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Raising Children the Islamic Way: Jumu’ah Qutba by Murtadha Gusau

Raising Children the Islamic Way: Friday Qutba by Murtadha Gusau

In The Name Of Allah, The Beneficent, The Merciful

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad is His Servants and Messenger.

Dear Brothers and Sisters! Raising children is no easy feat. If anything, it is one of the most demanding and complex of tasks, but it is also the most rewarding. With each child that comes into this world, each parent is entrusted with the obligation to raise that child in a way that ensures him/her to become a good Muslim and a good human being who will benefit the society. Parents have great leverage when it comes to what value system and principles they instill in their children which then take root throughout their adult life. The religion of Islam, therefore, holds all parents and caregivers responsible for the direction they steer their children in and whether it is in line with the teachings of the Noble Quran and the Sunnah of the Noble Prophet (Peace be upon him).

Children are essentially an Amanah (Trust) from the Almighty Allah and a great responsibility. Hence, it is the duty of a parent to guide their offspring on the right path, and raise them to be God-conscious and good Muslims, who are an asset for their fellow brothers and sisters of the ummah and an asset to their society and their country. Every parent will be questioned regarding their offspring on the Day of Judgement. Narrated by Abdullah bin Umar, the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said:

“Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock. The amir (leader) who is over the people is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock; a man is a shepherd in charge of the inhabitants of his household and he is responsible for his flock; a woman is a shepherdess in charge of her husband’s house and children and she is responsible for them; and a man’s slave is a shepherd in charge of his master’s property and he is responsible for it. So each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock.” [Sunan Abi Dawud]

The blessing of offspring is one of the greatest worldly blessings that Allah favoured us with so it is obligatory to thank Him for that. We must use things He gave us according to what He ordered and legislated. That is why one of the greatest means of preserving blessing and prolonging family ties in the Hereafter is to call them to the truth, strengthen them through beneficial knowledge, make them used to perform good actions and warning them from what harms them.

The legacy and teachings of an individual live on through his/her offspring and will do so until the hereafter. Then, would you not want to leave behind a righteous and God-fearing offspring? Abu Hurairah heard the Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) saying:

“When a man dies, his action discontinues from him except three things, namely, perpetual sadaqah (charity), or the knowledge by which benefit is acquired, or a pious child who prays for him.” [Sunan Abi Dawud]

In a lot of households, the greater emphasis is placed on the academic routine of the children, rather than the Islamic routine, which is essential for the personality development of the children. Hence, it is imperative that parents give their children a well-balanced upbringing, which in itself, seems like a daunting task. So here are a few practical tips for Muslim parents that can help them in raising their children the right way:

● If you want them to know kindness and love, it is essential for them to feel they are loved and treated kindly themselves. Love and kindness cannot be embedded in a child’s personality through forceful measures; rather it is instilled through the natural course of time and experience. Show them what it is to be merciful so they may learn from you first-hand. Allah (SWT) loves those who are kind and merciful. According to Aisha (RA), the Noble Prophet (Peace be upon him) said:

“Verily Allah loves kindness in all things.” [Sahih Bukhari]

Children respond as they are treated. Being overly harsh and rude to your child will not have fruitful results and may cause alienation and disobedience in the child. Be open with them and maintain a relationship with them which is kind and understanding above all else.

● In the absence of rules and boundaries, everything would be rolling in utter chaos. This is true for your child as well. You need to lay down a set of rules for your child to guide his/her actions and behaviour. If the child does not know boundaries, he/she will naturally be inclined to do whatever he/she wants – be it right or wrong, and in turn, will be testing you every step of the way. The child should be well aware of what is right and what is wrong from the very beginning. Only then, will the child learn to adhere to the boundaries of what is acceptable and what is not.

● Take time out to explain why something is good and why something is bad and explain the logic behind it – it will have a much bigger impact on the child! Reward their good behaviour but also scold them or give them a time out when they say or do something wrong. Do not reinforce wrong acts – the child must know that he/she has violated the set boundaries of acceptable behaviour and needs to face the consequences of it.

