Question # 284: Asalamualaikum. What is the proper manner of being a good parent in Islam according to the sunnah and the Quran? Some parents do bad stuff and the child watches for example lying, cheating, being harsh and always fighting with their spouse. Not going regularly for Salah. The spouse then says my child should not do what I do. My child should go for salah even if I don’t go. Pls explain. What would be the outcome of the child Desperately in need for advice.

Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Short Answer: The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said that every one of you is a shepherd and everyone is responsible for his flock, which makes parents responsible to ensure the well-being of their children. In order to raise the next generation upon virtuousness, the parents should conduct their manners and activities in accordance with the Qur’an and the Sunnah. The following are some of the do’s and don’ts to be considered while raising children in an Islamic environment:

  • Children usually imitate their parents; hence, if parents are not of good character, there is no way their children will have a good character. Hence, teaching should be backed up by setting a practical example in terms of worship, manners, words, deeds and appearance.
  • Educating children should start from the early age, with the offering salah, Qur’an memorization, reading seerah (life of the Prophet), learning Arabic language, various supplications, etiquettes and manners.
  • When a child does mischief, instead of scolding, he should be explained the mistake and suggested a way to rectify it. The child should be made to understand the difference between the right and the wrong through logical reasoning to help him act within the limits of Islam.
  • The children pick up sinful, immoral and unlawful mannerism from watching and listening to meaningless media. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) warned us of the time, when people will seek to make unlawful things lawful, like use of musical instruments. Hence, listening to music is another evil which has found its way in Muslim homes and taken our children away from deen of Allah.
  • The parents should be very careful about whom their children mix with and who they befriend, since children pick up bad manners and bad language from their surroundings. Also, the evil of mixing with non-mahram should be taught at the age of discernment.
  • The parents must regularly, sincerely, make dua’a for their children.

Long Answer: A Muslim home is built upon individual and collective responsibilities. These responsibilities are given in a structure of laws designed to create order and harmony in the home. The first and foremost responsibility shared by all and which must be enforced by those in authority in the home is the worship of Allah and Allah alone.

The Muslim home is a trust and responsibility that parents / guardians shoulder, because they are the foundation and the pillars of this home; they are ones who determine the direction of the home. So, if they choose to adhere to the Straight Path theoretically and practically; beautify themselves with internal and external piety, and have good manners and honorable conduct, then this home will be one which raises the next generation upon virtuousness and will illuminate others with its chastity. Such a home will be a launching pad for a noble and great nation and a distinguished and respected civilization.

lbn ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Every one of you is a shepherd and everyone is responsible for his flock. The Amir (i.e. ruler) is a shepherd over them and is responsible for them. The man is a shepherd over members of his family and is responsible for them. The woman is a shepherd over the house of her husband and his children and is responsible for them. The servant is a shepherd over his master’s property and is responsible for it. The man is responsible for his father’s property. Every one of you is a shepherd and everyone is responsible for his flock.” (AI-Bukhari (Adab AI-Mufrad) & Muslim)

The Muslim home should be nurtured on knowledge and action; knowledge which guides to the right way and the Straight Path and which makes one aware of all that which leads to Hell; knowledge which educates one about the etiquettes of purity, the rulings of prayer and the lawful and unlawful, because no Muslim home should be ignorant of the basic rulings of the religion. It is an obligation upon the head of the home to make his house a fountain of beneficial Islamic knowledge. Beginning with himself, he should be at least of the minimum required standard of education and manner in order for him to be a true guardian of his family and to make his home secure. The competency in this affair is dictated by having knowledge of the Qur’an and the Sunnah and the practices of the Salafus-saliheen (our pious predecessors).

The home which does not instill sound beliefs and the Qur’anic methodology, and does not live harmoniously will produce individuals who are emotionally disturbed, intellectually lost, and morally corrupted. Moreover, such homes produce undutiful children which is a common occurrence nowadays, as well as bad relations between youth who abandon their responsibilities and shun the worship of Allah as well as rebelling against sound morals. This is a definite result of Muslims parents being heedless of purifying and properly cultivating their children, as well as not setting good examples for their children to follow.

Importance of Islamic Parenting

Raising children correctly is a vitally important issue for every parent and every educator because it is an amanah from Allah. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) has ordered us in the Qur’an: “O you who believe! Ward off yourselves and your families against a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allah, but do that which they are commanded” (Soorah at-Tahreem, 66:6)

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said “When a man dies, his action discontinues from him except three things, namely, perpetual sadaqah (charity), or the knowledge by which benefit is acquired, or a pious child who prays for him.” (Sunan Abi Dawud)

The childhood stage is the most important stage. Childhood will set the pace for the rest of a person’s life, especially, early childhood. If the child is taught to be upright at this early stage, it is very likely that he will continue to be upright throughout his life. However, if he is taught corruption, he will be corrupt for the rest of his life unless Allah has mercy on him. If you raise a child properly he will remain on this and you will have fulfilled your responsibility.

Do’s and Don’ts

Leading by Example: A person’s behavior can be interpreted in two ways: the first is that actions are assumed to be influenced by his internal characteristics; and the second is in which the possible causes of a person’s actions are related to his situation. This is the theory of attribution in social psychology. However, Allah’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “No child is born except on al-fitra (Islam or primordial human nature) and then his parents make him Jewish, Christian or Magian, as an animal produces a perfect young animal: do you see any part of its body amputated?” (Sahih Muslim) This hadith states that Allah has created children pure, sinless and with a natural predisposition for good and a belief in the one God, i.e., there is a zero possibility of the child being influenced by his internal characteristics to misbehave. Hence, no blame can be placed on a child if he does anything wrong, especially till he reaches the age of discernment. No child has any intention of doing wrong except that he is only imitating or applying what he has seen, heard, felt and learnt from his environment. Children usually imitate their parents more than anyone. Preaching that lying is a sin and then lying in front of children does not help. If parents are not of good character, there is no way their children will have a good character after them. Hence, the teaching the children should be backed up by the parents setting a practical example in terms of worship, manners, words, deeds and appearance.

