The Key to Raising Righteous and Successful Children
By Dr. Norlain Dindang Mababaya
Teaching Islam to our Children: An Important Islamic Duty
Islam teaches us different ways to attain success. One best way is to seek Islamic knowledge based on the Qur’an and the Sunnah. We need to spend time, money, efforts, emotions and patience to learn authentic knowledge of Islam not only for our own success but also to be able to share it to others, especially to our children.
The most important and lasting gift or inheritance that we can give to our children is knowledge of Islam. It is a must that we should educate our children with Islamic knowledge since as parents we are accountable to their success and failure. The Prophet (saws) makes it very clear that we are accountable to our respective families/children: Abdullah ibn Umar reported that he heard the Prophet Muhammad (saws) saying:
“Every one of you is a guardian, and responsible for what is in his custody. The ruler is a guardian of his subjects and responsible for them; a husband is a guardian of his family and is responsible for it; a lady is a guardian of her husband’s house and is responsible for it, and a servant is a guardian of his master’s property and is responsible for it. A man is a guardian of his father’s property and is responsible for it so all of you are guardians and responsible for your wards and things under your care).” (Bukhâri 3/592)
Malik bin Huwairth narrated: “I came to the Prophet (saws) with some men from my tribe and stayed with him for twenty nights. He was kind and merciful to us. When he realized our longing for our families, he said to us: “Go back and stay with your families and teach them the religion. And offer the prayer and one of you should pronounce the Adhan for the prayer when its time is due. And the oldest one amongst you should lead the prayer.” (Bukhari 1/601)
The above authentic Ahâdîth clearly show how the Prophet (saws) commands us Muslims to be responsible to our respective families. The best way to perform our duty to our children is to teach them Islam. Allah tells us that our children, just like our wealth and possessions, are but a trial from Him. Allah the Most High says:
“And know that your possessions and your children are but a trial:
and that it is Allah with whom lies your highest reward.”
“Your riches and your children may be but a trial:
whereas Allah, with Him is the highest Reward.”
Since our children are but a trial and that the highest reward is with Allah the Almighty, it is then our responsibility to guide our children to Islam. It is only through Islam that they can become righteous and be of service to Allah. We pass Allah’s trial once our children worship and please our Creator.
The best thing that we can give to our children is knowledge of Islam. It is the best education and the best means to fight ignorance and drive away evil. The Prophet (saws) says in the following Ahâdîth:
Amr bin Sa’id or Sa’id bin Al-‘As t narrated that Allah’ Messenger (saws) said, “A father gives his child nothing better than a good education.” (Tirmidhi 4977 and Baihaqi)
‘Abdullah ibn Abbas narrated that Allah’s Messenger (saws) said: “A single scholar of religion is more formidable against Satan than a thousand devout people.” (Tirmidhi 217 and Ibn Majah)
Raising Responsible Children
When we teach Islam to our children, we raise them to be righteous and responsible Muslims who will subsequently treat us with kindness and respect. Islam is the only religion that clearly raises the status of the parents to a high degree and honor. In fact, Allah in many ayat of the Qur’an has commanded us to please our parents after pleasing Him. After our firm belief in Him, our Creator has enjoined us to treat our parents with kindness and respect:
“…Worship none but Allah and be dutiful and treat with kindness your parents and kindred, and orphans and those in need; speak fair to the people; be steadfast in prayer; and give Zakat…”
“Serve Allah, and join not any partners with Him; and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are of kin, neighbors who are strangers, the companions by your side, the wayfarer (you meet), and what your right hands possess: for Allah loves not the arrogant, vainglorious.”
“Say: `Come, I will rehearse what Allah has (really) prohibited you from: join not anything with Him; be good to your parents; kill not your children on a plea of want, We provide sustenance for you and for them; come not nigh to indecent deeds, whether open or secret; take not life, which Allah has made sacred, except by way of justice and law. Thus does He command you, that you may learn wisdom.’”
In line with the above Qur’anic injunctions is the commonly quoted Hâdîth, which shows how the true Muslim must be more dutiful to his parents than any other person in the world:
Abu Hurairah narrated that a man came to Allah’s Messenger (saws) and said, “O Allah’s Messenger! Who is more entitled to be treated with the best companionship by me?” The Prophet (saws) said, “Your mother.” The man said, “Who is next?” The Prophet (saws) said, “Your mother.” The man further said, “Who is next?” The Prophet (saws) said, “Your mother.” The man asked (for the fourth time), “Who is next?” The Prophet (saws) said, “Your father.” (Bukhari 8/ 2 and Muslim 4/ 6180-6183)
Allah the All Knowing and Most Merciful knows that parents especially mothers bear hardships in rearing their children. Thus, He commands children to show gratefulness to their parents. Every man, therefore, is expected to be good to his parents, especially when they attain their old age where they need most his care, service and respect:
“Your Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer) has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them but address them in terms of honor. And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility and say: O my Rabb (only God and Sustainer) (Only God and Cherisher)! Bestow on them (my parents)
Your Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.”
