- Children, a Divine Grace Worthy of Thanksgiving
- Islamic Care of Children
- Principles for Good Upbringing:
- Choice of Good Names
- Natural Breastfeeding
- Fair and Equal Treatment between Children
- Guaranty of Honorable Life for Children
- Importance of Hope in our Life
The grace of children is a great divine grace comes next only to the grace of having faith in Allah. It is with this grace that human future generations continue. Children are the joys of eyes and a grand divine grace that Allah gives whom He wishes of His slaves. Allah, the Almighty, says, “To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth; He creates what he wills and gives to whom He wills female [children] and whom He wills males. Or He makes them both males and females, and He renders whom He wills barren. Indeed, He is Knowing and Competent” (the Quran, 42: 49-50).
Children fill life with happiness turning the darkness of houses into light; they are the lamps of houses, the joys of souls and the beauties of life. Allah, the Almighty, says, “Wealth and children are but adornment of the worldly life. But the lasting good deeds are better to your Lord for reward and better for one’s hope” (the Quran, 18: 46).
The grace of children is worthy of great thanksgiving to Allah. Prophet Ibrāhīm, (Peace be upon him) thanked Allah, the Almighty, after giving him the grace of children saying: “Praise to Allah, who has granted to me in old age Ishmael and Isaac. Indeed, my Lord is the Hearer of supplication. (39) My Lord, make me an establisher of prayer, and [many] from my descendants. Our Lord, and accept my supplication” (the Quran, 14: 39-40). Actually, the more you thank the greater graces you receive; Allah, the Almighty, says, “Your Lord have solemnly proclaimed, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]; but if you deny, indeed, My punishment is severe” (the Quran, 14: 7). It is highly important to give due care for this grace, so the new generation becomes a godly-oriented generation well acquainted with the rights of Allah as well as the rights of parents, nation and society.
Islam gives due care for child-raising and education with the aim of helping both children and parents achieve happiness and success in this world and in the hereafter. Indeed, the Islamic care for children begins very early even before their arrival to life. For example, Islam makes it compulsory upon a person desirous of marriage to choose a good partner. It is in the houses of faith that one gets blessed with happiness, prosperity and success. In his tradition, the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) indicates this meaning saying: “Win the one who is religious, may you win the bliss” (Muslim in his authentic collection). The Islamic care for children is prior to the rise of the international child organizations. For Islam, this phase is very serious and impressive in human life.
Childhood is a very crucial phase of human life through which man moves towards the age of majority. Child care aims to introduce children as a positive addition and active element in the society. Many laws are in force for the benefits of children and family and in turn the whole society gets benefits.
The Islamic care for children began very early during the fetal stage of development. Several laws organize this starting serious period with the aim of guaranteeing the fetus’ right to life, dignity, due maintenance and inclusive care. While in the womb, a child is guaranteed the right to life and, as such, abortion is declared a crime.
The mother is deservedly entitled to receive due care during pregnancy insomuch that she is allowed to break the fasting during Ramadan when she fears any expected harm, so the fetus has a full natural growth. Anas Ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “Allah has remitted half the prayer to a traveler (s/he may pray only two units instead of the four-unit prayers)) and fasting (during Ramadan and must make up for the days missed), the woman who is suckling an infant and the woman who is pregnant (also have the same concessions)” (al-Nasā’i).
Aspects of Islamic care for children are many; the parents shall choose him a good name. Unlike the bad names, a good name brings about comfort and serenity in hearts. Abu al-Dardā’ (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “On the Day of Resurrection, you will be called by your names and by your fathers’ names, so give yourselves good names” (Abu Dawud).
After giving birth, the parents shall choose a nice name to their child. The Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “It is necessary for a boy to have a sacrificial animal sacrificed for him on the seventh day; he should also be given a name and has his head shaved” (al-Tirmidhi). The Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) encouraged Muslims to choose the best of names and the most beloved names to Allah. Nafi‘ narrated from Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him and with his father) that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “The most beloved of names to Allah are ‘Abdullah and ‘Abd al-Raḥmān” (Abu Dawud in his Sunan).
According to the narration of Imam Muslim: “The most beloved of your names to Allah are ‘Abdullah and ‘Abd al-Raḥmān.” The Prophet also prohibited bad names, lest their ugly impression causes children any psychological injury or pains. A man once came to ‘Umar ibn Al-Khaṭṭāb (may Allah be pleased with him) complaining of his son’s disobedience. ‘Umar summoned the boy and rebuked him for disobeying his father and neglecting his rights. The boy replied: “O Commander of the Believers, does a child have no rights over his father?” “Certainly,” replied ‘Umar. “What are they, O Commander of the Believers?” He should choose him a good mother and a good name and teach him the Book (the Quran), ‘Umar said.” O Commander of the Believers, my father did nothing of this. My mother was a black bondwoman owned by a Magian (fire worshipper). He gave me the name of Ju‘l (meaning dung beetle or scarab) and did not teach me a single letter of the Quran. Turning to the father, ‘Umar said: “You have come to me complaining about your son’s disobedience but you failed to pay him his due rights before he disobeyed you; you had wronged him before he wronged you” (Tarbiyat al-Awlād fi al-Islam).
