As Allah SWT states in the 49th ayat of Sura Ash-Shura:
To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth; He creates what he wills. He gives to whom He wills female [children], and He gives to whom He wills males.
Dear brothers and sisters, last week we spoke of the ultimate gift in this life which is the gift of faith. Following on from that, the next most beautiful gift we are given during the course of our lives is that of children.
The imam reminded us with this ayat and we should remember this even when our children test our patience and our resolve because that is part of their purpose too.
And raising children appears to be fraught with challenges and difficulties more than ever before as we see the way the world is today.
However, it is worth remembering a few key points in regards to this. Firstly, there is no calamity that affects anybody without the permission of Allah SWT. He has the ability to keep every child steadfast and protected even in the most difficult of environments.
We have been advised in our deen to procreate and have children in our marriages as they are a gift of Allah SWT. This fact does not change if we are living in a Muslim land or if we are living in the most secular of places.
Secondly, just like when we look at the lives of our own parents and the world they grew up in, it appears alien to us. Just like this, they once must have thought the same about the world we grew up in and had the same worries as parents. We must remind ourselves that with each passing generation, the tests and challenges will change and we are not expected to understand the world our children grow up in.
Just like it was with us, that is their test to conduct. It is for them to grow, adapt, seek the help from Allah SWT and seek mentoring from their parents and their elders.
We need to be mindful of this fact and not try to force our experiences onto them as their world may not be the same as what we knew when we were growing up.
What does remain the same is the advice we are given on raising our children by our Prophet SAWS. He was a devout father and in the examples of his fatherhood are precious lessons that stand the test of time and are applicable today to all parents.
One of the first lessons was reminded to us by the imam as he relayed a hadith which is translated to say:
‘Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported:
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Allah is Forbearer and loves forbearance in all matters.”
Dear brothers and sisters, for those who don’t know, forbearance means self-control, restraint and tolerance. So we have to practice these things around our children.
Practically, this means to be mindful of Allah SWT even when we are teaching them, punishing them for bad behaviour or rewarding them for good behaviour. Our deen is based on etiquettes and the way in which we deal with children is no exception.
The second point to note here is that children have a high perception of hypocrisy. Unlike the British saying of “Do as I say and not as I do”, we are taught that the best lesson comes from being the role model for our children.
For example, if we are asking our children to be mindful of their manners but we demonstrate bad manners ourselves then they will struggle to learn them and on top of that, they will see that there is hypocrisy in us. This then erodes the trust they place in us to be teachers for them and that is a danger we must avoid.
Equally, we can’t ask them to be mindful of salat or reading Quran if they never see us do either. And so, if there is a trait in our children we are wanting to change then we should be asking ourselves first if there is something we are doing which is causing this behaviour.
The third point is that we must both encourage and reward good behaviour but patiently and calmly point out and punish bad behaviour. Unfortunately the values children possess as they grow up is diverging more and more from what we are meant to instill into them and what society tells them are the values they should have.
We need to bring about a love for Allah SWT and the Prophet SAWS in their hearts at the earliest of ages and when they are still children, explain to them that they values we hold dear are not man-made, but they come directly from Allah SWT and that they are values which Allah SWT loves. Connect good behaviour to the values found in Islam and this is the best chance of success in getting children to adopt them as they grow up.
Finally, we have practical tips we can implement. Things like eating together, listening to Quran, praying in congregation, visiting Islamic countries to show them other societies, encouraging good friends and good hobbies. These all contribute to a good upbringing of our children.
And as the imam reminded us, we have a dua in as-saffat, ayat 100 which is translated to say:
My Lord, grant me [a child] from among the righteous