And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command), “Show gratitude to Me and to your parents: to Me is (your final) Goal.” But if they strive to make you join in worship with Me things of which you have no knowledge, obey them not; yet bear them company in this life with justice (and consideration), and follow the way of those who turn to Me. In the End the return of you all is to Me. And I will tell you all that you did.
“We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents in pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth.” [Qur’an 46:15]
Islam teaches us that it is for our success that we must obey Allah by showing our utmost kindness and respect to our parents. We must also obey them for as long as they do not command us something that disobeys Allah. We have to remember that if we please them, we please Allah. This means, that through our parents we can attain Allah’s rewards in the eternal world:
Abdullah ibn Mas’ud narrated:
“I asked the Prophet (saws) which deed is the dearest to Allah? He replied, “To offer salaat (the prayers) at there early fixed times.” I asked, “What is the next (in goodness)?” He replied, “To be good and dutiful to your parents.” I again asked, “What is the next (in goodness)? “He replied, “To participate in jihad (religious fighting) in Allah’s Cause.” (Bukhari 1/505)
Abu Hurairah t narrated that Allah’s Messenger said:
“Let him be humbled into dust; let him be humbled into dust.” It was said: “Allah’s Messenger, who is he?” He said: “He who sees either of his parents during their old age or he sees both of them, but he does not enter Paradise.” (Muslim 6189)
Abu Darda narrated that when a man came to him and said, “I have a wife whom my mother commands me to divorce.” He replied to him that he had heard Allah’s Messenger (saws) say, “A parent is the best of the gates of Paradise; so if you wish, keep to the gate, or lose it.” (Tirmidhi 4928 and Ibn Majah)
We learn further that in Islam for every Muslim it is a blessing from Allah if he has parents who are old as it gives him the opportunity to serve them and thus earns Allah’s pleasure. He will receive success, especially the supreme success in Paradise if he follows Allah’s commandment to be dutiful to his parents. This means that if we can raise our children, teach them knowledge of Islam or give them proper Islamic education, by way of Home Education or sending them to Islamic schools, we will be expecting them to take care of us especially during our old age and at the time when we will be needing them most. They will to take care of us when we are weak and old as important members of their families and not to let us just stay in other’s houses or at any home of the aged. Most of all, they will include us in their daily prayers, which is the best thing that they can give us. If we raise them to be righteous and they pray for our salvation then we attain ultimate success in the Life-Hereafter.
Therefore, we must give importance to the acquisition of Islamic knowledge and impart the same to our children so that they will pray for our success. We must know that Islam teaches us to show goodness to our parents by including them in our daily prayers that Allah will forgive them and grant them Mercy:
“O my Rabb! Make me one who performs prayers and (also) from my offspring, our Rabb! And accept my invocation. Our Rabb! Forgive me and my parents, and (all) the believers on the Day when the reckoning will be established.” [Qur’an 14:40-41)]
“O my Rabb! Bestow on them (my parents) Your Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.”
“My Rabb! Forgive me and my parents and anyone who enters my home as a believer.
And to the disbelievers, grant no increase but destruction.”
When we guide our children to Islam, they become righteous Muslims whose prayers, to Allah I for our own benefit, continue to reach us even when we die. The Prophet (saws) says in the following Hadith:
“A man will be raised some degrees in Paradise and he will say, ‘For what reason I am receiving this?’ He will be told, ‘Because of your son asking forgiveness for you.’” (Bukhari 1613)
Abu Hurairah narrated that Allah’ Messenger (saws) said, “When a man dies, accrual of merit in his favor from good deeds ceases except from three actions: 1. A charity which continues after his death; 2. Knowledge left behind from which men continue to benefit, and 3. Righteous offspring who pray for him.” (Muslim 4005)
Knowing the importance of Islamic knowledge, it is imperative that we encourage our children to spend time acquiring it. We must remember that one of the characteristics of a believer is love for the search of knowledge.
