Jan 4, 2013

Parenting with Rahmah, the missing ingredient

By Sabah Chaudhry


Imagine you are a stay-at-home mom. You are expecting guests in the evening, so you decide to go grocery shopping. The cashier rings up some of your groceries at double the price so you have to wait in line, argue with the customer service agent, and finally get your money back. Then you spend the rest of your afternoon cooking and cleaning. Before you know it, it is time to pick up the kids from school. The moment the kids enter the car, they begin arguing over whose art drawings look nicer. You are physically and mentally drained and have lost the patience to put a stop to the wrestling match which is about to transpire. The noise is driving you crazy. What do you do? Lose your cool and fight back with an explosion of shouts and yells. Or pause, take a few deep breaths, examine the situation, and begin a civil conversation with these precious blessings from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala?

Whether you are working or stay-at-home parents in this fast-paced world, juggling hundreds of tasks at once, you may find yourselves taking these little people for granted. But they are more than just members of our family; they are our precious children who are one of the greatest tests to us from Allah subhaanahu wa ta’ala. The Qur’an states,

“And know that your properties and your children are but a trial and that Allah has with Him a great reward.” (Surah Al-Anfal: Chapter 8, Verse 28) 

We will be judged on the Day of Judgment for how we reared our children and treated them. For this reason, parenting could be our door to Paradise or the Hellfire.

Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (sal Allaahu alayhi wasallam) said, “Each of you is a guardian and is responsible for his ward. The ruler is a guardian and the man is a guardian of the members of the household; and the woman is a guardian and is responsible for her husband’s household and his offspring; and so each of you is a guardian and is responsible for his ward” (Sahih Bukhari and Muslim)

As a mother and father, we have a great role to play in tending to the needs of our children. We have no excuse to overlook or neglect these responsibilities. Our choices will affect our children for the rest of their lives. So it is an amaanah (trust) from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala that we provide the proper environment required for eeman (faith) to mature and flourish in our homes. We must be there to raise them to be strong Muslims, who will grow up to live life with Islam as their criterion to make lawful decisions. As a result of this, we pray they will always have awareness of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and rise to become propagators and representatives of Islam.

Parents are a child’s first teachers and will have the most influence on them in shaping their personalities and uprooting within them a proper moral code. Their early years are crucial for nourishing them with love for Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and recognizing His Oneness. Luqman alayhis salaam’s advice in the Qur’an is inclusive of everything a child needs to be taught about the concept of tawheed, Allah’s Oneness.

“And [mention, O Muhammad], when Luqman said to his son while he was instructing him, ‘O my son, do not associate [anything] with Allah. Indeed, association [with him] is great injustice.’’ (Surah Luqman: Chapter 31, Verse13)

In addition to teaching tawheed, we must tell our children about the Greatness of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) and His many attributes, one of them being that He is constantly overlooking us.

“[And Luqman said], ‘O my son, indeed if wrong should be the weight of a mustard seed and should be within a rock or [anywhere] in the heavens or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth. Indeed, Allah is Subtle and Acquainted.’' (Surah Luqman: Chapter31, Verse 16) 

Teaching our children accountability for our actions from a young age is essential for them to understand their purpose in life. Because of this they will fear Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, and increase in their obedience of Him. Sometimes it is a good idea to tell very young children when they are about to do or have done, something wrong, “Remember, Allah is watching.” It is a concise yet simple way to instil in their hearts, from very early on, the All Knowing and All Encompassing presence of Allah.

Just as we admit how important it is to guide our children, we cannot overlook incorporating the important element of compassion or mercy in their upbringing.

The Prophet (sal Allaahu alayhi wasallam) said, “He is not one of us who does not show mercy to our little ones and respect to our elders” (Tirmidhi). 

So, it is an essential as part of being a Muslim to show mercy to our children. Dr. Aisha Hamdan, a clinical psychologist, explains in her book “Nurturing Eeman in Children” - “Children have psychological needs which must be met. These include love, affection, mercy, and companionship. It is a basic role of parenting to fulfill these needs through kisses, hugs, kind words and time spent together.” Some ways to carry out gentleness may be by addressing our children with loving names such as “My Dear Child”, “Sweetheart”, “My Love”, and repeatedly telling your children “I love you”.

According to the article “Positive Parenting: Justice or Mercy?” by Nicholeen and Spencer Peck, mercy is the tone you have within your heart which reaches the heart of your child, even when you are bound to execute justice. It is teaching children the right way to do something so that they do not have a problem again. Mercy is also the structure you have in your home. If you have set rules by which you abide and are consistent in implementing, the child knows what to expect in terms of reward and punishment. It is also important to be an open ear. Take the time to listen and respond to any question your child asks. Your child may want to show you a scribbled up drawing he or she just made, but still make a positive comment about it so they know you care. This sends them the message that they are important. It is a powerful way to express your love.

Dr. Ekram and Dr. Mohamed Rida Beshir in their book “Meeting the Challenge of Parenting in the West” put together a list of long lasting benefits for being merciful with a firm tone when speaking to our children.
  • You are rewarded for following the sunnah of the Prophet (sal Allaahu alayhi wasallam) 
  • You achieve better results 
  • Your children feel you love them and want the best for them 
  • The channel of communication remains open between you and your child 
  • Encouraging children towards achievement will ensure high self-esteem, confidence, and makes them ready to meet new challenges 
  • When parents couple mercy with justice while disciplining, children take responsibility for their own behaviours and actions 
  • Children learn to think for themselves and channel their emotions 
  • Children make healthy decisions 
Only by coating guidance and knowledge of this deen with gentleness, love, and mercy can we ensure a wholesome Islamic upbringing for our youth. Our goal is to raise children with upright morals and values, so they understand that their primary purpose of life is to worship Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. Internalizing this purpose will give them due cause to journey life as content Muslim individuals. And we make dua that through Muslim parents and the Help of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, eeman and taqwa will settle into their hearts so they may develop the proper Islamic personality and Islamic identity. The ultimate success will then be achieved in this life and in the hereafter when both parents and children enter Jannatul Firdaus hand in hand. May Allah make this a reality for all of us in the hereafter. Aameen.

1) Dr. Aisha Hamdan. 2009. Nurturing Eeman in Children. International Islamic Publishing House: Saudi Arabia.
2) Nicholeen and Spencer Peck. Positive Parenting: Justice or Mercy?
3) Dr. Ekram and Dr. Mohamed Rida Beshir. 1998. Meeting the Challenge of Parenting in the West: An Islamic Perspective. Amana Publication: USA.

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below! :)


Jazakumullah khairal Jaza'a for this reminder.It is certainly a challenge with the modern world we live in but with such advices and prayers we shall overcome bi izhni Rabbil alamin.

Thank you for a beautiful article. May Allah continue to guide us. Ameen.

Mashallah., very education could you please post more of this topic insha Allah sister.

MashAllah, very apt. JazaakiLLahu khairan..

Ur article has appreciated mothers and its always good to get more education. Jaza kallahu khairan.

Masha allah sister . very good article indeed. My niece is 8 months old and I sometimes wonder when I do baby sitting what could I teach her about Islam as she is able to understand small words and signals such as "come here, No" . My sister also does a lot of research on the internet to see what can be taught to children as young so that we can inculcate Belief and love of Allah and our prophet Muhammad (SAWS) in them at early age. insha allah. Could anyone shed a light on this please .I really need to help my sister on this.

As salaamu 'alaykum, if you are a Muslim parent you should really check out Outstanding Muslim Parents. There are many great resources to help you raise children who love and respect their religion. http://www.outstandingmuslimparenting.com

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