You can listen to Imam Adam’s Khutbah above (starts at 09:29), watch it below, or read the summary below.
بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
All praises are due to Allah (swt), the One that has blessed us with faith. Allah blesses us with so many blessings, that if you were to try to enumerate them, then we would not be able to do so. And there’s no way that we can repay Him for the multitude of blessings that He has given us. And among those blessings, are the relationships that we have with others, with our families, as children, as parents, as siblings, as co-workers, as colleagues, as classmates, as friends, as Brothers and Sisters in Islam.
And so we have all these different kinds of relationships, and Allah (swt) in the Quran, over and over, emphasizes not only His rights, but the rights of people. Because in Islam, we believe that there are حقوق الله – huquq-Allah and حقوق العباد – huquq-ul ibaad and that there are the rights of Allah (swt) and then there are the rights of others. There is our dealing with others. And if I’m wrong to someone, can I go through Allah and ask for forgiveness? No, I cannot. It’s not enough for me to go to Allah and ask for forgiveness, I have to go to that person and I have to seek forgiveness from that person. And if I stole something, or I took that person’s rights, then I have to return that right and ask for forgiveness. And then it is in that person’s right to accept my offer and to forgive me, but it is up to them to also. And that is why we have to be very careful when it comes to the rights of others. Because if you trample on them, there’s no guarantee that they will forgive us. Allah is Ar-Rahman. He is Ar-Raheem. He is the Most Merciful. He is the Most Compassionate. Human beings might not always be and so it’s very important that we are careful when it comes to the rights of others.
Today, in my Khutbah, I want to discuss how we can build stronger and better relationships, particularly within our families. And those are the majority of the examples I will be giving. But these principles can be used inshallah anywhere in our lives. Families are the building blocks of society. If the family is weak then society becomes weak. If the family is strong and the individuals of that family therefore are also strong, then the society is strong. But if the family is weak, they don’t resolve conflicts, they resort to blaming and shaming and constantly criticizing and the atmosphere does not value the individuals in that family unit. And individual members of that family become weak. And our children, our youth. Their connection to Islam is mostly their connection to their family. They may come to the masjid a few hours a month, or a few hours a week. But the majority of their connection to Islam is with their family. And if the family is weak, then the connection to Islam becomes weak. If the family betrays them, then they feel that Islam has betrayed them. If the family does not value them, then they feel that Islam does not value them.
So kids aren’t getting Islam from everywhere else. They’re only getting it with their family and a little bit at the masjid. And so it becomes ever more important to focus on our families. Many, many parents have asked me, “How can I help? How can I help my child be more confident in their imaan, be more confident in their faith? What is the secret to having yaqeen?” The secret is that it starts with the family. If the family gives the child confidence in themselves, respects them, and listens to their voice, then the child feels confident in their own skin. So that becomes very important. So I will share these principles. And so my disclaimer is that I might upset the husband, I might upset the wife, I might upset the father, I might upset the children. But insha’Allah, if it even helps you one little bit, it makes you better insha’Allah and we work with it insha’Allah. And those of you that are still out on your own, you’ve left your parents home but you are yet to create your own family. Inshallah, in the future, may Allah give you the good spouse, may Allah give you the righteous children. And you can even apply these principles in the future, as well as in the present with your co-workers and your classmates and your neighbors and so on.
So, what are the building blocks of a strong relationship?
What are those building blocks that you can use, and you can check yourself thereby, in order to build strong relationships with others? I have derived these from the research of family counselors, as well as from the Quran and the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The first building block of a strong relationship is appreciation and gratitude and not taking each other for granted. You know what it means to take each other for granted? When that person is missing from your life, now, all of a sudden, you begin to appreciate that person. Have you heard of the same “distance makes the heart grow fonder.” Once that person is out of your life, and you realize, “oh, man! that person is actually not that bad. They actually add a whole lot to my life. I miss them. I wish I was with them again.” So the first thing is appreciation, not taking your family members for granted. A lot of times we do take them for granted. If someone on the street does something very small for us, we might give them huge amounts of gratitude. When our family members day in and day out, helping us, taking care of their responsibilities, and so on. Very rarely do we show gratitude to them. Very rarely we show appreciation to them. And the Prophet (pbuh), he was our best role model. He said,
من لم يشكر الناس لم يشكر الله
The one who does not be grateful to people has not been grateful to Allah.
