Of all the gifts and blessings Allah has favoured us with, one of the greatest is children.
As with all Allah’s blessings, children too must be shown great appreciation and respect.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad [s] was very fond of children.
He was always very tender and loving towards them.
He taught that kindness and respect towards children is a sign of true faith.
Children must be treated as a gift and a favour, and not a burden.
The first duty a parent has to his child is to choose his mother carefully before marrying her. After all, the mother will be the one who takes care of the child in its early years.
A mother must not do anything that may harm her unborn child.
She must not take harmful substances, like drugs, alcohol or smoke, nor do anything dangerous.
When the child is born, the parent must give the child a good Muslim name.
The child must not be given a name that has a bad meaning nor one that may embarrass him.
A parent must feed, clothe and educate the child.
Children must be fed healthy and nutritious foods.
If the child is ill the parent must provide good medical treatment for the child.
The most important duty of all is education, and the best education is the knowledge of Islam.
Children must be taught to read the Qur’an from an early age.
Because children can memorise easily, parents must see to it that children memorize as many chapters of the Qur’an as possible.
Parents have the duty to teach their children about the life of the blessed
Prophet Muhammad [s], his wise sayings and noble habits (sunnah).
Children must also be taught how to perform the salah.
They should get into the habit of performing salah at the age of seven and by the age of ten they should be compelled to do so regularly.
Only qualified teachers, possessing good character must be allowed to teach children.
This is because children learn from example.
There is no better gift a Muslim can give to his children than good character and piety.
In teaching children good manners and correct behaviour parents must be loving, understanding, kind and encouraging.
Parents who expect their children to be good must themselves be good.
For example, parents who expect their children to be truthful or kind must not be in the habit of telling lies or being cruel.
When speaking to a child, always do so with gentleness and respect.
In admonishing a child one must never use abusive words.
A parent must not humiliate his children nor embarrass them in public.
However, if the need arises, as when a child stubbornly persists in its misbehaviour, the parent may use physical punishment as a last resort to reprimand a child.
Great care should be taken that the child is not harmed in any way.
A parent must not punish children while angry. He should either send them away when he is angry or himself leave.
Later, when the anger has subsided, he should think carefully about what was done by the child and then only mete out appropriate punishment.
When punishing a child, a parent should never use a heavy stick nor his fists.
A parent may never hit the child on the face or head nor is he allowed to kick or throw the child around.
Children should not be battered and terrorised.
Parents should not be impatient with children.
Children are tiny human beings who don’t always understand everything and often make mistakes.
Parents must therefore be compassionate and very forgiving.
Parents should not ignore their children.
They must take the time to listen to what children have to say and ask their opinions about matters.
They must play with their children too.
A parent must make arrangements for the childs recreation and entertainment. However the recreation and entertainment must be beneficial and stimulating.
It is also a parents duty to develop the physical fitness and skills of children, that they may be strong and courageous.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad [s] recommended that children be taught wrestling, horse-riding, swimming and archery.
Children should not be made to do overly burdensome work.
They should be taught discipline and be hardworking but not be treated like slaves or labourers.
Children should be happy and cheerful, and have a zest for life and living.
Their lives should not be made dreary and arduous.
They should be able to feel the carefree joy and excitement of growing up.
Parents must remember never to show favouritism towards any one child. All of them must be treated equally.
If one child is handicapped or ill then special attention must be paid to him.
Some parents are more fond of their sons than their daughters and, as such, these girls are sometimes neglected by them.
For this reason the blessed Prophet Muhammad [s] has commanded that special attention be given to the needs of girls.
Giving special attention to the needs of girls is an act of ‘ibadah, an act of worship.
The children of strangers must be treated with the same love and kindness that a Muslim treats his own.
Even the children of non-Muslims are to be treated like our very own.
Because children do not automatically acquire manners and etiquette, it is the parents duty to inculcate good character in them from a tender age.
Without proper training children will grow up behaving much as animals do.
They will, without realising, cause great trouble and difficulty to others.
They will have few friends and well wishers and will make many enemies.
When a child has wronged someone or is at fault, a parent must never unfairly side with his child.
To do so would be very harmful to the child as he would never learn to do what is right and correct himself when wrong.
A parent must also be watchful of his children’s behaviour towards servants and the children of servants.
He should ensure that they do not cause trouble to servants or harm their children.
Servants may not complain, but in their hearts they will harbour hatred towards the child which could cause them to curse the child or harm the child.
When a child is obstinate in demanding something then the parent must not fulfil its demand. Doing so will spoil the child.
Parents should not spoil children by giving them too much nor dishearten them by giving them too little.
Parents should give their children gifts that are affordable, every now and again.
They should especially be rewarded and praised after having done a good deed.
Above all parents must ensure that children develop a love for Islam, a love for Allah and for His beloved Prophet [s].
Parents must create in their children a feeling of pride in being Muslim and a willingness to strive for the good of others.
Children must be taught the benefits of Islam and the need for Islam.
Children must be taught to value Islam and to live by the example of the blessed Prophet Muhammad [s].