When Allah grants us parenthood, He also gives us an enormous responsibility.
Loads of books are being written about the up bringing of children. Various theories are put up from time to time, but for a Muslim the best example is in the life of the Prophet (sa). Now let us understand some basic responsibilities as a parent.
To choose a good life partner
Only a good Muslim woman who knows her responsibilities as a believer can bring up children as good Muslims. So when a Muslim man marries he must first consider this quality. The Prophet (sa) said,” A woman may be married for four reasons: Beauty, wealth, family lineage and faith. So marry a woman of faith.” (Abu Dawood)
Similarly, children need a good Muslim father to have a correct upbringing, so this aspect should be thought of too, and just materialistic concerns are not enough. Think about it, do we not first check the soil in which we plant a seed?
To give our children a good name:
Since a person’s name is a pivotal part of his identity, much emphasis has been placed on selection of the best suitable name for a newborn child. The Prophet (sa) said, “On the day of Resurrection, you will be called by your names and by your father’s name. So give yourselves a good name.” (Abu Dawood)
Today we are prone to selecting names that are unique or sweet sounding. It is astounding to know that even parents sometimes have no clue to the meaning of their child’s name. It is a child’s right to be given a name that personifies the character of a strong believer.
To follow Sunnahs of the Prophet (sa) when a child is born:
These Sunnahs are not obligatory but are highly recommended:
A) Reciting the Adhan in the baby’s ear
B) Tahneek (initial feeding of the child at the hands of someone pious)
C) Tasmiya (naming)
D) Aqiqah (sacrifice for the new born / shaving the hair)
E) Khitan (circumcision of the male child)
To provide sustenance to the infant:
The mother of the child has to breastfeed for two years as is clear from this ayah of the Quran: “And the mother shall breast feed their children for two full years for those desiring to complete the (limit of the term of) breast feeding, and the feeding and clothing of them rests upon the father in a suitable manner…” (Al-Baqarah 2-33)
Medicine today proves that children who are breastfed are not only likely to be physically stronger and mentally more intelligent but emotionally also their bonding with their mothers is far better due to the closeness and security they experience in their formative years. Similarly the father is responsible for providing the child’s needs.
To show kindness towards children:
Children should be treated with love. Kindness should be the basic method of teaching. Anas (rta) who served the Prophet (sa) as a child said “I served him for nine years, but I do not know that he ever said to me about anything I did, why I did that, or about anything I had neglected, why I had not done that.” (Sahih Muslim)
The Prophet’s (sa) wife Aisha (rta) said that a poor woman came to her together with her two daughters. Aisha (rta) gave her three dates. The woman gave a date to each of them, and then she picked up the remaining date and brought it to her mouth to eat it but her daughters wanted it. She then divided the date that she had intended to eat between them. This kind treatment of hers impressed Aisha (rta) and she mentioned it to the Prophet (sa). At that, he said, “Truly, Allah has assured Paradise for her because of this (action) of hers, or He has rescued her from Hellfire.” (Sahih Muslim)
To teach them good morals and manners:
To give children religious knowledge is Fard (obligatory) on a parent. The Prophet (sa) said, “Instruct your children to pray when they are seven years of age, and spank them if they do not pray when they are ten.” (Abu Dawood and Ahmad)
Prophet (sa) also said, “Allah will give shade to seven (kinds of people) on the day when there will be no shade but His.” The second of those whom he mentioned is ‘a youth’ who has been brought up in the worship of his Lord.” (Sahih Bukhari)
To treat our chidren equally:
One of the methods of wise upbringing is for the parents to treat all their children equally.
The father of a companion of the Prophet (sa), Numan ibn Bashir (rta) went to the Messenger of Allah (sa) and said, “I have given a gift to my son from Amrah bint Rawahah but she ordered me to make you as a witness to it, O Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet (sa) asked, “Have you given (an equivalent gift) to each one of your sons?” The father replied in the negative. The Messenger of Allah (sa) then said, “Fear Allah and be just to your children.” (Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)
Unfortunately many Muslim societies are influenced by non-Muslim cultures. In these societies daughters are considered inferior to the sons. Although the Prophet (sa) said
“Whoever has three daughters, and is patient, then gives them food and drink and clothes them from his earnings, they will be for him a shield against the fire of the Day of Resurrection.” (Ahmad)
To show patience towards children:
Shaddad (rta) narrated, the Prophet (sa) went out carrying Hasan or Hussain (rta) and when he came forward to lead the prayer, he put the child down and commenced the prayer. He prostrated himself and stayed in this position for such a long time. I raised my head and saw the child on his back, the people said, “O Messenger of Allah, you prostrated for such a long time.” He said, ” My child was riding on my back and I did not like to disturb him until he had had enough.” (Ahmad and An Nisai)
To make friends with our children:
Adolescent children are learning many new things from the outside world. This is the time when they need to be made friends with. The parents’ relationship with them should be such that they can confide in them. The peer pressure at this age can compel a child to choose wrong ways. Parents should act as anchors to children throughout their lives so that by the will of Allah they can be guided to the straight path.
To pray sincerely for our children’s guidance:
Last but not the least, it is important to pray for our children. Quran says: “…Our Lord, bless us with right guidance in all our matters.” (Al-Kahf 18:10)
We may pray: “My Lord, make me steadfast in Salah, and from among my children as well. And, our Lord, grant my prayer.” (Ibrahim 14:40)
It also teaches us to pray, “And seek help in patience and As-Salaat (the prayer) and truly, it is extremely heavy and hard except for al Khashi’un…” (Al-Baqarah 2:45)