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Raising Children to be Islamic Personalities

1) Western Society and the Child's upbringing.

It is painfully obvious to all that there is a wayward youth culture here in the West. As people working to build an alternative society, we need to ensure that our children are not sucked in by it and that we have put thought into how to avoid developing such a culture in the future khilafah.
Western children are not innocent little angels who get corrupted as soon as they start going to school, rather they have often been corrupted by their parents long before. How many daddy’s little princesses become manipulative self obsessed spoilt brats? How many angry children hit mum as a toddler, then grow to have no respect for her as an adolescent? How many new behavioural diseases, like ADHD, will Western society discover next year?
Parenting mistakes made early establish trends that are hard to break, leading to disastrous problems for the child’s development.
Western parents are amazed at Super Nanny’s powers. She can do what no other parent can do – and all she uses is a naughty step! Drunk on freedom, and their right to party – many young parents prefer to see their children as future friends, drastically underestimating the need for discipline. Many are just too tired after work to put in the effort and attention that raising children requires.
Muslim families do not always do much better. Mum is often too exhausted after cooking, cleaning, washing and ironing her husbands clothes. She gets no help from him, as raising the kids is her job alone. She is to blame if his kids are rude or have not learnt enough Quran. Most of this attitude comes from cultural traditions and not Islam.
In some inner city London schools arguably the worst parenting is practiced, raising generation after generation of damaged children. The children have been criticised and shouted at so much, that they lack all self confidence and are convinced that “I am just like that”, unable to make any positive changes to their behaviour.
2) Parental Responsibility of the Muslim
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قُوا أَنْفُسَكُمْ وَأَهْلِيكُمْ نَارًا وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ
Allah (swt) commands believing mothers and fathers, “Oh you who believe! Protect yourselves and your families against a fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones…” [at-Tahreem 6]
The Messenger of Allah (saw) emphasised the duty of care of a father to his family when he said, “Each of you is a guardian and is responsible for those whom he is in charge of…a man is the guardian of his family and is responsible for those under his care…So each one of you is a guardian and is responsible for what he is entrusted with.”
Parents need to take the lead in ensuring their children are brought up with Islamic values. We cannot complain about their behaviour unless we have questioned how we have discharged our responsibility as parents.
3) Role of Parents
قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: رحم الله والدا اعان ولده على بره
The Messenger of Allah (saw) said “Allah have mercy on the parent who helped his son with being devoted to him”
قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: كل مولود يولد على الفطرة فأبواه يهوادنه أو ينصرانه أو يمجسانه
The Messenger of Allah (saw) said “Everyone born is born on al-fitrah, his parents make him into a Jew, a Christian or a Magian”
Parents are their child’s first teachers. They have a responsibility to the child, to Allah and to the society. If they are neglectful in this, then the child will adopt the society’s ways and values, and be burden upon it, rather than a positive member of it.
In a Western society, we are keenly aware of its corrupting effect, as are many of the Muslim community. However, this awareness has not stopped many parents underestimating their role, particularly in the early years. Anyone who spends even a short time with children in a state primary school will be shocked at their rudeness, aggressiveness, selfishness and lack of respect – even from the Muslim children. No Muslim could want their child to become like them, hence we send our children to after school madrassahs or Islamic primary schools. However, many children who attend Islamic primary schools also display many of the same bad characteristics, although generally they are less intense.
Upon examination, one observes that the children with the best characteristics live in homes where parents are aware of Islamic values, serious about establishing them and attentive to protecting them from the dangerous influences of the Western culture. It appears, that those children who are worst, live in homes where parents are neglectful in any of these aspects, often expecting the Islamic nature of school’s curriculum to make their children into Islamic personalities. Sadly, such children generally adopt the personalities of their parents and the people they mix with from the Western society.
This is an important topic for us, as parents, as Da’awah carriers and as people looking to build a new Islamic society which embodies the Islamic culture. While we are living without an Islamic state, wherever we are, we must build strong Islamic personalities from an early age that can resist the influences of kufr around them, even work to change it themselves. Even were we to live in an Islamic state, we and the Muslims whom we are attempting to lead, must still pay attention to the early raising of our children, as we should not expect the whole society to embody pure Islamic values from the word go. Corruption can still exist, even in a Khilafah that implements a strict Islamic education policy. If our children are not those positive members of the society from the beginning of their education, it is unlikely that the state’s education will entirely reform them; rather they may well bring weakness into the society as a result of poor parenting.
