‘Raising Strong Children/Future Generation’
One of the most common misused sentences by the people of the Ummah today is “What can we do?” We complain about the lack of power and impact. Although that is just an excuse from taking responsibility and doing your own bit, but for argument sake even if we say ok you cannot make an impact there but no one can deny the impact you can make on your children and that the children can make a change in the future.The Prophet ﷺ said, “Beware. Every one of you is a shepherd and everyone is answerable with regard to his flock. The Caliph is a shepherd over the people and shall be questioned about his subjects (as to how he conducted their affairs). A man is a guardian over the members of his family and shal be questioned about them (as to how he looked after their physical and moral well-being). A woman is a guardian over the household of her husband and his children and shall be questioned about them (as to how she managed the household and brought up the children). …...” (Sahih Muslim)
Our children are an amanah (trust) on to us from Allah: it’s our duty to nurture, educate and protect them as they grow into productive adults. It’s very important to take some time out to ponder and reflect on the part you are playing or have played in your children’s journey of life. Do your children know their relationship with their Creator? Remember: all that they do will be written down, and when their book is presented on the Day of Accountability – the contents will be based on your work! Ask yourself: what are you doing to ensure that your children’s book will reflect righteous deeds, good character and true success?
How confident do you feel about reporting back to Allah and being able to say: ”Allah I raised my children with ihsan (excellence) to the best of my ability in accordance and obedience to Your laws.” What a wonderful feeling will this be? How do we perform the most important role on earth?
Our goals should be:
A few tips…
GROOM YOURSELF FIRST
Yes, your own self is the first action point. You must have the basic principles of aqeedah, and fiqh. If we don’t know the basic elements of our deen, how are we going to respond to our children when they ask us, and they WILL ask at some point? Our deen presents a clear and beautiful foundation that governs all aspects of life in a way that brings purity and goodness in this life and the next.
We must remember, learn and live this in order to help our children see the beauty of their deen.
So, make sure to seek knowledge; enroll yourself in online or offline institutes that help you with that. This is an essential foundation, not a secondary pursuit or a luxury.
BE IN HARMONY WITH YOUR SPOUSE
The best is to, first, choose the right partner. As the Prophet ﷺ reocmmend to marry based on deen and character for both men & women. This (and the first) is the basic groundwork for a sound Muslim child. When both parents have the same vision and goal, the child will have a healthy upbringing.
Special reminder for men, you need to be involved in raising children, it is not just enough for you to provide for their food and education, you have as much responsibility as the mother to raise righteous children, women get to influence more because of their soft nature, sabr and being able to spend more time with them but again men need to take out time for this.
WISELY CUT WHAT’S HARMFUL
Cut the electronic baby sitter to a bare minimum – I mean the television. If you can do without it, the better.
Two basic things which can easily influence your children must be cut down wisely; television and using gadgets.
Television can damage your children’s creed, belief and also physical health. Firstly limit the time and also you must monitor what your children watch on television or on any other gadget. Work on finding alternative programs that will not harm their belief system, and sight. You can monitor them to watch innocuous views such as halal children’s cartoons, documentaries, upright Islamic channels, etc. Also, try to get them busier with learning and being engaged in useful activities than idly sitting and watching something purposelessly.
STRENGTHEN THEIR EMAAN
INCULCATING LOVE OF ALLAH
It is clearly not sufficient for parents to limit the teachings and practice of Islam to ritual acts of worship in specific times and places alone, as is unfortunately widespread today. Rather, it is the awareness of Allah, His Names and Attributes, and the desire to connect with Him out of love and servitude toward Him that must be at the forefront of what is taught and applied at all times to strengthen that identity. Additionally, self-esteem is further developed from the realization that Allah bestows the most noble status on His beloved servants. These concepts are further reinforced by parents through showing love, encouragement, and acknowledgment of the child—and, where possible, with the additional support of like-minded company. Of the core aims of Islam is to strengthen the individual both spiritually and practically by placing great emphasis on collective effort as exemplified by the prophetic model of family and community life.
Our Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is the best of all role models. Read stories about him to your children so they follow his sunnah (path) with love. Read stories about the Prophets and the sahabah. Do not share fairy tales and make the children live in a dream land. Tell them stories of the sacrifices of these heroes of Islam. Teach them from an early age about the sahabah and other great heroes of Islam. Their great sacrifices and efforts for the sake of Allah. If we develop in them a love for Islam and provide them with righteous examples for their heroes, they are less likely to go astray. As we see nowadays, children want to be like their heroes: if they admire the sahabah and sahabiyyat like Abu Bakr R.A, Umar R.A., Ibn Abbas R.A. and Aisha R.A., they are more than likely to emulate them and remain steadfast upon their religion, in sha Allah.
