Raising Children on Doing the Spiritual and Physical Worship and Following Good Manners
the successful parent/educator seeks to raise his child on practicing ibadat (acts of worship) to guarantee that his child is connected and attached to islam and to also save him from going astray. it is not right to abandon teaching the child at his early age, and then obligate him to fulfill acts of worship at the age of puberty. the scholars mentioned that teaching and directing the young child to pray, even though he/she have not reached the age of puberty, is not because it is an obligation on the child, it is a training to him so that when he reaches the age of puberty, praying becomes easy to him. his heart will be attached to prayers and he will not skip prayers ever.
salah (praying) is a spiritual/physical act of worship. it is the most important act of worship that is practiced by the heart and body. the child should be accustomed and trained to praying since an early age, when he can reason and understand the necessity of salah. if he is a boy, he should be ordered to pray in congregation () in the mosque when he is seven years old. he should always be directed and told to pray since the age of seven till the age of ten. if he turns ten, and he refuses to pray he should be spanked for it till he yields.
the father should order his children to pray on time. he should remind them of allah (awj) (), encourages them to be obedient to allah and warn them of disobeying allah. he should direct them to make wuduu’ (ablution before prayers), take them to the mosque and teach them the manners to be followed at the mosque.
the father should obligate his children to fulfill the requirements and conditions of a correct prayer like tahara (cleanliness), piety, humility and covering the awrah (), in addition of other requirements of a correct prayer ().
some young children might not like going to the mosque, because the parent might take the child to the mosque early so he waits about 10 minutes or more. the child may hear children play in the outside, but he is told to sit and read qur’an while he likes to move around. so, moderation is the best solution; if he is less than thirteen years old then he should be ordered to pray and be near his father while praying and he is to be given the freedom to come early prior to iqaamah () or on the time of iqaamah. if the child turned thirteen years old then the parent should take him since athan (call to prayer) or let him come on his own to the mosque, so bottom line is the parent should make sure his child come to the mosque to pray yet to give him some freedom to feel independent.
the parent/educator should raise his child to practice all ibadat (acts of worship), taking example of good predecessors in that regard. the companions, may allah be pleased with them, trained their children since a young age to fast. they gave them toys to distract them from feeling hungry or thirsty. they took their children with them to friday prayer, taraweeh (mid night prayers) and eid prayers (prayers of the two main islamic festivals). they let them recite the athan and perform hajj with them. this was to raise children, train them and build their faith since an early age to grow to be independent strong muslims (). the best method to train the child on ibadat is rewarding the child and encouraging him to practice acts of worship devoutly and moderately. so that he wishes for the final and ultimate reward in paradise, since an early age, and he becomes attached and looking up to the best example of all humans, the prophet muhammad (peace be upon him). yet, we should be careful not to give him a lot of presents and rewards, so that he does not perform those acts of worship just for the aim of getting presents, but rather for pleasing and obeying allah (awj). so, moderation is the key to everything, not to exaggerate and not to neglect. with the continuation of doing ibadat, the child will directed gradually to devotion, doing virtue and correcting vice.
raising children on doing virtues and following good manners is part of islam, because a muslim behaves in good manners for the sake of allah and his reward ().
moral upbringing and raising children requires certain stages:
- instilling righteous habits starting from an early age in the child as “he grows up doing what the parent has taught him since he was very young. if he is raised to be edgy, reckless, greedy or bad-tempered, it will be difficult for him to overcome such negativities in his character when he becomes an adult.” () caring and giving the child his natural needs help in raising him to be calm and balanced. when he is a baby, he should be nursed on regular times whenever he needs, because late feedings would make him tense, and not to stop breast feeding him till he feels full. nursing should not be interrupted as much as possible, as abandoning him during the feedings several times will make the baby nervous. when the parent play with the baby even at his first days after birth, the baby will be balanced and assured. the baby should be put to sleep at any time he wants at the first period after birth, because that would calm him down. if he grows older and stronger, his sleeping hours should be organized to sleep at nights and be awake at mornings. if he cries because of hunger or sickness, he should be calmed down by the mother or father. when he is older and stronger, he should be directed to help himself in basic things like eating and wearing his clothes on his own so that he earns confidence and independence. if he grows and can sense and understand people around him, he should be directed to treat people with good manners. if he sees a poor person, the parent should explain to him what it is like to be poor and needy, that way he will be merciful and understanding to all people. he will learn mercy, compassion and humbleness. it is better to teach him these virtues starting from an early age, when he realizes goodness and badness at the first five years of his life.
