Good treatment of Parents (Part 4: After death)

after death

Death is an inevitability, we all come into this world with an understanding that we  will one day leave it. This understanding also applies to our loved ones, we accept that there may come a time where we will have to bury our parents, siblings, children and friends.

The first thing a person should do when their parents pass away is to make sure that the deceased has their eyes closed. This can be done by passing the fingers over the eyelids and closing them gently. The Prophet (SAW) also did this for a Companion (RA), “The Messenger of Allah (SAW) came to see Abu Salamah (RA) when his sight had become fixed (he had passed away). So the Prophet (SAW) closed his eyes and said: ‘When the soul is seized and it leaves the body, the eyes follow it.’ Some of Abu Salamah’s family wept and wailed, whereupon the Prophet (SAW) said: ‘Pray to Allah only for good for yourselves, because the angels (who are present) say “amen” to whatever you utter.’ Then he said: ‘O Allah! Forgive Abu Salamah; raise his station among those who are rightly-guided; and take good care of his family that he has left behind. O Lord of the Worlds! Forgive him and us, make his grave spacious, and put light therein for him.” (Muslim) (Ahmad) 

From this narration we also learn that excessive wailing should be avoided, instead the family members should make supplication. Then they should find a cloth to cover the entire body.

They should then wash the body, if the mother has passed away the womenfolk should wash her, if the father has passed away the menfolk should wash him. Umm Atiyya (RA) reported, “The Apostle of Allah (SAW) came to us when we were bathing his daughter, and he told us: Wash her with water and (with the leaves of) the lote tree, three or five times, or more than that if you think fit, and put camphor or something like camphor in the last washing; then inform me when you have finished. So when we had finished, we informed him, and he gave to us his (own) under-garment saying:” Put it next her body.” (Muslim) 

After the washing has been completed the body should be wrapped in the Kafn (Burial clothing).  Care should be taken that the shroud is clean and enshroud the whole body, this is because we will be resurrected in these cloths, the Prophet (SAW) has stated “A deceased will be resurrected in the clothes in which he dies.” (Abu Dawud)

This cloth should cover the entire body, there are narrations where a white cloth should be used or a striped cloth. “Of the clothing available to you, wear the white, for verily it is your best form of clothing. Shroud your dead with it as well.” (Abu Dawud) (Tirmidhi) The Prophet (SAW) has mentioned striped clothing: “Whoever can afford it, let him be shrouded in a striped cloth.” (Ahmad), “When one of you dies, let him be shrouded in a striped cloth – if it is possible to find that for him.” (Abu Dawud) 

The number of cloths has been disputed by Scholars due to differing narrations, “The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, was wrapped in three pieces of new white sheets of cloth from Yemen, without a shirt or a turban.” (Abu Dawud) The most accepted view is that 3 pieces should be used for a male and 5 for a female. However, some Scholars hold that two cloths should be used and that one will also suffice. The best course of action is to seek help from your local Scholar and they will inform you of the best course of action. Allah knows best.

The children of the deceased should then ensure that the body has been prayed over (Janazah prayer), then the body should be buried. Normally, the Scholars and Masjids in the locality will provide funeral services so they should be used and consulted upon the death of a parent.

After the burial has been completed then children should make supplication for their parents, this will benefit the deceased in their grave. The Prophet (SAW) has stated: “When a person dies, all his deeds come to an end except three: Sadaqah Jariyah (ongoing charity, e.g. a waqf or endowment), beneficial knowledge (which he has left behind), or a righteous child who will pray for him.” (Tirmidhi) Children should make a habit of mentioning their parents in every supplication that they make, you never know which one will be accepted.

