Super-Muslim: In or Out of Home?

Keeping the Spirit Alive

by Yahiya Emerick (see biography below)

I just read a very interesting story. A teacher gave her students the

following assignment: Ask a parent what their dream life was when they were

a teenager, and then write an essay comparing it to your own dreams for

your future right now. Accordingly, a teenager asked her mom about her

aspirations when she was young, and the mother replied, (reflecting her

Sixties hippie roots,) "I wished for a simple life, living on a farm

commune, growing my own vegetables and being happy." 

The daughter paused for a moment and stopped writing down her motherís

words. "Whatís wrong?" Her mother asked.

"Itís sort of embarrassing," the teenager replied, "because all I want is

to drive a Lexus and get a good job."

In the first place, this may seem to be a harmless little story to elicit a

chuckle. But it got me thinking. How many Muslim "activists" have I met,

who spent all their free time doing Dawah and promoting Muslim causes, only

to lose their own children and spouses to the kufr lifestyle? Itís pretty

amazing that that would ever be the case. But Iíve seen it first hand and

it isnít pretty.

Of the activist who is never home, we have no doubt about why he or she may

lose their families. After all, THEY WERE NEVER HOME. We all know at least

one person like this. Is it because itís easier to be in the Masjid all

day, surrounded by things that are easy to control, at least easier than an

unruly child? Or has the activist become so filled with Islamic romaticism

they live in a dreamland of khalifah, movements and spiritual battles? Only

Allah knows for sure.

But what about the other kind of activist? The one who is so skilled and

full of energy that they can tear through any Dawah task outside the home

and still have plenty of juice left over to "do Dawah" in the home. Iíve

met quite a few of this category also. Iíve even taught the children of

such "Super Daíees" myself in the various Islamic schools I found myself

in. Here are some interesting observations, but first, an introducing to

the topic of giving Dawah in the home.

Your hear a lot from people, from conventions, speeches, khutbas, etcÖabout

the family being the number one priority for Dawah. Few speakers, however,

give any realistic ways of doing it. It seems to me that the only method of

"doing Dawah" that most people are familiar with is the challenge them/give

a lecture format. In this format, one person assumes another is completely

wrong. Then he or she proceeds to lecture them endlessly to bring the other

person into enlightenment. Almost every Muslim activist Iíve ever met does

this type of Dawah. Does it work? Iím usually the only convert at most

gatherings I attend (male, at least). You decide.

How does the super Daíee relate Islam in his or her home? I will describe

for you examples Iíve seen with my own eyes. A father and son come to my

book table. The son is, by all standards, an Americanized teen. The father

is an immigrant, middle-aged, Masjid-going and reasonably well-off

financially. As the son is looking at the videos, the father endlessly

lectures the son about why he should pray. It looks like a well-rehearsed

script. The sonís face darkens in annoyance and he whispers, "You donít

understand." But the father, who is too busy lecturing on the merits of the

prayer, didnít hear him. I suspect he has probably never really heard his

own son - ever.

A mother with a loose, see-through head-scarf, precariously, (and

obviously temporarily) perched on her permed hair, wearing the typical

colorful get-up replete with nail polish and Gucci bag, is walking near the

entrance to a Masjid during social gathering. Her teenage daughter is

standing near her, wearing nail polish, make-up, tight, tight jeans, a

short sleeve shirt and no head-covering at all. (Talk about dressed to

attract!) A group of teenage "Muslim" boys walk by shouting and talking

about sports and girls. This girl flirts with them and is about to follow

them when the mother calls her daughter back and gives her a long lecture

about why "Muslim girls shouldnít hang out with boys alone.

Hereís a favorite of mine: I know of a father who literally terrorizes his

family with endless talk of Islam. To the point where pouring a cup of

water in the home is to invite a lecture on the merits of water in Islam.

Obviously, his children canít stand Islam because they equate it with their

fatherís droning, boring and endlessly running voice.

Each of the three examples has one common denominator: a parent who is

forceful about giving some Islamic teaching, but who then goes about it the

wrong way. The first parent never listened to his son, and instead, was

totally unaware that his son was complete won over by modern, popular teen

culture. If he would have developed a good relationship wit his son, and

been a consistent role-model for him form his earliest memories, his son

would have been praying all along. Lecturing a fifteen year old about

prayer isnít likely to make him want to start.

The second parent didnít follow Islamic requirements herself (and who knows

what other Islamic deficiencies there were) and therefore didnít encourage

any sense of an Islamic identity in her daughter, at least as far as dress

is concerned. Instead, she allowed her daughter to develop a completely

non-Muslim style of fashion that apes the modern "liberated" woman who

dresses only to be seen of men. Most probably her daughter hangs out with

boys in her public high school everyday as well. If the mother allowed

these un-Islamic habits to develop, then what good would all the forceful

lectures do? Her daughter imagines herself to be a scantily clad beauty in

a Madonna music video while her mother envisions her to be an Muslim

princess ready for her marriage after eight years of college.

