I was sipping my cup of morning coffee when a glance at my watch told me it was already half past nine. I looked around but there was no sign of my ex-student Seema. She had called me last night, and had made a hurried request to meet her in a day or two. She had sounded very tense, and out of great concern for her, I had agreed to meet her the very next day. Our meeting was fixed for nine, and here it was a half hour past it and she was still not here. That was highly unusual since I had always known her to be a very punctual person.

A few more minutes passed. I looked around, and saw a young boy of about sixteen or seventeen years of age, sitting with a girl a few years younger than him. Not wanting to jump to any conclusions, I simply observed them talk and eat their breakfast, until the boy took out a rose from his pocket and presented it to the girl. I shook my head in disappointment and prayed for them to be shown the right path towards Jannah.

It was likely to occur to a person observing them that their parents had not taught them their religion or the teenagers belonged to a family with liberal beliefs, who did not consider pre-marital relationships to be unacceptable. But for me this perception was no more valid because I myself had faced this situation a few years ago when my own daughter had entered her teen years. It was one of the most devastating periods of my life because my husband and I were firm believers, and had always been conscious about not committing any sin. Yet our daughter was caught having a relationship with her class fellow; this was totally unacceptable and shameful for us.

It had been a typical day at my school, and like every other day, I was glad to have a lunch break for an hour which meant some quality time with my colleagues in the staff room. Just as I took a bite of my chicken sandwich, my cell phone rang. The call was from my daughter’s school. With my heart thumping against my chest, I answered the call. The news was heartbreaking. The unthinkable had happened! At that moment, my confidence in my daughter and in our careful parenting broke into pieces. She was caught exchanging love letters with her class fellow. She was going to be sent home, and suspended for the next 15 days. So embarrassed was I that I did not even have the guts to request the principal to forgive my daughter. After all, what my daughter had done deserved punishment.

I was supposed to pick up my daughter from school but before that I had to clear my mind of all things. I did not want to burst out in anger upon seeing her. I did not want to give her a long lecture. These kinds of reactions would only make her more rebellious. Beating her was not the right solution either. I wanted to make her feel ashamed, and to bring her to the realization that she had been very wrong.

Not able to come up with any solution though, I gave up for the time being, and drove to my daughter’s school. As she sat in the car, I remained silent. It was one of my habits that I always became silent whenever I was cross with my daughter, and I would remain silent until she would come and apologize to me. But today I knew I had to do more. I did not want her to stop doing what she was doing out of fear of my anger; I wanted her to stop committing this sin for the sake of Allah (swt).

After my daughter had gone to sleep, my husband and I sat down to discuss the possible solutions. We had fifteen days, and we were going to do our best to bring our daughter closer to Allah (swt). Eventually, we decided to call my old school friend, who was a scholar now, to come and teach my daughter the translation and explanation of Surah An-Nisa. This was the perfect Surah because it comprised verses about various matters of life and was ideal for the current situation. Rather than giving her a lecture, it was better for her to hear out the words of Allah (swt).

At first when my daughter was introduced to my friend for the teaching session, she kept complaining about how boring it was, and that she felt sleepy during the class. We remained patient and prayed to Allah (swt) to show our daughter the right path and help us in our cause. A week passed and the complaints reduced, until she finally stopped complaining and quietly sat with my friend every evening, listening to her with a little interest, which was an immense improvement.

It was the last day of her last class, and my friend was reciting the closing verses of the Surah: O mankind! Verily, there has come to you a convincing proof (Prophet Muhammad (sa)) from your Lord, and We sent down to you a manifest light (this Quran). So, as for those who believed in Allah and held fast to Him, He will admit them to His Mercy and Grace (i.e. Paradise), and guide them to Himself by a Straight Path.” (An-Nisa 4:174-175)

My daughter started weeping all of a sudden. We were surprised to see such a reaction from her. She cried and apologized to both me and my husband for hurting us and for going against the commands of Allah (swt). She further announced that she wanted to understand the whole of the Quran, requesting us to talk to my friend or enrol her for a Tafseer course.

We were overjoyed and thanked Allah (swt) for His mercy upon us. Now, Alhumdulilah, my daughter is doing her major in Islamic Studies, and I keep thanking Allah (swt) more and more for helping us raise pious offspring which is indeed the biggest test of this world.

As I finish thinking about the journey of bringing my daughter to the right path, Seema arrives. She is worried and tense about her 14-year-old son, who was recently caught stealing in a supermarket. Taking a deep breath, I am now about to repeat my story to her.