Sufyan al-Thawri said, “It is the right of a child over his parents to choose him/her a good name, provide him/her a good education and help him/her marry when they are adult.” Good names help children escape any ridiculous and slight signs and inspire them with good feelings when mentioned. The name is the title of a personality.
Islam also imposes a certain period of breastfeeding; Allah, the Almighty, says, “Mothers may breastfeed their children two complete years for whoever wishes to complete the nursing [period]. Upon the father is their [i.e., the mothers’] provision and their clothing according to what is acceptable. No person is charged with more than his capacity. No mother should be harmed through her child, and no father through his child. And upon the father’s heir is a duty like that of the father. And if they both desire weaning through mutual consent from both of them and consultation, there is no blame upon either of them. And if you wish to have your children nursed by a substitute, there is no blame upon you as long as you give payment according to what is acceptable. And fear Allah and know that Allah is Watchful of what you do” (the Quran, 2: 233).
According to this noble Quranic verse, the period of breastfeeding is two complete years as a child in this period needs a certain kind of food to help his/her body formation. Mother’s gifted milk is the best meal a child may have in this stage as divinely planned by the Creator, who said, “Does He, who created not know, while He is the Subtle, the Acquainted?” (the Quran, 67: 14).
However, if the mother has any medical barrier to lactation, or if the child stopped sucking, or if the mother dies— it is obligatory upon the father to hire them a nurse and guarantee their safety. Recent medical and psychological studies prove that the two-year period of breastfeeding under the Sharī‘ah is essential for the child healthy physical and psychological growth. It strengthens the child sense of warm feeling, kindness and security as closely related to the mother. As such, a child grows healthily and lives honorably.
It is also substantially important for child-raising to give the children good treatment in kindness without any cruelty or harshness. It is a truism that kindness begets nothing but good outcome. ‘Aishah—the Mother of the Believers, may Allah be pleased with her, narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “O ‘Aishah, surely Allah is kind and He loves kindness and grants for kindness that which He does not grants for cruelty and even does not grants for anything else (but kindness)” (Muslim in his authentic collection). Harsh upbringing and education lead most children to dislike educators and disobey them.
Contrary to this harshness, the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) was reported to have carried his grandsons al-Ḥasan and al-Ḥusayn on his shoulders. His principal way of education was kindness and gentleness. Ibn Buraydah narrated from his father Buraydah who said, “While the Messenger of Allah was on the pulpit, Al-Ḥasan and Al-Ḥusayn came, wearing red shirts, walking and stumbling. He came down and picked them up, then said: ‘Allah has spoken the truth: “Your wealth and your children are only a trial.’ I saw these two walking and stumbling in their shirts, and I could not be patient until I went down and picked them up” (al-Nasā’i in his sunan).
A good educator, a parent or a teacher, should consider this great principle of good and kind treatment. Mistakes shall be wisely and mercifully addressed. Cruelty begets fears and cowardice and may lead to psychological disorder, repugnance and hesitation. In one of his advice, al-Aḥnaf Ibn Qays said, “Do not be a lock of your children. Or else, they would hope for your death, dislike approaching you and feel boring with your life.” Kind treatment is different from discreet, and wisely used, punishment when necessary.
Justice and Fair Treatment: Justice and fair treatment are essential for good child-raising. For Islam, justice is an original Islamic principle that must be well considered. Allah, the Almighty, says, “O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do” (the Quran, 5: 8). This principle must be applied, especially in the child-parent relationships.
The Prophet directed parents to take care of and abide by this principle. It is even coupled with God-fearing as narrated from ‘Amer that he heard al-Nu‘mān Ibn Bashīr (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) on the pulpit saying, “My father gave me a gift but ‘Amrah Bint Rawaḥah (my mother) said that she would not agree to that unless he made Allah’s Messenger (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) as a witness to it. My father went to Allah’s Messenger and said, ‘I have given a gift to my son from ‘Amrah Bint Rawaḥah, but she ordered me to make you as a witness to it, O Allah’s Messenger(may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him). Allah’s Messenger asked, ‘Have you given (the like of it) to everyone of your children?’ He replied in the negative. Allah’s Messenger said, ‘Be afraid of Allah and be just to your children.’ My father then returned and took back his gift” (al-Bukhari in his authentic collection).
Likewise, ‘Abd al-Razzaqq narrated in his al-Muṣannaf that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) received an invitation from a man from al-Anṣār. In the host’s house, his son first came and the father kissed and hugged him placing him to his side. Later, a daughter of that man came and her father only placed her to his side. The Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “If you proved just in treatment, it would be much better for your; be gently just with your children even in kisses.” Just treatment between children has some great benefits. It is a main cause for fair gratitude. It also introduces a good generation to the society and helps fraternity to dominate the relationship of brothers and sisters in essence and form.