Abu Usaid Saidi (RA) said: “Once we were sitting with the Prophet (SAW) when a person belonging to the tribe of Bani Salma came and said to him: ‘O Messenger of Allah (SAW)! Are there some rights of my parents on me which I have to fulfill even after they have died?’ ‘Yes’, replied the Prophet (SAW) ‘(These are) to pray for mercy and forgiveness on their behalf, to fulfill the promises they may have made to anyone, to pay due regard to the bonds of relationship that are from their side, and to be respectful to their friends.'” (Abu Dawud) (Ibn Majah) Children should ensure that they keep a good relationship with their parents’ relatives and acquaintances. If their deceased parents have any outstanding debts children should strive to pay them off.

May Allah forgive our parents and give them Jannah. May he allow us to fulfill our parent’s rights. Ameen.

 

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Good treatment of Parents (Part 3: Consequences)

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The treatment of Parents will bear fruit in the Hereafter and this transient life. It is upon the shoulders of the children, to ensure that they treat their parents correctly so they might be a means of their forgiveness. If they do not, falling short of the mark then they will be subject to tribulations in this life and the greatest punishment in the Hereafter.

In the previous articles many Narrations were mentioned where the good treatment of parents has been encouraged. The Prophet (SAW) said in various ways that this treatment will ultimately enable a person to enter Paradise, however, many other benefits have also been mentioned by the Prophet (SAW).

One narration of a benefit is where the Prophet (SAW) mentions: “In the pleasure of the father lies the pleasure of Allah and in the anger of the father lies the anger of Allah” (Tirmidhi) This narration is both an incentive and a warning, the pleasure of Allah will make a person experience success both in life and in death. If Allah is pleased with us, He will assist us and ease our afflictions, if He were to be angry with us then we would not be able to fathom the punishment that we would face. Allah looks after all his creation, He fulfills their needs, however, the servants who He is pleased with enjoy special treatment.

The Prophet (SAW) has stated: “He who desires ample provisions and his life be prolonged, should maintain good ties with his blood relations.” (Bukhari) (Muslim) One who is benevolent and compassionate towards one’s own relatives, stands to gain at least two definite advantages in this world besides the reward in the next. These two advantages are the increase in his sustenance and longevity of life. Increase in sustenance means that Allah will increase the quantity of his worldly goods or his means of sustenance will be blessed by Him. This individual will also get a long life, this will benefit him as he will have ample opportunity to do good deeds and increase his standing in the Hereafter.

The above Narration is not specific to Parents but to all a person’s blood relations, however, it is common sense that the strongest blood relations a person has are his parents. A common complaint when people are tasked to look after their aging parents is that they lack funds, whereas, this Narration infers that the more a person spends on his family the more Allah will increase his wealth. Treating parents well is a win-win situation.

Just as there are benefits to treating parents well, there are also detriments if we abuse them. To give an indication of the enormity of sin the Prophet (SAW) has listed ill treatment of parents as the grave sins. These grave sins are some of the worst that a person can perpetrate, they are repugnant in the court of Allah and also in the sight of mankind.

Anas (RA) related to us that once the Prophet (SAW) was asked about major sins, he replied: “To associate partners with Allah; to disobey the parents and cause them pain and injury; to kill unlawfully; and to give false evidence.” (Bukhari) The fact that treating the parents badly has been mentioned after the greatest crime a person can do; which is to associate partners unto Allah shows the greatness of sin that a person can be guilty of. If a person is a murderer he is vilified and outcast from society, this does not happen when a person treats their parents unfavourably, yet the latter is still classed as a major sin. We should treat all these sins with the caution they deserve, we should avoid each of them, regardless of the society and if they accept one and not the other.

The abuse of one’s parents does not just entail physical abuse, abuse is very broad, anything which could impugn the honour of one’s parents can be classed as abuse. To the extent that even if a person insults another person’s parents and in retaliation that person replies in the same manner, the first person who insulted will be guilty of impugning his own parent’s honour, (as his insult caused the other person to reply).

