There are a number of lessons we can take from Surah Luqman, and among them is the importance of proper parenting.
Surah Luqman-Ayah 17
17. “O my son! Aqim-is-Salat (offer prayer perfectly), enjoin (people) for Al-Ma’ruf – (Islamic Monotheism and all that is good), and forbid (people) from Al-Munkar (i.e disbelief in the Oneness of Allah, polytheism of all kinds and all that is evil and bad), and bear with patience whatever befalls you. Verily! These are some of the important commandments ordered by Allah with no exemption.
Tafsir Ibn Katheer:
“Lessons here include encouraging children to make salah on time. Keeping in mind that we, the parents are PRIME examples. Making the salah according to what is prescribed by the Prophet SAW. Encouraging them to do good and forbid evil to the best of their ability and be patient while doing this because not everybody will respond positively to them and some people may make fun of them instead, so it is best to remind them of this often.”
I was going over some notes about parenting from various sources and this is what I came to make of it all:
- Two Way Job: First and foremost, it is vital that parents realize that parenting is a two way job, not one way. Yes, she is the mother of your children, and yes women have the responsiblity of nurturing the kids. However, if both parents do not work hard to raise their kids, not only would that create tension between the husband and wife but it would cause for an incomplete familial relationship. This is the way I see it, let’s say the wife is home all day. She cooks, she cleans, she takes care of the kids, and if she’s a homeschooling mother, she teaches the kids, and maintains the house, and most importantly, she has to stay on top of her own ibadaat. When her husband comes home, she has to tend to him and make sure the family is well fed and rested. What time does she have to herself? Doesn’t seem like much. Men should have the utmost respect for their wives, and show that respect in their thoughtfulness. Small things like taking the kids out, sitting down with them and teaching them hadith, playing with them, helping them with hw, etc. are more than enough for a wife to say, “Wow, I have an amazing hubby”. I remember when my youngest sister was born, my dad did the dishes for a good 2 months! He cleaned, he cooked, and he helped Ayesha and I with our homework. He even listened to the surahs we had memorized because he knew if we forgot them, my mom would go bazook.
- Monkey See, Monkey Do: From a young age, our parents are the first people we try to emulate. They are the ones we are most attached to and for much our childhood, we want to be just like them. This is a very critical time period for both parents and children because it sets the foundation for how your children will look at you for years to come. If a boy sees his father making wudu five times a day, heading out to the masjid for Salah…then inevitably the child will want to do the same. Just by watching his father, he’ll learn the importance and virtues of going out for prayer, of cleanliness, and time management. Similarly, for the mother and daughter relationship. Unfortunately, some parents are too caught up in their social sphere or their television schedules to worry about how their children view them. If a child sees the mother or father watching bollywood or random television shows, then without a doubt this is what she will pick up and do herself. I’ll be blunt here and say that when you see your own kids as failing in deen and dunya, don’t put all the blame on them.
- Honesty: This age old concept is one of the most important when it comes to parenting. Parents must be honest with each other and display that proper example for their children. If the mother tries to hide something from her husband, this will only cause for her to lose some respect from her child. Again, these attributes will be visible in the child’s character if this is what they see growing up. Also, don’t rule out the possibility that your child may use your mistakes as evidences against you in the future. Once that happens, it will take a lot of time to mend that relationship and re-develop that respect. Another thing that falls under honesty is respecting your spouse, aka the mother/father of your children in front of them. If the mother is upset with the kids and you as the husband, find the issue to be trivial, don’t say that in front of the kids! Respect your wife’s authority and even if you think she’s being too harsh or irrational, talk about it later in private. This goes for the wife as well. Respect each other’s authority.
- Before Marriage: When considering marriage and contemplating over proposals, we should keep in mind that we are actually making a decision of how we want to raise our kids just based on who we decide to marry. The person whom you will spend the rest of your life with will be the mother or father of your children at some point. Therefore, they will have as much of a right to decide how to raise the kids as you do. This is why we should have proper knowledge about a potential suitor’s ideas on things like education (homeschool vs. public school), Islamic studies for children, etc. The Prophet (saw) said that “If someone with whose piety and character you are satisfied with comes to you, marry to him. If you do not do so, there will be trials in the earth and a great deal of evil.” (At-Tirmidhi) And we know that “the believers with the most complete Iman are those with the best character”. Don’t lower your expectations when it comes to things you know you can’t compromise on. But at the same time, have realistic expectations and be flexible.
- Conscious Decisions: Before marriage, people tend to have all sorts of friends some of whom make us better while others may lead us to what may not be best for us. After marriage, it may not be best to keep as close contact with people who do not offer the most beneficial company or those who may have a bad influence on the children. In addition to social circles, parents must make a conscious decision on the lifestyle they wish to live. Are the parents going to wake their kids up for Fajr or be lenient about Salah? Will the men of the household make the Masjid their regular abode? Will the women of the household be taught the virtues of Hijab from an early age? These are all decisions parents make without even knowing it. Also, it’s very easy to say that “I want deen to be 1, 2, 3 on my list of expectations” or “I want my children to be Huffath”, etc. But ask yourself, do you really mean that? Are you willing to take the time out of your day to make sure your child goes to Hifdh school everyday, and then memorizes his/her lesson everyday, and recites it to you everyday? When you say you want such and such characteristics in a wife/family, be specific and honest.
