PHYSICAL & WORLDLY EDUCATION
The Responsibility for Physical Education
By responsibility for physical education, we mean the parents’ responsibility for bringing up the children healthy and sound in body. We should be reminding the child that the aim of keeping himself healthy and fit is that his body is a trust by Allah and we are answerable to Him if we neglect its wellbeing by not having healthy and nutritious meals and doing enough physical activity. As parents, we should also have a drive and desire to look after our own body and encourage the same at home. `Abdullah bin `Amr bin Al-`As narrated: Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “O `Abdullah! Have I not been informed that you fast all day and stand in prayer all night?” I said, “Yes, O Allah’s Messenger!” He ﷺ said, “Do not do that. Observe the fast sometimes and break the fast [at other times]; stand up for the prayer [at night] and also sleep. Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you and your wife has a right over you.” Sahih al-Bukhari 5199
Imam Muslim relating that the Prophet ﷺ said, “A strong believer is more gracious and more beloved by Allah than a weak believer”
It is soundly narrated from the Prophet ﷺ that he said: “Everything in which there is no remembrance of Allah is idle play, except four things: a man playing with his wife; a man training his horse; a man running between two lines (as in a race); and a man learning how to swim.” (Narrated by an-Nasaa’i in as-Sunan al-Kubra (8889); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in as-Saheehah 315).
That is, Islam is always calling upon Muslims to learn how to swim, archery and horsemanship or being physically active in general.
One of the most useful means laid down by Islam that disciplines individuals physically and increases good health is to make them spend their spare time in doing hard work and practicing physical activities whenever possible.
This is due to the fact that Islam with its tolerant principles and lofty teachings, simultaneously gathers both seriousness and innocent play, harmonizes between the requirements of the faith and needs of the body, and pays due attention to educating the body as well as to healing the soul.
As parents, it is our responsibility to ensure our kids are having enough physical activity everyday especially now in the era of screens.
“AI-Bukhari also narrated that the Prophet ﷺ once passed by a group of Banu Aslam who were competing in archery in the market. He encouraged them, saying, “Shoot, O sons of Ismail; your father was an archer. Shoot and I am with Banu of so and so”. One of the two parties stopped shooting. The Prophet ﷺ asked them: Why don’t you shoot? They answered: How dare we shoot while you are with them? The prophet ﷺ said, “Shoot I am with you all (both parties).”
It is clear through such texts that Islam legalized practicing physical exercises and sporting games such as wrestling, running, swimming, archery and horseback riding which increase sharpness and physical strength.
While encouraging physical activity in children, we should remember that it is not acceptable that sports are practiced at the expense of other duties that must be observed and accomplished by the child.
He may busy himself most of the time in playing football, mastering wrestling, swimming or practicing archery at the expense of the right of Allah in terms of worship, or the right of his own self in terms of his own studies or other responsibilities.
Therefore, sport should be a subsidiary activity with the child and should be mild and moderate, striking a balance between it and other duties.
Another thing to be kept in mind while practicing sporting activities is that the child’s training suit should cover the part of his body from the navel to beneath his knees. Imam Al-Bukbari in his History*
Imam Ahmad, and Al Hakim narrated that the Prophet ﷺ passed by Ma’mar (one of the Companions) and saw his thighs uncovered, so he said, “O Ma’mar, cover your thighs, for the thigh Is part of your private parts.”
HEALTHY HABITS FROM THE SUNNAH
The Messenger ﷺ said: “O Allah, bless my people in their early mornings.” When he sent out a detachment or an army, he sent them at the beginning of the day. Sakhr was a merchant, and he would send off his merchandise at the beginning of the day; and he became rich and had much wealth. (Abu Dawud classed as Sahih Albaani)
DIET AND NUTRITION
Islam’s holistic approach to health includes treating our bodies with respect and nourishing them with, not only faith, but also with lawful, nutritious food. A major part of living life according to the Creator’s instructions is implementing a suitable diet. Choosing wholesome food and avoiding the unwholesome is essential to good health.
Allah says in the Quran,
The Quran contains many verses of advice about healthy eating that relate to the interconnectedness of physical and spiritual health. Encouragement to eat only good and pure food is often combined with warnings to remember Allah and avoid Satan. Healthy eating not only satisfies hunger but also has an effect on how well we worship.
