The Most Important Duty of Parents Is to Raise Dutiful Children

For the illustrious, subtle, pure soul of the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, for that of his household, his noble Companions, the great Prophets, the esteemed masters, the souls of all our deceased, and for the wellbeing of our religion, nation, people and all the Muslim world and for their protection from the evil of oppressors, let us recite one Sura al-Fatiha and Sura al-Ikhlas three times in entreaty and supplication to Allah the Almighty.

Respected brothers and sisters,

The most important duty of parents is to equip the children, who were entrusted to them in the primordial state – the natural state of submission and obedience to Allah (fitra) – with goodness and to raise dutiful children. The auspicious climate in which this is to be realised is the family environment.

The Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, has said:

“Every infant is born in the Islamic fitra…” (Muslim, Qadar, 22; Bukhari, Jana’iz, 92)

Allah the Almighty, declares in a Qur’anic verse:

“Know that your possessions and your children are but a trial and temptation, and Allah is He with Whom there is a tremendous reward.” (8:28)

Raising a noble generation is a requirement of humanity. All living creatures involuntarily raise future generations for their species. The human species, however, differs. Raising a noble generation is a requirement of humanity. For this reason, we are required to raise our children within a sense and spirit of worship.

Children are Divinely-bestowed trusts to their mother and father. The hearts of children brought up upon the Islamic fitra resemble a pure earth. They are a rough gem and need to be worked. Their becoming roses or thorns in the future, or their bearing bitter or sweet fruits is contingent upon the nature and quality of the seeds strewn upon them.

Allah, glorified and exalted be He, declares in a Qur’anic verse:

“Order your family and community to establish the Prayer…” (20:132)

The prescribed prayer is to be enjoined for the whole family. We must set an example in this regard, by observing the Prayer ourselves first. We must observe the prayer in the harmony of body and heart. This is to be the nature of our prayer.

“…and be diligent in its observance…” (20:132) Allah Almighty commands in the continuation of the verse.

We must perform the prayer in congregation and the prayer needs to animate and inspire us. The prayer is not to be exhaustion, but a state of tranquillity. Allah Almighty then says – in other words, no excuses such as, “I had this or that to do,” are acceptable –

And Allah declares, “…We do not ask you to provide for Us.” (20:132)

“…rather it is We Who provide for you. (So all your worship is for your own benefit.) And the (desired) outcome is in favour of piety and righteousness.”(20:132) Or in other words, nearness to Allah.

The most important legacy of a mother and father to their child is the legacy of the Hereafter, as the Hereafter is an eternity. A life never-ending will begin. A Day of Eternity (yawm al-khulud) to begin with the rising from the grave, a day without night or darkness. An abiding day. A day without end will begin.

Great figures took great pains in the upbringing of their children. There are countless examples:

For instance, Imam Malik says:

“My father would have me memorise a Prophetic Tradition after which I would recite it to him and he would reward me with a gift. This delighted me and I memorised a second Tradition. And this is how it continued until I had memorised a great many Traditions. Even if my father did not give me a gift that day, I would still go to him and recite Traditions to him (in such fervour).”

This means that we need to accustom our children at a young age. We need to get them used to the prayer, going to the mosque and learning the Qur’an. We need to engender a love for these things and encourage them. In the same way that if gardener takes care with the seed that they plant, that seed gives off shoots. And we too, for our most precious children… How will we prepare them for the Hereafter?

“The true life is the life of the Hereafter.” (Bukhari, Riqaq, 1)

We have come to the world for the Hereafter. How long is the life of the Hereafter, of eternity, and how long is the life of this world?

Allah, May His Majesty be exalted, declares:

illā ‘ashiyyatan aw duhāhā “…It will be, on the Day they see it, as if they had remained (in the world) but for the afternoon (of a day) or its morning.” (79:46)

It is immediately stated that it is as short as the duration of dawn. The Hereafter, however, is endless and infinite. Even the life in the grave, we do not know how many times our life span it will be.

As another example, we know that the Messenger of Allah raised Anas. A mother or a stepfather brought their child with (the Prophet’s) Emigration (to Madina) and said, “O Messenger of Allah! This child will attend upon you.” He was a child of ten years. How would a child aged ten attend upon a Prophet who was at the time fifty-three years of age? An example to us from Allah’s Messenger.

Anas says, “(The Messenger of Allah brought me up so well that) he never once said to me, ‘Why did you do this or that?’ or ‘Why didn’t you do this or that?'”

This goes to show that the chief ingredient was love. However much a mother and father possess love, spiritual love, that love projects onto the child. And has a great impact on the child.

“I served the Messenger Allah for ten years and he never once ‘Why did you do this or that?'” Anas says.

Let me offer an example:

“Allah’s Messenger once sent me on an errand,” he relates. “I got distracted with children playing in the street. “He came up to me from behind and said smiling, ‘Anas, I had sent you to such-and-such place had I not?’ and he called me ‘Unays’ (in endearment).

I said, ‘Yes, O Allah’s Messenger, I am going right away.'”

Anas has many such examples. Anas says – Anas had a long life. He is reported to have lived until one hundred.

“I never had a dream but that I saw the Messenger of Allah in it”, he says.

In other words, what kind of impression did the Messenger of Allah leave on him?

There is again the example of the upbringing of his grandson Hasan:

Hasan was circumambulating the Ka’ba and weeping at its door saying,

“O Lord, Your weak servant has come to Your door. Your poor, helpless servant has come. Your sinful servant stands before You, so forgive me!”

He then left on his way and came across a group of people who were eating dry pieces of bread. He approached them at once.

Conscience is the identification of a Muslim, compassion is their identification. He conversed with them and they offered him some dry bread.

