Calling home our birds: A mother’s perspective of tarbiyat amid Covid-19 lockdown


Attiya Shaukat, UK

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As summer holidays approach, you know the kids are going to hang around for a 6-week period. You get to plan ahead your ideas of how to entertain them; whether visiting family, having people over, catching up with school friends or going on holiday.

Having all four children at home with only a two-day notice has not yet sunk in. It’s passed one week now and still it has not sunk in. 

At first, the kids and I thought it was just a long holiday, with a joke that “an MP in Scotland is saying that most likely, we won’t be going after the summer terms.” “As if!” we all laughed.

Suddenly, over the next couple of days, that statement looked far from exaggerated, rather it now seems conservative at the time I write this.

The idea that we are on holiday at home has also changed. The schoolwork is coming in daily, but the relaxed environment of the home is making each lesson seem laborious. 

As I am the main carer, I have succeeded to burn, cut and slash my hands due to the high demand for baking, cleaning and cooking respectively. 

It is also mind-boggling to see how long I spend cleaning one area from another area. Yet, magically, either I find a new mess conjured or astonishingly, the mess reappears. I am still at odds in deciphering how this trick works. 

Anyhow, I have decided not to stress too much, for I don’t think anybody will be visiting us soon. Now, where our door mat lays for guests to dust off their shoes, I have permanently parked my vacuum cleaner until further notice. The mop will join it soon. 

The constant pleas to reduce screen time is getting boring, even for me to say it, so much so that I feel I should now not bother saying it at all. My progeny has mentally applauded this thought also.

Despite these things and some more, the kids are stuck with me and I with them. Truthfully, having my children at home is an utter pleasure. I am getting the chance to talk to them, to tease them. Rather provokingly, I quoted someone’s illogical quote, waiting for any child to take bait. I was only mid-sentence, when one of my children explained the philosophical flaws of the comment … success!

Not all battles have to be won. I whisper something daily that will make them realise God. I do something small for the community around me and they see my damaged hand. I hope they learn enough maths during this time to equate that their mother is doing this out of love, propelled by faith, albeit a flawed one, as I too am learning. I desperately hope that they aspire for a purer, better and perfect version of what I am trying to achieve.

Living in close confines means that we all have to respect each member of the family a little more. To me, it has meant that giving into some tantrum is not losing the battle but winning the heart. 

I hope at the end of this, when they leave home and go back to school, that I have gained enough of their heart, so that when I call them, they come flying to me. Moreover, it is true that most things only grow properly when treated with close, kind nurturing and care.

Prophet Abrahamas especially asked God how to bring about change in something. God answered saying:

“Take four birds and make them attached to thyself. Then put each of them on a hill; then call them; they will come to thee in haste. And know that Allah is Mighty, Wise.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.261)

The word “attach” in Arabic means become as close as mincemeat is entwined. So if we attach things to our filthy state, then we will make everything close to us impure, or we can aspire to a better self to produce better attachments of us.

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I therefore, have come to the definite conclusion that it is not so much the children who are under my scrutiny, but it is me under their microscope. The drama has started, the curtains are rolled back and the lights are focused on me. The kids are watching and they will remember my “acting” for a lifetime. It will shape their performance forever.  

At this moment, I am engulfed with an anxiety that I have much to pray for in order to bring the necessary changes in myself so that I can change what is nurturing before me.

It’s action time … Lord help me!

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  1. Beautifully put. May we build the true Bonds of motherhood and and instil the islamic tarbiyyat in our children. Ameen everyone is doing a grt job in this day and age.

    • Tempting! Asifa Ji, but it’s best to make and present personal blogs individually to God. They Would produce much better fruits than flawed human narratives. X

  2. Beautifully written.. mashallah. All mothers are going through this situation. Your blog is really thought provoking.

  3. What a lovely way to think about our strange way of temporarily living so closely. I hope that the impact of these days can positively affect my three children and that they will look back at this time with fond memories and I also help it shapes them in good way.

    • Hello Caroline. Hope Cora and you are all fine?.. we will walking your way as Naima and I need to drop leaflets of help in the neighbourhood tomorrow.

  4. Masha-Allah well expressed. You reminded me of my journey of transformation since I started homeschooling two years back.

    • oh no! I am not that brave. I pray they all return to school, as quick as possible- although my youngest said she thought I was the best teacher she’s ever had, but then again she is only 6 years old.

  5. Insightful and inspiring! Thank you Attiya, for describing and reflecting so well on what many of us mums are going through. Looks like God is going to teach us so much through this unexpected experience. I hope and pray it will shape society for the better.

  6. A beautiful thought provoking read. A personality who wants perfection in all aspects, motherhood has certainly been the most challenging aspects of my life. There is so little in my control and yet, my children are relying on me to make all the difference. Jazakallah for writing.


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