The status of the child in Islam
Sheikh Saalih aal Taalib
December 24, 2010 ~ Muharram 18, 1432
All praise is due to Allah. All praise is due to Allah whose praise no praiser can encompass and whose bounties no counter can count and no observer can encompass. He has granted bounties to His creation. So he made them between (being) a son and a father and He is exempt in His being so He did not take a wife nor a child and he did not have a father in what has passed. And I bear witness that there is no god but Allah alone. He has no partner. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and messenger, the noblest prophet and the noblest worshipper. May Allah’s salutations, peace and blessings be upon him and his family, companions and those after them and those that follow them in goodness until the Day of Judgement.
Thereafter, O Muslims: Verily the sacrificial advice is that of Taqwa, so hold onto it secretly and quietly, Allah will be with you in every condition and He will always grant you the best possessions.
“O Mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife [Hawwa (Eve)], and from them both He created many men and women and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you” [Nisaa; Verse 1]
O Muslims: In our houses and under the roofs of our homes are tender humans and many wings. And in the branches of our trees are soft sticks and emerging buds. Verily these buds do not flower and the flowers do not bear fruit thereafter. They are the children; fruits of the heart; parts of the liver. Our children are incapable under our ability; and poor, shadowed by our strength; and they are the future, depending on our present; and life, formed and formulated by our rearing and they are thereafter everything. They are some of the present and all of the future.
Childhood – O Muslims – is a cave by which the elderly are accommodated so they wash their worries in the innocence of their children and they exalt the beauty of life in the smiles of their children. The most eloquent expression demanding love is the stutter of a child. And the most conveying of calls recruiting love is the lisp of the young.
“Wealth and children are the adornment of the life of this world” [Kahf; Verse 46]
And they are favourable bounties between our hands, morning strength for us and fragrance. And surely the law of Allah came offering childhood its rights, surrounding the abstract and physical rights of the child, from the time its being formed a foetus until it reaches manhood.
The psychological and abstract care of children has been shown in the life of our prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and in his directives. For he would joke with the children, and feed the orphans and pass (his hand) over their heads and he said: “Myself and the one who cares for an orphan will be in Paradise like these two” and he said: “Whoever provides for two slave girls, he and I will enter Paradise like these two” and he showed his two fingers. And he said: “He is not of us, who does not have mercy on our young”. And he ordered children to be protected against playing when the devils are out and about, and he hastened his prayer when he heard a child’s cry, and he forbid that a female slave be separated from her child in selling.
In fact, his laws included (peace be upon him) even the children of animals. He ordered the one who took the chick of a bird to return it, and he said: “Who shocked this with (regards to) her child” just as he prohibited separating a sheep from her child.
Even he (peace be upon him) protected the rights of the foetuses even if it was illegitimate. He ordered a lady that had committed adultery to go until she delivers her child and he delayed executing the punishment due to protecting the right of the child. When she delivered her child, he ordered her to return until she completed nursing (breastfeeding) him for two years.
In fact, in the most important obligation of religion and the greatest he (peace be upon him) used to pray while carrying Umamah, the daughter of his daughter Zainab (may Allah be pleased with them both). And he used to pray while carrying Hasan, the son of his daughter Fatimah (may Allah be pleased with them both). And when he prostrated (peace be upon him) then Hasan mounted his back. He prolonged his prostration for him, and when he was asked about that, he said: “Verily this son of mine made me his mount and I disliked rushing him until he had satisfied his wish”.
His devoutness to his Lord and his standing in His presence did not prevent him from kind treatment to children and considering their feelings.
O You Muslims: Is there a need to remind about childhood and children and their rights and to create awareness about them, despite the natural disposition calling towards that, and being naturally driven and inclined as well?!
It is said with much grief-: Yes. Despite much good produced by modern civilization, however there are behavioural patterns and phenomena that are no longer hidden. We are now realising them in our societies. And they were not in them before.
