Cool Fathers, Super Sons!

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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?

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Lives and Legacies of Fathers and Sons

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“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” (Pablo Picasso) But how do people find their gifts? Allah (swt) inspires hearts through different means. Some are motivated simply by observing the magnificent signs of Allah (swt) in His creations. Others are guided by the turn of events in their lives. Yet for some it is the role models around them that lead them to a higher purpose.

When we explore the men in our history, almost all of them are found to be leading their kith and kin to higher lives. It was not their mission to earn careers and leave behind monetary legacies. It was their centre of focus to raise a child who was God-fearing, chivalrous, and intelligently serving the community. And many of them naturally began with their own sons, students, or subjects. Following are some incredible stories and incidents:

  1. Motivation for memorization

Ibrahim Ibn Adham narrated that his father offered him one Dirham to memorize one Hadeeth as a reward.

  1. Naseehah from a child

A boy came to Caliph Umar Ibn Abdul-Aziz (rtam) with a group and started talking. Umar Ibn Abdul-Aziz asked (rtam): “Is there any elder person in your group?” The boy replied: “A man is known by his heart and tongue not by his age. Otherwise, you would not have been the Khalifah.” Umar Ibn Abdul-Aziz (rtam) agreed: “You are correct. Please proceed.” This boy was eleven years old. At the end of the conversation, Umar (rtam) said: “Give me some Naseeha.” The boy did.

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Surah Yusuf Teaches Fatherhood

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Prophet Yusuf (as) was approximately seven years old when he shared with his father a dream he saw. The Quran narrates it: “(Remember) when Yusuf said to his father: ‘O my father! Verily, I saw (in a dream) eleven stars and the sun and the moon – I saw them prostrating themselves to me.’” (Yusuf 12:4) The above Ayah indicates the trust and rapport between father and son. Prophet Yusuf (as) confides in his father.

The Quran has beautifully described the family structure using a parable. The sun has been personified as a father. The moon is like a mother. And the eleven stars are like their children.

If we consider their roles and relationship with each other, we can understand that the sun (father) is the source of light. The moon (mother) draws its strength from the sun. Hence, she stays spiritually and emotionally fulfilled. The father defines the success of the family.

“He (the father) said: ‘O my son! Relate not your vision to your brothers, lest they should arrange a plot against you. Verily Shaitan (Satan) is to man an open enemy!’” (Yusuf 12:5) Prophet Yaqoob (as) advises his son Yusuf (as) not to reveal his dream to his siblings. He is aware of their inherently jealous nature. As a father, he understands that all kids are not alike. They are likely to err. If a prophet’s sons can make mistakes, how can we expect ours not to?

After informing his son about sibling rivalry, the father also warns him about the role of Shaitan, which is to sow seeds of enmity and break up families.

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Weekends with Daddy

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  1. Sports

This varies from simple skipping to more emotional cricket matches. We enjoy football, racing, and anything that gets the blood rushing and giggles going. Just for dads to be there rolling in the grass or competing like kids builds treasured memories for children. My 14-year-old son very proudly shared with his teacher at school: “My dad and I try to outplay each other on Sundays. I let him win. You should see his face.”

  1. Brain teasers

Board games, verbal math word problems, spellathons, Dua contests, Abacus, riddles, general knowledge trivia, science or geography quizzes, and so on. These are great when you are either on the road or cooped up at home with little to do. This is a parent’s smart way of teaching stuff without teaching it. And kids love to be able to prove their mastery over their favourite areas of knowledge and expertise. It is a big deal for them to teach their mom and dad. Our six-year-old has been giving me and my husband Qaidah lessons and enjoys it tremendously.

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Connecting with Children – Handy Tips for Dads

In today’s globalized society, we often see that upon entering teenaged years, kids become strangers to their parents, especially the father. This was not the case in the past, as demonstrated by the relationship between Prophet Yusuf (as) and his father. We see that even as a youth he confided his secrets to him and came to him for advice. Why are our teenagers ignoring their fathers today? Perhaps it is due to some deficiencies in the ways fathers connected with their kids in their early years.

Listen to Them

Perhaps the most important factor is for a father to listen to his children. He must try to understand their psychology and unique personality. He should endeavor to understand what motivates and discourages his child. By doing so, the child will develop a trust for his father. He will see him as someone he can turn to for comfort, advice, guidance, support and empathy.

