One of the experiences which a person looks forward to is the birth of their child. No Parent can describe the unbridled happiness that overwhelms their heart when seeing their child for the first time. This is a natural predisposition that the Creator has imbued in His creation. It is a well-accepted premise that no Parent would want any affliction or harm to meet their child, however, many times parents unwittingly harm their child’s and their own hereafter.
Allah has stated that children are a natural boon which men will desire, they will want to become a Mother of Father as this is an intrinsic part of being Human. Allah states; “Beautified for people is the love of that which they desire – of women and sons, heaped-up sums of gold and silver, fine branded horses, and cattle and tilled land.” (3:14) The reason that Allah has mentioned these things is that man will always covet them. But this desire can also be his downfall, if he abuses any of these things it could land him eternal punishment. He should not allow his love of these thing blind him and lead him to destruction.
Children are a test for their parents, if they raise their children well, fulfilling their rights then they will be blessing on the Day of Judgement. If they fall short and do not fulfill their child’s right then they will be a means for great calamity. This is why it is mentioned in the Quran, “Your wealth and your children are but a trial.” (64:15) This verse should constantly stay in the mind of parents. They are holders of a trust from Allah and will be questioned in reagard to that trust.
The Quran also reminds mankind that the relationship between parent and child will not matter on the Day of judgement, “But when there comes the Deafening Blast – that Day a man will flee from his brother, and his mother and his father, and his wife and his children.” (80: 33-36) Ties of kinship will not matter only how you treated your kinsman, the fact that you were a Father of Mother will not matter, how well you fulfilled your role will.
Now we have a basic understanding of how great a trust children truly are, we will discuss their rights.
From their very incipience, Parents should ensure their child is aware of who is the Creator, this is why when a baby is born the first thing that they should hear should be the Islamic call to prayer (Azan) in their ear which is then followed by the secondary call to prayer (Iqamat) . Abu Rafi’ (RA) has narrated, “I saw the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessing be upon him) calling Azan in the ear of (his daughter), Fatimah.” (Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud) This shows that the first right a child has when he enters this world over his parents, is that they say the Azan and Iqamat in their newborn’s ear. Scholars give many reasons for why this is done, one of the most accepted views is that the call to prayer will impart the knowledge of the spirit and fundamental tenets of Islam in a most effective manner.
The Azan and the Iqamat is said to a newborn, there is no prayer, the funeral prayer has no Azan or Iqamat as the first Azan and Iqamat a person hears at the beginning is the prelude for the prayer which is performed at his end. This is a very poignant aspect of the first call of prayer that one hears, to a certain degree we are all simply waiting for the prayer that was called for at the beginning of our lives. There is no doubt it is approaching, whether we prepare for it is up to ourselves entirely.
Another action which should be taken upon the birth of a child is Tahnik, which is where a piece of chewed date is placed on the palate of a newborn’s mouth. The date should be chewed by a pious servant of Allah. The Prophet (SAW) would chew the dates for the Companions (RA). They would then place it in the mouth of their babies.
This has been reported by Aisha (RA), “People used to bring their (newborn) children to the Prophet (SAW), and he would bless them and perform (the ceremony of) Tahnik.” (Muslim) This has many benefits for the newborn child, the Scholars mention that it brings blessings and guards the child from evil. But Allah knows best the benefits, since it was a practice the Prophet (SAW) would do and then the Companions (RA) carried on, who are we to deny the hidden benefits?
A similar narration has been given by Asma bint Abu Bakr (RA), she related that she was an expected mother at the time of Migration (Hijra). When she arrived to Madinah, Abdullah ibn Zubayr (RA) was born to her. She has said, “I took the child to the Prophet (SAW) and placed it on his lap. The Prophet (SAW) asked for a date, (when it was brought), he chewed it, and dropped the saliva in its mouth, then applied the chewed date on its palate and blessed the child. It was the first child to be born in Islam (in the home of an Emigrant after the Migration).” (Bukhari and Muslim) The Muslims were elated at the birth of Zubayr (RA), due to the malicious lie that the Jews had cast a spell on the Muslims, eliminating any chance of children being born from them. The birth of this pious child completely shattered their claim.
