Family life is one of the most important and an emphasized area in the Islamic system of life, and it is an aspect, which remains very clear and strong among the vast majority of Muslims today. We will now have a look at the kinds of inter- relationships Islam establishes between husband and wife, parents and children, and among other members of the family group.
1. Marriage and the Roles of Husband and Wife
Among Muslims the selection of a marriage partner is very unique. Because Islam emphasizes chastity and modesty so strongly, there is very little contact between young men and young women in most parts of the Muslim world. Secondary schools are generally not co-educational, and, boys and girls do not mix, date, or, in particular engage in pre-marital intimacy of any kind. And while love is certainly considered very important in the Muslim marriage, for Muslim couples love as a rule comes after rather than before the marriage.
The selection of a marriage partner is therefore generally (but not necessarily) made by the parents, especially in the case of a girl. The young people concerned can express a preference, can state what they want in a prospective partner, and can take an active role in the ultimate selection but ordinarily they do not go out and try to find a spouse on their own. Islamically, either the boy's or the girl's family may initiate a proposal but in practice it is customarily the boy who does the asking. This is done either through contact between his parents, other relatives or close friends with the parents of the girl; without the consent and approval of her father or guardian, who gives her away, marriage, cannot take place. Depending on the traditions of the particular society in which they live, the prospective partners may or may not see each other before marriage, although Islam does give them this right. However, if they do meet at any time prior to marriage, this is always to be in the presence of other people since Islam forbids a Muslim man and woman who are not related to each other by marriage or another relationship to be alone with one another.
In Islam marriage is not a sacrament but rather a legal, binding contract between a man and a woman which establishes the licitness, permanence and responsible ness of their relationship, an acceptance of one another as spouses with a mutual commitment to live together according to the teachings of Islam. Both are to be mindful of their duty to God and their responsibilities to one another in all aspects of their interaction.
“O mankind, be careful of your duty to your Lord, Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate, and from the two of them spread abroad a multitude of men and women. Be careful of your duty to God in Whom you claim (your rights) of one another, and toward the wombs. 2 Verily, God is Watcher over you.” (4:1)
As we have seen, Islam assigns the leadership of the family to men, for in general they have been endowed with somewhat greater physical and emotional strength and endurance than women, For this reason they have also been made responsible for supporting and maintaining women-not only their wives and daughters but also female relatives who may be in need of help and support.
"Men are responsible for women because God has given the one more than the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). Virtuous women are therefore obedient, guarding in their (husband) absence that which God has guarding ”(3 (4:34)
The wife is her husband's companion and helpmate, who is, together with him, responsible for the affairs of the household, the physical and emotional well-being of its members, and the training of the children. She should obey her husband unless he asks her to disobey God in which case she must not obey him, and for his part he should be considerate and concerned for her welfare. As the above Qur'anic verse indicates, she is also responsible for the proper management of her husband's possessions and property, for the guarding of his honor, dignity and respectability, and for reserving her sexuality exclusively for the man she has married.
In Islam a woman, married or single, is seen as a person in her own right, not merely as an adjunct to her husband. Thus, for example, she has the full right of ownership and disposal of her own property and earnings even after marriage, and when she marries she retains her own family name instead of taking that of her husband. The stereotype of the Muslim woman as a mere household drudge, preoccupied from morning to night with cooking, cleaning and looking after the children, with no spirituality, interests, personality or life of her own, who is debarred from contributing in a constructive manner to society, has no basis in the Islamic teachings. For Islam regards men and women as completely equal in terms of accountability to God and in possessing unique personalities of their own. It prescribes for both the same religious obligations, apart from the concessions made for women's reproductive cycle, and makes conscious commitment to Islam, the doing of good, striving with all one's efforts in God's path, the development of spirituality and seeking knowledge equally the duty of both men and women, as the following Qur'anic verses indicate:
And their Lord answered them: `Verily, I will not allow the work of any worker, male or female, to be lost. You proceed from one another. (3:195)
And whoever does good, whether male or female, and he (or she) is a Believer, these will enter Paradise and they will not be wronged by so much as the groove of a date-stone. (4:124)
And the Believers, men and women, are protecting friends to one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong, they observe regular salat and pay zakat, and they obey God and His Messenger. As for these, God will have mercy on them. Verily, God is Mighty, Wise. God promises the Believers, men and women, Gardens underneath which rivers flow, to abide therein- blessed dwellings in Gardens of Eden. And greater (than that), God's good pleasure: that is the supreme success. (9:71-72)
