Tag Archives: children

Our Children, Our Test – Advice to Parents

There he stood. A grown man, towering to the sky. Broad shoulders, and so much pain in his eyes. I know it’s impossible, yet I could hear his heart sobbing. In reality though it was just the sound of my own pumping away. I stopped, asked, and what I was about to hear would break my heart in pieces. It’s a painful encounter I’ve heard over and over again of parents who’ve ‘lost’ their children for one reason or another to drugs, alcohol, fame, money, friends, etc.

As a father of two, Alhamdulillah, I can’t help but reflect on the idea that I may be in a similar situation one day. If the Prophets ‘alayhum salaam were tested with trials regarding their children, how can I feel secure? Why should I feel I won’t be tested with something similar?

Allah tells us in vivid detail the story of Nuh ‘alayhi salaam and his incident with the ark. When you read through the set of verses in Surah Hud, you can almost depict the entire scene in your mind…

Scary. Heart-wrenching. Emotional.

Zooming in on one part of the story. After Nuh ‘alayhi salaam built the ark and set sail, after calling out to his son and advising him to come on board, after his son defies the advice, and after his own son is perished in this matter decreed by Allah, you can almost sense the anguish of Nuh ‘alayhi salaam in his response:

وَنَادَىٰ نُوحٌ رَّبَّهُ فَقَالَ رَبِّ إِنَّ ابْنِي مِنْ أَهْلِي وَإِنَّ وَعْدَكَ الْحَقُّ وَأَنتَ أَحْكَمُ الْحَاكِمِينَ
And Noah called to his Lord and said, “My Lord, indeed my son is of my family; and indeed, Your promise is true; and You are the most just of judges!”

قَالَ يَا نُوحُ إِنَّهُ لَيْسَ مِنْ أَهْلِكَ ۖ إِنَّهُ عَمَلٌ غَيْرُ صَالِحٍ ۖ فَلَا تَسْأَلْنِ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ ۖ إِنِّي أَعِظُكَ أَن تَكُونَ مِنَ الْجَاهِلِينَ
He said, “O Noah, indeed he is not of your family; indeed, he is [one whose] work was other than righteous, so ask Me not for that about which you have no knowledge. Indeed, I advise you, lest you be among the ignorant.”

قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ أَنْ أَسْأَلَكَ مَا لَيْسَ لِي بِهِ عِلْمٌ ۖ وَإِلَّا تَغْفِرْ لِي وَتَرْحَمْنِي أَكُن مِّنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ
[Noah] said, “My Lord, I seek refuge in You from asking that of which I have no knowledge. And unless You forgive me and have mercy upon me, I will be among the losers.”

Subhanallah, even the Prophets were tested with the loss and defiance of their children. Yet, through all of it you find Prophet Nuh’s trust and overall submission to Allah and His plan to be strong as ever.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds for me or my children, however I do expect some shades of Prophet Nuh’s trials in my own life.   It may not be in the exact way or even the extent to what Nuh ‘alayhi salaam was tested with, however at some level, I do expect it. Given this reality, I wanted to share a few pieces of advice to my fellow parents and to-be parents.

My Naseeha

Firstly, the world we grew up in yesterday is not the world our children are growing up in today; nor will it be the world they’ll grow up in tomorrow. The world is less friendly, less vigilant to uphold good morals and ethics, and overall less safe. Our children will grow up in a hyper social and sexual society that encourages and even demands a ‘look-at-me-me-me’ life-style. They will enter puberty at younger ages. They will be exposed to differing thoughts and ideas more abundantly and at younger ages then we were. So please, step up to the plate and be parents. Put less reliance upon the Imam, the Masjid, the school, the teachers, etc. in raising your children. Stop outsourcing the job because more than anyone in the world, through all the trails they’ll face, your children need you. They need you to to listen to them, to play with them, to educate them… to parent them. 

Secondly, instill within them ultimate dependence upon Allah. Children need to understand early on that more than themselves, more than their parents, family, friends, etc. that it is Allah who is in control and it is He who provides them with everything they need and want. The less we attribute blessings to Allah, the less our children will realize the true source of everything they have and the less they will seek it from Him. The less they seek it from Him, the more dependent they will become upon themselves. So what happens next? When they depend on themselves, their desires and limited knowledge become ilahs i.e. gods superior to the one and only ilah i.e. Allah.  Look at what Prophet Nuh’s son says after Nuh ‘alayhi salaam tells him to embark on the ark in Allah’s name: “I will take refuge on a mountain to protect me from the water.” His dependency upon himself and his ways eventually destroyed him.

Lastly, Never give up on your children. Never. Undoubtedly you will face tough times with your children – some of you will face incredible amounts of difficulty. However through all the pain, the heart ache, the abandonment, you don’t get to give up on them. You don’t get to throw them to the wolves and have them left for dead. You keep protecting them and supporting them. There are many examples of children who were set aright only because of the love, prayers and constant reminders of their parents. You may face a few months of backlash, maybe a few years, maybe decades, but your constant loving reminders and prayers will help them when the time is right. You don’t guide anyone, not even your own children. However, the job at hand is still to convey, and to continue conveying until your last breath. The rest we leave to Allah. Even in the story of Nuh ‘alayhi salaam, you find him pleading with Allah until the last moments, even until after the death of his son. Subhanallah.

These are just a few pieces of advice from one father’s perspective. There is much more wisdom out there with you, the readers, who likely have your own set of experiences and pieces of advice that we can all benefit from. We’d love to hear it. Leave a comment below and if you found benefit in this article, please share. JazakumAllahu Khairan.