The following Hâdîth should inspire us and our children to continuously seek for Islamic knowledge:
Abu Said Al-Khudri narrated: Allah’s Messenger (saws)said, “A believer is never satiated with gainful knowledge; he goes acquiring it till his death and entry into Paradise.” (Tirmidhi 222)
We must also guide our children to be prompt in doing good deeds, which will increase our faith and subsequently enable us to gain Allah’s pleasure and mercy. We have to remember that on the Day of Judgment we shall be asked how we spent hour lives, wealth and knowledge. In other words, we will be questioned on how we spent everything that Allah has given us as implied in the following Hadith:
Abdullah Bin Mas`ud narrated that Allah’s Messenger said,
“A man shall be asked concerning five things on the day of resurrection: concerning his life, how he spent it; concerning his youth, how he grew old; concerning his wealth, whence he acquired it, and in what way he spent it; and what was it that he did with the knowledge that he had.” (Tirmidhi 5197)
Abu Barzah Nadlah ibn Ubayd al-Aslami narrated that the Prophet (saws) said: “A servant of Allah will remain standing on the Day of Judgment till he is questioned: about his age and how he spent it; and about his knowledge and how he utilized it; about his wealth from where he acquired it and in what (activities) he spent it; and about his body as to how he used it.” (Tirmidhi 407)
With Islamic knowledge that we acquire and subsequently share to our children, Insha Allah, we will be able to answer whatever questions on the Day of Judgment. We and our righteous children will pass the real tests on the Day of Reckoning. This is because Islam teaches us to believe and to do deeds of righteousness and Allah the Almighty promises us everlasting life in Paradise. Our Only Rabb says:
“But those who believe and do deeds of righteousness We shall soon admit them to Gardens, with rivers flowing beneath, to dwell therein forever. Allah’s promise is the truth, and whose word can be truer than Allah’s?”
Conclusion and Recommendations
Knowledge of Islam tells us that by guiding our children to Islam, we do not only respond to the duty that Allah and His Messenger (saws) enjoin upon us i.e., to be accountable to our children; but also, we expect subsequent rewards for raising righteous children. If we want our children to be righteous and be successful Muslims, we must learn and teach our children authentic knowledge of Islam, which is one that is based on the Qur’an and the Sunnah (and/or the authentic Hâdîth of the Prophet (saws)).
For those of us who can not teach our respective children for some reasons, who find no time or incapable to teach our own children, it is a must that we send them to standard quality Islamic schools where boys are separated from girls. If such schools are not available in our area, then we can opt for Islamic distance schooling or Home Education. This alternative to formal schooling is less expensive. It even gives parents and children to be closer (i.e., binds the bond of relationship with mutual love, respect and understanding) as the parents are expected to give more time to supervise or at least guide their children’s study.
Children learn more from their parents as they are spending their full time at home. They avoid mixing with the opposite sex. They also avoid the company of friends, classmates and schoolmates who may have bad influences on them. In this manner, they avoid the recurring problems prevalent among the youths such as school delinquency, drug addiction, smoking, drinking liquor, gambling, illicit sex and other social problems.
Another alternative is for us parents to hire competent Muslims teachers who can teach our children Islam during weekends. To minimize cost, we can organize weekend Islamic schools within our community by making use of the existing public schools. All we need is to make a request to the school administrator for the use of some rooms of the school buildings. If this is not possible then, we can make use of the existing mosques in the area.
Aside from the formal (English and Madrasah) and/or weekend Islamic schools, we can encourage our children to seek knowledge of Islam by any of the following means:
1) attendance to Islamic lectures, forums and seminars,
2) reading books and other reading materials on Islam,
3) listening to radio and television programs on Islam,
4) buying books, booklets, magazines and other reading materials on Islam,
5) purchasing other learning media (e.g., CDs, Videos and cassette tapes) on Islam, and/or
6) giving them proper access to the Islamic reading materials available in the Internet (i.e., Islamic websites). All these various opportunities to acquiring knowledge of Islam are blessing from Allah, Who bestows knowledge to whom He guides to Islam.
Indeed, Allah is Most Gracious, Most Merciful, He has opened for us various ways and means to learn Islam.
It is for us Muslims to learn authentic knowledge of Islam so that we please Allah the Almighty. It is only by knowing Islam that we know our Creator and how we can worship Him to the best we can and therefore attain His rewards and be successful in the eternal world to come. Islam teaches us to be accountable to our respective children. The best way is for us to share our authentic knowledge of Islam with them. Let us remember that their success means our ultimate success too.
May Allah guide us in Seeking authentic Knowledge on Islam, in order to impart it to our children, not just by verbal means, but by being the best of examples to them.