Ponderances of an expectant father

You never really know what something is like until you go through it for yourself. People can tell you about their experiences, tell you what to expect, and you can do a lot of research on your own – all to prepare you for the point where you finally experience it for yourself. But you never really feel it – and you never really know it, until you’re in it yourself.

I remember a few years ago, a discussion with some fellow bloggers, about marriage. We all had our ideas, our dreams, our warnings (the defence mechanism for not letting the dreams go to our heads) – things we learnt from the problems of others; ideals we held for our own futures: aspirations of the lives we wanted to live when we finally stepped into that (hopefully) eternal union with another.

But we knew that, until we actually went through it ourselves, we were just hypothesizing.

Almost a year and a half into marriage, and those days seem so far away from me – in time and memory. It’s like I rarely remember what those years felt like at all, let alone the intensity of those feelings.

And today, as I stand so comfortably and established in this now not-so-new life, the coming months bring with them the promise of a further step forward, God-willing. After being so settled for what seemed like a long time, the natural progression from one state of life to another continues: from singledom to marriage, now marriage to parenthood.

And, from what I gather, the next step is all about sacrifice. For, with this new arrival, my life is no longer my own. I think now of the immensity of giving that’s involved in being a parent. I think of what a parent is: what they give to their children, what they give up for their children, what they do for their children; the natural instinct they have to want to do anything to make their children happy.

And I wonder – selfish as I consider myself to be – whether that’s something that will come naturally to me too. Will I just automatically switch to sacrifice-mode? Will it take years to learn? Will I ever be as giving, loving, or amazing as my own parents were (and still are) with me?

Relating back to the intro, I guess it’s only a matter of time until I find out (roughly four months or so, to be more specific).

And while the world seems to be running itself down at a more rapid rate now – with financial crises, environmental problems, and sometimes social anarchy (i.e. the crime situation here and elsewhere) – I wonder whether being a parent in these times will be more difficult than the past.

I recall a Hadith that says something like: ‘Raise your children better than you were raised, for they will face more difficult times than you.’

Seeing the progressive degeneration of our world, it’s easy to see why the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave us that advice. But I wonder whether we, the parents-to-be, are capable of even matching the upbringing we ourselves had.

Sure, we have ideas about how we want our raise our kids. But, just like the pre-marriage discussions mentioned above, we’re only hypothesizing. We don’t know what it’ll be like – we can’t know, until it happens.

All we can do is try to prepare, and try to make sure our foundations are strong so that, God-willing, we can face whatever comes our way and be successful.

And, no matter what situation you’re faced with, the best foundation is faith. Faith, accompanied by patience.

The ride hasn’t yet started, and doesn’t feel real to me yet, but once it does begin – I hope we’ll be strapped in nicely and ready to endure the ups and downs, and enjoy the adventures to come.


Let’s eat…

Earlier this year, I picked up a newspaper by Port Elizabeth-based group Mujlisul Ulama (a.k.a. The Majlis), which went into some depth about the problems with the Halaal certification of certain meats in South Africa and internationally. While I grossly disagree with the manner in which this group attack those who they feel are in the wrong (i.e. calling SANHA a “despicably satanic organization”, among other extremely insulting terms) – it did bring into my mind the issue of the commercial food industry, which, I’ve since discovered, seems to be rotten to the core.


Recently, I found an article by Al-Jumuah writer Shireen Pishdadi, which details the dark side of our modern food industry (article link: “Unwholesome Harvest”). The contents not only shocked and disturbed me, but reminded me of the words of the angels, when Allah told them that He was to put mankind on Earth (Surah Al-Baqara, verse 30). They said: “Wilt Thou place therein one who will do harm therein and will shed blood, while we, we hymn Thy praise and sanctify Thee?”


Reading what’s happened to agriculture and food production over the last century, the words “harm” and “shed blood” are most appropriate – but I would add “rape” and “plunder” to the list, too. Multinational corporations have monopolised the production of food and agriculture, running farmers out of business and even taking ownership of the very natural plants and seeds that Allah has placed in the Earth. Apparently, farmers – whose income is being squeezed dry by these multinationals who have taken over agriculture – are committing suicide and selling their kidneys.


And the way livestock are treated just brings dismay to my heart. Allah gave us these animals, made them subservient to us, so that we may eat of them and use them for our own benefit. Yet some modern practices of commercial farming are just sickening, and display such ungratefulness for a bounty which mankind could not survive without.


But it’s not all doom and gloom, because we know that mankind is not all bad. Allah’s reply to the angels’ question was: “Surely I know that which ye know not.”


In Surah At-Tin (Surah 95), Allah says: “Surely We created man of the best stature, Then We reduced him to the lowest of the low, Save those who believe and do good works, and theirs is a reward unfailing.”


It’s the basic nature of man: we have the potential to be higher than the angels; yet we also have the capability to drop to below the level of animals – “lowest of the low”.


What we’re seeing – in those who control the food industry these days – is that the lowest of the low is winning out; plundering this planet and its treasures just out of greed and lust for material wealth.


But there are ways forward, and in my view, it’s a revolution that has to start from the ground – because those in power will never give up their own interests while their hearts are so consumed with greed.


I’d recommend everyone reads the article mentioned earlier, which goes on to suggest solutions and things we should put in place.


Locally, I’d love to see some of our people – post-graduate students or other – undertake a serious study of the local Halaal food industry. To bring a well-researched, academic investigation of the claims regarding commercial chickens – but expand that to other meats and foods. From there, it should be the responsibility of our local scholars to look at the results and decide on the way forward.


They’re already meeting to decide on a unified strategy with regard to the anti-Zionist boycotts, and while that is very important – I think issues around our food are just as important.