In the Education system book is written “Among the most important guarantees of preservation of the ummah’s culture is that its culture be memorised in hearts of its children and preserved in books, together with the ummah having a State ruling over it and taking care of its affairs according to the rules and canons emanating from the intellectual doctrine of this culture.
With regards to the State’s adopted education policy, Article 166 of the constitution states: “The purpose of education is to form the Islamic personality in thought and behaviour. Therefore all subjects in the curriculum must be chosen on this basis.”
The State is not a replacement for good parenting, rather it is an essential aid. Only together can a lasting Islamic society be built, producing outstanding Islamic personalities.
Also, in the Education system it is written “Education is the method to preserve the Ummah’s culture in the hearts of its children and the pages of its books, whether it is the prescribed or non-prescribed education curriculum. The education curriculum means education regulated by State adopted systems and canons, with the State responsible for implementing it e.g. setting the starting age, subjects of study and education method. Whereas non-prescribed education is left to Muslims to teach in homes, mosques, clubs, via media, periodical publications etc without being subjected to the organisation and canons of the education curriculum. In both cases, however, the State is responsible to ensure that the thoughts and knowledge (being taught) either emanate from the Islamic intellectual doctrine or are built upon it.
-          Without the state, even if parents are good at what they do, there are no guarantees, as the society has a corrupting effect… the societies influence is greater than that of the individual.
-          The state will make sure the public life is free from anything that can corrupt the children
-          The state will assist the parents, not work against them, nor blame them, if they are struggling.
-          The state will structure the economy such that mothers can stay at home to be mothers, instead of pressurising them to go to work, as is the case in the West
In our da’wah with parents we need to explain the indispensability of the state and their personal duty in rearing of the children. What follows is a highly summarised look at some of the factors that must be considered by Muslim parents raising young children, whether here in the West, or in the khilafah state.
4) The home environment
There must be agreement between the parents to determine what the good and bad behaviour is. E.g.
1)      The father saw that lots of problems with the neighbour’s children is evidence of strength and manliness while the mother believes otherwise.
2)      The mother tried to impose on the children a certain pattern of food and drink, the father breaks it.
3)      Maybe the father believes that his small daughter playing with boys in the street is shameful and contrary to the customs and traditions, while the mother believes that playing is necessary for the building of her body.
Such differences among parents affect the children negatively and it is injustice to be punished and rewarded for the same conduct. The children suffer as they witness the conflict in their home and they will then tend to be aggressive and quarrelsome. This in turn fuels the tension between parents and the home atmosphere becomes heavy because of the problems that occur. Resentment and hatred between the children of the family will accumulate, especially when each of them insists on his position that he is used to.
When the mother says something and father says something else, the child needs to receive approval from both, and if he tried to break away from one of them to move closer to the other, then he feels loss and disruption due to the distance from one of his parents. The agreement between the parents in the methods of treatment of the child, and how to identify bad behaviour and good behaviour protects the child from developing a dual personality and later tension and anxiety which is wholly unnecessary.
5) Establishing a positive relationship early:
The early development of a child will define much of their character for the future. The family relationship between a child and their mother and father, should start off positively, else it will forever get worse, soon becoming too late to rectify. A poem that is popular among school teachers starts:
If a child lives with criticism, He learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility, He learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule, He learns to be shy.
If there are unrealistic expectations of a child, then they will be confused. If they are told off when they don’t know why, then they will be confused. The parent becomes a frustrated person as the child appears to play-up more and more. The atmosphere of conflict starts to engulf the whole family. Ultimately the loving and trusting relationship between parent and child is damaged, so the child grows into an adult never fully respecting their parents, and hence may not turn to them when in trouble as an adult.
The rules of behaviour for the children agreed between the mother and father must take into account the child’s age, as what we expect from the child before seven is not what we expect from the child after seven.
A young child does not distinguish between work and play. He does not sense meal times and cannot control his desires if he is excited. The child has an inclination to research and identify the environment, and should be encouraged to do so to the farthest extent, and should not be prevented except in two cases:
1 – If he was about to do something dangerous, or what would upset himself or others
2 – If he was about to damage other people’s property.
In these cases must be stopped immediately and decisively.
The best way to stop dangerous work at the age of less than a year is distracting his attention and drawing his attention to something else or an alternative activity. If he tried to touch something forbidden, to withdraw his hand gently and say something that he’ll understand that this would harm him or others.
