Parents and Their Role in the Upbringing of Children
by Moulana Moosa Ahmad Olgar, from Upbringing of Children

Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: "All of you are guardians and are responsible for your subjects. The ruler is a guardian of his subjects and the man is a guardian of his family, the lady is a guardian of her husband's house and his off-spring and all of you are guardians and are responsible for your subjects."

After having children, the first and foremost desire of parents is to prepare them for a bright and successful future. Thus every parent hopes and wishes that their children be pious with excellent character but this can only be achieved if the correct method towards this goal is adopted and the right environment created from the very beginning. It is very important to note that the spiritual upbringing is far more important than the physical upbringing.

Although the environment prior to the child's birth is very important, so too is the environment into which the child is born, as the actual upbringing starts in the mother's lap which is the first MADRASAH for the child.

Although the father plays an important role in educating the child, the mother plays a more important and greater role in this process. Rather it can rightly be said that the mother contributes the greater share and plays the best role in the early training and education of her children. Moreover the mother is more loving, kind and patient than the father, she is nearer to the children and they are more free and attached to her. This makes the mother more capable of educating and training her children in the most proper way.

The meaning of this is: Every child is born pure. It is the environment created by his parents that determines his future. It is absolutely necessary to understand that before you expect your child to learn the ways of Islam, the parents have to be practising Muslims themselves. Parents should set a good example in front of their children. Therefore for the parents to be practising Muslims is of utmost importance for the Islamic upbringing of their children. Regarding parents, this poem is best suited:

"The parent is like a mirror, the reflection it gives, the child adopts. If the reflection is good, the child is good. If the reflection is bad, the child is bad."

Remember, the entire future of the child depends entirely on the parent's teachings, training and environment in which the parent's bring up their child. The home environment and the parent's upbringing of the child either makes or mars the child's future. If the home environment is Islamic, then the child will be religiously inclined, but if the home environment is un-Islamic, then the child will develop irreligious traits and habits in himself. Because the child does not come from a solid Islamic home, he is unaware of the gems and jewels of Islam due to lack of Islamic knowledge and education. Copper, brass and gravel of other religions look dazzling and beautiful in his eyes. If the child hears music and watches television, then he will want to imitate the singers and the T.V. stars. On the other hand, if the words of Allah Taa'la (i.e the Quraan) keeps falling in his ears and the lives of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and the Sahaaba (radiyallahu anhum) are related to him, then he will develop good qualities and try to imitate Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and the Sahaaba (radiyallahu anhum). Remember, if the home environment is not Islamic, how do we expect the child to become a fine and respectable Muslim servant of Allah?

If religious education and training are given from childhood, the child on growing up will definitely understand the rights of the parents and elders and will respect them. If the child has been deprived of religious education and training by careless and neglectful parents, he will not discharge the rights that he has to towards his parents. Many parents complain that their children are ill-mannered, disobedient and disrespectful. The cause of their disobedience is only the fault of the parents, as they, on account of their greed for worldly things and love for money, kept their children blank in religious education. To earn their livelihood and to fill their bellies, parents are keeping their children aloof from religious education, and instead involve them in profane education and worldly pursuits, thus making them irreligious. There is none to educate these innocent children and to train and inculcate Islamic morals into them. How will the fear of Allah be instilled into their minds? Since attaining the age of sensitivity, the love of money, beautiful clothes and houses, fast cars etc. has entered his heart and he now remains occupied day and night with the thought of these things only and keeps trying to acquire them. He cares not if in acquiring these things, he may be depriving or destroying the rights of others. In his greed of acquiring worldly goods, high medical, legal and engineering degrees, he is ready to waste the invaluable wealth of IMAAN. Such men can cause ruin to the community and in creating a struggle for power, are in fact proving to be the disintegrators of institutions. What now can the religion and community expect from this kind of upbringing?! How can the parents then say that the youth "the fresh blood" do not obey the parents, do not help the weak, the widows and the orphans, and do not take interest in works concerning the masaajid and madaaris? The parents themselves have not taught them to do these acts. The young people are even ignorant of the reward for obeying their parents and of the punishment for disobeying them. How many Ahaadith do they know? And how many Ahaadith have they been asked to memorise? Not a single answer will be received to any of these questions. Then what else can you expect from such ignorant youth?

Nowadays parents say: Oh look at my son, he shows no respect to his parents, or they say: look at what my daughter has done, she has no DEEN in her. But alas! do they ever ask themselves why? Why has my child no DEEN in him? The parents eventually refuse to take the blame for their son's or daughter's evil actions. But, ponder, whose fault is this? This fault is none other than the parents' themselves. To them it is definitely not their fault, as they brought their child up, nurtured him, gave the best food, the best clothes, took him wherever he wanted gave him plenty of money, and did whatever he wanted, as he was their special child. But the main and essential thing the parents forgot or rather did not feel it necessary to give the child was religious education and tarbiyat. Now as the child grows up, his greed for worldly material things has blinded his sense of morals. Oh yes! you wonder what morals? That's right, the child has no Islamic morals or education whatsoever. So now, how can you expect morals and good habits from him, if you did not inculcate it into him. The child now feels that there is nothing wrong in disobeying his parents. He now adopts the western ways which are prevalent today and which have no place for parents as Islam does.

