Why does God say kids are a trial?
“Know well that your belongings and your children are but a trial/fitnah and that with Allah there is a mighty reward” (Quran 8:28).
To even begin to understand any Quranic verse correctly, we need to first answer this question: What is the purpose of my life?
God answers this question in the Quran: “I have not created man and jinn, except to worship me” (Quran, 51:56)
The key word in this verse is “Worship/ubudiyah”. That’s the purpose of life so let’s figure out what God means by ubudiyah, because it may be VERY different than what we mean by worship!!!
Ubudiyah: acknowledging that you are a created being of God who is dependent on Him 24/7 for EVERY SINGLE THING -> and then feeling, acting, talking, and living according to this realization
Soooo…The purpose of our life is to get to know God in this life and as a result of knowing Him more, to love Him.
Then, in light of this answer, what does it mean that my children are a trial for me?
The translation of the word “fitna” is very important: usually translated as “trial” but in reality it can be interpreted as a challenge that presents an opportunity to learn something, to grow closer to God…
So then parenting is an amazing opportunity for us to get closer to Allah!!!
How exactly? How does parenting help us to get closer to Allah?
Firstly, EVERYTHING in life is created as an opportunity for us to get close to God.
We can only get close to God by getting to know Him better!
Common sense, right?
You meet someone or something. They are a stranger. You probably don’t feel close to them off the bet. But the more you get to know them, the close you feel (provided that they are nice!). Thankfully, in the case of God, He is AWESOME… So as you get to know Him, you definitely feel close to Him and love Him more.
Ok, back to parenting. How do kids make us get to know God more?
Getting know God means, getting to know His Attributes (Asma ul-Husna). That’s how God describes Himself to us in the Quran: “… God is the Most-Loving, Most-Knowledgeable”
If we try we can witness all of God’s Attributes in the parenting relationship. But I will describe the ones that seem most prominent to me.
AL-MALIK (The Owner of Everything)
When we have a baby, the first and strongest feeling that comes up is: This baby is MINE! Ownership… Parents lose site of the reality that it is God’s and start acting like they own their kids. YET, every single thing in parenting SHOWS US CLEARLY that we do not own our kids: they come ready made, we have no choice over their features or their fitrah. They start growing up and having a mind of their own. We start losing control (which we never had in fact!) and this drives parents insane!!!
All of these happen to teach us that we do not own anything, let aside our kids. God is teaching us through parenting that HE IS THE MALIK.
AS-SABR (The Ever-Patient)
Oh… This one, I think is quite clear to all parents J If anything, parenting teaches us patience. A loving patience… When you give and give and give, and your kid is ungrateful, acting up purposefully. You still take a deep breath and continue loving and guiding them, waiting for them to see the right path to happiness.
Oh… Doesn’t this remind you of how we do the same to God time and time again. And how He patiently, lovingly waits for us to see the right path and find happiness.
AL-WADUD (The Ever-Loving)
The endless love that you start feeling for your baby even before she is born. How can you start feeling such love for someone you haven’t even met? To the point that you are ready to give your life for her! Where did this love come from? Is your meat and flesh producing this love? No, of course not. This love is a reflection of God’s Attribute Al-Wadud. It only makes us get an inkling of how much God loves us.
Sooo… All good so far. But where is the fitnah/trial in all this?
See we have two options. With each of these Attributes, we either choose
- to reflect the Attribute ourselves (be loving and patient) OR not to reflect the Attribute.
- to acknowledge that God is the Source of this Attribute: knowing that God is the real owner of the child and acting accordingly.
This is our trial… our training… our opportunity to know, to love, and to worship God.
May each adventurous parenting day bring us closer to AWARENESS of Al-HAQQ… Amin.