However, if the child was in the second year or third year and was about to endanger himself or others, then the parent must bring his attention to this and try to deter him with various means, such as the use of facial expressions and tone of voice. If his behaviour continued, then he is to be taken to another place. In all cases calmness must be maintained with no resort to beating. The best way to deal with it is to exclude him for a short time in a place devoid of anything interesting to him.
خاطب الناس على قدر عقولهم
The Prophet (saw) said: “Address the people according to the capabilities of their minds”
At the beginning of the second year the child is suffering from severe bouts of tantrums. He can not be compelled to carry out exactly what you want, because he does not understand the concept of behavioural rules, so he that must be dealt on this basis. For example, he does not understand his mother saying “be nice to the kitten”. He does not understand the meaning of bad behaviour, acting spontaneously without being aware of the consequences of things.
This situation may last for years, and all the parent has to do is steer the child, who must not be deprived of love and affection at any moment, particularly their mother’s. The love and respect for the parents and particularly the mother to her child is the source from which is derived the love and respect for themselves and others.
Abu Hurairah tells of the following event: The Prophet went to Fatima’s house and called three times: “Where is the naughty one?” calling Hasan. When Hasan came the Prophet opened his arms wide, Hasan opened his and he hugged and kissed him. And then he said “Allah, truly I love this (child). May You love him too and those who love him!”
al-Akra bin Habis saw Prophet Muhammad kiss Hasan and said: “Truly, I have 10 children, but I have never kissed any of them!” Prophet Muhammad replied: “One who does not show mercy cannot be shown mercy.”
Tantrums are natural, and cannot be avoided. The child starts to feel independence, so starts to exercise their freedom, at the same time that the parents want to instil good behaviour, thus resulting in a conflict. He may scream or hit the floor, as he feels that he is the centre of the universe and that his mother is there to satisfy his interests, yet she stops him from some things that he wants, so he turns to crying and screaming.
To reduce the occurrence of such conflict the parent must ask in the best way, very sweetly, always praising when he does what is asked. The child must not be asked to do what he cannot do, nor understand. When the child says “No”, the parent must not react angrily imagining that their child is becoming disobedient, as this is just an automatic response from the child. The parent should instead remain calm, but repeat the request as an instruction. The parent must also choose their battles carefully. Ignore the non-important disobediences, to focus on those that are important, such as refusing to sleep at the proper time, or refusing to go to the bathroom when he needs to. However, maybe choosing what game to play or what clothes to wear may be suitable to allow the child a choice, to encourage compliance. No reward should be given to make him comply after he has refused, as this is rewarding his refusal. If it possible to avoid taking the child to a place that raises the chances of tantrums, then the child should not be taken, for example to the market, if he always has a tantrum there. If a tantrum does occur in a public place, then it must not be met with a violent or angry reaction from the parent, as this will only increase the tantrum. Rather, take the child to a quiet place to comfort and address him calmly to find out what is making him angry.
Any good behaviour or obedience needs plenty of praise and rewards.
Such mechanisms for managing behaviour are not restricted to toddler’s tantrums, but this is the first time that it becomes necessary. Such methods can be used effectively until adolescence. Maintaining calmness achieves far more that Anger. By controlling your anger, only revealing it occasionally, then returning to calmness instantly, allows the child to know that you are in control. Whereas, actually losing control in front of them rewards their bad behaviour, so does not help the situation. It has far more negative consequences than remaining calm does.
The parents should be realistic in their expectations of conduct. It is not reasonable to insist on a long period in a their room, or to be restricted to a high chair, because it is contrary to the nature of his curiosity, so he will be more likely to increase in resistance, stubbornness and frustration. The rules that the child must observe should be as little as possible. Only in situations that pose a threat to the child, harm others or their property, as mentioned previously.
The child should be encouraged to use words to express his feelings, not react angrily or use any other naughtiness. If he is not able to express his feelings, then he should be helped to do so.
Children learn in many ways, including experience, so they must be allowed to do things to the maximum possible extent, with as few restrictions as possible. Only that which endangers his or other’s safety should be prevented. However, parents should check that there is a real danger before preventing the child from an activity. Many parents say to their child, without thinking “don’t run so as not to fall on the ground”, yet there is no real harm or danger. If it had happened on the grass or soft ground they will not get hurt, so it is not correct to stop a child from that.