Play with Them

As many of us grow old, we lose the zest for life that is a vital characteristic in children. Fathers should attempt to regenerate that enthusiasm, while interacting with their children. While visiting a public park in New Jersey, I read a sign, which said: “Families that play together stay together!” Play can be traditional games like Oonch Neech, Baraf Pani, Aanch Macholi, four corners, tag or regular sports, or such board games as chess, scrabble, snakes and ladders, etc. By playing with children, fathers are strengthening their relationships with them.

Teach Them

Part of considering a father as a source of knowledge and wisdom comes when the father regularly engages in teaching children. He should not only help them with homework, but read to them beneficial books, and take them to museums, science centres, libraries, book fairs, planetariums, zoos and botanical gardens. When the child asks him for something he does not know, he should admit his ignorance and research the topic with his child using references and the internet. Among the subjects he teaches, he should not neglect religious subjects, as most answers to difficult questions that a teenager goes through are found in our beautiful Deen.

Take Them Out

Fathers should take children outdoors to beaches or parks on a weekly basis. This not only refreshes the children, who are cooped up at home throughout the week, but also makes them realize the handiwork of our Creator all around us. By sharing their amazement of marvelling at flowers, birds, trees, sea, sand, shells, stones, fish, animals and changing seasons, a father implicitly emphasizes his natural relationship with his children.

Worship with Them

Lastly, a father should establish worship with his family.  He should regularly take his children to Masjid for prayers, and make them participate in the Friday prayers, Takbeerat of the Eids, the Taraweeh prayers, Qiyam al-Lail, Salat ut-Tasbeeh, lectures and Halaqas. He should sometimes pray at home as the Imam of his family. By doing so, a father sends the message to his family that although he is in charge, he is also ultimately answerable to Allah (swt).

We do not know what destiny Allah (swt) has written for each child, but by taking the above steps, fathers will be assuring themselves that they have attempted to fulfill their responsibilities in the child’s early years. The only recourse left after that to fathers is to make supplications for their children, as the supplication of a father for his child is accepted.

The Prophet (sa) and his Daughters


Allah (swt) says in the Quran: “Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad (sa)) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes for (the meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.” (Al-Ahzab 33:21)

“And We have sent you (O Muhammad (sa)) not but as a mercy for the Alamin (mankind, Jinns and all that exists)….” (Al-Anbiya 21:107)

Without doubt, one of the greatest gifts Allah (swt) has given to the believers is perfect guidance, which Muslims can follow with the assurance that it will not lead to a dead end. This guidance is the last revelation – the Noble Quran – and the way of Prophet Muhammad (sa), who practically showed us the religion of Allah Almighty (swt) and explained it in great detail, as is mentioned by Abu Zarrah (rtam): “When the Prophet of Allah left us, we had all the knowledge (even) about every bird which flies above us.”(Ibn Hibban)

One of the most important aspects of every person’s life is the relationship with one’s children. Let us see what our Prophet’s (sa) conduct was as a father.

According to one of the opinions, the Prophet (sa) had three sons: Al-Qasim, Abdullah (At-Tahir) and Ibrahim – and four daughters: Zaynab, Ruqayyah, Umm Kulthoom and Fatimah, whom he called Az-Zahra (the flower). The daughters outlived his sons and they were from his first wife, Khadijah (rtaf). It must also be mentioned that most reports about the Prophet’s (sa) relationship with his daughters date back to the Madinah period – the time, when all of them were of full age and already married. This is due to the fact that most knowledge about his private life came through his wives, all of which, except Khadijah (rtaf), he married either shortly before Hijrah or after it. Most reports came through Aisha (rtaf), who has narrated more than two thousand Ahadeeth, which constitute the fourth largest source from among the Sahabahs.

Pondering over the reason Allah (swt) gave to the Prophet (sa) so many daughters that outlived his sons, the scholars are of the opinion that it was so in order to show that he did not rely on his sons, as was a custom among the Arabs of the time, and in order to confront the Jahiliyah tradition of hating daughters.

The Prophet (sa) was overjoyed about the birth of his daughters, unlike the neglectful attitude Arabs had towards their daughters. This proved that there is no reason to worry about the birth of daughters, and that the Rizq of every person is with Allah (swt). The Rizq does not decrease because of the number of children or the birth of daughters. The Prophet (sa) also has said that a person who will raise two righteous daughters will stand next to him on the Day of Judgement. (Muslim)

All of the Prophet’s (sa) daughters were born before his prophethood; therefore, when the command of Allah (swt) came (“And warn your tribe (O Muhammad (sa)) of near kindred.” (Ash-Shuara 26:214)), the Prophet (sa) ascended the mount of Safa and called his tribe to Islam: “Oh, the people of Quraish, ransom yourselves – nothing else will help you in front of Allah (swt),” and also his daughters: “Oh, Fatimah, the daughter of Muhammad, ask me how much you wish of my money but it will not help you in front of Allah (swt).” (Bukhari) All of his daughters accepted Islam and later migrated to Madinah.

