Foundations for a Meaningful Life


little greene paint companyBy Kaneez Fatima

Recently, after a long time, I bought something I was really pleased with. It was a dress. I was so happy to possess it that I wore it (as trial) at least thrice the very day I bought it. Realizing that I could not have had it if God, subhanahu wa ta`ala (Exhalted is He), had not given me the provisions to afford it, I looked myself in the mirror and said out loud, “Thank you Allah.” Upon hearing this, my younger sister (aged 15), who was sitting close, gave me a you-are-weird look, laughed a sarcastic laugh and asked me, “What was that about? You bought it with the money you have earned yourself, why would you bring Allah in here?”

Her question dumbfounded me, and I did not know exactly how to respond. Though I tried explaining to her that nothing good can ever come to us, except by the mercy of Allah (swt), but she did not look satisfied with my answer.

As someone who does not miss an opportunity for reflection, her question got me thinking. Thinking as to where the foundations of her beliefs went so wrong that even at such a young age, she is unable to agree with such a basic fact.

My sister is not the only teenager who has skewed beliefs. I happen to be a teacher and teach the same age group as my sister. Various class discussions have led me to believe that even my students (if not all, most of them) have confused ideas about God (swt) and this life. Now some may argue that they are very young, and it is okay for them to have weak beliefs, but what worries me is the possibility of them never being able to realize the truth. For whatever is adopted or learned firmly at this age becomes part of a person’s lifestyle.

To tell you the truth, as a child even my belief in Allah’s (swt) might and control was not that strong, nor did I understand what it actually means to be a Muslim. The struggle I had to go through to tame my nafs (inner self) was quite arduous. It took many painful experiences to get me to realize what it means to have God (swt) as the central focus in life.

Now as an adult, I feel one of the reasons why this journey had been so difficult for me was the way God (swt) was introduced to me in my initial years. I do not remember my parents telling me that everything they give me was actually given to them by God (swt). I do not remember my parents telling me that the way they take care of me is because of the love Allah (swt) has put in their hearts for me. I do not remember anyone telling me that God (swt) is the basis of life and everything I do, and everything I will do should be with Him as my focus.

Don’t get me wrong. My intention here is not to blame my parents (I love them dearly). But it is to highlight the fact that parents play a very important role in shaping our basic beliefs. If a child, right from the beginning, is taught to be socially acceptable only, he only learns how to win people’s approval, and God takes second place to the extent that a point comes when all he does and says is to please people and win their recognition. For such a child, it becomes very difficult to understand that God is not a distant entity who only keeps a track of our sins and good deeds but He is “The Nearest,” and all we have to worry about in this life is strengthening our relationship with Him (swt)—the rest will follow.

It is interesting to note that every family has a bunch of elders who make sure that the children know everything there is to know about their immediate ancestors. That is done so that these children carry the legacy of the family, and the values established by the immediate ancestors are carried on without any change. People grow up holding their family values very dear, to the extent that they often forget about the right path in order to safeguard them.

Everything we have in this life is “a trust”. A trust in a way that we will have to explain how we treated and used everything we were blessed with. In the same way, children are also a trust. What we teach them and what we do not teach them affects their entire lives. So instead of taking them as our possession and preparing them to carry on our so-called legacies, we should realize they belong to God (swt) (just like everyone and everything else), and having Him (swt) as the core of their existence, all their lives, is what they need to be prepared for. We need to realize that providing our children with food, shelter, and other comforts is not the only way to deem ourselves successful; we must also help them understand the real meaning of life, and that is how we can be successful parents and guardians.

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12 Comments

  1. Abid Mohammed says:

    Salaam,

    Nice article ma sha Allaah!

    May Allaah (swt) reward you for your beautiful reminder.

    Just a note with regards to the “real meaning of life” – I would perhaps check out the following article, which explains that Islamically, life in fact has no meaning, only purpose:

    http://www.onislam.net/english/reading-islam/living-islam/growing-in-faith/461213-the-quest-for-meaning.html

  2. Aafiya says:

    Baarak Allahu feeki

  3. RKhan says:

    Jazak Allah Khair Dear Sister for this very very important issue which we generally tend to neglect while busily running around living ‘life’ & rarely ever giving thought to afterlife & our relationship with HIM. And as hard as I try, it is very difficult to get this concept of “everything for Allah , everthing to Allah & everything from Allah” concept in to the minds of children, specially teenagers. May Allah give us the wisdom to instill this very important message to our future generations for a better life & even better afterlife. Aameen

  4. Dini says:

    Masha Allah, thank you for reminding us. Salaam.

  5. ars says:

    “everything for Allah , everthing to Allah & everything from Allah” really true

  6. Uzma says:

    Very true. We have to teach our kids and remind ourselves, that Allah(swt) is the cornerstone of our lives, our goal and our destination.

  7. Nourin says:

    Beautiful article!!! JazakAllah khair!! :D

  8. Jujubie says:

    Nice article. Bump into it just the right time. Am struggling with something in my life at the moment and my faith is being questioned. I personaly feel that I do have faith but I am being accussed of not having any and in fact been told that I do not have iman. The words sliced through my heart like a knife. Thank you for reminding me that everything happens because of him and that through him I will get through this tough time. Thank you.

    • joymanifest says:

      For any Muslim to say to another that they have no Iman, this is actually forbidden in the books of aqeeda. For who is any human being to judge the state of worship/belief of another human being, regardless of religion. We cannot even say this of non-Muslims (as who but Allah really knows if they have been invited in the best way to Islam, and even if they have, who but Allah knows their true response in the heart) so how can we dare to say this of fellow-Muslims. Allah help us all, we have a lot we must learn about who Allah is and what we are in relation to our Maker, The most High, the Most Beautiful. Please see comment below, and please try to study a basic text on aqeeda. It will strengthen your foundation so much no one’s words or no life events will harm you inshaAllah. With love

  9. Maria Syamsi says:

    I have gone through some rough patches within this past few years, and I found that they really helped me in reminding me that it is from Allah alone that we should ask for help. Often I ended up alone without having anyone at all to talk to, to cry to..I only have Him. I only have Allah.

    Now it’s very clear for me that by trying to please the creation, we will be frustrated. But by pleasing the Creator, we would, insyaaAllah, always be blessed with happiness.

    Thank yo for this reminder. Beautiful! :)

  10. joymanifest says:

    Beautifully written and very true. I used to teach Islam to teens at one time in my life and it was then I realized how pervasive the problem of Muslims not having a good and correct foundational understanding of God is. I myself came to Islam as a convert so I had the opportunity to explore, reflect, ponder deeply and find my answers. Taqleed (blind following) is considered haram for aqeeda (creedal understanding) in our scholarly tradition. Taqleed is okay however for matters such as fiqh (islamic law). So you can take someone elses ruling for matters such as Islamic law and we do this type thing everyday in society. E.g., we will use a cellphone trusting the one who made it rather than making it ourselves. But for aqeeda, that is, our very basis of understanding who God is and who we are and our purpose here, for that we cannot immitate or blindly follow. That is, even if you are born into a Muslim family and are brought up Muslim, you are obliged to come to your own understanding of Islamic creed. We have three Imams who wrote foundational manuals on creed – Imam Ma’turidi, Imam A’shari and Imam Tahawi. I encourage you to study one of their works or take up some reputed study of Islamic aqeeda. Finally, please do corrent me if I have made any mistake in what I have stated here. Allah bless you my sister

  11. hamidah says:

    So true

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