into another world. Isn’t it funny that the Prophet ﷺ did not receive the legislation for salah with the angels around him, but rather when he was alone with his Lord. What can we learn from this?
Al Isra’ wal Miraj, illustrates that when you and I are in prayer, this is a time to enjoy seclusion with Allah. A slave is closest to her Lord when she is in sujuud. While the person beside you, can barely make out your muffled dua in prostration, Allah above the seven heavens hears you clearly.
One of Allah’s name is Al Hayy the living One, our prayer is not to some abstract concept, but rather to One who is Alive, Hearing and Seeing. The Prophet ﷺ tells us that “ you will be able to see your Lord as you see the full moon on a clear night.” A full moon has no clouds in front of it. It’s fully visible and shines lustrously against the darkness. So when we pray we should know that Allah is no less real than our surroundings, no less real than your hands, the carpet on which you rest your forehead on, no less real than the person whose feet you align with as you straighten the rows.
One of the reasons that the soundness and quality of our prayers will be examined, is because the ability of an individual to train his soul for khushu is a testament of painstaking devotion by a slave yearning to be connected to a Lord he does not see. The supreme challenge of our lives is obtaining khushu, which like every skill, is something acquired through apprenticeship, and eventually graced to us by Allah. The mastery of khushu in salah is delicate and difficult, as it demands that we train ourselves to hush the inner critic and re-root ourselves to see each moment as a chance to start anew.
If there was a river at the door of anyone of you and he took a bath in it five times a day would you notice any dirt on him?” They said, “Not a trace of dirt would be left.” The Prophet (ﷺ) added, “That is the example of the five prayers with which Allah obliterates evil deeds.”
Riyad as-Salihin 1029
Sahih al-Bukhari 7434
Sahih al-Bukhari 528
“The Prophet used to sit with his companions as one of them. A stranger would come in but he would not know which of them was the Prophet until he asked and was told.” (Abu Dawood)
While discussing the ideal qualities of a leader Umar (r.a) once said. The only person that is suited for this job is one who is gentle without being weak, and who is strong without being harsh.” True leaders command and are trusted with authority because of their calm oversight and alignment between their words and deeds. In fact, integrity is perhaps the most potent ingredient behind their influence. Living in alignment of what they profess gives them credibility and inspires trust among people because they lead by example. They possess an inner strength and stewardship, and only assert themselves when necessary. Like a shepherd, a true leader makes decisions for the safety, and wellbeing of their flock. Speaking on the same topic, Umar further stated that: “The kind of leader I want is a man who if he is among his people while being their leader, will be thought of (by an outside observer) as nothing more than one of them, and who if he is among them while being nothing more than one of them, will be thought of (by an outside observer) as their leader.”
Popular culture has painted leaders as competitive for positions, and influence, domineering, aggressive and violent. However, true leaders are not necessarily the biggest or most distinguished members within a group. In fact, if an individual has to bully, suppress and attack people into submission, they do not have the qualities of leadership- it actually signals that they are not in control at all. True leaders on the other hand, understand that no value comes from belittling, shaming and bullying, because it leaves people bitter, confused and less likely to improve their own behaviour. They work intimately with the people they lead to understand them and with this knowledge, they avoid assigning responsibilities to people that are beyond their ability;
It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Dharr who said: I said to the Prophet: Messenger of Allah, “Will you not appoint me to a public office?” He stroked my shoulder with his hand and said: “Abu Dharr, you are weak and authority is a trust. And on the day of judgment it (worldly authority) is a cause of disgrace and remorse except for one who fulfills its obligations and (properly discharges its duties.” [Sahih Muslim]
But they do assign tasks that incite people they care about to stretch their capabilities. Ultimately, love and a genuine desire to help them become more balanced is a sine qua non of a true leader:
“I have only been sent to perfect good character.” Musnad Ahmad (8595)
May Allah grant us understanding
Adab Ad- Dunyaa wad-Deen p311. Faraaid al Kalaam p111
The Digital Sisterhood is a platform that aims to unite women of color and counter the pre-existing narrative on what it means to be a Muslim woman.
Through podcasts, articles and videos. For us, by us.
No one will represent our unique demographic better than ourselves
Our stories are raw, nuanced and moving.
to get the latest updates on new podcasts, merch and other cool things!
Looking to reach someone on the TDS staff? Want to partner with us? Send us a message.