Muslim Parenting: Dos and Don'ts


In the Name of Allah---the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

MUSLIM PARENTING: DOS AND DON’TS

Author: Sajid Mahmood Ansari

Having children is really a great blessing of Almighty Allah--The Exalted. But acting as good parents is a greater favor from Him.  All parents should ask themselves: “If you had only one wish for your child’s future what would it be?”

Whatever be your answer to this question, the more important are your own plans to fulfill this wish. What have you really planned to make your wish fruitful?

Islam is a complete code of life, and guides us in every sphere of life. Development and grooming of a real human being is the core objective of Islamic faith. Islam nurtures the emotional intelligence to make a balanced personality. Islam has laid a great stress on deliberate parenting with conscious mind. Sole feeding and clothing is not sufficient for development of your child’s personality. So parenting is a great responsibility, which is on the shoulder of parents. Following are some basic dos and don’ts for the parents to accomplish their duties as parents.

Love your child unconditionally

Loving your child unconditionally is the foremost requirement for good parenting. Though, loving one’s own child is natural, but some denatured people get off this natural track. Moreover, you should express your love for them through your actions. Kiss and hug them frequently to show them your love.

 It was narrated from Buraidah (May Allah be pleased with him) that: "While the Messenger of Allah () was on the minbar, Al-Hasan and Al-Husain came,wearing red shirts, walking and stumbling. He came down and picked them up, then said: 'Allah has spoken the truth: Your wealth and your children are only a trial.' I saw these two walking and stumbling in their shirts, and I could not be patient until I went down and picked them up.'"[1]

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that al-Aqra' bin Habis (May Allah be pleased with him) saw Allah's Apostle () kissing Hasan bin Ali (May Allah be pleased with them). Aqra' said: I have ten children, but I have never kissed any one of them, whereupon Allah's Messenger () said: He who does not show mercy (towards his children), no mercy would be shown to him.[2]

 

Narrated Ayeshah (May Allah be pleased with her):

"Some Bedouin people came to the Prophet () and said: 'Do you kiss your children?' He said: 'Yes'. He said: 'But we, by Allah, never kiss (our children)'. The Prophet() said: 'What can I do if Allah has taken away mercy from you heart?'"[3]

Ayeshah, the Umm al-Mu'minin, (May Allah be pleased with her) said, "I did not see anyone who more resembled the Messenger of Allah () in manner of speaking than Fatima. When she came to him, he stood up for her, made her welcome, kissed her and had her sit in his place. When the Prophet () came to her, she stood up for him, took his hand, made him welcome, kissed him, and made him sit in her place. She came to him during his final illness and he greeted her and kissed her."[4]

Suhayb said, "I saw 'Ali kiss the hands and feet of (his son) al-'Abbas."[5]

Remember that kids are independent human beings

Remember that your kids are human beings with beating hearts and thinking brains. Never undermine their existence. They feel all sorts of emotions and think brilliantly. So get to know the person behind ‘your kid’. Your actions and words cannot only hurt their feelings, but can destroy their personality altogether. So always think before you say something to them or do in front of their eyes. Ask their opinions politely, about the things belong to them, and respect them. At least, give them choices. Don’t decide everything on your own bout them. If you want to see them confident enough, then, give them importance in your family matters. Remind yourself that your child is not you but their own unique person.

Remember that your kids reflect how you behave them

Every action has a reaction. Your actions develop the mindset of your kids about you. Hence, they reflect how you behave them. If you behave them nicely and justly, they would love and respect you. Otherwise, they think about you negatively. Ultimately, they become rude and stubborn. So be careful when deciding about them.

It was narrated that Nu'man bin Bashir (May Allah be pleased with him) said that his father took him to the Prophet () and said:

“Bear witness that I have given Nu'man such and such from my wealth.” He said: “Have you given all your children something like that which you have given to Nu'man?” He said: “No.” He said: “Then let someone other than me bear witness to that.” And he said: “Would you not like all your children to honor you equally?” He said: “Of course.” He said: “Then do not do this.”[6]

 

Narrated Abu Sa`id (May Allah be pleased with him): The Prophet () mentioned a man from the previous generation or from the people preceding your age whom Allah had given both wealth and children. The Prophet () said, "When the time of his death approached, he asked his children, 'What type of father have I been to you?' They replied: You have been a good father. [7]

Feed your child Halal and healthy food

Human behavior is a complex network of neurotransmitters. Every action of the people around you affects your blood chemistry and behavior consequently. Same is true for your kids. You are the closest people to your children who interact with them frequently. Your actions shape the future of your children. So you should be dead careful what you feed them. Your means of earnings definitely affect your children. Remember that only Halal food is healthy for you and your children as well. Without Halal food, your all efforts for growing up their personality as Muslims might be fruitless.