Many of the Companions of the Prophet ﷺ were either in the prime of their youth or children who grew up in his company. Their biographies provide abundant fruit from which to nourish young minds and to encourage them to emulate the praiseworthy character traits and conduct of these phenomenal role models who are among the best of humanity.
TEACH THEM ISLAM THROUGH YOUR GOOD EXAMPLE
You must teach your children how to worship Allah S.W.T., by you practicing and learning and growing in your deen as well with them. Teach them the five pillars of Islam through how much you are committed to them and in full comprehension of their meaning and blessing. Also, let them learn and memorize the Qur’an. but be part of this journey as well. Be their companion and their role model instead of making them feel that you want them to be something unrealistic/unattainable.
We have many routines for our children including morning, school, homework and bedtime routines. How much emphasis do we put on Islamic routines? Take some time out to draw up an Islamic routine for your children that looks like the following:
The Prophet ﷺ said: “Teach your children to pray when they are seven and punish them for neglecting it when they reach the age of ten.” [Abu Dawud]
Be punctual with your salah, get into the habit of praying at the earliest hour, teach this to your children, and they will be more than likely to be punctual in everything else they do. Make prayer times a family event: even if children are not of age, let them join in or sit quietly; so that when salah becomes obligatory upon them, they are firm and ready to speak to the King of kings with full concentration (khushu’).
With routines, children learn to be independent and consistent. We need to teach them to learn to wait, help and be patient, thereby developing solid tolerance levels for patience.
STRENGTHEN THEM MENTALLY
Grit, aka, mental toughness and perseverance, is the number one crucial determiner of true strength … and overall success. So we need to work on mental strength of our children as much as their physical strength. Many of the most successful people whether Islamically or in this world are succeeding and reaching heights not because they popped a golden pill, but because they developed grit. Mental toughness. This mental toughness then served as the foundation of their perseverance and consistency in moving toward their goal, instead of quitting early or trying something else or assuming they weren’t talented enough.
FOSTER A STRONG SENSE OF IDENTITY
Before occupying ourselves with whether our kids have eaten a proper breakfast, or whether they’re too warm or cold in what they’re wearing, or how well or poorly they’re doing academically, we need to ask ourselves – does my child feel comfortable in his own skin? Are our children comfortable being Muslims? Do they know what they believe in and why? Fostering a strong sense of identity starts when our children are young. Make their faith a source of comfort, love, and inspiration. Only then will they embrace their Muslim identities without discomfort or resentment. Make Eids meaningful celebrations for them. Let them feel joy and ease in their faith instead of feeling judged or forced. Help them find a second home in the mosque by creating fun and welcoming programs for them.
One of the most important contributions we can make to nurture our children’s identities is to ensure they have good like-minded companions. It’s important to make an effort to connect with other strong Muslim families whose kids can become companions for yours.
Teach them to love your own identity but also teach them to navigate and how to deal with non-muslims, we cannot expect them to be segregated or isolated, the Prophet ﷺ lived amongst the non-muslims and lived by example. He dealt with them justly and kept his promises to them. His character exemplified his call to Islam.
ESTABLISH AN ISLAMIC IDENTITY AT HOME
The most important place to begin in shaping a child’s Muslim identity, is in the home. Does your family routine and home reflect your beliefs and convictions? What is it about your home that differentiates itself from your non-Muslim neighbor’s home? How much of Islam is part of your daily rhythm? Children need tangible items that connect them to their faith. Try living close to the Masjid (if possible) so Ad’han can be heard or atleast it should be heard from your PC or smart phone. Let them see you make wu’du and pray. Teach them about Sunnahs of the Prophet pertaining to food and drink.
DO NOT FRIGHTEN THEM
Do not raise your children with fear of speech as this will cripple the child’s mind.
Another calamity that we have fallen is that we scare our children just to keep them under control. We scare them from darkness, from devils (subcontinent people use “Buddaa” to scare their children). The Messenger of Allah ﷺ, said, “It is not lawful for a Muslim to frighten another Muslim.” (Sunan Abī Dāwūd 5004). All in all we are raising children who are scared and hampering their growth. We need to raise fearless men & women who are only scared of Allah and no one/nothing else – this will result in them doing the right things in the face of adversity. So we need to keep on reminding them they are a Muslim and that Muslims are not scared of anything/anyone other Allah.