- ordering him to follow the islamic teachings and manners in terms of etiquettes of eating, putting on clothes, asking for permission while entering his parents’ room at certain times of the day and sleeping and all the good manners he should learn and follow according to islam. when he is trained at this early age, he will avoid immoralities and sins. the best environment for corrupt manners is flirtation poetry, indecent songs and immoral jokes. the same applies to any pornographic content such as erotic novels, stories and films. the parents should protect their children from seeing anything offending or immoral in the mass media whether at home or in the outside. the parents’ intimate relationship should be private and away from the child, because the child who sleeps with his parents might see things that he should not have seen and he might imitate the parents innocently, if the parent condemns him for that the child might think it to be an indecent act that parents do in secrecy. this is why, one of the companions of the prophet (pbuh) used to put his baby outside the room, if he wanted to sleep with his wife.
- the parent/educator should not dress his son in silk, gold or feminine wear because this is forbidden for the psychological and social harm it would do to the child in his future life, as he might grow up to act like women (). the parent should not also have his son’s hair cut in certain styles to imitate infidels or polytheists. the same applies to daughters; they should not be dressed in boyish outfits or like infidels or polytheists. this matter has been addressed extensively in jurisprudence, namely men resembling women and women resembling men, in dress, speech and appearance. this is totally condemned and forbidden according to islam. so, the rule is directing the child to everything that is halal (permissible) and preventing him from committing any haram (forbidden). the parent/educator is considered a sinner if he lets his young child commit a sinful act (). some might say: if you obligate your child to adhere to religion, then he grows up and be stronger, he might quit the virtues that he used to do when younger just out of respect or fear. in an answer to this we say that it does not have to happen. we should obligate the child to follow the teachings of islam, but with explaining and teaching the goodness of those virtues, that way the child will do them with belief and conviction. so, most probably he will not abandon his beliefs when he grows older. also, it is the duty of the parent/educator to obligate and direct the child to follow what allah (awj) has ordered us to do, and obligation is the first step for the child to get used to these teachings and duties, then when he is a an adult he will do them with the intention of seeking the reward from almighty allah. so, even if he abandons the duties of a muslim that his parents has raised him to follow, by then his parents would be free of any blame because they did their duty as parents of raising the child according to the teachings of islam.
- encouraging him to behave in the best manner, morals and values, first towards his lord then towards people, animals and inanimate or lifeless creations like stones and the soil, because good manners and moralities obligate the person to be good towards all creations (). this encouragement should be through prompting and instilling the passion in the child to follow the best manners to seek allah’s reward. this will increase his will to control his inclinations and discipline his spirit (). for example, the parent should teach the child that honesty and truthfulness are praised morals that would lead any honest truthful person to goodness. he should strengthen this concept by telling him the life stories of honest true people, and their reward in the present life and the hereafter on the day of judgment. this way, the child will love telling the truth, no matter what. he will have the passion and belief that drives him to be true and honest, and gives him strong will and purposefulness.
() manhaj al-salaf fi tarbiyat al-awlad tape by sheikh mohammed bin uthaymeen.
() awj = aza-wa-jal[glorified and sublime be he]
() awrah: parts of the body that are not supposed to be exposed to others, but this is not to be confused with the english meaning 'private parts', because a woman's legs, for example, is an awrah.
() al-mugni by ibn qudamah 1/647.
([5) iqamah: readiness call – the call which announces that the imam is ready for congregational worship.
() manhaj al-tarbiyah al-nabawyah by muhammad nour swayed: page 123-139.
() usul al-tarbiyah al-islamiyah by abdel rahman al-nahlawy: page 65, 98-99.
() tuhfat al-mawdoud fi-ahkam al-mawloud by imam ibn al-qayyim: page 187.
() ihya uloom al-deen by imam al-ghazali: 3/72 and 73, tuhfat al-mawdoud fi-ahkam al-mawloud by imam ibn al-qayyim: page 187-189.
() tuhfat al-mawdoud fi-ahkam al-mawloud by imam ibn al-qayyim: page 170.
() al usul al tarbawyah libna' al shakhsayah al muslimah by abdel wadoud makroum: page 501 and dawr al-tarbiyah al-akhlaqyah al-islamiyah by miqdad yaljin: page 15.
() dawr al-tarbiyah al-akhlaqyah al-islamiyah by miqdad yaljin: page 27-28.