Tuesday, February 25th, 2014


The Prophet ﷺ said, “He is not of my umma, who does not honor/respect our elders, have mercy on our young, and know the right of our scholars” {Musnad al-Imām Aḥmad}.

ليس من أمتي من لم يجل كبيرنا ويرحم صغيرنا ويعرف لعالمنا حقه
مسند الإمام أحمد

These are strong words. When we look at the life of the Prophet ﷺ and see how gently he spoke to people, and then we come back to this sentence, “He is not of my umma…” we begin to understand the gravity of this particular hadith.

In modern terms what does it mean? Does it mean we no longer play for his ﷺ team? We are no longer of the ‘Muslim’ nationality? We don’t belong to a particular club? “He is not of my umma…” The Prophet ﷺ begins his admonition with this phrase of exclusion – the ticket to isolation from the greatest and best group that ever walked the earth. Here the Prophet ﷺ emphasizes the seriousness, not of an action, but of an attitude.

Often I am asked by women around the world about difficult relationships with their children, their parents, their husbands, their bosses, their imams, etc. And universally what I find is that the core of the problem is not a deed but rather a stance.

With children, women are often frustrated with their behavior, and they ask me for magic pills to turn them into model Muslims. But asked, “How does your child feel?” the answer is usually difficult to come by. When we don’t know how our children feel, we are not merciful to them. When we set high expectations and don’t think about their feelings along the way, we frustrate them. Our job is to teach and guide, to be sure, but how much teaching and guiding have you ever welcomed into your life from a person who looked upon you with eyes devoid of mercy?

When it comes to our elders, western Muslims struggle. The word respect is defined differently in Western societies. In a place where college professors are called by their first names, children raise their voices to their parents, and equality has been taken to a pathological level – our elders suffer the most.

I rode in the car recently with a seventy year old women, she is highly educated, has contributed much in her life to her field and to her community. She said to me, “I need to work on understanding my new role in society.” I asked what that new role was; she said, “I’m old now – and the young don’t want my perspective anymore.” Ouch.

Some of the most beautiful aspects of Islamic culture are the trappings of respect. Standing up when someone enters a room, sitting with decent posture in front of those who are our elders, and holding our tongue more often than it wants to be held.

But in the end it is not the deeds of respect that the Prophet ﷺ is speaking of, but rather the attitude. Do not belittle or look down upon your parents, your husband, or anyone older than you. Be vigilant about this. Ask yourself about your real attitude towards anyone you have a relationship problem with, and you will probably find that at its core is your own heart full of disparaging thoughts and feelings.

So let us take heed of the Prophet ﷺ.
Let us attempt to ‘feel’ the feelings of those who are younger, as we guide them with the loving hand of mercy toward a life of faith.

Let us honor our elders and remove all traces of belittling from our hearts.

Indeed in this way we will find peace in our homes, in our communities, in our organizations, and in our hearts. Our relationship with Allah (swt) will improve and our faith will deepen.

And when we remember the words of the Prophet ﷺ we will be able to say, “I am, O dear beloved Messenger, I am one of yours. I am a part of your beautiful umma.”
Anse Tamara

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