Imperfection is perfection in the wisdom of creation. If Allah swt so wishes to make His creations as perfect beings, He could have possibly and willingly done so. Nonetheless, He decided otherwise, all with a vision of the Perfect Creator.
In fact, what He asserts is that He creates human in the finest state, namely ahsan taqwim, not a perfect state. Allah swt says in the Quran, “We have certainly created Man in the finest state. Then We reduced him to the lowest of the low. Except for those who believe and do righteous deeds, for they will have a reward never ending.” (Surah al-Tin (95): 4-6)
Here, Allah the Creator endowed human with the potentiality of both – striving within the oscillation of being at the best and highest of the high, as well as the lowest of the low. Human continues to do righteous deeds, but often fails to do so. Nonetheless, he is capable of rising back and standing up again in the continuous endeavour to do good deeds that is innate in him. In so doing, he discovers himself, and finds beauty and satisfaction in his struggle. That is the beauty and perfection of imperfections.
We, fathers, are imperfect, and we must not pretend that we can possibly be perfect. Similarly, we must not expect our children to be perfect. In these imperfections are opportunities to continuously improve ourselves, and to soar higher. We have failed and will certainly fail in fulfilling our roles and responsibilities fully as fathers. But we will rise again and again. When we do that, our children are observing and learning this essential and existential quality of us, human beings, in discharging our role as fathers.
Here lies humility. Humility is the power and strength to acknowledge our vulnerabilities. Humility is the fuel for us to want to continue to learn, unlearn and relearn, and to improve ourselves.
Fathers, what we should be doing is not to expect ourselves to be the best father but rather, to exhibit humility. We do this by continuously improving ourselves, unlearning and relearning. There are plenty of learning opportunities in the society. How we communicate with our children, knowing our personality and profiles of our children help us engage and communicate with our children appropriately; learning to manage our finances, as well as various other skills and competencies – these opportunities are abundant. Don’t seek to perfect yourself, but to continuously learn; a lifelong journey indeed. Life is a journey, and in this journey, one finds one’s self. This journey is not as much about the arrival as it is about discoveries.
Life is all about tests and tribulations. Allah the Creator emphasised this in the Quran, “Glorious is the One in whose hand is the Kingdom (of the whole universe), and He is Powerful over every thing. The One who created death and life, so that He may test you as to which of you is better (finer) in his deeds. And He is the All-Mighty, the Most Forgiving.” (Surah al-Mulk (67): 1-2) This is such an instructive assertion by the Creator Himself. He seeks not the quantity of your deeds, nor perfection. He seeks the quality of your deeds – the finest or the best (ahsan) you can give. And for all your imperfections, or inability to meet the ‘best’, He is the Most Forgiving.
Each of us, without exception, is tested. Whether you are rich or poor, educated or uneducated, ustaz or non-ustaz, abled or disabled; all and everyone are tested in various ways and forms He Himself knows best. And He does not burden one beyond one’s power and capability.
Because each of us is tested and imperfect, don’t compare with others. We look and we learn, but we don’t compare. Similarly, we don’t compare our children with others. When we do that, our children will also compare us, fathers, with the others and we will fall into the anxieties of unmet expectations.
Again, I wish to emphasise on humility. Strong indeed is one who is willing to acknowledge one’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and the strength to seek help. A hero is not one who needs no support, nor seeks no help. A hero is one who recognises his vulnerability and humbly seeks help from others. Don’t think that you can fix all the problems yourself, but know that you are not facing life’s tests and tribulations alone.
Reach out to other fellow fathers. Seek help from relevant people and organisations like Centre for Fathering and Bapa Sepanjang Hayat, which have classes for fathers with varying experiences at www.bshsekolahbapa.com. Seek to continue to learn, unlearn and relearn. Don’t shy away from challenges. You will discover your potentials, your true abilities, and the beauty of fathering. The beauty is in your imperfections. ⬛
This article was first published by Bapa Sepanjang Hayat on 13 September 2021 in view of the Fathering Month in September.
Dr Mohammad Hannan Hassan is the Deputy Mufti of Singapore, Vice Dean of MUIS Academy and Programme Head of the Postgraduate Certificate in Islam in Contemporary Societies (PCICS) at the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS).