Question: For Ramazan, what should we concentrate on for our children?
Good question. This kind of question, it is not malayani. It’s good. Whatever that is necessary, you can take that knowledge and that is knowledge that is beneficial. So many times, when we have children, and then speak to so many parents, they usually want to give their children what they don’t have when they were growing up, correct? Black, white, brown, yellow, doesn’t matter. They are saying ‘I want to give them all these things that I missed out on when I was young.’
And so many, they take that to an extreme, and so many they are only concentrating on this dunya, what they lack from dunya they want to give. Especially people who are immigrants and they come to this country. They say ‘I didn’t grow up with this; I didn’t grow up with that. Now I want to give my children this.’ When that is not checked, when you are not thinking and you are not understanding that, that time you begin to start putting them in a place where they should not be put. We are following Tassawuf, meaning we are cleaning our heart of everything except for Allah. Our hearts, majority they are filled with so many things, so many people, especially when they become parents, their hearts are filled with their children. It becomes like an idol to them.
You must love your children. But to make them to become the source of your happiness, the source of your faith, the source of your meaning in this world, that is putting on them certain qualities that you must reserve only for Allah swt. In reality, they are not your children. They are Allah’s creatures. Allah is their Creator. What are they? They are our trust, our emanet. They don’t belong to us. We didn’t make them. If we understand that they are an emanet, they are a trust and that one day we have to return that trust back to the Owner, your love for your children will grow, but it is not going to overpower. Because who puts that love of your children in your heart in the first place? Yourself?
Allah is the Creator of love. He put that love that you have for your children into your heart. And if we are not able, then, to understand the source of this love, back to Allah swt, our children then, they will become an idol, or our wives, or our husbands, or our possessions. And it will be a source of confusion for us. If we understand it is coming from Allah and you are able to know and balance, maybe, then you understand that everything that you are doing and feeling it is coming from Allah, your faith will increase, your love for them will also increase, but not in a way that they cannot carry, not in a way that is going to bring you disaster. So many are going to say ‘I want to give my children the best childhood. The best happiness that, maybe I was denied.’ It’s natural. But if you are in this Jamaat, if you are in Tarikat a little bit, then you have to question yourself, this comes with Taffakur, what is the best childhood? What does that mean? And if we are not measuring everything and filtering everything through the Holy Prophet (asws) and through our Sheykh, if we are not doing that, then we are not really taking Tassawuf into our lives. And it’s very easy. So many of us when we see little children making zikr, we say, ‘ah, how we wish that we had met our Sheykh when we were that young, we were making zikr and listening to sohbet and doing all these things.’
So now, we are recalibrating what we feel the childhood should be. Not what we feel, what we think, what television is showing us, what books are showing us, now we are trying to understand what the Holy Prophet (asws) is saying. What, his teaching is only for adults, not the children? What about the childhood of the Ahli Bayt? What about the childhood of the Sahabi e-Kiram, and there were so many Sahabis that they were children when they met the Holy Prophet (asws). Some of us, we know when we were growing up how Ramazan was, what makes us to love Ramazan, what makes us not to love Ramazan. None of these children here in our Jamaat we force them to do anything. Did you ever hear me speak, saying, ‘all the children should be quiet! Sit down! Stand up! Sit over there!’, do you ever hear me saying it? Do you ever hear ‘all the children, they must be here to make the zikr, they must be here to listen to sohbet, they must be here to pray,’? No. In fact, I don’t like the parents to force them, because this is the way of the heart. But who are they going to follow? The children, when they are growing up, they follow. First, they must follow you, because you are closest to them, you are the one who spends more time with them. You already have that advantage. If you are following our Sheykh, following a good one, following the Evliyaullah properly in your life, there’s no problem for them.
But if you are not following so much, if you are not following at all, then there is no real attraction coming from the Friends of Allah, they are going to be attracted by everything else that the dunya has to offer. Now, in this month of Ramazan, we have children. Teach them how to love Ramazan. You have to love Ramazan. What does Ramazan mean to you? We cannot escape from questioning ourselves. If for you Ramazan is just not eating and drinking, that’s what you’re going to teach your children. If Ramazan for you is something else, something more beautiful, then you must find the language to explain to them. And you know what? Children sometimes they don’t need to understand the words. They just see you, in your body language, the way that you behave, and they know whether it is good or bad. Because until they learn language, at what age? Say, four, five, their entire time is just watching you and feeling whatever that you are feeling. If they see you, especially in these formative years, your relationship to Ramazan, how special, how Holy, how soft the Ramazan is, how, when we stay away from food and drink and our body gets a little bit tired, the heart becomes softer. When they notice that, they will start following and they will understand.
