Yesterday, I took my kids to Giza to ride horses. My daughter learned in the States and loves to ride. My son, on the other hand, loves cars and machines. I promised him that I would try to find some type of motorized means of transportation so we could, well he , could kick it. Sadly, I was not able to find any and decided to let him ride on a camel with another brother. Suddenly, he turned to me and said, “Baba, let me ride a horse.” I agreed and he rode, with a young Egyptian holding the reigns. After an hour they returned and I heard someone yelling, I looked up and it was my son! He was saying, “Dad! Look I’m riding the horse on my own! Dad, look!” I gave him the much desired attention, took some cool pictures and told him, “Wow! Mashallah!” Suddenly, he looked at me and said something that froze me, “Dad, are you proud of me?” Those words, although simple in tone really touch the “father son” relationship.
For many of us in Dawa/life, if we are not careful and become so occupied with every one’s sons, we may neglect our own? Attention and manly reinforcement are extremely important in the lives of our future Mustaph Muraghis. The Prophet noted the importance of the father when he said, “Every child is born upon fitra. Then his father teaches him to be Jew, Christian or Fire Worshipper.” Although the mother plays an important role, the masculine verb is used here signifying taglib (meaning that the father is the one who impacts the boy with what he teaches him). This is further echoed by the verse in Surah Taha, after reminding Adam and Eve of their enemy, Shaytan, we find, after the threat of Hell and misguidance for them both, “You (Adam) will be sad,” Here, what is called iltifat in rhetoric takes over and the tense changes from that of the mother and father, to Adam alone. Commenting on this, one of our professors said, “Because, the father guides the ship. If it sinks, its on him.”
In an age where strong figure fathers are showing up on Discovery’s Extinct Species program- Michael Landon is replaced with the dad on South Park, and a subtle feminism is eating at our community like termites eat wood, Muslim fathers must stand and lead by example. Spend some time with your son, akhi. Take him out to lunch, kick it, play some WII, read some Qur’an, hit the Mall or simply ask him, “What would you like to do?”
Sh. Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American Muslim activist and speaker. This post is reprinted with his permission.