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.  

 

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.

The Importance of Maintaining Ties

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Family has been essential for the advancement of civilisation, many cultures around the world value close ties of kinship and try their utmost to safeguard these ties. In the past, being without a family would mean that an individual could not survive in society, as the family would share resources and protect their own. This bond of kinship was even more relevant in the Arabian peninsula during the time of the Prophet (SAW), this was a tribal society and the most powerful would be those with the noblest of families. Tribes relied on strong familial relations in order to function, it did not serve the wider tribe if the members severed their family ties, this would weaken the tribe and lead to the destruction of many lives.

Muslims today, place less value on their family, they have been influenced by the idea of individual success. On the surface this is very inviting, however, this virulent ideology harms the many to fulfill the greed of the few. It promotes vanity and selfishness, leading to a person forsaking others in order to fuel his own ego. Islam allows the development of the individual, but it commands that a person help his fellow-man instead of thinking solely of himself.

The people who have the most right over an individual from all of mankind is his family. Allah orders the Believers in the Quran: “Believers, guard yourselves and your families against a Fire whose fuel is men and stones, and over which are harsh, terrible angels who disobey not God in what He commands them and do what they are commanded.” (66:6) This verse indicates the true value of a person’s family in the sight of Allah. Not only does the Creator demand we save ourselves but He mentions we save our families, showing their connection to us and the importance they hold.

It is for this reason that we should not sever our ties with family. How can one expect to save someone he does not interact with? For this reason, the Prophetic traditions are replete with severe warnings against cutting one’s ties.

It is related that Abu Huraira (RA) quoted the Prophet (SAW) saying, “Ties of relationship (Rahima) is a word derived from the Compassionate One (Ar-Rahman). And Allah said, ‘I shall keep connection with him who keeps you tied and sever connection with him who severs you.'” The world for Relation here has been derived from one of Allah’s beautiful Names, this shows how sacred a person’s relations truly are. Here, piety has been directly associated to maintaining links to kin. As personal closeness to Allah has been fused with closeness to family.

A person does not choose his family, rather Allah in His infinite wisdom allocates them to a person upon birth. If a person is blessed with a pious and upright family then it is a blessing of Allah and he should be grateful. If a person is given a difficult family then it is only a test from Allah that an individual must endure with patience.

The question arises: who is a person that enjoins ties? The answer has been given by the greatest of creation, “The one to join ties is not truly the one who reciprocates a kind act of relatives but the one to join ties is he who joins ties even when others sever them” (Bukhari) It is a tremendous test of character to be civil with a person who is acting barbaric with you. That is why Islam demands we act righteously with those who do not necessarily want cordial ties with us. 

In another Tradition the Holy Prophet (SAW) relates that: “Allah, the Most High, says: ‘I am Allah; I am Al-Rahman (the Merciful); I have created the bond of kinship and given it the name of Rahima which I have obtained from the root of My name, Rahman. Thus, whoever will join it, I shall join him, whoever will break it, I shall break him.”  Again, the concept of safeguarding ties has been bound to Allah’s name. The bonds that a person has have been bestowed by Allah, so it is imperative that they be cared for justly. We should not sever ties over the smallest slight, it is a testament to a person’s lack of understanding and weak emotional control.

It has become commonplace that individuals in their fits of hysteria sever ties, and even after they calm down due to their ego they do not reconcile and ask for forgiveness. Many relationships between immediate families have been ended over trivial matters. For those people who take severing ties lightly, and who ardently defend their actions (due to hubris) know that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) has stated: “Whoever violates the rights of kinship shall not go Heaven” (Bukhari) (Muslim) I ask those who no longer keep ties because of petty reasons, is it truly worth it? You can be the most dedicated worshiper, but Heaven will not be yours if you sever ties.

The reward for enjoining kinship is not only a close connection to Allah, but there are many benefits which will be seen in this world. The Prophet (SAW) has said; “Whoever wants an increase in his sustenance and that the marks of his feet remain for a long time in the World (i.e., he lives long) should be kind and helpful to his relatives.” (Bukhari) (Muslim)  There is no person who does not desire an increase in his wealth or life, the way to get it is simple: maintain ties and act amicably. Being helpful means to assist one’s relatives in times of distress, be it through monetary help, emotional support or physical assistance.

May Allah give us the ability to maintain our ties. May He protect our relatives and give them the best of both worlds. Ameen.

