Child Rearing: An Islamic Perspective

Importance of Children in Islam

Of all the blessings Allah (SWT) has bestowed human beings with, children are one of the most important among them. There are many people who have wealth, but cannot get children in spite of exhausting lots of resources. On the other hand, there are people who get children, even though they may not have enough wealth. From this practical observation that we all encounter in our everyday lives-it is evident that to have or not to have children depends totally on the will of Allah (SWT). Allah (SWT) says in the Holy Qur’an:

“And Allah has made pairs for you from yourselves and has made children and grand children for you from your couples.” [16: 72]

In another Ayah, Allah emphatically mentions that it is exclusively HIS decision to give children or not and to give male or female children. Allah (SWT) says,

“To Allah belongs the sovereignty of the heavens and earth. He creates as HE wants. He bestows female child upon whom HE wants and male child upon whom HE wants, or bestows male and female both and makes barren whomever HE wants. HE is The All Knowing, The All Powerful.” [42: 49-50]

As only Allah (SWT) can give us children, HE mentions it as HIS blessings upon us.

“Wealth and Children are Beautifications (Zeenah) for the Life of this world.” [18:46]

Arrival of children is good news for the family and society. Allah (SWT) says,

“O Zakariya! We give you the good news of a boy whose name will be Yahya.” [19: 7]

It is precisely for that reason, Allah (SWT) taught us the do’a to seek from HIM spouses and children that will be coolness of our eyes.

“O Our Lord! Grant us Spouses and Children that will be coolness of our eyes and make us the leader of the Muttaqoon (those who have taqwa).” [25: 74]

Responsibilities towards Children:

In short, our responsibilities towards our children are their rights upon us. As discussed before, our children are enormous blessings from Allah; at the same time-they are Amanah or trust from HIM to us. The ultimate aim of preserving that trust is to do our best to protect them from hell-fire in the after-life.

” O You Who Believe! Protect yourselves and Your Families from that fire, whose fuel will be humans and stones.” [66: 6]

Our beloved Prophet (SAW) taught us that we all are shepherds (responsible) and we all shall be asked about our responsibilities. So, definitely we shall be asked about our children, how much effort did we exert to fulfill their rights, to make them grow up as responsible and educated members of society? After we pass away, if our children are not in a position to ask forgiveness from Allah (SWT) for us, then we have really failed as Muslim parents. Our Prophet (SAW) also said that righteous children shall remain as ongoing charity (sadaqa jariyyah) for us even after our departure from this world and we shall be continuously receiving rewards of their righteous actions while we are in our graves. Therefore, whatever efforts we put as Muslim parents to raise our children are efforts that we exert for our benefit and salvation-here and hereafter. Now, let’s see what are our children’s rights upon us in the light of Qur’an and Sunnah.

Rights of Children

The Right of Pure Lineage
Islam not only designates rights of children after they are born, but also they have rights before their birth. It is their right to have a legitimate birth (being born from parents who are legally married). Those who give birth to children outside of wedlock, deprive these children from that right of theirs and commit a heinous act of oppression upon them. The Prophet of Islam taught us to choose righteous spouses. He (SAW) told young men to give preference to women who are pious and told guardians of young girls to give preference to those young men who are known for their Deen and their character. Thus, a man chooses beforehand who shall be the mother of his children, by choosing a good mother for his children; he fulfills a right of his children even before they are born. Islam also discouraged marriage within very close family members, today it is proven medically that marriage within close family members often cause different genetic problems for the child and the child suffers developmentally with respect to physical and intellectual health.

The Right to Live
As a fundamental principle, Islam has guaranteed the right to live for all human beings except for clearly defined crimes in the shariah due to which a person loses his/her right to live.

“Allah (SWT) says, “And do not kill that soul that Allah has sanctified except for justice (legislated by Shariah).” [6: 151]

“For whosoever kills a soul unless for murder or spreading mischief in the land-it would be as if he/she has killed the whole of humankind and whosoever helps to save a soul, it is as if he/she has saved the whole of humankind.” [5:32]

During the days of ignorance, some people used to kill their children due to superstitions and fear of poverty. Especially a female child was considered a sign of weakness and humiliation for the family, so they used to bury their female children alive. Allah (SWT) has prohibited and condemned this evil practice in the strongest of terms:

“When any one of them is given the good news of a female child, his face turns dark out of deep sorrow and suffers from mental agony. He hides himself from his community due to shame of that news. He thinks-will he let her live in spite of humiliation or shall bury her in the ground. Beware, evil indeed are the decisions that they make.” [16: 58-59]

Allah (SWT) has strongly prohibited killing children due to fear of poverty, HE (SWT) reminds us that HE is the provider of all, including the new born and the old. The right to life includes having proper care and nourishment so that the child may grow up healthy, gets adequate protection from diseases, possesses a healthy body and sound mind. If a child suffers from diseases, malnutrition and bad health due to negligence of its parents/care-givers, then they have deprived it of it’s right to proper care and have committed oppression against the child.   The right to life is a fundamental right bestowed by The Creator to all creation. HE is the one who grants life and death. HE (SWT) has revealed divine guidance where HE (SWT) precisely defines death penalty as a capital punishment for some specific crimes. Other than that, anybody who deprives somebody from that fundamental right stands accountable in front of Allah (SWT) and the creation.

