Things To Take Into Account In The Upbringing Of Children

Another matter: As young children have a strong tendency to imitate adult behaviour, behaviour that serves as a good example for them is essential, for children who are raised in an environment of argument and quarrel inevitably become ill-tempered. Those quarrels reflect on them and they too become quarrelsome in their lives.

Another point: Children’s behaviour must always be monitored and they must not be given the opportunity to do what they cannot do in the presence of others, to engage in such misconduct in private and in solitude. If we are negligent in this regard, then they will commit those sins in private. And their character will be negatively affected. They will exhibit different personalities. And the first result of this is lying and deceitfulness. They will present themselves in a certain way to their parents, hide their own true selves and tell lies. And lying is a means to an increase in spiritual ailments.

This is why children cannot be ignored. They need to be cautioned with a soft and simple speech, with the use of examples in relation to the errors they commit. That is to say, our children should not be forced to resort to telling lies. And lying should not, in this way, become a habit.

Another point: We must reward our children for the good things that they do. Their errors must not be ignored or overlooked. Positive behaviour acquires a permanent place in the child’s character by means of reward. Unfortunately, however, mistakes that are not corrected at the proper time become a part of a child’s character by means of constant repetition.

With respect to female children in particular, their choice of improper clothing at a young age must not be overlooked. Unfortunately, many careless parents say, “They’re only children,” and overlook any faults in this regard. Yes, they are only children, but they do acquire habits. And these habits need to be abandoned, as sin [over time] becomes for them comfortable and natural. It becomes as pleasant to a person as music.

Thus is the state of the streets… all the gross negligence of parents. That which children get used to in time become addictions that are irremediable.

On the other hand, children must not be frequently punished and thus made impudent. The particular punishment, then, has little or no meaning.

In setting out certain commands and prohibitions, these must be communicated in a manner which children can easily comprehend, in precisely such a language, by providing explanation and offering examples. The strength of instructions given screaming or in a loud voice is significantly reduced. It is essential that one begin with kind words and speak to their heart.

Even when sending Prophet Musa, upon him be peace, to the Pharaoh, Allah Almighty commanded him to, “speak to him with gentle words”. (See 20:44) The command given to Prophet Musa, upon him be peace, is gentle speech. And he used gentle words. He spoke in words resembling the flow of water.

Secondly, Allah Almighty commanded, “Go, you and your brother, with My miraculous signs and never slacken in remembrance of Me and reminding (others) of Me.” (See 20:42)

This means to say that parents must also be thus and their inner worlds must be filled with spirituality. In order for them to serve as a reflection [of what its mentioned in the verse].

In other words, Allah Almighty declares, qawlan balīghan: “…say to them profound words touching their very souls.” (See 4:19).

And most importantly, children should be taught the rules of proper conduct and etiquette. Children from affluent families, in particular, must not be rude or arrogant in their dealings with their peers. This too will become a habit. In other words, they must not have the attitude, “I am one of the haves and you the have-nots.” These will eventually become the child’s character. The child will forget humility. And will put on a constant show of power.

This is one of the causes of waste. Waste is a display of power. That is to say, the child’s character has been damaged, and instead of inspiring others with their character, they seek to establish their power through material things. At a certain point, waste becomes the effort to suppress feelings of inferiority.

Similarly, children must be allowed the opportunity to enjoy their childhood within lawful bounds. But only within the prescribed, lawful limits. They must not be left too free, or have too much pressure put on them. For excessive comfort intensifies carnality and gives rise to laziness. Too much pressure, however, makes the child docile and meek in character. This is why parents must strive, in a measured fashion, to fill the children’s time with behaviour that will lead to their becoming upright and virtuous individuals.

Our children must be given examples from those who are less well off so that we can remind them of Allah Almighty’s favours upon them. In any case, the Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, instructs us all:

…look to those who have been given less [than you so that you may thankful].” (See Muslim, Zuhd, 9)

Look to those of a higher rank than you spiritually, so that they can inspire you to advance. (See Tirmidhi, Qiyama, 58/2512)

Most importantly, children must be prepared for worship from an early age. Most importantly, we must bring our children to the prayer, just as Imam Malik‘s father had done, get them used to prostration, and present them with a gift afterwards, buying them a little something that will make them happy so that they are encouraged to do more.