At the same time, Islam recognizes that women have a more delicate, sensitive and emotional nature than men and men are asked to treat them in accordance with this nature. There are many beautiful traditions of the Prophet (peace be on him) which enjoin kindness and consideration for women and advise Muslims to treat their wives with respect, honor and that quality of tenderness which suits the delicacy of their feminine nature; the best men, he said, are those who are best to their wives. Because the natures of the male and the female are not the same, each has been entrusted with a particular role and function in society; these roles are complementary and each is equally basic and essential to the functioning of the society. Within this framework there is freedom for both men and women to pursue what is important to them and to contribute to society in keeping with their own individual skills and interests, provided their responsibilities for the home are not neglected and their work does not in any way jeopardize their dignity and modesty. Women must fill many essential positions in society which they can handle better or instead of men, for example, some branches of medicine, nursing, education, social work and other areas. In the Prophet's time we find women enduring persecution, exile and even martyrdom for the sake of their faith at the hands of the pagans together with men, and during battle carrying water to the wounded, tending the injured and on occasion participating in the fighting as well. We find them discussing and even disputing various matters with the Prophet himself, and on another occasion a woman standing up in the mosque to correct the Caliph `Umar on a legal point. We find `Aisha, the Prophet's widow, in later life an expert in Islamic jurisprudence, consulted by many eminent Muslims, while her sister `Asma, as a young girl and again as an old woman of ninety, did great deeds of courage and heroism.
Concerning the marriage relationship God says:
And among His signs is that He created mates from among yourselves that you may live in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your hearts. (30:21)
It is He Who created you from a single soul, and from it created its mate that he might take rest in her . . . (7:189)
The tone of marriage in Islam is thus one of mutual respect, kindness, love, companionship and harmonious interaction. In her husband, the wife has a friend and partner to share her life and concerns, to cherish and protect her, and to help her bear responsibilities which would be very difficult or impossible for her to handle alone, while a man has in his wife a companion and helper who can give him peace, comfort and repose in his struggle with the rough-and-tumble of the world's life. In the beautiful language of the Qur'an,
They (wives) are your garments and you (husbands) are their garments. (2:187),
Serving for one another the same function as a cherished piece of clothing: to be a comfort, a protection, a security, that which serves and beautifies and warms and enfolds and covers and conceals what is private from the eyes of the world.
Although for the sake of convenience women generally do the domestic work of the house, this is not required of them by Islam. A husband should help his wife with the household work following the example of the Prophet (peace be on him), who used to assist his wives, mend his own clothes and participate in manual work. And while the mother is generally the primary means of training the children, Islam neither expects nor wants her to carry out this extremely important task alone. It is the joint responsibility of husband and wife to bring up their children properly, and although the greater part of the daily work with the children generally falls to the share of the wife, the husband is the principal authority figure in the home who is responsible not only for the welfare but also for the behavior of all members of the family. Together husband and wife must provide an Islamic atmosphere in their home and a consistent approach to training in which they reinforce and support one another.
The marriage relationship also involves another fundamental responsibility: the responsibility of both husband and wife to meet one another’s sexual needs and at the same time not to seek elsewhere for the satisfaction of these needs. While marriage in Islam legitimizes the fulfillment of an otherwise prohibited desire, it also requires that husband and wife reserve their sexuality exclusively for each other. There is to be no playing around in a Muslim marriage; adultery is, as we have seen, not only one of the most serious sins but also, in Islamic law, a heinous crime. Moreover, the protection of women from anything which dishonors, degrades or in any way exploits their sexuality is considered extremely essential. Islam therefore lays down certain limits for both men and women so that sexual attraction and expression will be confined solely to the private relationship of husband and wife, and hence will not become a source of harm or disruption in the society.
Marriages among Muslims are, by and large, remarkably stable. This is due to a number of factors.
The first of these is that the basic ingredient of the Muslim marriage is a common set of values, principles and ways of living. Consequently a Muslim husband and wife, even if they come from different cultures and backgrounds, possess the same basic world view, frame of reference, and many similar attitudes and habits which serve to bind them together in a harmonious relationship.
Second, even with all the problems and pressures existing today in Muslim societies, marital and family stability is encouraged and reinforced by various societal institutions..
Third, Muslims are as a rule used to living with other people and are consequently skilled in adjusting themselves to various relationships; for this reason they tend in general to be somewhat tolerant and forbearing in their interaction with others, even when there are differences or frictions of one sort or another.
