raising the orphan and the need to combine firmness with compassion
the orphan needs special education, it also applies to children who lost one or both parents due to a chronic disease, divorce, traveling, jihad or any sort of struggle.
the most important needs of the orphan are the emotional satisfaction, feeling of security and having replacements of parents who fulfill their role in guidance and discipline of the child. the child also needs to socially adjust to the new environment to accept the idea of a guardian or a surrogate parent who assumes the position of the parent.
the orphan feels weak, helpless and lacking strength (). he also misses the true source of kindness; this is why islam urged muslims to fulfill the needs of orphans by giving the highest reward for any person who helps the orphan by doing to him any sort of favor or act of kindness. almighty allah says: “it is not al-birr (piety, righteousness, and each and every act of obedience to allah, etc.) that you turn your faces towards east and (or) west (in prayers); but al-birr is (the quality of) the one who believes in allah, the last day, the angels, the book, the prophets and gives his wealth, in spite of love for it, to the kinsfolk, to the orphans, and to al-masakin (the poor), and to the wayfarer, and to those who ask.” (al-baqarah: 177)
allah also says in the qur’an: “worship allah and join none with him in worship, and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, al-masakin (the poor), the neighbour who is near of kin, the neighbour who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet), and those (slaves) whom your right hands possess. verily, allah does not like such as are proud and boastful” (an-nisa': 36)
the best example of hadiths that promote and encourage muslims to take care of orphans is what abu umamah narrated that the prophet muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "the one who passed his hand on the head of an orphan, only for the sake of allah, will have as many acts of virtue recorded in his favor as the number of the hair on which his hand passed, and the one who treated an orphan boy or girl well will stand in paradise with me like this...saying this the prophet joined his two fingers together." (musnad ahmad, tirmidhi).
the conditions of orphan differ, as some of them lose their fathers when they are so young so it becomes easy to merge him in a new embracing environment that he easily accepts and adjusts to. the living parent might remarry and the orphan child is raised with other siblings so he grows up normally without any psychological problems, provided that the person who marries the widow or widower is kind and understanding of the needs of the orphan.
the child might lose his parents or one of them but he still has adult siblings who take care of him. the adult brother can replace the father, especially if he has a firm strong character to be a father figure. the mother should respect and cooperate with the older brother and give him the leadership of the family, because that would facilitate the obedience of younger children to the older brother. no matter how strong and firm the mother is with her young children, when they grow up to be teens they need a stronger leader or authority like the older brother.
another similar example is the orphan who loses one of his parents as a result of divorce, constant absence or a chronic disease. if he is an only child or more than a child and the mother preferred not to marry for their sake and stayed at her parents’ house, there has to be a guiding authority like the grandfather or the uncle. the mother has to hand such leadership to the grandfather or uncle so that when children become adolescents who are difficult for the mother to handle or control, then there is always the authority of the grandfather or uncle. the man is firmer and wiser by nature than the mother who becomes easily driven by her feelings to pamper and act lenient with children.
there are methods that guarantee, by the will of allah, the orphan’s psychological and educational wellbeing such as:
(1) the surrogate parent or guardian should be aware, understanding and responsible for the child. he should understand the feelings of orphans very well and also the feelings of the divorcee’s children (). the stepfather should satisfy the needs of his wife’s children for love and affection, and not to favor his own children over them as much as he can.
(2) the guardian should be firm in the way he raises the child, because usually people are lenient with the orphan which might spoil him. the guardian, stepfather or surrogate parent should treat the orphan as their son in terms of upbringing methods and discipline ().
(3) the guardians of the orphans should give him the chance to mingle and socialize with other children especially if he is an only child. they should not worry a lot about him, or interfere in every matter related to him but rather to give him some personal space to develop mentally and socially (). the mother should treat her adolescent child with trust by giving him some authority and showing him that he is her hope for the future, that way she would help him mature and become an adult ().
(4) in case of divorce, parents should be prudent and deal with the situation with a lot of maturity so that the child grows up to be healthy without suffering from any complexities as a result of divorce. they should show respect, appreciation and not to attack or blame each other in front of the child (). this helps the child to adjust and accept divorce by time. this would also save the right of parents in upbringing and disciplining the child, because if the child sees them respecting each other, he will keep a positive image of them in his mind. he would listen to them when they direct him for the best, but if he sees them criticize and insult each other, the child’s trust in his parents will shake and his respect for them will be negatively affected. at this point, the lack of trust would cause inability by the parents to raise the child properly or direct him for the best of his interest.
() manhaj al-tarbiyah al-nabawiyah by mohamed nour swaid, page: 178.
() dr. spock talks with mothers by benjamin spock, page: 369.
() manhaj al-tarbiyah al-nabawiyah by mohamed nour swaid, page: 194.
() saykolojiat al-tofula by mustafa fahmi, page: 134-135.
() dr. spock talks with mothers by benjamin spock, page: 366.
() dr. spock talks with mothers by benjamin spock, page: 342.