- Speak Softly but Carry a Big Stick: As the saying goes…This is also very important because parents need to make an effort to make Islam something familiar and approachable for the kids. Be understanding with them but put your foot down when you need to. If something is unacceptable then you have full right to say no. Be kind with them but never lose track of who they are becoming, how they dress, who they interact with, how they speak, how they eat, how they think, what they want, etc. Do not, do not, do not let the ship sail! Soo many parents come to realize that their kids have “changed” or fallen into bad habits once they hit the teenage years and then the expect the imam to help them raise their kids. The raising should have been a long time ago, back when the mother should have been training them and teaching them. Nowadays, the parents are out working to give their kids a better life, but the only way to do that is raise the properly from they day they are born. Without a doubt, parents get burnt out too. You may find yourself all excited about raising kids properly for a few years and once they get older, you think they have it all figured out. They don’t! I’m not saying that you should treat them like kids when they are 15, 16 years old. Not at all. Talk to them like adults from the beginning and make the responsible people, but don’t take your eye off of them for a second. Allah will reward you for your steadfastness.
- Health: When it comes to family, taking care of their health is vital to ensuring their success as human beings. Other conscious decisions include whether to have a television or not, buying and feeding your family healthy foods, encouraging regular exercise, helping out in the community whether it be the homeless, the masjid, or the community at large. Instead of buying kids the typical PSP’s, X Boxes, etc. I think it’s important to encourage reading and valuable ‘Ilm from start. Buy them books and let them create their own library, who knows, you’re kid might be the next ‘Alim, or Shaykh, just because you encouraged them to seek beneficial knowlege when they were young. Buy them bikes ad basketballs and let them scrape a knee or two. ;) Encouraging active hobbies is also a great way to ensure health. Go on vacations (not to Disney World :p). Find parks, hiking trails, a zoo, whatever it is you and your family like. Other hobbies–gardening, cooking, stitching, art, etc.
- Islamic Education: Why is it that parents do all that they can to help their kids get 4.0’s in school but rarely do they think about their child’s GPA with Allah (swa). When we stand before Allah, will our faces be bright? Will our books be handed in our right hands? Will we turn in never ending happiness to tell the believers that we passed our test? Will our Salah come out okay? Will Allah (swa) forgive us our shortcomings? This is what we should all yearn for! This is the real success. So, why is it that we want the Master’s and PhD’s (which is completely 100% great) but when it comes to Islamic education, we say that 2 hours on a Sunday is enough Islam over 10 years? In all honesty, that is far below the minimum line. Parents need to make the effort of teaching their kids and training them on their own time. One of my fondest memories as a kid was when my dad would come home from work and after we ate dinner, the whole family would come together and my dad would read hadith to us or some Tafsir of the Quran. I miss those days big time. Live and breathe according to the Sunnah of Rasulullah (saw) and bi’ithnillah, your kids will follow your lead. Quick list of basics all kids should know: Quran, Hadith (Riyad-as-Saliheen), basic Fiqh, Seerah, and Daily Sunnah’s, Tahara. And of course, they should have Juz Amma down by like age 10.
- Location: Despite popular belief, where one raises kids does not really impact how they turn out. Unfortunately, there are problems in all countries and in the end it really comes down to how they parents taught their children…not what society taught them. In Pakistan for example, there is open bribery, pubs on street corners, bollywood fanatics, palm reading shops, and a government that seems to have lost it’s mind. Here in America, there are kids who get with the wrong crowd but SubhanAllah, there are also countless masajids and youth groups that get kids’ hearts attached to the Masjid.
- Halal Income: The way we go about attaining rizq plays an enormous role in our character and demeanor as well as our overall lifestyle. If our income is coming from impermissable sources such as the selling of alcohol, actions of bribery, or even if we are not completing our assigned tasks at work and doing something other than what we are being paid for, then slowly the barakah in or income will leak out. Imagine, someone who has worked all his life to make enough money for Hajj, but his rizq did not come from Halal sources, how would he explain that before Allah (swa). May Allah (swa) provide us with Halal rizq and Halal ways of attaining and and may He accept our good deeds. Ameen.
- Tahajjud and Du’a: These are the two most important action items for ALL parents. Not just parents who want their kids to be huffath or ‘Alims, but ALL parents. There is fitna everywhere and it is the responsibility of parents to sincerely beseech Allah (swa) for his love and mercy upon our families. We need Allah is all parts of our life and we are dependent on him for everything. Children are the greatest assets one can have in this dunya because when parents leave this world, their righteous kids will remember them and make du’a for them. So, ask Allah for children who “listen and obey” and children who love this deen and strive to remain on Sirat-ul-Mustaqeeem. May Allah (swa) bless all the parents and help them in raising their children as firm believers in Islam.
And Allah knows Best.
wow..i could probably write a book on this subject.