In the fifth year of the child’s life the child begins to participate in games, which are subject to certain rules, so he begins to understand how the rules benefit himself and others, and so the child of this age wishes to observe the rules of conduct accepted by the adults. This is why it is OK to expand the restrictions on the behaviour of the child, so attempting to address some of the conduct that is reprehensible to a Muslim.
Firstly, the parents should focus mainly on the prevention of falling into the Haram such as the prohibition of lying, theft, assault and abuse of others.
Secondly, training the child to give Salam, praying, cooperating with others and doing homework.
Thirdly, discipline in dealing with others, such that if the child reaches puberty,  four values must be achieved in their behaviour: humanitarian, spiritual, moral and material.
Parents should know the developmental stages of children. A young child has a short attention, forgets quickly and loses control of himself easily, so parents should focus on the child’s completion of a task, showing joy and excitement at the child’s ability to control himself, his increasing of his knowledge and his mixing with others. The older he gets, the more attention is given to perfection and achieving.
A young child should not be prevented from a lot of behaviours all at once, as it will confuse the child. Priority should be given to the restrictions that contribute to the safety of the child and others. Next we give priority to the restrictions that prevent them from damaging the property of others. When the child has adopted these characteristics, then we can move to other types of bad behaviour, such as screaming in a public place or throwing food. Then after that teaching of more subtle behaviours, such as cooperation with and respect for others.
Consideration must be given to the child’s daily routine. If the child is tense, then pressure on him should be relaxed. For example, if he is taken out of the house at sleeping time, or before eating food while hungry, the parents should expect the strange behaviour they will see, and not discipline the child for it.
Parents should not expect children to learn the behavioural norms and instructions from one or two incidents, as they have a short memory, so it must be repeated and repeated, so as to prevent him from doing what is forbidden. These are the repeating years, and parents must get used to that fact, being patient with their children, not becoming frustrated with them. It is only shaytan’s whispers that make us sometimes imagine malicious intent when children make mistakes.
قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: رحم الله والدا اعان ولده على بره
The Messenger of Allah (saw) said “Allah have mercy on the parent who helped his son with being devoted to him”
Parents must be sure to have consistency when dealing with the child. If the rules are to be changed at all, then the child must be informed, even consulted in the matter. A small child may pull on his mother’s jilbab to attract her attention, but a four year old should be taught to find a better way of doing so, explaining to him the reason for that and suggesting new ways.
Finally, all those who have responsibility to look after the child, whether relatives or neighbours, should be made aware of the child’s behavioural rules. They should be encouraged to be consistent, as discrepancy in the child’s treatment causes confusion in the child such that he cannot distinguish between right and wrong, developing in him a dual-personality.
It should be remembered that parents need to be a role model for the child and an embodiment of the values that the child is expected to adopt.
قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: كل مولود يولد على الفطرة فأبواه يهوادنه أو ينصرانه أو يمجسانه
The Messenger of Allah (saw) said “Everyone born is born on al-fitrah, his parents make him into a Jew, a Christian or a Magian”
7) Beating
Debate rages as to whether corporal punishment is right or wrong for a child, however the Shariah position on this matter is the following:
ألا يَعْلَمُ مَنْ خَلَقَ وَهُوَ اللَّطِيفُ الْخَبِيرُ
Allah says “Should not He who has created know? He is the most kind, all aware” [al-Mulk 14]
He is the one who should define for us our values and behaviour, not whether we perceive a benefit or harm using our own minds. In origin, harming other Muslims, whether adult or child is forbidden.
The Prophet (saw) said, “A Muslim is the one who avoids harming Muslims with his tongue and hands.”
Allah knows that humans sometimes need corporal punishment to purify themselves and to help abandon bad behaviour. Therefore, Allah legislated the hudud and Qisas. Also, the same applies to raising children on the good conduct and preventing the bad.
The use of beating was authorised in the hadith of the Prophet (saw):
قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: مروا صبيانكم بالصلاة لسبع سنين واضربوهم عليها لعشر سنين وفرقوا بينهم في المضاجع
“Tell your children to perform the prayer when they are seven years of age and beat them if they neglect to do so when they are ten years of age, and separate between them in beds.”
However, this beating is not unrestricted. It has conditions mentioned in the fiqh books.
The hadith established a time period of three years between ordering and encouraging the child to pray and actually hitting them if they left the prayer. Beating is not to be used all the time and for any disobedience, and it must be preceded by the use of styles and means before using beating as a last resort.