HELP/PUSH THEM BECOME BRAVE
Just the opposite of what is said above, instead of scaring them we should be working hard to make them brave. Help them, push them to become Men & women who will bravely stand for justice & to help the deen of Allah.
There were Sahaba who were taking part in battles at the age of 15 like Usama bin Zayd, in fact he was appointed as a commander of an army for an expedition when he was 18 or 20yrs old. The great scholar of Islam – Ibn Abbas – is another great example of how he was part of the shura council of Omar R.A.
This is only possible when we work to make them brave, responsible and righteous.
TEACH THEM TO SPEAK UP AND STAND FOR JUSTICE
Making your children free to talk will ensure a transparent mind. So provide your children with a healthy environment for discussion and learning. Always tell them to stand for justice amongst siblings, cousins and outside. Reward them when you see an act of courage done for Justice.
VALIDATE QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS
Children may be small, but their questions are big! Validate their concerns or questions they may have about Islam. Try to answer them in a way that is simple for a child to grasp. This isn’t always easy, but you do not want to dismiss their questions completely. If a child is left feeling unsatisfied or confused, they will not have strong convictions. When they are able to understand a concept, it becomes easy for them to accept and love their faith.
CONDONE A VICTIM MENTALITY
Not being selected in a competition, failing in a test or getting cut from the team doesn’t make a child a victim. Disappointment, failure and rejection are a part of life.
No matter how unjust or tough the circumstance, refuse to attend your kids’ pity parties. Teach them the importance of taking positive action rather than indulging in self-pity. Teach them to try harder the next time as hard work is always rewarded by Allah, He is the Most Just!
PREPARE THEM FOR RESPONSIBILITY
Keep reminding the children that they are to take responsibility in future. Along with their personal responsibility makes sure to instill in them the sense of responsibility towards the Ummah and the people in need. Whenever they see someone in need tell them to work hard so in future they are able to help others and that Allah will rewards those who help others greatly.
STRENGTHEN THEM PHYSICALLY
Please, please, o my brothers and sisters in Islam, please get you children involved in physical activities, restrict their video games to a small part of their time (if at all) and encourage them to play outside. Kids need physical activity to build strength, coordination, and confidence. The sun, sand and other natural factors help in strengthening their bodies and immune systems along with increasing their strength and endurance.
When kids are active, their bodies can do the things they want and need them to do.
Physically active kids also are more likely to be motivated, focused, and successful. And mastering physical skills builds confidence at every age. Teach your children swimming, horse riding, gardening, enroll your kids in physical activities like karate, football and other games that will build their strength and stamina.
Our mother’s main focus would be to work hard to cook and provide nutritious food for our children. But with the changing trends, shortage of time (or so it is perceived) and readily available snacks we have given up making the efforts and commonly see that children today eat so much sugar and processed food which are greatly unhealthy.
Another unhealthy habit commonly seen is that we focus on filling the children by making them watch TV/mobile while eating. This is done so that we can get it over with asap and are free to do our own things, but this more often than not results in over eating which is unhealthy for the children.
It is not easy to go all organic, but do cut down as much as possible on processed and junk food. Make them eat their portions in time but never allow over eating or eating just to kill time. Make them eat healthy and on time.
Once our children feel comfortable within our Muslim community, we should expand into our community as a whole. Volunteering is an excellent way to teach our children to be productive citizens. Doing good for others, gives children a sense of accomplishment. Relate to them Ayahs and Hadith how Allah is pleased with them because of this.
LET THEM WORK FOR IT
Whatever it is they desire, make sure they are required to put forth a little effort and endure some type of sacrifice to get it. Whether it’s giving up free time to earn extra money for a purchase, or putting in extra work to get some candy. The sooner your children internalize this truth, the better equipped they’ll be to overcome obstacles and achieve.
MAKE DUA’A FOR THEM
As parents, it goes without saying that we need to constantly make du’aa for our children. It was the practice of the Prophets like Ibrahim A.S. and Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.
One of the goals of Muslim parents is to have pious children that will pray for them once they have left this world – can you say your child will remember to make du’aa for you when you have gone?
