When my son asked me the question I most feared answering

mom answers to her son questions about religion - ZenParent

That dreaded question came one afternoon. And I was blank. I did not know what to say. All these years, I had nudged my kids to follow the rituals of Islam with fervour and passion. I had defended the sometimes-rigid customs saying they were necessary for discipline of action and thought. But they were young then and they did what we asked them to do without questioning.

I was looking at a 16 year old now and he had a burning question. ”Why do we follow Islam?’ Obviously, my son had this on his mind for some time before he finally decided to bring it up and I knew where exactly it was coming from, considering my religion has come under criticism like never before.

I had to buy time. I had to dig for answers and provide a valid explanation for him to be at peace. In fact, I needed those answers for my peace of mind as well. So I set out on a quest to learn what my religion was about rather that how others were portraying it to. There had to be a reason why my elders had opted to follow Islam and I intended to find my own reasons before I could let my son find his.

This is what i found.

Islam, like all the other religions, stresses on love and faith. Love of god, along with all of creation. It stresses the importance of complete surrender to god and in that surrendering, complete trust that it will work out well. The religion is primarily based on principles of love, purity, abstinence from anything that causes harm, prayer, pilgrimage, charity, and jihad, a hugely misinterpreted word that translates as conflict or fight. I had followed all these as rituals, as something that had to be done. Period. Without knowing why or what they actually meant. I loved my kids and family deeply and honestly, bathed daily, fasted in the month of Ramzan, performed Haj and gave away alms to the needy when it was convenient. But could a religion be just that? Only rituals? And conflict over those rituals?

the question asked by son and the mom answers - ZenParent

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The answers are right there in The Quran. I could not thank the extremists enough for pushing my son to ask me the question that opened doors of wisdom for me. When Islam speaks of love it does not mean love for oneself and only one’s immediate family but compassion for all human beings. This automatically means causing no harm or damage to them or their property.

mom explains about religion to her son - ZenParent

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Purity, not only of the body but of thoughts and action. I could not possibly keep scrubbing my body clean and keep harbouring ill thoughts about people around me. I had to learn to give benefit of doubt, forgive to move on in life and be happy. Fasting is not only abstinence from food but also from any such behaviour or action that harms the body and the soul or, for that matter, people around us. Charity need not be only alms for the poor. Islam says a good well- meaning deed for another or even a smile is charity.

son asks question to mom about religion - ZenParent

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And jihad… this opened my eyes. In Islam, jihad actually means to fight against all evil. Evil thoughts, (basically temptations) and evil actions. Nowhere in the Quran does it state that it means to fight with and kill people!

When I had done my research, I sat my son down to explain it to him. “A religion, if understood well and followed the way it was meant to be, only leads us to become better human beings,” I said softly and saw him nod. “According to me, Islam is more a way of life. It is not only about nurturing one’s self but also about co-existing peacefully with others around you. I think it only stands to benefit all. The world may differ in its views, just like how you did too due to the immorality of a few people. But I am sure once you discover the truth and act in faith, opinions will change. By being a good Muslim, you will contribute to clearing the name of Islam.”

religion taught about peace

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To this, my son added. “I guess, Mom, the climate around the world is fickle. It keeps changing. But we don’t need to fall prey to the pressure and alter our belief system.”

“Yes,” I continued, “We need to keep up our faith in what we believe is right, stand up for it for the sake or ourselves and keep doing our part. That’s how we make a difference.”

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