Another reason may be that Muslim men and women are generally quite accepting of their masculine and feminine roles.
Consequently, because the division of roles and responsibilities between husband and wife is as a rule clearly defined and acknowledged, many problems and frictions are avoided. Again, Muslims are generally surrounded by a network of many relationships with relatives and friends.
This gives each partner his or her own life apart from the spouse, with many other satisfying relationships, emotional outlets and sources of support. Hence neither husband nor wife is forced to depend on a single relationship for all their emotional satisfactions, thus putting an almost unsupportable burden on one's partner and untenable strains on the marriage, for the variety of rewarding interactions with others makes life tolerable even if there are frictions between the partners.
In summary, to the Muslim marriage is not seen as a Hollywood- style romance but as a flesh-and-blood relationship between two very human individuals. In such a relationship strains and problems sometimes do arise. When they do, they are dealt with within the marriage relationship, assisted by the cushioning effect of the society, rather than by breaking up the marriage and the family unit, which is in the long run more difficult and damaging than accommodating and showing tolerance and patience, except in extreme cases, in which divorce is not only desirable but essential. Because of all these built-in safeguards, therefore, marriage among Muslims is basically a stable and viable institution.
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The Patriarchal Family
Secondly, the family in Islam is a patriarchal family and the patriarch, that is to say, the head of the family, carries a tremendous burden of responsibility. Along with this responsibility he carries the burden of leadership. He acts as a fulcrum around which the life of the family revolves and all the talk about the superiority of men over women is nonsense unless it refers to this leadership role and the responsibility role. It is absolutely essential. Even in the case of the universe, of the cosmos, Allah has said to us in His Holy Book: "But if there were more than two Lords in the universe, one of these Lords would have contested the power of the other and fought to ride over him." In other words, it is impossible to have a management, to have an organization, to have a going concern such as the family without somebody assuming the role of leadership and responsibility. And this is really all that Allah has meant us to achieve and to understand when he established for us the leadership, the family as a patriarchal institution because our Islamic legislation without apology does regard the family as a patriarchal institution. The ship without a captain cannot run for long, nor does the ship without a rudder. Allah has blessed us by imposing this leadership, by vesting the patriarch of the family with it and demanding its fulfillment, in fact, making the question of fulfillment a question of law. A father who is not fulfilling his role as a responsible leader is a father that can be sued under the law, under the Islamic legislation, and he can be sued by any member of the Muslim Nation because the Nation and the Islamic Legislation regard this role as constitutive, it is a public role.
The Social Features
A third advantage which the Islamic family has is the fact that the family is made out of a cement which is social and therefore begins long before the marriage, but the special relationship that we refer to as the love relationship is supposed to begin and to grow only after marriage and not before. Before marriage, there is social affinity between the two families of the couple. After marriage, one enters upon this relationship with a determination to make it grow and, therefore the chances of a love relationship between husband and wife growing and becoming more secure and stronger are better under the Islamic system. In our society, marriage is regarded as the beginning not the consummation; it is not something that is practically finished on the wedding day.
It is something that begins on the wedding day, and has all the future in which to flower and become greater. The determination with which this is entered into by the Muslim spouses allows ample room for adjustment because the commitment has already been made and therefore a Muslim who enters into marriage is determined to make that marriage work, determined to make the love relationship between the two spouses grow, and is therefore more ready for the adjustment that family life demands. If this relationship has grown to its apex before marriage and marriage is looked upon as a consummation of that movement, then the consequence is that the desire to adjust, the preparation to make the necessary sacrifices and adjustments, would be all the more because the interest in it would be on the wane rather than on the increase.
A fourth advantage is the advantage that we talk about in arranged marriages. Arranged marriages are really the coming together of two families. Of course, the individuals are involved, and as we said earlier it is possible for such a marriage to succeed because from the standpoint of the marriage the love relationship begins after and not before the wedding. But then, the relationship between the two families is something that has been cultivated for some time, and so we speak of the Muslim marriage not as a marriage of two individuals but as a marriage of two families. And the two families with all their resources, their human resources, their economic resources, their wisdom resources are at the service of the newly-married couple and there is no doubt that nobody in the world needs more advice, more economic assistance and more support than the newly-married couple and this is provided for them from both sides of the marriage if it is truly a Muslim marriage, that is to say a marriage of the two families.