Instilling the Love for Allah and Qur’an: The child should be regularly hearing the Speech of Allah recited from when they are in the wombs. Instilling love and appreciation for the Qur’an right from the beginning will make children excited to spend time with it and begin a long and fruitful journey reciting, memorizing and pondering over its verses. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “The best among you (Muslims) are those who learn the Qur’an and teach it.” (Al-Bukhari) Educating the children should start from the early age, starting with the Qur’anic memorization, supplications, etiquettes and manners, like what to say upon sneezing, eating, sleeping, going to the toilets etc. They should be related stories of the Prophets of the past nations and specifically our Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم). They must be sent to Islamic schools, which include Qur’an classes, they must be taught the language of the Qur’an.

The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) is reported to have said, “Command your children to pray when they reach the age of seven. Spank them [does not mean physical abuse, which is forbidden in Islam] for [not offering] it when they are ten and separate them in their beds” (Abu Dawood)

Showing Love and Affection: The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was kind to children as affection builds a child’s self-worth. It was narrated from ‘Abdullah bin Shaddad (رضي الله عنه) that his father said: “The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) came out to us for one of the nighttime prayers, and he was carrying Hasan or Husain. The Messenger of Allah came forward and put him down, then he said the Takbir and started to pray. He prostrated during his prayer, and made the prostration lengthy.” My father said: “I raised my head and saw the child on the back of the Messenger of Allah while he was prostrating so I went back to my prostration. When the Messenger of Allah finished praying, the people said: “O Messenger of Allah, you prostrated during the prayer for so long that we thought that something had happened or that you were receiving a revelation.’ He said: ‘No such thing happened. But my son was riding on my back and I did not like to disturb him until he had had enough.” (Sunan an-Nasa’i)

Abu Hurairah (رضي الله عنه) reported: The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) kissed his grandson Al-Hasan bin ‘Ali (رضي الله عنه) in the presence of Al-Aqra’ bin Habis. Thereupon he remarked: “I have ten children and I have never kissed any one of them.” Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) looked at him and said, “He who does not show mercy to others will not be shown mercy”. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

When a young child does mischief, instead of scolding and blaming, he/she should be hugged or patted and said: ‘I forgive you. Let’s fix it!’ and then, explain the mistake and suggest a way to rectify it. The child can also be taught to say “astaghfir-Allah”, alongside apologizing parent or someone else whom he/she offended. An additional habit to teach would be that a good deed wipes away a bad deed. On similar note, the child should be taught what is correct and good behavior through logical reasoning, then he/she will have the guidelines to act within the boundaries and will not be left wondering and confused.

Guiding their way: Among the many Faahishah (i.e. anything that transgresses its limits), we have discussed here two of them which bears significance in the modern era:

Listening to Music/ Watching Television: The various modern media devices can be put to good or evil use, so one has to be careful in putting them to good use in homes. While it is good and even recommended to listen to/watch lectures by trustworthy learned Muslim Scholars, all efforts should be made to avoid using it for listening to music or watching meaningless movies. [The children in most circumstances pick up sinful, dissolute, immoral and unlawful mannerism from these modern media.] The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “There will be (at some future time) people from my Ummah (community of Muslims) who will seek to make lawful: fornication, the wearing of silk (by men) wine drinking and the use of musical instruments.” (Al-Bukhari)

Shaykh Muhammad Naasirud-Deen AI-Albaanee said: “There is no doubt that the television today is impermissible (Haraam). (This is) because the television is like the radio and tape recorder which are favors which Allah has surrounded His slaves with. Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “You were to enumerate the favors of would be able to do …. ” (Soorah An-Nahl, 16:18). So hearing is a favor, the seeing is a favor, (as are) the lips and the tongue. However, many of these favors bring about punishment and trial upon their people, due to them not utilizing these (favors) as Allah loves them to be utilized. So I consider the radio, television and tape recorder to be favors. But when do they become favors? When they are used in a beneficial way for the (Muslim) nation.

The television today is 99% sinful, dissolute, (full of) immorality and unlawful sinning, and so on. It is possible that 1% of it shows things that some people benefit from, but the predominant case is to be given consideration. So when a true Muslim state exists which places beneficial and knowledgeable programs for the (Muslim) nation (on the television), then in that case I do not say that the television is permissible; rather I say that it is obligatory!” (From AI-Asaalah Magazine translated by Abu ‘Abdus-Salaam)

Companionship: Furthermore, the parents should be very careful about whom their children mix with and who they befriend, since children usually pick up bad manners and bad language from their surroundings. Also, the children, once they attain the age of discernment, should be taught to avoid] intermingling with opposite non-Mahram opposite genders. Narrated Umar ibn Al-Khattab, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Whenever a man is alone with a woman the Devil makes a third.” (Sahih Muslim)

Supplicating for children: The parents must regularly, sincerely, make dua’a for their children. The Qur’an tells you to make this duaa “Rabbana hablana min azwajina wa dhurriyaatina qurrata ‘ayun wajalana lil mutaqeena imama”. (Oh, Allah bless us with good wives and good children, those that give us coolness of the eye” (i.e., they make our lives easy, they don’t make our lives difficult).

In light of all the above, the Muslim home can only realize true happiness, and a righteous generation would thereby be raised who would be the comfort of their parent’s eyes and a source of goodness for them in this life and the Hereafter.

(The above is an excerpt from the book ‘The Muslim Home’ (The Golden Advice Series) Darussalam Publications)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.