And so if you want to be grateful to Allah, then part of that is to be grateful to the people around you. And that’s something that needs a constant reminder. Because it is very easy to fall into taking your family and your loved ones for granted. So thank each other for the things that we do. “Thank you for making tea this morning. Thank you for making breakfast this morning. I really like how creative you are. I like your imagination.” When your kid is shouting a lot, right? Instead of saying, instead of saying, “Be quiet.” say, “I like your imagination. I appreciate it, but I’m busy right now. Maybe we can talk later.” And of course actions of gratitude are also important. What are the things that we do for each other. The Prophet (pbuh) told us – تَهَادُوا تَحَابُّوا – if you give gifts to each other, you will increase in love for each other. So that is another way of showing appreciation.
The second building block is attention. And if nothing else, then these two things would be very, very good. Good enough to have appreciation and attention. When the Prophet (pbuh) used to speak to people, each person would think that they are the favorite of the Prophet (pbuh). So one Companion of the Prophet (pbuh) asked him and said, “who is your favorite?” Because he was sure that the Prophet (pbuh) would say his name. The way the Prophet (pbuh) spoke to him, the way the Prophet treated him, he was absolutely sure that his name would be said first. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Abu Bakr.” Then he said, “Oh, I must be at second place.” And he asked again, the Prophet (pbuh) said, “his daughter, Ayesha.” The man said, “I must be third.” And so he asked again, that’s how much he felt that he must be the favorite of the Prophet (pbuh). And that is the kind of attention the Prophet (pbuh) gave.
Today, our attention is very off. We don’t pay attention when talking to people. When someone is talking to us, we are answering an email, or reading a text or responding. And we’re shaking hands with someone and we’re doing something else. Right? Our attention is all over the place. In our emails and our texts, in our work. And work is not designed 9 to 5 but it is 5 to 9. So how can we be more attentive? If parents are always on their phones and emails and work, then what are the children learning? How can we complain that our children are on their devices, when we ourselves are on our devices, something we are all guilty of that we can be better at. Many times, families will complain about a child. They’ll say that this child, this person, he’s become a teenager. And now he’s never with us and never wants to be with us. And he never talks to us. And he’s always causing trouble or she’s always causing trouble.
So I asked a few therapists and counselors, what is the solution to that? And they said, “one-on-ones.” One-on-one time with each child. When we have one child, it was easy. When you have two, three, four… one-on-one time. Even if you’re a manager at work, one-on-one time with each of your employees, with each of the people under you. You have to have that one-on-one. It’s from best practices because you want to make sure you’re on the same page. Similarly with your family, you need to take these principles you learn at work. Practice it with your family. Have one-on-one time with each child. “What are you up to? Where are you in life? What are your hobbies? What are your likes and dislikes?” One doctor complains to me, “Oh! my father, he doesn’t know anything about me. He never talks to me. I don’t know anything about him and he does not know anything about me and I am going to college next year.” So how can we be more attentive? How can we spend more time with the people that are close to us? Even if there are responsibilities, because there are always new responsibilities. Even if the grandparents just moved in. Even if there’s a new baby. You still have to make time for those one-on-ones.
It’s important for both parents to pay attention. A lot of us come from cultures where, “Oh, mom will take care of it. Mom will do it.” And there was a police officer that was at a town hall because there was a recent surge in gang violence. A mother asked, “how are the police preventing our kids from joining gangs?” The police officer said, “Look Miss, we don’t actually have the resources to prevent every child from joining gangs. Our focus is on crimes and we are trying to prevent those. But I will tell you this. Look around the room. Where are the dads?” And she looked around the room. There were 50 women or 50 moms and no dads that were concerned about that.