This has been clearly stated by the best of creation (SAW), this has been related by Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-as (RA) that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “It is one of the gravest sins to abuse one’s parents.” It was asked (by the people): “O Messenger of Allah, can a man abuse his own parents?” The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “He abuses the father of somebody who, in return, abuses the former’s father; he then abuses the mother of somebody who, in return, abuses his mother.” (Bukhari) (Muslim) We see that the abuse of parents is prevalent in our age, people will insult others and abuse their parents under the guise of humour, little do they understand the gravity of such insidious remarks.

Do not follow the masses in such folly, even if you deem the insult to be ‘funny’ a tactless joke is the precursor to slander, do not become a person who is among the people who abused their parents on the Day of Judgement. If you feel as though you have developed a habit of cursing others and involving their parents then apologise and seek forgiveness, exercise silence if that does not work then praise their parents instead of insulting them. This is no small matter. Laughter in this world is fueling the cries of agony in the next.

May Allah give us the ability to treat our parents well and benefit from them. Ameen.

Good treatment of Parents (Part 2: Status)

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We have established in the previous article that children must respect and treat their parents with kindness. This article will discuss the status that Islam has honoured parents with, we will learn the relevant Narrations which the Prophet (SAW) has used to venerate the Mothers and the Fathers of this Ummah (community).

The Mother is the first teacher that a child will have, she is the person who carries the burden of birthing the child, she is illogical in her immeasurable love. Due to her kindness and her care the Prophet (SAW) has stated, to Muawiya ibn Jahima (RA) who related to us: “My father, Jahima, went to the Prophet (SAW) and said: ‘I intended to go on Jihad and have come to seek your advice.’ The Prophet (SAW) asked him, ‘Is your mother alive?’ ‘Yes’, he replied; ‘Then stay with her and look after her needs. Your Heaven lies under her feet.’ The Prophet (SAW) said.” (Ahmad) (Nasai) The Prophet (SAW) stopped this Companion (RA) from going in the path of Allah because he deemed the service to his mother to be more virtuous for him. He summed up the service to the mother very poignantly, that it is a means of Paradise. Who can deny the lofty status a Mother enjoys in Islam when Paradise lies under her feet?

In the above Narration the service of the Mother has been given preference over Jihad, a similar Narration has been related wherein service to the Parents has been preferred over Jihad. Many people seem to dismiss service to parents a negligible act, this is folly! We become complacent because our parents are constantly around us, ask a person who has lost a parent, or one who is an orphan; you will see how they yearn just see their parents, let alone serve them.

Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Al-Aas (RA) related, “Once a person came to the Prophet (SAW) and said he wanted to participate in Jihad. ‘Are your parents alive?’ enquired the Prophet (SAW), ‘Yes’, he replied ‘They are alive.’ The Prophet (SAW) observed: ‘Then strive in their service and bring aid and succour to them.'” (Abu Dawud) We can understand from this Narration the importance serving the Parents has been given, this Companion (RA) was instructed not to go in Jihad and to serve his parents. A possible means of martyrdom was denied to him because the Prophet (SAW) deemed looking after his parents to be more beneficial for him. This illustrates the status that parents hold, thus we should endeavour to serve them whenever we get the opportunity.

Not only will serving our mothers let us enter Paradise but also serving our female relations will earn us copious reward. Abdullah ibn Umar narrated: “A person came to the Prophet (SAW) and said: ‘Messenger of Allah (SAW) I have committed a grave sin. Can my repentance be accepted?’.’Is your mother living?’ asked the Prophet (SAW), ‘No, she is dead,’ he replied, the Prophet enquired: ‘Is there a sister of your mother?’ ,’Yes’, replied the man. ‘A sister of hers is living.’ The Prophet advised; ‘Then treat her kindly and well.'” (Tirmidhi) Here we learn that service to your mother can atone for sins. The Prophet (SAW) first enquired the status of his mother, then he asked about the sister, showing that the mother has more right over her children than her siblings. This Narration shows that through helping our parents and their relations, we can wipe our accounts clean, there is truly no downside to fulfilling our parents’ rights.