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Our Children, Our Test – Naseeha to Parents

There he stood. A grown man, towering to the sky. Broad shoulders, and so much pain in his eyes. I know it’s impossible, yet I could hear his heart sobbing. In reality though it was just the sound of my own pumping away. I stopped, asked, and what I was about to hear would break my heart in pieces. It’s a painful encounter I’ve heard over and over again of parents who’ve ‘lost’ their children for one reason or another to drugs, alcohol, fame, money, friends, etc.

As a father of two, Alhamdulillah, I can’t help but reflect on the idea that I may be in a similar situation one day. If the Prophets ‘alayhum salaam were tested with trials regarding their children, how can I feel secure? Why should I feel I won’t be tested with something similar?

Allah tells us in vivid detail the story of Nuh ‘alayhi salaam and his incident with the ark. When you read through the set of verses in Surah Hud, you can almost depict the entire scene in your mind…

Scary. Heart-wrenching. Emotional.

Zooming in on one part of the story. After Nuh ‘alayhi salaam built the ark and set sail, after calling out to his son and advising him to come on board, after his son defies the advice, and after his own son is perished in this matter decreed by Allah, you can almost sense the anguish of Nuh ‘alayhi salaam in his response:

وَنَادَىٰ نُوحٌ رَّبَّهُ فَقَالَ رَبِّ إِنَّ ابْنِي مِنْ أَهْلِي وَإِنَّ وَعْدَكَ الْحَقُّ وَأَنتَ أَحْكَمُ الْحَاكِمِينَ
And Noah called to his Lord and said, “My Lord, indeed my son is of my family; and indeed, Your promise is true; and You are the most just of judges!”

قَالَ يَا نُوحُ إِنَّهُ لَيْسَ مِنْ أَهْلِكَ ۖ إِنَّهُ عَمَلٌ غَيْرُ صَالِحٍ ۖ فَلَا تَسْأَلْنِ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ ۖ إِنِّي أَعِظُكَ أَن تَكُونَ مِنَ الْجَاهِلِينَ
He said, “O Noah, indeed he is not of your family; indeed, he is [one whose] work was other than righteous, so ask Me not for that about which you have no knowledge. Indeed, I advise you, lest you be among the ignorant.”

قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ أَنْ أَسْأَلَكَ مَا لَيْسَ لِي بِهِ عِلْمٌ ۖ وَإِلَّا تَغْفِرْ لِي وَتَرْحَمْنِي أَكُن مِّنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ
[Noah] said, “My Lord, I seek refuge in You from asking that of which I have no knowledge. And unless You forgive me and have mercy upon me, I will be among the losers.”

Subhanallah, even the Prophets were tested with the loss and defiance of their children. Yet, through all of it you find Prophet Nuh’s trust and overall submission to Allah and His plan to be strong as ever.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds for me or my children, however I do expect some shades of Prophet Nuh’s trials in my own life.   It may not be in the exact way or even the extent to what Nuh ‘alayhi salaam was tested with, however at some level, I do expect it. Given this reality, I wanted to share a few pieces of advice to my fellow parents and to-be parents.

My Naseeha

Firstly, the world we grew up in yesterday is not the world our children are growing up in today; nor will it be the world they’ll grow up in tomorrow. The world is less friendly, less vigilant to uphold good morals and ethics, and overall less safe. Our children will grow up in a hyper social and sexual society that encourages and even demands a ‘look-at-me-me-me’ life-style. They will enter puberty at younger ages. They will be exposed to differing thoughts and ideas more abundantly and at younger ages then we were. So please, step up to the plate and be parents. Put less reliance upon the Imam, the Masjid, the school, the teachers, etc. in raising your children. Stop outsourcing the job because more than anyone in the world, through all the trails they’ll face, your children need you. They need you to to listen to them, to play with them, to educate them… to parent them. 

Secondly, instill within them ultimate dependence upon Allah. Children need to understand early on that more than themselves, more than their parents, family, friends, etc. that it is Allah who is in control and it is He who provides them with everything they need and want. The less we attribute blessings to Allah, the less our children will realize the true source of everything they have and the less they will seek it from Him. The less they seek it from Him, the more dependent they will become upon themselves. So what happens next? When they depend on themselves, their desires and limited knowledge become ilahs i.e. gods superior to the one and only ilah i.e. Allah.  Look at what Prophet Nuh’s son says after Nuh ‘alayhi salaam tells him to embark on the ark in Allah’s name: “I will take refuge on a mountain to protect me from the water.” His dependency upon himself and his ways eventually destroyed him.

Lastly, Never give up on your children. Never. Undoubtedly you will face tough times with your children – some of you will face incredible amounts of difficulty. However through all the pain, the heart ache, the abandonment, you don’t get to give up on them. You don’t get to throw them to the wolves and have them left for dead. You keep protecting them and supporting them. There are many examples of children who were set aright only because of the love, prayers and constant reminders of their parents. You may face a few months of backlash, maybe a few years, maybe decades, but your constant loving reminders and prayers will help them when the time is right. You don’t guide anyone, not even your own children. However, the job at hand is still to convey, and to continue conveying until your last breath. The rest we leave to Allah. Even in the story of Nuh ‘alayhi salaam, you find him pleading with Allah until the last moments, even until after the death of his son. Subhanallah.

These are just a few pieces of advice from one father’s perspective. There is much more wisdom out there with you, the readers, who likely have your own set of experiences and pieces of advice that we can all benefit from. We’d love to hear it. Leave a comment below and if you found benefit in this article, please share. JazakumAllahu Khairan.

