“My Voice” Interview

With Dr. Mohamed Rida Beshir

Summer 2011 Issue


1) What means can the youth use to protect themselves from fiten?

Things to do

  • Exercise lowering of the gaze as much as possible
  • Manage your time well and get involved in as many volunteer activities as possible
  • Select good friends and company who would remind you of Allah and help you to be close to Him
  • Use the proper Islamic etiquettes when it comes to opposite gender interactions
  • Strengthen your spirituality by attending night prayers and participating in Islamic halaqas of Qur’anic studies and recitation
  • Follow the Prophet’s advice and fast voluntarily as many days as you can
  • Get married as soon as you are able to do so  

Things to avoid

  • Avoid being alone as much as possible
  • Don’t watch any TV shows, DVDs or movies that may contain material that could sexually excite you


2) When is it the right time for a person to get married?

The right time for a person to get married will be different from one person to another. The most important thing to decide the proper time to get married for a person is to make sure that he/she meets the criteria identified in the hadeeth of Prophet Muhammad SAAW. This criterion is the ability to get married. This ability has been explained by scholars as the physical and emotional ability to start a new family and be able to fulfill the needs of this new unit in the society. Many parents put hurdles in front of the couple who intend to get married by asking the potential husband for a huge mahr and many other materialistic things. These obstacles are cultural practices that have nothing to do with Islam. It is the parent’s duty to facilitate marriage for young people so they don’t fall into Haram.

So while one person may be able to get married while he/she is still attending college, another person may not be able to do so. The parents of the first person may be willing to support the new couple by hosting them in their own house for example until they finish there degrees and are able to move out on their own, while the parents of the second person may be reluctant to help.


3) What are the criteria one should consider in himself or herself before taking a step for marriage and how does one search for a suitable spouse?

  The criteria are the following:

  1. Proper understanding of the following:
    1. Nature of marriage
    2. Main objectives of marriage
    3. Foundations of marriage
    4. Gender relations in Islam
    5. Spousal relations in Islam
    6. Essential spousal obligations
    7. Qur’anic rules of communications
    8. Islamic way of resolving conflicts
  2. Physical ability
  3. Financial ability (ie: having enough means to support a family in the case of the husband)
  4. Emotional ability (ie: being emotionally ready and mature enough to carry the responsibility of taking good care of and maintaining the family)
  5. Basic idea about financial management

Some may think that this is too much; however, we believe that marriage is serious business because Allah SWT describes it as a solemn covenant in the Qura’an.[1] As such, it should never be taken lightly and one should prepare well to ensure a successful marriage insha’a Allah.

As for how one searches for a suitable spouse, we suggest the following:

  • Prepare yourself by reading relevant and authentic books on the subject of marriage
  • Make the intention that you want to get married as an act of obedience to Allah SWT and to follow the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad SAAW and fulfill the purpose of your existence on earth as a vicegerent for Allah SWT
  • Compile a list of “must haves” and a list of  “nice to have” traits you are looking for in your potential match
  • Get your parents involved. Consult with them, listen to their advice, and keep them informed of your plans. Their experience will prove priceless during the process
  • Start collecting information. Use all possible avenues to collect as much information as you can. Some of the avenues where you can look for a potential match and find information are:
    • Family members and friends
    • Various local community activities
    • Islamic marriage websites on the Internet
    • Matrimonial desks available during national conventions
  • When you think that you have found a candidate that could be a good match, ask your parents to approach the potential candidate’s parents to start the process of getting to know each other at a deeper level before making the final decision. Parents should facilitate this process to give the opportunity for the couple to meet and get to know each other, of course, without violating any of the Islamic principles related to opposite gender interactions. An example of this could be through having a few family members from both sides (including adult family members) going out together to the same restaurant for a family lunch/dinner. However, in the restaurant you can permit the couple to sit together on their own separate table to have a more relaxed atmosphere and better opportunity to get to know each other.
  • Based on the initial meeting, both parties could agree to continue these kind of meetings and/or agree on other communication mechanisms to find out more about each other if they feel that the chance of being a good match is high. They could also agree to suspend meetings because the chances of being good match are low.
  • These meetings should not be extended indefinitely or more than needed to get to know each other. As soon as both parties feel that they have enough core values in common and feel comfortable enough towards the chances of the success of this match, an official engagement should be announced and official marriage contract (Katb Kitab) should follow soon after.
  • We would like to emphasize that during this process, families of both candidates should be closely involved to ensure that there is no violation to Islamic principles and to benefit the couple from their life experience                


4) Is being in love before marriage important?