It is very important that we keep a good relationship with our uncles and aunties, they are also liked to our parents and if we act kindly to them then our parents will be made happy. We should always assist our relatives as they have a greater right over us than strangers, we are extremely quick to help our friends but when it comes to our family we falter. This is not the Islamic way, we must fulfill the rights of our family and then we can focus helping others.

If our Parents ask us to go against the commandments of Allah then we refuse to do so, however, this does not mean we do not treat them kindly. Allah instructs us  in the Quran: “And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination. But if they endeavor to make you associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them but accompany them in [this] world with appropriate kindness and follow the way of those who turn back to Me [in repentance]. Then to Me will be your return, and I will inform you about what you used to do.” (31:14-15) This verse is explicitly stating that even if our parents are not Muslim, we should still act with kindness toward them.

Through treating our parents with the utmost care, and fulfilling their rights even if they are not Muslims, we will be rewarded. They may even accept Islam through witnessing our conduct with them.

Asmaa’ Bint Abi Bakr (RA) related that: “My mother came to visit me one day. At that time she was still a polytheist and there was a pledge between the Prophet (SAW) , and the Quraish (one of the great tribes in Arabia that lived in Mecca in the pre-Islamic Period of Ignorance who used to enjoy great political and financial powers). I requested the Prophet’s (SAW), religious verdict and said: Oh Prophet of Allah (SAW), my mother came to visit me, seeking my help; should I keep a good relationship with her? ‘Yes, keep a good relation with her,’ said the Prophet (SAW).” (Bukhari) (Muslim) Even though the mother of this Companion

It is due to the conduct the Companions (RA) showed to their relatives that so many accepted Islam. Yet, in this day and age, we see that people do not wish to accept Islam because they see the state of the Muslims. It should shame us that the greatest Ummah is in such a pitiful situation, we have left the way of the Prophet (SAW).

Allah give us the ability to fulfill the rights of our parents. Ameen.  

 

Good treatment of Parents (Part 1: Introduction)

help concept, special toned photo f/x, focus point selective

Every person is indebted to his parents, they are the reason that we are here on the earth. Allah used their meeting as a means for our birth. Through our lives they have nurtured us, taught us, consoled us and rebuked us, their contribution to our lives can never truly be understood or compensated for. It is for this reason that they must be cared for and respected. Just as they have cared for us in our youth, so to must we, care for them in their old age.

A Muslim is only called such if he accepts Allah to be one and worships Him. The belief in God is the single bedrock Islam rests upon, Allah shows the incredible status parents hold by mentioning belief in Him, followed by good treatment of parents. Allah says; “And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.” (17:23) He commands that we treat our parents kindly, even in old age where they will be more difficult to look after. Here the word ‘uff’ is used to stress the smallest of annoyances, even this should not be shown to them, let alone using profanity.

Here, no distinction has been made between the good treatment of parents, both the Mother and the Father should be treated equally  without any injustice or discrimination. The mistreatment of any of them could result in our After-life being destroyed.

The significance of the Parents has been summarised in this narration; it is related by Abu Umamah (RA) ‘Once a person asked the Prophet (SAW): ‘How much is the claim of parents on their children?’ “They are your Heaven and Hell,” the Prophet (SAW) replied.’ (Ibn Majah) This is both a warning and incentive, children should be very aware of the sensitive relationship that they have. They should try their utmost to act in a respectable way, even if their parents are in the wrong, this does not solicit callous behaviour.

There are Narrations detailing the status of both the mother and father, both are incredibly important and their roles cannot be diminished, they are vital to the functioning of any society. In regard to the status of a father, the Prophet (SAW) has said: “In the good pleasure of the father lies the good pleasure of Allah, and in his displeasure is the displeasure of Allah.” (Tirmidhi) This shows what status the father holds, but this is not simply restricted to the father, the mother also holds a high status. This status has been mentioned in various narrations.

