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Parenting: An Islamic Perspective
Abu Musa Alyas
category: Family Life
The feeling of wanting a child is something that is natural, necessary and a very basic part of human life.
At a certain point of reaching adulthood, the desire to become a parent intensifies, and as the psyche develops, so does the physical body in preparation for this journey.
The desire often increases until an emptiness is felt, once a child is born this void is then filled. A new generation is born, and one of the the biggest responsibilities has then been taken upon by a person.
Unfortunately, not many people actually consider at a deeper level what it means to become a parent.
The only reason by which a couple should embark upon the immense responsibility of having a child is if they can give the child a stable home. Life can change over time, but when considering whether to have a child or not this should be a minimum requirement.
Perhaps as importantly, no couple should have a child simply because they would like to have a baby, if someone wants to bring a pure soul into the world then the child should be given the respect it deserves by giving it due consideration. A couple should only have a child if they want to raise it for the sake of Allah, if they want this child to spread the name of our Lord to everyone it meets and die as one of the righteous.
It has become common place to have children to "fix" a marriage. Couples experiencing marital problems often believe that raising a child together will help bring them closer together. For those who have experienced the difficulties of pregnancy, labour and the intense trials of a newborn baby, will instantly recognise what a fallacy this idea is. For two people to become closer, they need time and good communication in order to deal with the issues at hand. Nine months of pregnancy and then the following years with a newborn baby will only create further pressure and distance between the couple. Parents need to be a strong unit from the beginning.
Parents who have children to fix their relationship usually go their separate ways at some stage, leaving a child without a stable home in which it had the right to be raised. Alternatively, the parents stay together for the sake of the child; the child is then raised in a home where there is usually little or no communication between the parents, let alone love. This is not an environment which is beneficial to the child. The child was not given the consideration and the respect it deserved from the beginning, and will now have to suffer, perhaps for life because of the irresponsible and selfish actions of the parents.
By having a child solely for the sake of Allah means the parent is mentally equipped to know what it means to conceive and raise the child in a manner which takes care to do justice to the child and to the ummah as a whole; to spread the name of our Lord, and to live and die as one of the righteous.
Spending time with the child
As the Prophet (Sallahu'alayhi wa sallam) illustrated "All of you are shepherds and each of you is responsible for his flock." [Agreed upon]
The shepherd does not merely push his flock to one side waiting for them to return at the end of the day, he does not hope that they will find their own way or look to anyone else to guide them. The shepherd accepts responsibility and constantly guides his own flock.
This is exactly what every parent should be doing with their child.
The parents should be involved in every aspect of a child's life, concentrating on the child's internal and external development. The parent needs to constantly refine the character of the child.
It should be known that parenting is a science, every interaction, recognition, praise, and discipline will combine to form a part of that child's character. Therefore, it is imperative that parents reflect and ensure their interactions with the child result in positive characteristics developing in their children.
Many parents send their children to school, wait for them to arrive home and then hurry them back out to the madrassas. After which, they are left to roam the streets. Any other spare time is spent between relative's houses and more time on the streets.
This is clearly not the way to raise a righteous child and this is not the time, love and respect that the child requires to develop into a healthy balanced person. In order to develop a deep love and friendship with the child, a parent must devote their time and attention towards the child.
The fundamental aim of every parent is built upon the same foundations; every parent must be the number one person in that child's life. The person that the child looks up to and wants to be like. Every parent must ensure they are the child's best friend.
Teaching children their deen
A certain mentality seems to have evolved regarding Madrassas; parents often feel as though they are fulfilling their Islamic obligations by sending a child to a Masjid. They feel that a child will learn and develop their religion by attending a madrassa for a couple of hours each day. This is the extent of the Islamic education that the children receive; nothing else is done at home.
What parents must realise is, the children will usually repeat the same verses again for that two hour period and then proceed to another set of verses the next day. The child is not being moulded around the deen, they are not developing the Islamic personality from reciting repeatedly.
In order to develop the Islamic personality, children need to know and understand what Allah has said to them, they need to know and love the Prophet (sallallahu'alayhi wa sallam) and see the sacrifices that he made to bring this deen to the world.
It should be clear to any parent that this is not taught in a madrassa and it is not the job of the madrassas to teach and mould the children into pious Muslims- this is the job of each and every parent. The parents should be teaching the children daily, both in a literal sense and in terms of their character. Teaching does not infer the basic verbal explanations that most parents give to their children, this should be a full, comprehensive and progressive study taught by the parents.
Having to teach the children should be a drive in of itself; in order to teach, the parent themselves must have the required knowledge and indeed this is a pre-requisite of this religion. The parents need to be actively involved in studying the deen in order to be able to teach their children.
Children often seem to spend more time with relatives than the parents themselves. Due to the minimal involvement of the parents in their lives, a weak bond is often formed with the children.
The children grow up lost, without that natural bond to the parents that they so desperately require. And it is only the parents that can give them this bond. This is the job that they took upon themselves the day they conceived that child and one that they must take responsibility for.
Other relatives assume the roles of parents and relationships become diluted, the difference between the relatives and the parents becomes minimal. Relatives assume roles that are not naturally theirs, they lose their place in the family structure and conflicts occur.
Children are often mirrors of their own parents and environments. They absorb their surroundings and become a product of their experiences. The parents have the right and indeed must exercise the right of controlling and filtering continuously this environment and ensure they keep their children close.
The children can then enjoy family and friends from a healthy distance; with everyone in their own place, the parent's role is preserved in its correct place.
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