If one becomes obsessed with food or indulges in too much unwholesome or junk food he or she may become physically weak or distracted from his primary purpose of serving Allah. On the other hand, if one concentrated exclusively on spiritual endeavours and neglected their health and nutrition, weakness injury or illness would also result in failure to carry out obligatory worship. The guidance found in the Quran and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ advise humankind to maintain a balance between these two extremes.
EATING LESS – THE SOLUTION TO MANY PROBLEMS
Abu Juhayfah said: “A man burped in the presence of the Messenger of Allaah ﷺ and he said: “Keep your burps away from us, for the one who eats his fill the most in this world will be hungry for the longest time on the Day of Resurrection.” (al-Tabaraani–Saheeh)
After hearing that Abu Juhayfah RA did not eat his fill until he departed from this world; if he ate breakfast he would not eat dinner and if he ate dinner he would not eat breakfast, and he said: “I have not filled my stomach for thirty years.”
Yet, we force our kids to eat, to just simply stuff themselves until they are completely full. And we do the same ourselves. What we don’t realize is that, not only is this bad for health, and against the wise teachings of our beloved Prophet ﷺ, but this excessive eating also makes us lazy and distracts us away from the sincere and focused worship of Allaah. This is because eating one’s fill makes the body heavy, which leads to yawning and laziness in worship and work.
The Prophet ﷺ said, “A believer eats in one intestine, and a kafir (unbeliever) or a hypocrite eats in seven intestines.” (Bukhaari)
That means; a believer is satisfied with a little food, while a non-believer or a hypocrite eats too much to satisfy himself.
The Prophet ﷺ also said: “The son of Adam does not fill any vessel worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to eat a few morsels to keep him alive. If he must fill it, then one-third for his food, one-third for his drink, and one-third for air.” (al-Tirmidhi –saheeh by al-Albaani)
NOT GETTING TOO COMFORTABLE WHILST EATING
The Prophet ﷺ said: “I do not eat whilst I am reclining.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5399).
One of the reasons said is that because when we are in a very comfortable position we tend to eat more. And we have seen in the Ummah today that some brothers even loosen their pants to eat. This is definitely against what the Sunnah teaches us. So we should teach our children to sit in a position where the stomach is being pressed a little so that you feel full sooner and have a part of the stomach empty.
True believers need healthy bodies and minds in order to worship Allah in the correct way. To maintain a sound mind, a pure heart and a healthy body special attention must be paid to health. The heart and the mind are nourished by remembrance of Allah, and worship performed in a lawful way, and the body is nourished by partaking of the good and lawful food Allah has provided. Attention to diet and nutrition is a part of the holistic health system inherent in Islam.
The “Snowflake Generation” sadly this new generation are so weak they melt at very little pressure, so we should strive to build endurance in our children. Looking at the process of the call to Islam of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in Mecca and then in Medina, one can easily perceive that patience and endurance had a fundamental role in it.
Unfortunately, we and our children of today are confined to air conditioned rooms and hoping to make a change from there, because we cannot stand the pain and the difficulty we would face going out for Dawah or to help the Ummah. Forget the noble act of giving away our life to help the Ummah, we are scared to just get hurt. No one wants to come out of their comfort zone. People aren’t just born with a higher pain tolerance. Pain tolerance is something that’s built up over time and with efforts. We need to work harder for the Sake of the Ummah.
A STRONG MAN
Teach the hadeeths to the children:
We conclude the topic of strength and physical education by reminding the ultimate source of strength is faith. The Life of the Sahaba is the example, not all of them were built like Umar R.A. but each one of them could take on many enemies in battle, it was their strong believe and the hope for rewards in the hereafter. So remind your children that you don’t need to be tall or broad built to be strong, you need faith and strong will power.
Remind them that the strongest amongst us would be the person who has good health and uses it to worship Allah and exerts himself or herself to help the Ummah for His Sake. Remind them that what use would strength be, if it is just to show off or to oppress others by bullying them? Remind them that yes it is a great blessing but we will be questioned about it. So educate them so that they do not make this great blessing a means of being questioned or punished on the day of Judgement.
