My wife messages me, upset. We had made plans when we set out from home. I’d go to the local mosque for Jummah and make my own way back to return to work, while our lad would go with our neighbours to the central mosque down in town. However, when it came to it, our son refused to go.
“That’s normal at his age,” I message back. “I only saw two boys his age at this mosque.”
I have to remind my beloved that her parents couldn’t make any of their children believe either. I have to remind her that she had to travel three-thousand miles to another country first, where she would encounter the English Muslim proprietor of a fish and chip shop near her work. Utterly perplexed, she would quiz him on his profession of faith daily, and from him would borrow her first book on Islam.
“It has to become real for them,” I remind her, “just as it became real for us.”
My wife and I found faith at around the same time. We were both wandering around central London in those days, far from home. My parents, both of them priests, had also tried their best to make me a good Christian boy — and in some ways they succeeded — but I was destined to be a firm monotheist, rejecting all but the first line of the Nicene Creed. In faith, we all have to find our own way, and make our own choices.
Let there be no compulsion in religion, for the truth stands out clearly from falsehood. So whoever renounces false gods and believes in God has certainly grasped the firmest, unfailing hand-hold. And God is all-hearing, all-knowing.Quran 2:256
With regards to our own children, we can only try our best, offering them guidance and inspiration. But, in the end, they are independent beings with their own aspirations. Every man and woman has to choose the path they wish to walk in life. Maybe it’s too early for our children to choose theirs. One day, when the time is right, perhaps they will find their way, if the Most Merciful wills.
From what I gather of my late father-in-law, he too was extremely disappointed by his children’s rejection of faith. He himself had found faith only in the last few years of his life, probably at around the age I am now. Never could he have imagined that his youngest daughter would travel to England a disbeliever, and return home a believer married to an English Muslim. But so it all came to pass. None of us know what the future holds.
May the One guide us all, our parents, ourselves, our children, our siblings, our friends, old foes. May God plant the seed of faith in our hearts and let it grow into a strong tree, yielding good fruit. And none can guide except the One.