Parenting: An Islamic Perspective
The feeling of wanting a child is something that is natural, necessary and a very basic part of human life.
At a certain point of reaching adulthood, the desire to become a parent intensifies, and as the psyche develops, so does the physical body in preparation for this journey.
The desire often increases until an emptiness is felt, once a child is born this void is then filled. A new generation is born, and one of the the biggest responsibilities has then been taken upon by a person.
Unfortunately, not many people actually consider at a deeper level what it means to become a parent.
The only reason by which a couple should embark upon the immense responsibility of having a child is if they can give the child a stable home. Life can change over time, but when considering whether to have a child or not this should be a minimum requirement.
Perhaps as importantly, no couple should have a child simply because they would like to have a baby, if someone wants to bring a pure soul into the world then the child should be given the respect it deserves by giving it due consideration. A couple should only have a child if they want to raise it for the sake of Allah, if they want this child to spread the name of our Lord to everyone it meets and die as one of the righteous.
It has become common place to have children to “fix” a marriage. Couples experiencing marital problems often believe that raising a child together will help bring them closer together. For those who have experienced the difficulties of pregnancy, labour and the intense trials of a newborn baby, will instantly recognise what a fallacy this idea is. For two people to become closer, they need time and good communication in order to deal with the issues at hand. Nine months of pregnancy and then the following years with a newborn baby will only create further pressure and distance between the couple. Parents need to be a strong unit from the beginning.
Parents who have children to fix their relationship usually go their separate ways at some stage, leaving a child without a stable home in which it had the right to be raised. Alternatively, the parents stay together for the sake of the child; the child is then raised in a home where there is usually little or no communication between the parents, let alone love. This is not an environment which is beneficial to the child. The child was not given the consideration and the respect it deserved from the beginning, and will now have to suffer, perhaps for life because of the irresponsible and selfish actions of the parents.
By having a child solely for the sake of Allah means the parent is mentally equipped to know what it means to conceive and raise the child in a manner which takes care to do justice to the child and to the ummah as a whole; to spread the name of our Lord, and to live and die as one of the righteous.
Spending time with the child
As the Prophet (Sallahu’alayhi wa sallam) illustrated “All of you are shepherds and each of you is responsible for his flock.” [Agreed upon]
The shepherd does not merely push his flock to one side waiting for them to return at the end of the day, he does not hope that they will find their own way or look to anyone else to guide them. The shepherd accepts responsibility and constantly guides his own flock.
This is exactly what every parent should be doing with their child.
The parents should be involved in every aspect of a child’s life, concentrating on the child’s internal and external development. The parent needs to constantly refine the character of the child.
It should be known that parenting is a science, every interaction, recognition, praise, and discipline will combine to form a part of that child’s character. Therefore, it is imperative that parents reflect and ensure their interactions with the child result in positive characteristics developing in their children.
Many parents send their children to school, wait for them to arrive home and then hurry them back out to the madrassas. After which, they are left to roam the streets. Any other spare time is spent between relative’s houses and more time on the streets.
This is clearly not the way to raise a righteous child and this is not the time, love and respect that the child requires to develop into a healthy balanced person. In order to develop a deep love and friendship with the child, a parent must devote their time and attention towards the child.
The fundamental aim of every parent is built upon the same foundations; every parent must be the number one person in that child’s life. The person that the child looks up to and wants to be like. Every parent must ensure they are the child’s best friend.
Teaching children their deen
A certain mentality seems to have evolved regarding Madrassas; parents often feel as though they are fulfilling their Islamic obligations by sending a child to a Masjid. They feel that a child will learn and develop their religion by attending a madrassa for a couple of hours each day. This is the extent of the Islamic education that the children receive; nothing else is done at home.
What parents must realise is, the children will usually repeat the same verses again for that two hour period and then proceed to another set of verses the next day. The child is not being moulded around the deen, they are not developing the Islamic personality from reciting repeatedly.
In order to develop the Islamic personality, children need to know and understand what Allah has said to them, they need to know and love the Prophet (sallallahu’alayhi wa sallam) and see the sacrifices that he made to bring this deen to the world.
It should be clear to any parent that this is not taught in a madrassa and it is not the job of the madrassas to teach and mould the children into pious Muslims- this is the job of each and every parent. The parents should be teaching the children daily, both in a literal sense and in terms of their character. Teaching does not infer the basic verbal explanations that most parents give to their children, this should be a full, comprehensive and progressive study taught by the parents.
Having to teach the children should be a drive in of itself; in order to teach, the parent themselves must have the required knowledge and indeed this is a pre-requisite of this religion. The parents need to be actively involved in studying the deen in order to be able to teach their children.