Teaching the child to pray should follow the following steps:
1)      Teaching the main pillars of the prayer to the child.
2)      Praying in front of the child, then asking him to pray to correct his mistakes.
3)      Rewarding with praise, sweets, toys or money for a seven year old when he prays.
4)      Gradually moving from material rewards to praise when the child is alone and among others
5)      Starting with the smallest punishments before moving to the more serious. E.g. start showing displeasure on the face, to telling off, to preventing him from something he enjoys.
6)      At nine years, replace the sanctions and rewards with reminders about Allah’s pleasure, jannah and jahannam
7)      If he leaves the prayer, then there should be a calm investigation into why, to find a solution. If he persists in neglecting it, then he should be warned of a beating when he is ten.
8)      If he is still neglectful at ten, after all of the above attempts, then his beating should be light. The fuqahaa placed the condition that the beating must not leave a mark, and that it should not be on the face or head. The hands and legs are enough, while the chest, back and backside should not be beaten.
The hadith of the Prophet (saw) states: ‘When one of you beats anyone, he should avoid striking the face’
9)      Also, torturous and vengeful beating must not occur. A severe beating is a type of torture which is not allowed in the shariah.
The educators of the past used to say that resorting to corporal punishment is not allowed unless absolutely necessary, and only then after warnings have been given
Ibn Khaldun wrote in his Muqaddamah: “Cruelty to children leads them to become cowards, escaping from the responsibilities of life.” He also said “A harsh and violent upbringing, whether of pupils, slaves or servants, has as its consequence that violence dominates the soul and prevents the development of the personality. Energy gives way to indolence, and wickedness, deceit, cunning and trickery are developed by fear of physical violence. These tendencies soon become ingrained habits, corrupting the human quality which men acquire through social intercourse and which consists of manliness and the ability to defend oneself and one’s household. Such men become dependent on others for protection; their souls even become too lazy to acquire virtue or moral beauty.”
6) Establishing Islamic Values
Western parents often experience a severe rejection from their children as they become teenagers. Its so common that it is labelled the generation gap, where the traditions and behaviour of the parents is rebelled against in favour of the new. However, this is not a worldwide phenomenon, as it is rarely seen in Muslim countries, except in the most Westernised families. It is important to note that the traditions and morals of Muslims are built upon the Islamic aqeeda, therefore, as the parent adopts them on that basis, then so does the child. Even if the link is not clear from the beginning, it is made by the rest of Muslims in the society. However, if the society became weaker in making the link, then the child is at risk of viewing them as mere parental habits, and reject them in favour of something newer.
When raising children, it is values that we must emphasise, not just behaviours, although the values are manifest in behaviour. The child must be taught to love all that Islam came with.
قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم لا يؤمن احدكم حتى يكون هواه تبعا لما جئت به
The Prophet (saw) said “none of you will be true believers until his desires follow what I came with”
Parents must remember that they are the exemplification of the values for the child. If their concepts were in one valley and their inclinations were in another, then the child will be a reflection of this contradiction and will develop a non-distinguished personality, confused with the reactions of his parents. Parents, especially dawah carriers, need to be good role models themselves if they are to expect their children to have good Islamic personalities and grow up do be da’awa carriers. If they see a double standard at home then it does not matter how many Islamic schools they are sent to….
The spiritual value is achieved in the behaviour of children by linking them to the Islamic aqeedah from a young age, and teaching them the shariah rules of life.
They should be taught to say duas when eating and drinking and throughout the day. Parents should teach children to love Allah and to love the Prophet by mentioning stories from the seerah. Children should be raised knowing that Allah is present, and all knowing. They should fear him and obey him.
They should be taught some of the Quran in order to be able to perform prayers at the age of seven because the Prophet Muhammad (saw) said “Tell your children to perform the prayer when they are seven years of age and beat them if they neglect to do so when they are ten years of age, and separate between them in beds.
It is important that parents use ways that are loved by the children to get them used to praying and fasting from a young age. The Sahabah used to encourage their children to get used to fasting, but if they cried, they would give them a toy to play with to distract them from the hunger.
It should be noted here that some parents force their children to follow some shariah rules that they are not required to. The young girl may wear a jilbab, for example, which then gets in the way of running and play. The reason given is so that she gets used to wearing it, but this is ijtihad with the mind. Rather, the hadith of the Prophet makes it clear that hijab is not required except after puberty.
قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم لاسماء عندما رآها تلبس ملابس غير ساترة وقد بلغت: يا اسماء اذا بلغت المرأة المحيض فلا يجوز ان يظهر منها الا هذا وهذا، واشار الى الوجه والكفين
The Prophet (saw) said to Asmaa’ “When a girl reaches puberty it is not allowed for her to reveal any part of her body except this and this (and he pointed at the face and hands)”.
No text tells parents to enforce hijab on children, as there is for prayer and fasting. Children need sun rays to grow and play to build their bodies and their confidence, yet the hijab prevents all of that, as opposed to fasting and prayer.
The value of humanity is established as Allah created mankind with an instinct to ensure the survival of humankind. Among its manifestations are the love between parents and children. Parent must take care to establish this value within their children, so that they learn empathy with others. Their concern for their children, teaching them and looking after them when unwell, all set the example for their children when they become parents themselves. Allah asked the children to love their parents, know their rights, be good to them and serve them when they become old.
قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم ” رضى الله في رضى الوالدين، وسخط الله في سخط الوالدين”
The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: “The pleasure of Allah lies in the pleasure of the parents, and the wrath of Allah lies in the wrath of the parents”
Also from the human value is to be good to neighbours, friends and the general public, assisting and helping them.
Children must be brought up from childhood on honesty, truthfulness, integrity, loyalty, and the purification of the tongue from curses, insults and profanity. Doing this establishes in them themoral value. Parents should raise their children to rise above all that degrades and learn how to control the themselves and their feelings be separating between the sensation and direct reaction with thinking.
قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: ليس الشديد بالصرعة انما الشديد الذي يملك نفسه عند الغضب
The prophet (saw) said “He is not strong and powerful who throws people down, but he is strong who controls himself from anger.”
قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: اربع من كن فيه كان منافقا خالصا، ومن كان فيه خصلة منهن كان فيه خصلة من النفاق حتى يدعها، اذا اؤتمن خان واذا حدث كذب واذا عاهد غدر واذا خاصم فجر
He (saw) said “Four traits whoever possesses them is a total hypocrite and whoever possesses some of them has an element of hypocrisy until he leaves it: the one who when he speaks he lies, when he promises he breaks his promise, when he disputes he transgresses and when he makes an agreement he violates it.”
Parents must pay particular attention to monitoring their child’s respect for other’s property. If the child was not raised on fearing Allah and awareness of His presence, and was not trained to look after trusts and giving people their rights, then he would grow up to steal, betray and be fraudulent.
Stories like the girl who refused to water down the milk and the like are excellent ways to establish such values.
Children should be taught to shun bad language.
قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: ليس المؤمن بالطعان ولا اللعان ولا الفاحش ولا البذيء
The Prophet (saw) said The believer is not a slanderer, nor a curser, nor obscene nor indecent”
They should be taught that insulting others is out of arrogance and that arrogance will deny them Allah’s pleasure and jannah.
Children must be taught that morals and ethics are shariah rules and not adopted due to any inherent good or bad in them. In order to form an ideological basis they must be taught to shun the ethics of expediency as it is in the West, dealing with different morals for themselves and for others.
فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: اكمل المؤمنين ايمانا احسنهم خلقا
The Prophet (saw) said The most complete believer in his iman is the best of them in his morality”
In Surah Luqman, Luqman (ra) preached to his son in a way that influenced what was inside of him. Such influence comes from linking the thought to an instinct or biological need. In his advice he establishes all four values which are necessary for a person to grow up with a balanced Islamic personality.
The first advice Luqman gave to his son was to warn against shirk, and considering it zulm.
وَإِذْ قَالَ لُقْمَانُ لِابْنِهِ وَهُوَ يَعِظُهُ يَا بُنَيَّ لَا تُشْرِكْ بِاللَّهِ ۖ إِنَّ الشِّرْكَ لَظُلْمٌ عَظِيمٌ
And (remember) when Luqmân said to his son when he was advising him: “O my son! Join not in worship others with Allah. Verily joining others in worship with Allah is a great Zûlm (wrong) indeed.
Zulm threatens the survival instinct as it takes the zalim to the fire. If a person knew that shirk is dangerous to their eternal afterlife, then he leaves it and believes in his Lord. This way Luqman achieved building a spiritual value.
He also warned him to be good to his parents, by reminding him that they carried him in his weakness to incite in him an affection for his parents. This way Luqman achieved building a humanitarian value.
وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ وَهْنًا عَلَىٰ وَهْنٍ وَفِصَالُهُ فِي عَامَيْنِ أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيْكَ إِلَيَّ الْمَصِيرُ
وَإِنْ جَاهَدَاكَ عَلَىٰ أَنْ تُشْرِكَ بِي مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ فَلَا تُطِعْهُمَا ۖ وَصَاحِبْهُمَا فِي الدُّنْيَا مَعْرُوفًا ۖ وَاتَّبِعْ سَبِيلَ مَنْ أَنَابَ إِلَيَّ ۚ ثُمَّ إِلَيَّ مَرْجِعُكُمْ فَأُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ
And We have enjoined on man (to be dutiful and good) to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years – give thanks to Me and to your parents. Unto Me is the final destination. But if they (both) strive with you to make you join in worship with Me others that of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not; but behave with them in the world kindly, and follow the path of him who turns to Me in repentance and in obedience. Then to Me will be your return, and I shall tell you what you used to do.
Here he warned his son to give thanks to Allah and his parents. Being grateful means obedience. He linked all that to the procreation instinct, just as he made that same instinct in his parents, so they hurried to care for him. The exception to obeying his parents, is if they tried to force him to commit shirk. In this situation he must give priority to the spiritual instinct over the procreation one, yet even so, he should still treat them well in this life.
He also encouraged his son to bond with the believers who follow Allah’s way. Hence, the basis of bonds is the Islamic aqeedah.
Luqman also gave attention to his son’s beliefs, so told him that he will return to Allah, who nothing escapes him, however small. Allah has unlimited capability.
يَا بُنَيَّ إِنَّهَا إِنْ تَكُ مِثْقَالَ حَبَّةٍ مِنْ خَرْدَلٍ فَتَكُنْ فِي صَخْرَةٍ أَوْ فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ أَوْ فِي الْأَرْضِ يَأْتِ بِهَا اللَّهُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَطِيفٌ خَبِيرٌ
“O my son! If it be (anything) equal to the weight of a grain of mustard seed, and though it be in a rock, or in the heavens or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth. Verily, Allah is Subtle, Well-Aware.
He also told him to establish prayer as it is the pillar of the deen, establishing the spiritual value.
يَا بُنَيَّ أَقِمِ الصَّلَاةَ وَأْمُرْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَانْهَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَاصْبِرْ عَلَىٰ مَا أَصَابَكَ ۖ إِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ عَزْمِ الْأُمُورِ
“O my son! perform prayer, enjoin (on people) Al-Ma’rûf , and forbid from Al-Munkar, and bear with patience whatever befalls you. Verily, these are some of the important commandments.
In his advising him to enjoin good and forbid evil, and having sabr with what comes to him as a result of doing his Fard, he is preparing his son and strengthening his resolve. He is thus establishing a moral and a spiritual value.
Finally, he warned his son against having bad manners with people, as these are shariah rules, hence he achieved building a moral value.
وَلَا تُصَعِّرْ خَدَّكَ لِلنَّاسِ وَلَا تَمْشِ فِي الْأَرْضِ مَرَحًا ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ كُلَّ مُخْتَالٍ فَخُورٍ
وَاقْصِدْ فِي مَشْيِكَ وَاغْضُضْ مِنْ صَوْتِكَ ۚ إِنَّ أَنْكَرَ الْأَصْوَاتِ لَصَوْتُ الْحَمِيرِ
“And turn not your face away from men with pride, nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily, Allah likes not any arrogant boaster. And show no arrogance in your walking, and lower your voice. Verily, the harshest of all voices is the braying of the ass.”
Children pick up these values from a variety of sources, according to the following stages:
1)      During the first seven years the source of the values is the family, as was explained by the Prophet (saw)
قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: كل مولود يولد على الفطرة فأبواه يهوادنه أو ينصرانه أو يمجسانه
The Messenger of Allah (saw) said “Everyone born is born on al-fitrah, his parents make him into a Jew, a Christian or a Magian”
During these years, the family has a great impact on the child, so if we did our job well then we give the society a good person, but if we are neglectful in any aspect, then we burden the society with another corrupted personality.
It is necessary during this stage that the child is brought up with a lot of positive comments, and no negativity. The child should not hear from the father “you are lazy”, “you are disorganised”, “you don’t understand”. If there is a need to condemn a behaviour, then it is only the action that should be blamed, not the child. “That was a bad action”, not “you are bad”. Child psychologists have observed that a child hears “no” nearly 150,000 times during our youth, but positive messages often do not reach 500.
