The Greatest Gift: A Guide To Parenting
By Dr M. Abdul Bari, London: Ta-Ha, 2002, Pp. 283, ISBN 184200446 (PB).
Some time ago a respected personality in the Asian community, invited to the author’s home, pleads, with swollen eyes and cracked voice for advice. The man tells how his daughter ran away from home and moved in with a non-Muslim man without marrying him. Stories like this are not uncommon in Muslim communities up and down the UK, being a clear symptom of poor parenting and a lack of community support. Abdul Bari, an educationalist, has written a timely and valuable book on parenting. The book highlights some of the social, educational and moral dilemmas faced by the diasporic Muslim community in Britain. This broad and comprehensive, sensitive and at times passionate reading makes for a thought provoking book as well as a practical guide. I can unreservedly recommend it to anyone who wants to improve his or her parenting skills.
Verses of the Glorious Qur’an, pearls of Prophetic wisdom, aphorisms of the pious predecessors (salaf al-salahin), personal anecdotes (which may be regarded as case studies), incisive analysis of social problems, and quotes from western sociologists, psychologists and educationalists characterize this book.
Several sections open with Qur’anic verses, which are then explained by modern tafsir.
Some of the verses are:
1. Our Lord, give us comfort in our spouse and children and make us a good example for those ward off evil. (25:74)
2. O you who believe! Safeguard yourselves and your family from a fire whose fuel is people and stones. (66:6)
3. O Lord! Grant me by Your favour an upright child. (3:38)
4. My Lord, bestow on me a right acting child. (37:100)
The book is composed of five parts consisting of eighteen chapters. Part one is an “obligatory task” which deals with purpose of life, the value of the children, and the importance of good upbringing. Part two extols the virtue of marriage and family life and its influence through pregnancy, birth and infancy on the child’s development. The author masterfully rejects Freudian premises and emphasizes the need to empathize with the child, instilling an Islamic spirit, understanding the child’s intelligence by rewarding, disciplining and building self-esteem, even at this early stage. Part Three addresses formal schooling from primary through to secondary. Discussing the choices at secondary level, the author makes a strong case for Muslim schools for, in his view, even secular single-sex state schools have their problems. As the environment of these schools is ripe with permissive values, and as the teaching and other staff have divergent educational aims, they can lead to an unhealthy life and double standards in a Muslim child. That is why Muslim parents are not the only people to insist on the right to send their children to denominational schools. In Part Four, the challenges of adolescence are highlighted. Consumer society and the powerfully influential media make this “period of commotion” difficult. This Part describes intellectual, spiritual, physical and social changes in the teenager. The author offers some useful tips for passing through these tumultuous times: being creative, developing good friendships, observing hijab, controlling the gaze, avoiding egotism, rudeness and distasteful styles and fashion and so on. The final Part, “The Prize and Price”, is effectively a commentary on the age-old adage “as you sow, you shall reap”. Good parenting is defined as “passing on values, ethos and a sense of responsibility to children. Parenting is an assertive, positive and innovative endeavour.”
This is a comprehensive study of parenting which presents the theory as well as practical tips on how to fulfil this important role in life. My only reservation with the book is that it is too lengthy for the busy modern parent. The middle part of the book in particular could have been published separately as a practical guide. This would have made it more accessible to a general readership. The author and the publisher deserve appreciation for this timely and reformative endeavour. Musharraf Hussain, Karima Institute, Nottingham, UK.
Race, Religion & Muslim Identity in Britain
This book offers incisive and comprehensive analysis of faith as a cornerstone of identity and possible solutions. A timely book after the recent tragedies in London which took place during July 2005.
With the rapid transformation within the Muslim community over the last few decades many young people are now finding it difficult to navigate between the demands of their religion on one side and social pressure on the other. Thus, working with them and addressing the issues pertinent to their daily life are challenging, to say the least.
This book is the outcome of Dr Bari’s long-term involvement with the young Muslims of London through his voluntary and professional work. This has put him on a continuous learning curve in assessing his personal situation as well. The foremost amongst the issues facing a young Muslim is of course one of ‘identity’, which the author has tried to address through the mirrorof Islamic principles.
Marriage and Family Building in Islam
Muslims are facing increasing challenges in building successful families and keeping them together. Some of these challenges are external in nature and are a result of the rise of extreme liberalism and materialism around us.
112 pages Paperback A5 ISBN 1 842000 83 7
A Guide to Parenting in Islam: Addressing Adolescence
- the unique nature of an adolescent and how this differs from younger children;
- possible problems that young people today may face in school and within their social life and how best to tackle these;
matters to consider when choosing a secondary school;
- creating the most nurturing home environment in which to bring up young people;
- preparing them for the adult world of responsibility.
“The book is very readable and once I had started I couldn’t put it down! It is full of good practical common sense and useful tips, against the background of the received wisdom of the Islamic tradition. One feels great compassion for those who have to live this life without the foundation of being born into and raised in loving family, so I hope that the message of your book will be widely influential.”
Professor John Adair, an internationally acclaimed leadership theorist and author of forty books on business, military and other leadership. He is currently an Emeritus Fellow of the Windsor Leadership Trust. His latest book is The Leadership of Muhammad.
Muslims in Britain have experienced considerable changes in all walks of life over the last few decades. From a small beginning in post-War Britain the Muslim community has evolved to be a diverse section of the British population.
With significantly higher proportion of youth within the community it is faced with tremendous challenges and opportunities, as is the case with any group of people settling in a new land.
For British Muslims, never before has there been a more urgent need for fresh ideas and new thinking on how they interact with each other, with fellow citizens and with the wider world. It is time the British Muslim community took a reality check of how it is doing in creating a universal, progressive and inclusive vision of Islam; a vision that will motivate and empower them to excel