Narrated Abu Hurayrah (May Allah be pleased with him): The Prophet () commanded to give sadaqah (charity). A man said: Messenger of Allah, I have a dinar (gold coin). He said: Spend it on yourself. He again said: I have another. He said: Spend it on your children.[8]

Narrated Al-Miqdam (May Allah be pleased with him): The Prophet () said, "Nobody has ever eaten a better meal than that which one has earned by working with one's own hands.[9]

Jabir bin Abdullah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah’s Messenger () as saying, “Flesh which has grown out of what is unlawful will not enter paradise, but hell is more fitting for all flesh which has grown out of what is unlawful.”[10]

Al-Miqdam ibn Ma'dikarib (May Allah be pleased with him) heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, "What you feed yourself is sadaqa (charity) for you. What you feed your child is sadaqa for you. What you feed your wife is sadaqa is for you. What you feed your servant is sadaqa for you."[11]

Narrated Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him): The Prophet () said "Certainly a time will come when people will not bother to know from where they earned the money, by lawful means or unlawful means."[12]

Narrated Abu Huraira (May Allah be pleased with him): Allah's Messenger () said, "If one give in charity what equals one date-fruit from the honestly earned money and Allah accepts only the honestly earned money --Allah takes it in His right (hand) and then enlarges its reward for that person (who has given it), as anyone of you brings up his baby horse, so much s that it becomes as big as a mountain.[13]

Abdallah b. Mas'ud (May Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah's Messenger as saying, “Trying to earn a lawful livelihood is the foremost obligatory duty in addition to the duties which are obligatory.” Baihaqi transmitted it in Shu’ab al-iman.[14]

Narrated Abu Huraira (May Allah be pleased with him): Allah's Messenger () said, "By Him in Whose Hand my life is, it is better for anyone of you to take a rope and cut the wood (from the forest) and carry it over his back and sell it (as a means of earning his living) rather than to ask a person for something and that person may give him or not."[15]

Provide them safe and healthy living environment

Safe and healthy living environment is the right of your children. Shariah puts this duty on parents’ shoulders. Shariah does not allow leaving your children unsafe and up the creek, even after your death.

It was narrated that Sa'd bin Abi Waqqas (May Allah be pleased with him) said: "The Messenger of Allah () visited me when I was sick, and said: 'Have you made a will?' I said: 'Yes.' He said: 'How much?' I said: 'For all my wealth to be given in the cause of Allah.' He said: 'What have you left for your children?' I said: 'they are rich (independent of means).' He said: 'Bequeath one-tenth.' And we kept discussing it until he said: 'Bequeath one-third, and one-third is much or large.'"[16]

It was narrated from Abu Dharr (May Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah () said: “The wealthiest will be the lowest on the Day of Resurrection, except those who do such and such with their money, and earn it from good sources.”[17]

Help your children to explore the world around them

Right from their birth, the children try to know their environment through their senses. Your frequent interaction with them makes their learning easier and speedy. Each time you call their name; touch and kiss them; utter the names of things and people around them; they learn a lot. They not only learn words from you but observe your body-language as well. Set goals for them and help them to achieve these goals. Let them do things on their own and help only when they are in trouble.

Educate your children properly

You are their heroes and you should act as role-models for them. They not only imitate your gestures but idealize your personality. So more often youngsters are on their parents track. They follow your actions and words as well.

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah's Messenger () as saying: “No babe is born but upon Fitrah (innate pure nature). It is his parents who make him a Jew or a Christian or a Polytheist.” [18]

The Prophetic wisdom deliberately exposed the Fitrah of new-born babes. But their parents convert them into their own faith, while teaching them vocabulary. Some reporters added the following words to the previous Hadith:

“Every new-born baby is born on the Millat (of Islam and he) remains on this until his tongue is enabled to express himself.” [19]

You home is nursery of your kids. They learn there every time, good or bad. Now the environment of your home decides what your kids learn. If the environment is full of glamour, music, entertainment and other evil activities, they will learn evil practices. However, if environment is free of evil practices and full of noble actions, then they will learn noble practices. What you like to teach them add it to their environment. Surround them with noble role-models. Tell your kids stories of noble people like prophets and saints. Play Nashids (poems) describing noble actions. Noble actions like speaking truth, kindness, love for relations, inviting relatives on feasts and festivals, reciting the Qur’an and Adhkar, offering prayers, keeping fast, donating charity should be a routine around them. Try to practice Islamic observances and rituals together.

