Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|A major value in child upbringing|
|11/23/01 at 23:59:52|
|A major value in child upbringing|
By Dr. Muhammad Al-Awa
A family does not give us only a mutual tie of kinship between man and wife; it provides a multi-sided relation between the married couple and their sons and daughters. We have in Islamic jurisprudence a wealth of principles that can easily yield a code of education which incorporates what students of Islamic studies learn under the heading, ‘children’s rights and parents’ duties’. This heading makes it clear that children’s upbringing is not confined to a set of actions and statements that occur by mere coincidence. It involves rights that must be given in full. Otherwise, parents run the risk of committing a sin that is commensurate with any shortfall in what is due to their children.
Many are the parents who neglect their children’s rights. Many are not even aware that such rights exist and that it is their duty to ensure that they are fulfilled. The majority of scholars do not take the initiative to explain them to people and remind them of their importance, because they give priority to other matters which they consider to be more important. In doing so, however, these scholars fall short of playing their role in respect of ensuring a better future for the next generation. The future of any community lies in the hands of its youth. But we neglect our youth who find themselves lost between parents preoccupied with earning their living, or with personal problems or pleasures, and schools that no longer pay any attention to the cultivation of values, and the media whose output pays little attention to the needs of the young and their upbringing. What is surprising is that we often wonder why our young continue to follow a downward trend and why they choose a way of life different from that of their parents.
We forget the principle illustrated by Umar ibn Al-Khattab, the second Caliph, when a father complained to him that his own son was undutiful. When Umar learnt the details, he said to the complaining father: "You have neglected your duty toward your son long before he became undutiful." Needless to say, Umar dismissed the father’s case against his son, because of his neglect of his son’s rights in childhood.
We know that persuading people to follow a new code in the upbringing of their children is very difficult, because it involves abandoning a system that has been long upheld. Yet this system has too many negatives, such as neglect, carelessness, excessive severity at times and great indulgence at others. Yet this is a very important matter. Investment in the upbringing of the new generation is the only investment with assured returns. Besides, it earns both God’s pleasure and people’s praise.
It is worthwhile to highlight some aspects of the Islamic code of child upbringing, as this is the most that may be done in this series of articles which tries to point out the areas where we need new Fiqh rulings, and where contemporary scholars are trying to meet this need.
A main feature of the Prophet’s method of cultivating the right values was that he tried to inculcate into his followers the great value of honesty and truthfulness and to steer them away from lying. He is authentically reported to have said: "A man may get in the habit of telling the truth and endeavor to always say the truth until he is entered in God’s records as a truthful person. By contrast, a man may habitually lie and continue to tell lies until he is entered in God’s records as a liar." The Prophet also says: "Truthfulness leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to heaven, while lying leads to sin and sin leads to hell."
The practical example set by the Prophet always endorsed his verbal teachings. He once saw a woman saying to her child: "Come here, and I will give you something." The Prophet asked her what was she going to give the child, and she said that she had dates to give him. The Prophet said: "If you did not give him anything, that would have been a lie recorded against you."
A man who embraced Islam told the Prophet that he habitually did several things that Islam prohibited, and that he could not abandon them all at once. Therefore, he requested the Prophet to choose one of them which he would definitely quit, allowing him a period of grace with the others. The Prophet said to him: "Do not lie." The man needed only a short period of time to mend his ways and get rid of all his prohibited practices. Every time he thought of committing something prohibited, he thought that he was certain to meet the Prophet when he would ask him about his actions. If he were to tell the truth, then he would admit his sins. He did not fancy going to the Prophet with such a burden. Therefore, he abandoned the intended sinful action. His keen desire to keep his promise to the Prophet to tell the truth was the key to his success in getting rid of all his sinful habits. As the Prophet was marching with some of his companions toward Badr, shortly before the historic battle there, some Beduins passed by and asked him about their origin. The Prophet said, ‘We originate from water’. The questioner in fact asked him about their tribes, and the Prophet’s answer could be construed as mentioning the name of a tribe in Iraq. This is a way of avoiding the need to lie. The Prophet did not wish those people to know who he was, for fear that they would point his position to his enemy. Hence, he used an ambiguous answer that involved no lie. All human beings originate from water, as God clearly states in the Qur’an: "It is He who out of water has created man, and has given him descent and marriage ties." (25: 54) On the basis of this Hadith some scholars expressed their amazement at people who resort to lying when they could avoid it by making ambiguous statements.
A child who grows up in an environment where the adults take a casual approach to lying will undoubtedly follow his adult relatives’ example and be a liar. To what will his lying lead him? It will only lead to cheating, dishonesty, betrayal of trust, negligence of duties and the rights of others, etc. When this becomes widespread we find ourselves suffering the sort of social ills that we have at home, school, private and public dealings. Lying becomes the norm and honesty is often treated, at best, as a welcome surprise.
Lying is perhaps most repugnant when it is perpetrated by someone who is supposed to provide good example for others to follow. Some of these claim to be advocates of Islam, yet they resort to any means that they feel would serve a noble objective or a legitimate end, even though it may involve a blatant lie. Such people do Islam a great disservice, because people do not mark them personally as lacking proper moral conduct, but they attach the blame to Islam claiming it to be a message that has no effect on the behavior of its advocates.
Many people resort to an exceedingly censurable behavior when they order their children to lie, such as saying that something has happened when they know that it has not, or denying something that they know to be true. This makes their children think little of such behavior and accept it as a normal practice. The child will soon lose people’s respect and trust. But the blame in all this lies with the parents who treat this as trivial, leading their children in the process to behave in a most abominable way.
In old times, the leading figures among the idolaters of Arabia were keen to ensure that no one could find them lying. When Abu Sufyan was asked by the Byzantine Emperor about the Prophet, he answered him truthfully, so that he would not be accused of lying. At the time he and the Arabs in his company were still idolaters. Would our people today accept to sink to a level below that of the idolaters?
If the way is to recognize the value of honesty and truthfulness, and the evil of lying, and to bring up our children to be truthful, can we afford to be negligent of that?
[color=green]Taken from the Arab News[/color]
|Re: A major value in child upbringing|
|11/28/01 at 11:34:23|
Balance is key in bringing up children. Etiquette and conformity are taught by strictly observing the Sunnah of the Messenger and The True Word of Allah, Quran.
May He keep us on the straight path (Amin).
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