By Khadija Arif
Parenthood is considered a prestige. Society and religion put parents on a high pedestal for all they go through in raising children. But parenting is not a bed of roses. Bringing children into the world, tending them, providing for them, protecting them and making them good humans is an arduous job and tremendous responsibility. Allah says:
“Your wealth and your children are but a trial”
Like every other blessing, we will be asked about our children and how we fulfilled the responsibility Allah entrusted us with. So it is crucial that we raise our children according to the rules and guidelines set by Islam. Here are some of them:
Be responsible: Holy Prophet (PBUH) said: “Surely! Every one of you is a guardian and responsible for their charges […] a man is the guardian of his family and is responsible for his subjects; a woman is the guardian of her husband’s home and of his children and is responsible for them” (Bukhari: 7138). Parents must be careful regarding their children’s safety, provision and proper guidance. They should fulfil their responsibility with the utmost care, diligence and devotion. This means that a child’s education, nourishment, physical and emotional development all need to be taken care of by both parents.
Equip them: Parents are also responsible for their children’s future, as Allah says: “Protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones” (Tehreem: 6). Parents must provide their children with halal, give them worldly and religious knowledge, guide them to do good and forbid them from evil. They should be role models for children in terms of good manners, righteousness and worship so that children may emulate them.
Redeem yourself: If parents raise their children well, they will become a source of protection from Hell and gaining Allah’s pleasure. Holy Prophet (PBUH) said: “When a person dies, all their good deeds end except three: continuing charity, beneficial knowledge and a virtuous child who prays for them” (Riyad as-Saliheen: 1383). Islam lays stress especially on raising daughters, because of the tyranny they faced before Islam. A hadith says: “Whoever is put to trial by these daughters and he treats them generously then those daughters will act as a shield for him from Hellfire” (Bukhari: 1418). Raise your children with love and dedication, and don’t take them as a burden. Righteous children are a form of ongoing reward for yourself, long after you have departed this world and can no longer do good deeds yourself to gain reward.
Maintain balance: Parents must treat their children equally in terms of love, care and affection. All their children deserve equal treatment. Allah says, “Indeed, Allah orders justice and fair dealing” (Nahl: 90). Avoid inclining towards or favouring some child because of their age, gender, achievement or behaviour. It creates jealousy and sibling rivalry. Likewise, there should be a balance between children’s desires and parents’ expectations.
Act wisely: Allah says: “Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good teaching. Argue with them in the most courteous way” (Nahl: 125). Deal with children according to their mentality and age. Always listen to what they have to say. If children don’t understand or obey you, don’t be upset, but try to make them understand in a logical and courteous manner that doesn’t arouse defiance. If it becomes necessary to punish the child, do it in a way that the child understands what he/she has done wrong and why they are being punished. Don’t punish for the sake of punishing.
Be consistent: Being role models, parents should be mindful that their actions align with their words. Allah says: “Why do you say what you do not do? Most hateful it is with Allah that you say that which you do not do” (Saf: 2-3). Don’t say or teach something which you don’t practice yourself, and don’t do those things which you forbid your children from doing. Inconsistency creates confusion.
Make it easy: Holy Prophet (PBUH) said: “Gladden people and don’t scare them. Make things easy and don’t make them difficult” (Abu Dawud: 4835). Matters of religion and appropriate practices should be made easy and attractive. Don’t be unduly harsh and strict. Try to make things comprehendible and practicable. If a child finds it difficult to understand or do something, give them time and space. Try different ways of introducing an Islamic concept to them.
Make amends: We all are prone to mistakes and parents are no exception. If you’ve done something wrong, admit it and try to correct it in time. Allah says: “Repel evil with that which is best” (Muminoon: 96). Don’t assume you are flawless because you are older. Always apologize for wrong-doing and substitute it with good action. Similarly, if a child has done some mistake, forgive them and teach them to admit and correct it.
Don’t neglect yourself: Being a parent doesn’t mean giving up on everything. Children and family life should not make you heedless about religion, as Allah says: “Let not your wealth and your children divert you from remembrance of Allah. And whoever does that, then those are the losers” (Munafiqun: 9). Never miss your prayers and worship because of being busy with children. Never fall into some sin or evil deed for the sake of them.
Having children is a blessing and a test. We should try our best to succeed in this immense responsibility and earn Allah’s pleasure by raising children in the best manner we can.