2)      During the ages 7 to 14, more of the values are taken from the school and friends, hence the parents must remain constantly aware of the thoughts that their children are adopting from outside, challenging every dangerous idea or inclination. This may even include using the teachers and friends to help them address any matter that may need changing. Naturally during this stage, a boy will start to want more independence from the mother and the father will be a particularly important role model for him. It is essential that the parents do not see that their role has ended at this stage, now that the school takes over. Rather, they must continue all of their efforts to establish their child’s values on an Islamic basis. This is the stage for training and discipline and establishing prayer, fasting and making firm the aqeedah.
If they were at all neglectful in that, then they have become sinful
قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: ” كلكم راع وكلكم مسؤول عن رعيته والمرأة راعية في بيت زوجها وهي مسؤولة عن رعيتها…
The Messenger of Allah (saw) said “Each of you is a guardian and is responsible for those whom he is in charge of…a man is the guardian of his family and is responsible for those under his care…”
ويقول علي رضي الله عنه: لاعب ابنك سبعا وادبه سبعا وصاحبه سبعا ثم اتركه بعد ذلك
Ali (ra) said “Play with you children for seven (years), discipline him for seven (years), and be his companion for seven (years), then leave him after that”
So the first seven years are where the child learns the values through playing, the next seven are where he learns the values, concepts and beliefs through teaching and discipline.
3)      The last stage, from 14 to 21, is where they take their values mostly from the society. Sadly, many youth spend hours in front of the television, so end up adopting the values of their favourite actors or musicians. During this period, young adolescent male wants to be in the company of men. He desperately needs male role models to look up to, so parents must make sure that they influence his choice of companion, such that they are a positive influence and the father remains relevant in his son’s life.
These are some of the important matters that the father and mother should have discussion about and agreement on, in order to do justice to their child. Whenever possible, parents should encourage children to participate in making rules because it helps the child to obey his parents and encourages him not to resist.
In a narration that epitomises the duty of a father to his child. a man once came to ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab (ra), the second Khalifah of Islam, complaining of his sons’ disobedience to him. ‘Umar summoned the boy and spoke of his disobedience to his father and his neglect of his rights. The boy replied:
“O Amir al-Mu’minin! Hasn’t a child rights over his father?”
“Certainly”, replied ‘Umar.
“What are they, Amir al-Mu’minin?”
“That he should choose his mother, give him a good name and teach him the Book (the Qur’an).”
“O Amir al-Mu’minin! My father did nothing of this. My mother was a Magian (fire worshipper). He gave me the name of Ju’alaan (meaning dung beetle or scarab) and he did not teach me a single letter of the Qur’an.”
Turning to the father, ‘Umar said:
“You have come to me to complain about the disobedience of your son. You have failed in your duty to him before he has failed in his duty to you; you have done wrong to him before he has wronged you.”
7. Conclusion
The tarbiyah and upbringing of children is the duty and concern of every Muslim, not least the one who carries da’wah. This is a natural subject for the da’wah carrier, as the ummah feels for the plight of their children. We need to highlight the role of the state, the need to work for it, but not leave it there. We must give guidance on how to practically bring up kids in the West such that the new generation hold onto their Islamic identity. The West realises that many of the current youth are been lost to Islam and what they call extremism, hence they are focusing on corrupting our children at even younger ages in schools and mosques. The ummah needs to realise that the struggle to save our kids and the struggle for khilafah are interlinked, just as the West itself sees them as interlinked. We should not look at this subject solely from an individual perspective; rather this is a practical subject for ourselves and for our da’awah.
If we do well in raising our children, then we have produced distinguished Islamic personalities, applying Islam and carrying it to the world to gain the honour in this life and return as we were, the leading ummah in the world. We do not raise our children for the dunya alone, but to prepare them for the next life that contains their eternal abode and happiness. Just as we are careful to ensure our children’s happy future in the dunya, we must be more careful to divert them from the hellfire to the happiness of the next life.
Ustadh Yahya Abu Yousuf


Anonymous said…
jazakhallah khayr for the article, does anyone have views on starting young children on hifz at a young age, before 7? is this too much
Anonymous said…
ustaads will know if theyre ready at that age by their technique, you cant force it and there is no need

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