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10 Examples of How Rasulullah Treated Children

a child praying
Image credit: Farazk007

The sunnah contains many examples of how rasulullah (ﷺ) dealt with children.

Why is this important? Because he’s our uswah, our role-model, our example to follow. Many of his companions met him once or twice, saw him doing something once or twice, and as a result, would keep doing that thing until they died. Not because he told them to, but because they loved him, and sought to follow him as much as possible.

Could we please try to do that? We can never reach their level, but whoever follows their footsteps will reach them, inshaAllah.

On to the examples.

Anas ibn Malik’s Ten Years of Service

I served the Prophet for ten years, I lived with him for ten years and not once did he rebuke me. Not once did the word “uff” come from his mouth. He never said to me, “why did you do this?” or “why didn’t you do that?” (Source)

Anas ibn Malik was a well known scholar among the sahaba. His mother gifted him to rasulullah (ﷺ) while he was a young child, in order to give him the best possible upbringing and Islamic education.

Personally, I feel this hadith serves as a general-purpose, all-encompassing rule (and guideline) by which to follow with child-raising. We learn some important lessons from this, which we can apply to our own families:

  • Don’t rebuke them (or tell them off).
  • Don’t appear exasperated or frustrated in front of them.
  • Don’t ask them why they did something, or didn’t do something. (They don’t know why.)

Anas ibn Malik was also a young child at the start of his service of the messenger of Allah (ﷺ).

However, rasulullah (ﷺ) didn’t just let things go; when children did something wrong, he did not simply let it slide, but he told them:

حَدَّثَنَا عُبَيْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ مُعَاذٍ الْعَنْبَرِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبِي، حَدَّثَنَا شُعْبَةُ، عَنْ مُحَمَّدٍ، – وَهُوَ ابْنُ زِيَادٍ – سَمِعَ أَبَا هُرَيْرَةَ، يَقُولُ أَخَذَ الْحَسَنُ بْنُ عَلِيٍّ تَمْرَةً مِنْ تَمْرِ الصَّدَقَةِ فَجَعَلَهَا فِي فِيهِ فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ كِخْ كِخْ ارْمِ بِهَا أَمَا عَلِمْتَ أَنَّا لاَ نَأْكُلُ الصَّدَقَةَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏

Abu Huraira reported that Hasan ibn ‘Ali (radiallahu anhum) took one of The dates of the sadaqa and put it in his mouth, whereupon the Prophet (ﷺ) said: Leave it, leave it, throw it; don’t you know that we do not eat the sadaqa? (Bukhari and Muslim)

Note that, as mentioned in another narration, he physically removed the date from Hassan’s mouth — he didn’t just tell him not to do it.

His Daughter Fatima

A longer hadith clues us into a key habit of rasulullah (ﷺ):

حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ الْحَكَمِ، قَالَ‏:‏ أَخْبَرَنَا النَّضْرُ، قَالَ‏:‏ حَدَّثَنَا إِسْرَائِيلُ، قَالَ‏:‏ أَخْبَرَنَا مَيْسَرَةُ بْنُ حَبِيبٍ قَالَ‏:‏ أَخْبَرَنِي الْمِنْهَالُ بْنُ عَمْرٍو قَالَ‏:‏ حَدَّثَتْنِي عَائِشَةُ بِنْتُ طَلْحَةَ، عَنْ عَائِشَةَ أُمِّ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهَا قَالَتْ‏:‏ مَا رَأَيْتُ أَحَدًا مِنَ النَّاسِ كَانَ أَشْبَهَ بِالنَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم كَلاَمًا وَلاَ حَدِيثًا وَلاَ جِلْسَةً مِنْ فَاطِمَةَ، قَالَتْ‏:‏ وَكَانَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم إِذَا رَآهَا قَدْ أَقْبَلَتْ رَحَّبَ بِهَا، ثُمَّ قَامَ إِلَيْهَا فَقَبَّلَهَا، ثُمَّ أَخَذَ بِيَدِهَا فَجَاءَ بِهَا حَتَّى يُجْلِسَهَا فِي مَكَانِهِ، وَكَانَتْ إِذَا أَتَاهَا النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم رَحَّبَتْ بِهِ، ثُمَّ قَامَتْ إِلَيْهِ فَقَبَّلَتْهُ، وأَنَّهَا دَخَلَتْ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي مَرَضِهِ الَّذِي قُبِضَ فِيهِ، فَرَحَّبَ وَقَبَّلَهَا، وَأَسَرَّ إِلَيْهَا، فَبَكَتْ، ثُمَّ أَسَرَّ إِلَيْهَا، فَضَحِكَتْ، فَقُلْتُ لِلنِّسَاءِ‏:‏ إِنْ كُنْتُ لَأَرَى أَنَّ لِهَذِهِ الْمَرْأَةِ فَضْلاً عَلَى النِّسَاءِ، فَإِذَا هِيَ مِنَ النِّسَاءِ، بَيْنَمَا هِيَ تَبْكِي إِذَا هِيَ تَضْحَكُ، فَسَأَلْتُهَا‏:‏ مَا قَالَ لَكِ‏؟‏ قَالَتْ‏:‏ إِنِّي إِذًا لَبَذِرَةٌ، فَلَمَّا قُبِضَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم، فَقَالَتْ‏:‏ أَسَرَّ إِلَيَّ فَقَالَ‏:‏ إِنِّي مَيِّتٌ، فَبَكَيْتُ، ثُمَّ أَسَرَّ إِلَيَّ فَقَالَ‏:‏ إِنَّكِ أَوَّلُ أَهْلِي بِي لُحُوقًا، فَسُرِرْتُ بِذَلِكَ وَأَعْجَبَنِي‏.