The Prophet (sa) did not delay the marriages of his daughters, choosing for them husbands who were known for their wisdom and sharp mind (like Abu al-As ibn al-Rabia, to whom he gave his eldest daughter Zaynab), or their Iman and shyness (like future Khalifah Uthman ibn Affan – a man in front of whom even angels felt shy and to whom he gave two of his daughters: Ruqayyah and after her death, Umm Kulthoom). After the death of his second daughter, the Prophet (sa) gave a brief description of this righteous man: “If I had a third daughter, I would give her to Uthman in marriage.” (Al-Asbahani)

He gave his youngest daughter Fatimah (rtaf) in marriage to Ali ibn Abu Talib (rtam), who stood at the forefront in almost all of the important battles of the Muslims. The Prophet (sa) respected his daughters and never forced husbands of his choice upon them. He always sought their opinion. After Ali (rtam) had asked for Fatimah’s (rtaf) hand in marriage, he informed her about it in a subtle way: “Ali mentioned you.” Fatimah’s shy silence was a sign of her acceptance, and they were married. (Ibn Sad)

The Messenger of Allah (sa) tried to help in solving the marital problems of his daughters and encouraged happiness and harmony among the spouses. One day, having come to visit his youngest daughter, the Prophet (sa) did not find Ali (rtam) there. When he found out that they had had a small marital argument, the Prophet (sa) went in search of him and found Ali (rtam) in the Masjid, where he was sleeping on the floor. Carefully clearing away the soil from Ali’s (rtam) face, he woke him up, in order to help the couple make up. (Bukhari)

When the Prophet (sa) saw the necklace of his deceased wife, Khadijah (rtaf), which was sent from Makkah by his daughter Zaynab as ransom for her husband, Abu al-As, who had not yet converted to Islam, he could not remain indifferent. He asked the permission of Muslims to release his daughter’s husband and let him go back to her to Makkah. He received their permission. (Abu Dawood)

When the Muslim army went out for their first decisive battle against the disbelievers of Makkah, the Prophet (sa) left Uthman ibn Affan (rtam) in Madinah with his daughter Ruqayyah (rtaf), who was ill at the time, thus showing by this action that caring for relatives is of utmost importance in any situation.

Yet, at the same time, he did not give his daughters any privileges, which would raise them above other Muslims. He said about his youngest daughter, who resembled him like no one else in the way she spoke and walked: “I swear by Allah, if Fatimah, the daughter of Muhammad, would steal, I would cut off her arm.” (Bukhari)

One day, the Prophet (sa) noticed Fatimah (rtaf) entering his home. Since there were guests in the Prophet’s (sa) home, she left straight away. The next day, he went to visit her, in order to inquire why she had come. Fatimah (rtaf) did not say anything, but Ali (rtam) explained that he had requested her to ask from him a servant. Due to the hard work, the skin on her hands had become very rough; due to sweeping the floor, her clothes were dirty. To this, the Prophet (sa) answered: “Oh Fatimah, fear Allah (swt) and fulfil your duties in front of your Lord by doing the household chores. But when you go to sleep, recite Subhan’Allah thirty-three times, Alhumdulillah thirty-three times and Allahu Akbar thirty-four times, together one hundred, and this will be better for you than having a servant in your home.” (Abu Dawood)

The Prophet (sa) did not try to gift the Dunya to his daughters. He always pointed to the importance of the Akhira, especially when there was a choice between the two. Shaykh Ibn Taymiyah has analyzed that the one who will recite the above mentioned Dhikr before sleeping will not be overcome by tiredness, because the Prophet (sa) presented it as a solution to this particular complaint. It should also be mentioned that the Prophet (sa) himself, being the best among people, never looked down upon household chores and always helped his wives. This was narrated by his youngest wife Aisha (rtaf), when she was asked about what the Prophet (sa) would do while he was at home: “He did house chores together with his family, but when the time for Salah arrived, he went to the Masjid.” (Bukhari)

May Allah (swt) help us appreciate and emulate the Prophet’s (sa) example and reap unaccountable benefits resulting from it. Ameen.