Upbringing as an Islamic Concept

the concept of upbringing in islam

upbringing means “tarbiyah” in arabic. the word “tarbiyah” is driven from the verb “rabab” and the noun for it is “al rab” which means the owner, master and reformer ([1]). “tarbiyah” is taken from the third meaning, namely reformation.

the definition of the term ‘upbringing’ is: “rearing and raising a good righteous muslim that is sound and complete in all matters such as health, mentality, religion, spirit, ethics, management and creativity.” ([2])

“the meaning of upbringing is similar to the work of the farmer who takes out thorns and removes weeds from the land to improve and strengthen his plants.” ([3])

the status of upbringing in islam

many verses and hadiths (prophetic sayings) point at the high status of families and raising the child such as when almighty allah says: “o you who believe! ward off from yourselves and your families a fire (hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the commands they receive from allah, but do that which they are commanded.” ([4])

qatadah, may allah have mercy on him, said: “to order them to obey allah and forbid them from disobeying allah. to direct them according to allah’s religion, order them to follow it and help them be obedient to allah. if you see them commit a sin you have to prevent them from doing it and order them to stop.” ([5]) narrated 'abdullah bin 'umar: that he heard allah's apostle (pbuh) saying, "everyone of you is a guardian and is responsible for his charge; the ruler is a guardian and is responsible for his subjects; the man is a guardian in his family and responsible for his charges; a woman is a guardian of her husband's house and responsible for her charges; and the servant is a guardian of his master's property and is responsible for his charge." ([6]) ([7])

our beloved prophet muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “whomever allah entrusts as a guardian on subjects and do not surround them with his advices, will not smell the scent of paradise.” ([8]) ([9])

'abdullah bin 'umar (ra) ([10]) said: “discipline your son as you are responsible for what you educate him and what you teach him. he is responsible for being kind and obedient to you.” ([11])

narrated jabir ibn samra that the prophet (pbuh) said: "when one of you discipline his child, it is better for him than to give half a sa' (a measure of grain equivalent to a large basket) in charity to a poor person” ([12]) ([13]). this means that the reward of disciplining your child is better than charity. the prophet (pbuh) clarified that teaching the child good manners is better than any other bestowal or grant. the prophet (pbuh) said: “there is no better gift ([14]) from a parent to his child than good manners.” ([15])

as for raising girls in a righteous manner, it will be a barrier between parents and hellfire on the day of judgment. narrated jabir ibn abdullah (ra) that the prophet muhammad (pbuh) said: “there is not a person who takes care of three girls and is good to them except that they would be a barrier between him and the fire. they asked: and two daughters, o messenger of allah? he responded: or two. they asked: and one? he responded: and one.” ([16]) ([17])


([1]) lisan al-arab by ibn mandhur: 1/400, 401 (rabb) item, al-qamus al-muhit for al-firuzabadi: page 111.

([2]) ahdaf al-tarbiyah al-islamiyah wa-ghayatuha by miqdad yaljin: page 20.

([3]) risalet ayouha al-walad: page 34.

([4]) surat at-tahrim: 6.

([5]) tafsir ibn kathir: 4/391.

([6]) sahih al-bukhari - book of al-juma’a (853), sahih muslim - kitab al-imarah (1829), at-tirmidhy - kitab al-jihad (17050), sunan abu dawoud - kitab al-kharaj, wal-imarah wal-fai (2928), musnad ahmed (2/121).

([7]) sahih al-bukhari - kitab al-juma'a (book of friday prayer), hadith no. (855): 6/14, recorded in musnad ahmad: 5/2, 45, 55.

([8]) sahih al-bukhari, kitab al-ahkaam (book of judgments) (6731), sahih muslim - kitab al-iman (book of faith) (142), musnad ahmad (27/5), sunan al-darmi al-riqaq (2796).

([9]) sahih al-bukhari - kitab al-ahkaam (book of judgments) (6716) 199/24, sahih muslim - kitab al-imarah 12/214, recorded in musnad ahmad 15/2.

([10]) ra = radya allah anhu/anha[may allah be pleased with him/her]

([11]) tuhfat al-mawdood bi ahkam al-mawlood by ibn al-qaiem: page 177.

([12]) sunan al-tirmidhi - kitab al-birr wa'l-silah (1951), musnad ahmad (96/5).

([13]) recorded in musnad ahmad 96/5, sunan al-tirmidhi, kitab al-birr wa'l-silah: 337/4, al-mustadrak_alaa_al-sahihain by hakim al-nishaburi 263/4, al-tabarani: 274/2.

([14]) the word “gift” in the hadith is said by the prophet (pbuh) as “nahala” which means “to give”.

([15]) sunan al-tirmidhi, kitab al-birr wa'l-silah: 338-337/4.

([16]) sunan al-tirmidhi - kitab al-birr wa'l-silah (1916), abu dawoud - kitab al-adab (5147).

([17]) sahih muslim - kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab al-ihsan ila'l-banat: hadith no. 2629.

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