And finally, one parent took Dawah to the extreme and made his family tired

of Islam by his constant nagging. This is against Islam protocols of giving

Dawah as even the prophet, himself, used to scold those who made people

tired of too much "religious talk." Check out this topic and youíll find

many examples.

So whatís the best way to give Dawah to your family? The wrong approaches,

as highlighted before, include: not being open to your family members as

individual people with thoughts and feelings, being insincere or a

hypocrite and finally, going overboard.

The right way to do Dawah in you home is to start with yourself first. You

could literally spend your whole life working on your own faith and actions

without even talking to anyone else! You are the first priority in Dawah.

Are you sincere? Are you being true to yourself. Do you know something is

bad but then do it anyway?

What do you know about Islam? Is it possible that you may harbor feelings

of racism, hypocrisy or un-Islamic cultural traditions from your upbringing?

People know who is real. A popular American novel entitled, ĎThe Catcher in

the Rye," has, as its main theme, a disillusioned young boy in a world full

of hypocrites. All he wants is to meet someone who is "genuine" and not a

"phony". Your own children know if youíre real or not. And itís sad to say,

but itís almost always true: the manners and attitudes of the child are an

uncamouflaged reflection of what is in the deepest heart of the parents.

Whatever is hidden in the core of your heart will come out loud and clear

in their demeanor and attitudes. If your kids are not so good Islamically,

be afraid of your own soul.

If youíre living as a true Muslim, not a perfect one, but a trying one,

then everyone sees it in your manners, speech and behavior. Youíre not yet

saying a word to anyone, but youíre giving Dawah. The best Dawah is not

words- itís actions, itís attitude, itís genuine. Knowledge of Islam is not

to be measured in how many duías a person knows or surahs memorized. Even

parrots can be taught to say surahs but no one puts kufis or hijabs on

their feathered heads. Islamic knowledge is displayed in what no spoken

word can say. If youíre around a good-hearted person, you can feel it. You

want to be around that person more and to do what they do and to be like them.

Have you ever wondered why everyone wanted to be so close to the blessed

Prophet? Iman, goodness and wisdom emanated from him. Think of people in

your life who had these qualities about them. One student told me his

grandfather was the sweetest Muslim ever. A girl told me her mother was her

Islamic role model. A bunch of kids in a class named the local Arabic

expert as their favorite teacher to be around. What were the qualities in

all three of these individuals? None f them ever lectured anybody. (Iíve

met and known all three.) One was a hafiz, one a homemaker/Islamic activist

and the other a scholar. But when you met them, they often said very little

about Islam directly and they certainly didnít lecture or come off as


What united all of them was that they were real sincere believers. So itís

not how many "study-circles" you hold with your family, itís not how many

surahs you make your children memorize. Itís not even sending your children

to a Sunday school or an Islamic school that is the key. Rather, the key is


If youíre trying, sincere Musilm, you donít talk too much- about anything-

and you perform good deeds as secretly as possible and you try to be as

peaceful and helpful to others as you can without asking anything in

return. (You also take your pleasure in simple things, not expensive

vacations and lavish living.) You prefer others over yourself and you donít

display your wealth or worldly success by accumulating the finest cars,

homes and clothes. Anything else is folly and youíll pay for it one day. A

good guidebook to Islamic humilty is called, "God-Oriented Life" by

Wahiduddin Khan. It contains the most beautiful hadith/Sahaba advice Iíve

ever seen.

Donít be a Muslim "activist" if all your activity is going to be outside

the home. And donít be an Islamic "terror" to your family: coming in like a

whirlwind, from time-to-time, upsetting the normal schedule of everyone,

even if youíre enraged by what you see your family doing. Because if your

family is doing things that are not good Islamically, then where were you

all those years when those things were being built up in their minds and

habits. A series of lectures or thrashings on your part wonít change their


Only when others see Islam make a meaningful change in your life will they

be willing to try the same. That is the real Dawah to the family, that is

the only message that they will listen to and the only way to make Islam

survive in your family tree. Think about it.


Yahiya Emerick has been a prolific author and has written many articles

that have been published in local as well as national magazines, both in

North America and abroad. Amirah Publishing was founded by Yahiya Emerick

in 1992 in order to further his ideal of publishing American-oriented

literature on Islam. Much to his chagrin, Brother Yahiya found that many

traditional Muslims were quite content with the old, outdated books

imported from overseas and could not conceive of the need for literature

specifically designed for the North American environment. 

After having written two books, which received wide acclaim in local Muslim

circles, Brother Yahiya looked in vain for a publisher willing to work with

him in this vision. After many promises and vague arrangements, he decided

to form his own company and work for Allah as best he knew how. Today, with

the addition of Reshma Baig, Qasim Najar and Samina Baig to the team,

Amirah Publishing is enjoying rapid growth and recognition among Muslims as

a source for original, as well as improved literature, for use in a

strictly American environment. 


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