He said, “Were I not from the Prophet’s Household, I would have joined you. Or had I known that this bread was not charity, but rather a gift, I would have still joined you.” But he felt a sense of unease for not accepting their offer.

“Let us go to my place,” he said and took them to his own house. He offered them food and drink, even giving them some spending money. Look at how Allah’s Messenger raised children.

Children are a beautiful fruit of the family nest. They are a Divine trust.

Society today – grand periods have ended and we have entered difficult times, or the age in which it is very difficult to raise children. There used to be the neighbourhood, the community and the like, there used to be the family. Now all of these have broken down.

Satan is pulling children away from their parents for he, as indicated in a Qur’anic verse, became, “their partner in their wealth and children.” (See 17:64) And he is appealing. They watch whatever channel they want on television and divert themselves in whichever way they please. The same is true for the Internet. You look at the smallest child and see that they have something in their hands clicking away at a game. What do they find so appealing? Enhancing a carnal existence. You turn the corner, shoot at something, break something, put on a show of strength, and so on.

As for the streets, well, we see what state they are in. There is no need for further explanation.

And so, what parents need to show greatest attention to today is their children, or they can find themselves in a difficult situation otherwise. They can be hard put on the Day of Judgement. For in the world, the dutiful child and bad child, the good father and bad father, the good mother and bad mother, and so on, all live together, but they will be separated there. A “Day of Separation” (yawm al-fasl) is to come in the Hereafter.

salāmun qawlan min rabbin rahīm:

“‘Peace!’ is the word (of welcome for them and of safety from any trouble) from the Lord All-Compassionate (toward His believing servants),” (36:58) it will be said to those who are admitted into Paradise. God’s greetings of peace will be conveyed to them. They will be welcomed with greetings of peace.

However, it will also be said:

wa-im’tāzū’l-yawma ayyuhā’l-muj’rimūn:

“And you, O disbelieving criminals! Get you apart this Day!” (36:59)

“O disbelieving criminals! Get you apart this Day!” it will be said. There, mother and father will be separated, relatives will be separated, and the list goes on. It is there that the true sorrow will begin. The results of an incorrect upbringing here will be seen there.

The Messenger of Allah says:

“Every one of you is a shepherd and every one is answerable with regard to their flock. The man is a guardian over the members of his family and shall be questioned about them. The woman is a guardian over the household of her husband and their children, and shall be questioned in regards to them.” (Bukhari, Wasaya, 9; Muslim, Imara, 20)

A good shepherd guards his flock well. He protects them from wolves. He puts them out to pasture in suitable grazing land and not in arid areas. If there is a lot of sun, he leads them to the shade. If one of the animals breaks its leg, he carries it in his arms and does not abandon them to the wolves.

The same thing applies for our day. So then, how are we to protect our child? How will we raise them in the climate of the Qur’an? What kind of inheritance will be bequeath them for the Hereafter?

The Messenger of Allah warns us constantly: “The true life is the life of the Hereafter.”(Bukhari, Riqaq, 1)

To what extent do we ourselves remember that, “The true life is the life of the Hereafter”? How much do we remind our children of this? How do we enable our family and relations to remember this? How do we ensure that society remembers this?

The rights of parents cannot possibly be repaid. But if parents neglect their responsibility, then children will demand their rights from their parents on the Day of Judgement for breach of trust. The rights of children over their parents… What kinds of rights do they have that they will seek the redress of their rights on the Day of Reckoning?

Firstly, giving their child a good name. (The meaning of) a name has an influence over a person. A sense of relief accompanies mention of a beautiful scene. Mention of a frightening abyss gives one a shiver.

This goes to show that we need to give our children good names.

There was even a case when a camel was brought which was going to be milked. Three people came forward to milk it. The Messenger of Allah asked their names one by one. He had the person with the most beautiful name milk the camel.

Secondly, a child’s education begins in the mother’s womb. Each and every word that falls from a mother’s lips is like a brick placed towards the child’s character. A mother’s love and compassion is the very first classroom in which the child begins to learn. Mothers are the greatest wellspring of mercy. The education of child deprived of a mother’s discipline is made all the more difficult. They become a victim of their communities.

Individuals with elevated character are more so the product of righteous mothers, when we look at history.

For instance, Baha’ al-Din Naqshband says:

“Let whoever visits my grave visit my mother’s grave first. I am a product of her,” he says.

Mulla Jami’ says:

“How can I not love my mother when she carried me first in her body, then in her arms, and then for a lifetime in her heart.”

And so, there are many such examples.

If we wish for our child to be perfect, then we must strive to be perfect parents. It is Allah the Almighty only Who grants our future.

When there is a death in the family, a sorrow begins. Soon after, a sense of longing begins for those who have passed away. In order for that longing not to continue in the Hereafter, or in order for families to be reunited there, family members need to share the same spiritual manner. In the Qur’anic verse I mentioned earlier… That day is a Day of Separation.

salāmun qawlan min rabbin rahīm:

“‘Peace!’ is the word (of welcome for them and of safety from any trouble) from the Lord All-Compassionate (toward His believing servants).” (36:58) They will enter Paradise.

There, they will be separated:

wa-im’tāzū’l-yawma ayyuhā’l-muj’rimūn:

“And you, O disbelieving criminals! Get you apart this Day!” (36:59)

Allah Almighty will tell them, “O disbelieving criminals! Get you apart this Day!”

The second matter:

In order that the child develops in a fruitful environment, care must be taken to ensure that the food they consume is religiously lawful.

Two factors affect a person: One is the morsel that one consumes, while the second is those they have as their friends. We need to be attentive to this. Our child must not eat even a single unlawful morsel. And they must not associate with bad friends.