‘A’isha, the Umm al-Mu’minin, said, “I have not seen anyone who more resembled the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, in words or speech or manner of sitting than Fatima.” ‘A’isha continued, “When the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, saw that she had come, he would greet her and then he stood up for her, kissed her, took her hand and brought her forward and made her sit in his place. When the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, visited her, she greeted him, stood up for him, and kissed him. She came to the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, in his final illness and he greeted her, kissed her, and told her a secret. She wept. Then he confided something else to her and she laughed. I said to the women, ‘I see that this woman is superior to other women, let she is one of them. First she wept and then she laughed.’ I asked her, ‘What did he say to you?’ She replied, ‘I would be telling a secret.’ When the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, died, Fatima said, ‘He confided to me, “I am dying,” so I wept. Then he confided to me, “You will be the first of my family to join me,” so I was happy and pleased at that.'” (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad)

He always greeted his daughter, kissed her, and gave her his spot to sit in. This is a habit of his — so much so that when he couldn’t do this (before he died), she immediately became concerned with his situation. This is a habit that we should all strive to adopt.

Kissing Children

حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو الْيَمَانِ، أَخْبَرَنَا شُعَيْبٌ، عَنِ الزُّهْرِيِّ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو سَلَمَةَ بْنُ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ، أَنَّ أَبَا هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ قَبَّلَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم الْحَسَنَ بْنَ عَلِيٍّ وَعِنْدَهُ الأَقْرَعُ بْنُ حَابِسٍ التَّمِيمِيُّ جَالِسًا‏.‏ فَقَالَ الأَقْرَعُ إِنَّ لِي عَشَرَةً مِنَ الْوَلَدِ مَا قَبَّلْتُ مِنْهُمْ أَحَدًا‏.‏ فَنَظَرَ إِلَيْهِ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ثُمَّ قَالَ ‏ “‏ مَنْ لاَ يَرْحَمُ لاَ يُرْحَمُ ‏”‏‏.‏

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) kissed Al-Hasan bin ‘Ali while Al-Aqra’ bin Habis at-Tamim was sitting beside him. Al-Aqra said, “I have ten children and I have never kissed anyone of them,” Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) cast a look at him and said, “Whoever is not merciful to others will not be treated mercifully.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Kissing children (and grandchildren) is also an easy way to show them affection and make them feel loved.

Shortening his Prayer for Crying Children

حَدَّثَنَا إِبْرَاهِيمُ بْنُ مُوسَى، قَالَ أَخْبَرَنَا الْوَلِيدُ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا الأَوْزَاعِيُّ، عَنْ يَحْيَى بْنِ أَبِي كَثِيرٍ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ أَبِي قَتَادَةَ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ أَبِي قَتَادَةَ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ إِنِّي لأَقُومُ فِي الصَّلاَةِ أُرِيدُ أَنْ أُطَوِّلَ فِيهَا، فَأَسْمَعُ بُكَاءَ الصَّبِيِّ، فَأَتَجَوَّزُ فِي صَلاَتِي كَرَاهِيَةَ أَنْ أَشُقَّ عَلَى أُمِّهِ ‏”‏‏.‏ تَابَعَهُ بِشْرُ بْنُ بَكْرٍ وَابْنُ الْمُبَارَكِ وَبَقِيَّةُ عَنِ الأَوْزَاعِيِّ‏.‏
Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abi Qatada: My father said, “The Prophet (ﷺ) said, ‘When I stand for prayer, I intend to prolong it but on hearing the cries of a child, I cut it short, as I dislike to trouble the child’s mother.'” (Bukhari)

Rasulullah (ﷺ) loved praying, and he used to pray long prayers in private; yet, in public, he shortened his prayer for children so that their mothers would not feel sad. That’s the care and attention he took for children (and mothers).

Praying with Children

أَخْبَرَنَا عَبْدُ الرَّحْمَنِ بْنُ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ سَلاَّمٍ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا يَزِيدُ بْنُ هَارُونَ، قَالَ أَنْبَأَنَا جَرِيرُ بْنُ حَازِمٍ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ أَبِي يَعْقُوبَ الْبَصْرِيُّ، عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ شَدَّادٍ، عَنْ أَبِيهِ، قَالَ خَرَجَ عَلَيْنَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي إِحْدَى صَلاَتَىِ الْعِشَاءِ وَهُوَ حَامِلٌ حَسَنًا أَوْ حُسَيْنًا فَتَقَدَّمَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَوَضَعَهُ ثُمَّ كَبَّرَ لِلصَّلاَةِ فَصَلَّى فَسَجَدَ بَيْنَ ظَهْرَانَىْ صَلاَتِهِ سَجْدَةً أَطَالَهَا ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبِي فَرَفَعْتُ رَأْسِي وَإِذَا الصَّبِيُّ عَلَى ظَهْرِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَهُوَ سَاجِدٌ فَرَجَعْتُ إِلَى سُجُودِي فَلَمَّا قَضَى رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم الصَّلاَةَ قَالَ النَّاسُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنَّكَ سَجَدْتَ بَيْنَ ظَهْرَانَىْ صَلاَتِكَ سَجْدَةً أَطَلْتَهَا حَتَّى ظَنَنَّا أَنَّهُ قَدْ حَدَثَ أَمْرٌ أَوْ أَنَّهُ يُوحَى إِلَيْكَ ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏ “‏ كُلُّ ذَلِكَ لَمْ يَكُنْ وَلَكِنَّ ابْنِي ارْتَحَلَنِي فَكَرِهْتُ أَنْ أُعَجِّلَهُ حَتَّى يَقْضِيَ حَاجَتَهُ ‏”‏ ‏

