Families – who needs them?



The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said,“Make your character good for the people.“ - Al-Muwatta, Volume 47, Hadith 1

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by Sr. Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood.

I was tempted to send in a one-word article this time – Nobody – and just leave the rest of the page blank.

Families are awful. What are they anyway? It really isn’t fair anyway – we can choose all our friends and those we hang about with – but we never got the choice about our families. Some of the members of our families we would never choose to be within a million miles of.

Think about fathers. Fathers who are either never there, or if they are there they are just a pain in the neck, getting in the way, growling, moaning, making you do things you don’t want to do. Usually they don’t say much to you until they see you about to do something you really do want to do, and then they refuse permission to let you do it. On the whole, just being a complete nuisance. Some even hurt their kids, or wives, and they have a rotten life in fear of upsetting them. Look at Trevor in Eastenders – who’d want him for a father? Yet if you put a beard on him and a shalwar-qameez, isn’t he just like someone you know – maybe not your father, but someone else’s father is just like that.

Think about mothers. They’re always moaning too. You are always being told what to do. You’re either too old for something you want to do, or too young. You cant wear what you want to where or go where you want to go. Mothers are always bossing you around – maybe it’s because fathers always boss them around and they are just getting their own back. They don’t mellow with age – older people will tell you that even when they are sixty their mothers still treat them as if they were thirteen!

As for brothers – aargh! Mess, weird smells, noise – no more needs be said.

Sisters, of course, are also a problem – they are usually spoiled and get everything they want, and get away with everything while you just get picked on.

Aunts? They just want to kiss you.

No – I am not really talking about you, my readers – this is my own family I’m on about! And I, being long past my youth, haven’t even started on my son and daughter, my grandchildren etc etc. In fact, instead of a one-word article, now that I’m getting up steam I can tell you it would take me a very long time to complete my list of everything that’s wrong with my family.

But I will tell you about something that happened last year. My Dad’s a Christian, and he goes to Church. It was one very ordinary weekend, all the usual things and problems and carry-on, and on Sunday evening he and Mum went off to Church. Suddenly, he went all funny, and passed out. Right in the middle of the khutbah. One moment he was perfectly all right, and the next he had collapsed on the seat they sit on.

What to do? Disturb the speaker? Make a fuss? Fan him to cool him down? Being English, some people wondered whether the best thing would be to carry on as if nothing had happened and not disturb anyone. Panic stations. One kind soul actually had the brains to call for an ambulance.

It was hard to lift him up – he weighs about 17 stone. But they got him off to hospital in the end, and it wasn’t long before he got better.

But supposing he had died?

Supposing he had never married my Mum? He didn’t have to – he’s not my real Dad, actually, but my stepfather. So many people can’t be bothered to get married these days. Why? I don’t know. Maybe they’re scared. Maybe they think it won’t last long, and then they’ll be involved in a lot of expense and heartache to get free again and start all over again. Maybe they would rather have lots of different partners rather than grow old with the same familiar face. Maybe they don’t care, or don’t know, how it feels to be a kid in a class with no father.

Maybe life would be better without families. It probably would for some unlucky people. But, let’s just think about this. Let’s use our brains. Isn’t it true that everyone has to face problems and difficulties, and awkward people in life? People who boss you around, people who become a nuisance to you, people who are always after you for something, who constantly need help and support, or who frighten you with their bullying and hostility.

Do you really think life, and relationships with people, would really be better without families? I don’t think many of those who have had to grow up without families would agree, somehow. I met someone, once, whose entire close family had been killed in a fire, leaving only them. That poor soul. Think of all the catastrophes that get on the news – the earthquake this week in Iran, the Palestinian victims.

And – let’s be controversial in a Muslim magazine – think as well of the innocent Jewish people blown up by those teenage martyrs – the last bomber was a teenage girl so full of love for Allah she was prepared to make her family proud and sacrifice her own life by doing what? Killing some people who had done nothing and blowing some legs and arms off, and eyes out, and making holes in kids’ stomachs? Destroying for ever the happiness of over thirty families? They weren’t soldiers with guns, just people at bus-stops. It could have been your family, or mine, just minding their own business. It might have been my Dad.

That teenage girl might have grown up to be a famous Muslim lady eye-surgeon, or preacher, or first Muslim woman Chief Minister of Palestine. One of the kids she killed might have been the person who discovered the cure for cancer.

Life is full of ‘might have beens’. All we know for sure is that we do not know when, or how, or in what country we are to die. Allah made that very clear.

Think of my poor old Dad in hospital. He’s over eighty now, and he was lying in the hospital bed next to a little fellow just in his teens. I saw a programme on TV last night about hospitals not making so much effort to heal very old people as young ones – I suppose because they had had their lives and the young ones had not. That’s a bit of a rotten thought when you are old and not very well! The kid has years in front of him, and poor old Dad, well…….But, happy day, both Dad and the young lad got better and came out of hospital.

Then – Bang! Along came a flashy car with a drunken driver, or a bus-driver having a heart attack, or an earthquake struck, or along came a suicide bomber. The youngster got killed, and my Dad lived on, like the Queen Mother, to be 102.

Well, I’m making this all up. All these things always happen to someone else, don’t they, and not us.

I’m just playing the game of making you think. So before you drop your family into Room 101, (that means, get rid of them all, if you don’t know), let’s just spare a few seconds to thank Allah that He did give you a family, and that He gave your family you. Maybe, over the years to come, you could really try to love them, warts and all, and do things to make life happier and nicer than it is now. I really think that is what Allah wants us all to do.

God bless, wasalaam, Ruqaiyyah.


(Acknowledgements to Reflect, the magazine of the Muslim Educational Trust)


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