Modern education & our role
Undoubtedly the Muslim ummah needs its members to be pioneers in both humanities and sciences, and it should not be dependent on other nations in that regard. Islam is the religion of knowledge, and Allah, may He be exalted, began His revelation to His Prophet ﷺ with the word: “Read (Iqra’)”. Islam urges people to seek knowledge, highlights the high status that knowledge should have among Muslims, and made the learning of different branches of knowledge a communal obligation upon the Muslim ummah.
Undoubtedly the Muslim ummah needs its members to be pioneers in both humanities and sciences, and it should not be dependent on other nations in that regard. Islam is the religion of knowledge, and Allah, may He be exalted, began His revelation to His Prophet ﷺ with the word: “Read (Iqra)”. Islam urges people to seek knowledge, highlights the high status that knowledge should have among Muslims, and made the learning of different branches of knowledge a communal obligation upon the Muslim ummah.
Our advice is that those who want to specialise in a particular field should already have an inclination towards and aptitude for that field. It is well-known that Muslims, like any other people, vary with regard to what they have an inclination towards, and it is better to encourage each of them to pursue the fields in which they are interested and have an inclination towards, and not to force them to learn something they are not interested in, let alone force them to do something that they dislike.
This matter was discussed by the leading scholars of Islam, both during the classical period and in modern times. In fact they advised that the child should be allowed to learn that towards which he is inclined from an early age (so that he grows up with it), without waiting until he gets older in order to be directed to pursue that field.
If he is forced to do something for which he has no aptitude or inclination, he will never succeed in that field, and he will miss out on the opportunity to work in a field for which he has an aptitude. We should know that a strong state is built with specialists form different fields just as we see from the stories of the Sahaba who were masters of different arts.
It is essential to differentiate between men and women when setting out guidelines as to what specialisations are best in various sciences and other fields. Some fields that are suitable for men are not necessarily suitable for women and vice versa.
Most of us parents assume that our role in the child’s education is only to enroll him into a good school but we have to be aware of the fact that the modern curriculum(s) are designed by non muslims and have a lot of content which go against the Islamic teaching. When pointed out, the parents are quick to dismiss it saying the child is too young to understand all that yet which is very far from the truth as the child absorbs everything he is exposed to and grows up to like it as he has always been seeing it. Many educators even those who are not muslim have expressed concern about how explicit and biased the curriculum is, including the introduction and normalisation of of sex education, same sex relationships and other major sins while often times portraying Islam in bad light and giving heroic status to the enemies of Islam.
After a long day at school, when the child sits down infront of the TV to “unwind” and relax he puts of his favourite TV shows and movies which seem innocent but gives the child the message; “Look at what is really okay: extramarital sex, children disobeying their parents, people stealing and killing for fun or revenge, criminals as the ‘good’ guys etc.
Over a period of time, we get used to all of these messages and the child grows up thinking the things which are forbidden by his Lord are “not a big deal”.
There is no doubt that schools have their negative and positive points. Schools can have a positive or negative effect on the children’s upbringing. Many mothers and fathers complain about the negative impact of schools and this is a real issue that is faced by most religiously committed families. But the Muslim can overcome these negative effects by a number of means:
Sending them to Non-Muslims countries for Studies
We should not send our children who abroad unless they have strong Islamic foundation. We should have an orientation or training course before they leave, even if it is short, where they can be alerted to problems and troubles that they may encounter, or specious arguments that they may face, in the country to which they are being sent, and they can be taught about the Islamic teachings on those matters, and the wisdom behind Islamic rulings, that the enemies of Allah usually raise with the Muslim youth, so that they will be fully prepared to refute any specious arguments with which they are faced.
The Prophet ﷺ said: “Whoever is mainly concerned about the Hereafter, Allah will make him focused and content and will make him feel independent of others, and his worldly affairs will fall into place. But whoever is mainly concerned with this world, Allah will make him distracted and unfocused and will make him fear poverty constantly, and he will get nothing of this world except what is decreed for him.”
The Responsibility for Sexual Education
The meaning of sexual education is to teach a child, enlighten him, and be frank with him from the time he/she reaches puberty so that when he becomes a responsible adult and understands life, he/she will know what is lawful and what is unlawful and will be neither driven by desire nor led to sin.
It is well-known that teaching what is called sex education in the West has become an obsession and madness, and it has become their main concern. Separate classes have been allocated for it in the schools, and there are programmes on television, and seminars and conferences are held concerning it. Unfortunately many Muslims have been affected by this culture, especially those who have been deceived by their culture and civilization.
