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Loving our Children

 

Arshad Gamiet/Royal Holloway College/Univ. of London /UK. 10 September 1999.

A-úthu billáhi minash shaytánir rajeem. Bisilláhir rahmánir raheem.

Al hamdu lillahi rabbil ‘alameen. Was salaatu was salaamu ‘alaa ashrafil mursaleen. Sayidinaa wa nabi’na wamoulanaa Muhammadin wa’ala aalihee wa sahbihee wasallim.

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam,

Recently, we reflected on the importance of loving our parents. Today we consider our children. This Khutbah is based on one written by Rashard Jedaar in South Africa.

Our children are a precious gift from Alláh. But like everything else we possess, they do not belong to us in the absolute sense. They have been loaned to us. We, as Khalífatulláh, Ambassadors of Alláh, are merely trustees of what we have. And therefore, we are answerable as to how we bring up our children, just as we must account for everything else that is loaned or entrusted to us.

So often, a pregnant woman and her husband become very pious and God-fearing, especially in the last few weeks before their child is born. They are anxious and fearful that she may not survive the stress of childbirth, or the child may die, or be born handicapped and abnormal. So they turn to Alláh and they are very submissive to Him. When the child is born normal and healthy, they are so overjoyed that sometimes they even forget to thank Alláh properly. They might even get involved with superstitions and unIslamic ways of protecting their child with charms and talisman?, forgetting that Alláh alone is their guardian and protector. We are reminded of this in Sura Al-‘Ar-a’f [7: 189-190]:

" It is Alláh who created you from a single person and made his mate of like nature in order that he might dwell with her (in love). When they are united she bears a light burden and carries it about (unnoticed). When she grows heavy they both pray to Allah their Lord (saying): "if you will give us a goodly child, we promise we shall (forever) be grateful."

But when Alláh gives them a goodly child, they ascribe to others a share in the gift they have received: but Allah is exalted, high above the partners they ascribe to Him."

Brothers and Sisters, we, and our parents and our children, come from Alláh, and we will return to Him. Our very first act, when our little child is born, is to dedicate the child to the service of Alláh swt. We make adhán in the child’s ear and we recite áyát from the Holy Qur'an and we invite the family, to bear witness to this dedication. Every one of us had this experience when we were born. "Allahu Akbar, Ash hadu Alláh ilaha il-lal-laah", "Alláh is Greatest, I witness that there is no-one worthy of worship, except Alláh." These were the first words that came to our ears, even before we could understand their meaning. They are also the last words on our lips, when we die. So, my dear brothers and sisters, why should things be any different in between our birth and our death? If we were dedicated to Alláh at birth, and we return to Him at death, why should we then not worship Him and Him alone, passionately, throughout our life?.

Our children are a special gift from Allah...but this special gift comes with a special responsibility… to offer them constant care and guidance. Little children are great imitators. Just watch any child, how they imitate their parents. Alláh has programmed them to learn from us. We are their role models. We must be ever mindful of the personal example we set for our children. It is this example that they emulate and which will form the basis of their own adult life in years to come.

We must therefore practise what we preach. We dare not say one thing, and do the opposite. This would be hypocrisy. Alláh swt warns us about this in Súra As-Sáf, [61:2-3]:

"O ye who believe! Why say you that which you DO not? Grievously odious is it in the Sight of Allah that you say that which you do not."

Our Nabi Muhammad SAWS made it clear that there must be no difference between our words and our actions. On a certain occasion he told a group of his Sahába: "Learn what you will; but Allah will not reward you until you do it." He regarded education as being essentially the learning and living of Islamic values, the adab of Islam. He said:

"My Lord educated me and made my education most excellent."

What we teach our children at home we must believe in and do ourselves. We cannot tell our children to be honest and trustworthy while we tell lies, behave dishonourably or underpay our employees. We cannot insist that our children perform their salaah regularly while we are seldom home to lead them in the salaah. We cannot teach them the meaning of peace and human dignity, while we allow them to watch movies that degrade and deprave human beings in the name of entertainment. We cannot have two sets of values: one that is pure and good for our children and another that we think, is good enough for us. Such values our children will not accept, and rightly so. They are our children, they love us and want to be like us. And is that asking too much? So, let us not fool ourselves into believing that we can produce good Muslim children while we ourselves remain less than good Muslim parents. We must realise that, good, Islamic values do not flow from our mouths but from our deeds.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam. Let our words and deeds be of the same substance. Let our deeds become our beliefs in action, our words, made visible.

nnalláha wa malaaikata yusallúna alan nabi. Yá ay yuhal latheena ámanu sallú alayhi wasalli mú tas leema. Allahumma salli alá Muhammad, wa ala áli Muhammad, kama salayta ala Ibrahim, wa ala ali Ibrahim. Allahumma barik ala Muhammad, kama barakta ala Ibrahim, wa ala ali ibrahim. Fil ála meen, innaka hameedun majeed.

