Episode Synopsis:

In 2016 Nur was diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 30, with almost no signs and symptoms prior to his illness was discovered. When his cancer was diagnosed, it took a few months before his surgery to remove the tumour happened. And after his surgery his healing process actually was more difficult than anticipated. This affected him mentally as he was hoping that once he left hospital he would quickly get better. Alhamdulillah he got better before he had to start eight rounds of chemo. The first two he felt went surprisingly well. But it wasn’t until his third round of chemo that he realised what a toll it was taking on his physical and mental state. It was then when he thought about quitting. But he didn’t. And once he got to the fourth round, he knew he had reached halfway, and it was too late to quit. He would constantly draw motivation, and the will to fight by looking at his wife and kids. He valued this time he was spending with his family. It gave him a lot of time to reflect. Alhamdulillah four and a half years later he’s in remission. But what impact did the entire situation have on his life?

His lifestyle was affected physically after surgery on his overall health. The chemo has affected his memory. The surgery itself had implications on his back due to the epidural. He needs to ensure when he’s out, he has easy access to toilets.

Nur did his A Levels and went to university to study history. His personal circumstances changed at home so he didn’t see his university degree through, and then he got married at the age of 19. So he started working within facilities management in a law firm within the city. He worked his way through there, but it started affecting him because he felt he was not surrounded by the right people. So he left, even though his manager was prepared to offer him promotions and pay increases just to get him to stay.

Thereafter, he got involved in a community project that was working with the youth, and despite the massive pay cut and lack of security in his job, he felt he had to leave. At the same time he set up a charity along with some other brothers, Human Aid, where he is currently the Chairperson. But his main change, a positive one, was after the cancer he competed a diploma in child psychology, courses in counselling and life coaching, and started learning about cognitive behaviour therapy etc. He tried to merge Islamic theology and child psychology, which led him to establish his organisation, Involved Fathers.

Involved Fathers, is the first and only organisation that is dedicated to Muslim fathers, designed to upscale and encourage fathers to become more involved in the nurturing and upbringing of their children. So, Faisal asks, “where is the monetisation in that?” There are two separate entities under the same brand, one a profit making arm, and one non-profit, explains Nur. The profit arm includes a bespoke parenting course, designed by Nur himself. It’s a nine module online course available to anyone. It’s £99, and it can be done at your own pace. He also does a lot of work with schools and 1:1 parenting consultations. Everything else is non monetised.

The team behind this project is currently Nur and his wife. Being a father of four boys and two girls, Nur is definitely experienced in this department. His drive behind Involved Fathers, actually started in his childhood. When he was 9 years old, he made a conscious choice to not have the parenting style as his father, who was an old school type of parent. The disciplinarian. He feels Allah guides you in certain ways to do certain things. And with his inclination towards Islam from such a young age, he felt it was so important to inculcate the teachings of the beloved Prophet (PBUH) into parenthood. He decided to take a different approach to parenting as the cultural norm expected him to. He saw his wife as his equal. If he was available to do the expected mother’s job for the children, he would do it. Be it changing nappies, bathing the kids, or putting them to bed. Whatever needed to be done he would do it, if he was available, even though he didn’t always do it.

Faisal reiterates that is actually something he has personally challenged himself to do after he became more drawn towards Islam. Before he started practising, he labeled himself as the guy who would never consider changing his child’s nappy. But now he’s actually proud to be involved in whatever it takes to nurture his children. Because of insecurity and ego, he wanted to preserve his masculine traits. But now he realises, he doesn’t need to make it his primary role to change nappies, but if he’s available to help with the children for any job, even changing a nappy, he would do it. Nur and Faisal agree that the way to achieve the balance, to be “masculine” but also chip in, is to simply follow the Sunnah. Nur explains that for a husband to help his wife around the house, without being asked to, can only result in an increase in love between the couple. Secondly, it’s a beautiful approach for your children to adapt to in their future.

Faisal and Nur discuss how a person will parent how they were parented. It’s almost a natural default to how we function subconsciously. Until you actually pause to reflect if you’re doing the right thing, it’s very easy to fall into the same trap. Nur stresses how important it is to show affection to your children. If you are not shown how to love then you won’t know how to love.

Seeing the Prophet (PBUH) kissing his grandson Hasan (or Hussein), a person named Akra found this behavior strange and said, “I have ten children, but I never kissed any of them.” The Prophet (PBUH) gave this meaningful reply: “The uncompassionate will not be treated mercifully” (Bukhari).

Nur is in the process of writing his own book and discusses these lessons more in his book which is due to be published next year. The first three years of a child’s life, he says, is so important in forming strong attachment with the caregiver, both the father and mother. In those years we may actually be negligent in forming that bond because we think they don’t understand anything. But this attachment will actually help you form the strong attachments in life especially when the children become teenagers. Children may have tantrums as they get older, but adopting this strong connection actually allows them not to become rebellious. On the contrary, lack of this connection, will actually result in the child being disconnected from the parent and they don’t end up listening to the parent. Early years are so important in getting security between the child and parent because that’s the start of the bond. So really, changing nappies is important! Instead of seeing the task of changing the nappy as feminine, rather see it as an opportunity for you to be spending time with the child, which is crucial to both parents.

Faisal shares a wonderful idea of hiring out a beautiful mansion that can accommodate many people, to stay over for a weekend of fun inspiration to becoming better versions of themselves. It can involve Islamic figures who share experiences and lessons to add to the value of this trip. This can also be expanded to another trip of fathers and their teenage boys, who can build a bond through such a trip. Perhaps a great idea for the future.

Find Involved Fathers on Instagram and via their website www.involvedfathers.com to get more information on their courses, or just to take their free quiz to find out what type of parent you are!