And they must be advised:

“Now look at what beautiful things the Recording Angels have written for you [in your book of deeds]. Allah sees you. How beautiful was your prostration. Masha’allah, how well you performed the prayer! Even I was in admiration of your prayer and wished that I could pray just like you…”

We have to encourage our children in this way so that this can become a habit for them. As tomorrow our children will become for us either a never-ending charity (sadaqa al-jariya), where we will receive rewards for their every good deed, to the extent of our effort. Or will become an unending evil (sayyi’a al-jariya). We too will be forced to account for the evil which they commit. In other words, watch out for this trust!

It is essential that we invest children with a spiritual identity. This has acquired much greater importance in our day especially, as if we cannot watch out for them, the streets definitely will.

Letters are constantly coming in from parents. My daughter has done this, my son has become addicted to drugs, they say. Sadly, today, narcotics are a major problem. It is said that they are being sold on every corner because they have become so cheap. This is why we have to advise our children in the best possible way. We have to be very careful about who our children make friends with.

Again in the Qur’anic chapter al-Ta-Ha, Allah Almighty declares:

“Order your family and community to establish the Prayer, and be diligent in its observance…” (20:132)

Prophet Ibrahim, peace be upon him, says:

“O My Lord! Make me one who establishes the Prayer in conformity with its conditions, and (likewise) from my offspring (those who are not wrongdoers)…” (14:40)

In other words, the prescribed prayer is extremely important. It is like an interview with Allah Almighty. But the condition of the prayer, as Allah Almighty declares, is the following:

“Prosperous indeed are the believers. They are in their Prayer humble and fully submissive (being overwhelmed by the awe and majesty of Allah).”(23:1-2)

This is why we must take great pains with our prayer. Those in the company of the Prophet are described at the end of the Qur’anic chapter Al-Fath in the following words:

“…You see them (constant in the Prayer) bowing down and prostrating…” (48:29) This means that a believer’s bowing down in prayer as well as their prostration have to be invested with a special spirituality. This is because when bowing and prostrating, they are in a state of declaring Allah Almighty to be above all imperfection and deficiency:

(I proclaim that my Lord, Who possesses a might and majesty beyond imagination and comprehension, is free from all kinds of defect).

(All-Glorified You are, in that You are absolutely above having any defect).

“…prostrate and draw near.” (96:19) Allah Almighty declares.

Again, there is the warning in Surah al-Tahrim:

“O you who believe! Guard yourselves and your families (through the enabling discipline of the Islamic faith and worship) against a Fire whose fuel is human beings and stones…”(66:6)

This means that the Fire will be, stones, to begin with, and especially those idols that the people worship. And secondly, those who disobey Allah will themselves become fire.

And, in the continuation of the verse, it is stated:

“…Over it are angels stern and strict (in executing the command to punish), who do not disobey Allah in whatever He commands them, and carry out what they are commanded (to carry out).” (66:6)

Again, the Messenger of Allah states:

“Be kind to your children [and which form is this kindness to take? This kindness is to be a means for encouraging them to perform acts of goodness], and perfect their manners.” (Ibn Maja, Adab, 3)

“A father cannot give his child a gift greater in excellence than good manners.” (Tirmidhi, Birr, 33/1952)

“The best of those things that a person leaves behind them when they die is a righteous child who prays for them…” (Muslim, Wasiyya, 14; Tirmidhi, Ahkam, 36)

And this requires great effort. This is not possible without effort. Such a child is to be raised that – God willing – they will be a means for guiding others in piety in the society in which they live.

wa-ij’ʿalnā lil’muttaqīna imāma:

“…and enable us to lead others in piety (to become a means of the promotion of piety and virtue).” (25:74)

Similarly, Allah Almighty provides an example in the chapter Al-Fath:

A sower plants a seed, the verse says, and that seed sprouts. The shoot that has sprouted is then strengthened and this greatly pleases that sower, filling them with joy and delight, the verse adds.   But this fills the unbelievers with rage. (See 48:29)

In other words, all our exertion in the way of raising children or in the name of Islam, give those who endeavour in such way a sense of relief and contentment as these develop. But such efforts enrage the unbelievers. This is one of the predicaments in today’s world.

Again, here is another point that we need to take into consideration in the upbringing of children:

A man complained to ‘Abd Allah ibn Mubarak of the rebelliousness of his child. ‘Abd Allah ibn Mubarak asked, “Did you curse the child?” The man replied, “Yes.”

‘Abd Allah ibn Mubarak then said, “You are the cause of your child’s corruption. You cursed him.”

This means that we need to address our children with great gentleness and softness in speech (qawlan layyinan, qawlan balīghan), as the effect of cursing – God forbid – is detrimental. Such a repercussion is, in other words, in question.

