If you have one last thing to tell your children before you die, what would it be?
Think about this honestly and carefully.
What -in your opinion- is the most important last message you want to remind your children of before you die…?
Some people might -at this moment- be concerned about inheritance issues, about their own health issues and pain, about work or people they’re leaving behind…etc.
There are many urgent issues on people’s minds. But how do we know what is THE most important question or message to remind our children of before we die?
Well, Allah has given us a very beautiful and important pointer in the Noble Qur’an.
He narrated to us what Prophet Jacob (peace be upon him) asked his own children right before he dies….
“Or were you witnesses when death approached Jacob, when he said to his sons, “What will you worship after me?” They said, “We will worship your God and the God of your fathers, Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac – one God. And we are Muslims [in submission] to Him.” ( Qur’an 2: 133)
“What will you worship after me?” This is the single most important question to ask your children. And this is not a matter that was brought up in Jacob’s life only at his death bed. Rather, the answer to this question is what he has been teaching them tirelessly all his life.
This is THE most important issue to work on and pass on to your children. Sadly, many people only focus on passing to their children wealth or assets, or to make sure they have enough degrees of material knowledge to be able to get decent jobs. But they don’t give that much attention to what will determine their children’s eternal abode….either eternal Jannah or eternal loss…
We take this question for granted or handle it lightly as if it doesn’t need work. The reality is, whatever other issue we may be worried about will end by the end of our lives, will end once people go to their graves; wealth, people, degrees, fame, assets, popularity…. None of that will be taken with you to your grave.
“Everyone upon the earth will perish, and there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor.” ( Qur’an 55: 26- 27)
Everything will perish. The Only Eternal is Allah, so have your kids been working for Him, have they been getting themselves ready for the moment they meet Him and get asked about their purpose in life and how they spent the time they had on this earth….?
The issue is, this is not a matter of spoon feeding your children information about their deen with no heart or soul put into this. It is not about throwing them into an Islamic school or sending them to a sheikh to tell them information about their religion.
This is more about the real nourishment of your children; the spiritual, intellectual, emotional and physical nourishment of your children based on this perfect and complete path of Islam.
It is about living and experiencing Islam fully with your children. This is a major and an immense human experience that shows them the purpose of life, its beginning, its destination and its meaning.
You are the one whom Allah hired to fulfill this mission with the children He gave you.
Having children is not a luxury or a routine Children are an ‘amana’ (a trust) that Allah has placed in your hands. They can testify for you or testify against you. You’ve either shown them the way, or you’ve driven them away from it. And this is something that we will be asked about on The Day of Judgement. That’s why you could sense Jacob’s concern about the seriousness of this issue and how he made sure he fulfills his trust with his children.
This is a reminder.
Allah has blessed you with people to share Islam with. The first and most essential dawah you’re going to give in your life is the dawah you give to your children.
They will know Allah first through you. They will see Islam in you. Sometimes we only focus on our livelihood and how to provide for our families, but we forget our major mission and ultimate duty towards them.
Notice what Allah says here in these verses
“ And remind, for indeed, the reminder benefits the believers.
And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.
I do not want from them any provision, nor do I want them to feed Me.
Indeed, it is Allah who is the [continual] Provider, the firm possessor of strength.” ( Qur’an 51: 55- 58)
Notice here how He mentioned provision right after reminding us of the purpose of life: worshipping and knowing Him. If you think about it, seeking after provision is one of the main reasons why people get absorbed in life and forget about Allah and their purpose, while here in these verses Allah is telling us not to fear provision because He is the Ultimate Provider, and so people should focus on Him first and foremost!
We often ask ourselves how to spend more time with our children due to the busy work life. But this primarily is a matter of understanding our purpose in life and resetting our priorities accordingly based on that.
Nourishing children spiritually and working on our own spiritual nourishment and our relationship with Allah is not a luxury or a secondary issue that we do on the side. This IS our ultimate mission in life.
If you think about this life, Allah created everything in it for us. He has facilitated life for us and submitted a lot of creations for our service. We need and we use everything around us. But actually, nothing in the creation really needs us or depends on us. The universe would do just fine without us. The sun, the moon, the seas, the oceans, the earth… everything will survive just fine – or even better- without us.
So what is our role, what is our main job on this earth and the purpose of our existence?
We need to constantly think about that and reflect on it with our kids. The purpose of life shouldn’t be an issue they hear for the first time in a philosophy class in college, and then find themselves doubting their religion. How come they haven’t been introduced to this through us earlier? Where have we been? Aren’t we worried about our children’s eternal destination? How come we focus most of our energy on the livelihood of their temporary life, and we don’t care that much about their eternal abode?
This is what Jacob (peace be upon him) realized. He was concerned about what really matters and what really lasts. He was concerned about his children’s eternal destination. He loved his children dearly and he wanted to be reunited with them. If their relationship was revolving around Al Baqi (The Eternal ) Creator, then He will surely reunite them again. But if their relationship was revolving around mortal life, then they’ll be lost once it vanishes because they haven’t linked their existence to the what’s Eternal!
These are just some points for us to reflect on. If we want to practically start incorporating that into our lives, then here are a few points to kick-start:
1- Seek Allah’ Help to guide you and open the best doors for you to live your life in the best manners possible and to guide your own kids on the same path. No one can progress on this path without seeking the Help of Allah. No wonder then that we say at least 17 times everyday during our five daily prayers, “ You alone we worship, and You alone we ask for help.” in Surat Al Fatiha.
So ask Allah sincerely and persistently and earnestly for His help.
2- Always remember the purpose of existence and renew your intention and direction in life accordingly. Whenever you find yourself getting too busy, ask yourself whether all this time is being spent in the right direction and for the sake of Allah and for what really eternally matters and lasts. Intention matters as a reality check and a chance to help us constantly rearrange our priorities and set us back on the right track of our destination.
3- Engage your kids spiritually, intellectually, physically and socially with their deen. This path is a way of life, not a way of worship. There are plenty of ways to teach them that. Let us educate ourselves and seek learned persons and institutions for aid to help us and help our children and get creative and effective ideas. Don’t leave any of your kids’ questions unanswered. There are beautiful and logical answers to everything in this deen. Help your kids see that from an early age and live this experience with them. Learn together and grow together on this path.
4 – Truly focus more on being upright and righteous and make it the ultimate priority to teach that to your children. There is a very important and interesting reminder in Surat Al Kahf ( Qur’an chapter 18) on this point.
Allah told us the story of the two orphans and how Prophet Moses and his companion helped them.
“And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and there was beneath it a treasure for them, and their father had been righteous. So your Lord intended that they reach maturity and extract their treasure, as a mercy from your Lord. And I did it not of my own accord. That is the interpretation of that about which you could not have patience.” (Qur’an 18 : 82)
You will notice here how Allah helped the two boys because their father was righteous. Those were two little orphans in a very greedy town of cold hearted people. Had anyone knew in that town that the orphan boys had a treasure left for them by their father, they would have stolen the treasure in cold blood and left nothing for the boys. But Allah Almighty protected and guarded the boys and sent them the right helpers to help them at the right time, and this aid happened on account of the righteousness of their father.
His righteousness protected his children, even after his death.
Read that again…
His righteousness protected his children even after his death, because He placed them in the Hands of The Best Helper and Best Protector.
If we focus on Allah, then nothing will be lost. But if we lose Him, then we haven’t really gained anything that lasts.
May Allah protect us and our children in this life and the next, and may He reunite us in the best place near Him for eternity.