Contrary to justice, unfair treatment is the worse source of ingratitude, family disintegration and hate. It is the seed of malicious grudge sowed in the children. Psychological research proves that most of mental and social disorders that a child suffers originate from feelings of injustice and unfair treatment compared to his brothers and sisters. Examples of this fact is found in the story of Yūsuf (Joseph, peace be upon him) and his brothers when they misunderstood the treatment of Ya‘qūb (Jacob, peace be upon him) with Yūsuf and saw it a sort of unfair preference. Allah, the Almighty, says, “Certainly were there in Joseph and his brothers signs for those who ask, [such as] (7) When they said, “Joseph and his brother 558 are more beloved to our father than we, while we are a clan. Indeed, our father is in clear error. (8) Kill Joseph or cast him out to [another] land; the countenance [i.e., attention] of your father will [then] be only for you, and you will be after that a righteous people” (the Quran, 12: 7-9).
Islamic Education: Islam also makes it necessary to educate the children according to the Islamic teachings, as the Quran commands fathers and mothers to work on relieving themselves and their families from destruction. Allah, the Almighty, says, “O you who believe, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones, over which are [appointed] angels, harsh and severe; they do not disobey Allah in what He commands them but do what they are commanded” (the Quran, 67: 6).
Child education and training according to the Islamic principle are religious duties and a right of child over his/her parents. ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah’s be pleased with him and his father) narrated that they said, “O Messenger of Allah, we knew the rights of parents on their children but what are the rights of children on their parents? In reply, he said: “They should choose him/her a good name and teach him good morality” (al-Bayhaqi in Shu‘ab al-Imān).
Al-Tirmidhi narrated in his sunan that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “There is no gift that a father gives his son more virtuous than good manners.” It is highly important to teach children good education, direction and moral conduct. Education and training should be kindly given without upsetting the children, especially in front of foreigners.
The Prophet’s gentle example of education is indicative of this method. ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah’s be pleased with him and his father) said, “One day, I was riding behind the Prophet when he said, “O boy! I will teach you in some matters. Be watchful of Allah (Commandments of Allah), He will preserve you. Safeguard His Rights and He will be ever with you. If you beg, beg of Him Alone; and if you need assistance, beseech Allah Alone for help. And remember that if all the people gather to benefit you, they will not be able to benefit you except that which Allah had foreordained (for you); and if all of them gather to do harm to you, they will not be able to afflict you with anything other than that which Allah had pre-destined against you. The pens had been lifted and the ink had dried up” (al-Tirmidhi).
The noble Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) used to educate, guide and instruct children gently. ‘Umar Ibn Salamah (may Allah’s be pleased with him and his father) related the Prophet’s good example saying, “I was a boy under the care of Allah’s Messenger and my hand used to go around the dish while I was eating. So Allah’s Messenger said to me, ‘O boy, mention the Name of Allah and eat with your right hand, and eat of the dish what is nearer to you” (Muslim in his authentic collection).
Imam al-Ghazali said, “A child is divinely entrusted to his/her parents; his/her pure heart is a precious pearl when getting accustomed to good, s/he learns it and earns happiness and success in this life and in the hereafter.” A good educator should be an ideal for the children in assuming the loftiest of noble ethics before directing them. Children are the best imitators of their fathers. What a wonderful is the following line saying:
A child grows up following the habits s/he earns from his/her father
It is considerable to mention that the process of child education is not the sole duty of parents but the duty of teachers and schools as well. For children, the teacher is symbolic of the ethical vales of the society and, as such, they should educate the children in the values and ethics of society. Child education is the responsibility of the whole society; all members shall care for their good behavior and discipline. Child education is a very heavy duty that all should undertake. This sort of collective social duties is indicated in the Prophet’s statement: “Everyone of you is a guardian and is responsible for what is in his/her custody. The ruler is a guardian of his subjects and is responsible for them; a husband is a guardian of his family and is responsible for it; a lady is a guardian of her husband’s house and is responsible for it, and a servant is a guardian of his master’s property and is responsible for it.” The narrator added, I think that the Prophet also said, “A man is a guardian of his father’s property and is responsible for it, so all of you are guardians and responsible for things under your care” (al-Bukhari in his authentic collection).
For Islam, the parents are responsible for maintaining their children. Qatadah narrated from al-Ḥasan that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “Surely, Allah would hold accountable every guardian for what was under his/her custody, whether s/he maintained or wasted, until a man would be questioned about his own household” (Ibn Ḥibban).
In Islam, the child is a perfect human being, who is entitled to physical, psychological, financial, educational and pedagogical rights. Furthermore, Islam imposes the respect and protection of these rights to guarantee children an honorable life within a civilized human community. Only then, the spirit of friendship, kindness, love and mercy predominate.
Finally, it is highly important to have hopes in better future for us and for our children. Man cannot live and prosper without hopes. Indeed, a hopeless life is not a life, so hopelessness shall have no place in life. In the view of the people of knowledge, despair, discouragement and disappointment are all grave sins.
‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah’s be pleased with him and his father) narrated that a man once said: O Allah’s Messenger, what are the grave sins? In reply, the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “Associating others with Allah in divinity or worship, being despaired of the relief of Allah or hopeless of the Mercy of Allah. I guarantee Paradise for anyone that Allah relieves from that.”
558 Benjamin who was born of the same mother as Joseph.