“The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) came out to us for one of the night-time prayers, and he was carrying Hasan or Husain. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) came forward and put him down, then he said the Takbir and started to pray. He prostrated during his prayer, and made the prostration lengthy.” My father said: “I raised my head and saw the child on the back of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) while he was prostrating so I went back to my prostration. When the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) finished praying, the people said: “O Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), you prostrated during the prayer for so long that we thought that something had happened or that you were receiving a revelation.’ He said: ‘No such thing happened. But my son was riding on my back and I did not like to disturb him until he had enough.'” (Sunan An-Nasai)

In this hadith, as in the last hadith, we see the concern of rasulullah (ﷺ) to not disturb children, even while praying. (We also see him praying with small children, as many parents do today.)

Abu Umair’s Sparrow

In one hadith:

حَدَّثَنَا مُوسَى بْنُ إِسْمَاعِيلَ، حَدَّثَنَا حَمَّادٌ، حَدَّثَنَا ثَابِتٌ، عَنْ أَنَسِ بْنِ مَالِكٍ، قَالَ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَدْخُلُ عَلَيْنَا وَلِي أَخٌ صَغِيرٌ يُكْنَى أَبَا عُمَيْرٍ وَكَانَ لَهُ نُغَرٌ يَلْعَبُ بِهِ فَمَاتَ فَدَخَلَ عَلَيْهِ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم ذَاتَ يَوْمٍ فَرَآهُ حَزِينًا فَقَالَ ‏”‏ مَا شَأْنُهُ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالُوا مَاتَ نُغَرُهُ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ يَا أَبَا عُمَيْرٍ مَا فَعَلَ النُّغَيْرُ ‏”‏ ‏.

The Messenger of Allah (May peace be upon him) used to come to visit us. I had a younger brother who was called Abu ‘Umair by kunyah (nickname). He had a sparrow with which he played, but it died. So one day the prophet (May peace be upon him) came to see him and saw him grieved. He asked: What is the matter with him? The people replied: His sparrow has died. He then said: Abu ‘Umair! What has happened to the little sparrow (nughayr)? (Bukhari, Muslim, and a lengthier narration in Abu Dawud)

Scholars derive many (hundreds) of benefits and rulings from these ahadith. Of relevance here: rasulullah spent time with children, and they were comfortable around him; he cared about them, and even their pets, and even tried to cheer them up when they were sad.

The Dying Jewish Boy

حَدَّثَنَا سُلَيْمَانُ بْنُ حَرْبٍ، حَدَّثَنَا حَمَّادٌ ـ وَهْوَ ابْنُ زَيْدٍ ـ عَنْ ثَابِتٍ، عَنْ أَنَسٍ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ كَانَ غُلاَمٌ يَهُودِيٌّ يَخْدُمُ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَمَرِضَ، فَأَتَاهُ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَعُودُهُ، فَقَعَدَ عِنْدَ رَأْسِهِ فَقَالَ لَهُ ‏”‏ أَسْلِمْ ‏”‏‏.‏ فَنَظَرَ إِلَى أَبِيهِ وَهْوَ عِنْدَهُ فَقَالَ لَهُ أَطِعْ أَبَا الْقَاسِمِ صلى الله عليه وسلم‏.‏ فَأَسْلَمَ، فَخَرَجَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَهْوَ يَقُولُ ‏”‏ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي أَنْقَذَهُ مِنَ النَّارِ ‏”‏‏.‏

A young Jewish boy used to serve the Prophet (ﷺ) and he became sick. So the Prophet (ﷺ) went to visit him. He sat near his head and asked him to embrace Islam. The boy looked at his father, who was sitting there; the latter told him to obey Abul-Qasim and the boy embraced Islam. The Prophet (ﷺ) came out saying: “Praise be to Allah Who saved the boy from the Hellfire.” (Bukhari)

Rasulullah (ﷺ) took interest in where the boy was when he fell sick, although he was not a Muslim; he visited him; he encouraged him to become a Muslim, and was overjoyed when the boy accepted and was saved from Hellfire.

Telling Them he Loved Them and Making Du’a For Them

حَدَّثَنَا حَجَّاجُ بْنُ الْمِنْهَالِ، حَدَّثَنَا شُعْبَةُ، قَالَ أَخْبَرَنِي عَدِيٌّ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ الْبَرَاءَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ قَالَ رَأَيْتُ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَالْحَسَنُ عَلَى عَاتِقِهِ يَقُولُ ‏ “‏ اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أُحِبُّهُ فَأَحِبَّهُ ‏”‏‏.‏

Narrated Al-Bara: I saw the Prophet (ﷺ) carrying Al-Hasan (his grandson) on his shoulder an saying, “O Allah! I love him, so please love him.” (Bukhari and Muslim, with another, longer narration in Bukhari)

Tell children you love them, and make du’a that Allah loves them too.

The Infant who Urinated On Him

حَدَّثَنَا مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ الْمُثَنَّى، حَدَّثَنَا يَحْيَى بْنُ سَعِيدٍ، عَنْ هِشَامٍ، قَالَ أَخْبَرَنِي أَبِي، عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم وَضَعَ صَبِيًّا فِي حِجْرِهِ يُحَنِّكُهُ، فَبَالَ عَلَيْهِ، فَدَعَا بِمَاءٍ فَأَتْبَعَهُ‏.‏

Narrated ‘Aisha: The Prophet (ﷺ) took a child in his lap for Tahnik (i.e. he chewed a date in his mouth and put its juice in the mouth of the child). The child urinated on him, so he asked for water and poured it over the place of the urine. (Bukhari)

From this hadith, we see that he (ﷺ) took children into his lap; he made tahneek for them; and when they urinated on him, instead of getting angry, he simply took water and washed it off. How many of us react more severely to our children when they do less than this?