Not necessarily. The main two foundations of marriage are Mawadah and Rahmah.[2] The most important thing is to make sure that during the selection process both candidates of marriage have the same objectives in life and have enough things in common to ensure keeping the Mawadah and Rahmah alive between them during their married life.

One may say, but Mawadah is another word for love and in reality, positive and healthy love is one of the components of Mawadah. But Mawadah is much more than just love. It is a very comprehensive kind of love. It is a love that brings the best out of the couple and makes them closer to Allah SWT and better humans. The word Mawadah describes the real love that ensures the commitment of both spouses to work for the sake of Allah SWT and be righteous people. This is clearly understood when one reflects on the use of the word Mawadah or its derivatives in the Qur’an. Here is an example:

“إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ سَيَجْعَلُ لَهُمُ الرَّحْمَنُ وُدًّا”

“Verily, those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, Allah will bestow Wooda for them.”[3]

The word Wooda is from the same root as the word Mawadah. Allah SWT emphasizes that this kind of great feeling will be bestowed on the believers as a result to their belief and righteous deeds.      

The love intended here is not the love of possessing and controlling; rather it is the love of comforting and considering. Associating the word Rahmah with Mawadah in the same verse is another witness to the nature of this love.

Finally, one may ask if this means that there is no place for romance in an Islamic marriage. The answer is, of course there is a place for romance in an Islamic marriage, but romance is not the main foundation of the marriage. Otherwise, when the fire of romance dies out, the marriage would suffer. The foundation of Islamic marriage is based on more tangible qualities that have the property of continuity and growth within a good marital relationship. At the top of these qualities are Mawadah and Rahmah.


5) How to deal with a situation where the parents of the girl refuse the boy or vice-versa?

Dealing with the situation will depend on the reasons of the parents for refusing the boy or the girl. Here are some valid reasons for parents to refuse a boy/a girl:

  • The parents are sure that the foundation for a successful match such as having enough common core values don’t exist between the boy/girl and their son/daughter
  • The parents know of certain shortcomings in the manners of the boy/girl that could not be easily tolerated or changed and could cause great harm to their son/daughter if they marry this candidate. Here are some examples of such serious shortcomings:
    • The person doesn’t observe or practice the basic Ibadat of Islam such as obligatory prayers, fasting of the month of Ramadan, etc.
    • The person is known to cheat or be dishonest
    • The person has a very bad temper and is known to be violent in his/her dealings
    • The person is using illegal drugs or has a problem with drinking

In such cases parents do not only have the right to refuse such a person, it is actually their duty to protect their own son/daughter by refusing such a person. The son/daughter should accept the advice of their parents and thank them for taking such a position that is only meant to protect them and ensure a better future for them.

However, if the parents’ refusal is not founded or based on sound reasons and the boy/girl have enough common core values with their son/daughter and are expected to be a reasonable match, in this case, everything should be done to convince the parents of the merits of this person. The son/daughter should try their best in a very kind and polite way to convince their parents that such a candidate is a good potential for a successful marriage insha’a Allah. They can also seek the intervention of a respected member of their community such as an Imam or a Muslim scholar to convince their parents. However, at no time should a son/daughter go against their parents and get married without their blessings. Marriage is not only a union between two people, it is also a union between two families and one of the objectives of marriage is to strengthen the Muslim community/society through having stronger family ties. When a son/daughter goes against the will of their parents, they are putting a big hurdle in front of the potential success of their marriage.      


6) Is cross-cultural marriage a good thing in our multi-cultural Canada ? Why? Or why not?

 There is no doubt that ensuring a successful marital relationship is a big challenge. As such it is important to reduce the number of factors contributing to this challenge. One of these factors is the differences between the couple in their cultural practices. However, this does not mean that all cross-cultural marriages are doomed to fail. As a matter of fact some cross-cultural marriages are very successful and stand the test of time. A little research into these successful cases reveals the following:

  • Both couples have the same objectives in life
  • Both couples make a deliberate attempt to take Qur’anic guidance and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad SAAW as their main reference in life. Whenever they face a difference in opinion in any matter, they always try to resolve it using Islamic principles rather than cultural customs/backgrounds
  • Both couples never ridicule each other’s cultural practices and are very accommodative of each other’s likes and dislikes. They also very much respect the cultural practices of their in-laws. They make it a point to not allow cultural differences to be a source of problems in their marriage.

Any couple who can strive hard to guide their marital life by the above principles will insha Allah end up with a successful cross-cultural marriage. However, if the couple are not willing to compromise and live according to the above principles, a cross-cultural marriage may be faced with more difficulties compared to a marriage of the same culture to say the least.         


