Herbert Hoover once quoted, “A boy has two jobs. One is just being a boy. The other is growing up to be a man.” This can be a journey filled with adventure; learning and much achievement, provided parents do their job well. It’s quite a formidable challenge but it’s undoubtedly worth it.
Role As Allah’s Servant
A man, who has a strong bond with Allah, can never fail as a great human being and a glorious believer. To him every intention made and action done is worship. He ensures that he never displeases his Rabb and when he makes a mistake, he hastens to amend it and ask for forgiveness. This is the believer we need to raise in our homes as Muslim parents.
Allah says in the Quran:”Verily, those who say: ‘Our Rabb is (only) Allah,’ and thereafter stand firm and straight on the Islamic Faith of Monotheism, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. Such shall be the dwellers of Jannah, abiding therein (forever), – a reward for what they used to do.” (Al-Ahqaf 46:13-14)
Role As A Son
Allah commands, “And we have enjoined on man to be good and dutiful to his parents…” (Al-Ankabut 29:8)
Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated, the Prophet (sa) said, “May he be disgraced! May he be disgraced! May he be disgraced, whose parents, one or both, attain old age during his lifetime, and he does not enter Jannah (by being dutiful to them). (Muslim)
Allah has commanded to show kindness towards parents many times in the Quran. Today, however we witness two extremes with regard to children. Some parents are far too demanding and expect a service beyond their child’s capacity in terms of time and attention. Conversely some parents do not want to take any help from their children in spite of their frail and weak state. Subsequently their children become oblivious to their duties and occupy themselves with their own pursuits in life.
We should maintain a healthy balance where we can allow our sons to serve us and earn a reward for it. Simultaneously parents should maintain their dignity and grace, providing them with love and guidance.
Role As A Brother
A good Muslim brother, may it be as a real brother at home, or as a brother of every member of the Muslim Ummah, will understand his duties. Brotherhood in faith is a bond that actually binds all Muslims regardless of blood relations.
Prophet Muhammad (sa) said, “A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs, whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomfort of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever screened a Muslim, Allah will screen him on the Day of Resurrection.” (Sahih Bukhari)
Role As A Husband
Allah commands Husbands with regard to their wives, “…and live with them honourably…” (An-Nisa 4:19).
Allah describes the marital relationship as, “…They are Libas (i.e. body cover, screen or Sakan) for you and you are the same for them…” (Al-Baqarah 2:187)
Parents should teach their sons to fulfill their role as a good husband. He should not just be a breadwinner but actively involve himself at home too. This can be done by providing time to his wife, taking care of her personal needs, communicating with her and helping her resolve any conflicts.
This is important to keep the institution of marriage intact and firm. A man who is happy at home stays away from many evils of the society. He is also more likely to deliver his rights to everyone else too if he is a good husband.
He should not be pulled like a rubber band in between his spouse and his parents. Both have essential rights and both should not be neglected. Especially in a troubled marriage, parents should never take sides and advise their sons to be patient and kind.
Role As A Father
Today’s materialistic struggle for more leaves little time for fathers to spend with their children. They may be able to pay bills, provide luxury and comfort to their kids but they are hardly around to spend any quality time with them, leave alone teach them a thing or two.
Teach your son to be a father rather than a visiting guest in the house. A son can learn much from his father in a man-to-man relationship. If his father provides the appropriate role model to him, many wrongs can be set right.
When Fatima (rta), came to visit Prophet (sa), he got up for her, took her by the hand, kissed her and made her sit where he was sitting; and when he went to visit her, she got up for him, took him by the hand, kissed him, and made him sit where she was sitting. (Abu Dawood)
This beautiful example teaches us three lessons: A good Muslim father appreciates daughters and loves them. He gives respect to his children and teaches them to respect him. He does not hesitate to show his love for his children.
Prophet (sa) said, “A father gives his child nothing better than a good education.” (Mishkat) This does not only mean academics meant to build up a career, but the norms of a cultured and decent living which is approved by Allah and His Messenger (sa).
Role As A Friend
As wise parents, we should always look for families supporting values that can offer meaningful friendships to our kids. Especially in cases of boys who spend considerable time outdoors. It is best to help our children grow friendships at school, Masaajid, social clubs etc before they reach their teens. Till such time kids idolize their parents and are more likely to listen to them. Talk to them about their friends; have them come over so you can observe their habits.