The Mother holds a special place in society, also in her childrens’ hearts they naturally treat her with softness and care, however, to highlight the rank of the Mother many narrations can be cited. Narrated by Abu Huraira (RA), “A person enquired from the Prophet (SAW), ‘Who has the greatest claim on me with regard to service and kindly treatment?’ The Prophet (SAW) replied: “Your mother; and again, your mother; and once again, your mother. After her, there is the claim of your father and after it, of your near kinsmen and then, of the kinsmen who are next to them.” (Bukhari) (Muslim) This was said by the Prophet (SAW) to illustrate the right the mother has upon her children, especially when she reaches her old age.

Your mother is one of the very few people who will love you unconditionally, she would rather her own life be in danger, or she be in pain, than see her precious children in danger or discomfort. This is why when she reaches her own years of vulnerability, she should be treated in the same way that she treated her own children, with affection, care, love and understanding.

The importance of taking care of aged parents can be seen best in one Prophetic tradition; Abu Huraira (RA) related that the Prophet (SAW) said: “May he be humiliated; may he be disgraced; may he be brought low.” ‘Who?’ the Companions (RA) enquired, “The unfortunate person whose parents or any one of them attain old age in his lifetime and he does not earn Paradise (by being kind-hearted and dutiful to them).” (Muslim) Irrespective of how long parents live or what illnesses might plague them, children must ensure that their needs are met. This Narration does not simply mean that parents should be treated well in their old age only, but old age has been mentioned because this is when they will need the  most assistance. Just as they once helped you without complaining or whining so too must you return their kindness.

Both Parents should be looked after, this cannot be avoided, and should not be done without kindness. It is not a burden but an opportunity to obtain Paradise. We should not adopt the poisonous mentality of individualism, that we only look out for ourselves, this is not Islam this is justified selfishness.

If Allah wills then this be continued in the next article, may Allah give us the ability to fulfill the rights of our parents. May He shower our parents in His mercy, forgive their sins and enter them in Paradise. Ameen. 

 

Taking care of the Vulnerabe in Society

A beggar in BelÈm, Lisbon. He sat there for hours without moving.

It is an unfortunate staple of society, regardless of era or affluence; the weak and destitute suffer. The poor will starve as the rich gorge themselves, the widow will lament as the bride indulges, the orphan will suffer as the children play. It is a theme littered though the ages: Man will not care unless he is affected. Man is selfish. Man is vain. Man is greedy. Man is flawed, due to this man must have direction and guidance, only the Creator can guide his creation.

Allah has warned the person who hoards wealth, who is only concerned about his own pockets, “Competition in [worldly] increase diverts you. Until you visit the graveyards… You will surely see the Hell-fire.” (102: 1-6) Allah knows that if man is left to his own devices then he will surely destroy himself an others. This is why He has outlined the importance of helping the needy and infirm with the wealth he blesses us with.

Allah has commanded the Believers to help the needy, “Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who believes in Allah , the Last Day, the angels, the Book, and the prophets and gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives Zakah; [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise; and [those who] are patient in poverty and hardship and during battle. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous.” (2:177) 

This one verse truly encapsulates the spirit of Islam, its message is not solely about belief but about assisting those who are impoverished, the undesirables of society, the forgotten. It is incumbent upon the Muslim community that they worth to alleviate the ills of the World. This is our mission and one which has been entrusted to the Prophets (AS) before.

There are numerous Narrations extolling praise and emphasising the reward which one can attain if he helps the unfortunate. Abu Huraira (RA) narrates that the Prophet (SAW) said: “Whoever strives to relieve the widow, the distressed and the needy is as one, in Divine reward, who does Jihad in the path of Allah.” Abu Huraira (RA) added that as far as he remembered, the Prophet (SAW), also said, “He is as one who fasts permanently during the day and spends the nights in prayer.” (Bukhari) (Muslim) This shows how beloved the action of relieving the trails of the distressed is, an unfathomable amount of reward awaits.