Giving Advice: Ask Allah

Finally, rasulullah (ﷺ) gave advice to Ibn Abbas (radiallahu anhumaa), a child who grew into a world-class scholar:

حَدَّثَنَا أَحْمَدُ بْنُ مُحَمَّدِ بْنِ مُوسَى، أَخْبَرَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ الْمُبَارَكِ، أَخْبَرَنَا لَيْثُ بْنُ سَعْدٍ، وَابْنُ، لَهِيعَةَ عَنْ قَيْسِ بْنِ الْحَجَّاجِ، قَالَ وَحَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ، أَخْبَرَنَا أَبُو الْوَلِيدِ، حَدَّثَنَا لَيْثُ بْنُ سَعْدٍ، حَدَّثَنِي قَيْسُ بْنُ الْحَجَّاجِ الْمَعْنَى، وَاحِدٌ، عَنْ حَنَشٍ الصَّنْعَانِيِّ، عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ، قَالَ كُنْتُ خَلْفَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَوْمًا فَقَالَ ‏ “‏ يَا غُلاَمُ إِنِّي أُعَلِّمُكَ كَلِمَاتٍ احْفَظِ اللَّهَ يَحْفَظْكَ احْفَظِ اللَّهَ تَجِدْهُ تُجَاهَكَ إِذَا سَأَلْتَ فَاسْأَلِ اللَّهَ وَإِذَا اسْتَعَنْتَ فَاسْتَعِنْ بِاللَّهِ وَاعْلَمْ أَنَّ الأُمَّةَ لَوِ اجْتَمَعَتْ عَلَى أَنْ يَنْفَعُوكَ بِشَيْءٍ لَمْ يَنْفَعُوكَ إِلاَّ بِشَيْءٍ قَدْ كَتَبَهُ اللَّهُ لَكَ وَلَوِ اجْتَمَعُوا عَلَى أَنْ يَضُرُّوكَ بِشَيْءٍ لَمْ يَضُرُّوكَ إِلاَّ بِشَيْءٍ قَدْ كَتَبَهُ اللَّهُ عَلَيْكَ رُفِعَتِ الأَقْلاَمُ وَجَفَّتِ الصُّحُفُ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ أَبُو عِيسَى هَذَا حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ ‏.‏

Ibn ‘Abbas narrated: “I was behind the Prophet (ﷺ) one day when he said: “O boy! I will teach you a statement: Be mindful of Allah and He will protect you. Be mindful of Allah and you will find Him before you. When you ask, ask Allah, and when you seek aid, seek Allah’s aid. Know that if the entire creation were to gather together to do something to benefit you- you would never get any benefit except that Allah had written for you. And if they were to gather to do something to harm you- you would never be harmed except that Allah had written for you. The pens are lifted and the pages are dried.” (Jaami’ At-Tirmidhi)

This statement which he told Ibn Abbas contains many points of benefit: aqeedah (belief in destiny), eman (faith in Allah) dealing with people, and understanding where the source of good and harm comes from. How many of us can give children encompassing advice like this?

As to the extent of asking, another hadith clarifies:

حَدَّثَنَا صَالِحُ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، أَخْبَرَنَا جَعْفَرُ بْنُ سُلَيْمَانَ، عَنْ ثَابِتٍ الْبُنَانِيِّ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏ “‏ لِيَسْأَلْ أَحَدُكُمْ رَبَّهُ حَاجَتَهُ حَتَّى يَسْأَلَهُ الْمِلْحَ وَحَتَّى يَسْأَلَهُ شِسْعَ نَعْلِهِ إِذَا انْقَطَعَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ وَهَذَا أَصَحُّ مِنْ حَدِيثِ قَطَنٍ عَنْ جَعْفَرِ بْنِ سُلَيْمَانَ ‏.‏

Thabit Al-Bunani narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Let one of you ask his Lord for his every need, until he asks Him for salt, and asks Him for the strap of his sandal when it breaks.” (Jaami’ at-Tirmidhi)

You ask Allah for major things, and you ask Allah for minor things; nothing is beyond His capability to give, and nothing is too small or too big to ask. So ask!

May Allah make us among those who follow in the footsteps of rasulullah and raise righteous children, ameen.

Source: AlKauthar Institute: Parenting Matters. Taught by Shaykh Alaa Elsayed. University of Toronto, Toronto, November 2014.

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The Elephant Theory

Leg of a chained elephant

As we mentioned with the sandwich theory, with children, always separate the behaviour from the person. Never say things like, “I hate you” or “you’re a loser,” “idiot,” “stupid,” “I wish I never had you!” Some of us heard this from our own parents. Are we now our own parents? Are we passing on this disease? This DNA has to be out.

The elephant theory is quite simple: young elephants are trained, with one leg that’s shackled to a cement block. When shackled, they can’t move it no matter what. It forms a psychological block; as soon as the shackle goes on, they surrender. As mature elephants, despite having the strength to rip out the shackle and cement block, they give up when shackled.

Now, you are the most important person in your child’s life. They see you with an “S” on your chest. You’re the world to them. You support them, nurture them, that’s what you do.