Schools educate the kids on behalf of their parents. Schooling is not a substitute of parents’ own activities. Remember that parents should not withdraw their role in education, but they should play their role actively. They should guide schools how they want their child to get educated. Parents should actively participate in whole education process as much as possible, from designing curriculum to pedagogy. Schools are forced financially to educate children in groups because providing a single teacher for every student separately is impossible. While, parents are free of such a limiting factor. They can give time to their child individually. Though parents have their own financial activities, but their most valuable finance and asset is their child. So they should never compromise on their most precious asset. A parents' job is to provide an interface with the world that ultimately prepares a child for complete independence and the ability to pursue whatever path they choose.

Promote creativity

You should encourage your children for their creative work. Appreciate their novel ideas and help them to transform their ideas to reality. Creative work is the key trait of leadership.

Narrated Ayeshah, Ummul Mu'minin (May Allah be pleased with her):

When the Messenger of Allah () arrived after the expedition to Tabuk or Khaybar (the narrator is doubtful), the draught raised an end of a curtain which was hung in front of her store-room, revealing some dolls which belonged to her.

He asked: What is this? She replied: My dolls. Among them he saw a horse with wings made of rags, and asked: What is this I see among them? She replied: A horse. He asked: What is this that it has on it? She replied: Two wings. He asked: A horse with two wings? She replied: Have you not heard that Solomon (A.S) had horses with wings? She said: Thereupon the Messenger of Allah () laughed (in praise) so heartily that I could see his molar teeth.[20]

Sayeda Ayesha (May Allah be pleased with her) was a bit younger (after puberty) while she married to Prophet Muhammad (), so she used to play with toys. She designed a horse-toy with two wings, imitating Solomon’s flying horses. This novel idea and creativity was highly appreciated by the Prophet ().

Allow plenty of time for play

Physical games are rich source of learning for children. So allow a plenty of time for play.  Try your best to be a part of their games because they want time with you more than new games or toys. Physical games build a lot of confidence in the children. Board games might be another option, but for a limited time. However, electronic games, ranks last for learning skills. All sorts of physical, board and electronic games collectively teach problem solving and critical thinking. These are electronic games, which may feed up children, but, they never fed up by playing the same physical game daily. So avoid addiction of electronic games. Adhere to healthy screen time recommendations. Physical games are comparatively healthy and more productive. So motivate them for playing physical games. Encourage them to try a new activity.

Give them downtime

When machines need downtime, why not humans? Off course, kids do need downtime. However, you should wisely mange downtime.

Give them some house-hold responsibilities

Responsibilities make most of the people more confident. When they have become grown enough, assign some easy house-hold duties to your children with their free consent according to their age. For example, switching off bedroom light before going to bed; dusting their book-shelf; watering the plants; and throwing wrappers into the trash.

Learn and practice emotional intelligence

Learn and practice emotional intelligence, if you want your children to be emotionally intelligent. Emotional intelligence (otherwise known as emotional quotient or EQ) is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges and defuse conflict. Islamic faith wisely teaches emotional intelligence. Politeness is the seed of emotional intelligence.

Allah Almighty says Surah Al-Ahzab:

“Believers, fear Allah and speak politely.”[21]

Narrated Anas (May Allah be pleased with him): I served the Prophet () for ten years, and he never said to me, "Uff" (a minor harsh word denoting impatience) and never blamed me by saying, "Why did you do so or why didn't you do so?"[22]

This Hadith lays a critical principle for parents, to avoid impatience, in the reaction of what your kids do. Remember that kids will act like kids. Their brain is under development. They are not seasoned persons. They are in the learning stage. Show patience and grace when they mess up. Resentment, slapping, or punishing them is not the solution for this problem. Cool your nerves and behave sympathetically. Say kind words to mend their ways. Recognize that behavior is communication. These are not mere words which hurt the hearts but your gestures can do the same effectively.

Abu Sa'eed Al-Khudri (May Allah be pleased with him) said: One day, the Messenger of Allah () led us in Salat Al-Asr while it was still daytime. Then he stood to give us a Khutbah. He did not leave anything that would happen until the Hour of Judgement except that he informed us about it. Whoever remembered it remembered it, and whoever forgot it forgot it. Among what he said was: 'Behold! Indeed the children of Adam were created in various classes. Among them is he who was born a believer, lives as a believer, and dies a believer. Among them, is he who was born a disbeliever, lives as a disbeliever, and dies a disbeliever. Among them, is he who was born a believer, lives as a believer, and dies a disbeliever. Among them, is he who was born a disbeliever, lives as a disbeliever, and dies a believer. Behold! Among them is the slow to get angry, the quick to calm. Among them is the quick anger and the quick to calm, so this is with that. Behold! Among them is the quick get angry and the slow to calm, and indeed the best of them is the slow to get angry and the quick to calm, and the worst of them is the quick get angry and the slow to calm.’ [23]

