Feb 22, 2012

Our Little Ummah: Rights of Children in Islam (Part 1)

by Amatullah Aminah


The beauty of this deen lies in the enormous efforts it takes in establishing justice and how it is vented out even at the most diminutive of levels. One of the best ways of implying justice is assigning every element its rights and taking extensive steps in making sure they are not violated. Allah has His rights over the creation, The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam has rights over the ummah, parents, neighbours, teachers, relatives, society as a whole...all have rights due upon each other and so do our children- The future of our ummah!

While researching for this article I talked to a couple of people, as a new mother I needed the information as much for myself, as for this article. A friend who gives parenting lessons satirically mentioned how parents should require licence to have babies. Really? Funny? Stop and think and it will lend a deeper insight to this joke. Giving birth to a baby, feeding and clothing him does not exactly counts as bringing him up, there is a lot more which often stays neglected. Right of children upon their parents are far more than that and since they are in no position to demand them, mostly out of ignorance, parents don’t bother recognising them responsibly. Fear Allah and the day when we will be held accountable for our smallest sins. Educate yourself, probe deeper, don’t stop learning.

A child’s rights over his parents come even before he is born, and this one is of paramount importance, which by any means should not be taken lightly:

Rights before Birth

· Choosing a righteous wife

A righteous wife spells a righteous mother. A woman who will be utmost vigilant in seeing that his children are raised up and taken care of according to the standards set by Allah and His prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Most men don’t even think that far, they hardly see a woman as a potential mother for their children. Albeit it is a huge responsibility upon a man to give serious thought to his coming generations; to a generation of Islam.

It was narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “A woman may be married for four reasons: her wealth, her lineage, her beauty and her religious commitment. Marry the one who is religiously committed, may your hands be rubbed with dust (i.e., may you prosper).” ( al-Bukhaari)

I would like to point out that prosperity here is not referring to wealth in monetary terms; it is suggesting something far more valuable than that. It is referring to a life and time which would be liable to earn Allah’s pleasure in this world and the hereafter. It is also referring to our children-those who are bred in Islamic fashion, those who would love and respect their parents, contribute significantly to the society, stand up for truth and justice and after the parent’s death be sadqa-e-jaariyah. All that undoubtedly relies upon their most basic education which lies in the hands of a woman!

Moreover, Allah’s Apostle, sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said: “Upon death, man’s deeds will (definitely) stop except for three deeds, namely: a continuous charitable fund, endowment or goodwill; knowledge left for people to benefit from; and pious righteous and God-fearing child who continuously pray Allah, the Almighty, for the soul of his parents. “ (Muslim)

Rights upon the birth

· Fulfilling the sunnah of tahneek

Al-Nawawi said: “The scholars are agreed that it is mustahabb to do tahneek with dates for the child when he is born; if that is not possible then to use some similar kind of sweet. The dates should be chewed until they become soft enough to be swallowed, then the child’s mouth should be opened and a little of the dates put in his mouth

 It was narrated that Anas ibn Maalik (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: The son of Abu Talhah was sick. Abu Talhah went out and the child died, and when Abu Talhah returned he said, “What happened to my son?” Umm Sulaym (his wife) said, ‘He is quieter than he was.” Then she brought him his dinner and he ate, then he had marital relations with her, and when he finished she said, “They buried the child.” The following morning, Abu Talhah went to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and told him what had happened. He said, “Did you have marital relations last night?” He said, “Yes.” He said, “O Allaah, bless them.” She later gave birth to a boy. Abu Talhah said to me, “Keep him until I bring him to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).” He brought him to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and I sent some dates with him. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) took him and said, “Is there anything with him?” They said, “Yes, some dates.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) took some and chewed it, and then he took some from his mouth and put it in the child’s mouth (tahneek), and named him ‘Abd-Allaah.

· Giving him a good name.

Giving desirable name to your child is also a part of his rights.

It was narrated from Naafi’ that Ibn ‘Umar said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The most beloved of your names to Allaah are ‘Abd-Allaah and ‘Abd al-Rahmaan.

There are names which are forbidden, there are names which are undesirable, and then there are names which are desirable. Parents should place more importance on the meaning of the name rather than how it sounds. I have seen parents giving their children flashy ‘unique’ names, while they remain oblivious to its meaning. It is important that a child be given a good name which clearly states his lineage as well. I am posting here a link to forbidden names in islam and the naming system to be followed.

· Aqeeqah

It was narrated that ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib said: The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) slaughtered a sheep as the ‘aqeeqah for al-Hasan, and he said, “O Faatimah, shave his head and give the weight of his hair in silver in charity.” So she weighed it and its weight was a dirham or part of a dirham. (al-Tirmidh)

Aqeeqah is every child’s right irrespective of his gender. In some cultures and societies we witness gross differentiation between a boy and a girl, a girl unfortunately does not qualify for an aqeeqah as a boy does. Treating a girl and a boy unequally has been frowned upon by the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, it is strictly discouraged. In all fairness children have a right to be treated equally.

These are one time rights, they are dispensed at a given time and occasion. The second part of this series promises to shed light on those rights of our children which are perpetual in nature. We will be discussing rights of a whole lifetime and their challenges. Come back to Habibi Halaqas for more...


"Choosing a righteous wife" : does this not apply to women as well, i.e. - choose a righteous husband?

Alhumdulilah! This is an education that should be world wide.

it sure does, sister Uzma. As we know, generally, its the mother who provides the basic consciousness of right and wrong,  thus more importance has been placed on choosing a righteous wife. Although choosing a righteous husband is equally important for our sisters and the families they would be building. 

JazakILLAhu khairan.
Indeed it was nice reminder.
May ALLAH help us to implement that which we learn ameen

Salaam aleikum, Thank you for the article , it is an important topic that needs more attention interesting discussion..How do we know it is the mother who provides the consciousness of right and wrong? 

WalykumSalam dear sister,
There is a difference between saying that "the mother provides consciousness of right and wrong" and "generally it's the mother who provides basic consciousness of right and wrong" ....the key words which make this statement subjective are 'generally' and 'basic'. Usually it's the mother with whom the child remains during his early years...father remains as somebody who comes from work in the evening and plays with his child....at least for some years that is how life goes on for a child. However, a mother stays with him all the time....educating him through his daily routine....it's like an ongoing unconscious process. In fact as I researched for this topic I learned the process of educating a child begins when he is in his mother's womb. Her lifestyle....her modes, quality and frequency of worship all play a vital role in the basic spiritual development of a child
We do realise situations may differ, and sometimes a mother may not be there...due to various reasons. If that be the case then anyone can take over a mother's role....be it the father or some other relative.

Most of the time, the prophet (peace be upon him) was surrounded by his male companions. He directly faced the queries and curiosity of his male companions hence most of the questions were from a man's perspective. Like, for example, someone may have asked, what to look for, in a girl, when choosing a wife? The answer to him would obviously be related to qualities to look for in a women. The Hadith mentioned above, about choosing a righteous wife, was obviously addressed to an assembly of men, since he was surrounded by men most of the times. However, the same would apply to women when looking for a husband.
I hope sister uzma is reading this :)

Very true, that is an important distinction!However  isn't it possibly that  that children will choose the characteristics that they emulate, from either parent? I haven't done much formal research on the topic, but have tons of informal(haha!) info. I have read that fathers often set boundaries for children and that the children will out seek out their fathers to clarify these matters. Boundaries can be big part of moral development of right and wrong..??

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