A short while ago I had to leave the house to drop the kids off for a class. Right before we left, I asked if my older son had prayed dhuhr, and he had. I had not yet prayed so I invited my youngest to pray with me. He jokingly said, “I already prayed…“
I knew he hadn’t so I replied to him, “You know, when shaitan comes to you and tells your nafs not to pray, you need to be stronger and tell your nafs that prayer is good and important to do every single time because it’s how we show our gratitude to Allah ﷻ.”
He replied, “Mommy, are shaitan and the nafs friends?” And I said, “Kind of, but we have to pray right now because we’re running late.”
We prayed, alhamdulillah, and then once the prayer was over, I told him, “You know how I said they are kind of friends, I will better explain it to you once we’re in the car in sha Allah, so hurry up and let’s go.”
He replied, “I love it when we have big talks in the car, because then I learn these big lessons from my mom.”
(HEART MELT & AND A HUGE ALHAMDULILLAH) 🙂 🙂
I, of course, was honoured by those words and it just reminded me how important it is to use every opportunity we can to break things down to our kids when they are trying to understand things, ESPECIALLY spiritual matters, because they all WANT TO KNOW! So, we must make the time for them, but I digress…
When we got in the car, I told him that they weren’t exactly friends but more like partners. And then I talked to him about criminals and what some criminal behaviour is like. I explained how criminals get so caught up with their goal, for example, let’s say they want to rob a bank, that they aren’t thinking about the long-term consequences. I also told him that most criminals work with someone or others, and they aren’t necessarily always friends, but they do have a common goal. And that in every pairing or group there is always a criminal mastermind.
I told him that the mastermind knows everything about the crime, comes up with the plan, tells everyone what their role is going to be, and gets them super excited, but usually because they are the smartest one, they NEVER put themselves in a situation where they are going to get caught. I explained, for example, what a getaway car is and how the mastermind is usually the one who chooses to sit in the getaway car and be the “lookout,” but what he/she is really doing is protecting themselves so that if anything happens, they can run!
Once he understood “Bank Robbery 101,” (hahah) I then helped him understand the analogy and said that shaitan was always the mastermind. He gets our nafs all excited to do something he knows we shouldn’t, he lays the plan out, he even acts like he’s going to protect us if something goes wrong (but of course he isn’t) and then he stays close by and watches until everything goes bad and we either get caught or do something really bad and feel guilty, which is kind of like getting caught because guilt can be a punishment too. And he ALWAYS runs away (but eventually he will get caught one day as no one can escape Allah ﷻ!)
I told him further that the whole point of our life is to figure out that shaitan is the mastermind and that he ALWAYS tricks us, and he makes things seem way better than they are. That he’s a liar and he knows that we’re going to get caught but he distracts us by telling us how fun and good something is going to be, even if it’s wrong.
And so, the smart person is the one who can identify shaitan every single time and who can help his nafs not fall for his traps by becoming smarter, wiser, and knowing that the only One who can help him against the criminal mastermind is “The Master,” Allah ﷻ. And one of the ways He helps us is by doing our prayers. Because the more we do our prayers, the more we are close to Allah ﷻ, the less shaitan will have power to trick us.
He listened attentively, as did his brother, the whole ride and then said, “I’m going to never fall for his tricks again, in sha Allah!”
Then just like that, he jumped out of my car and into a friend’s who offered to meet me halfway and take them to class! 🙂
Alhamdulillah…the talk wasn’t concluded, so there will be a part 2 in sha Allah later when I pick them up! 🙂
I’ll keep you guys posted if anything else interesting comes up, but in the meantime, I hope this analogy helps you in your conversations with your kids about overcoming the nafs!
May Allah ﷻ protect us all and keep us and our kids guided always, amin!
Sr. Hosai Mojaddidi has served the American-Muslim community for over 20 years as a spiritual advisor, mental health advocate, writer/editor, mediator, interfaith organizer, and public speaker, covering a variety of topics including women’s issues, marriage/family, youth/teen issues, education, self-development, interfaith bridge building, mental health, and spirituality, etc.
For over 20 years I've had the honour of serving the Muslim communities in the greater Bay Area and Orange County/LA areas as an organizer, teacher, spiritual counselor, mentor, and mental health advocate. Seven years after launching Mental Health for Muslims with Dr. Nafisa Sekandari, I am now teaching classes once a month at Ta'leef for women, as well as offering workshops and other talks to Islamic schools and masajids for the greater community. I continue to write regularly on Facebook and for other publications and have many exciting projects to look forward to ahead! http://hosaimojaddidi.com/