Lamia Rashid & Najaha Nauf
In many brown families us kids know we are not allowed to talk about certain topics in our households. Sometimes if we do we are seen as disrespectful, badtameez, a brat, or even someone who cannot control their tongue. In some desi and brown households, if not all, politics is one topic that should be left unscathed for many reasons. Either your parents are too stubborn about their own stances or simply dismiss the discussions and tell us to quietly make dua. Although dua and supplication is a huge anchor to change, there is action that needs to take place.
You can’t leave your camel in the street and ask Allah for it to not wander away, you must tie your camel down and then ask Allah to protect it, and in this case you have taken the action, intent, and supplication route to a better outcome. We cannot just put faith and trust in Allah we have to do our part to educate ourselves and then take action upon our intentions.
There comes a time when enough is enough. Generational gaps and desi mentality/mindsets need to be broken. Here is a guide on how to have a conversation with your parents or relatives:
1. Start the conversation.
It all starts off with actually initiating that conversation. I know it can be uncomfortable and anxious to talk about these things with your parents who have grown up in a completely different mindset but be open to the conversation and they will be too. Don’t negate or overpower their thoughts and opinions.
By starting the conversation you may be seen as loud or too opinionated or to your family you may seem like you are arguing but actually initiating the conversation shows them how much of an adult you are. Relax, take a deep breath and say Bismillah and know that what you are about to do is for the betterment of this dunya and our akhira.
2. Debunk the cultural myths
We know our parents and family members have innate and fixated opinions on matters that seem too political, however, we need to debunk the false claims and accusations that take place. Don’t insult them and their Whatsapp groups because they see that as their main source of factual evidence. Introduce them to your sources. Your sources are not necessarily more accurate but it might just be that they are more credible. Ask them what they think about your sources and maybe even compare backgrounds of sources. Sometimes fighting disinformation can be an uphill battle especially when false information starts making convincing stories and headlines. We need to be able to stop the false information from spreading.
It is important to show them not all perspectives and stances they have grown up with are correct and necessarily still relevant. Times have changed and so should they.
3. Bring in Quranic Hadiths and Ayahs
Do your research beforehand. Don’t scramble on sight trying to find links, ayahs, and hadiths to prove to them that Islam stands for Justice. Our easiest factual support is our Quran. We see examples such as:
“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, acquainted.”
[Surat An-Nisā’ (4:135)]
“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah ; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do”
[Surat Al-Ma’idah (5:8)]
“Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.”
[Surat Al-Mumtahanah (60:8)]
And hadiths such as:
“whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart- and that is the weakest of faith.”
Our parents will become proud of the fact that we know and listen to our Quran with the evidence we use to support our stances.
4. Have an open ear to what they have to say
Listen with the intent to follow up with questions or facts that could maybe help show them what they think versus what is actually right. There are always opinions that are too stubborn to change and that’s fine as long as you listen to what they have to say, they feel appreciated nonetheless.
It’s also important to show them you care about their opinion and you don’t just want to give them a lesson about human rights. It gets a little tricky here because you have to make sure you don’t over-do it. However, if you do get a little carried away allow yourself and your family members to step away from the discussion and come back to it at a later time. It’s important to match your body language with your tone of voice so that you are able to have a clear-cut conversation in which you civilly come to a conclusion or solution. But don’t forget when you do walk away from the conversation you should try your best to always come back to it as it will show them just how important it is to you.
5. Have an honest and open discussion about why you think it’s important to talk about such topics
For me, personally, I have always been passionate about politics and I stress this to my parents on a daily basis. Every job, a nurse, journalist, news anchor, engineer, doctor, business man, social workers, lawyer, social media influencers, etc., will have to encounter human rights. Express to your family and your relatives that your job as a human being is even more invoking of standing up for your basic human rights. Me becoming a journalist is my passion and my dream and that is why it’s important to have open conversations that involve change to your own households.
6. Make it clear that Islam talks about action, consequence, and intention within the chains of justice and mercy.
Make sure you relay to your family that in Islam we seek our actions with our intentions and if our intentions are set and clear then we must take a call to action. We have to actively strive to make a change and put that change into motion by incorporating Islamic teachings into our day to day lives. Just making dua is not enough and our Quran teaches us that as well. Islam is a religion of peace, yes, but it is also a religion of mercy, justice, and action.