by Pervisha Khan
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A child is a part of a family that grows up to become an integral member, contributing his abilities to the kin system. Just as a baby bud, when watered carefully, grows up and blossoms into a beautiful flower. A little plant, when matured into a giant tree, provides not only shade but also nourishment to many organisms. However, a human child is the most sensitive being when compared to the other creatures. After nine months in the womb, a human infant requires adult attention for a concentrated period of time to blossom into a good human individual.
If we reflect on natural settings, we observe that animals or plants do not have that kind of a dire need of a mother or a father to raise them up after their birth in terms of manners, as we humans have. A female elephant goes through 22 months of pregnancy but when the baby elephant is born, it does not necessarily depend on the mother to show it the ways of this world. It is nature that teaches the baby elephant to survive. Likewise, baby turtles find their own way to get out of the eggs and plunge into the sea. But a human child is constantly dependent on a human guardian to coach him to live. It would not be wrong to say, we adopt whatever behavior we absorb in our childhood executed by our adults. It would not be wrong to say that during childhood, we absorb and adopt a lot of the actions executed by our caregivers. That is why today’s psychologists put immense stress on proper parenting. On the contrary, we see more antagonism and negligence towards the upbringing of children. That, in return, makes them grow under the shade of hatred and melancholy. A child’s best teacher is his parent, who teaches him not only worldly protocol but religious etiquette. A criminal in his childhood is definitely not trained to become a bad individual by his parents. It is rather the absence of ethical teachings and lack of attention on the parents’ behalf that turn the child into a future offender.
In today’s world, not only the issue of gender discrimination among children is at a high, but child abuse cases are also rapidly increasing. Young boys and girls are being sexually harassed and deprived of the honor of living a normal life. Child labor, though banned in every country, is still a major issue in most of the under-developed states where innocent hands of a child are forced to work in mines. In most parts of the world, small girls are victimized as they are sacrificed like sheep in the name of family honor. Childhood marriages in most parts of Pakistan have become a regular practice. A rose can never grow under constant rain or in extreme sunlight. It needs a balanced environment. So does a human infant, who requires air to breathe, an air of peace and love. Such exploitation of a minor’s rights only destroys his future.
Yes! Although every religion’s teachings forbid wrong things, they fail to offer solutions to humankind’s problems. Islam provides both. Besides speaking good things, Islam also has the solutions for the problems of humanity. Islam decrees that whether it’s a female child or a male, it should not be killed. Both the sexes deserve equal rights of life and love by their parents. It was the practice of pagan Arabs to bury their girls alive as they took them as a burden and bad fortune. But Islam warns against such action through Prophet Muhammad (sal Allaahu alayhi wasallam), who acted as a role model for the whole of humanity. His teachings and practices are considered the best. He not only treated adults with respect but also loved children. We find several Hadiths showing that Prophet Muhammad (sal Allaahu alayhi wasallam) loved children. He showed his affection for them in many ways. He hugged them and patted them on the back. He touched their heads, combing their hair with his fingers and did not discriminate between boys and girls when it came to showing kindness.
The Prophet (sal Allaahu alayhi wasallam) said, “If anyone has a female child, and does not bury her alive, or slight her, or prefer his children (i.e. the male ones) to her, Allah will bring him into Paradise.” (Sunan of Abu-Dawood)
Prophet Muhammad (sal Allaahu alayhi wasallam) loved to play with children. He made them stand in a straight line, and then he himself stood a distance, spread his hands and told the children, “Come running to me. Whoever touches me first will get a prize.” They would all come, running and breathless. When they reached the Prophet (sal Allaahu alayhi wasallam), they would fall all over him. He enjoyed this sport, gave prizes of dates and sweets to the winners and hugged and kissed the participants.
In another narration we see the Prophet’s tolerance towards children. Narrated ‘A’ishah: The Prophet took a child in his lap … and then the child urinated on him, so he asked for water and poured it over the place of the urine. (Al-Bukhari)
Moreover, other than just being friendly with children, an adult is also responsible for teaching moral values to the child. Prophet Muhammad (sal Allaahu alayhi wasallam) gives us a perfect example as to how we should educate our children in a casual manner. Whenever Prophet Muhammad (sal Allaahu alayhi wasallam) passed by children, he tried to be the first to say “Assalaamu Alaikum.” And when riding he would let children sit on his camel or donkey. It is the psyche of a child that he feels more comfortable with the one who gives him maximum security and love. That is why when children saw the Prophet, they came running to him. He greeted them warmly, picked them up, hugged them and kissed them. He loved giving them dates, fruits and sweets to eat. He did not over burden even an infant. In some prayers, the Prophet (sal Allaahu alayhi wasallam) read long Surahs. But if he heard a baby crying, he would read a short Surah and say a short prayer. This helped the mother to take care of her baby.
Today, psychologists agree that the performance of a child is directly linked to the behavior of his parents. That is why Islam teaches us to be tolerant and loving towards children. A gesture of kindness, an act of piety and encouragement to show your kid that you love him can make your child grow with a positive frame of mind, having maximum tendency to develop constructive and optimistic personality. Whereas lack of support, love and ethical teachings can make your child develop a sense of diffidence and inferiority, which not only destroy a child’s future individuality but also all his chances of a happy and influential life. However, unnecessary attention can spoil the child too. Thus, a balanced approach is the key to raising a newborn individual to the heights of consciousness. Prophet Muhammad (sal Allaahu alayhi wasallam) was always pleased to see parents loving and caressing their children. He once said, “He is not of us who does not have mercy on young children, nor honor the elderly.” (Al-Tirmidhi)