Pray to the Most High to bless and protect your children. As Allah taught us in the Qur’an to supplicate:
رَبِّ ٱجۡعَلۡنِى مُقِيمَ ٱلصَّلَوٰةِ وَمِن ذُرِّيَّتِىۚ رَبَّنَا وَتَقَبَّلۡ دُعَآءِ
Rabbi-Ajal’ni muqeema salaati, wa min Dhurriyyati, rabbana wataqabbal duaa
My Lord, make me an establisher of prayer, and [many] from my descendants. Our Lord, and accept my supplication. [14:40]
رَبَّنَا هَبۡ لَنَا مِنۡ أَزۡوَٲجِنَا وَذُرِّيَّـٰتِنَا قُرَّةَ أَعۡيُنٍ۬ وَٱجۡعَلۡنَا لِلۡمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا
Rabbana Hablana min Azwaajina wa Dhuriyyatina Qurrata A’yunin waj’alna lil- Muttaqina Imama
“Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous.” [25:74]
When you pray, you are submitting to Allah and handing your children’s care to the All-Powerful.
OUR MISTAKES AS PARENTS
Because of the internet and the level of crime we see, parents have become paranoid. The level of crime has not greatly increased from our childhood to this day, it is almost the same but in this age of social media, we are able to see everything that happens in our community, city, country, continent or the world which makes us paranoid and we are scared of our children going out to play. Parents today prefer their children are in front of their eyes all the time which results in video games, TV and internet browsing, and we all know the harmful effect of that.
This doesn’t mean that you do not worry at all. A Muslim takes precautions and has tawakkul on Allah. We should teach the children about safety about dealing with strangers and how to safe guard themselves, we should ensure that they are playing areas that are safe and then have Tawakkul on Allah.
We take shortcuts to avoid discomfort.
Although giving in when your child whines, giving them a smart phone or TV or doing your kids’ chores for them makes life easier right now, those shortcuts will backfire in the end.
Implement delayed gratification and show your children you’re strong enough to stay the course. You’ll teach them they’re strong enough to reach their long-term goals despite the temptations to take the easy way out.
Being lenient in Islamic matter and strict/stern for worldly matter.
Smacking children to discipline is common in parts of the world, whether or not you are from the ones who smack their children the sad part is that the Ummah today is sterner in punishments for worldly matters like studies, etc but lenient when it comes to Islamic matters, we need to make them realise that it really is a bigger deal when they disobey Allah and the consequences are going to be worse if they do something un-islamic. Like the Prophet ﷺ adviced to punish/smack the children for prayers when they are 10yrs old. This helps them become more mindful of Allah and better human beings as a whole as Islam is a way of life and will be their guiding light.
We do not let them question us.
Although children are expected to obey you but allow them to question and make sure you explain, or it will lead them to not question authority and just become weak push overs.
We see around us now that the parents have become so over-protective. During our childhood it was common for our adult relatives to tease us or trouble us and we were supposed to react while also behave but now we see the parents intervene, infact they take offence, it can be tempting to shield kids from hurt feelings and hard times. But hardship is a part of life.
Kids need first-hand experience dealing with uncomfortable emotions. With your support, they can gain confidence in themselves and trust that they can handle whatever difficulties life throws their way.
Let your kids avoid responsibility.
One of the biggest problems of the Ummah today is that everyone is expecting someone else to make a difference, No one is taking responsibility! We need to raise children who would take responsibility and build blocks for a stronger Ummah.
Countless studies show the importance of getting kids involved in household tasks. Yet, only 28 percent of children do chores.
If you want to raise kids who become responsible adults, give them plenty of responsibility. Let them pack their own lunches, assign daily chores, and expect them to take care of their own equipment for hobbies etc. Giving them the comforts of the world is only going to make them lazy and will make it difficult for them to face the world in future.
Reminding them what people will think.
If we tell the children to stop doing something reminding them what will people including their father, mother, grandparents etc think, they will subconsciously align themselves to do those things when no one is able to see them. Tell them what will Allah think, He is the All Seer the All knower. Make them always mindful of Allah.
STRENGTHENING THE FUTURE GENERATION BY NUMBERS
Having a lot of children
The Prophet ﷺ “Marry those who are loving and fertile, for I will be proud of your great numbers before the other nations.” (Abu Dawood)
And do not worry about their rizq, that is from Allah. Each child comes with his/her own rizq and you will be blessed by it.
Another important and halal means of increasing the number is the Practicing Muslims engage in Polygyny (conditions apply). Do not just get into it saying it is Sunnah, a man needs to be strong mentally, physically and financially to be able to take this responsibility but if there is a good man who is good in his deen and character then polygyny is something that would benefit the Ummah. Recommend you to read this for the dos & donts with regards to Polygyny, www.learn-islam.org/polygyny.May Allah make us focus on the aakhirah and put our main efforts to make our children betternot just for their own good but for us as the children would be the main source of Sawaab-e-Jaariya for the parents.