By Hamna Atta
Parenting is the most rewarding, yet challenging experience that one can go through, especially in these times when fitnah is rife. Hundreds and thousands of parenting how-to books are sold every day yet we find parents in a constant state of dilemma when it comes to the upbringing of their child. Not every child is the same, and so there need to be different approaches for everyone.
Allah SWT recognises this dilemma. Good parenting is difficult. In Surah Luqman, Allah (SWT) makes us privy to a beautiful conversation between a father and a son, a conversation that can be used by every parent while upbringing their child.
Luqman A.S was a man blessed with wisdom by Allah (SWT). The word “wisdom” means precisely saying the right thing at the right time. During this conversation, there are several times when we can see how Luqman A.S displayed his wisdom.
When the Surah begins, we see that Luqman A.S addresses his son in a very polite way. He is guiding his son, feeding him words of wisdom but only when his son is responsive towards him.
And here is the first lesson that we learn, to address one’s child politely and with love, and only give them advice when you have their full attention. If you want your child to be attentive towards what you are about to say, choose an appropriate time, for instance, while driving them or before bedtime.
The first advice that Luqman A.S gives to his son is:
واذقال لقمان لابنه وھویعظه يبني لا تشرك بالله ان الشرك لظلم عظيم
And [mention, O Muhammad], when Luqman said to his son while he was instructing him, “O my son, do not associate [anything] with Allah . Indeed, association [with him] is great injustice.” (Surah Luqman, 31:13)
If we contemplate over the first Ayah we come to know that Luqman began with working on the roots. The very first thing that he advised his son was to stay away from shirk. This ensured that his son’s religious foundations were solid.
Here we learn our second lesson, that as a parent the very first thing that we need to instill in our children is Aqeedah (the correct Islamic creed).
We need to make clear to our offsprings at a very young age that Allah alone is worthy of worship. If children are taught this basic element of Islam clearly, their foundation will be strong and clear. They will be equipped with whatever challenges that they go through life, knowing that it is Allah alone who can help them, guide them, and nourish them.
In Ayah number 16, Luqman A.S talks about another important aspect of Aqeedah.
يبني انهاان تك مثقال حبة من خردل فتكن في صخرة او فى السموات او فى الارض يات بها الله ان الله لطيف خبير
“O my son, indeed if wrong should be the weight of a mustard seed and should be within a rock or [anywhere] in the heavens or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth. Indeed, Allah is Subtle and Acquainted.(Surah Luqman, 31:16)
What Luqman A.S does here is to mould his child into the ideology that Allah is aware of every single deed that a human does, whether it be done in privacy or in public. Whatever it is no matter how big or small, Allah is all aware of it. Along with the belief that Allah SWT is the One and Only, the belief that Allah SWT is ever-aware of our deeds and will hold us accountable for them is central to correct Aqeedah.
If a parent is able to engrain this belief into their child, they will have succeeded in raising a God-fearing person. A child with this mindset, when faced with the lures and desires of this world, will be able to avoid sinning even when he/she is alone. Their good deeds will be pure because they will know that Allah SWT is aware of their worship.
After teaching his son the central tenets of faith, Luqman A.S now shifts the focus of the conversation towards good deeds. He now tells his son what he should be doing in order to implement his Aqeedah.
Simply believing in Allah SWT isn’t enough. After recognising the existence of Allah and accepting him as Rabb, the next thing is to focus on how to please Allah and how to live a life in the light of the Quran and Sunnah.
Once faith is established, the next thing is to focus on actions. If a child has a strong concept of Tawheed and accountability, choosing and remaining on the right path would be easier for him or her. The child will strive towards good deeds, to refine their life in the Dunya as well as in the Akhirah. Doing good in whatever situation life finds him or her in, will come naturally to a child who has been taught to strive for Allah’s pleasure in whatever he/she does. Our faith is validated through our righteous actions.
Luqman A.S does not end the conversation with his son after just talking about Aqeedah and doing good deeds, he further clarifies the concept to his son by telling him the nature of the deeds he should be doing. In the next Ayah he mentioned a list of good deeds to his son for him to act upon.
يبني اقم الصلوة وأمر بالمعروف وانه عن المنكرواصبر على مااصابك ان ذلك من عزم الامور
O my son, establish prayer, enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong, and be patient over what befalls you. Indeed, [all] that is of the matters [requiring] determination. (Surah Luqman, 31:17)
What a comprehensive ayah regarding good deeds.
Observing the 5 daily prayers, practising good and advising others the same, refraining from evil and staying steadfast and patient during hard times. Luqman presented the perfect to-do list for every Muslim to his son to observe. If only this Ayah is acted upon, and taught to the future generations it would be better than a thousand worldly treasures.
The last piece of advice Luqman A.S gives his son is about attitude and manners,
ولا تصعر خدك للناس ولاتمش فى الارض مرحا ان الله لا يحب كل مختال فخور
And do not turn your cheek [in contempt] toward people and do not walk through the earth exultantly. Indeed, Allah does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful. (Surah Luqman, 31:18).
واقصد فی مشیک واغضض من صوتك ان أنكرالاصوات لصوت الحمير
And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; indeed, the most disagreeable of sounds is the voice of donkeys. (Surah Luqman, 31:19)
Summing up his conversation with this, Luqman A.S emphasises good manners. Luqman A.S advises his son to be humble, kind, and gentle in speech.
Today the basic problem that every parent faces is the attitude and behaviour of children towards elders and everyone else. Indeed, it is a problem not just with children, but also adults as well. Here Luqman A.S teaches his son the basic manners that shape the personality and identity of a Muslim and a decent human being.
Here we learn another lesson and that is that along with everything else that we teach our children their Akhlaq (manners) are something that too needs to be focused on, with equal emphasis.
This Surah in a nutshell explains all the basic fundamentals that a parent needs to focus on during the upbringing of their children.
Starting from Tawheed, and then moving towards the concept of accountability, difference between good and bad and finally social behaviour, Luqman with his wisdom highlighted every aspect of a person’s life on this Earth to his son.
If the parents of today start raising their children the way Luqman did, we surely will be able to contribute to the society better human beings, kind and merciful people that live their lives having Taqwah in their hearts.
May we all benefit from the amazing stories and lessons of the Quran, and live our lives in accordance to them and raise our generations in the light of the Quran and Sunnah and become a better Ummah altogether.