Upbringing of Children
The Prophet (Pbuh)never missed an opportunity to inculcate in the young a strong sense of morality and propriety. ‘Umar bin Abu Salamah t said,
“I was a boy under the care of the Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) and my hand used to go around the dish (while I was eating). The Messenger of Allah (Pbuh)said to me, ‘O my boy, mention the Name of Allah, eat with your right hand, and eat from what is nearer to you.’ This has been my manner of eating ever since.”1
The Prophet (Pbuh)helped children feel self-confident through appreciation of their individuality. Sahl bin Sa‘d said, “A cup (full of milk or water) was brought to the Prophet (Pbuh) from which he (Pbuh) drank. On his right side there was sitting a boy who was the youngest of those present, while on his left side there were the elderly men.2 The Prophet (Pbuh)said, ‘O my boy, would you allow me to give it (the cup) to the elderly men (first)?’ The boy replied,
‘I will never give preference to anyone over me as regards my share from you, O Messenger of Allah.’ So the Prophet (Pbuh)gave it to him.”3
The Prophet (Pbuh)shared his secrets with children, who enjoyed his confidence in them. It helped them feel trustworthy. Anas bin Malik t said, “The Prophet (Pbuh)confided a secret to me which I did not disclose to anybody after him. Even Umm Sulaim (my mother) asked me about it, but I did not tell her.”4 ‘Abdullah bin Ja‘far t said, “One day the Messenger of Allah (Pbuh)made me ride behind him and confided a secret to me, which I would never tell to anybody among people.”5
The Prophet (Pbuh)socialized children into the world of grown-ups and engaged them in instructional conversations through a question-and-answer game.
‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab t narrated, “The Messenger of Allah (Pbuh)said, ‘Tell me of a tree which resembles a Muslim, giving its fruit at all times by the Permission of its Lord, and the leaves of which do not fall.’ I (‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar) thought of the palm, but I was reluctant to speak because ‘Abu Bakr and ‘Umar were present. When they did not speak, the Prophet (Pbuh)said, ‘It is the palm.’ When I came out with my father, I said, ‘O my father, it came to my mind that it is the palm.’ He (‘Umar) said, ‘What prevented you from saying it? Had you said it, it would have been more pleasing to me than such-and-such (a fortune).’ I said, ‘Nothing prevented me except that neither you nor Abu Bakr spoke, so I felt reluctant (to speak in your presence).’”6
Children might be timid at first, but with practice they will definitely gain self-confidence.
The Prophet (Pbuh)also encouraged the youth to incorporate physical activity into their lives, urging them to follow the example of righteous great men like their father, Prophet Isma’il (Ishmael r). Salamah bin Al-Akwa’ narrated that the Prophet (Pbuh)passed by a group from the tribe of Aslam competing with one another in throwing arrows. The Prophet (Pbuh)said, “Throw, Banu Isma’il, your father was an archer. Throw, and I am with Banu so-and-so.” Whereupon, one of the two teams ceased throwing. The Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) asked, “Why do you not throw?” They replied, “How can we throw when you are with them (i.e. on their side)?” The Prophet (Pbuh) said, “Throw, and I am with you all.”7
The Prophet (Pbuh)watched over children’s pure nature of truth-telling, warning against any lying or false promises that might distort these pure souls, even in jest. ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amir t narrated, “My mother called me one day while the Messenger of Allah (Pbuh)was sitting in our house. She said, ‘Come here and I shall give you something.’ The Messenger of Allah (Pbuh)asked her, ‘What do you intend to give him?’ She replied, ‘I intend to give him some dates.’ The Messenger of Allah (Pbuh)said, ‘If you do not give him something, it will be recorded as a lie against you.”8
As to the anchor of psychological stability of children, it is equality of treatment between them, even in kisses and smiles. The Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) exhorted, saying, “Treat your children equally! Treat your children equally! Treat your children equally!”9
The mother of An-Nu‘man bin Bashir asked his father to make some gift of his property to him. He procrastinated for a year then he decided to do it, but she said, “I shall not be pleased unless you make the Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) a witness to what you have conferred as a gift upon my son.” An-Nu‘man said, “I was a boy at that time, so my father took hold of my hand, and he came to the Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) and said, ‘The mother of this (son of mine), Bint Rawahah, wishes that I should make you bear witness to what I have conferred as a gift upon her son.’ The Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) asked, ‘O Bashir, have you any other children besides this (son of yours)?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ He (Pbuh) asked, ‘Have you given them all the like of this?’ He said, ‘No.’ He (Pbuh) said, ‘Then make me not a witness. I cannot be a witness to injustice.’”10
- Sahih Al-Bukhary, Book of Al-At’imah (Foods), Hadith no. 4957.
- The drinking etiquette taught by Prophet Muhammad r dictates that in an assembly of people, water or milk should be circulated from the right-hand side of the one serving it.
- Sahih Al-Bukhary, Book of Al-Musaqah (Distribution of water), Hadiths no. 2180, 2193.
- Sahih Al-Bukhary, Book of Al-Ista’dhan, Hadith, 5815.
- Sahih Muslim, Book of Fada’il Al-Shabah, Hadith no. 4457.
- Sahih Al-Bukhary, Book of Al-Adab, Hadith no. 5678.
- Sahih Al-Bukhary, Book of Al-Jihad wa Al-Siyar, Hadith no. 2684.
- Sunan Abu Dawud, Book of Al-Adab, Hadith no. 4339.
- Musnad Ahmad, Book of Kuffans (Kufis), Hadith no. 17724.
- Sahih Muslim, Book of Al-Hibat (Gifts), Hadith no. 3056.