In the Name of Allah, The All-Merciful, The Giver of Mercy
Lord, I have dedicated what is growing in my womb entirely to You; so accept this from me. You are the One who hears and knows all (Surah Al ‘Imran, verse 35)
GrowBaba spotlights provide a space for Muslim men to share their voice, reflections, and insights with our community.
As-salamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatu Allah wa barakatuh,
I don’t know you yet, and I don’t know if I’ll ever know you. Allah alone will determine whether I am to be a father, and I am content with His decree, for “He it is Who shapes you in the womb as He pleases.” [Surah Al ‘Imran, verse 6] But my intention is to have a child that will be a wali. That too I cannot choose, but it is my intention. The demands of fatherhood are too great to hope for anything less than a child who is beloved by Allah and who loves Allah above all else. May Allah accept my intention, for He is the One who hears and knows all, ameen!
I used to think I would be a laid back father, and that I would expose my child to the world and let them decide their own path. But I know now that I will not be that way. My primary responsibility is to protect you and guide you and give you every opportunity to grow in knowledge, righteousness, spirituality, and good character. I don’t know if I’ll be able to do it, but I will try.
I have lived on this Earth for almost 34 years, almost 14 of them as a Muslim. In that time, I have learned many things, but above all I have learned that this life is about sacrifice for the sake of Jannah. Even the greatest of earthly pleasures fade, and wisdom is to work for that which is eternal, not temporal. This too, I know I cannot simply teach you. You will have to learn it for yourself, deep in your bones. You will most likely see a glittering world full of interesting, fascinating, and inspiring things, and will probably think I am a pain in the butt for trying to teach you about a world you cannot see, hear, or touch. But I am telling you now, and insha’Allah will always tell you, that the opportunities of this world are not worth sacrificing your relationship with Allah and your eternal home in Jannah.
There is no way that I can keep you from pain and loss, for that is the nature of this world. All I can do is try to teach you that those trials are meant to help you realize what I am telling you now. Pain can raise you up, and loss can remind you, but only if you approach it with the eyes of faith. As our beloved Prophet (may Allah bless him and his family and grant them peace) said, “What an extraordinary thing the business of the believer is! All of it is good for him, and that only applies to the believer. If good fortune is his lot, he is grateful and it is good for him. If something harmful happens to him, he is steadfast and that is good for him too.” [related in Riyadh al-Salihin, chapter on patient perseverance]
The thing that scares me most is that you would lose your faith while in this world, for that is what I fear most for myself. No one can determine their end, so I beseech Allah alone, trusting in His mercy, and ask Him to give us all a beautiful seal to our lives in this world (husn al-khatima), ameen! But I will try to do whatever is in my power to steer our family in the right direction, in accordance with the Divine command, “O you who believe, save yourselves and your families from the Fire!” [Surah al-Tahrim, verse 6]
But beyond your own salvation, I hope that you will be a light for humanity and an heir to the Prophets (may peace be upon all of them). I hope I will be able to provide you with a home and an education that is full of spiritual light, not just so that you can grow in closeness to al-Nur, but also so that you can spread that light wherever you go. There are so many that are in need, spiritually as well as materially, and I pray that Allah guides you to become someone who can help meet some of those needs – a caller to Him who serves His creation.
I am not perfect, and I know I will make mistakes. But I hope that just as I have tried to improve myself in the past, I will try to improve myself as a father. There is a lot that I don’t know about the world, and I look forward to learning from you as you grow and explore the world in your own way. But at the same time, I hope you will respect what I can teach you. I cannot teach you how to succeed as a lawyer, how to be a good politician, or how to get into a good medical school. I can only give you what I know, and what I know is religion.
All human beings have a religion – the story they tell themselves about why they exist and what their life means, if anything. The religion I am sharing with you is not something I have made up. It comes from the Creator of this tiny universe, it is embodied by the Prophets (may peace be upon all of them), and is carried forward into our time and place by blessed women and men who have inherited some of the Prophetic legacy. It is not the most popular of lifestyles, and there will be so many voices that will tell you to abandon it, sometimes overtly and other times subtly. There will be so many, even other Muslims, who will try to veer you from the most beautiful and safe paths leading to Allah. Perhaps even people whom you love and who love you will try to get between you and Allah and His Messenger (may the peace and prayers of Allah be upon him and his family). But at all costs, do not abandon it. Cherish the faith you were born into with all your heart, and look at it not as some historical accident, but as the answer to the prayer I am making right now for you in the blessed month of Ramadan, Hijri year 1433. If you come into my life, you will be a gift from Allah, and I will dedicate myself to being the best father I can be, bi idhn Allah. I love you.
Your Father, insha’Allah.
R. David Coolidge
R. David Coolidge is the Associate University Chaplain for the Muslim Community at Brown University. He was born in Chicago, and converted to Islam in 1998. To follow more of his writings, click here.