Rights of Children (Part 3: Equality)

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There has historically been a bias against women, even by their own parents they were considered inferior to their male counterparts. This could be seen in the time before the Prophet (SAW) preached Islam, in his context it was not unheard of for fathers to bury their daughters out of shame. Islam came and abolished such practices, it upheld the rights of daughters and ensured they had as much protection as the males in society.

Allah has mentioned this period of history in the Quran; “And when one of them is informed of [the birth of] a female, his face becomes dark, and he suppresses grief. He hides himself from the people because of the ill of which he has been informed. Should he keep it in humiliation or bury it in the ground? Unquestionably, evil is what they decide.” (16: 58-59) This mistreatment based on gender is completely forbidden in Islam, if one engages in such filth then he will certainly be questioned on the Day of Judgement.

The Prophet (SAW) has advised his Nation to treat their daughters well, he has made it incumbent upon Parents to show kindness toward them. Parents should not give preference to one child over the other, as they are both blessings from Allah. Yet we find that within our Communities this cancer of inequality is alive and well, this is in flagrant contradiction to the Prophetic way.

The Prophet (SAW) has said, “Whoever becomes the father of a girl, he should neither hurt her nor treat her with contempt nor show preference over her to his sons in kindness and affection. (Both boys and girls should be treated alike). Allah will grant him Paradise in return for kindly treatment towards the daughter.” (Ahmad) (Hakim) If parents were to treat their children with kindness, instead of ruling over them with an iron-fist, then the rewards would be immense.

Not only has the Prophet (SAW) linked the good treatment of daughters to Paradise but he has also stated that they will protect a person from Hell and its torments. Aisha (RA) has related that she heard the Prophet of Allah (SAW) say, “The bondsman or bondswoman upon whom the responsibility of daughters was placed by Allah, (and he or she fulfilled the responsibility in a good manner), and treated them properly, for him or her the daughters shall be a means of protection from Hell.” (Bukhari) (Muslim) 

In another version of the same Tradition, the incident is mentioned which prompted the Prophet (SAW) to say this. It is narrated that a very poor woman, with two daughters, came to Aisha’s (RA) place to beg. By chance Aisha (RA) had only one date with her at that time, which she gave to the woman. The woman broke the date into two parts and gave each girl one part. She did not eat the date herself. When the Prophet (SAW) came after some time had elapsed, Aisha (RA) related the incident to the Prophet (SAW), upon hearing what happened he remarked the above narration.

Parents sometimes think that due to the fact that daughters usually move out when they get married and live with their in-laws, that there will be no benefit to raising them well. This corrupt mentality is dangerous as it marginalises daughters as they are seen as worthless. This is not the case, every blessing of Allah is priceless, every child is precious and should be raised as such.

This has been emphasised by the Prophet (SAW), where he mentions the reward for raising daughters; “The bondsman who bears the responsibility of two daughters and supports them till they attain puberty, he and I will be close to one another like this on the Day of Judgement.” (Abu Dawud) (Tirmidhi) The narrator, Anas (RA), added that the Prophet (SAW) showed this by joining the fingers of his hand (that as the fingers were close to one another in the same way the bondsman be close to him on the Day of Final Reckoning). This is the reward for raising daughters, again the Prophet (SAW), placed such emphasis on the treatment of daughters due to the abysmal conditions they endured at the time.

When parents raise children they should ensure that they do so with fairness and justice. There should be no discrimination, regardless of gender or age, as this creates resentment for parents and the siblings of the discriminated. Narrated by Nu’man ibn Bashir (RA), “My father took me to the Prophet (SAW)”, according to some reports, “in his arms, and said: ‘I have given a slave to this son of mine.’ (In other narratives, a garden is mentioned in place of slave). The Prophet (SAW) enquired: ‘Have you given the same to all of your sons?’ ‘No’, my father replied. He (SAW) said: ‘It is not correct. Take it back.” (Bukhari) (Muslim) This shows that giving preference to one child over another is disliked and should be avoided. If there is a need to give more attention or financial support to one child over another due to illness or a disability then it is fine.

May Allah give us the ability to be just to our children. May He make our children a means of our salvation and not a means of our damnation. May he allow us to become the best of parents. 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)

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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.

The Rights of Neighbours

neighbors

The relationship of neighbours can be some of the most endearing relationships one can have in this life. They oft than not become life long friends and close acquaintances. Having well mannered neighbors can make life comfortable, whereas, the opposite can make life very difficult. Islam has recognised this beneficial relationship, as such it has certain parameters set by the Prophet (SAW). If we follow these parameters we will find our communities filled with co-operation and civility.