So if you care for them, love them, protect them, provide for them, and you’re the one saying “you’re stupid” over and over and over, then they think “well I must be stupid if my own father says I’m stupid.” “My own mother says I’m a loser, I must be a loser.” Then your kids grow, just like the elephant, and even though the grown elephants can destroy the shackle, they give up.

You just destroyed your son or daughter.

Please understand what this is all about. The sandwhich theory and elephant theory, apply them and do the right thing. Don’t be a pushover or doormat, but pick your battles.

May Allah give us the ability to understand and implement this and to keep our children safe from our mistakes and shortcomings (ameen).

Source: AlKauthar Institute: Parenting Matters. Taught by Shaykh Alaa Elsayed. University of Toronto, Toronto, November 2014.

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The Sandwich Theory

NCI_Visuals_Food_Hamburger

The sandwich theory encapsulates the idea of how to advice others (children, spouse, etc.) with the goal of minimizing resistance. Human beings naturally resist being told that they’re doing something wrong and need to change.

The sandwich theory is simple: a sandwich consists of a nice, soft bun, followed by meat, followed by another soft bun. The heart of the sandwich (or burger) is really the meat.

How do you implement this?

  • When you give advice, start with something nice, soft, gentle, and positive.
  • Follow up with the beef — the main issue or concern.
  • Conclude, again, with something positive.

Other points to keep in mind:

  • Never phrase it as a problem, merely a concern.
  • Always provide the solution. Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
  • Always differentiate person from behaviour (see: the elephant theory). Don’t make it their identity.

For example, imagine your son took a toy or candy without permission. Your conversation could be structured like this:

  • “Son, you know I love you, and I know you love candy …” (bun)
  • “I’m concerned that you took a candy without permission.” (meat: issue)
  • “Please ask before you take it, and I will give it to you” (meat: solution)
  • “I have full belief in you, that you will do the right thing next time” (bun)

Some key phrases shaykh Alaa suggested using:

  • “What I suggest is …”
  • “Here’s how I can help you do this: …”
  • “I’m here to help you, we’re on one team, …” meaning “I am not pointing the finger at you or speaking from a high horse”
  • “And I have full belief in you, that you will do the right thing.”

And Allah knows best.

Source: AlKauthar Institute: Parenting Matters. Taught by Shaykh Alaa Elsayed. University of Toronto, Toronto, November 2014.

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Twelve Things About the Terrible Twos

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Definition and Asl

Definition: “Terrible twos” occur when children are between the ages of one and three years old. This is usually when children throw a lot of tantrums, and rebel, saying “no!” to many things you tell them. How can you effectively deal with this situation?

First, understand the root (asl): children cannot keep their strong emotions inside. They cry, they scream, they stomp, they fling themselves on the floor. As a parent, you feel embarrassed or even angry by this behaviour.

Remember what rasulullah (ﷺ) said:

The pen has been lifted from three; for the sleeping person until he awakens, for the boy until he becomes young man and for the mentally insane until he regains sanity. (Jaami’ at-Tirmidhi and An-Nasaa’i)

Right. So children are not accountable, or sinful, for their actions. What do we do?

Dealing with Difficult Situations

  • Think about it from the child’s perspective: They don’t now better. Often, we give them completely ineffective or incomprehensible responses (that they don’t understand). You have to deal with them in their language and on their level of understanding. As Allah says in Surah Nahl, 16:125: Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction [...]
  • Give them a choice: This, often, makes the difference between compliance and a complete meltdown. (Choices can even be tough, like choosing between broccoli or eggplant.)
  • Build routines: Children thrive on routines. It makes them feel safe and that things are under control.
  • Lead by example: How you react directly affects them. If you act cool in stressful situations, they will too. If you freak out, yell, and panic, they will follow your lead.
  • Use positive enforcement: don’t be that parent that ignores their child until they do something bad; that encourages bad behaviour. From their perspective, they crave attention; give them due attention for good things they do (even if small) with complements and new toys (remember, speak to them in the language they understand) for good behaviour. This leads to good habits.
  • Don’t be a control freak: Give them the independence they crave. Gradually, push them into it. Start with simple choices, like letting your two year-old do things without your permission.
  • Enforce reasonable consequences: Take away toys for a period of time, and remove them from the situation. They will learn and adjust their behaviour.
  • Don’t give in: children will learn that they can get their way by repeating their behaviour. (If you have multiple caretakers in your house, like two parents, they will learn which one goes easy on them and gives in.)
  • Stay in control: when you take their behaviour personally, you engage in negative energy. Just separate yourself emotionally from their behaviour. See them as a child that they are, think about what they’re feeling, and influence the situation based on that.
  • Remove them from the public: take them somewhere private, like to the car or into a dressing room or a private corner, so they calm down. Talk to them about what happened, how they reacted, and behavioural alternatives. (As Imam Ash-Shafi’ee said, naseeha (advivce) in public is not advice, it’s humiliation.)
  • Encourage healthy eating: sugar can impact their emotions a lot. Keep it to a minimum.
  • Be consistent: this is the *number one rule of parenting.** If they know there will always be a consequence, they will think twice next time.

Behaviour Doesn’t Change Overnight

Remember that behaviour changes over months, not overnight. If something doesn’t work, experiment, and try something else.