7) How to sustain a marriage when we know that divorce is increasing in the society?

Divorce is increasing in the society due to certain reasons. If we know these reasons, we can avoid them and in the process can sustain a healthy and successful marriage. Here are some of these reasons:

  • Having different objectives in life
  • Having the same objectives in life but not understanding the main objective of marriage
  • Basing the marriage on only love and romance rather than on Mawadah and Rahmah
  • Having different expectations and not having enough areas in common between the couple
  • Financial problems

By preparing oneself properly for marriage, avoiding the above pitfalls, and using the right process of selection as explained in detail in the answer of question 3, a healthy and successful marriage could be sustained insha’a Allah. It is also recommended that the married couple continue to nourish Allah’s gift to them (Mawadah and Rahmah) at various stages of their marital life. This could be done by exercising kindness and respect towards each other in all their dealings following Allah’s order in surat Al-Nisa’ verse 19

وعاشروهن بالمعروف

Both spouses should strive hard to acquire the good qualities that would help them to successfully fulfill their roles in the marital relationship and ensure a positive and healthy family life. The following are some of these qualities/attributes to name a few:

  • Commitment to the success of the marriage
  • Courtesy
  • Effective communication
  • Compromise
  • Being sensitive to each others feelings and needs
  • Sincerity
  • Sharing
  • Adaptation
  • Accommodation
  • Appreciation
  • Acceptance
  • Forgiveness
  • Trust and faithfulness
  • Patience[4]


8) What advice can you give to people who don’t want to get married?

Such a person needs to be reminded of the following points:

  • Marriage is the sunnah of the majority of Allah’s messengers Including our Prophet SAAW.[5]
  • Prophet Muhammad SAAW encouraged us to get married in many of his sayings
  • Through marriage, one can fulfill the most important role that he/she was created for as vicegerent of Allah SWT
  • Through marriage one can contribute to the well-being of the Muslim society when he/she brings up righteous children who can continue to work for the sake of Allah and carry the banner of ( لا إله إلا الله )
  • If you have seen many recent marriages ending in divorce, this should not be a reason to avoid marriage. As a matter of fact, it should rather be an incentive to go about your marriage in the right way. Most of the divorces taking place among Muslims are due to not following the proper selection criteria, not understanding the main objectives of marriage, and not nourishing the gift of Mawadah and Rahmah given to the couple by Allah when they get married.[6] Make sure to avoid such mistakes and you will end up insha’a Allah with successful and peaceful marriage
  • Remember that marriage will help you to be stronger in faith and will provide you with many opportunities to be closer to Allah SWT. Also, if you do everything with the proper intention, even things that are permissible, it will be counted for you as good deeds and you will be rewarded for doing them.    


[1] (Q4, V21)

[2] (Q30, V21)

[3] (Q19, 96)

[4] For more important qualities as well as their applications in ensuring a successful marital life, please refer to our book Blissful Marriage by amana publications

[5] (Q13, V38)

[6] (Q30, V21)

Khaleej-Times Interview

With Dr. Mohamed R Beshir

Co-Author of Muslim Teens


Could you tell me a bit about yourself and career?

I was born in Egypt and finished my undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from Alexandria University in 1970. I worked as a teaching assistant and then as an assistant professor after completing my Masters degree in the same university. I moved to Canada to finish my PhD in the area of telecommunications in 1973, and my wife joined me a year later. After finishing my degree, I joined a large telecommunications firm as a research associate in 1978. I worked with the same firm in various telecommunications positions, the last of which was a Senior Network Analyst. I retired from this firm at the end of 2010. We have four children, all born and raised in Canada, and we currently have eight grand children.

