The Absent Children

· Reproduction,Sustainability,Family

How societies built on everything else than the Fitrah find themselves in the most absurd crisis. Reading mainstream newspapers has sadly become a form of perverse entertainment, as human confusion and suffering is not funny. So, when sharing bizarre, but still important news articles to understand the time we are living in, the links are accompanied with 🥴😅🥵🫣🤯 followed by ‘Laa hawla wa laa quwwata illa billah, Hasbun Allahu wa ni'mal wakeel, and Alhaaamdulillah for Islam! 🤍 at the end as a reminder to ourselves and eachother of how lost we are as individuals and societies without hidaya.

One of the main pathways to just gradually lose it completely is through losing control over the private parts. 'If you do not feel ashamed, then do whatever you like.' With repetition of doing haram the haram starts to seem fine. Once upon a time, disconnecting intimacy from marriage was unheard of also in Norway. Now this disconnection is amongst the key ingredients in widespread versions of liberation, modernization and progress. Western countries have transformed their societies with these canons of truths and promises, and they actively push their views and practices on other nations. Which text can confirm this saviorist attitude any better than the poem "The white man's Burden'. The burden that Kipling referred to, was the moral burden of civilizing the uncivilized. SobhanAllah, as a young student I really thought that 'the burden' referred to was the burden we as white people today have to carry with us of the immoral and brutal behavior of our white ancestors towards the owners of the lands and resources they wanted to rob. The famous scholar in decolonial studies, Fanon, describes how the French colonizer used the unveiling of Algerian women as a tool to colonize the country. As he stated in his book 'A Dying Colonialism' (1965 p.39):

In the colonialist program, it was the woman who was given the historic mission of shaking up the Algerian man. Converting the woman, winning her over to the foreign values, wrenching her free from her status, was at the same time achieving a real power over the man and attaining a practical, effective means of destructuring Algerian culture'

How charming and civilized. How we could only wish for these behaviors to be historical facts, but a genocide is now happening in view of everyone, and the mission of unveiling Muslim girls and women has France itself as the role model. There, Muslim women and youth are not allowed to wear niqab, hijab, and from last year not even long dresses in public schools. No wonder the French Muslims are leaving en masse to Muslim countries like Morocco, may Allah continue to bless this country for its openness to those who are escaping the suffering from Western double standards. Muslims are returning home, and ethnicity doesn't matter. We feel at home in Muslim countries. Here we can raise our children in a place where the Fitrah has been protected and nurtured generation after generation from the time of Rasoolullah (saws). No country or people is perfect, but it's obvious that this has kept alive the majority of people's ability to separate right from wrong, to keep the families strong and the community together across differences through knowing exactly how to mind one's own business. How strongly felt isn’t it for Muhajireen who come from countries where the Adhan is forbidden to be heard from outside the masaajids, to now hear the adhan on loudspeakers from every direction, one over the other: The most beautiful call on earth, a clear-cut command to bow down to The Creator. The relief of coming from a place where you were expected to educate yourself from ‘backwardness,’ to make fun of religion, religious people and religious expressions, to now finding yourself in a country where the Haqq is so much appreciated that it is confirmed for all citizens, several millions, on loudspeakers five times a day. A hhhhhuge contrast(!).

Religion matters on how resistant individuals- and people together as societies are when facing the expectation of replacing a pure Fitrah-based mindset with a polluted one. I think this can be illustrated with the crisis-low fertility rates in countries like Norway and Japan, standing in stark contrast to the African and Muslim countries at the top with the highest scores, far above the lowest possible score necessary for any country to be able to reproduce its population. To this, we say Allahu akbar, but also, wow, how come a natural and enjoyable thing like reproducing ourselves is now a high-five factor?(?)

The birth rate crisis in Norway is communicated and explained with headlines like ‘Record low fertility - A Danger Signal for Norway”, ‘We simply have no desire to have children’ and ‘It’s time to pay Norwegian women to give birth to children’ (My translations). In article 3 we read that in no other place than Norway, the birth rate has fallen quicker: During the last 15 years, Norway has gone from having amongst Europe’s highest birth rates to now being pretty far under the average with its score of 1.4. In article 1 we learn that women on average have to give birth to 2,1 children to keep the population number stable over time. Let me translate the articles' main points under the headlines: The financial worry, The Health worry and the Self-Realization Worry.


The Financial Worry

In article 1 female politicians with more children than most Norwegian women are interviewed on their views on the birth rate crisis:

1.The economy shouldn’t be the major obstacle. Policy measures such as tax cuts, increased child benefits, prices for kindergarten, SFO (after-school care) and cheaper housing can reduce this obstacle. 2. Norwegian women wait longer to get children as they now on average give birth for the first time at 30,3 years. It is problematic that the welfare system rewards having children as late as possible, after studying and getting a career. All women who give birth, despite their life and work situation, should get at least 240 000 kr (20 600 Euros). 3. Parents should be able to decide themselves how to divide the parental leave. Now 15 weeks is for the father, and only reasons like illness can let the mother take the father's weeks through applying for it through documenting the need.


The Health Worry

In article 1 some of the female politicians highlight the need for improved birth-care. For many years the healthcare sector has alarmed politicians about the alarming lack of midwives, and the consequences of closing Birth Clinics in rural areas. In sum, this makes giving birth more risky, as well as it increases the chance of having more and more midwives leaving the Public sector for the Private who tempts with higher salaries and more flexibility. We can also read that having children is exhausting and demanding, making it understandable that many choose to have only one or two: People find it challenging to manage having children at the same time having a career and spare time. Parents of small children get burned out and stay home on sick leave. Several news articles lately are about Norwegian women reducing their work time from 100 % to 80 % or less.