Finally, always always always make good du’as for your children. As rasulullah (ﷺ) said:

ثَلاَثُ دَعَوَاتٍ مُسْتَجَابَاتٌ دَعْوَةُ الْمَظْلُومِ وَدَعْوَةُ الْمُسَافِرِ وَدَعْوَةُ الْوَالِدِ عَلَى وَلَدِهِ
Three supplications are responded to: The supplication of the oppressed, the supplication of the traveler, and the supplication of the parent (for or) against his child. (Jaami’ at-Tirmidhi)

One mom, when angered at her child, would say “may Allah make you imam of the ka’bah.” Guess what? He was (Imam Sudais, hafidhahullah).

Wallahu a’lam.

Source: AlKauthar Institute: Parenting Matters. Taught by Shaykh Alaa Elsayed. University of Toronto, Toronto, November 2014.

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The Responsibility of Children + 21 Theory

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Responsibility: Reward and Punishment

It’s our responsibility to take are of our children, especially their akhirah — their eternal life. Allah says:

Translation: O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones […] (Surah At-Tahrim, verse 66)

This ayah illustrates our responsibility: protect yourselves, and your children, from Hellfire — a fire whose fuel is stones and men. Would you raise your children, knowingly, that they are going to be firewood, or fuel for the fire?

Rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) says: “It is enough sin for a man that he leaves astray those under his care.” And in another hadith, he says: “Every one of you is a shepherd, and every one of you will be asked about his flock” (meaning, his family).

Scholars add, it is enough to leave your children ignorant and not teach them. Why? Because life will send tests at them, and without proper training and guidance, they will be lost in a wave of fitan, unable to protect themselves. Isn’t it enough that you left them to themselves?

On the flip side, rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said:

مَنْ عَلَّمَ عِلْمًا فَلَهُ أَجْرُ مَنْ عَمِلَ بِهِ لاَ يَنْقُصُ مِنْ أَجْرِ الْعَامِلِ

The Prophet said: “Whoever teaches some knowledge will have the reward of the one who acts upon it, without that detracting from his reward in the slightest. (Sunan Ibn Majah, book 1, hadith #246)

Imagine the reward of teaching your children salah, of teaching them siyam, Qur’an, and good manners; you get their reward, and the reward of their children (whom they teach) and all your progeny until the day of judgement. That’s the real jackpot of mutli-level marketing!

As a general guideline, the best way to protect your children and take care of them is to be righteous. In Surah Kahf, after Khidr (alayhi salaam) repairs the wall of the two orphans, whose treasure lay underneath, he tells Musa (alayhi salaam):

Translation: […] And as for the wall, it belonged to two orphan boys in the city, and there was beneath it a treasure for them, and their father had been righteous. […] (Surah Kahf 18:82)

The word Allah used is “ab.” In Arabic language, this can mean the father, or the uncle; according to one mufassir, this refers to their uncle from seven generations ago. That’s how much righteousness protects your children.

In his tafseer, Ibn Katheer says:

[This piece of the verse] indicates that a righteous person’s offspring will be taken care of, and that the blessing of his worship will extend to them in this world and in the Hereafter. This will occur through his intercession for them, as well as their status being raised to the highest levels of Paradise, so that he may find joy in them. This was stated in the Qur’an and reported in the Sunnah. Sa`id bin Jubayr narrated from Ibn `Abbas: “They were taken care of because their father was a righteous man, although it is not stated that they themselves were righteous.” (Source: Tafseer Ibn Katheer Online: Interpretation for Why the Wall was Repaired for no Charge)

21 Theory

As a guideline, Ali ibn Abi Talib (radiallahu anhu) put forward his 21 Theory, which he states:

Play with them for the first seven years (of their life); then teach them for the next seven years; then advise them for the next seven years (and after that).

First Seven Years

In the first seven years, your goal is to build a strong connection to your child. This is the foundation, the base from which your relationship with them grows. If this is rock solid, the remaining years will be much easier. If this foundation forms poorly, the next years will be more challenging.

If you have young children, this (first seven years) is the time to roll up your sleeves and invest, heavily, in your and their future. In fact, you will be rewarded for all the righteous progeny that survives you, not just children, until the Day of Judgement.

Next Seven Years

Once children reach seven, they are ready to learn. (Perhaps this is why Finland starts school at age seven.) This is the time they are sponges, ready to soak up anything and everything you tell them, teach them, show them, and do in front of them. If you built that solid foundation in ages 0-7, they are now more than willing and happy to learn from you.

This is the time to teach them everything — aqeedah, halal and haram, fiqh, all the things they need to know to survive throughout their life. Qur’an and seerah are also very important; as one prominent tabi’een said, “we learned seerah (frequently and in details) from our parents the way we learned Qur’an.”

Teach them sports, too; Rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “Teach your children swimming, archery and horseback riding.” (source). They gain many benefits from it, including physical fitness, learning teamwork, and sportsmanship.

The Final Seven Years

Once your children hit 14, they are probably already mukallaf (full adults Islamically, and accountable for their actions) — this happens at puberty, or at age 15 at the latest.

At this age (grade 8-9), you are mostly out of the picture. Children achieve independence; their personalities manifest; they look more to their peers than their parents and families. During these critical years, befriend them, advise them, and do what you can; understand that they are now full adults, and the choices are theirs to make, right or wrong.

If you worked hard during the last two periods of seven years, you will already be that trusted confidant, that advisor, that go-to person when they need help or advice; maybe even that “cool” mom or dad who they adore. Be part of their lives, and advise them as best you can.

Thus ends this brief, but comprehensive, advice of Ali ibn Abi Talib (radiallahu anhu). InshaAllah next time, we will talk about the Terrible Twos, and what you can do during this interesting period of child development.

Source: AlKauthar Institute: Parenting Matters. Taught by Shaykh Alaa Elsayed. University of Toronto, Toronto, November 2014.

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