Top Ten Tarbiyah Mistakes Part 1

The following notes are taken from a lecture by Sr. Iman Badawi on April 14, 2010. The following notes are her points, as noted down by me (so they are not a word-to-word transcription). Any extra explanatory notes, points, or opinions from myself are added in blue. (they are mostly opinions LOL ­čÖé but this is my blog, that’s what it’s for!)


Tarbiyah Mistake #1: Choosing the Wrong Spouse–someone who differs from you in the fundamental issues of life and parenting

(In order to provide some background, there was a lecture prior to this where the sister addressed what tarbiyah is: it is character development. This is in contrast to ta’leem, which is mere instruction. She noted that tarbiyah is a process and it is relationship-based. It is not the mere transmission of information that occurs at set time intervals. Based on this background knowledge, then, the purpose of choosing a spouse is that one selects someone that will facilitate this blessed mission of tarbiyah.)

  • Sometimes we forget that one of the main purposes of marriage is to contribute to the growth of the Muslim ummah, and so we must put this goal in our mind when looking for a spouse
  • Even after marriage happens, we sometimes put this goal on the back burner because we wish to spend time getting to know and enjoy one another before having to worry about kids. That is fine as long as one remembers the long-term goal and strives towards it.
  • The first night of the marriage is sometimes referred to as Laylat-ul-Binaa’: the Night of Building. We need to make our marriages like this. Some men are not concerned with building so much as breaking down their wife, and this is not acceptable.
  • (missed some information)
  • What if the marriage has already happened and the husband and wife are not on the same page?
  • In all cases, but especially in this case, the husband and wife need a Family Mission Statement where they clearly define the goals of their family.
  • Note: this idea is taken from Steven Covey in the book Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families. The sister will be doing a program exclusively on this topic but if one would like to read more about family mission statements, this book would be the source.

Mistake #2: Consider Tarbiyah as Beginning At a Later Stage in Life

There is a story about a man who came to a shaykh seeking to learn about tarbiyah. The shaykh asked him: “How old is your child?” and the man responded “One year old.” The shaykh said, “You’re already too late–you’ve missed the boat!”

  • We have to view tarbiyah as something that begins at birth.
  • And this starts by the mother forming a healthy attachment with her baby
  • Breastfeeding is important because it is the way we have this first bond with the child
  • We must identify what our child needs from us and no one else– the importance of the mother figure in the early years of child development
  • Note: It is pretty standard in our Muslim community for us to be pro-breastfeeding for the most part (this is changing somewhat as the newer generations of Muslims who are raised here are more connected to American culture than the culture of their family of origin). For many people, the reason that they are not able to do this first critical form of tarbiyah is that they don’t receive the correct support and information to succeed at breastfeeding. We should make this a priority in our communities to support breastfeeding by encouraging Muslims to be involved in the La Leche League–there are a few fantastic Muslim LLL Leaders that I know of, but we need tons more. Too many women are not able to do what they desperately want to–i.e. breastfeed–because they are not supported in the hospital and at home afterwards and given the tools to succeed. This should be a community effort, wallahu A’lam.
  • When we think of tarbiyah of an infant, we erroneously assume that it means turning the child into a baby genius, and that perhaps we are serving our children well by training them to listen to mozart and do math.
  • In reality, when we consider IQ (intelligence quotient), it is less important than EQ (emotional quotient). Emotional development is what we need to be focusing on at this age via attachment.
  • When studies look at young children’s intellectual intelligence vs. emotional intelligence, the ones who were better students in high school were the ones who had a higher EQ vs. IQ.
  • Sometimes our own emotional development is lacking and so this reflects in how we treat our children: so when we interact with our children, we ourselves display infantile behavior, and what that reflects is that our own development was incomplete–i.e. in some areas of behavior, we don’t display development past a 4-year-old level.
  • Example (from one of the parenting books used as a source): a father, who is also a pediatrician, found that whenever his son would receive a toy, would display bizzare behaviors towards him–not letting him play with the toy, feeling jealous and spiteful, etc. Through long hours of therapy he realized that as a child he wasn’t allowed to play with toys, and he was taking out his feelings on his child.
  • (Even though this is an extreme example, the point is) that we often do similar things, and we don’t realize that what is going on is that we have our own emotional issues that we have to deal with.
  • My personal bias in this issue is that as a community we need to be more open minded about the importance of mental health and de-stigmatize seeking help via therapy and counseling. Think of how many people could be helped if they were to feel free and comfortable about seeking help. Again, like the breastfeeding issue, we have a lack of Muslim professionals in this area and so we need people to fill this void so that we can help people be better people and parents.

Mistake #3: Letting the Children Run the Family

  • This is not what you think it is, folks…
  • We have a tendency to engage in reactionary parenting. In other words, rather than the parents being the leaders of the family and deciding its direction, the children’s behavior becomes a trigger point for the parents’ behavior, and parenting becomes a mere chain of reactionary behaviors.
  • When we go out of control at our children, we claim that “they pushed our buttons.”
  • However, if you are already programmed right, no matter what buttons are pushed, the correct program will run.
  • We need to change ourselves from reactionary to visionary leaders: we need to embody Principle Centered Parenting.
  • Steven Covey terms it Principle Centered Leadership, however in this context, the important leadership we are discussing is parenting.

(coming up next… points 4-6…)


One thought on “Top Ten Tarbiyah Mistakes Part 1

  1. Pingback: Top Ten Tarbiyah Mistakes Part 1 | Empowering Body, Mind and Soul

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