My passion for the area of parenting and family matters started with the birth of our first child. Noticing the unacceptable behaviour of many of the children in our community, particularly teens, was very alarming for my wife and I. At that point, we made a deliberate decision and commitment to do our best to make sure that our children would grow up in Canada as strong confident Muslims, both proud of their identity as well as positively contributing to their society. With my wife’s professional knowledge as a physician and her strong background in child psychology and my in-depth Islamic knowledge, we started our quest for excellence in parenting. It was neither a simple journey, nor an easy one. I dug deeper and deeper into the teachings of Prophet Muhammad SAAW and his companions’ guidance related to family matters. We extracted many wonderful principles to guide us on our quest for excellence in parenting. We also studied many books, took numerous courses, and travelled to conventions and conferences trying to meet successful parents and learn from their experiences. We undertook a self-search process to find out our weaknesses and strengths in the area of parenting, and came up with a plan to get rid of our shortcomings and enhance our strengths. We started putting what we learned into practice and we saw amazing results. The next stage was to share our experiences with our community. This was done first by delivering lectures and conducting workshops within our local community, but soon we were receiving invitations from many Muslim communities all over the world to conduct our parenting workshops. This gave us an opportunity to observe the different problems of children in various parts of the world, and unlimited access to parents’ concerns, which proved to be very useful in building our expertise in the area. At this point, we decided to document our experiences to make them available to a larger audience. Our first book, entitled “Meeting the Challenge of Parenting in the West: An Islamic Perspective”, was published in 1998 and became a best seller in no time. Currently, we have over 10 books on parenting and family matters, 4 of them are best sellers and many have been translated to many languages including Arabic. Please see the attached word document for the reviews of some of our books as they appear on amazon.com.


What prompted you to write this book and what has the response been?  

As indicated above, before writing “Muslim Teens”, we wrote our first book entitled “Meeting the Challenge of Parenting in the West: An Islamic Perspective.” Many communities invited us to speak about the book and to conduct parenting workshops. As indicated in the introduction of “Muslim Teens”, we have learned a lot from these workshops and gained tremendous experience related to teens’ problems through discussing and interacting with parents. It was very clear from these discussions that the most important issue and concern parents have in North America, without a doubt, is raising teens in a western culture. Parents are concerned about how to take good care of their children to ensure that they are non-troubled teens and contributing individuals to society and humanity in general. That is what triggered us to write Muslim Teens.

Alhamdulellah, the response has been great. Muslim Teens has been translated to many languages. Many editions have been reprinted, and it is one of our 4 best sellers on family matters in North America. We’ve conducted many successful workshops to various communities all over the world based on the book material.


What is the first advice you would give parents of Muslim teenagers?

The first advice I would give parents of Muslim teenagers is to parent their teens based on knowledge. Parents should equip themselves with the following areas of knowledge to succeed in parenting their teens:

  • Knowledge of the developmental stages of their teens and their characteristics
  • Knowledge of their teens’ environment
  • Knowledge of Islamic parenting skills. This is a topic with many different areas, but those that are most relevant to the parenting of teens are the following:
    • linking your children to Allah subhannahu wa ta’ala
    • being an approachable parent
    • using effective communication and dialoguing
    • controlling your temper and not acting out of frustration, and
    • being consistent

What is most challenging about bringing up teens?

There are many challenges in bringing up teens: peer pressure, norms of popular teen culture, risks surrounding this age group in modern society such as drugs, parties, gangs, etc. However, by far the most challenging aspect in parenting teens is the willingness of parents themselves to change and use more effective and successful parenting techniques with their teens. Many parents repeat certain patterns that were used with them when they were young without testing their validity for the time and new environment. Ali Ibn Aby Taleb said:


ربوا أولادكم على غير ما تربيتم عليه فإنهم خلقوا لزمان غير زمانكم


“Raise your children using ways different from the ways used with you, because they were created for different times”

Imagine this being said 14 centuries ago when the rate of change was very slow; how about now when things are changing so fast? I think parents should learn to adapt to new and more effective ways of tarbiyah. It is a huge mistake for parents to just follow their own cultural practices without testing and ensuring that these practices are based on Islamic principles and would work in their new environment and time.


Do you think parents are distracted by increasing life stress? Is there less time these days for them to have important conversations with their kids?

There is no doubt that nowadays parents are under many pressures and distractions which leave them stressed and end up affecting their relationships with their teens. Among these distractions are day-to-day pressures and the lack of a larger support system. With the modern lifestyle, there is less focus on family time and on building meaningful relationships with extended family, so the support of aunts, uncles, and grandparents is gone and everything seems to fall on the mother and father’s shoulders.

However, even though it seems like there’s more stress and less time, a lot of it comes down to time management and prioritization. Parents need to make a point of keeping their kids as their top priority in their day-to-day time commitments, as opposed to spending their time on things that are actually luxuries. For example, some families are more focused on keeping the house in perfect shape and having a fresh meal or eating out for dinner every night, but they have no time to talk with their children or share in common activities.


Could you recall any interesting incident in your work that you’d give as an example in teen parenting?

There is a fairly common problem we’ve seen over and over when it comes to parenting teens, and it’s the problem of the “second identity”. Parents come to us in shock, having discovered that their children are involved in all sorts of activities they don’t approve of, such as drinking, dating, or drugs, and that it was happening right under their noses but they had no idea.