Even in the masjid, when we have a youth group, when we have a halaqa, when we want to do an activity. When you look around who are the volunteers? All sisters, 100%, 95%. Right? So Dads, I know I have upset you too much, but really, you have to step it up. They did a study on children and their fathers. And they found that children whose fathers are involved in their lives have better social skills. They have better relationships and successful relationships. They have stronger self esteem, more self control and higher grades. They are less likely to be overweight, they’re less likely to be suspended from school, they’re less likely to bully others, they are less likely to take drugs, they are less likely to engage in risky sexual behavior. And they are less at risk of committing crime. So many benefits from having a father who is involved in your life. And I don’t mean just volunteer at the masjid. I mean, communicate with your child. Show your presence. Don’t just leave it up to the mom. Don’t just leave it up to your wife. Be involved in your child’s life. So that’s the second building block, attention.
The first building block was appreciation. The second building block was attention. The third one is to respect each other. Particularly, each other’s voice. A boy asked his father, “Dad, are bugs okay to eat?” And the Dad got angry. He said, “Don’t talk about all these disgusting things at the dinner table. I’m going to lose my appetite.” And so they finished dinner, washed up, cleaned up. Dad sat down and said, “Okay, Son, why are you asking this question about bugs?” And he said, “well, there was a bug in your suit, so I was just wondering, but it’s gone now.” So, do we respect each other’s voice? Do we listen? We learned this from our team. And many of us come from a culture where the kids are just kids. What do they know? It doesn’t really matter when they say they’re 10 years old or 15 years old. They’re just kids, what do they know? Right? But the thing is that we live in a really different context now. So these voices are respected at school. They’re respected online and heard online, at least. The family must also make time to listen.
Even in our Deen, the Prophet (pbuh) would respect children, and he would respect their decisions. If you just read about his life, you realize where we are, and where the Prophet (pbuh) was. And there’s a little bit of a gap, actually a very large gap, where we are and where Prophet (pbuh) was. One time the Prophet (pbuh) was at a gathering. And there was a young man to his right and there were elders to the left. And they brought the drinking vessel, the bowl from which they were to drink water. They didn’t have so many dishes back then. So they all share one and they passed it around. So, the Prophet (pbuh), he drank first. And usually you’re supposed to pass it to the right. In Islam, the etiquette is that you pass it to the right. The elders were on the left. And in Islam, we give respect to the elders. You give respect to those that are older than us.
The Prophet (pbuh) said,
“The one who does not respect elders is not from us.“
But he also said in the very same Hadith,
مَنْ لَمْ يَرْحَمْ صَغِيرَنَا
“The one who does not show mercy to our youth, then he is also not from us.“
And so he turned to the boy and he said, “is it okay, if I pass it to the elders? It is your right, because you were on the right of me.” They are senior and older. The boy said, “No.” The boy said, “I want to drink after you. I want this honor of drinking after the Prophet (pbuh). I don’t want to be deprived of that.” And so what did the Prophet (pbuh) do? Did he say, “I am the messenger of Allah. How can you refuse what I request?” No. What did he say? He didn’t say anything. He gave the boy the drinking vessel. That was how he respected the decision of a boy in his community.
And so do we respect the young people in our community? As parents, we have to be open to that. If your child wants to say something to you, you have to be open to them. Eventually, when your child is older, you’re going to want to make sure your child is listening to you. From the very onset, you have to respect their voice when they want to tell you something, and you’re busy. Tell them, “Hey, I really value what you have to say, but I’m busy. Can we speak about this later?” But that later should come ideally within the same day. Ideally, as soon as you’re finished and you can take a break.
Imagine if your boss was calling. Would you tell your boss, “I’m very busy. Don’t call me right now.” Or would you accept the call? You can do that test. If my child was my boss right now, would I accept the call? Or would I say I’m really busy? So would you hold your own family higher? Or do you hold your work higher? The easy way to test yourself. That’s actually something that many people get wrong. Because by respecting our children’s voice, we are showing them that their voice is important, that they should be listened to. Have you met a child who simply refuses to go to the teacher and report the class bully, or refuses to go to the principal to talk about something that’s happened because they feel that their voice does not matter? Because at home, the parents don’t care about their voice. And so how can we give confidence to our young Muslims? How can we give them self esteem? It grows and starts in the family. And so when your child wants to say something, you have to listen. Otherwise, they will begin to feel that their voice does not matter. So if you want to give them confidence in their faith, in their family, in their position, in their self esteem, you have to listen. And I know it seems like such a small thing. It seems like such a small thing, but it is so huge, because there’s a habit institute. It’s not about listening once, it’s not about listening twice. It’s about being available. Mother and Father. Father and Mother. Both.