Validate their feelings

Remember that kids have their own feelings and emotions. They react on little achievements and losses differently as the adults do. So validate their feeling and never ignore them. Anas bin Malik (May Allah be pleased with him) served the Prophet () for ten years while he was a child. Anas’s younger brother Umair had a pet bird with name Nughair. One day the pet bird died. Umair was feeling sad for losing his pet. At this occasion the Prophet () showed sympathy to him and said some sweet words which make him happy.[24]

Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) narrated: The Messenger of Allah () used to mingle with us such that he said to my younger brother: 'O Abu 'Umair! What did the Nughair do?'[25]

 

Anas b. Malik (May Allah be pleased with him)  said : The Messenger of Allah (May peace be upon him) used to come to visit us. I had a younger brother who was called Abu ‘Umair by Kunyah (surname). He had a sparrow with which he played, but it died. So one day the prophet (May peace be upon him) came to see him and saw him grieved. He asked: What is the matter with him? The people replied: His sparrow has died. He then said: Abu ‘Umair! What has happened to the little sparrow?[26]

Justice among kids should be your first principle

Sometimes a particular kid gets more attention and love from their parents, but this natural phenomenon should not instigate you to violate the principle of justice. You should equally behave all the children and give them food and gifts accordingly.

An-Nu'man bin Bashir Al-Ansari (May Allah be pleased with him) narrated that his mother, the daughter of Rawahah, asked his father to give some of his wealth to her son. He deferred that for a year, then he decided to give it to him. She said:

"I will not be pleased until you ask the Messenger of Allah () to bear witness." He said: "O Messenger of Allah, the mother of this boy, the daughter of Rawahah, insisted that I give a gift to him." The Messenger of Allah said: "O Bashir, do you have any other children besides this one?" He said: "Yes." The Messenger of Allah said: "Have you given all of them a gift like that which you have given to this son of yours?" He said: "No." The Messenger of Allah said: "Then do not ask me to bear witness, for I will not bear witness to injustice."[27]

 

It was narrated that Nu'man bin Bashir (May Allah be pleased with him) said that his father took him to the Prophet () and said:

“Bear witness that I have given Nu'man such and such from my wealth.” He said: “Have you given all your children something like that which you have given to Nu'man?” He said: “No.” He said: “Then let someone other than me bear witness to that.” And he said: “Would you not like all your children to honor you equally?” He said: “Of course.” He said: “Then do not do this.”[28]

Grow a loving family culture

Growing a loving family culture is necessary for healthy growth of children. Parents own differences and disputes badly affect the growth of children, both physically and mentally. The far-reaching impact of couple conflict on a child’s mindset causes more behavioral issues. This is why Islam strongly promotes unbreakable ties in between the married couple.

Let them take healthy risks

As your children grow up, let them take healthy risks under your own supervision. Taking risks and accepting challenges make them more confident, brave and steadfast. Caring them like glass is not commendable. If they hurt themselves, don’t be panic and impatient. There is such a thing as over-parenting, which can cripple children as they move into adulthood and render them unable to cope with the merest setbacks. Snowplow parenting is not commendable.[29]

Allow them friendship and know their friends

Being social is a loving characteristic, so allow your kids to make friends of their own age. However you should know their friends personally. You should also keep observing their relations with their friends. Have trust in them; it would build their trust in you.

Be consistent and follow through with what you say

It was narrated from Abdullah bin Mas'ud (May Allah be pleased with him) that: The Messenger of Allah () said: “Beware of lying, for lying is never good, whether it is done seriously or in jest. A man should not make a promise to a child that he will not keep.”[30]

Engage in random acts of kindness

The spirit of kindness is a great reward from Almighty Allah. So engage in random acts of kindness only for pleasure of your Lord. Helping the needy, giving  a hand to sick, weak or aged persons, caring pets etcetera are easy acts of kindness.

Don’t isolate them

Humans are social creatures, and living an isolated lifestyle for a prolonged period can have a grave impact on both physical and mental health. Kids are emotionally connected with their parents. So their social isolation may result in psychological disorders. Long boarding periods or long absence of a parent from home should be strongly discouraged. Never abandon your kids as a punishment even for a day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



[11] Musnad Ahmad: H#17311, Al-Adab Al-Mufrad:H#82

[21] Al-Qur’an, 33:70

[24] Musnad Ahmad: H#14117

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