The worst mistake that any parent can make is to pay no attention to the company their son is keeping. Many times bad habits are brought home from bad companions due to peer pressure.
Prophet Muhammad (sa) said, “The example of a good companion and a bad companion is like that of the Musk-seller and the Blacksmith. As for the musk-seller, he may either give you some or sell you, or at least you enjoy a pleasant smell from him. As for the blacksmith, around him you may get your clothes burned, or have to sniff an offensive smell from him.” (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)
Role With Relatives
Our present life style generally gives preference to friends over relatives. However as responsible Muslim parents we must teach our sons the vital place of family relations in a believer’s life. Maintaining cordial relations and providing selfless support to relatives is our duty and their right.
The Prophet (sa) said, “O community of Muhammad, by Him Who has sent me with truth, Allah cannot accept the charity of those whose relatives are in want of his kindness and help, while he is distributing it among others, leaving them out. By Him in Whose power is my life, on the Day of Judgment Allah will not look at such a man.” (Tabrani)
The children are ordained not to severe ties with relatives even after the death of their parents.
A man came to Prophet (sa) and asked, “Messenger of Allah, is there any kindness left that I can do for my parents after their death?” The Prophet (sa) replied, “Yes. You can invoke blessings on them and forgiveness for them, carry out their final instructions after their death, join ties of relationship which are dependent on them, and honour their friends.” (Abu Dawood)
Role With The Fair Sex
Allah commands: “Tell the believing men to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things)…” (An-Nur 24:30)
He also says, “…Verily, the hearing, and the sight, and the heart, of each of those ones will be questioned (by Allah).”(Al-Isra 17:36)
Ibn Abbas (rta) reported, the Prophet (sa) said, “No one of you should meet a woman in privacy unless she is accompanied by a Mahram (a relative within the prohibited degrees).” (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)
Joking with our boys about girlfriends, permitting them to chat on the phone or internet with girls and encouraging them to mix up freely with females in parties or elsewhere, does it suit us as Muslim parents to follow such a course? Our sons will only learn to respect women if we train them to do so, otherwise they will always consider them as an object of fun and play.
Allah warns us in the Quran:”And know that your possessions and your children are but a trial, and that surely with Allah is a Mighty Reward.” (Al-Anfal 8:28)
Once the Messenger of Allah (sa) was delivering a speech. Meanwhile, (his little grandsons) Hasan and Hussain (rta) arrived, stumbling and wearing red shirts. He came down from the pulpit, took them, and ascended it with them. Then he said, “Allah has said truly: ‘Your property and your children are only a trial…'” (At-Taghabun 64:15)… Afterwards he resumed the speech. (Abu Dawood)
We must make every possible effort to bring up good believing kids and leave the rest to Allah. Along side we can pray earnestly, “…Our Lord, grant us spouses and off springs who will be the comfort of our eyes…” (Al-Furqan 25:74)
True Stories Of Exemplary Mothers
Many years ago in Uzbekistan, a baby boy was born blind. His mother, a strong Mu’minah, did not lose faith in the Power of Allah to cure him. She persistently prayed for her son’s sight. Within a few years the boy was cured.
She was widowed, the boy an orphan. She travelled with him to Makkah so that he could receive Islamic Education. She arranged that he attend the circles of the scholars. Consequently, he began excelling in the science of Hadeeth. He travelled to distant villages in search of the most authentic sayings of the Prophet (sa).He would pray two Rakahs before accepting a Hadeeth. His mother named him Muhammad ibn Isma’il. And many of us know him today because of the book he compiled, Saheeh Al-Imam Al-Bukhari!
In another land, in another time, chilly Baghdad winds would wake up another boy. Much before Fajr, his mother would bundle him in warm shawls and escort him through the darkness, making sure he reached the Masjid safely. After Fajr, she would wait for him as he read Hadeeth to the biggest scholars of the land. Then, long after the sun had come up, she would meet him outside and together they would walk home. She was a strong mother indeed, for her son grew up to become an Imam of the Muslim Ummah, named Ahmad ibn Hanbal.
Common Pitfalls To Avoid
- Considering boys to be superior.
- Forgoing lessons in morality
- Exempting them from household work.
- Turning a blind eye to questionable behaviour.
- Turning over your authority to them.
- Encouraging them excessively to be ambitious.
- Raising them as selfish and inactive members of the community.
- Considering every choice of theirs as private, personal and final.