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     Volume 7 Issue 20 | May 16, 2008 |

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Faith, Family and the Place of Values

Mohsena Reza Shopna

The man who shaped the history of our family, A.B.M. Motahar Hussain, retired joint secretary, who has now reached the golden age of 91, rocks on his favourite rocking chair musing, “The family that prays together, stays together.” Looking through his newly installed lenses he sees his son coming into the room “you have proved my thoughts my son, by coming back to settle with us.” He hugs his son who has returned from London after many years of stay. Leaving behind a widower Laila, well-organised and successful homemaker, always taught us to stand united and to fall divided had shed tears for many years waiting for her son to complete his studies, work hard and return as a complete man. Such was another pious lady, Mohsena Yakub, my mother-in-law whose well-knit family and the values that she imbibed in her children shows how, off-springs can be strongly united under the single guidance of a mother who had been widowed at the age of thirty three only. The remarkable unity amongst them is only an outcome of the values that she had taught them.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder and so, even if children are miles away, they are very much in our mind and remain a part of the family through constant contact by SMS and calls. The saying goes, “Children are a pain in the neck when they are around and pain in the heart when they are not. Now that my children are away, I sometimes get lost in my thoughts and ponder, staying together is a dream long forgotten or shall we rather say it is no more a dream at all. For young parents like us, we would rather have our children sent miles away for the betterment of their future a future with a foreign seal! This brain drain is an epidemic which we parents have accepted with much contentment. We feel proud when our children with spectacular results get admission in the top universities abroad. But the consequence may very well be that they become accustomed to the peaceful life there and refuse to return to their tumultuous homeland to stay together with us. I think we are equally responsible for the loneliness which we have bought with foreign currency and that too at a very high rate!

Our children argue, “To stay together we do not have to stay physically beside you, Ma; we can stay miles away and still be very much close to you all.” People might find this remark absurd, but no, I believe that praying is a practice which binds you not only with your family who has no ulterior motive only unadulterated love for their children but also with the Almighty Allah who is our sole friend, philosopher and guide. When God is in your heart he binds you with your own ones and to have Him in your heart you have to love him. How do you do that? Non-believers ask you, “How is it possible to pray five times a day?” When you are in love, don't you have this longing to call your beloved time and time again? This experience is very common to all human hearts that are in love. All religion teaches you to love God, the Supreme Being. Muslims don't just say that but practice what love demands contemplate on the Divine and never get tired of doing so. That is the secret of praying numerous times a day. From the mystical point of view, God is the ultimate lover and you communicate by your prayers. “To love the Lord, your God and to serve Him with all your heart and soul.” (Deuteronomy 11:13)

These days we are often swept away with our materialistic day-to-day affairs. It is a reunion with the Lord for Muslims when they pray at prescribed times. It is a collective, mindful meditation that helps you not to forget who you are and where you belong. Millions of Muslims on earth pray five times, while at the same time, leading modern lifestyles.

By praying before sunrise you start your day early. In the middle of the day when you take time out to pray you are helping to free yourself from the work stress. By praying at the end of the day you complete the cycle and cool your mind and stresses. Remembering the name of God brings satisfaction and solace to a man's heart and only when there is comfort can you meditate on things which otherwise are overshadowed by multifarious problems. Relationships begin to make sense because of the intimacy which praying together embrace. People otherwise busy, tend to become likeminded at these gatherings through discussions on this widespread topic. God says that those who forget Him, he causes them to forget their own souls. The key to human happiness lies in the fact that you always keep God in your memory, as in the Quranic verses, “Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find peace.” The peace which we all crave for these days is very much near at hand; all you have to do is seek for it in your invocation.

For peaceful co-existence it is extremely necessary to have discipline within the family. Prayers not only control your behaviour but bring you all together at prescribed times, so proving the old saying, “The family that prays together, stays together,” even if not physically but emotionally. It becomes more pronounced through their 'Munajaat'. So why don't we give it a try and by doing so not only keep the family together but as a continuation bind the nation which is now at a crossroads.

Mohsena Reza Shopna is Past President, Inner Wheel Club of Dhaka North

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