Undoubtedly teaching children about sex and related matters at an early stage in their lives leads to many negative consequences.
There are some very important matters which begin at a very early age – around the age of three years – that have a basic connection to the issue of sex education. They are:
1. Distinguishing between genders. It is necessary for a boy or girl to be able to distinguish between male and female. Confusion between them at that early age could lead to troubles and confusion in concepts, characteristics and actions, in both sexes. Hence it is essential to make a boy understand that he cannot wear his sister’s clothes, or wear earrings or bracelets, because these are for females, not for males. By the same token, a girl should be told similar things about her brother’s actions and characteristics.
2.Teaching children that the ‘awrah is private, and that it should not be uncovered for anyone. Teaching them this, and bringing them up with it, is a way of instilling in them the characteristics of chastity and modesty, and will help prevent perverts from transgressing against them.
3. Asking Permission to Enter. What we aim at during this stage is to accustom a child to the decorum of taking permission to enter a room. The Noble Qur’an detailed this family decorum in the clearest statement when it said, “O you who believe! Let your legal slaves and slave-girls, and those among you who have not come to the age of puberty ask your permission (before they come to your presence) on three occasions; before Fajr (morning) prayer, and while you put off your clothes for the noonday (rest), and after the ‘Isha (late-night) prayer. (These) three times are of privacy for you, other than these times there is no sin on you or on them to move about, attending (helping) you each other. “
Keeping Children Away from Sexual Arousal
Among the major responsibilities that Allah made incumbent on educators is to fortify young people against sexual stimulants at the age of puberty and before. Scholars have unanimously agreed that the teenage years are the most momentous period of man’s life. So, if the educator knew how to guide him in this phase, in a manner which is well-oriented and righteous, he would, no doubt, grow up as an embodiment of modesty and chastity. Allah SWT says, “And to draw their veils alt over Juyubihinna (i.e. their bodies, faces, necks and bosoms) and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands or their fathers, or their husband’s fathers or their sons, or their husbands sons, or their brothers or their brother ‘s sons, or their sister’s sons, or their (Muslim) women (i.e. their sisters in Islam), or the (female) slaves whom their right hands possess, or old male servants who lack vigor, or small children who have no sense of feminine sex…” (An -Nur, 31)
Imam Ibn Kathir says in interpreting this verse, “It means if young children are unaware of matters pertaining to women’s privacies, their melodious voices, their way of walking, their moves, and their standing still, there is no harm in letting them enter women’s places, but if they arc teenagers or approaching this age, or aware of all of that, and can distinguish between an attractive and unattractive woman, they should be prevented from entering women’s places.”
Ai-Bukhari narrated that Al-Fadl lbn Al-Abbas was behind the Prophet ﷺ on a camel on the Day of Slaughtering and Al-Fadl was about the age of puberty. Al-Fadl kept looking at a beautiful woman from Khatham, who was asking the Prophet about some religious matters, so, the Prophet ﷺ took Al-Fadl by the chin and turned his face away from the woman. Thus, the Prophet ﷺ kept him from sexually stimulating himself through gazing at the woman’s face.
The educator should make clear to his child the Islamic rules of chastity both in theory and practice, which are:
Corrupt companionship: we have mentioned before that “Among the main factors leading to child deviation are bad companions especially when the child is of modest intelligence. “In this regard, the Prophet ﷺ said, “A man adheres to his friend’s customs. So, you have to be selective regarding whoever is going to be your friend, ” (lbn Majah). May Allah have Mercy upon the poet who said, Never wonder about man but about his associate. Since every mate takes his associate to emulate.
Corruption from intermingling: this mode of social behavior has a negative impact on morals and ethics, even in the case of children. This innovation has unfortunately, been introduced in some Muslim communities. It was encouraged by the claim that this type of intermingling may abate instincts and check desire.
These are the most dangerous means that would cause our children to be completely lost.
Points to remember
Finally, we state that nothing could save the world today from the disorders of unrestrained desire and sweeping immoral decay except the Muslim view not only concerning sex but also on other aspects of life. Thus Islam puts all aspects of life in order, and provides man with a balanced integrated view of life that fulfills the needs of humanity and satisfies man’s hopes and longings.