The Prophet (SAW) who will be in the highest stage of Jannah has promised, Sahl ibn Sa’ad relates the Prophet said: “Whoever supports an orphan belonging to his own or any other family will be as close to me in Heaven as these fingers are to each other” Sahl relates that the Prophet (SAW) made a motion of his index and middle fingers (while he said it), and there was only a little space separating the two (at that time).  (Bukhari) This narration does not single any orphan out, the orphan could have familial ties or he could not, it does not matter; the reward is the same. Jannah is fulfills every desire and whim a person can imagine, however, can anyone deny that one of the greatest desires a believer will have is to spend time with the best of creation (SAW)?

Even if a person does not spend his wealth or provide assistance to an orphan, just the good treatment of an orphan is enough to acquire reward. Abu Umamah (RA) relates, the Prophet (SAW) has said; “If anyone strokes an orphan’s head, doing so only for the sake of Allah, he will have blessings for every hair over which his hand passes, and if anyone treats well an orphan girl or boy under his care, he and I shall be like these two in Paradise.” He  put two of his fingers together. (Ahmad) (Tirmidhi) This narration is very clear, the good treatment of an orphan will be, regardless of gender will result in good deeds.

The one who treats orphans is honoured, similarly, the one who mistreats orphans is disgraced. If the one who oppresses orphans is not punished in this life, the punishment of the next is more severe.

If a person is willing to raise an orphan, he should know that this deed is commendable and he will be compensated by Allah. But, he should remain wary of his conduct toward the orphan under his care, if the rights of the orphan are violated then the punishment of Allah will follow. The orphan can either secure his place in Paradise or his place in Hell.

The Prophet has said: “The best of Muslim homes is the one in which an orphan lives and is treated in a loving and affectionate manner, and the worst of Muslim homes is the home in which an orphan lives and is treated badly or cruelly.” (Ibn Majah) All Muslims who work with orphans should also take great care in their demeanor toward an orphan. Charities which fund orphanages should ensure that the money which has been donated is used to raise orphans in a safe and nurturing environment. Even the people who donate should at least check if the charity is reliable and trustworthy.

The one who looks after the poor or feeds the hungry will be rewarded, his reward will be with Allah. As only Allah can truly compensate such virtuous actions. However, the Prophet has mentioned some rewards for taking care of certain needs the destitute have: “He who clothes a naked Muslim Allah will clothe him with green garments in  Paradise. As for the Muslim who feeds a Muslim who is hungry, Allah will feed him the fruit of Paradise. Then, as for a Muslim who will give water (or any other drink) to a Muslim who is thirsty Allah will give him to drink the extremely pure drink (of Paradise) on which is an unseen seal.” (Abu Dawud) (Tirmidhi) 

These are only some of the rewards that the Prophet (SAW) mentioned as an incentive to spend on the impoverished. The true extent of reward will be shown in the next life. We should, when spending, have a pure intention; we should spend solely for Allah’s pleasure, not to show off.

May Allah give us the means to spend on the orphan, the needy, the hungry and the poor. May He help us be sincere in our charity. May he alleviate the suffering of the oppressed around the world. Ameen.

Rights of Children (Part 2: Upbringing)

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Life by its very nature is fleeting, it is littered by enjoyment and tribulation. Yet, we must overcome these trails and must not become distracted by the embellishments. For a Muslim every enjoyment has the potential to be a trail and vice versa. This unique system is very beneficial for a Muslim as it means, that in essence, his life is not as black and white as enjoyment and trail. Rather every situation that manifests, is an opportunity to gain closeness to the Creator.

Children are no different, they are simply a means to gain closeness to Allah, they are an investment for the Hereafter. This an be understood from the statement of the Prophet (SAW);  “When a man dies, his deeds come to an end except for three things: Sadaqah Jariyah (ceaseless charity); knowledge which is beneficial; or a virtuous descendant who prays for him (the deceased).” (Muslim) A pious child will continue to elevate our rank even after our demise. This means that the more pious the child the better assistance the parents will have in the Afterlife.

