“Fatherhood in Islam – A letter to my Father”, by Zahir Muhammad Mannan

Miyan Zahir Muhamamd Mannan serves as the Connecticut Jammat Tabligh Secretary, Naib Northeast 1 Regional Tabligh Secretary, Northeast Regional Nazim Tabligh, and Naib Mohtamim Tabligh USA. He is a voluntary Chaplain for CT State Police and Meriden Police Department and works professionally as an Elementary School Teacher in Rocky Hill, CT. 

You are a Divine gift no less than the first reflection of Allah’s Jalali majestic names and masculine attributes for me. You showed me how to uphold the consecrated trust of fatherhood, “the middle door of Paradise” (Holy Prophet Muhammad SAW, Tirmidhī).

I appreciate you not just once a year on Father’s Day but daily through lasting acts of prayers, service, obedience, and love. Whenever I gaze upon your handsome bearded countenance or am blessed to delve into deep existential discussions with you about the Prophets, Angels, Khulafa or electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, aliens, even the Divine Source of everything when you’re not already relishing in teaching, laughing, and making memories with your grandchildren, I’m always reminded of God Almighty and His chosen Vicegerents. From our holy fathers Adam to Noah, Abraham, Moses, Zoroaster, Krishna, King David, Buddha, Confucius, Jesus Christ, Muhammad the Seal of all Prophets, and Messiah Ahmad, peace be on them all, Allah’s paternal colors were mirrored and manifested in you first for me. Your pleasure is dearer to me than my own as I stand witness to the truth of Prophet Muhammad SAW hadith “God’s pleasure is found in the happiness of your father while God’s anger is in the displeasure of your father” (Tirmidhi).  

You lovingly inspire me to seek and choose the Manifest, Praiseworthy, Bounteous God above all else and to spread His glad tidings and warnings with wisdom not for any reward but only for His pleasure and to share His Kingdom. Your enchantment by Almighty Allah and His light in Hazrat Muhammad RasulAllah SAW, the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad AS, and their living Khalifa (AYA) is palpable and contagious.

You somehow gathered all five of us hyperactive sons for what matters most; congregational Salat.

You effectively made us all pause in the presence of Almighty Allah and fall in love with His freeing worship by patiently taking our hands and modeling Wudu ablution with us as if it was light not water, as well as the sacred postures and melodious recitations of Salat which you said aloud both in Arabic and English to ensure its transforming value reached our hearts.

You  lend us your wings to transcend the limits of this world beyond our physical senses up into the realm of spiritual mysteries and wonders.

You instilled in us love and service to Khilafat and helped us write letters to the fatherly Caliph of the time, whether it was Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad RAH or Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad AYA, and sacrificed your time and wealth in bringing us to meet and spark a connection with our spiritual father not letting it know any breaking.

You always direct our attention towards Khilafat as the “second personification of Divine power” (Al Wasiyyat) far above yourself as a role model and all other worldly relationships.

You taught us how to hope for God’s communion, to write down our dreams and pay special attention to them as forms of open Divine communication when you encouraged us to read the book Tadhkirah.

Your  moving Quranic recitation still strikes awe in our souls transporting us to the last day and God’s Threshold. Your fatherhood extends to Ahmadi Muslims beyond our blood relations in and around the state of Connecticut who elected you as their first and pioneering President in the late 1980’s. You diligently fulfilled this sacred office for over a decade after which you served energetically in various other capacities like Northeast Regional Qaid and local Jammaat Tabligh Secretary, the very responsibility I’m humbly entrusted to today. You laid the groundwork for our Ahmadiyya Muslim Community under the guidance of the Fourth Caliph RAH and the then Regional Missionary, Imam Inamul Haq Kauser Sahib, to become what it is today alongside the succeeding Presidents by God’s grace seeing it grow from a handful of families to now 400 members.

You always said the true religion of God would grow rapidly in front of our eyes. It was your mother-in-law’s residence that served as our first House of Almighty Allah. Yet you still readily humble yourself before others, especially to your wife who you treat as the most educated Queen, and sons who you respect as princely leaders, though we’re just savants and though at times we regrettably take advantage of you. You always uplift and enrich your grandchildren and magically enlighten their day when we’re not able to cheer them up. Thank you for being our friend and that of our children when we felt alone, for covering our faults so we wouldn’t feel hopeless. You established weekend religious classes from our home to strengthen our knowledge and identity highlighting that spare time was for increased remembrance of God or other productive projects not laziness or wasteful pursuits. It was you who initially sparked our thirst for righteousness that will follow us after death, and now I can only pray and hope to pass that awakening torch onto my children as gallantly as you did and continue to do for us. 