What’s tended to happen in these cases is that the parents have underestimated how much effort is required with their kids, and so they have focused their time and energy on other areas, whether it be work, community involvement, etc. So, they keep busy elsewhere and come home exhausted, and even when they’re home, they’re not really interacting with their kids or involved in their lives. As a result, the kids have no one to guide them, and no oversight or follow up. It becomes very easy for them to “trick” their parents, saying they’re going to library for example, and instead going out to a party, or getting involved in drugs.

The parents don’t realize it, but they’ve put so much attention on other things that their family life is getting neglected and suffering the consequences. If they were paying a bit more attention, they’d be able to tell that their teens were getting caught up with the wrong crowd, but usually, by the time they notice the teens are in a very bad state. This absent parenting is especially common with fathers, who often think that their job is outside of the house, and leave all the work of actual parenting to the mothers, who can’t do it alone. As a result, it’s often the teenage boys who suffer the greatest consequences.

Even if parents are aware of what their children are doing, many parents make the mistake of simply stating that their teens’ behaviour is wrong and giving orders, and think this will be enough to stop the behaviour. However, teens in modern society have come to challenge and question every basic principle and value, even those that the older generation took for granted. Therefore, parents have to realize that changing their teens’ behaviour will involve a great deal of effort and closeness. There is a need for the teens and their parents to have a strong, open relationship in order for them to be receptive to their parents’ opinions or advice.


How do parents make the most of their time when talking to their kids about certain topics?

The best advice we can give on this front is for parents to make a point of being approachable, overall. If their kids see them as people who are generally reasonable, non-judgemental, and approachable, then the children will be a lot more likely to hear what they have to say on all topics, and even to come to them for advice instead of seeking it elsewhere.

When it comes to certain topics that parents want to raise with their kids, it’s important to frame the conversation in a positive way, not accusingly. Also, parents should not approach the conversation with preconceptions about how it’s going to go, but really stay open to listening to what their children are telling them or asking them. Good communication is key, and this means active listening.

Are parents afraid of setting rules because they think none of the other parents are doing it?

One of the main sources of negative parental behaviour is peer pressure among adults themselves. Many parents do certain things, or refuse to do them, with their teens for no logical reason. When you dig deep to find out why, usually the answer is that another family does it this way, and they don’t want to be seen as “less”. For example, there are families who will buy their teen a car as soon as he/she gets his/her driving permit. Then you find other parents in the community doing the same thing out of the need to “keep up”, which is madness. No one should be buying their teen a car because the neighbours did it. These decisions should be made based on the actual need or situation of the family in question.

Also, parents may not set rules because they don’t want to be the “mean” ones. Some examples are setting curfews, or even monitoring who your kids are spending their time with. Quite a few parents don’t like the kind of friends their kids have, and are afraid of their negative influence, but they don’t want to deal with having their kids be unhappy or lose friends in the short term, so they say nothing. What they don’t realize is that they are sacrificing their kids’ characters in the long term to avoid a fairly small problem right then.


What is the difference between today’s generation of teens and their parents (in terms of relationships) than the earlier generation?

There are quite a few differences when you compare today’s generation of teens with their parents’ generation. Specifically, when it comes to relationships, because of the extended family structure, there were many more multigenerational relationships. Young children, teens, adults, and the elderly all used to interact much more frequently. Now, it’s very typical for each generation to spend almost all of their time with others their own age.  As a result, the youth don’t naturally get exposed to the ideas and behaviours of those older than them. They have less respect for them and their own environment seems as though it’s the whole world.

Some of the other differences are that this generation is also much more exposed to what’s happening around the world and in other cultures. They don’t get their news from their families and their parents are really not able to filter what information they have access to. Finally, with previous generations, the cultural norms of society were more conservative, so even if parents didn’t do a great job, their kids were not at as much risk of “going astray”. Nowadays cultural norms are extremely liberal and parents have to be very careful to instil certain morals and values.


Is there anything else that you’d like to add as a message to your readers in the Middle East?

Don’t think that just because you’re in the Middle East, your kids are immune to western pressures. The world has changed and shrunk. With media, the internet, and social networking, kids from all over the world are subject to many of the same problems and pressures of dating, drinking, drugs, low self esteem, and other problems. As a result, it’s critical for parents to understand their kids’ environment, and not to simply assume it’s the same as the one in which they were raised.

Also, remember that parenting is the most noble task you will undertake in your life, but that it’s a full time job, so you have to give it the time that it really deserves. Done properly, the rewards are great insha Allah.