Amongst westerners when their parents reach old age they no longer care for them. Instead in a cruel way, they place them in old age homes. The very same parents who brought them up, fed them, clothed them, gave them everything, the same mother who gave birth to him, nurtured him, spent sleepless nights, and now all of a sudden they are considered too much of a burden to be cared for. This my dear reader, is the Western attitude and if you as a parent fail to impart deeni education and training to your children, then they will definitely receive education and influences of a different standard. A way of the Westerners! and due to your negligence you may also be thrown out by your own very special child. The difference between Muslims and non-Muslims is that Muslims impart religious education and training to their children, thus making them successful in both the worldly life and the life of the hereafter. So remember parents, it is YOU who make a big difference! It is your teachings and tarbiyat which will mould your child into a respectable Islamic conscious person. But Alas! the parents harpe upon their own rights and grumble against the children. Likewise, think of the basic cause whereby the children became disobedient. No doubt the parents have a right to claim the fulfilment of their rights from their children. But since the parents are unaware of the children's rights and their rightful demand, they do not discharge their own responsibility and as a consequence the children become disobedient. It was the parents' primary duty to give religious education and training to the children, but instead of that they made them become involved in worldly pursuits.

However by paying attention to the crucial necessity of giving religious education during childhood, an effort should be made to create an emotion and fervour for IMAAN in the hearts of the children. The imparting of religious education will make them conscious of Allah's rights, the rights of elders, widows, orphans and parents, whereby they will consider the discharging of these rights as an act of reward and the cause of success and prosperity in the world and religion.

But if children are kept away from religious education, then what we are observing today is definitely going to happen. Parents and elders who do not discharge the children's rights and miss the opportunity of acquitting themselves of their responsibility, will not find the children fulfilling their parent's rights when they grow up. Such children rather than being useful will prove to be harmful to the community.

The following two stories (anecdotes) refer to those parents who fail to impart deeni education and training to their children. Read them carefully and take lesson from them!

Abul Laith Samarqandi (R.A) has related that a man brought his son to Hazrat Umar (radiyallahu anhu) and said: "My son does not obey me, he is disobedient to me." Hearing this Hazrat Umar (radiyallahu anhu) said: "O boy, don't you know what rights a father has on his son?" Thereafter he narrated the rights of a father on his children. The boy said: "O Commander of the faithful! Do the children too have any rights on their father?" Hazrat Umar (radiyallahu anhu) said: "Yes! the children too have rights on their father." "What are those rights?" asked the boy. Hazrat Umar (radiyallahu anhu) replied: "First of all, he should search for a good mother for his son. He should marry with a virtuous, religious woman, and must not marry any woman of questionable nature and doubtful character. The second right is that when he begets a child, he should name it with a good name, and the third right of the child is that he should impart religious knowledge to him and teach the Quraan." The boy said: "O Commander of the faithful! my father has not discharged any of these rights. Firstly, the woman who is my mother is a negress, a slave woman that he has bought for 400 dirhams. She is a neophyte Muslim slave woman who is quite ignorant of religious education, Islamic civil manners and morals. It is in her laps that I have passed my infancy. She has not given me any religious education. What should I do? Secondly, they have not named me with a good name. They have named me Jo'al meaning black, ugly man. I should have been given a good name which was my right, but my father did not discharge his responsibility towards me. The third is the right of religious education, which they did not give me at all. Now whatever decision you give, I will accept it."

Just ponder over it. A great man like Hazrat Umar (radiyallahu anhu) at the very mention of whose name people shudder even today said: "O boy's father, first of all, you have been neglectful regarding the boy's rights which you did not discharge and now you tell me that your son does not obey you. GET OUT! It is you who have disobeyed first."

Ponder over Hazrat Umar's (radiyallahu anhu) decision. Just as we have given up discharging the responsibility regarding our children, what is our condition? Then we consider our children to be disobedient and unworthy. Parents should remember that they became disobedient first. Children are a trust, and this responsibility came upon the parents and they did not discharge it, but instead they engaged their children in worldly things. Hating knowledge and the assemblies of Ulema, parents have attached their children's hearts to the bazaar and the motor stand. How then can you expect to reform the children? . So if parents remind their children during their childhood itself about religious responsibility and make an effort to attach them to religion, then Insha-Allah, by such training, the children will become virtuous and pious. So if you want to live an honourable life in this world, engage your children in religious education.