The typical feminist reacts to this move. One professor I worked for one year as a research assistant, took the initiative for a discussion when I told the students that I worked 50 % due to having small children. There is an idea- and an expectation that women should sacrifice that comfort for the sake of the women's movement's victory gains over the last decades: Instead of leaving a full-time position, the father should get up and take more responsibility for the children and household. Well, as I dryly replied, men don't give birth or breastfeed those babies, and it will never happen that I gamble with my motherly instinct and conscience: What a typical feminist would see purely as social constructions and products of the oppressive patriarchy. Yeah, it helps to be visibly conservative when stating unpopular views and lifestyles, ie your 'betrayal' of your ancestors who fought for you. Religiously based? The discussion withers.

In article 3 we see the first mention of minority women as the commentator gives several reasons for the birth rate decline: “Good integration is one (reason). Now immigrant women give birth to almost just as few children as women with a Norwegian origin” (My translation). Like.. dwell on that. Fewer children are seen as priceworthy, it's good integration, which has reached an almost sacred status in the Norwegian political sphere. Minority women must get out of their homes, earn money so they also contribute. Then they will have to put their children in the care of kindergartens and public schools who gladly take on the mission of shaping them to ‘correct’ Norwegian citizens. We are in Ramadan so I’ll drop going further into the worrying sides of this molding of minority women and youth, as I reeaallyyy find them triggering every cell in my body.


The Self-Realization Worry 

In article 1 we read the view that living in stressful times makes it easier to leave reproduction altogether. This way of prioritizing is the main topic in article 2 based on a Norwegian man’s Tweet about their complete lack of interest in having children: "We love the lifestyle we have. We like that freedom and flexibility. We like being able to go out to restaurants and eat and drink whenever it suits us. Nor do we want anything else" (My translation). He doesn't see voluntary childlessness as problematic; the politicians should focus on the involuntarily childless and the ones with financial worries. He also thinks that the social pressure to get children is more strongly felt among women than men. Clearly, that pressure can’t be stronger than the pressure to ‘live life’ like an eternal youth. As articulated in article 3 you don’t have time for child number two or three if your self-realization projects involve taking a master’s degree, traveling around the whole world or climbing the career ladder:

As a mother of 6, having my first baby as a 22-year old student, I think: Why should I do all that exciting stuff without my children? Having children has been a key motivation for staying strong and disciplined. My victories also benefit my children, and how I love to have them in our company, involved in our plans and visions of life. They aren’t just “a fifth wheel on the wagon”: They grow up to see and feel the value of travels, studying and engagement for bigger causes than their survival. They copy us and learn from our mentality of life, and a part of that mentality is the absolute conviction that children will never be a hindrance to a good life but rather a contribution to it.

A researcher in article 2 first refutes the normally understood fact that the welfare state's survival depends on a higher fertility rate. Then he says that he finds it sad that fewer people want to have children, as children contribute to ‘living societies:’ I think most Norwegian people would still agree with that. The absence of children manifests itself in many different ways, and one way is how empty and artificial places and situations can become without them. Especially in our Muslim (alcohol-free) communities, children are a natural part of all celebrations. I remember so vividly the huge and neverending traditional Moroccan Weddings I went to with my family as a child where I fell asleep with my head on the table at 3 AM as the celebration was still ongoing. On my father’s side of the family, we have 15 cousins between 20-40 years old. Most of us are in our thirties but still it’s only me and my little sister who have children. Seeing photos of family gatherings with only young adults feels like something essential is missing. They have dogs though, many dogs, which is typical for Norwegian Households. 40 % of Norwegians have a dog, cat or both. Another example of manifestations of children's absence is in Japan where the lack of babies has led diaper-producers to replace the production with adult diapers for their national market. They still make sure to have baby diapers for export to Indonesia and Malaysia which are both Muslim countries, leading us closer to the concluding marks:


In our Deen..

..the encouragement to have children is broad-based (summed up in this clear-cut scholarly answer). Children are amongst the blessings in life. With children comes rizq! With many children, we also contribute to an enlarged ummah that will make Rasoolullah (saws) proud. Our children will in sha Allah bring into the future our bloodline, DNA, legacy, history and existence. To have children is an honor, a gift, and of course a huge responsibility that we are warned not to take lightly. One day we will answer on how we took care of this ‘amanah. There is of course a wide diversity amongst Muslims as well, but in general, still, Muslims see no reason to leave or to devalue having children and having many of them. We have internalized this calming attitude towards worries of finance:

What some women imagine, that when there is an increase in children there will be an increase in fatigue, difficulty in upbringing, and constriction of provision, is an imagination with no basis in reality. For there is no creature on Earth except that Allah provides for it. Whenever a child is born to a person, Allah opens the door of provision for him. If it were not for the child, he would not have attained that provision, because the provision for the child is from Allah, the Grandeur and Majestic. Shaykh Ibn Al-Uthaimini. Fataawah Nuur’Alad-Darb, 312a. Translated by Abu Kawthar Lukman Bn AbdirRauf

How Islam provides the perfect framework for dealing with life, securing sustainability for both the individual and society. A discovery that was the first door-opener to Islam for the old atheist me. More on that in a later post.🤎