Reading Qur’an with my teen

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School vacation is time for me to share my Qur’an journey with my teen, and who knows where her journey will take her?

We completed Surah al-Nazi’at today. We read the Arabic first, then worked through the translation and a little commentary from me, and some discussion. We spent some time on 79:40. What does it mean to ‘restrain your nafs from hawa?’ What is reasonable desire and what makes it unhealthy?

We talked about the steed-rider analogy for the nafs and the soul; how the impulses of the nafs are essential for survival, but need to be tamed. You ride the steed; the beast does not master you.

We talked about asceticism, historical examples of early ascetics, extremes and balance. I reminisced about a youthful time when I yearned for swift spiritual progress, so I made wudu with cold water, and denied myself pudding (!) because I wanted so badly to be with God. But my shaikh reminded me that if I made progress in a single day, I would lose it in a single day likewise; the work is to be done slowly, carefully, without trauma.

So we remembered the Prophet’s hadith, reminders to both fast and eat, to sleep and wake, to attend to your family and your body’s rights, but not to become a slave to your desires.

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