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Marriage: A Civil Contract
Marriage is a civil contract between two equal parties, between two equal families, not just between two individuals. It is a civil contract that requires the consent of the two parties. The two parties may include outside of the Islamic Legislation requirements, anything that may lead to their happiness and mutually agreeable to both of them. Once the marriage has taken place and the contract has been signed and agreed upon, witnessed not only by the individual spouses, but also by their guardians and their elders, then it becomes a legal and binding document. Now, this creates a constitution for the marriage. Now consider its fate, and the home as a state. It has internal affairs and it has external affairs, it has public security affairs and it has police affairs and jail affairs, sometimes. It has educational affairs and it has propaganda affairs, and public information. All the ministries of government, all the functions of the ministries of government are there to be per- formed in the family, in the home unit.
The Key to Raising Righteous and Successful Children.
Teaching Islam to our Children: An Important Islamic Duty,
Islam teaches us different ways to attain success. One best way is to seek Islamic knowledge based on the Qur'an and the tradition of the Prophet (peace be upon him). We need to spend time, money, efforts, emotions and patience to learn authentic knowledge of Islam not only for our own success but also to be able to share it to others, especially to our children. The most important and lasting gift or inheritance that we can give to our children is knowledge of Islam. It is a must that we should educate our children with Islamic knowledge since as parents we are accountable to their success and failure. The Prophet (peace be upon him) makes it very clear that we are accountable to our respective families/children by saying: "Every one of you is a guardian, and responsible for what is in his custody. The ruler is a guardian of his subjects and responsible for them; a husband is a guardian of his family and is responsible for it; a lady is a guardian of her husband’s house and is responsible for it, and a servant is a guardian of his master’s property and is responsible for it. A man is a guardian of his father’s property and is responsible for it so all of you are guardians and responsible for your wards and things under your care)."
Malik bin Huwairth narrated: "I came to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)with some men from my tribe and stayed with him for twenty nights. He was kind and merciful to us. When he realized our longing for our families, he said to us: "Go back and stay with your families and teach them the religion. And offer the prayer and one of you should pronounce the call for the prayer when its time is due. And the oldest one amongst you should lead the prayer."
This shows how the Prophet (peace be upon him) commands us Muslims to be responsible to our respective families. The best way to perform our duty to our children is to teach them Islam. Allah tells us that our children, just like our wealth and possessions, are but a trial from Him. Allah the Most High says:
"And know that your possessions and your children are but a trial: and that it is Allah with whom lies your highest reward." (Qur'an, 8:28)
"Your riches and your children may be but a trial: whereas Allah, with Him is the highest Reward." (Qur'an, 64:15)
Since our children are but a trial and that the highest reward is with Allah the Almighty, it is then our responsibility to guide our children to Islam. It is only through Islam that they can become righteous and be of service to Allah. We pass Allah’s trial once our children worship and please our Creator. The best thing that we can give to our children is knowledge of Islam. It is the best education and the best means to fight ignorance and drive away evil. The Prophet (peace be upon him) says: "A father gives his child nothing better than a good education."
He also said: "A single scholar of religion is more formidable against Satan than a thousand devout people."
Raising Responsible Children
When we teach Islam to our children, we raise them to be righteous and responsible Muslims who will subsequently treat us with kindness and respect. Islam is the only religion that clearly raises the status of the parents to a high degree and honor. In fact, Allah in many verses from the Qur’an has commanded us to please our parents after pleasing Him. After our firm belief in Him, our Creator has enjoined us to treat our parents with kindness and respect:
"Worship none but Allah and be dutiful and treat with kindness your parents and kindred, and orphans and those in need; speak fair to the people; be steadfast in prayer; and give the obligatory charity..." (Qur'an, 2:83)
"Serve Allah, and join not any partners with Him; and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are of kin, neighbors who are strangers, the companions by your side, the wayfarer (you meet), and what your right hands possess: for Allah loves not the arrogant, vainglorious." (Qur'an, 4:36)
"Say: 'Come, I will rehearse what Allah has (really) prohibited you from: join not anything with Him; be good to your parents; kill not your children on a plea of want, We provide sustenance for you and for them; come not nigh to indecent deeds, whether open or secret; take not life, which Allah has made sacred, except by way of justice and law. Thus does He command you, that you may learn wisdom.’" (Qur'an, 6:151)
In line with the above Qur’anic injunctions is the commonly quoted tradition of the Prophet (peace be upon him), which shows how the true Muslim must be more dutiful to his parents than any other person in the world:
It is narrated that a man came to Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) and said, "O Allah’s Messenger! Who is more entitled to be treated with the best companionship by me?" The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Your mother." The man said, "Who is next?" The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Your mother." The man further said, "Who is next?" The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Your mother." The man asked (for the fourth time), "Who is next?" The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Your father."
