The goal to raise a Muslim child should be distinct and different from the goals of raising children in general. There may be some overlapping between cultural and Islamic upbringing which is natural but the goal of the Muslim parent in raising Muslim children should be to raise righteous Muslims. That should be clear; to raise righteous Muslims. Not merely children who identify culturally with Islam because Islamic and Muslim children maybe at variants. Muslim culture may include many other things which may not be part of Islamic culture. Often, the goals people have set for themselves is to raise children who conform to the culture they have inherited. The message being sent across here is raising them in accordance with true Islamic culture. And as such they should be raised righteous Muslims. Parents should have high goals and expectations from their children. For a true Muslim, the highest goal is Paradise.
Abu Hurairah reported: The Prophet ﷺ said, “Seven are (the persons) whom Allah will give protection with His Shade on the Day when there will be no shade except His Shade (i.e., on the Day of Resurrection), and they are:
This should be our goal as parents; to raise children who will grow up worshiping Allah SWT. The reality is that most people have high expectations, which is purely focused on the dunya like pursuing medicine, law, engineering among other professions which would only earn them money and prestige. These goals are worth achieving from the academic perspective and are very much needed by the Muslim community for a healthy survival, especially in this time. However, they should not take precedence over the primary goal, i.e, paradise. Parents should desire paradise as the biggest goal for their children.
As Allah says in the Quran,
وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَاتَّبَعَتْهُمْ ذُرِّيَّتُهُم بِإِيمَانٍ أَلْحَقْنَا بِهِمْ ذُرِّيَّتَهُمْ وَمَا أَلَتْنَاهُم مِّنْ عَمَلِهِم مِّن شَيْءٍ
And those who believe and whose offspring follow them in Faith, to them shall We join their offspring, and We shall not decrease the reward of their deeds in anything. (SURAH AT-TAUR 52;21)
Disciplining the child
It is essential to point out that bad behaviour in most cases is in accordance with a person’s whims and desires; hence the child will pick up bad behaviour with the slightest influence and the most insignificant of reasons. On the other hand, good behaviour means disciplining oneself and restraining oneself from whims and desires that detrimental to one’s own best interests. Good behaviour means following a path that is contrary to the whims and desires of the self, so it is a constructive process that requires effort and striving.
A sound upbringing is one that instills good attitude and behaviour firmly in the child’s heart and mind so that he will be able to resist corrupt whims and desires, and he will not feel comfortable except with things that help him adhere to the path of righteousness and will despise anything that is contrary to good values.
In order for the child to accept this good attitude and behaviour, it is essential to make that beloved to him. Love cannot be instilled by means of force and harshness; rather it needs the following:
1. Kindness and gentleness
Children by their nature love the parent who is kind to them and helps them, and who cares about them, but that should be without yelling and getting angry, as much as possible; rather it should be with wisdom and patience.
The child is at an age where he needs leisure and play; he is also at an age where discipline and teaching are appropriate. Hence everything must be given due attention, within moderation.
Because children love kind parents, this love gives them a strong motivation to obey their parents. In the opposite scenario, if kindness is absent and there is violence and harshness, that will lead to alienation, which in turn will lead to stubbornness and disobedience, or the prevalence of fear which will generate an attitude of lying and deceitfulness in the child.
Kind treatment does not rule out the use of punishment when necessary,
But it should be noted that punishment, when bringing up children, must be used wisely. It is not right to punish the child for every misdemeanour on his part; rather punishment is to be used when kindness is of no benefit and when advice, instructions and bans have been to no avail.
Punishments should also be useful and of various forms like taking away a privilege (TV time), adding an extra chore to the child’s responsibilities etc.
DISCIPLINE BY EXAMPLE
Setting a good example cannot emphasised enough, this has been repeated under almost every topic and it is extremely effective in helping to reform a wayward child. If the parent is truthful, honest, noble, and chaste, the children will be raised on truthfulness, honesty, morality, nobility, and chastity. However, if the parents are untruthful, treacherous, immoral, miserly, cowardly, or mean, the children will be brought up on lying, treachery, immorality, cowardice and meanness. It is not sufficient for parents to set a good example in front of the child, thinking that they have discharged their duty, but they should link the child to the best example: the Prophet ﷺ, so that when he comes of age he has no leader example, or ideal except Muhammad ﷺ. Parents should also link their children to the example of the Companions of Allah’s Messenger, the following generation after them, and those who followed their steps, according to the words of Allah “They are those whom Allah had guided. So follow their guidance…” (Al-Ana’m 90)
DISCIPLINE BY TEACHING GOOD HABITS
If a child has two factors available to him, namely virtuous Islamic education and a righteous environment, he would be raised on true belief, and he would enjoy Islamic manners, and would reach the peak of virtue and personal noble traits.
DISCIPLINE BY ADVICE
One of the most important and effective means of raising a child on belief and preparing him morally, psychologically, and socially, is by advising him in a rightly and kind manner.
Reminders and sound advice has been the most effective form of Dawah to people of all ages. The Messenger ﷺ took interest in giving advice, and directed educators and callers to the way of Allah to give admonition, and called upon every Muslim to be a caller to Allah everywhere he goes, so that whoever has a good heart would be influenced positively by his admonition and guidance. In this way he may save, through calling and giving admonition, people who are involved in pre-lslamic practices, debauchery, loss, and misguidance. Following are the most important of his directives & concerning giving advice, admonition, and calling to the way of Allah:
The Prophet ﷺ said, “Religion is advice,” They asked, “For whom?” He ﷺ said, “For Allah, His Messenger, the leaders of Muslims, and their commoners.” (Muslim)
The Prophet ﷺ gave advice in various manners
DISCIPLINE BY PUNISHMENT
Dealing with the child tenderly and mercifully is the basis: Al- Bukhari narrated in Al-Adah AI-Mufrad that Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “Be tender and avoid violence and obscenity,”
Taking into account the nature of the child to be punished: Children vary concerning intelligence, flexibility, and responsiveness. Their temperaments also differ, they can be quiet, peaceful, and the moderate, or nervous and violent.
Many scholars of Islamic education, including Ibn Sina, Al-Abdari and Ibn Khaldun, are of the opinion that an educator should not resort to punishment except in case of extreme necessity, and not to resort to beating except after threatening and intercession. The intention is to reform the child and to form him morally and psychologically. In his book “Muqadimah” (Introduction), Ibn Khaldun states that excessive violence towards the child develops in him a weak will, cowardice, and escaping from life’s responsibilities. Among his statements is the following;
‘The one who was brought up with violence and submission, whether a learner, a Mamluk, or a servant, humility will seize him, will make him displeased, inactive, and lazy. It will force him to lie and be cunning for fear of hands stretching out to subdue him. It will teach him trickery and deception which will become habitual and such qualities will spoil his humanity.”
Gradation from the lighter punishment to more severe punishment: the Messenger ﷺ outlined to educators clear methods for dealing with a child’s bad behaviour, making him polite, and setting his behaviour alright.
According to scholars, the following rules should be enforced while giving physical punishment
So raising children should be a balance between encouragement and warning. The most important element of all is making the environment in which the children live a good one, by providing the means whereby they may be guided; this means that their educators should be religiously committed, including their parents.
REWARDS OF RAISING PIOUS CHILDREN
Raising good and righteous children not only has a lot of worldly benefits but also is one of the few acts which you can reap rewards of, even after your death.
The Prophet ﷺ said,
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