The second anecdote is regarding a son beating his father. A man came to an Aalim and said: "My son beats me and beats me very much." "What! the son beats his father," exclaimed the Aalim. "Yes!" replied the man, "he beats me and beats me too much." The Aalim said: "Have you imparted to him deeni education and have you taught him manners?" The man said: "No." The Aalim then asked : "Have you taught him the Quraan?" When the man again said no, the Aalim asked: "What does your son do?" The man replied: "He is a cultivator". The Aalim asked: "Do you know why your son beats you?" The man said that he did not know. The Aalim then said: "It seems to be that your son must be going to the field sitting on a horse or a donkey, an ox must be in front of him and a dog in his rear. The son has not read the Quraan and does not know what the Quraan is. You must have asked him at that time as he was going to the field to read the Quraan and therefore he beat you. Thank Allah that your head did not break."

Yes! the reality here is that religious education was not given to his son in his young days, with the result he is unaware of his father's rights. It is therefore the right of every child upon the parents that he be given a sound Islamic education and be taught good manners. This in turn will ensure that they lead a proper Islamic life and be saved from hardships in this world, and more important in the hereafter.

The Quraan says:

"O! You who believe, save yourself and your family from a Fire whose fuel is men and stones." (Surah Tahreem)

Hazrat All (radiyallahu anhu) interprets this to mean that you must save your family by giving them good education and good manners. Therefore to make children's lives successful according to standards set by Islam, parents should devotedly train and educate them. Parents should carry out their duty with wisdom, affection, patience and steadfastness. By doing this, their position will be exalted in the eyes of Allah, and their status will be raised in society.

Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: "Everyone of you is a shepherd and everyone of you will be answerable for his flock."

The mother in particular is responsible for the correct upbringing of the child. It is stated in the Hadith about the mother: "and she is a shepherdess over the house of her husband and of his children, and she is answerable."

Basic Islamic education and good morals could only be taught and practised at home. Therefore the first MADRASAH for the child is the mother's lap. The mother contributes the greater share and plays the best role in the early training and education of her children.

By imparting Deeni knowledge to the children, parents' positions will be exalted in the eyes of Allah, and their status will be raised in society, Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: "The best gift which a father can give to his children is that of their good education and manners."

In another Hadith it is mentioned that Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: "He who guides to good deeds is like the doer thereof and he who leads to bad deeds is like the doer thereof."

If parents bring up their children Islamically, it will be regarded as Sadaqa-e-Jariya. It simply means that if the parents impart deeni education to their children and the children practise upon it, it would be a continuous reward for the parents after their death. On the contrary, if the parent did not impart religious education, it will be regarded as Azaab-e-Jariya. Meaning that whatever evil the children do, the parents will get continuous azaab (punishment) for it after their death.

If you impart deeni education to the children, on growing up they will act upon religion and would become the source of religious education for others, thus the parents will be rewarded for all these things continuously in the hereafter by Allah Taa'la for their efforts.

Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:

"When a person dies, his deeds also come to an end. But there are three things done by him for which he goes on getting the reward from Allah. Firstly, is he who leaves some charitable trust for the benefit of the people. Secondly, he leaves behind some knowledge which is continuously benefiting the people and thirdly he leaves behind a pious child who goes on praying for his forgiveness."

On another occasion Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: "The parents of a person who acquired extensive knowledge of the Quraan Majeed and practised accordingly will be crowned on the day of Qiyaamah and this crown will shine more than the bright sun which lightens all the houses of the world."

According to another Hadith narrated by Hazrat Buraidah (radiyallahu anha), Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:

"The parents of a person who studied, learned and practised the Quraan Majeed will wear a shining crown which will shine like the sun and his parents will wear such precious dresses which will cost more than the total riches of the world. Then they will be surprised by this honour and they will enquire for what are they honoured? They will be told that this is the reward for the knowledge of the Quraan Majeed which their children acquired."

Thus Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) has induced that parents should make their children learn and practice the Quraan Majeed.

In a book called "Raudh" is a story of a pious lady known as Bahitah who was regular in her prayers. At the time of her death she raised her head towards heaven and exclaimed, "O the One, Who is my only treasun and provider for life and death, I pray, do not disgrace me at the time of death and save me from the horrors of the grave." After her death, her son made it a practice to visit her grave every Friday and read the Quraai there, offering the blessings for his mother, as well as for all those buried in the graveyard.

One day, he saw his mother in a dream and asked her how she was. The mother replied, "The severity of death is extremely harsh. By the grace of Allah Taa'la, I am most comfortable in the grave with a bed of sweet basi and silken cushions, and the treatment given to me will last till Qiyaamah." The son asked her if he could be of any service to her? She replied: "Do not give up coming to me on Fridays and reading the Quraan. On your arrival, all the dwellers of the graveyard come to me and tell me that you have arrived. Your visit to the graveyard is a source of great pleasure for me." The boy said that he had visited the place regularly on Fridays. On day he saw in a dream that a very big gathering of men and women came to him and he asked them who they were? They said that they were the dwellers of such and such graveyard and they had come to thank him for his Friday visits to them and his prayers for their forgiveness by Allah Taa'la that pleased them most. They requested him to keep up that practice which he continued most deligently.