● You must practice what you preach. Parents must be very aware of their own attitude before trying to instill it in their children. Children look to their parents for guidance in absolutely everything, and hence, their parents become their primary role models. Be conscious of the kind of role model you are for your own children. Be aware of your habits and actions in your everyday life, because that is what your children will see you do and will, in turn, follow it themselves. In the eyes of your children, what you do is good and what you refrain from is not.

● The goodness in children needs to be nurtured and protected. Hence, it is the parent’s duty to guide the child towards what is right and what is not. If parents dedicate themselves to this responsibility of raising their child in accordance to Allah’s (SWT) teachings, the child will very likely continue down the path of righteousness and goodness in his/her life.

● Young children are very malleable. You may shape them however you want and if you start early, you can shape them in the best possible way. If the children are given the Islamic basics from a young age, they are more likely to develop life-long habits.

So start offering your salah with your children before they reach the age of seven (7). Make it a routine for them and mould it into becoming a part of their daily life, just like eating, drinking and sleeping. It will help them continue these habits in their adulthood as well. Be sure to teach them through practically showcasing it in your own life so they may follow you. Teach them to fast from an early age and recite the Quran on a daily basis (even if it is just a page or two).

● Teach your children about all the acts of worship of Allah (SWT) and explain their significance so they may come to know Allah (SWT) and what it takes to grow closer to Him.

● Instill a sense of love for Allah (SWT) in the hearts of your children, rather than instilling the fear of Allah (SWT) predominantly. Do not force your children to follow the Islamic teachings by embedding fear of Allah (SWT) in them. Even though fear of Allah (SWT) is very important, it does not always produce the end result we expect in children, as they sometimes cannot understand the concept of it.

Therefore, tell your children about the endless love of Allah (SWT) and how much He loves them – even more than you. And having seen how much you love them, they will feel awe at the intensity of Allah’s (SWT) love for them. Tell them that Allah (SWT) is their best friend and will always protect and love them. As a result, their love for Allah (SWT) will come naturally to them and they will be more inclined to please Allah (SWT), know Him and follow his bidding.

And if people knew Allah pretty well, they would obey Him and seek to attain the Good pleasure of Him, but the demons of mankind and the jinn do everything in its power keeping people away from knowing Almighty Allah the creator.

● Make it a point to expose your children to those who are not as fortunate as you and teach them what it means to be a good Muslim; to have compassion, empathy, and love for everyone around you, and to help those who cannot help themselves. Let them absorb diversity and respect it. Do volunteer work with them so they learn how to be thankful of Allah’s (SWT) blessings and so it instills empathy in their hearts for those who are not as lucky as them.

● Teach them what it means to be grateful and the role that gratitude plays in each and every human being’s life. Devise and encourage a certain kind of platform for them which allows them to express that gratitude and use it to help others and be a source of comfort for the ummah and all the human being.

● In essence, every parent should do the best they can to make sure that their children turn out to be true inheritors of Islam and its teachings, and who will keep the spirit of Islam alive throughout their lives. Parental guidance and upbringing plays a very major role in the instilment of love for Allah’s (SWT) religion and the desire to worship Him. Your children can become your channel of salvation in the hereafter; the best gift any parent can ever get, which benefits them in this world and the hereafter, both.

Respected Servants of Allah! In today’s world, it is commonplace to see dangerous behaviours of anger and aggression brewing in our children and their lack of control over it. One is often led to wonder what has lead to this uncharacteristic rise of anger in our children; perhaps it is the unhealthy lifestyles and excessive stress? Perhaps it is their negligence and inherent reaction to the rising issues in the modern world? However, parents tend to adopt the indifferent and impassive techniques of parenthood, avoiding conflict and giving in to their child’s demands, rather than getting to the root of the problem and understanding why their child is displaying aggressive reactions in the first place.

What we do not often realise is that children are heavily influenced by the behaviours of the parents themselves and they tend to instinctively internalise their parent’s behaviours. In most cases, the child illustrates angry reactions and aggressive behaviours as a reaction to the anger showcased by the mother or the father in their household. When a child misbehaves or acts out, the parents are often dumbfounded and tend to respond with even harsher words and actions, such as beating, as a means to ‘discipline’ their child.