Allah the All Knowing and Most Merciful knows that parents especially mothers bear hardships in rearing their children. Thus, He commands children to show gratefulness to their parents. Every man, therefore, is expected to be good to his parents, especially when they attain their old age where they need most his care, service and respect:
"Your Cherisher and Sustainer (Allah) has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them but address them in terms of honor. And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility and say: O my only God and Sustainer! Bestow on them (my parents) Your Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood." (Qur'an,17:23-24)
"And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command), "Show gratitude to Me and to your parents: to Me is (your final) Goal." But if they strive to make you join in worship with Me things of which you have no knowledge, obey them not; yet bear them company in this life with justice (and consideration), and follow the way of those who turn to Me. In the End the return of you all is to Me. And I will tell you all that you did. (Qur'an, 31:14-15)
"We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents in pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth." (46:15)
Islam teaches us that it is for our success that we must obey Allah by showing our utmost kindness and respect to our parents. We must also obey them for as long as they do not command us something that disobeys Allah. We have to remember that if we please them, we please Allah. This means, that through our parents we can attain Allah’s rewards in the eternal world:
Abdullah ibn Mas’ud narrated: "I asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) which deed is the dearest to Allah? He replied, "To establish the prayers at their early fixed times." I asked, "What is the next (in goodness)?" He replied, "To be good and dutiful to your parents."
The Messenger (peace be upon him) said: "Let him be humbled into dust; let him be humbled into dust." It was said: "Allah’s Messenger, who is he?" He said: "He who sees either of his parents during their old age or he sees both of them, but he does not enter Paradise."
We learn further that in Islam for every Muslim it is a blessing from Allah if he has parents who are old as it gives him the opportunity to serve them and thus earns Allah’s pleasure. He will receive success, especially the supreme success in Paradise if he follows Allah’s commandment to be dutiful to his parents. This means that if we can raise our children, teach them knowledge of Islam or give them proper Islamic education by sending them to Islamic schools, we will be expecting them to take care of us especially during our old age the time when we will need them most. They will to take care of us when we are weak and old as important members of their families and not to let us just stay in other’s houses or at any home of the aged. Most of all, they will include us in their daily prayers, which is the best thing that they can give us. If we raise them to be righteous and they pray for our salvation then we attain ultimate success in the Life-Hereafter. Therefore, we must give importance to the acquisition of Islamic knowledge and impart the same to our children so that they will pray for our success. We must know that Islam teaches us to show goodness to our parents by including them in our daily prayers that Allah will forgive them and grant them Mercy:
"O my Lord (Allah)! Make me one who performs prayers and (also) from my offspring, our Lord (Allah)! And accept my invocation. Our Lord (Allah)! Forgive me and my parents, and (all) the believers on the Day when the reckoning will be established." (Qur'an, 14:40-41)
"O my Lord (Allah)! Bestow on them (my parents) Your Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood." (Qur'an, 17:24)
"My Lord (Allah)! Forgive me and my parents and anyone who enters my home as a believer. And to the disbelievers, grant no increase but destruction." (Qur'an, 71:28)
When we guide our children to Islam, they become righteous Muslims whose prayers, to Allah for our own benefit, continue to reach us even when we die. The Prophet (peace be upon him) says in the following tradition:
"A man will be raised some degrees in Paradise and he will say, ‘For what reason I am receiving this?’ He will be told, ‘Because of your son asking forgiveness for you.’"
He also said: "When a man dies, accrual of merit in his favor from good deeds ceases except from three actions: 1. A charity which continues after his death; 2. Knowledge left behind from which men continue to benefit, and 3. Righteous offspring who pray for him."
Knowing the importance of Islamic knowledge, it is imperative that we encourage our children to spend time acquiring it. We must remember that one of the characteristics of a believer is love for the search of knowledge. The following statement of the Prophet (peace be upon him) should inspire us and our children to continuously seek for Islamic knowledge:
"A believer is never satiated with gainful knowledge; he goes acquiring it till his death and entry into Paradise."
We must also guide our children to be prompt in doing good deeds, which will increase our faith and subsequently enable us to gain Allah’s pleasure and mercy. We have to remember that on the Day of Judgment we shall be asked how we spent hour lives, wealth and knowledge. In other words, we will be questioned on how we spent everything that Allah has given us as implied in the following traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him):
"A man shall be asked concerning five things on the day of resurrection: concerning his life, how he spent it; concerning his youth, how he grew old; concerning his wealth, whence he acquired it, and in what way he spent it; and what was it that he did with the knowledge that he had."