Second Khutbah:

Sub’ hanallahi wal hamdu lillah, wala hawla wala quwwata illah billah yu althi yual theem

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam,

One of the main problems in guiding our children today, is how to deal with the false values of so-called modern culture and its new fad of liberalism. To give you an example: we are now being told by some modern educationists that we should not prescribe a set of values to our children, but that we must allow our children to choose for themselves what they want to believe. Astagh-firullah! Some secularists even argue that schools should not teach religion and religious values. This is totally opposed to the Islamic view. Our values and our whole way of living has been set out by Alláh, precisely to save us from all the dangers of doing things by trial and error. We have the best instruction manual to life, a step-by-step user’s guide, authored by the Creator Himself. Why should we seek guidance anywhere else?

Alláh knows what is best for us! How beautifully He reminds us of our duties in Prophet Luqman's advice to his son: In Sura Luqmán, v 17-19, we read:

"O my son! establish regular prayer, enjoin what is just, and forbid what is wrong: and bear with patient constancy whatever comes your way; for this is firmness (of purpose) in the conduct of affairs. And swell not your cheek (with pride) at men, nor walk in insolence through the earth; for Allah loves not any arrogant boaster. And be moderate in your pace, and lower your voice; for the harshest of sounds without doubt, is the braying of a donkey."

Dear Brothers and Sisters, this advice was given by Prophet Luqman many thousands of years ago. He was urging his son towards justice, patience, firmness, humility and moderation. When we urge our children towards these same values, we can see just how timeless and universal is the message of Islam. It is just as relevant today to our situation, as is ever was.

In our homes, our children need a disciplined framework, with a set of house rules that is fair and consistent. Sometimes we punish our children for watching TV during Maghrib while on another day, it may all right to do so. This inconsistency makes the child unsure of himself and creates confusion. Once we have set down home rules, they should be strictly observed by everyone: mother, father and children. Such limits may be set for performing salaah; how we speak to each other; at what time we read Qur'an; sharing what we have; doing home chores; going to bed at night; and so on. Occasionally we can deviate from these rules, but then it will become the exceptions. Remember, our home is our community in miniature form. The limits we set ourselves in our homes, are the laws which we are expected to obey in the community. We are busy building a bridge for our children to their community.

Some inconsistencies sometimes arise because of differences in attitude of mother and father. This can be damaging not only to the child but to the integrity of the family and the marriage itself. Mother and father must never allow this to happen. They must find common ground and set out family rules clearly. Remember our children expect us as parents always to be fair and consistent.

Our Nabi Muhammad SAWS encouraged parents to be kind and gentle towards their children. He described the suffering of parents in providing for their children as a "screen from the Fire" for the parents (Bukhári). Let us remember this when we have to discipline them. It is a good rule never to punish children when we are angry. Anger distorts our good judgement. Even if we are faced with the most serious problem, let us not lose sight of the child's dignity and right to be respected. Let us draw a lesson from this anecdote (from Mishkat al Masabih):

A man once came to our Prophet sws, and said that he was passing a bush when he heard the chirping of little nestlings. He picked up the little birds and placed them in his cloak. Their mother saw her empty nest and cried piteously while she followed him. He opened the cloak and the mother sat down to feed her babies. While the man was talking, the Prophet was growing more and more uneasy, and when he opened the cloak to show the birds, the Prophet demanded that he return the birds to their nest. After some moments The Prophet turned to his Companions, his eyes full of tears and he said: "How immense is the affection of a mother! How full of anxiety is the heart of this bird-mother for her young ones! But, my Companions, Allah is full of infinitely greater anxiety for His Creation!"

Our anxiety for our children will always be there. It is an expression of our love for them and our concern for their wellbeing. Let us realise that our parents, too, felt the same loving anxiety for us. We should go to them and let them know that we are full of gratitude and appreciation.

Let us now make a little du'á, a prayer, and ask Allah SWT to accept it from us as the parents and teachers of our children.:

O Allah, the Wise, the Bestower of Wisdom

Help us to remember that we care for the most precious of all

Your creation, the Innocent Children.

Help us always to remember that we are leaving our marks on them,

which Time will never erase.

Give us patience with those who are slow to learn, and tolerance

with those who don't want to learn.

When we have to discipline our children, help us to do so with firmness,

and yet, with Love.

Keep us from using a sarcastic and biting tongue, and help us

always to encourage and never to belittle those who are doing

their best, even if their best is not very good.

Help us to let the children not only store things in their

Memories, but create things with their minds.

And amidst all the worrying and irritation of our task, help us

to remember that the future of our community and our ‘Ummah is

with our children.

Help us all, to follow in the footsteps of the best of parents, and the best of teachers, the best of examples for all humanity, Prophet Muhammad sallall láhu ‘alayhi wa sal lam.

O Alláh, Help us, and help all our children!

AMEEN!             Aqeemus salaah!