Parenting in Islam

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(part 1 of 2) Description:  Basic steps every parent needs to know in order for success in parenting. Objectives: ·         To learn the imp...

(part 1 of 2)

Description: Basic steps every parent needs to know in order for success in parenting.
Objectives:
·       To learn the importance of Islamic ethics and ideals of the family.
·       To learn the importance of allocating certain time to study the deen as a family.
·       To understand the importance of effectively communicating with your children.
Arabic Terms
·       InshaAllah – God willing, if God wills it to be so.  It is a reminder and acknowledgment that nothing happens except by the will of Allah.
·       Sunnah – The word Sunnah has several meanings depending on the area of study however the meaning is generally accepted to be, whatever was reported that the Prophet said, did, or approved.
·       Deen – the way of life based on Islamic revelation; the sum total of a Muslim’s faith and practice.  Deen is often used to mean faith, or the religion of Islam.

Introduction

The key to a pristine Islamic society starts with the family, for it is the nucleus of a healthy society. The Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him, gave detailed steps on raising a family properly; no doubt, it is a great responsibility. He said:
“Anyone who is responsible over others, but fails to uphold this responsibility properly, he would be barred from theJannah (heavenly abode).” (Saheeh Muslim)
Parenting is indeed an immense task; specifically, parenting in the West. What should a parent consider, how should they raise their children? In this article we will explore a few practical tips that should be in the minds of every parent.

Create a Proper Homely Environment

Children raised in a ‘happy’ home usually become stronger, better Muslims. They more easily adopt the Islamic ideals and uphold common courtesy and etiquette that should be the standard for every Muslim.
To ensure that a home is ‘happy’, the parents themselves should uphold proper Islamic ethics. As well, parents must communicate with each other, in a clear, open manner. When children see that their parents are communicating in this method; neither of their parents become agitated, angry or violent, it would provoke children to share their feeling and thoughts and they will feel safe and secure. This step is absolutely imperative, as one of the lead causes of problems starts with the lack of this. If a child feels that they cannot communicate with their parents, they will seek attention elsewhere, be it from friends, who may influence this child in a very negative manner. Drug addictions, unlawful pre-marital relations and worse may be the result.
The next step that should be taken to ensure this environment is to love your children and show them that you love them.  The Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him, kissed his grandson, Al-Husain, in the presence of al-Aqra bin Habis, may Allah be pleased with them both. Al-Aqra said: “I have ten children and I have never kissed any of them!”  The Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him, then said: “The one who shows no mercy, shall not be shown any mercy.”[1]
Children who feel loved will return the compassion they receive. This is evident from the Prophet’s manner in dealing with children. One day while the Prophet was praying, he prolonged his prostration and the Companions began to worry; after some time, the Prophet resumed the prayer as normal. Of course, the Companions asked the Prophet about the prolonged prostration; they said: “O Messenger of Allah, you prolonged the prostration and we thought that you had either received revelation or that something bad had happened to you!”  He smiled and said: “It is neither of the two, but my grandson climbed on my back and I disliked shortening his enjoyment.”[2]
Another step for a ‘happy’ home is to have both parents equally involved in raising the children. Too often we witness one of the two parents becoming more involved, while the other becomes distant. A child brought up with the love and affection from both parents would prosper far greatly on a mental, psychological level than one that only has one parent.

Study Time

A home without proper knowledge of Islam is a home of hopelessness and misguidance. Studying the deen will help guide and nurture children to become upright Muslims. This ‘study time’ should include teachings from the Quran, Sunnah and stories of the Pious Predecessors.
If the parents are not well versed in reading the Quran, they should register them in a Quran class in a local Mosque. If the parents are lucky to find one in their area, they shouldn’t stop there; this is only a beginning. The family as a whole should continuously strive to study Islam together. Due to the presence of many resources today, this shouldn’t pose as a problem. There are many websites such as (newmuslims.com) that give important, fundamental teachings of Islam in an easy, direct manner.
It is important that the parents do set aside a portion of time, every week, wherein the family gets together and learns together. This would help to solidify the family unit. Children would not feel they are ‘burdened’ in the learning process, as adults are taking part in the process.
Due to the many distractions in our society, teaching methods should be made interesting. Parents should diversify and teach in a fun manner; be it through game or by giving prizes to the one who is able to achieve the most. 
Parents always aspire to have their children become better than themselves. This attitude is a very good one, but should not lead the parents to become over-demanding. Consistency is the key to success.

Listen to your Children

In a Western society, it is absolutely imperative to have an open line of communication with your children. Children need to be heard and understood and parents need to view what they say without becoming judgmental.
If children feel safe to open up to their parents when they have problems, if they feel ‘welcome’ to ask questions when they are in doubt, this would strengthen the bond between parents and their children, it will also distance negative influences that may impact the child at this critical stage of growth.
Many parents speak to their children, but forget to listen, leaving their children to their own devices and forcing them to make their own decisions when they need guidance. The more you involve your children at home, the less likely it is that they will go down the wrong path, InshaAllah
Listening to your children is a very important tool at the disposal of the parents; it serves as a ‘reality check’ for children are a mirror of their parents’ behaviour.
One of the best ways to cement this relationship between children and parents is through the biography of the Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him. Stories can be read before bedtime and the children can be asked what they liked most about the story. They can also be asked to implement basic lessons from the stories in their own lives. They will be able to make better decisions for themselves, stand up against wrong-doings, and will also be able to express themselves effectively.


