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Five things every Muslim parent needs to do
Being a good parent isn’t easy and we all know that. From the moment of birth you are entirely responsible for the physical, mental and emotional well-being and upbringing of your child. As Muslims, this responsibility is even greater because your main duty is to ensure that you inculcate an understanding and practice of Islam into your children. The importance of this is illustrated in the story of Prophet Yaqub (peace be upon him) who even upon his deathbed was concerned with how his sons would worship after his passing:
“He advised his children to submit, and later Yaqub also did the same, saying: My children, Allah has chosen your religion for you, so do not die except as true Muslims” (Baqarah: 132).
To preserve Islam in our children, as parents we should:
1. Educate your children
We must ensure that we are able to at least provide basic Islamic knowledge to our children. This would include that which is mandatory or fard-ain for every Muslim to know such as the basic Fiqh of purification and Salah as well as Quran recitation. We must also create awareness in our children about that which is Halal and that which is Haram. By doing so we enable them to carry out the commands of Allah and attain His pleasure, as is mentioned in the Quran:
“Believers, protect yourselves and your families from a fire whose fuel is humanity and their stone idols; it will be controlled by fierce, stern angels who don’t disobey Allah in what He commands them to do, and they do what they are told to do” (Tahrim: 6).
2. Pray for your children
A parent’s dua for our child is one that is never left unanswered. It is the most powerful means by which you can ensure the guidance and spiritual well-being of your child. We do not have the power to guide or transform our children’s spiritual condition by ourselves. The power to change hearts and grant ultimate guidance lies with Allah alone. It is mentioned in a hadith:
“Three du’as are not rejected; the du’a of a father, the du’a’ of a traveler and the du’a of an oppressed person” (Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud).
Likewise, a mother’s du’a is also equally as powerful and accepted. Thus we must make it a point daily to sincerely turn to Allah and ask Him to guide and protect our children in all of the daily challenges that they face. Du’a can be made in any language as long as it is from the heart, however there are Quranic supplications that would greatly benefit us to memorise in Arabic, learn the meanings and incorporate into our daily lives:
“My Lord, make me and my children steadfast in prayer. Our Lord accept my prayer. Our Lord, forgive me, my parents and all the believers on Judgement Day” (Ibrahim: 40–41).
“Our Lord, grant us joy in our spouses and children, and make us an example for those who are mindful of You” (Al Furqan: 74).
“My Lord, inspire me to thank You for the gifts that You have blessed me and my parents with, and give me the ability to be righteous, to please You; make my children righteous, too. I turn towards You, and I am a Muslim” (Al Ahqaf: 15).
3. Teach Islamic etiquette
Beyond the basic teachings of Islam it is imperative on us to teach our children how to live Islam. This includes the manners, morals and character we instill within them such as kindness, respect, humility, tolerance, gratitude and patience. It is our duty to ensure that we raise children that will grow up to be positive, contributing members of society.
It is important to remember that this tarbiyyah (nurturing) towards Islamic etiquette is an on-going process. We must keep striving on a regular basis to impart these values by establishing weekly study sessions expounding the virtues of good actions in our homes on a regular basis.
4. Positive reinforcement at home
The best way to instill Islamic etiquette into our children is to simply “walk the walk”. This means that we must become role models that actually practice what we preach to our children. It is important to note that from a young age a child learns to imitate their parent’s every action. Thus, if the child sees his or her parent praying, or observing a modest and Islamic dress code, he or she will automatically try to do the same. Similarly, if the child sees the parent using foul language or hurting another individual, he or she will follow suit.
5. Bond with your children
We must provide our children with constant love, support and encouragement. It is against the Prophetic example to be harsh towards our children or to degrade them. We must not push our children beyond their capacity, especially in matters of religion. We should present Islam in a loving manner such that they genuinely wish to practice its teachings out of their own free will.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) would also engaged in humour with the youth and this serves to remind us of the importance of having fun with our children. Our duty is not simply to educate and discipline, but also to be a friend to our children. We must engage in enjoyable lawful activities such as sports, archery, swimming, hiking, etc. By doing so, we win over the heart and mind of the child such that they look forward to spending time with us.