by Muhammad Alshareef (www.khutbah.com)
What do you give to your son on his wedding night as a gift? A Mitsubishi Lancer, a Honda Accord, or do you give him the ever useful toaster?
When Ibn Al-Qayyim’s son was getting married, he found himself in this gift dilemma. He thought and thought and decided upon a gift that would not only benefit his son, but all the Muslims. He lit a candle, dipped his pen in the ink, and began writing. The gift, you ask? A book dedicated to his son and daughter-in-law about marriage and the rights of children. He named the book, Tuhfatul Wadood, bi Ahkaam al-Mowlood. The value of the gift? Priceless.
Many times we hear about the respect due to parents – because it is often the parents who are speaking. Yet, how often do we hear about the rights of children? Indeed, they have many rights that go farther back than 9 months before their creation. For example, they have the God given right that their future mother or father choose a spouse that will teach them about Allah and be an excellent example for them In his book, in Chapter 25, Ibn Al-Qayyim discusses the obligation of teaching the children, disciplining them, and being just between them. Additionally, one of the rights of children is the right to an Islamic education.
Allah ta’aala commands us:
O you who believe, protect yourselves and your families from a fire whose fuel is people and stones …(At-Tahreem 66/6)
We are commanded by Allah ta’aala to save ourselves from Hellfire. But it does not end there. The commandment extends to our family; we must save them also. Using all our resources we must save them from Hellfire, and the biggest weapon we have to protect them is knowledge of what Allah and His Messenger require from them. For verily, a human is enemy to that which he does not understand.
In another verse, we see the example of Luqman with his son:
But if they endeavor to make you worship others with Me – that of which you have no knowledge, then do not obey, yet accompany them in (this) world with appropriate kindness (Luqmaan 31/15).
Notice how Allah ta’aala mentions the shirk that the child is being called to as something which he has no knowledge of. Meaning, no knowledge of its divinity, for there can be no knowledge about something which is non-existent and untrue.
And yet in another situation, Allah ta’aala describes the exchange between Nuh and his son:
…And Nuh called to his son who was apart (from them), "O my son, come aboard with us and be not with the disbelievers." / (But) He said, "I shall take refuge on a mountain to protect me from the water." (Nuh) said, "There is no protector today from the decree of Allah except for whom He gives mercy." And the waves came between them, and he was among the drowned (Hud 11/42-43).
It has been said that about 90% of everything a child learns, he learns it within the first 5 years of his or her life. If that is not enough cause for concern, the children at that fragile age are ever so keen to please the adults in their lives, especially the ones they see day after day. Subhan Allah, it is a survival skill that Allah ta’aala created in humans. For had they not had this desire to please the 'teacher', they most likely would not develop intellectually.
If you went to public school, imagine back to your public school kindergarten class or grade 1 class and how you used to act with the teacher. Did you try to please him or her every chance you got? Would you do things just to win her pleasure? I know for me, when our school play for the Christmas Concert was coming up, the teacher chose me to play one of the lead roles because of how good an actor I was. Mind you, I disliked the part and when a boy offered me a handful of corn puffs to switch parts with me, I readily accepted. I took him to Mrs. Mitchell and proudly announced that Jason would be taking my part. She was disappointed and said how much she wanted me to do the part. I could not bear to see her disappointment, so I continued with the part. At the time, I was in kindergarten.
The horror story begins when the child is entrusted to a non-Muslim – to someone who knows nothing about our obligation to Allah and His Messenger sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam, someone who our Muslim children are so eager to please.
There once was a little girl in a public school in a Muslim country whose teacher was not practicing Islam. The little girl, following the blessed example of her mother, would go to school with her hijab on. The hijab, however, was something displeasing to her teacher, so she told the girl to take it off and not dare come back to school with it on the next day or she would suffer the consequences.
Home this girl went and told her mother of how the teacher did not want her to wear hijab in school and how she did not want to upset her teacher. Her mother calmly said, "Who do you want to please then, your teacher or Allah?" The little girl looked her mother in the eye and said, "Allah!"
The next day, the little girl returned with her hijab on, defiant. When the teacher saw her, she exploded in chastisement, "How dare you disobey me?"
The painful words kept coming and coming until the little girl lowered her head, sobbing. Then she shouted back, "I don’t understand who I am supposed to please – you or Him?" "Who’s Him?" asked the teacher.
Her eyes widened and a chill ran through her. The teacher stopped talking. From behind her tears, the little girl said, "No, I shall please Allah and Allah alone." That day the teacher sent a letter home to the little girl’s mother with the words, "Today your child taught me who I was and truly who is Allah. Thank you for raising such a blessed daughter."
Television sets and public schools are spreading a subtle devastating poison through the bloodstream of our youth. Take a random class of Muslim high school students from public school and reflect on their habits and their knowledge of Islam. If a parent has chosen public school for his son, in the final year when he looks over the school yearbook and sees a picture of his son standing hand in hand dancing with a kafir woman, at that time it will be too late to question his upbringing. Now is the time to question it, now, before it’s too late.
Al-Hasan ibn Ali radi Allahu anhu used to say, "Educate yourselves today, for today you are the youth of the community but tomorrow you shall be the seniors." Alhamdulillah, there are many exceptionally smart adults out there. When you are in their company, you cannot help marvelling at their intellect. However, a question comes to mind: "What could this person have done for Islam and the Muslim community if his parents had educated him about the deen?"
There is a child, in grade 3, who has memorized almost 7 juz of the Qur’an . He is 8 years old. This child, more than likely, knows more Qur’an than most adults. There are other children just as smart as him thrown to public school, their intelligence squandered on the Incas and the pyramids, while they cannot recite the very letters of their mother tongue.
Yahya ibn Humayd said, "We went to Imam Hammad ibn Salamah once and found him sitting with children narrating hadith to them. When he completed and the children left, we approached him and said, 'O Abu Salamah, we are the seniors of your tribe. We have come to you to learn. Why do you leave us and turn instead to these children?'" "He replied, 'I once saw in a dream that I was sitting on the banks of a river, bending over with a bucket to get water to drink. After drinking, I turned around and saw these children standing there, and so I gave them the bucket of water after me'" (Ibn Abee Ad-Dunya, Kitaab al-Ayaal).
A poet once said:
Young trees, if you raise them firm, they will grow straight,
They will not slouch if kept firm with a stick.
Perhaps discipline for young ones brings benefit
But that same discipline will no longer bring results in a senior.
*Link to Part 2