Lessons from Surah Ta Ha

I used to love hearing Prophet stories when I was young. The parting of the sea, the bright white hand of Musa AS, the fire turning into a garden for Ibrahim AS, zam zam flowing with the kick of a baby’s feet, small birds defeating an army of elephants, food raining down from the skies for a nation; the miracles in Quran are endless and fascinating for a young child who wants to believe in magic. As you get older you understand that it’s the Qadr of Allah SWT and not the magic you thought it to be. You learn to appreciate these stories for what they really are, you are inspired by the strength and sabr shown by these beloved prophets of Allah SWT, the morals that Allah SWT is teaching you by sending these stories down in the Quran and if you ponder hard enough, you manage to read the lessons written between the lines.
When I was young, my favourite used to be the story of the evil pharaoh drowning in the sea with his massive army. I would ask my grandfather to tell it to me again and again. As I got older, I read Surah Ta Ha with proper translation. I have read it many a times. And I have to admit my favourite part has changed.
In verses 42-44, Allah SWT asks prophet Musa AS and his brother to go to the Pharaoh and bring to him the message of Allah SWT as he has become very evil. But how does Allah SWT ask them to convey that message?
In verse 44, Allah SWT says, “Speak to him gently so that he may take heed, or show respect.”
Firaun was a person who had exceeded all limits of human decency, that’s what verse 43, the ayah before this one confirms. He was simply put, a bad man; a murderer of baby boys, a man who was claiming to be God, the most evil person imaginable! And how does Allah SWT want Musa AS to talk to him? Gently. Why? So that he may listen. Because we tend to listen properly and pay attention when someone talks to us clearly and calmly.

In my worst moments of parenting I take a deep breath and remind myself of this ayah of the Quran. No matter how frustrated I am with my kids, I need to talk to them gently. Because if Allah ta’ala says that Musa AS had to be gentle with the worst person in the world then I definitely need to be gentle with the little humans whose care Allah ta’ala has entrusted me with. If I want to teach them the ways of the prophets, I must emulate them first. Show them, not tell them.
I have struggled with this. It’s so easy to just raise my voice while disciplining the kids but 9/10 times that never works. Infact it gets worse. Things end in tears or sulks and it just makes me feel worse afterwards. Whereas if I remain calm and keep talking gently, I do make a headway, I see progress and even though this path takes far more effort, the rewards are immense too. You will find this advice in many a psychology books, but remember, the first example of it was given to us in the Quran, surah Ta Ha, the story of Musa AS and Firaun.
How do you get to this place though? Well, the answer is also in surah Ta Ha, Allah ta’ala shows us the answers even before the question arises.

The dua of Musa AS is all you will need to make sure you manage to convey your thoughts and messages in ways that people understand you. This is the dua most scholars and speakers make before giving speeches. This is the dua I made the most when my son had a speech delay. And this is the dua I make every time I have to talk to my children. So that they may understand me and listen.

رَبِّ اشْرَحْ لِي صَدْرِي وَيَسِّرْ لِي أَمْرِي وَاحْلُلْ عُقْدَةً مِّن لِّسَانِي يَفْقَهُوا قَوْلِي

“My Lord, expand for me my breast [with assurance], ease for me my task, and untie the knot from my tongue that they may understand my speech.” (Quran, 20:25-28)

May Allah SWT guide us towards the right path and help us in guiding our children. Ameen

Written by Sarah Pervez Mohsin

Tale of a raging motherhood

It started as it often does on a WhatsApp group, this one of mothers – ‘Does anyone here struggle with anger issues?’

Slowly but surely, nearly everyone on the 50+ strong group chimed in with their own stories of losing it with their kids and dealing with the crushing guilt that follows. As they shared their experiences, wondering if this kind of rage that felt irrational and uncontrollable was normal, I realized how keenly I identified with each of them – their situations, their reactions, the despair and of course, the promise to do better, to be better next time.

It is a universal issue, this sagging under the enormous weight of motherhood, often synonymous with selflessness. Balancing our own needs with those of our families is no small feat. We keep insanely busy schedules, have high and often unrealistic expectations of ourselves AND our children, and of course, social media doesn’t help either. And throw into this mix, the little people with endless energy, fierce wills and varying personalities.

In an ideal world, these little people who we are meant to love and cherish and protect would only see the best version of ourselves. They would see their mamas kind and patient, happy and smiling, all the time. As we all know, this is not how it goes down, the daily grind of parenting builds up over days, or even weeks. And when we break, we not only release the pent-up anger but also leave a huge dent in our self-confidence in our ability to parent our children.

So how do we deal with mom-anger? Half the battle won is knowing what triggers it. Anger is often classified as a second feeling, meaning it is brought on by something else – fear, hunger, stress, exhaustion etc.
● Have you got enough sleep/rest?
● Have you spent too much time on technology?
● Not enough water/food?
● Are you feeling unappreciated?
● Spouse not doing his bit?
● Something else stressing you out?
These are just a few triggers, and we need to realize that for each of us, the triggers could vary. Identify what your triggers are so you can then come up with calming strategies to deal with them. It might be a long and hard process but so worth it!

Some common calming strategies are
● Breathing deeply (this is to alleviate the flight or fight response that stressful situations put our bodies in)
● Giving yourself a timeout – even if it is just for two minutes
● Closing your eyes or repeating dhikr to recenter yourself

When my kids were younger and I was struggling to be patient with them, I was given a pro tip I’d like to share with you. All I had to do was call on Allah SWT by his name As-Saboor (the Ever-Patient) when I was at breaking point until I calmed down. It took a little while for me to understand the signs leading to a breakdown, and then reminding myself to start reciting. But once I started, it worked like a charm! It was a good reminder that I should seek help from the One who could provide it, and that my children are an amanah from Allah Azza waJal.

One friend with much older kids says she closes her eyes and imagines her teenagers as the sweet little babies they once were and that helps her calm down. Another says forcing herself to smile and whisper when she wants to frown and yell helps her to check her anger.

As Muslims, we are often told that anger is from the shaytan, and if you look at the list of actions recommended by the Prophet PBUH for anger, you’ll find they’re also calming strategies. The sunnah too recommends that we distance ourselves from the situation when we’re angry.

Whether you use any of these calming strategies or develop your own, they help in making the choice not to react in anger. As adults, we need to take ownership of our reactions, and choose to act when we are calm, and can rationally decide how to proceed with the situation.

If you do end up flipping out at or around your children, treat it as a teaching moment. Apologize for losing control, and for your actions and let them know that you will try harder to rein in your emotions. It is important for children to see anger as a real and manageable emotion, and also how to fix it when tempers are lost. It is also a good reminder to children that their parents are regular people who make mistakes and work on fixing them.

Last and not least of course, remember that mothers are the cup that nourishes the rest of the family, so remember to fill your own cup first, and do it often. Prioritize whatever actions replenish you, guilt-free because a happy mom means happy kids!

  • written by Mona Siddiqui