Understand what the world has to offer and offer them something better. Don’t go according to the world. Don’t go, ‘well, the world is offering all these things that entertains them twenty-four hours, so I must also give them something entertaining to them, twenty-four hours for me to fight against the world.’ You don’t. You cannot win, by the way. Allah has given this time to the tyrants. You cannot win. Don’t play the same game. We are given something much more noble, much simpler, much more direct. Let them experience what iftar is, in a group. Let them experience what giving sadaqa, because this is the month of sadaqa too, let them experience giving, let them experience zikr in this month. Let them experience sohbet in this month. Let them experience being able to wake up a little bit, in the middle of the night to worship with you, and to eat sahur, because all of us were raised in this religion, also, those memories are very precious, no? They are very little and they are very precious. How, we remember our mother used to wake us up, our grandmothers used to wake us up, we pray a little bit, we may not understand it. But years down the road, we are holding on to that so preciously.
Give them good memories of this month. When they see you filled with blessings, when they see you having more Rahmat and mercy and you are pointing not to you but to this month, this is the month of Rahmat. When you see them doing something wrong and you say ‘this is wrong, but because this is Ramazan and this is the month of mercy, I’m not going to punish you. But you should know that this is not good.’ You are pointing back to Allah and His Prophet, you are pointing back to your Sheykh, you are pointing back to that month of Ramazan, that connection now is complete. Insya’Allah, like that, our children they are not going to look too far for the blessings of Ramazan, they are going to look inside. Inside, do you understand? No need to go out to much also. Make it something that is special. Now, for the children you may cook something special, because they are children. And when I see children fasting, my heart goes out to them. We are not ones who are forcing the children, ‘you cannot do this, you cannot,’ you go out to them. You feel sorry for them. So you try to make it a little bit extra special for them. Us, adults, what do we have, what? So many things that we talked about, so many things we cannot eat normally anyway, in this area especially, in this country, regular food has become something that is unhealthy for us. Flour is unhealthy, rice is unhealthy, oil is unhealthy, all the basic things, so, for the adults, we should take this time to be a little bit more healthy and to know that the appetite, it is only because of the eyes.
It is only because of the eyes. If it is not because of the eyes, they are not going to have television so much. Television is only about the eyes. Try watching television closing your eyes. You think anything there is going to have an effect on you? Nothing. And we know, in this month, especially for the adults, we can give our body a little bit of a break. Try to eat a little bit healthy. Stay away from things that is going to stir up your appetites. So many different ways of appetites. Then that time, it’s going to be a bit easier. For the kids, give them a little something. We eat something, I mean in the Dergah we always prepare something, but by yourself you must know don’t jump into it. You say ‘this is enough.’ That way, instead of jumping into the iftar and we feel so full and we feel so heavy, and we don’t have energy to pray, if you eat properly, which by one, two, three days your stomach is going to get smaller anyway in the month of Ramazan, so if you eat more that’s when you’re pushing yourself to eat more. Naturally, you don’t have to eat so much. Then that energy is going to burn, you find yourself having more energy to worship nighttime. Then is when the Rahmat, more it’s going to come, insya’Allah.
That way, when the kids, later when they grow up, and they remember how Ramazan was, sitting with your father, with your mother and everyone else, and their faces are clean, their faces are filled with mercy, and we are just helping each other and eating nice things, later down the road, these are the memories that will sustain you, that will give you energy. Be the memories of your children, good ones. Be responsible, insya’Allah. Insya’Allah, may Allah make it easy. Al Fatiha. Selam Aleykum wa Rahmatullah.
Sheykh Lokman Efendi Hz
Khalifah of SahibulSaif Shaykh Abdulkerim el Kibrisi (qs),
OSMANLI DERGAHI- New York
23 Shaban 1438
May 19, 2017