Do distinguished fathers grow out of the soil? What is the formula of extraordinary fatherhood? And how is it achieved? Here’s how it all begins.
Selection criteria for the right husband
The Prophet (sa) said: “If anyone comes to you and you’re pleased with their Deen (religious following) and Khuluq (character), marry them! If you don’t, there will be corruption and great harm on the Earth.” (Tirmidhi)
There’s no mention of the man’s academic excellence, income, bank balance, size of family, or looks – the criteria we feel is exceedingly important today when marrying off our girls.
What fills the scales of standard is a man’s comprehension and commitment to the application of his Deen; a man who stands out in terms of a lofty character, as he will have the final say in the house, establishing the same benchmark for the rest of the family. Being the Ameer (leader) of his family, he is one level above his wife; hence, besides having Taqwa (God-consciousness), he is also required to demonstrate high mannerisms.
Living by the Nikah
The Khutbah-e-Nikah (marriage sermon) states: “O you who believe! Fear Allah (by doing all that He has ordered and by abstaining from all that He has forbidden) as He should be feared. [Obey Him, be thankful to Him, and remember Him always], and die not except in a state of Islam (as Muslims) with complete submission to Allah.” (Al-Imran 3:102)
Multiple disputes can be resolved when spouses check themselves against the above command of Taqwa and complete submission to Allah (swt). This Ayah specifies what the state of a believer should be at the time of death.
“O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam) and from him (Adam) He created his wife (Hawwa) and from them both He created many men and women; and fear Allah through Whom you demand (your mutual rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you.” (An-Nisa 4:1)
This Ayah clarifies what should a believer’s relationship be with his Rabb (Lord).
“O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth. He will direct you to righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His messenger (sa), he has indeed achieved a great achievement.” (Al-Ahzab 33:70-71)
This Ayah demands the kind of communication a believer should have with the others. If the above three conditions are met, Allah (swt) will take care of the rest for His slave.
The role of a father
When applying their parenting skills, fathers generally refer first to common sense, next to culture, and period. How many of them ever read about their roles as fathers in the Quran and the Sunnah? Do they invest time in themselves to become improved fathers and better deliver their roles?
Born to be wild?
Educationists have coined some amusing terms and concepts. For example, all boys are wild! Now every parent and teacher can safely hide behind this label, which justifies the ill or inadequate performance of boys.
The Quran states: “Then He showed him what is wrong for him and what is right for him. Indeed he succeeds who purifies his own self. And indeed he fails who corrupts his own self.” (Ash-Shams 91:8-10)
Inclination to corruption and piety is built in the human model. But it is judged upon at reaching puberty. Until puberty, the child has no score in his account. It is only the parents who are being rewarded or punished.
If a boy who has not attained puberty sins, he cannot be punished. He can be reprimanded for training. He can be punished for not offering Salah, but not for anything else. Parents use physical beating for everything, ranging from poor eating habits to poor academic performance. Here we become accountable for breaking the law.
Son’s Tarbiyah – mother’s duty or father’s?
Interestingly, in the Quran, it is always the fathers who are talking to the sons. It’s a man to man conversation. A boy is unconsciously inspired by his father’s character. This is why the earlier Hadeeth mentions noble character as a requirement for the future husband. A mother can be a role model only until a certain age of a boy. It is the father who has to train the son as he matures.
How do fathers and sons address each other?
Here are some examples from the Quran:
“O my father!” (Yusuf 12:4) “Ya Abaati” denotes deep love and respect in Arabic from a son for his father.
“He the father said: “O my son!” (Yusuf 12:5) “Ya Bunaiyya” denotes extra love and regard in Arabic from the father to his son.
“And (remember) when Luqman said to his son when he was advising him: ‘O my son!’” (Luqman 31:13) “Ya Bunaiyya” again as an expression of love and respect.
How do you call your son as a father? This also states the bond you share between both of you. It partly defines the closeness and reality of your relationship.
What counts when raising boys?
Allah (swt) has created men to bear physical hardships and take on mental challenges. This is a resource for them to function efficiently in their respective roles. Similarly, with boys, you need to stress more on efforts and less on abilities. Effort is what your son can control. Ability is what he is born with. Set positive expectations that are doable. That is: expect him to perform high and support him on the way. Do not demand him to scale Mount K2 with no prior training. A plant cannot grow if it is not properly planted and watered. Every growth requires ground work.
Setting realistic goals
Spend two quality hours with him every day. Don’t be an evil tyrannical demon – set realistic and positive goals for him. Break larger goals into smaller ones. Do not expect instant giant leaps; instead, grow together with your son. Practice Sabrun Jameel (beautiful patience) upon failures and poor performances. Maintain the right balance between discipline and fun. Be a keen empathetic listener who listens to understand not just to correct, judge, or discipline. Keep communication open so that your son can come to you and discuss anything for guidance. A young man came to the Prophet (sa) to ask if he could commit Zina (adultery)? Can you imagine your son asking you a question like that? Does he have faith in you? Do you have a rapport so strong that he will not confide his feelings in anyone but you?
Should a father improve too? The answer is ‘yes’! A father must be ambitious to grow together with his son – only then he can appreciate his son’s daily struggles and avoid sermonizing that disrespects his son’s pain. The idea is to perform one’s personal best every day, in order to meet positive expectations, without any strain on anyone. The design of your family life should be such that each member is encouraged to invest in himself or herself.
Where are you living: in the courage zone or the comfort zone?
Identify your fears
Ask yourself “What do I fear?” In which particular situation do I feel reluctant to trust my son? Is it because of my past experiences with my son, as in case of Prophet Yaqoob (as), who forbade Prophet Yusuf (as) to share his divine dream with his older siblings? Are these fears realistic and justifiable?
Rebuilding trust in each other
Begin with Taubah (asking forgiveness of Allah (swt)). Now your Lord will place Khair (goodness) in your efforts to regain your son’s trust. And in case he breaks your trust, do the same and start over. Let your son know: “It hurts me more to know you didn’t tell the truth than to learn of the mistake you made.”
Trust changes the energy between two people. As fathers, you are the living Tafseer of the Quran and Sunnah. Nothing builds self-confidence more than your trust in your child. If you trust your son, he will communicate faster, collaborate sooner, and create more.
Common pitfalls to avoid
Never make your son’s age an excuse for his irresponsible behaviour. He needs age-appropriate preparation at every stage of his life. Boys do get moody because of certain physical changes in their maturing bodies; however, that is the time for parents to instill positive habits, such as self-restraint.
Studies show that boys tend to behave in a way that matches the expectations of their parents.
Let boys compete and fail, if they have to. Competitions teach them that there are others better than them. They learn to own a temporary setback. They also learn that everyone can be good at something.
Never lose your composure, even if you feel anger or fear. Stay calm in difficult and tense situations. That builds confidence in your son to approach you when a storm breaks out in his life.
A man came to Umar (rtam) and complained: “My child is disobedient.” Umar (rtam) called the boy and asked him the reason. The boy probed: “Isn’t it the right of a boy that his father should give him a good mother, good name, and good education?” Umar (rtam) answered: “Yes, it is.” The boy continued: “My father didn’t do any of it.” Umar (rtam) turned to the father and addressed him: “You have done bad to your child before he did bad to you.”
Allah (swt) has decreed Rizq (blessings and resources) for your son. But you are answerable for his Tarbiyah (upbringing). Similarly, you will determine the style of your parenting. Will it be rule based or random?