The Proper Discipline For Successful Living
Imam W. Deen Muhammad
What people who believe in God need most if they are to be successful is an appreciation for a disciplined life. Life today is perhaps more undisciplined than it has been in many generations. Most people cannot control themselves or their households. Everything is out of their control, and this is because the society has lost its appreciation for correct discipline.
Al-Islam requires a strong appreciation for the disciplines that God has revealed and established for the human being. Muslims should work hard at learning these disciplines and teach them to their children if they are to save their lives and their children's lives from the chaotic state in which we find America today.
There are certain business interests and elements in this society that have released the forces of permissiveness in order to undermine and contain the poor. But, permissiveness is a disease, and once it has been released—in time it spreads and affects the whole society. In fact, that which they let out to contain the poor has now poured over into their own circle.
There are people in America who still depend upon their traditional disciplines for holding up the pillars of the society. They are the ones taking the lead and managing the society today, and not the corrupt businessmen. Such corrupt people are undisciplined and incapable of holding up anything.
The Muslims should appreciate the disciplines in their religion. They should practice and pass them on to their children as something to be appreciated. The manner in which you give something to a child has a lot to do with the child's reception of it. If you give something to a child as though it is burdening you, then the child may not accept it. If it is something that will save our lives and our children's lives, then we should give it to the child in a spirit of joy and pleasant excitement.
Muslim parents should recite the Qur'an to their children before they even learn to speak. In fact, it is advised that as soon as the child is born, the Kalimah should be recited in its ear. It is also very important to recite Al-Fatihah and the first lines of the second chapter of the Qur'an, Sura-tul Baqarah, translated, "The Cow." The transliteration of the second chapter reads as follows: "Bismil-lah ir-Rahman, nir-Rahim, Thaalikal Kitaabu laa-rayba feehi. Hudaal lil muta-qeem. (This is the Book, there is no doubt in it. It is a guide to those who want to go right.)" Now shouldn't we be giving this to our children? And we should give it to them as believers so that when it registers on them, they accept it from the mouth of the faithful. If we read these verses to our children, they would be great guidance and support. The Qur'an would set their attitude before the world sets it for them. It would set their attitude toward being right, towards being dutiful to God and being responsible to their fellow man.
In commenting on these first few verses, we see that in the Qur'an, there is no doubt, no defect or imperfection. It says that it is a guide to those who desire to go right, who believe in God, who keep up prayers and give for the sake of others. This is wonderful. It is only a few words, but look how it has established what my attitude should be, and where my sentiments should go. It has obligated me with respect to my Creator and also to my fellow man. It has assured me that what it has invited me to stand upon is perfect.
The life of Islamic discipline begins in the area of our spiritual tendencies that is most critical. Spiritual tendencies are the emotionality of the human being—the trends that his spirit is subject to follow. These are sometimes manifested in thick, hardened attitudes, and can't live except in that spirit. This explains the kind of spirit we have in our society today, a fixed spirit of disrespect for authority, of disrespect for parents, of rebellion, defiance and just being different for the sake of being different.
If parents try to advise their own children as to what is best for them, the children might say, "Oh, I'm entitled to my own opinion." And those who go along with the modern trend will tell that child's parent, "Well, you know the child has a mind of his own. That is a sign of intelligence." But it is actually a sign of clocked in, conditioned rebellion and defiance. It is a sign of the absence of God's Guidance.
Discipline Requires Strength
The word "discipline," brings to mind a need for strength. Weak people cannot discipline themselves. Take for example people who over eat and become over-weight. They know they shouldn't keep eating jelly rolls or an extra large order of french fries and pizza. They will order pizza with extra cheese even though they have been told that the pizza is fattening and that it is junk food. By junk food, they mean that it isn't healthful to your system.
People must have something they give priority to among the things they respect. We can lose respect for ourselves to the extent that we will risk our own life, knowing that we may die if we do certain things. This is reflected in the attitude of those who are warned of some destructive habit. If you say to them, "You know, those cigarettes, drugs and alcohol will kill you." And they reply, "Well, I've got to die from something, so it may as well be from something I enjoy."
Most of us have some respect for our own individual bodies, for our own individual selves, but that is not big enough to save us. The only thing that will save us is to make God the object of our life, and Ruler over our life. Prophet Muhammad said, "You are to behave as though you are seeing Allah, for if you are not seeing Him, He is seeing you." Now if we will respect God to that extent, it will give us strength in our whole life. People who have that kind of fear and respect for a higher command in their lives have the strength they need to keep up the proper discipline.