In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
We thank and praise Allah SWT, Who appointed us as trustees of the children born onto us, and enjoins us to rear them in such a way that they will grow up to assert the values of Islam in word and deed and, by so doing, gain fulfilment in life. We bear witness that there is no one worthy of worship except Allah.
We bear witness that our Nabi Muhammad SAWS is the true Messenger of Allah, who inspired the ummah to guide their children to the right way by precept and personal example. O Allah, shower Thy choicest blessings on him, his friends and relatives.
Brothers and Sisters in Islam
In our previous khutbah we reminded ourselves of the precious gift which Allah SWT has given us in the form of our children. They are ours, even if only as a trust, and we have the pleasure and the honour of helping them grow up and take up their rightful place in society. They need our constant guidance and support, even if it is only a nod of approval or a pat on the back. Our problem is not our willingness to give them the guidance and support, but rather how to give them the right KIND of guidance and support. It is made even more difficult and frustrating when we are constantly challenged by demands of so-called modern culture and its emphasis on what it calls human values and modern discipline. Allah SWT reminds us in the Holy Qur’an:
“But when He giveth them a goodly child, they ascribe to others a share in the gift they have
received: but Allah is exalted high above the partners they ascribe to Him.”
Our very first act, when Allah SWT gives us a little child, is to dedicate him to the service of Allah SWT. We make athaan and recite aayaat from the Holy Qur’an in his or her ear and we invite the family, who have come to the doopmaal, to bear witness to this dedication. We are determined to prove ourselves worthy parents. Yes, brothers and sisters, you have been dedicated to Allah’s Cause by your parents and you and I have, in turn, promised to bring up our children to serve Allah. In the verse I have quoted, Allah SWT warns us not to “ascribe to others a share in the gift”. Our children are our special gift from Allah…so special that no one can lay claim to it…so special that we cannot, we dare not deny our children our constant care and guidance. Our guidance also makes us special to them. As such, we are their lifeline, their teachers, their models and, above all, their guide to Allah SWT. It means that we must be ever mindful of our personal example as Muslims. It is this example that they emulate and which may form the basis of their own adult life in years to come. Allah SWT warns us in the Holy Qur’an against this duality of believing one thing and doing another:
O ye who believe! Why say ye that which ye DO not? Grievously odious is it in the Sight of Allah that ye say that which ye do not.
(Q. LX1: 2-3)
Our Nabi Muhammad SAWS made it clear that there must be no difference between our words and our actions. What you know should reflect in what you do. On a certain occasion he told a group of his Sagaabats: “Learn what you will; but Allah will not reward you until you employ it.” He regarded education as being essentially the learning and living of values or adab. He said:
“My Lord, educated (Addaba) me and made my education (ta’dib) most excellent.”
What we teach our children at home we must believe in and do ourselves. We cannot tell our children to be honest and trustworthy while we go out buying and selling stolen goods or underpay our employees. We cannot insist that our children perform their salaah regularly while we are never home to lead them in the salaah. We cannot teach them the meaning of peace and to abhor violence while we allow them to watch violent TV programmes. We cannot have two sets of values: that which is pure and good for our children and that which is good for us. Such values our children will not accept, and rightly so. They are of us, love us and want to be like us. And is that asking too much? So, let us not fool ourselves into believing that we can produce good Muslim children while we ourselves remain nominal Muslims, if that is at all possible. Values do not flow from our mouths but from our deeds.
Our biggest problem is HOW to deal with the false values of so-called modern culture and its new fad of liberalism. To give you an example: we are now being told by modern educationists not to prescribe a set of values to our children, but that they must choose for themselves what to believe. Astagh-firullah! This is exactly what is happening in the West, where schools are not even allowed to teach religious values, where there is little or no respect between parents and children. Our reply to this is that our Islamic values are prescribed by Allah SWT and not by us as parents. We are duty-bound to inculcate these in our children. For Allah knows what is best for us! How beautifully Allah reminds us of our duties in the Holy Qur’an by way of Luqman’s advice to his son:
“O my son! establish regular prayer, enjoin what is just, and forbid what is wrong: and bear with patient constancy whatever betide thee; for this is firmness (of purpose) in (the conduct of affairs.”
“And swell not thy cheek (for pride) at men, nor walk in insolence through the earth; for Allah loveth not any arrogant boaster.”
“And be moderate in thy pace, and lower thy voice; for the harshest of sounds without doubt is the braying of the ass.”
(Q. XXXI: 17-19)
Can these values of justice, patience, firmness, humility and moderation be harmful to any person ? Can they ever become old-fashioned? Of course not. These are values which Allah has chosen for us so that we can make these values a part of us. I would agree that in inculcating these values, we must be careful not to use methods that will negate the very value we try to teach. If we want to teach our children to lower their voice in their daily life, then we will not achieve it by constantly shouting at them….like “the braying of the ass,” but by talking to them with respect.
