The Necessary Shift: Giving up Child-Centred Homes for God-Centred Homes

When we perform the pilgrimage to Makkah and circle around the ka’bah seven times, we are affirming that Allah is the centre of our existence. We acknowledge that our only true purpose is to serve Him, please Him and worship Him. It creates a ripple effect when people all around the world face the ka’bah each day to offer prayer and thanks to their Creator. The ripples begin at this centre and spread to touch all parts of the world, beyond what most eyes of people have seen.

When we’re back at home, we consume parenting books (or at lease parenting articles – who has time for books anymore?) on almost a daily basis. We scour Pinterest for ideas on how to set up crafts and toys that will appeal to our children’s learning styles. We spend much of our time caring for, feeding, clothing and playing with our children.

We love them and they love us.

But when our children become the centre of our lives and the purpose for our existence, we begin to lose sight of what the centre and purpose should be: God.

I once heard Yasmin Mogahed give one poignant example of a negative side effect that can result from living a child-centred life. She said that mothers who insist on being unhealthily attached and overly involved in their children’s lives once the kids get married and move out, are likely suffering from a lifetime of living in child-centred homes.

This mother put the child at the centre of her existence. Every waking moment for 20+ years was spent serving this child, caring for him and making sure he developed into the best version of himself. Now, suddenly, he’s gone – and so is her centre and her purpose. It isn’t surprising, then, that she can’t let him go.

Allah (swt) says: “Say, [O Muhammad], ‘If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your relatives, wealth which you have obtained, commerce wherein you fear decline, and dwellings with which you are pleased are more beloved to you than Allah and His Messenger and striving in His cause, then wait until Allah executes His command. And Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people’” (9:24).

Allah (swt) is making something very clear – those who tightly cling to their material possessions and family members even though they are being called to their greater purpose and struggle, are those who will be the losers. When we place our possessions or our children (or any of the things mentioned in the verse) above what Allah (swt) is calling us toward, we will fail.

Every relationship is secondary to our relationship with God. Every task is secondary to the obligatory worship of God. That’s what it means to have God at the centre of our lives.

The Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: “Whoever puts this world as his only (and primary) goal, then Allah will divide his affairs for him, and He will place poverty before his eyes, and nothing will come to him of this world except that which was already written (i.e. pre for him. But whoever made the Hereafter his goal, then Allah will gather his affairs for him, and he will place richness in his heart, and the world will come to him conquered and submissive.”

Our goal is to worship Allah and strive for His Mercy in the hereafter. Everything else and everyone else is a minor detail that will be rectified and taken care of if we manage to truly and holistically understand and honour our priorities…

If we miss our prayers because we are driving our kids around to their sports and activities, we’ve placed them at the centre and shoved the worship of God into a dusty corner somewhere. If we help our kids take out interest-based loans to “help them get an education” or start interest-based savings accounts to “protect them just in case,” we’ve placed them at the centre and shoved obedience to God into some faraway crack in the floor. If we hoard our wealth and spoil our children rotten with every new toy and game that comes out while skimping on charity and charitable deeds (if we even give charity at all), then we’ve placed them at the centre, and shoved the desire to earn Allah’s pleasure into some creaky old drawer somewhere.

Your life isn’t just about your children. The purpose of your life is this: “And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me” (51:56).

When you place God at the centre of your existence and you try your best to do what He has asked of you, all the other people in your life will receive their rights. God asks us to take care of our children and educate them and do whatever we can to ensure they are the best version of themselves. If God is at the centre of our lives, we will stilldo all those wonderful things (and more) for our children out of reverence and obedience to Him.

So all the love for your child will still be there. All your hopes and dreams for her will still be there. Except now, everything you do for her is for the sake of Allah.

The necessary shift is one that involves changing your perspective. It doesn’t cost you anything or require copious amounts of work or research. It’s you, sitting on your own and deciding to put God at the centre of your life instead of your children (or your business, or spouse, or education).

When your children see you sacrificing things you love for His sake, or putting your worship above every other thing (even if at that moment, that “thing” is them), it will help them understand that God must be the centre of their lives, too.

Removing your children from the centre will help you understand when you are holding onto them too tightly instead of attending to other people or tasks that also have a right over you. It will help you achieve the balance needed to live a healthy life that involves taking care of your own well-being, education and interests. It will also help you remember that it’s okay to have dreams and goals external to your children.

It will help you come to terms with your purpose.

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