Under daily life stressors, the abundance of psychiatric illnesses and the boldness to abuse psychotropic substances, you find the spring of love has decreased in the hearts of some fathers and mothers. The severity of autumn has caused the leaves of love to fall in their souls. Their humanity is alienated between their wings and the first sacrifices for that alienation are the children.
How many violated childhoods and slain innocences among the walls of the houses and schools? Children are exposed to forms of stress and physical violence. You see that five-year-old’s eyes with its pure water and its innocent glow turning towards his father approaching him. And his soft heart batters on the sight of his father, waiting for a hug or kiss from him, but the sting of fire blows him or a severe beating catches him. And the weapon of the child – and O his weapon – broken groans and rattling sighs and the helper and aider is absent.
Use – O listener – the imagination of a poet or mighty literature to describe what this child is feeling and how all the joys of life are buried in himself. And in his imagination, every beautiful thing that reaches his dreamy mind is decreased.
And there’s a child whose troubled mother does not find someone to offload her troubles on except the body of her child. And how many examples of these violations occur in our society and how many exercise this brutality in their houses and no family or neighbours know about it. The fathers have abused their children and the wives have disciplined the children of their husbands. And the children are not safe from harm even from the domestic workers. And those who live from amongst them live a distorted humanity, dressed with aggression. He has a dark future and he might take up crime and deviation so he loses himself and the society loses him.
O Muslims: Verily these manifestations are not – with the praise of Allah – widespread and common but quite a few are present. And verily from the greatest type of satisfaction is that the society deals with lifting oppression from this group, especially if the oppression is occurring among relatives.
And the oppression of relatives is the greatest torture
on the self (more) than the impact of an Indian sword
It is imperative to be alert with regard to the young who are affected by psychiatric illnesses or are involved in psychotropic substances, especially the child that is a victim and tortured. When it occurs you don’t hear him expressing and revealing what he has been afflicted with. And these assaults are digging trenches in him. And the tortured child is unable to complain but his tongue is able to say a lot. And the young do not forget. And the insults of childhood do not heal. And if sorrow does not rectify them then it is about to end in death.
And these centres and houses that aid in protecting children and educating fathers and mothers are a good phenomenon. Their organizers are doing a great good. They should be supported, communicated with and praised.
Servants of Allah: There is another page in the book of child torture. Its title: Marital Disputes. When satan is present between spouses and each one intends abuse towards the other and the eyes of the children are looking and waiting and their souls are upset and bleeding and they see verbal abuse from the father towards their mother or a psychological insult from the mother towards their father or physical assault from one of them on the other. Verily childhood – then – is in vain. And in its hours, psychological complexes grow in the dark. The child’s glow of life fades and this applies to his indifference to education. And his future becomes dim in his sight. There’s no dream that flirts with him and no hope that entices him.
The days are scarred in his eyes and the meaning of motherhood and fatherhood has deteriorated in his view. And the two parents couldn’t care less. They are competing as to who is worse and which of them is more prominent in injuring their children with no healing.
O you disputing spouses: Verily Allah – Glorified and Majestic – has laid down times when children do not enter on their parents so that their eyes do not see what they do not know about being permissible. Is it not more deserving that we avert from the sight of our children and we dismiss their knowledge regarding the negative relationship between their parents, so that they live in a clean environment and a happy psychological state.
Verily, differences have etiquettes and arguments have boundaries and there’s no victim here to overcome except the trespasser himself and his family and all of their futures.