These liberals even warn against disciplining our children for fear of disorganising their personalities. Is it wrong to tell your child that he or she is doing something wrong? The Qur’an instructs us not to stand by idly when we see something wrong being done, but to “enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong.” Our Nabi Muhammad SAWS went to the extent of advising the Ummah to remove a wrong with their hands, failing which, by speaking out against it, and if this is impossible, then through the power of prayer. A wrong must not go unchallenged, least of all in our homes. When we discipline our children, we prevent them from getting hurt, we help to mould their behaviour and character and to determine their future. It is as an act of love.
There is, of course, a way of maintaining discipline in our homes. And this is, unfortunately, where so many of us fall short and end up doing our children more harm than good. Our main problem is often our inconsistency. Sometimes we punish our children for watching TV during Maghrib while on another day, it may all right to do so. This inconsistency makes the child unsure of himself and gives him the right to do so. We must set limits to what we are expected to do or not to do at home. These limits or home rules, all of us: mother, father and children respect alike. Take, for example, greeting. If the rule in our home is that the child should take his father’s hand while greeting, then he will not leave the home without first doing this…it becomes a habit and a clear indication of what is expected of him. Such limits may be set for performing salaah; how we speak to each other; at what time we read Qur’an; sharing what we have; home chores; going to bed at night; and so on. Occasionally we can deviate from these rules, but then it will become the exceptions. Remember, our home is our community in miniature form. The limits we set ourselves in our homes, are the laws which we are expected to obey in the community. We are busy building a bridge for our children to the community. Such inconsistencies sometimes arise because of differences in attitude of mother and father. This can be damaging not only to the child but to the integrity of the family and the marriage itself. Mother and father must never allow such a situation to arise. Try to plan limits beforehand. Remember, our children expect us as parents to present a united front.
Our Nabi Muhammad SAWS encouraged parents to be kind and gentle towards their children. He described the suffering of parents in providing for their children as a “screen from the Fire” for the parents (Bukhari). Let us remember this when we have to discipline them. A child with a behaviour problem often needs nothing more than the warmth and gentle caring of loving parents. Yes, we are disappointed when our children “let us down” after “we have done so much for them”. It is our personal pride that has been bruised, but let us think of the emotional and moral turmoil in which our son or our daughter finds himself or herself. We can pick ourselves up when we are down. But can he? or can she ? Sometimes we need to take firm action when children transgress, but remember, our sense of compassion and mercy is in itself a moral lesson to them. It is a good rule never to punish them when we are angry. Even if we are faced with the most serious problem, we do not lose sight of the child’s dignity and right to be respected. Let us draw a lesson from this simple anecdote of our Nabi Muhammad SAWS:
A man once came to our Prophet SAWS and related that he was passing a bush when he heard the chirping of little nestlings. He picked up the little birds and placed them in his cloak. Their mother saw her empty nest and cried piteously while she followed him. He opened the cloak and she sat down to feed her babies. While he was talking, the Prophet was growing more and more uneasy, and when he opened the cloak to show the birds, the Prophet demanded that he return the birds to their nest. After some moments he (Rasoolullah SAWS) turned to his Companions, his eyes full of tears and he said: “How immense is the affection of a mother! How full of anxiety is the heart of this bird-mother for her young ones! But, my Companions, Allah is full of infinitely greater anxiety for His Creation!” (Mishkat)
Our anxiety for our children will always be there. It is an expression of our love for them and a concern for their wellbeing. Let those of you who have parents, also realise and appreciate the sacrifices they are making for you, even at the expense of much personal hardship. Go to them and show them that you appreciate, that you care. Let us repeat a little du’aah we recited in our previous khutbah and ask Allah SWT to accept it from us as the parents and teachers of our children:
O Allah, the Wise, Bestower of Wisdom
Help me to remember that I care for the most precious of all
Thy creation, the Innocent Child.
Help me always to remember that I am leaving my mark on him,
which Time will never erase.
Give me patience with those who are slow to learn, and tolerance
with those who don’t want to learn.
When I have to discipline them, help me to do so with firmness,
and yet, with Love.
Keep me from using a sarcastic and biting tongue, and help me
always to encourage and never to belittle those who are doing
their best, even if their best is not very good.
Help me to let the children not only store things in their
memories, but create things with their minds.
And amidst all the worrying and irritation of my task, help me
to remember that the future of the community and the world is
in my hands.
Help me to follow in the footsteps of the best of parents and teachers, the guide of all humanity, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Help us, O Allah, my children and me!
Ameen! Aqeemus salaah!
* This khutbah was delivered in Cape Town, South Africa