Saudi Gazette Article on the Beshirs

Bringing Canadian families closer

He’s an engineer, she’s a medical doctor. But the husband and wife team of Dr. Mohamed Rida and Dr. Ekram Beshir, who are from Egypt and have been in Canada since the 1970s, joined hands to tackle two complex challenges of modern life – creating harmony in marriages and bridging the gulf between parents and their children.

In meeting families, Rida and Ekram Beshir discovered conflicts between parents and their children and between couples. Parents often failed to develop a dialogue with their children and only expected obedience. Husbands often took decisions without considering the wife’s viewpoint.

The Beshirs’ response was to study Islam’s teachings on spousal and parental relationships. They also read books by non-Muslim scholars. They talked extensively with couples and with parents and youth.

At Islamic conferences in Canada and the US, people asked the Beshirs how they had developed rapport with their children. By now the Beshirs were convinced that the only way to turn children into good Muslims and useful citizens was for parents to instill confidence and character in them by their own example. In marriage, they felt that both spouses should know their rights and obligations and learn how to defuse small arguments.

The Beshirs responded to parents’ request for guidance through seminars and forums, often involving both parents and children. They started in 1992 and have conducted about 1,000 workshops together or alone. Non-Muslim organizations have also invited them.

The seminars have been held in Canada and the US, Europe, Australia, Morocco, Egypt and South Africa. The Beshirs, who are booked for lectures till the middle of next year, provide free seminars as a public service. Sponsoring organizations charge admission fees but donate the money to worthy causes.

To reach a wider audience, the Beshirs wrote a book in 1998. The feedback led to their second book in 2001. Other books followed and deal with parent-child relationship and with marital harmony. Their nine books have been translated in several languages.

Their daughter Sumaiya has written two books, “A Light at the End of the Tunnel: The Stories of Muslim Teens” and “Everyday Struggles: The Stories of Muslim Teens”, while another daughter Hoda authored “Once Upon a Time: Parenting Through Storytelling”. The Beshirs have also produced DVDs on parenting.

The Beshirs’ books include “Family Leadership Qawamah: An Obligation to Fulfill, Not an Excuse to Abuse” and “Answers to Frequently Asked Questions on Parenting”.

I was impressed by the books’ simplicity, practical wisdom and excellent writing. In the book on family leadership, for example, Dr. Beshir deals with how couples should behave and offers examples of where the husband was justified in exercising authority and where he had abused his authority.

In our fast-changing world, new technology, the Internet and social media and with often both parents working, children are influenced by outside forces and can become alienated from their parents.

Canadian Muslim children face peer pressure, enjoy relative freedom at school and become self-reliant. At home they are expected to obey parents without asking questions. The problem is aggravated by parents themselves not being good role models and their double standards when it comes to boys and girls.

In advising Muslim couples on improving their marriages, raising successful children and dealing with children of different temperaments, the Beshirs emphasize 50 principles based on Islam. They also advise engaged couples on dealing with the challenges of marriage, including practical exercises from real life. They advise parents to differentiate between Islamic teachings and cultural practices, to become friendlier to their children and to consider the environment in which the children are being raised. They also advise that parents control their anger and develop a respectful, friendly dialogue with their children and analyze their own behavior toward their children and ask themselves if they are being reasonable.

Their marriage counseling focuses on practical aspects of life and the rights and responsibilities of the spouses.

Muslims in the West and elsewhere will find the message useful. Those who attended the sessions thought so. The Beshirs received many positive responses. This came from a participant in Sydney, Australia: “I never thought the day would come when I’d receive real practical tips on how to deal with my teens. This seminar provided me with plenty of real ideas that I feel I’ll be able to use with my children.”

A person wrote from South Africa: “Very professional, well researched, pretty lively. Where were you 16 years ago? I wish I could start over with the knowledge I now know from your workshop.”

A seminar participant in Dublin, Ireland, said: “This is the best seminar I ever attended. I learned a lot. Please come back often.” Pretty impressive!

Written by Mohammed Azhar Ali Khan.
First published in the Saudi Gazette. You can visit the original published article here.