During the time of the Messenger of Allah, children used to attend the prayer at the mosque. The Messenger of Allah used to give them presents as they were leaving. On one particular day, they came to Allah’s Messenger and said, “We will not let you go, you have to give us a gift first.”

The Messenger of Allah sent word [to his wives]. There were eight walnuts at his home. Eight walnuts were brought to the mosque. When Allah’s Messenger gave the children the walnuts, they let him go. “You tied me up just like Prophet Joseph,” he said to them.

The Messenger of Allah always joked with children in the best manner. The people would always gather around him, children included.

Another matter:

We need to show greater effort when raising girls. The Messenger of Allah, when Husayn and Hasan were still children, brought water for Hasan, may Allah be well pleased with him. His daughter Fatima said, “It is as though you love Hasan more.”

“No,” he responded. “I gave Hasan water first as he was the first to ask for it. “Treat your children with equal justice. With the exception of daughters.” (See Haythami, IV, 153; Ibn Hajar, Matalib al-‘Aliya, IV, 69)

He commanded that girls would be the foundation of the family unity in the future, that they will build the family, and that they, therefore, needed to be raised with extra care and attention.

The worst of wastefulness is the waste of human beings. The wives of the Companions used to show a special interest in the upbringing of their children.

The Messenger of Allah even said that those who raise their daughters, two daughters, three daughters, in the way of Allah, will be in his company in Paradise. (See Muslim, Birr, 147, 149)

They will be the foundation of the family unity, and the society.

Abu Hurayra narrates:

When a believer is presented with rewards most unexpected in the Hereafter, they will say, “O Lord, (I did not perform these deeds of goodness) From where has this come?”

Allah Almighty will say, “These are the result of your child’s seeking forgiveness and supplication (on your behalf).” (Ahmad, II, 509; Ibn Maja, Adab, 1)

As is well-known:

“When a person dies all their actions and good deeds come to an end, with the exception of three things: [One of these is] a righteous child who prays for them.” (See Muslim, Wasiyya, 14; Tirmidhi, Ahkam, 36)

Another one of these are the Islamic institutions they established for the education of human beings. Good works and good children.

In short, children are given to us in trust; the society is a trust, and being able to duly fulfil these trusts…

‘A’isha, the mother of believers describes the final moments of Allah’s Messenger in this world:

Abu Bakr, my father, stood to lead the prayer. The Messenger of Allah turned around and looked behind him, seeing the fine congregation of the Companions. In such a state of severe illness, he had not the strength to lead the prayer and performed the prayer behind Abu Bakr. However, he smiled so beautifully such that I had never before seen the Messenger of Allah smile thus.”

Again, [is the matter of] setting a good example. Anas narrates:

I was in the company of Jarir ibn ‘Abd Allah on a journey and he used to serve me though he was older in age. So I said to him, “Do not do this (For you are much older than me.)”

Jarir said, “I saw the Ansar doing a thing (i.e. in service) for the Messenger of Allah for which I have vowed that whenever I meet any of them, I will serve him.”(Bukhari, Jihad, 71; Muslim, Fada’il al-Sahaba, 181)

This is also of great importance for us.

And so, leaving behind us a righteous generation. So that our graves are not left unfrequented. In other words, we must never forget that the stopping place ahead of us is the grave.

As you know, it is said that the Muslims resemble a single body. One person that we lose is as though a limb torn off from the body. The Messenger of Allah, upon him be peace and blessings, wants every believer to possess the following consciousness:

““The likeness of the believers in their mutual love, mercy and affection is that of a single body. When one limb of it complains, the rest of the body is affected…” (See Bukhari, Adab, 27; Muslim, Birr, 66)

Today also, a Muslim needs to possess the awareness that another Muslim is entrusted to them.

‘Ali, may Allah be well pleased with him, states:

“Lead such (a blessed, spiritual life) that the people aspire to emulate you in your health, and feel deeply your absence after your passing.”

In the same way, the great figures are always longed for. How many visitors do we have each day and how many does Aziz Mahmud Hüdayi, have for instance? Who is dead and who is living? How many people visit Abu Ayyub al-Ansari each day and how many come to visit me?

This means that when one becomes a friend of Allah Almighty, Allah endears them to the people.

Happy, therefore, are those who leave a fine echo in this earthly dome.

Mawlana Jalal al-Din al-Rumi states:

“Do not seek my grave on earth, for I am buried in the hearts of those who possess knowledge of Allah.”

See how Mawlana continues [to endure] for the past 700 years. With his stories, words of counsel, and the like…