For The New Born

Adhan and Iqamah

Once the baby is born, it should be cleaned well and be covered with soft clothes according to weather. Then the adhan should be pronounced in its right ear and the iqamah in it’s left.  On the authority of Abdullah bin Abbas (RA), he says, “the day Hasan bin Ali (RA) was born, The Prophet (SAW) pronounced the adhan in his right ear and the iqamah in his left.” [Reported by Imam Baihaqi]

Tahneeq: It is established sunnah to take some chewed pulp of a date or any other sweet and rub it softly with the palate of the baby’s mouth. This is known as tahneeq. Mother of the believers Ayesha (RA) says, “New born children were being brought to the Prophet (SAW), He (SAW) used to bless them and do tahneeq on them.”

A good name and Aqeeqah: Every Muslim child reserves the right to have a sweet sounding and meaningful name. Prophet (SAW) said, “It is the child’s right upon the father to teach him/her good manners and to give a good, meaningful name.” The Prophet (SAW) also said, “Every new born is tied to the act of aqeeqah, so you slaughter animal for them and remove their hair.” [Reported in Bukhari on the authority of Salman bin Amer (RA)] If the animal for aqeeqah is goat/sheep, then two of them suffice a male child and one suffices a female child.

Right to be nursed: Allah (SWT) says, “Mothers shall nurse their children for two complete years for any that wants to fulfill the period of nursing.” [2: 233] Children should never be deprived from this divine right to be nursed by their mothers. Nursing has far reaching physical psychological implications on development of the child’s health and personality, family bonds especially between mother and the child, empowerment of women as nursing mothers and strengthening of overall social relationships.

Tarbiah

Tarbiah is a very comprehensive term. Right tarbiah is a right of children upon their parents, guardians and the Muslim society at large. Different aspects of tarbiah need such detailed discussion, which is out of scope of this article. Here, I shall try to shed light on some important aspects of tarbiah in the light of Qur’an and Sunnah.

The Prophet (SAW) said, “Order your children for salat when they are seven, discipline them for it when they are ten and separate their beds.” [Abu Daud]

Parents have to do their best to make sure the well being of their children both here and hereafter. The Prophet (SAW) said, ” It’s better to leave your children self sufficient than to leave them on the mercy of others.” [Tirmidhi]

Parents will have to work to develop hatred within their children against Akhlaq Al Dhameemah (all aspects of bad character) and to culture within them the love for Akhlaq Al Hameedah (Praised attributes of Character). Our children have to internalize Islamic values and principles. A conscious approach needs to be taken to cultivate Imaan and Taqwa in their hearts. Let’s not forget that it is the parents that lay down the initial foundation of their children’s personality.

“Every new born is born upon Fitrah (pure nature), it is their parents who make them Jews, Christians or fire worshippers.”

Parents are the first role models of their children; whether the child finds a good role model or a dysfunctional one, depend on the behavior of respective parents. Parents will have to practice what they preach-if at all they believe in the importance of developing righteous character for their children. Tarbiah in Islam primarily means to let our children know their Creator, inculcate love for The Prophet (SAW), faith in hereafter, divine books, angels, prophets, qadr and other important aspects of our Deen (way of life). Tazkiatun Nafs (purification of the soul) is a natural consequence of such tarbiah. They should grow up learning how to live as a Muslim in all aspects of their life-in school, in playground, with parents, siblings, and friends and in all other avenues of life as they grow up. Tarbiah also includes preparing our children for facing the challenges of life and enlightening them with education in natural sciences, technology, humanities, law, business and all other branches of knowledge. Our children should also learn about different ideologies, faith systems, political systems, and economic and social systems so that they may provide intellectual leadership to the world and prove the superiority of Islam over the rest through logic, knowledge and wisdom.

Conclusion

Our children are Amanah and assets for us from Allah (SWT). If we can do our best to preserve this amanah, they shall be source of happiness for us in both the worlds. Once we reach our old age, we shall be in need of their care and support. Not only that, once we leave this world, we shall leave behind a generation that will ask forgiveness on our behalf to Allah (SWT) in tears and we shall be receiving the rewards of their righteous actions while in our graves. What more profitable a trade can be? Our Lord commands us to ask that good of both the worlds from HIM.

“O Our Master! Grant us the good in this world and the good in the hereafter and save us from the fire.” [2:201]

Ameen.

Mohammed Chowdhury leads the Furqaan Institute of Qur’anic Healing (based in Addison, Illinois) that provides individual, family and marital counseling among other services. Their website is: www.fiqh.org He can be reached at [email protected]

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