As for after divorce and separation, then there arises the question of maintenance of the children and visiting one of the parents. And how many times in this issue are there pictures of whose ink is disheartening and of whose colours are troubling while Allah says: “No mother shall be treated unfairly on account of her child, nor father on account of his child” [Baqarah; Verse 233]
And how many a child is made to be absent from his mother while he has committed no sin except the dispute which he was not part of, but is punished for. And the prophet (peace be upon him) says: “Whoever separates a mother from her child, Allah will separate him from his beloveds on the Day of Resurrection” [Narrated by Ahmad; classified as Saheeh by al –Haakim]
So which sin has prohibited the child from the love of his mother or meeting his father while he is part of them both and he should not do away with one compared to the other, no matter what the one has done. The child should be able to see his parents and to contact them when he wishes, without reckoning or harassment. Under no circumstances should the separation between parents be a call to raise the child on the ingratitude of one of them or the lack of goodness towards the other.
O you who has been through divorce, both fathers and mothers! Do not forget favours between you. And fear Allah with regards to your children. Verily your disputes are an elongated rope of whose ends are in your hands and at the centre is a knot curled around the neck of the child. Every time one of the parents tightens the pull, the knot grips the neck of the child, knowing that usually in disputes between parents, the loser has more goodness than the winner.
How many fathers evade and decrease the maintenance of their children, or escape from it, not for anything except to enrage their mother. So how does he expect the obedience of his children after that and hope for their dua and their charity on him when they grow up?!
O Muslims: And among the widespread pictures of torture is shouting and screaming at the child and threatening and intimidating him, and excessively rebuking and scolding him. And this is what fathers, mothers and teachers are careless about. And they portray their angry feelings without realising the destructive consequences to the psychology of the child. Intimidation and threats produce an unstable personality and a troubled psychology. Behold! Fear Allah in their His advice “Allah advises you as regards your children” [Nisaa; Verse 11] and everyone should fear Allah in their flock, for everyone will be asked and reckoned with.
O Allah bless us in the Book (Quraan) and Sunnah, and make us benefit from their verses and wisdom. I say these words of mine and I ask Allah to forgive me and you.
All praise be to Allah as He ought to be praised and the most loyal (praise). And salutations and greetings be upon His messenger and His chosen one. And I bear witness that there is no god but Allah alone. He has no partner. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and messenger. May Allah’s salutations, peace and blessings be upon him and on his family, companions and those associated.
O Muslims: The mistakes of children are forgiven and their sins are pardoned. Allah has lifted the pens of compulsion from them, so you should lift the methods of violence from them. Take a stand between violence and weakness in the position of resoluteness and give due appreciation to the young of age and the love of fun. And if the child is not hit for prayer which is a pillar of religion except if he is ten years old and beyond and after he has been commanded hundreds of times, then how can a two- or three-year old child be hit, or a five- or seven-year old. Should he be naturally troubled or be in innocent fun?!
And for you in the guidance of the prophet (peace be upon him) is a good example. On the authority of Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) he said: “I served the Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) for ten years. During that time, he never once said to me as much as ‘uff’ if I did something wrong. He never asked me, if I had failed to do something, ‘Why did you not do it?’ and he never said to me, if I had done something wrong, ‘Why did you do it?’” [Narrated by Bukhari]. And the wording in Abu Dawud: Anas said: “I served the Prophet (peace be upon him) at Medina for ten years. I was a boy. Every work that I did was not according to the desire of my master, but he never said to me: ‘uff’, nor did he say to me: Why did you do this? or Why did you not do this?”
Hafith ibn Hajar said: “The benefit of this: leaving out admonition for what has been missed because it is inevitable and can be called for if needed. It is also disliked for the tongue to snap and vilify and falsely allege against the servant. And this is with regards to humans. As for religious obligations, then there should be no overlooking, because this falls under enjoining good and forbidding evil”.