"A servant of Allah will remain standing on the Day of Judgment till he is questioned: about his age and how he spent it; and about his knowledge and how he utilized it; about his wealth from where he acquired it and in what (activities) he spent it; and about his body as to how he used it."
With Islamic knowledge that we acquire and subsequently share to our children, Allah Willing, we will be able to answer whatever questions on the Day of Judgment. We and our righteous children will pass the real tests on the Day of Reckoning. This is because Islam teaches us to believe and to do deeds of righteousness and Allah the Almighty promises us everlasting life in Paradise.
Allah Says: "But those who believe and do deeds of righteousness We shall soon admit them to Gardens, with rivers flowing beneath, to dwell therein forever. Allah’s promise is the truth, and whose word can be truer than Allah’s?" (Qur'an, 4:122)
Now, it becomes clear that knowledge of Islam tells us that by guiding our children to Islam, we do not only respond to the duty that Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) enjoin upon us i.e., to be accountable to our children; but also, we expect subsequent rewards for raising righteous children. If we want our children to be righteous and be successful Muslims, we must learn and teach our children authentic knowledge of Islam one that is based on the Qur’an and the traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
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Building Children's Character
Many people are concerned about their children's unstable character and the effects of luxury on their personalities. How can we introduce strength and honor into our children's character? The issue referred to in the question is one of the most serious problems in raising children nowadays. Some of the Islamic solutions to this problem and ways of instilling strength and honor in our children's character are listed below:
Using the patronymic in addressing children:
Calling a young boy Father of so-and-so or a young girl Mother of so-and-so will make the child feel more responsible and grown up, so he will become more mature and will feel above normal childishness. The Prophet (Peace be upon Him) used to give nicknames to children.
The companion Anas that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was the best of people in attitude and manners. I had a brother whom people used to call Father of Umayr. I think he was just past the age of weaning, and whenever he came along the Prophet would say to him, O Father of 'Umayr, what did the small bird do.
Umm Khalid bint Khalid reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was given some clothes, among which was a small black garment made of silk, known as a khameesah. He said, "Who do you think I should give this to?" The people were silent, then he said, "Bring me Umm Khalid" and she was carried to him (which indicates that she was very young). He picked up the garment and put it on her, saying, "Enjoy it until it wears out." There was a green or yellow spot on it, and he said, "O Umm Khalid, this is Sana; namely, beautiful.
Taking them to gatherings and letting them sit with grown-ups:
This will increase their understanding and wisdom, and make them try to imitate adults, as well as keeping them from spending too much time on games and entertainment. The companions used to bring their children with them when they went and sat with the Prophet (peace be upon him). One of the stories that describe this stated: The Prophet used to sit with a group of his companions. One man had his little son with him; he would bring him from behind and make him sit in front of him…"
Talking to them about the heroic deeds of earlier and subsequent generations:
This will encourage them to be brave, which is one of the most important parts of being strong and honorable.
Teaching them good manners:
Among the manners that should be taught are those described in the saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him): "The young should greet the old, the passerby should greet one who is sitting, and the small group should greet the larger group."
Giving them the praise and respect they deserve in front of others:
This is made clear by the following incident. It is reported that the Prophet (peace and be upon him) was brought a cup and he drank from it. There was a boy, the youngest of all the people, on his right and some elders on his left. He said, "O young boy, will you allow me to give this to these elders?" The boy said, "I will not give away my share of your blessings to anyone, O Messenger of Allah," so he gave the cup to him.
Teaching them useful sports:
It is commendable to teach children sports such as archery, swimming and horse riding.
Avoiding humiliating them, especially in front of others:
Part of treating children respectfully is never belittling their ideas, and encouraging them to take part.
Consulting them and asking for their opinions.
Giving them responsibilities in accordance with their age and abilities
Teaching them to be brave as appropriate - including how to speak in public
Making sure their clothes are modest and protecting them from inappropriate clothing, hairstyles, movements and ways of walking.
Making sure that boys do not wear silk, as this is only for women
Avoiding extravagance, luxury, laziness and idleness:
'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: "Get used to a rough life, for luxury does not last forever."
Avoiding entertainment or pastime gatherings, singing, music and other wastes of time, because these go against strength, honour and seriousness
These are some of the ways and means which will increase strength and honor, and protect our children.
And Allah is the One Who guides to the Straight Path.
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