“O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones…” (Tahrim 66:6)
This Ayah should be engraved into the minds of every person who is fortunate enough to have kids. Kids are a trust given to us by the Almighty (swt) and we have been given certain instructions about how to discharge that trust. Parents are not only responsible for giving their child the best education money can buy, they must back it up with setting an example that exemplifies correct moral, social and economic responsibility and behaviour. The true value of struggling to give your child a true Islamic based upbringing is demonstrated in the following Hadeeth:
“Upon death, man’s deeds will (definitely) stop except for three deeds…pious righteous and God-fearing child who continuously prays to Allah, the Almighty, for the soul of his parents.” (Muslim)
Islam recognizes the family as a basic social unit, says Dr. Arshed. Thus, the parent-child relationship is one of the most important relationships in Islam, and as in any relationship, both parties must have some rights and obligations to maintain it.
According to a famous religious university in Pakistan Jamiah Binoria, our children have the following rights:
Protection of the Lineage
This single fact encompasses most social obligations parents have towards a child. Unless you are certain that a child belongs to you, a person is not motivated to provide for the child’s well-being. One is not inspired to raise the child up properly, grant him the best education or make her welfare one’s concern. The right to be fed, clothed and protected until maturity as well as the right to be groomed mentally, and morally, and to be molded to develop a pleasing personality all rest on the fact that the child concerned belongs to you.
The Prohibition of Denying Paternity
No explanation is really required here; the parent simply cannot deny a child belongs to him/her.
The Prohibition of Legal Adoption (Surah Ahzab 33:37-40)
Harsh as it sounds, this does not mean a Muslim family cannot look after and raise a child that is not biologically theirs. The restriction is that the child, male in particular, cannot carry the family name. He does not have any of the legal rights granted to biological children including a share in the inheritance. We find proof of this in the Prophet’s (sa) life in the case of Zayd bin Haritha (rtam).
Adopting a Child to Rear and to Educate
Islam does not limit knowledge to the kind gained by reading books, but includes moral and religious guidance also. It means the healthy rounded growth of child’s personality. Providing funding does not cut it. Parents must assist during homework and other activities. Parents should sacrifice their own comfort and social activities to take interest in children’s studies as well as grooming religious, moral and ethical habits into the child.
Islam prohibits artificial insemination if the donor of the semen is not the husband. This is done in order to protect the family unit. Using semen from a man other than the husband amounts to adultery.
Attributing the Child to a Man Other Than the Child’s Father
Just as Islam prohibits a father to deny his paternity of his own child without a justifiable reason, it likewise forbids the child to claim a lineage other than his own.
“And kill not your children…” (Al-Isra 7:31)
With so many safeguards to the lineage, Islam strictly prohibits abortion, due to any reason other than a fatal risk to the mother’s life. Simply put, the child has a right to live. The child also has the right to a name that symbolizes that she is a Muslim.
Equal Treatment of Children
In Al-Mughni, vol. 5, p. 605, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal states that special treatment of a child is permissible due to a need, a handicap, blindness, etc. However, the Prophet (sa) denied bearing witness to a transaction where only one child was being given wealth (Muslim). Equality and fairness, is the essence of rearing children.
Observing the Limits of Allah (swt) Regarding Inheritance
It is not permissible for a father/mother to deny their biological children a rightful share in the inheritance.
Not only are we Muslims living in an Islamic country and should spearhead the cause for children’s rights, but Pakistan is also a signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Let us fulfill our obligations to Allah, and validate the oath we have taken. Ameen.
While writing this article, one question kept nagging my mind, why are parents’ rights mentioned in the Quran, but not children’s. Allah (swt) even intercedes when Luqman is giving advice to his son, on behalf of parents. Then it struck me, children’s rights are an instinct, they are an intrinsic quality within us. We need no guidance for it, no prodding to love our children. Allah in His sublime wisdom has instilled so much tenderness in parents’ hearts there is no need to verbally reinforce it. Subhan’Allah.