The three predominant monotheistic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – all have several fundamental principles in common: Belief in One God, prayer, charity, fasting, struggling to overcome the weaknesses of self, doing unto others as you would have them do to you; and many more. In Islam, prayer is second only to our belief in One God. Prayer is so important that we are required to pray five times a day, at prescribed times. Depending on the time of year (and location), the distance between the first prayer at dawn and the second prayer could reach nearly 9 hours. However, after that second prayer, the time that lapses between each prayer gets shorter and shorter and shorter, as the night falls. Why is that?
Allah (God) requires us to pray to Him for many reasons; primarily as a demonstration of gratitude, but also to seek His guidance and protection. Our prayers increase as the light is replaced with darkness because nighttime can be very dangerous. Many use the darkness as a cover for participating in activities they perhaps would have reconsidered if their actions were visible to all. Darkness provides a cover that gives rise to an increase in crime, deviant behavior, sick impulses, and foolish shenanigans. When we allow our children to sleepover at a “friends” house, we make them vulnerable and expose them to a myriad of such risks that are just NOT WORTH IT!
We simply cannot be so trusting in a world like this – not when it comes to our children. We do not know people as well as we think. Often, when we hear of a child being molested or raped it was by someone they knew, not a complete stranger. This is true for boys and girls. The perpetrators are often the ones we least expect because they intentionally portray themselves as upstanding, respectable members of the community.
Already, there is so much in this world that our children are exposed to, that as parents, we have little control over. To compensate for this, we teach and train our children about potential vices and then “debrief” them after they have been away from us. BUT deciding who keeps our children overnight is an area in which we have complete control. There is no benefit to making sleepovers a part of our regular family practice. It is just not necessary.
In the nineties, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan told the Sisters in the Nation of Islam not to engage in sleepovers…He was speaking to adult women! If there is a risk present for adults, certainly the danger is far greater for our children. We must realize that everyone does not parent the way we do; what is important to us may not be as important to others. At a sleepover, not only do we have to be wary of the supervising parents, but every other person that lives in the house as well. What about the other children coming to the sleepover? How well do we really know them and their families? What other relatives or friends of the family may be dropping by? And let’s be honest, how much real supervision can adults provide in the wee hours of the night?
In his lecture, How to Give Birth to a God (Part 3), the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan warned, “Passion is good, but young people – restrain it. And if you can’t restrain it; mothers – fathers, keep watch. Your ever-present vigil will restrain the passion; because [it is] very difficult to get fired up with mom and dad looking. Mom and dad’s presence kill passion. Just a quick turn on of the light will turnout dark thought.”
When we accepted the responsibility to become parents, we accepted to take on a commitment that we do not get vacations from. Being physically present goes a long way towards the prevention of the unthinkable. On the surface, sleepovers appear harmless and fun; but just the fact that our children have to change clothes to get into their pajamas and then bathe away from home should be enough to make us cringe. These acts are far too intimate to permit them to take place just anywhere.
Unfortunately, it’s parents, not children, who are the biggest promoters of sleepovers. They usually start hosting sleepovers when their children are very young – trying to help them make friends – and usually tying it to a birthday party. Sleepovers are foolishly seen as a rite of passage to some and give girls, in particular, an erroneous social status within a group. All of this could come at a steep price. The influence that our peers have on us at any age is formidable. For children, it is often difficult not to succumb. Sleepovers are breeding grounds for bad behavior. Curfews are extended or relinquished; mischievous pranks and games are played; television and social media rules are relaxed; sexual experimentation takes place; children have been hazed, sexually violated and worse. Yes, that’s the reality for far too many. And if you or your children were fortunate enough to escape any of these horrors, we thank Allah (God). But still, was anything gained by sleeping over at someone’s house just for “fun?”
While age-appropriate language should be used, we should definitely explain our concerns to our children. Knowing they are not permitted to attend sleepovers initially may not make them happy, but explaining the reason gives them an understanding that their safety and protection is the priority and we are not just being tyrants. Make this the family’s way of life and stick to it! Soon, as a parent, we may not even hear about the sleepover invitations because our children will inform their friends that they “don’t do sleepovers!” This way, no one’s feelings are hurt because there is an understanding within their circle of friends that they cannot go to anyone’s house for a sleepover – it’s not personal. We cannot be afraid of being different in a world like this. Those of us who are striving to be righteous cannot simultaneously be seeking popularity and acceptance.
This world makes it difficult for parents to have a constant presence in the life of their children but fight and be willing to sacrifice to be with them. There will certainly be the occasional emergency or time with grandparents and other very close relatives, but even in these instances, we must use wisdom. There is a reason why Allah (God) chose YOU to be the parent for that child. Mother’s intuition is REAL – do not ignore a warning from God. Usually, the first mind is your God-mind. The Holy Qur’an reads, “And say: Praise be to Allah! He will show you His signs so that you shall recognize them. And thy Lord is not heedless of what you do” (27:93).
Since we are all flawed individuals, we will inevitably make some parenting decisions which we will later bemoan. But saying, “NO,” to sleepovers is one of those decisions we will NEVER regret.