As mentioned before, the birth of a child is an occasion of great happiness, even in the time of Jahilliyah (Ignorance) the Arabs would celebrate the birth of a child. Many different cultures have variant customs, it was the practice of the Arabs that they would shave the head of the baby and sacrifice an animal out of happiness. They called this Aqiqah, the Prophet (SAW) kept this custom after the advent of revelation.
Buraidah (RA) narrates, “When, during the Age of Ignorance, a child was born to the wife of any of us, we would slaughter a goat and smear the head of the child with its blood. Later, after the dawn of Islam, our practice became, (on the advice of the Prophet SAW), that we sacrifice a goat of Aqiqah, on the seventh day of birth of a child, and shave the head of the infant, and apply saffron on it.” (Abu Dawud) This was the custom of the Arabs and a distinguishing trait of the community of Ibrahim (AS) this is why the Prophet (SAW) kept it and corrected it.
Salman ibn Amir al-Zahabi (RA) narrated that he heard the Prophet (SAW) say: “With the child is Aqiqah . So, sacrifice an animal on behalf of the child and have its head shaved.” (Bukhari) From these two narrations we understand that the Aqiqah ceremony consists of two acts: the shaving of the head, and the sacrifice of an animal. These acts were among the religious practices of the Community of Ibrahim (AS), the Muslims have kept these practices to show our association to this great Prophet.
The animal does not need to be a ram, that a ram is better as there is are many narrations that the Prophet (SAW) mentioned rams as the sacrificial animal and the Prophet (SAW) sacrificed a ram each for both of his grandsons, “The Prophet (SAW) did the Aqiqah of (his maternal grandsons), Hasan and Husain (RA), and slaughtered a ram for each of them.”(Abu Dawud) The Prophet only sacrificed one ram each as he was probably limited in his means at that time.
There are also narrations that two goats should be sacrificed for a boy and one for a girl, “Two goats should be sacrificed on behalf of a male child, and one on behalf of a female child, and it does not matter whether the animal be male or female.” (Tirmidhi and Nisai) if the family lack the means then one will suffice, if Allah wills.
Silver equal to the weight of hair which is shaved during the Aqiqah should be given in charity, this is a commendable practice although not compulsory. Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA) narrated, “The Messenger of Allah (SAW) sacrificed a goat in the Aqiqah of Hasan, and he told (his daughter), Fatimah (RA) to shave his head and give away silver in charity of an equal weight to his hair, it was found to be the heaviness of a Dirham or even less.” (Abu Dawud) Some commentators think that the Prophet (SAW) had told Fatimah (RA) to do this as the financial state of Ali and Fatimah (RA) did not permit the sacrifice of an animal. So, the Prophet (SAW) did the sacrifice himself but told Fatimah (RA) to donate in charity to show gratefulness to Allah for being blessed with a child.
In addition to the child being shaved on the seventh day his name should be given too “Every child is pledged for the animal of its Aqiqah. The animal should be sacrificed an the seventh day, the child’s head should be shaved and a name given to it.” (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi and Nasai) The name of the child should be chosen carefully, it should have some indication of its Muslim heritage. If you are naming the child after a certain individual make sure that this person is pious and the name is permitted in the Religion.
The Prophet (SAW) has mentioned, “On the Day of Resurrection, you will be called out by your name and the name of your father. So, give good names.” (Ahmad and Abu Dawud) He has similarly stated; “Among your best names, the most liked to Allah are Abdullah and Abdul Rahman” (Muslim) The Prophet (SAW) named his own son after Ibrahim (AS), a great Prophet, and has advised us: “Give a name after the names of the Prophets (AS)” (Abu Dawud) Great care should be taken when giving a name, we should not name our children after individuals who do not even hold any Imaan (Belief) in their hearts. Give them pious names so that they mature into pious people.
More rights will be elaborated in Part 2. If Allah wills.
Allah give us pious offspring. May he allow us to fulfill their rights. May he make them the coolness of our eyes. Ameen.