Servants of Allah: There’s no dispute regarding the early correction of mistakes of children when they err but it should be corrected in a manner that is constructive, not destructive and should be politely, not harshly. And for us in the prophet (peace be upon him) is an example. On the authority of Umar bin Abi Salamah, he said: “I was a boy under the care of Allah’s Apostle and my hand used to go around the dish while I was eating. So Allah’s Apostle said to me, ‘O boy! Mention the name of Allah and eat with your right hand, and eat of the dish what is nearer to you.’ Since then I have applied those instructions when eating.” [Agreed upon]
And on the authority of Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him), that Hasan bin Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) took a date from the dates of charity and put it in his mouth. The Prophet said, “Expel it from your mouth. Don’t you know that we do not eat a thing which is given in charity?” [Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim]
And Tabarani narrated on the authority of Zainab bint Abi Salamah that she entered on the prophet (peace be upon him) while he was bathing. She said: “So he took a handful of water and splashed it in my face and said: ‘Go back, O small one’.
So look at how he taught Umar bin Abi Salamah the etiquette of eating and how he taught Hasan piety and he taught Zainab the etiquette of seeking permission and refraining from looking at the prohibited. And ponder over how the teaching was in a method understood by the young, with one word or a short, concise clear sentence, easy to memorise and understand, without humiliation or insult and without blame or scolding, without scowling or blaming. More virtuous than hitting the young or praying against them and this is a dangerous matter, because if the supplication coincides with an hour of acceptance then the one who supplicated will be regretful at a time when regret will not benefit.
And the prophet (peace be upon him) says: “Do not supplicate against yourselves. And do not supplicate against your children. And do not supplicate against your wealth. Perhaps an hour from Allah when He is asked anything and it is granted might correspond and you will be answered” [Narrated by Muslim]
And this is his etiquette (peace be upon him) even with the elders. Mu’awiya bin al Hakam (may Allah be pleased with him) said – and he spoke during the prayer – : “May my father and mother be sacrificed. I have not seen a teacher before him nor after him better in teaching than him. By Allah he did not rebuke me, nor hit me, nor abuse me. He said: ‘It is not fitting to have any speech from people in the prayer. It is only glorification and proclaiming the greatness of Allah and reciting the Qur’aan” [Narrated by Muslim]
And on the authority of Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him), he said: “I went along with Allah’s messenger (peace be upon him) at a time during the day but he did not talk to me and I did not talk to him until he reached the market of Banu Qaynuqaa’. He came back to the tent of Fatimah and said: ‘Is the little chap (meaning Hasan) there?’ We were under the impression that his mother had detained him in order to bathe him and dress him and garland him with sweet garland. Not much time had passed that he (Hasan) came running until both of them embraced each other, thereupon Allah’s messenger (peace be upon him) said: ‘O Allah, I love him; so love him and love the one who loves him” [From Bukhari and Muslim] and this is the wording in Muslim. And the wording in Bukhari: then he came running until he embraced him and kissed him.
And he said (peace be upon him) to a man who never used to kiss his children: “I cannot put mercy in your heart after Allah has taken it away from it” [Narrated by Muslim]
And on the authority of Anas bin Malik (may Allah be pleased with him), he said: “I have not seen anyone more merciful to children than the messenger of Allah (peace be upon him).” He said: “His son Ibraheem was in the care of a wet nurse in the hills around Madeenah. He would go there, and we would go with him, and he would enter the house, pick up his son and kiss him, then come back. [Narrated by Muslim]
And Ibn Hibban has recorded in his saheeh on the authority of Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: “The prophet (peace be upon him) used to stick out his tongue at Hasan bin Ali and the lad used to see the redness of his tongue and he used to rush towards him”.
And on the authority of Mahmood bin Rabee’ who said: “When I was a boy of five, I remember, the prophet (peace be upon him) took water from a bucket with his mouth and threw it on my face.” [Agreed upon].
This is his guidance so act upon it and this is the messenger so follow his footsteps.
Then send salutations and peace on the best of the best and the purest of mankind. O Allah send your salutations, peace and blessings on your slave and messenger Muhammad and on his pure, good family and his companions, the best of personalities. And be happy O Allah with the guided leaders and the rightly guided khulafa: Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali and all the other companions of your prophet and those who follow their ways and emulate their methods O Lord of the worlds.
O Allah grant honour to Islam and the Muslims……