Footnotes:
[1] Saheeh Al-Bukhari
[2] Ahmed

Parenting in Islam (part 2 of 2)

Description: Basic steps every parent needs to know in order for success in parenting. 
Objectives:
·       To know that good parenting begins before pregnancy. 
·       To know that the responsibility of good parenting falls on both parents.
·       The importance of giving good names to children.   
Arabic Terms
·       Sunnah – The word Sunnah has several meanings depending on the area of study however the meaning is generally accepted to be, whatever was reported that the Prophet said, did, or approved.
·       Du’a – supplication, prayer, asking Allah for something.

Find Good Company

Parenting2.jpgHaving good friends is imperative in building a strong family.  The Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:
“A person would be influenced by his companions, so let one be watchful as to whom they accompany.”[1]
This is true for both parents and children.  Children are easily influenced by those who surround them; if the parents keep good company, it will encourage the children to do likewise.  In the West, this is absolutely imperative, as one’s friends may be very anti-Islamic in their ideology and behaviour, so it should be clear to the parents that keeping good company and avoiding bad company will help their children in distinguishing between what is permissible from what is not.  It will help children understand that though there are those who drink alcohol or do unlawful things, these are not good things to do and there are lawful alternatives.
Parents should be active in choosing the best companions and friends for their children.  If the children wants to bring their friends home, it would be wise to allow this, so that the parents can see who they are and become actively involved with their children.   

Supplications to Allah

Allah, the Exalted, says:
“…Call on Me, and I will answer your prayers…” (Quran 40:60)
Asking Allah to grant success to one’s children is the greatest thing a parent can do for their kids.  The parents’ du’a is accepted by Allah, the Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:
“Three du’as are accepted by Allah, without a doubt, the du’a of one who is wronged, the du’a of one who is travelling and the du’a of a parent for their children.”[2]
So far we discussed key points that should be in the mind of every parent.  Now we will be discussing a step that is as important, but is a step that precedes having a family. 

Choosing a Spouse

This is the most important step towards having a successful family in the West.  The Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:
“Choose the best spouse to start your family.”[3]
The Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him, went further to explain who the ‘best’ spouse was.  He explained that the best spouse is one who is religiously motivated and possess a good character.   He said:
“Women may be married for four things: their wealth, their lineage, their beauty and their religious commitment.  Choose the one who is religiously-committed, may your hands be rubbed with dust (i.e., may you prosper).”[4]
From these two texts, it is clear that a Muslim should choose a good spouse; this goes for both men and women. 
If a choice is made simply on account of worldly matters, that relationship will not be fruitful in terms of raising a good family. 
Both husband and wife must look beyond the initial stage of marriage to what is to come; the family.  How will the environment that is being created through this bond of marriage be conducive in raising a good family? This is a very important question that must be answered.  In a properly functioning relationship, both spouses work together to raise a good Muslim family.  It is a great responsibility; one that the Prophet clearly indicated through his words, he said:
“Everyone of you is responsible for those under his care.  A leader of a nation is responsible for those under his care; a man is responsible for his family; a woman is responsible for those under her care.”[5]
There are many basic mannerisms that are important for both spouses at the beginning of their relationship; when they are implemented, it would ensure for them a good start in their lives.  One such mannerism is that the Prophet told us that a husband should put his hand on the forehead of his bride and say:
“O Allah I ask you for her goodness and the goodness that is within her nature and I seek refuge with you from her evil and the evil of her nature.”[6]
There are many other basic mannerisms that both husband and wife should learn and uphold.

Children

After the critical stage of choosing a good spouse, both husband and wife should work on upholding the mannerisms mentioned within the Sunnah in rearing a family. 
The Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:
“Indeed you shall be called on the Day of Resurrection by your names and the names of your fathers, so choose (for your children) good names.”[7]
Today, some of the names that are given to our children are atrocious!  At times, parents would choose names that are held by non-Muslim celebrities, or they would search in their culture to choose odd ‘unique’ names that have a cultural root. 
Names given to an individual have a profound effect on their upbringing; a name that has a bad meaning or a negative one should be avoided.  The Prophet gave us very clear instructions on how to choose names.  The Prophet demonstrated this; once one of his companions, Zaid al-Khail, was renamed by him to Zaid al-Khair; Khail means horses whereas Khair means goodness.  He also actively instructed his companions to avoid using names that held odd meanings.  This advice is very important, especially with the rise of the issue of bullying in schools.  If a good name is chosen, this would safeguard the child from that negative factor they may go through at school. 
The Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him, directed us saying:
“The most beloved names to Allah are Abdullah and Abdur-Rahman.”[8]
Abdullah means the ‘Slave of Allah’ and Abdur-Rahman means the ‘Slave of the Most-Beneficent’.   

Don’t Forget the Little Things

Every stage of growth children go through should be monitored closely by the parents; they should teach them the necessary skills as they progress.  For example, when children are younger, the proper etiquette and mannerisms should be instilled in their children.  Later on, they can be taught the reason they should behave in a certain manner.  Stories told at this stage are rarely forgotten. 
A child should also be urged to memorize the dua and the Qur’an.  If they are brought up with these ‘little things’, they will surely be able to progress forward in their lives in a most wholesome manner.



Footnotes:
[1] Abu Dawood
[2] Ibn Majah
[3] Sahih al-Jami
[4] Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim
[5] Sahih al-Jami
[6] Abu Dawood
[7] Abu Dawood
[8] Saheeh Al-Bukhari

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