The Muslim and His Children

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Chapter 5


Children are the apple of a man's eye, the source of great joy and companionship. They make life sweet and, after Allah, they are the ones on whom he pins his hopes. Their blessing brings rizq, mercy and an abundance of reward.

But this depends on the children having a good, solid upbringing, which will make them respectful, kind, and a source of happiness. If a man's children have these good attributes then they will truly be joys of this life, as Allah described them in the Qur'an:

( Wealth and sons are allurements {joys} of the life of this world . . .) (Qur'an 18:46)

For this reason the Prophet (s) used to pray for those whom he loved, that Allah would grant them wealth and children in abundance. Anas (r) reported that he entered upon the Prophet (s) with his mother and maternal aunt. The Prophet (s) led them in prayer, then he prayed (made du'a ,) for them. Umm Anas said, "O Messenger of Allah, your little servant, pray for him." So the Prophet (s) prayed for him, and at the end of his du'a , said: ´O Allah, grant him wealth and children in abundance, and bless him. (Bukhari and Muslim)

But if the parents neglect their children's upbringing, the results will be disastrous. Their children will be a source of annoyance, frustration and constant concern, not to mention nights of lost sleep and days of worry.

He understands his great responsibility towards his children

The true Muslim understands his great responsibility towards the children he has brought into this world, as the Qur'an tells him:

( O you who believe Save yourselves and your family from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones . . .) (Qur'an 66:6)

He also appreciates the responsibility that the Prophet (s) has placed upon him:

´Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock. The leader is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock; a man is the shepherd of his family and is responsible for his flock; a woman is the shepherd in the house of her husband and is responsible for her flock; the servant is the shepherd of his master's wealth and is responsible for it. Each of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock.' (Bukhari and Muslim)

Islam has placed a burden of responsibility on the shoulders of all people, from which none may be excused. Above all, parents are responsible for providing their children with a sound Islamic education and upbringing, based on the noble characteristics which the Prophet (s) mentioned that he had been sent to complete and spread among people:

´I have only been sent to make righteous behaviour complete.'1

Note: 1. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, Imam Malik in al-Muwatta, and Imam Ahmad in al-Musnad.

There is no greater proof of the gravity of parents, responsibility to bring their children up to obey Allah and His Messenger, than the verdict of the 'ulam , that every family should heed the words of the Prophet (s):

´Instruct your children to pray when they are seven years of age, and hit them if they do not pray when they are ten.'2

Note: 2. Reported by Ahmad, Abu Dawud and al-Hakim. Its isnad is hasan.

Every family which is aware of this hadith but the parents do not teach their children to pray when they reach seven or hit them if they do not do so when they reach ten, is a family that is failing in its duty and neglecting its children. These parents are sinners who are responsible before Allah for this failure and neglect.

The home is the first environment in which these little ones grow: it is the milieu in which their inclinations, attitudes and personalities are formed. This explains the importance of the parents, role in nurturing their young ones and paying equal attention to their physical, mental and spiritual well-being.

He uses the best methods in bringing them up

The true Muslim parent - whether father or mother - understands the psychology of his or her children and knows how to deal with them, using the best and most effective methods of parenting and upbringing. He endears himself to them in all kinds of ways, and gets close to them, according to their age and mental levels, so he plays with them, praises them, jokes with them and tells them words of love and care which make them happy. Then they will love him, and accept his direction eagerly. When they obey him, it will be from the heart, for there is a great difference between the obedience which is based on love, respect and trust, and that which is based on violence and cruelty. The former is lasting obedience, while the latter is shallow and baseless, and will quickly vanish when the violence and cruelty reach extreme levels.

Some people think that if the father comes down to his children's level and interacts closely with them, this will diminish his paternal status in their eyes and undermine his parenting efforts. Nothing could be further from the truth, for this kind of approach is the most efficient method of raising children properly, and is promoted by modern experts. It is also the method promoted by the Prophet (s) fifteen hundred years ago, and clearly demonstrated by him in word and deed.

The Prophet (s) used to line up 'Abdullah, 'Ubaydullah and Kuthayyir, the sons of al-'Abbas (r) and say: "Whoever reaches me first, I will give him such-and-such." So they would race towards him and jump on his back and chest, kissing him.3

Note: 3. Reported by Ahmad. Al-p fi- said in al-Tahdh¯b (8/421) that its isnad is mursal jayyid.

Bukhari, in al-Adab al-Mufrad, and al-Tabarani reported from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (s) took the hand of al-hasan (r) or al-husayn (r), then put his feet on his foot and said, "Climb up."

There is no clearer demonstration of the spirit of the great educator than in the way he carried al-hasan (r) and al-husayn (r), and treated them with love and care, thus setting an example for fathers and grandfathers everywhere, no matter how great their status and influence, to treat these tender young shoots in the most gentle and caring way. This may be seen in the hadith narrated by Ahmad and al-Nisa'i from Shaddad:

´The Prophet (s) went out carrying al hasan or al husayn, and when he came forward to lead the prayer, he put the child down and commenced the prayer. He prostrated himself and stayed in that position for a long time. I raised my head and saw the child on his back, so I returned to my prostration. When he had finished praying, the people said, 'O Messenger of Allah, you prostrated for such a long time.' He said, 'My child was riding on my back, and I did not like to disturb him until he had had enough.''4

Note: 4. Reported by Ahmad and al-Nisa'i with a sahih isnad.

The Muslim should be in the habit of being involved with his children, treating them with love and kindness and joking with them, as much as he can whenever he finds the opportunity, so that their hearts will be filled with happiness.

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