Children often seem to spend more time with relatives than the parents themselves. Due to the minimal involvement of the parents in their lives, a weak bond is often formed with the children.
The children grow up lost, without that natural bond to the parents that they so desperately require. And it is only the parents that can give them this bond. This is the job that they took upon themselves the day they conceived that child and one that they must take responsibility for.
Other relatives assume the roles of parents and relationships become diluted, the difference between the relatives and the parents becomes minimal. Relatives assume roles that are not naturally theirs, they lose their place in the family structure and conflicts occur.
Children are often mirrors of their own parents and environments. They absorb their surroundings and become a product of their experiences. The parents have the right and indeed must exercise the right of controlling and filtering continuously this environment and ensure they keep their children close.
The children can then enjoy family and friends from a healthy distance; with everyone in their own place, the parent’s role is preserved in its correct place.
If children are exhibiting bad characteristics such as arrogance, disobedience, showing off and aggression then it is imperative these traits are recognised and removed from a child before it’s too late. Once a child is formed, these characteristics will become a core part of their character, and then it may be too late.
Children have been created pure and upon the fitrah, therefore they should not be exhibiting negative behavioural traits. Parents often speak of how a child has had certain negative characteristics since they were a child; however this is down to the parenting as opposed to any innate disposition towards certain behaviour that the child was born with.
These negative characteristics usually arise as a result of spoiling the children, or allowing others to do the same. Love needs to be shown to children in a beneficial manner, one that encourages love and appreciation. Spoiling children encourages arrogance and other negative traits such as anger and showing off.
When children require discipline it must be done consistently and fairly. It is unjust upon a child to allow them to do something one day and then to discipline them for the same thing another day. Parents must set clear and consistent boundaries.
Disciplining a child does not necessitate making life dull and without fun for the child. Parents and children can enjoy their interactions in ways which strengthen bonds, create love and most importantly harmony and a healthy understanding of boundaries and goals.
Many adults seem to have character issues, usually arrogance, insecurity and showing off. These traits seem to be prevalent in most people. If an analysis into the root cause of these issues was conducted, it would be found that in almost every instance these issues began in childhood and have become engrained into some aspect of the person’s character.
Those small children who need the time and attention will at some point become adults. The job of every parent is to ensure that these children carry the light of this deen wherever they go as responsible muslims of this world.
As the Prophet (sallahu’alayhi wa sallam) said “whoever starts a good thing and is followed by others, will have his own reward and a reward equal to that of those who follow him, without it detracting from their reward in any way. Whoever starts a bad thing and is followed by others, will bear the burden of his own sin and a burden equal to that of those who follow him, without it detracting from their burden in any way.” (Reported by at Tirmidhi who said it was a saheeh hasan hadeeth)
If children are roaming the streets and grow into people who commit crime or other bad deeds, then a parent should know that if they have not fulfilled their obligations in parenting then they may carry the burden of the bad actions of their children.
Baring the burden of personal actions will be more than enough on a day when all people will be confronted by their deeds, having to bare the burden of others deeds should be something every parent desperately wants to avoid. The gathering of bad deeds would be combined with the abject misery of failure as a parent, knowing that the child has turned out to be a spreader of corruption, rather than goodness.
Hence parents need to genuinely reflect on what they are offering their children; it is not merely the childhood that is in the hands of the parent, possibly the child’s akhira which in turn could affect their own.
Parents in Old Age
The old age, “you reap what you sow” becomes ever more appropriate once the parents reach old age. Parents now after a long life rightfully expect the children to now take care of them and treat them with respect; this right is given to the parents by Allah:
“And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honour.” (Al-Isra, 23)
And again Allah states:
“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.” (Luqman, 14)
The thanks are given to Allah and then to the parents, this izzah given to the parents is something that only comes from the deen of Allah. Every parent should therefore know and understand that if their child is grateful to their Lord, the one who has Created them and Sustained them, then he will be grateful to them.
The parents will indeed reap what they sow, if they worked hard to bring this child close to their Lord, then they shall see the fruits of that work when they require it most.
Success and ultimate salvation only lies in following Allah’s commands, in fearing Him alone and raising our children to the best of our ability to be leaders of this Ummah, to be of those who are indeed mindful and thankful towards the Most High.
All parents must reflect on the way, in which they are raising their children, the state of Muslim children is indeed indicative upon the parenting they are receiving. Much time and effort is required in this area, and we beseech The Most High for ease.
May Allah forgive us all, and enable us to be the kind of parents this deen demands of us.
“Our Lord! Forgive me and my parents, and (all) the believers on the Day when the reckoning will be established.”(Ibrahim, 41)