Forebearance and the Family
7/8/2015 12:17 PM
The Arabic root "hilm", has several connotations in classical Arabic: to be forbearing, mild, lenient, clement; to be forgiving, gentle, deliberate; to be leisurely in manner, not hasty; to be calm, serene; to manage one's temper; or to exhibit moderation. This quality of hilm is evident in our relationships, and one that we cultivate in our interactions with others, and our communication with them. Because we interact with our spouses and children so much – it is in these relationships we can most easily see how we’re doing in cultivating this virtue.
For many of us, among the bounties showered upon us in Ramadan is that we find it easier to be mild and gentle – if only because we lack the energy to get too worked up about most things. One aspect of this is that our knowledge that we are fasting and our intention to increase our devotion to Allah during Ramadan help to create a stronger psychological “boundary” between the actions of others and our response to them. Having strong boundaries – knowing where one’s own responsibility begins and ends – is a hallmark of a healthy relationship.
In order to nurture the health of our relationships, we must be aware of our behavior in them. Here again, fasting helps us, because while we are fasting we are more conscious of all our behavior (we’ve got to remember we’re fasting), and our changed physical state while fasting makes us more aware of our behavior as well. Building healthy relationships is based on awareness, and the good news is that it doesn’t have to be difficult to make incremental improvements.
There’s a useful resource on healthy relationships called “Healthy Relationships 101: Everything you wish you’d learned in High School,” by Michael Jascz, (available as an eBook, here [link http://www.amazon.com/Healthy-Relationships-101-Dont-Difficult-ebook/dp/B00V6MG0HS ]. The book is both engaging and practical, and shows us how to develop the skillset required to enjoy good communications in all our relationships, not just those in the family. The technique underlying their curriculum is a powerful one called Nonviolent Communication (NVC). This is a well-established technique developed by Marshall Rosenberg. (see Nonviolent Communication: a language of life. [link: http://www.amazon.com/Nonviolent-Communication-A-Language-Life/dp/1892005034 ]
Michael Jascz has created something called the Relationship Foundation. This nonprofit has introduced a “Social and Emotional Learning” curriculum into New York City Schools. Their website, www.theRelationshipFoundation.org , includes the lesson on Empathy from their curriculum.
Hilm is a virtue bestowed upon us by al-Haleem. Let us show our gratitude by using the blessing of Ramadan and the resources available to nurture it.