Just like other human instincts, anger resides in an individual’s biological makeup since the very beginning. However, the level of this instinct’s expression and the display is an outcome of the environment and parenting style that the child has been exposed to. If the parents themselves generally adopt a more composed and calm approach in their daily lives, the child is less likely to act out in anger. Hence it becomes pertinent that parents focus on the pattern of the child’s aggressive behaviour and try to find out the cause behind it and work towards eliminating it.

Respected Brothers and Sisters! In order to work towards improving their child’s angry outbursts and behaviours, parents need to be cognisant of the following things in particular:

● If we believe ourselves to be the Ummah of the Noble Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him), we must also be aware of the fact that he never hit his wife, or servant, or a child, no matter what the circumstances. Perhaps, this in itself, goes to show how beating only festers the problem rather than rectifying it.

● Find the root of the problem and investigate why the child is acting out, instead of irrationally responding to the child’s behaviour being displayed at that point in time.

● We cannot expect our children to illustrate any sort of restraint and self-control if we, as parents, do not do the same in our daily lives. It is the responsibility of the parents to teach their child how to adopt a relaxed and calm approach in life, no matter what the issue at hand. Wallahi acting out in anger will not solve anything!

● Be sure to follow through with your own instructions as well. Parents are the basic role models for their children and their character building starts and ends with the parents.

● The tone that you utilize with your child, is the tone your child will instinctively copy. Instead of shouting, which further distresses them, resort to discussing your child’s feelings with them and talk about it. Our Noble Prophet (Peace be upon him) never raised his voice, or lost his temper and was seen to always talk in a mild tone with elders and children alike.

● Do not be condescending with your children. As a parent, you should never look down upon your children or make them feel small or not worthy enough. That approach will shatter their developing self-esteem. Even if they misbehave, try to reason with them instead of blaming them. If you give your children respect, only then will you earn it in return.

The whole ordeal of bringing up a child is not a bed of roses. It can be tiresome and it can be a real test of this world. They have much to learn in their earlier years and patience is key to rear them up as good human beings. They do not know what is good for them and what is not. Don’t lose your temper with them, and practice patience.

Teach them little ways of curtailing their anger. For example, teach them calming techniques, to perform ‘wudu (ablution)’ if they feel angry, it will calm them down. Or to sit down if they are standing up. Or to take one minute and remain quiet and take deep breaths. If the child succeeds in calming himself/herself down, be sure to let them know how proud you are of them and reinforce that calming act with a token of achievement.

To feel anger is to be human and it is inevitable. But, it is important to note that feelings of anger are inevitable but angry reactions are not; one needs to be able to distinguish between the two. Controlling anger is one of the characters possessed by a true Muslim. According to our beloved Prophet (Peace be upon him):

“The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger.” [Sahih Al Bukhari]

So overcome anger in yourself and teach your children to do the same. Practice patience, love, and self-restraint and lead by example.

Dear Servants of Allah! I ask Allah to assist us in living by the Quran and Sunnah. I pray He lets us recognise the truth for what it is and helps us to follow it, and that He lets us see falsehood for what it is and helps us to avoid it.

O Allah! Guide us and protect us from the causes of ignorance and destruction! Save us from the defects of ourselves! Cause the last of our deeds to be the best and most righteous! And forgive all of us.

Respected Brothers and Sisters! Anything good I have said in my today’s Khutbah (Sermon) is from Allah the Almighty, and any mistakes are my own and we seek refuge in Allah from giving wrong advice and from all forms of calamities and fitnah. And I ask Allah’s forgiveness if I stepped beyond bounds in anything I said or I do.

May Allah be praised; and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon His Messenger Muhammad and upon his family and Companions.

With this I conclude my Khutbah (Sermon) and ask Allah, the Almighty and the Sublime, to forgive all of our sins. So seek his forgiveness, He is all forgiving and Most Merciful.

This Jumu’ah Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Jumadal-Thani 7, 1439 AH (February 23, 2018), by Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Jumu’ah and late Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene’s Mosques, Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: gusaumurtada@gmail.com or +2348038289761.