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An Important Point To Remember

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The most important duty of a parent to the child is that of setting a good example by practically displaying the manners and behaviour taught in Islam. The instruction children receive in their early years forms an integral part of their personality and character. It is thus easy to see that the example the parent sets will determine the morality and behaviour of the child. There is no better method of teaching than by setting a good example. When a child sees Salaah observed in the home, he is reminded of complete obedience to the Will of Allah. He listens to prayers for Divine guidance in the problems of everyday life and he becomes inspired to do likewise. He observes his parents living a clean, harmonious married life and it becomes a lesson that he will not forget throughout his life. Also, it is important to remember that the treatment given to children in the early years of their life can have far-reaching effects on their mental and emotional state later on in life. Among the virtues and habits parents should develop in their children are:

– the habit of being honest and truthful;
– the habit of being gentle and polite without being timid, afraid and cowed down;
– the habit of being helpful and considerate without being loutish in their behaviour to others;
– the habit of being clean and neat and tidy, of looking after their personal hygiene and appearance.

Children need to develop the adab or the etiquette of Islam: when and how to greet; how to speak, sit, eat, and how to perform natural functions like personal toilet in the clean and efficient manner; to do everything in the manner, time and place that is appropriate for it, for example: to be reverent in Salat, attentive in class, robust and full of zest in play. From the noble Prophet’s recommendations, we see that children need to lead an active outdoor life and be proficient in some of the martial arts. They should have the stamina for demanding play and demanding work. Children need to develop a thirst for beneficial knowledge through listening, observation, reading and interacting with others. It is recommended that children be taught from an early age to recite and read the Qur’an and develop a love for it. At an early age, they have the capacity to memorize it and it is common for many children and youths to memorize the whole or large parts of the Qur’an. From the age of seven, the Holy Prophet {s] recommended that children should get in the habit of performing Salaat and by the age of ten they should be required to do so regularly. Children need to develop skills and to be creative and inventive. They should be trained from an early age to take on responsibilities, to organise and take initiative rather than be timid and submissive. They should be able to spend their time usefully and profitably. They need to develop the skills that would fit them for contemporary living and for the particular society in which they live. This may involve anything from the skills of running an efficient and creative home to the skills that would enable them to earn a living and help in the process of tarbiyyah when their turn comes. Give a person a fish and you feed just one person; teach a person to fish and he can then feed hundreds, says an apt Chinese proverb. Above all, correct tarbiyyah should ensure that children develop a love for Islam, a love for Allah and His Prophet and that they develop a feeling of pride in being Muslim and a willingness to strive for the good of others. They need to realise the benefits of Islam, the foundations on which it is based and their need for Islam. They need to value Islam and live by Islamic values.