8: To My Parents, With Love

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This Ramadan…

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This Ramadan… I will be the best to my parents.

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For my father:

My father abandoned me.

It was earlier this year, and it was the worst feeling ever. One day, he just decided to move on with his life without us, and he left us stranded there by ourselves, all alone.

I was hurt by his abandonment. I was sad, I was depressed, and I felt miserable. I had thought he loved me, but it seems now like maybe he never did. I’m still trying to work through the emotions, still trying to figure out the “why.” My life turned around 180 degrees when it happened. So I started hating him. I hated him because he’d hurt me, hurt my mother and my siblings.

But when Ramadan started, everything somehow felt better. It was as though Allah subhanhu wa ta’ala had lifted a rock from my heart. And then I knew what I had to do: I forgave him.

I forgave him because I wanted to move on in life, because I wanted to start my life anew… but all this forgiveness came after a lot of contemplating. I forgave him because I told myself that our parents are only human. They make mistakes, too, and because we grow up thinking of them as infallible beings, sometimes we find it hard within our hearts to forgive them and move on.

And why shouldn’t we forgive them? All our lives, our parents bring us up. They take care of us, send us to the best schools, sacrifice their pleasure and their sleep for us… it only makes sense to forgive them, regardless of their flaws.

I reminded myself of all the good things my father had done for me over the years, all the things he’d said and advice he’d give. And I made a list of just some of those things:

1997: One day, I was super rude to our house help. When my dad saw this, he gently advised me that all of us are equal, that regardless of how poor the other person is, it doesn’t make me any superior to them. He reminded me that all of us are equal in Allah’s eyes, and that I have no right to be mean to others. That helped me change. After he said that, I never, ever did anything mean again, especially to the house help.

1999: I had come back from hajj, and although I hadn’t reached puberty yet, I was resolute on wearing hijab. When I discussed it with my dad, he reminded me that I would be respected a lot if I wore it; and his words made me so happy.

2000: I was running late for school. My uniform wasn’t ironed, and my mom was making my lunch. When my dad found out, he ironed my uniform for me. Not just on that day, but even when I was older, in my mid teens, my dad would iron my clothes for me.

2007: There was a terrible phase in my life when I was questioning the existence of Allah. When I asked my dad all sorts of questions, he bought me a tafseer of the Qur’an and told me that all my answers were in that book, I just had to read it.

2008: I was afraid of taking my final exams. Afraid because those exams were so hard, and I was afraid of failing. And when my dad found out, he called me. He told me not to give up, he said that I shouldn’t be afraid of anything. Things always seem difficult at first, but he told me just to try and leave everything else on Allah. I did that, and alhamdulilah, I passed. Subhan Allah, my dad’s words of encouragement worked wonders.

There are countless other memories… fond moments which I don’t want to let go of:

How my dad used to wake me up for fajr. How he knew all the things I loved to eat, so the fridge would be full of my favorite food all the time. How he knew that I loved to read, so he would buy me all kinds of books, and then we would discuss everything we’d read later.

My father abandoned me, and I don’t know if he’ll ever come back, or when. But I know that as a human, he is fighting some internal battle of his own. And he didn’t leave me empty-handed; he left me with memories and life lessons that I cannot forget, and I pray for the best for him.

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For my mother:

My mother has always been like the shining sun in my life. She is my ray of hope. Every day that I wake up, seeing her brightens my day.

When I was down after my dad left, I said these terrible, terrible things that I later regretted, and I talked to my mom about them. She helped me get through it. My mom helped me forgive my dad every day.

When I confided in her my worry that Allah had abandoned me, she reminded me that Allah ta’ala does not abandon anyone who turns to Him. Even people who commit the gravest sins, He continues to provide for them, so how would He abandon someone who kept trying, kept knocking on His door for forgiveness and mercy? She reminded me to always keep trying, reminded me that Allah loves His slaves so immensely, and to never, ever forget that.

When I share my insecurities and worries with her, she brushes them away in a few, simple words. Her words are a balm to me.

I see Allah’s mercy through the way my mom treats me. The way she’s always been there for me. She is this roof above my head who keeps praying to Allah to protect me. Her du’aas are the reason behind my smile.

One day at my aunt’s place, my aunt was busy getting ready for a wedding, so I told her I would change my baby cousin’s diaper. It was my first time changing a diaper. I took her to the bathroom, held her in one arm and washed her with the other, and subhan Allah, she was heavy. It made me realize that my mom had done this exact same thing for me. As tiring as it was, she had held me with one arm and washed me with the other when I was a baby, many times a day, for days on end.

I remember asking my mom once if we could ever repay Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. She said that we can never repay Him, we can only try our best to be grateful to Him by thanking Him, subhanahu wa ta’ala. I can never thank Allah ta’ala for everything He’s given me. I can never thank Allah enough for my beautiful mom who gave birth to me, fed me, raised me, and continues to be there for me.

And I can never thank my mom, either, for all that she’s done for me. All I can do is try to never become a source of pain, sorrow or grief for her. All I can do is to try to thank her, and to try to be the best that I possibly can be to her.

And We have enjoined on man to be dutiful and good to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years — give thanks to Me and to your parents, and to Me is the final destination.” [31:14]

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As I approached this Ramadan wanting to become a better person, I realized I had to be the kind of person who is best to their parents.

Our parents are our jannah, no matter how they treat us. When Allah ta’ala commanded us to be good to them, He already knew that parents wouldn’t be perfect… He knew that some of us would have easier relationships with our parents, some of us would have harder ones, some of us would deal with loss or conflict or abandonment.

Regardless, we are obliged to lower the wings of love, kindness, forgiveness, compassion and — most of all — mercy to them. That’s what makes us best to our parents, no matter what kind of situation we’re in.

For myself, I knew I had to move on. Forgiving my father and making du’aa for him and my mom is the best I can do for both of them. And I know there are other people out there who have friction with their parents, so I want you to do the same.

Forgive your parents. Realize that they are human, that they have flaws. Make a list of all the good words and happy memories your parents have given you over the years, and thank Allah for these things. Then be good to your parents. Forgive them. Help them out. Make du’aa for them.

I pray that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala helps us realize that we are nothing without our parents. No matter where we go and what we become, our parents will always be those priceless, irreplaceable blessings in our lives. May Allah ta’ala help us to have patience and to love them, even in difficult times. May we become the best to our parents, and may never even say “uff” to them. Ameen.

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The above was a guest post by an Anonymous sister. Our thanks for a deeply personal, deeply beautiful piece on the topic.

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