Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day

So I was thinking about what to get my Dad for Father's Day and it lead to this:

It's natural for children to be close and drawn towards their mothers. Moms are nurturing, they're the ones we spend more time with, they scold us comfort us and basically teach us how to live life. All throughout history there is countless poetry and much literature around the bond shared by mothers and their children. What I find scarce is the topic of Fathers. Women are expressive and open about how they feel. They shower you with their love minutes after they scold you for something. Men in general are hesitant to voice their emotions, but it does not in the slightest way mean that they are void of them. Fathers, as I grow up I realize, may appear to have a more subtle role but the magnitude of it is indescribable.

 In my own life, the role played by my father is enormous. Outwardly my dad was like most fathers during our childhood. He wasn't the diaper changing, helping out with feeding time type of dad. He worked hard to earn an honest living and support a large family, just like all good fathers did. He did play with us and was always loving, but he wasn't involved in our day to day life like mom was. And it made sense, dads generally weren't as hands on at the time also we were 5 girls so naturally we were more inclined towards mom. But this is the point where he stopped being like the traditional 80's father. Everything else set him apart from every man I knew (still know). 

He has taught us so many lessons consciously and unconsciously. One of the few things I heard him repeat many times throughout my childhood was "God may not have given me great wealth or a big name or even siblings to call my own blood, but he gave me five daughters. You five are my pride, my honor, my strength. You are all I have." And he truly meant it. Never once in all my life did I hear him show regret for not having a son. Many other people sure did express it, they even tried to console him about the fact, but he always believed so firmly that God gave him what was best. The way he treated all the women in his life with so much love and respect it taught us how a man should behave. His relationship with his mother, his wife, his daughters he dealt each of them with such perfection. Facing the pressure of all these responsibilities cannot be an easy feat for anyone, but I believe it has made him a much better man than anyone I know. 

Abu gave to us which many fathers I think sometimes don't do with their young children is the comfort of being able to talk to him frankly. He made an honest effort as we grew up to discuss problems in our lives, to guide us and encourage us and to make us see the bigger picture. When faced with big decisions and even big problems which affected our family Abu included us all. At the dinner table all of our words were given the freedom to be expressed no matter how small in size we were. 

Growing up what I admire most about him was his level headedness, how he always takes an objective view. Even when trying to disciple us, he would discuss the issue so logically that we could not really argue against it. He wasn't about scolding us, he left that to mom. Mom was the one who challenged us to get As if we brought home Bs or who suggested to each one of us to pursue a sensible career like medicine.(none of us did ha). Dad did support her in all those views, but his teaching was more geared at telling us to not just achieve success but be better people and to work hard and achieve our goals no matter how much we struggle and even if we fail it would not take away from our efforts. 

My Abu's biggest encouragement was to constantly improve ourselves to be a better human. Not just a good Muslim, not a good wife not a good daughter but a good person. He always says if you keep your intentions honest (achi niyat) and your heart pure (saaf dil) becoming all those other things will be inevitable. He constantly emphasizes the importance of being honest and humble. Of course like all parents he is proud of us when we excel in our careers and profession, but he always reminds us that worldly gains hold no value when measured against strong character. His biggest encouragement is to be someone with a kind heart.  Even when faced with some very ugly hearted people in life, he remained rational and sought the good in them. People who hurt and betrayed him he still continued to be kind to. To me this has been highly commendable. He always says that the Nabi (salallah hu alahi walahi wasalam) before bringing Islam was a good person. People trusted him and loved him for his honesty, sincerity, humanity, and generosity before they followed his teachings as a prophet. The message he brought is remembered because of his nature and how he presented this message. Of course I always saw my father pray 5 times a day, but he never enforced anything upon us, not namaz, Quran, nor hijab. His only major rule was modesty. What I learned from my father and his relationship with God was when you love in such a manner, pleasing your Love becomes your purpose of existence. Ritualistic practices are a means to express this love and devotion. 

My father may not be a man who I can boast about of having a highly successful career or tons of wealth and fame, He did not build great monuments that the world can remember him by or do anything spectacular that the world may praise him. But I can say that the people he has touched, respect and value him greatly. The remarkable things he has done for his family his future generations will always be indebted to him for. He raised 5 daughters with utmost love, care and compassion. I remember when we came to find that my sister's former husband had physically abused her, it was the first time I ever heard him shout so loudly at anyone. "How could you even raise a finger on my pure and virtuous daughter who I nurtured like a gentle flower to never let light wind even harm?" Those words made me cry a lot, because of how much truth they held. After that experience the way he stood by my sister and became her pillar of support he taught us again to be strong, to never let anyone else try to break us if they felt intimidated by our inner strength. My dad taught me that a strong man worthy of respect is one who has many emotions, but does not use physical might to express that strength. He shows it by coping with those emotions with maturity and patience (sabr). 

I love my father for all the things he has taught me are invaluable. He has his flaws, as all mankind does. But the way he has lead his life, and the way he has taught us to lead ours is so admirable to me he is a true living role model. People who don't know him well come to think he is not a man of strong nature. Some have even gone as far as to say my mother is more dominant than him. What they do not know about him is how his soft and scarcely spoken words hold so much more power to those who care about him. How my mother may have shouted at us when we did wrong as children, but when our father merely looked at us with disappointment it hurt much more. He did not need words for us to feel that. Because he loved us so dearly, even the slightest of his disapproval was agonizing.  His love and approval was our strength. The strength we needed to go out and face this world. To know that regardless of what gender we are it is our character and good intentions which will lead us to achieving great things. 
I love you, Abu. You are my Pillar of Strength, my Mentor, my Inspiration, and my Friend. 

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