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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Father's Day presentation

Abdul Alim

On June 17, 2007, the Social Services Committee sponsored the Father's Day
presentation at the Islamic Center of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Dr. Maher Hathout said that in most cases, the Quran portrays a very positive
picture about the women who also happen to be the mothers - including Mother
of Musa (Moses), Mother of Isa (Jesus), Mother of Yahya (John) etc., and
when it comes to fatherhood, Quran delves into the complexities like the
father of Ibrahim (Abraham) who was an adamant person; while Ibrahim himself
as a father showed compassionate towards his son Ismail (Ishmael) and
together with his son reconstructed the future i.e. Kaaba (The House of
God).

While discussing about the Prophet Yaqub (Jacob), the father of Yusuf
(Joseph), Quran mentions Yusuf's father warning against telling Yusuf's
dream to his brothers due to Yusuf's brothers jealousy; Prophet Nuh (Noah)
could not guide his son etc.

Quran also addresses unknown fathers like in Surah Kahf (18:60-82), there is
an incident about the wall about to collapse and Khidr sets it up straight
without charging any money. When Musa asked why Khidr did not take wages for
it, Khidr replied that the wall belonged to two orphan boys in the town; and
there was under it a treasure belonging to them; and their father was a
righteous man, and God intended that they should attain their age of full
strength and take out their treasure as a mercy from Him. In other instance,
Luqman gives the code of ethics to his son.

Later, Dr. Hathout handpicked three fathers and four youth (3 males and 1
female) from the audience to have an interactive discussion about the
fatherhood.

When asked, a father replied that trying to communicate works better
especially with his son when compared to his daughter. He said that he
expresses his love by hugging and kissing his kids everyday even after they
entered their college, which sometimes look odd to them when he does that in
front of their college peers. The female youth said that she is more
comfortable when her father tries to communicate with her instead of
expressing his love through gestures and motions.

One of the fathers believed that the loss of character would be his worst
nightmare while raising his kids for the future.

A father said that his preference would be to go attend the school function
rather than invite his kids friends home, listen to the music with his kid
or go to a movie with his kid. On the contrary, the male youth preferred
inviting his friends home so that it gives an opportunity to his parents to
know about his friends and make them comfortable although he wouldn't mind
his father coming to the school function.

When asked if the youth feel embarrassed while fathers visit the school due
to their accent or dress code that does not fit especially when the school
population is homogeneous, the unanimous answer was "no".

On the question who would the youth pick if they have a choice to bring only
one parent to the school, the majority favored mother.

A father believed that it is the father who influences his kids until they
are 10 years old when their school friends and TV start taking over. Another
father believed that the teacher can also play an important role influencing
the kids. On the contrary, the female youth felt that spending time with her
friends influenced her most while the male youth considered that hanging
around with different people on the street influenced them largely. Dr.
Hathout noted that it was a surprise that neither the fathers nor the youth
mentioned mosque that could be an influencing factor.

The youth chose not to inform their friend's parents when their friend does
an awful thing (e.g. taking drugs), even if it has gone to an extent that
his/her friend needed an intervention (professional help), although the
female youth said, probably, she might inform the school counselor.

Dr. Hathout noted that the youth feel that it is a betrayal informing
someone without realizing that they are in fact betraying their friends
without having informed someone to get professional help in those
situations. He said that even though there is no cookie-cutter approach to
that, he said that it needs to be approached on a case by case basis and
urged the Muslim Youth Group (MYG) counselors to organize a separate session
with the youths to discuss on this subject.

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