This assistance will come through the Prayers of the child and the good deeds done for the parents on their behalf, through this child. This has been illustrated by a narration of the Prophet (SAW); which has reached us through Ibn Abbas (RA). Ibn Abbas (RA) reported that the mother of Sa’d ibn Ubadah (RA) died when he was away from her. He said: “O Messenger of Allah, my mother has died and I am away from her. Will it benefit her anything if I give in charity on her behalf?” He said, “Yes.” He said, “Then I ask you to be my witness that I am giving my garden al-Mikhraaf (so called because it bore so many dates) in charity on her behalf.” (Bukhari) 

In order to reap the optimum benefits from our children, we must ensure that Islamic values are inculcated into them from an early age. When they are young this is very easy, as we have been told by our Prophet (SAW) that the default position of every child is Islam; “Every child is born in a state of fitrah (the natural state of man, i.e., Islam), then his parents make him into a Jew or a Christian or a Magian.” (Bukhari) (Muslim) Young children are very receptive and it is at this tender age that they should be familiar with the commandments of Allah and their duties as a Believer.

Children should grow up seeing their Parents praying Salah, this will create a natural longing to emulate their Parents. Many times we are unaware that our actions serve as the best lessons to our children, you can lecture them for hours, but leading by example has always been the most effective method to drive a point across.

Parents have been instructed to pay particular attention to the Salah of their children, the Prophet (SAW) has said, “When your children attain the age of seven, insist upon them to offer up Prayer (regularly), and when they’re ten years old, punish them if they do not, and have separate beds for them (to sleep on).”  (Abu Dawud) This age is mentioned as it is age where many of the habits your child will have throughout their lives will be established. It is also at this age when they will be nearing the time of maturity, so naturally parents should prepare for this. Privacy is a must at this age, parents must understand that they cannot bathe or make children sleep on the same bed at this age. Their children should develop a greater sense of independence and this should be catered for by providing separate beds.

It is imperative that Parents adopt both positive and negative reinforcement if they wish to make their child adopt a certain behaviour. When it comes to Salah if children are punctual they should be rewarded and if they are lethargic they should be punished appropriately. Do not be excess in their punishment, as many times a person has become antagonistic toward Islam due to the dictator-like implementation their parents adopted. This is not the Prophet way. Do not be draconian, be magnanimous and firm. It is an equilibrium which must be met if you wish your children to become practicing Muslims.

Parents should dedicate time to their children, especially in the beginning stages, they should feel that Islam is a part of their identity and not just a label they are stuck with. Parents should take their children to the Mosques when the child is old enough, this will create sense of community and ensure that our children will continue to fill the Mosques after our deaths. Care should be taken by the individuals who are responsible for the Mosques that the provide the facilities to cater for both the elderly and the youth of the Ummah.

With all of these important points in mind, Parents must also focus on the moral development of their child. They must ensure that they explain what is right and wrong, instilling Islamic etiquette as the child matures. This can be done in many ways, the most obvious is as was mentioned above, leading by example. However, a Islamic Tutor should also have input in the child’s upbringing. Parents should choose a Tutor who is knowledgeable and pious so that the child can receive an authentic Islamic education from an early age. Alternatively they can enroll them in a Islamic institute, however, this is not a free-pass, this does not mean that the Parent’s job is finished just because their child is studying in this institute . Parenting is a life-long process, the child must always feel that his parents are involved.  There can never be any substitute for good parenting.

In regards to moral development, the Prophet (SAW) has stated; “No father gave a better gift to his children than good manners and good character.” (Tirmidhi) And in a similar narration, “Show respect to your children and adorn them with good manners.” (Ibn Majah) If you do not show respect to your children and they see how you are an oppressor in the household, how can you expect them to attain lofty moral character? Do not contradict yourself, do as you say, as contradiction is the bane of morality.

May Allah bless us with pious, healthy, upright children. May he forgive us for our mistakes and fix our affairs. Ameen.

 

 

 

Rights of Children (Part 1: Birth)

children

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.