This is why you remind me of the Caliphs of God about whom the Holy Prophet Muhammad SAW unveiled in a hadith “All prophets are paternal brothers having different mothers but one religion” (Bukhari). None, however, represented God the Lord, Nourished, and Caretaker of all the worlds more immaculately than the universal Prophet, Muhammad, sent as a mercy to all, peace be on him. He SAW was survived by four pious daughters while his sons returned to God in infancy amid the horror of female infanticide as the cultural norm in and around Arabia. Despite his enemies taunting him as abtar, issueless, Allah Talaa yet assured him from the unseen of “receiving every kind of good in abundance” (108:2). History bears witness that he was succeeded by four rightly guided Caliphs, a dozen Spiritual reformers at the turn of each century, Messiah Ahmad AS as the second coming of Jesus Christ AS, and five rightly guided Caliphs of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community each of whom was and is a father for the fatherless. 

Never did the Prophet SAW feel any less a man having only daughters and no surviving sons, nor did his daughters ever feel deficient. Their father’s empowering treatment was testified to by his own noble wives for other fathers to emulate.

Said Hazrat Aisha RA “Whenever his daughter Fatimah would enter upon the Prophet he would stand up, kiss her, and would sit her in his seat. Whenever the Prophet entered upon Fatimah she would stand up, kiss him, and sit him in her seat…” (Al Tirmidhi).

The Holy Prophet SAW taught and modeled “the best among you is he who is best in conduct to and treatment of his family”.

This is perhaps why Hazrat Zaid bin Harith RA, who was a slave gifted to, freed, and adopted by the Prophet SAW, voluntarily chose to stay and spend the rest of his life with the Prophet SAW even when his biological father finally found him after years of separation and searching. I would do the same. Prophet Muhammad SAW was and is still father to the orphaned and less fortunate. He is the chief of all Adam’s progeny and their only true Intercessor on Judgment Day. Unlike previous Divine Messengers who were sent only to certain people for a limited time, it was for all of us and all time that the Holy Qur’an says he was “sent as a Divine mercy, Seal and father of all Prophets, Messenger, a light giving lamp, and as a bearer of glad tidings and a warner” (Holy Qur’an).

The noble “wives of the Prophet are as mothers” to us believers, but the Holy Prophet Muhammad SAW is closer than a biological father could ever be, being our spiritual patriarch and “nearer to the believers than their own selves” (Qur’an 33:7).

The Holy Quran beautifully illustrates this superior spiritual proximity – “grievous to the Prophet is that you should fall into trouble; he is ardently desirous of your welfare” (9:128). We cannot possibly reciprocate our father’s sacrifices for us nor the Prophet’s life-giving love for and investment in us as his people closer than biological children, but we are taught what our least response should be; “You are not a true believer until you love me (the Prophet) more than yourself, your spouse, children, parents, family, wealth, job, and all worldly attachments” (Bukhari).

Prophet Muhammad SAW is our honor, our happiness, our paradise, our guide, our savior, our resurrector, who unveiled the Hidden Creator and the truthfulness of previous spiritual children of God, who we invoke countless blessings and exaltations here and hereafter upon and pray for more than ourselves, fathers, families and friends, whose illustrious countenance we long to meet, and see even for a moment in our dreams. None championed his perfect obedience and love better than his spiritual son and ardent devotee raised in the 19th century as his subordinate Prophet (4:70, 61:7), Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908) of Qadian, Punjab, India, the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi AS. Messiah Ahmad AS spent sleepless nights and tireless days in worship, spiritual exercises, Jihad of the pen, word, and deed to defend the honor and expound upon the verities of his spiritual father and master Prophet Muhammad SAW and the Prophet’s transforming religion, miraculous Divine revelations, and All-Encompassing Gracious and Merciful King all verbally being attacked from every angle around the world and particularly in India, the very blessed original cradle of our first father Adam (according to Hazrat Hasan Al Basri RAH and the Promised Messiah in Al Istifta of Haqeeqatul Wahi pp. 801).

Ahmadi Muslims have another father in Messiah Ahmad AS as well as his current and fifth Caliph, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad AYA, who visits us in his prayers every night and answers our hundreds of thousands of personal letters per month exuding our personal and communal dramas, complaints, requests, approvals, and rarely good news with no judgements only prayers, guidance, admonitions, and motivation. Prophet Muhammad SAW declared “(In fact) All of you are shepherds and everyone is responsible for their flock. The father is a shepherd of the people of his house and is responsible for his family. A mother is the shepherd of her house and children and is responsible for them…” (Abu Dawud). 

So, as we see tribulations shake our siblings around the world, let’s not forget we are all limbs of the same body, together as one we are the child of Adam AS and his wife who were expelled from the garden but forgiven. Restoration comes with gratitude and giving back to our fathers and mothers rather than blaming and feeding off of them.  Let’s at least reciprocate their selfless sacrifices and heroic feats as we become anointed with and embark upon the sacrosanct adventure of parenthood ourselves. 

“My Lord, grant me that I may be grateful for Thy favour which Thou hast bestowed upon me and upon my parents, and I may do such good works as may please Thee. And establish righteousness among my progeny for me. I do turn to Thee; and, truly, I am of those who submit to Thee.” (Holy Qur’an 46:16)

Categories: The Muslim Times

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