To mention the rights a neighbour enjoys, first, we must define who a neighbour is. This definition will be left to one of the greatest Scholars of our intellectual heritage, Hafiz Ibn Hajar (Allah have mercy upon him), he defines a neighbour in his celebrated work, Fath-ul Bari. He writes that Scholars have various opinions about the extent of neighbours. It is reported from Ali (RA) that whoever hears the same Azaan (the call to prayer) are neighbours. Some say that whoever performs Salah (congregational prayer) with one in the same Masjid becomes one’s neighbour. A narration from Aisha (RA) reports that neighbours extend to forty homes in each direction. Imam Awza’i (RH) holds the same view, and Imam Bukhari (RH) [in his Adab-ul Mufrad] and Imam Tabrani (RH) have also cited narrations similar to this.

Allah has stated in the Quran, “Worship Allah and associate nothing with Him, and to parents do good, and to relatives, orphans, the needy, the near neighbor, the neighbor farther away, the companion at your side, the traveler, and those whom your right hands possess. Indeed, Allah does not like those who are self-deluding and boastful.” (4:36) 

In the above verse, Allah initially outlines man’s obligation to him, and that is to worship Him alone, without ascribing partners to Him. The essence of Islam is this acceptance of monotheism. Thereafter, Allah outlines our obligations to fellow human beings, and commences with parents, because if man is indebted to anyone after Allah, it is his parents. Allah then mentions kindness toward relatives then neighbours.

Two types of neighbours are mentioned in the verse. The near neighbour refers to the immediate neighbour, whilst the far neighbour refers to those whose homes at a distance from one. Some Scholars opine that the near neighbour refers to a neighbour who happens to be a relative as well, and the far neighbour is a normal person without any familial link. The one who is a relative and a neighbour will have more rights upon a person. Others give the explanation that the near neighbour is a person who is Muslim and the distant neighbour is the non Muslim. This does not negate the fact that a person must act in the best of manners regardless of the person’s belief system.

To understand the importance of the neighbour, the words of the Prophet (SAW) will suffice us, “Jibra’il (AS) persistently emphasised the importance of the neighbour to me, until I felt that he was going to declare him an heir in the estate.” (Bukhari) The heirs of the deceased have rights over his property, these are undeniable and in embedded in our Religion. Due to the emphasis regarding the neighbour, the Prophet (SAW) felt that Jibra’il (AS) would descend and accord the neighbour the status of an heir, was imminent. This is how much the rights of a neighbour are intrinsic in order to develop an Islamic moral code.

One of the basic rights a neighbour has over a Muslim is that he is not harmed, as the Prophet has stated, “He who believes in Allah and the last day should not harm his neighbour.” (Bukhari) Here, once more, the most important aspect of Islam is mentioned before the right of a neighbour is mentioned. The belief in Allah is mentioned coupled with the belief in an afterlife, these beliefs are the defining factor of a Muslim, if he does not have these then he cannot be called a believer. The fact that immediately after this, the Prophet (SAW) mentions the right of the neighbour, this is and indication on how profound the rights of a neighbour truly are.

This tradition does not go into detail as to what ‘Harm’ is, instead it was left to the Companions (RA) to define and the the Scholars. Due to harm having different connotations to different people, a general definition is difficult to produce. However, harm here could be best understood as harm to your neighbour’s life, direct or indirectly, harm to his property, his family, his honour or his wealth. Allah knows best.

A similar Hadith has been said by our Prophet (SAW), reported by Abu Huraira (RA), “By Allah, he is not a true Believer; by Allah, there is no faith in him; by Allah, he is not a believing man.” ‘Who?’ he was asked. “From whose mischief his neighbours do not feel secure.” (Bukhari and Muslim) From this harsh warning issued and the words chosen by our Prophet (SAW) one can imagine how vile a mischievous neighbour truly is. Here the Prophet (SAW) has again made the connection between belief in Allah and the rights of the neighbour. The crux of this Narration is that a Muslim should be so amiable with his neighbours that they have nothing to fear from him. If the neighbour lives in fear due to a person’s behaviour then he cannot be called a faithful believer.

The Prophet (SAW) has warned his nation of the bad neighbour, he has said, “The person whose neighbours are not spared from his ill-behaviour will not enter Jannah” (Muslim) This Narration is very similar to the above one, however, this one is more clear in regards to the destination of a ill-mannered neighbour. This is really the most severe warning that the Prophet (SAW) has given, this should be enough to highlight just how important a neighbour truly is.

May Allah give us the ability to act as good neighbours. May he save us from becoming bad neighbours and from having bad neighbours.