And the second thing we also communicate by respecting our young people’s voice and respecting each other’s voices, is that they will reciprocate that respect. They will say, “Well, you listen to me, I also want to listen to you. You listen to what I have to say. So I will listen to what you have to say.” That’s the golden rule, isn’t it? And respecting our children does not mean that we don’t teach them. That’s a common fault. That’s a common extreme. One extreme is where the parent becomes overly controlling of the child and the child is unable to learn self control themselves. When we become overly controlling, the child is not able to decide for themselves or be able to do anything by themselves. And the minute they leave home is a disaster. So that’s one extreme.
And the other extreme is no teaching at all. I want to be your best friend. You’re not the child’s best friend. You are their teacher, you are their guide, you are their direction. The Prophet (pbuh), his stepchild Umar (ra), was sitting on his lap and it was time for fruit. So he was eating from everywhere. The Prophet (pbuh) told him, “Say, Bismillah, and eat from what is close.” He was teaching him table manners. We must teach our children. You know, we had a huge issue of this in Ramadan with many young people disrespecting the masjid and damaging the property. So how are we giving our young people tarbiyah and teaching the etiquettes of masjid? As parents if we see some trash on the floor at the masjid, do we pick it up ourselves? Or do we say the cleaners will come and clean it? Or do we pick it up ourselves and our child is watching “Oh, my dad just picked this up because the masjid is his. He belongs to the masjid and the masjid belongs to him.” How do we teach our children to our actions?
The first block was appreciation. The second one was attention. The third one was respect. The fourth building block is to keep our word. Quran tells us to keep our word. If I promise you that I will speak to you later, that later better come. If I promise you that we’re going to go to this place, then we better go to that place or you better have a good excuse as to why we’re not going there anymore. And if you threaten and if there’s a consequence. Classic parents’ threat that doesn’t ever happen, “Be quiet or I will turn this car and I will stop to the side. Be quiet otherwise, we’re gonna leave the restaurant.” Think of consequences that you can actually follow through on. Don’t be the boy who cried wolf. Right? He said, “There’s a wolf, there’s a wolf.” People were afraid at first but eventually they didn’t listen. So you have to put consequences that are realistic. The kids might not like this, but you know, no more fortnight for a few weeks, TV, iPad, smartphone, whatever. These are all privileges, start taking them away. Forget about turning the car around and leaving the restaurant and start taking privileges away. So these are different techniques that you can use. This is just one example. I’m not saying this is what you have to do. These are the ways in which we can start to build stronger families by keeping our word to each other, by being attentive to each other, by respecting each other, and by appreciating each other.
We ask Allah (swt) that He helps us to do those things and gives us stronger families and guides our families, guides our youth, and guides our elders. Ameen.
رَبَّنَا تَقَبَّلْ مِنَّآ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ السَّمِیعُ العَلِیمُ
وَتُبْ عَلَیْنَآ إِنَّكَ أَنتَ التَّوَّابُالرَّحِیمُ
رَبَّنَآ ءَاتِنَا فِى ٱلدُّنْيَا حَسَنَةً وَفِى ٱلْءَاخِرَةِ حَسَنَةً وَقِنَا عَذَابَ ٱلنَّارِ
أقول قولي هذا وأستغفر الله لي ولكم ولسائر المسلمين فَاسْتَغْفِرُوهُ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ
I say what you have heard and I seek forgiveness from Allah for me and you from every sin.
عِبَادَ اللّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالْإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَيَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ
Servants of Allah. Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.
اُذْكُرُوا اللَّهَ الْعَظِيمَ يَذْكُرْكُمْ واشْكُرُوهُ يَزِدْكُمْ واسْتَغْفِرُوهُ يَغْفِرْ لكُمْ واتّقُوهُ يَجْعَلْ لَكُمْ مِنْ أَمْرِكُمْ مَخْرَجًا
Remember Allah, the Great – He will remember you. Thank Him for His favors – He will increase you therein. And seek forgiveness from Him – He will forgive you. And be conscious of Him – He will provide you a way out of difficult matters.
And, establish the prayer.