Developing our children to bring about a better future: Islam’s advice on the upbringing of children

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Last Updated on 17th January 2022

M Adam Ahmad, Al Hakam

Ahmadi Muslims are fortunate enough to have a Khalifa as their spiritual guide and a leader. Each word of this divinely guided Khalifa is precious and every saying, very timely. 

We must always remember that the best means of moral training and edification of our children are the sermons and regular advice of the Imam of the age, Khalifatul Masih V, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, may Allah be his helper.

On 7 November 2021, while guiding the national amila of Finland in a virtual meeting, Hazrat Khaliafatul Masihaa said, “Do not lose your own children while attempting to reform others. That should be our foremost concern.” (Al Hakam, 12 November 2021)

Given the global unrest and rising tensions between civilians and governments, this saying of Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa becomes all the more important and merits serious consideration. Moreover, the harmful effects of the appealing environment of social media and the internet have increased the risks of completely dismantling the very fibre of healthy relationships between parents and children. As a result, where parents are neglecting their children’s moral education, children are increasingly vulnerable to evil advice which is distancing them further from their much-needed parental attention. 

It’s essential, in such an environment, to pay heed to the words of the Khalifa and put forth every effort towards the reformation and moral training of our children. If, as a nation, we want to stay reformed and become an everlasting guiding light for others, we must never forget the advice of Hazrat Musleh-e-Maudra: “Nations cannot be reformed without first reforming its youth.”  (Al Fazl, 10 April 1938)

The responsibility of parents starts before the birth of a child; in fact, it starts even before conception. The Holy Quran, ahadith and the sunnah of the Holy Prophetsa lay stress that two individuals should not go into a marriage thoughtlessly. 

Allah the Almighty has taught us a prayer in the Holy Quran for seeking good wives and having noble children. God says:

رَبَّنَا‭ ‬هَبۡ‭ ‬لَنَا‭ ‬مِنۡ‭ ‬اَزۡوَاجِنَا‭ ‬وَ‭ ‬ذُرِّيّٰتِنَا‭ ‬قُرَّةَ‭ ‬اَعۡيُنٍ‭ ‬وَّ‭ ‬اجۡعَلۡنَا‭ ‬لِلۡمُتَّقِيۡنَ‭ ‬اِمَامًا

“Our Lord, grant us of our wives and children the delight of our eyes, and make us a model for the righteous.” (Surah al-Furqan, Ch.25: V.75)

The Holy Prophetsa also advised us to prefer the religiousness and piety of a woman over her wealth, lineage and beauty. He said: “A woman is married for four things: for her wealth; for nobility of her family; for her beauty and for her faithful [character], so attain success by marrying a woman for her faith.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Nikah)

During a virtual meeting of khuddam of Netherlands on 30 August 2020, a khadim asked Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa as to how one should conduct the tarbiyat (moral reformation) of young children.

Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa said: 

“The fact of the matter is that Allah the Exalted states that the tarbiyat of a child should start as soon as he is born. […] When a child is born, we call the azan in his right ear and the takbir in his left ear so that he may hear the name of Allah the Exalted and he may adhere to tawhid, the belief in the unity of Allah. So, Allah the Exalted has said that the tarbiyat of a child should start from day one. Do not think that the child is young and that he will not understand.” (Al Hakam, 9 April 2021)

Allah the Almighty also says:

يٰۤاَيُّهَا‭ ‬الَّذِيۡنَ‭ ‬اٰمَنُوۡا‭ ‬قُوۡۤا‭ ‬اَنۡفُسَكُمۡ‭ ‬وَ‭ ‬اَهۡلِيۡكُمۡ‭ ‬نَارًا

“O ye who believe! save yourselves and your families from a Fire.” (Surah al-Tahrim, Ch.66: V.7)

Hazrat Hakim Maulvi Nuruddin, Khalifatul Masih I, may Allah be pleased with him, says with reference to the above verse:

“Allah the Almighty draws our attention to keep on advising and admonishing our family, and to keep them focused on good deeds so that they may be saved from the torment and gain the pleasure of God Almighty.” (Haqaiq-ul-Furqan, Vol. 4, p. 150)

Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IIra spoke in detail regarding the moral training of children and addressed almost all its aspects in his book, Way of the Seekers. We can read the said points under the heading, “Moral Training of the Child”, and take full benefit from them during the upbringing of our children. 

The responsibility of the child’s tarbiyat rests on both the father and mother. They are equally required to play their respective parts in the moral betterment and development of the child. 

At Jalsa Salana France 2019, Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa elaborated on the roles of parents and said:

“In today’s world, people are abandoning faith and denying the existence of God at an alarming rate. Muslims who live in this society – and their children – are also being influenced by this view. Therefore, Ahmadi Muslim parents have the great responsibility to safeguard themselves against the negative influences of society and do the same for their children. […]

“One of a woman’s greatest responsibilities is the moral training of her children. Any moral weakness in a child can affect the entire family. Particularly in a secular society, the good moral training of children can be a highly sensitive matter. Mothers should aspire to reach the highest standards in the moral training of their children and turn them into polished jewels. Their children should be models of purity and piety, focused on God and excelling in knowledge and understanding so that they can then guide and lead the world. In particular, mothers need to be role models for their daughters in terms of modesty, since the values and practices of Western society do not safeguard the modesty of women. Only the teachings of the Holy Qur’an provide women with this protection. […]

Fathers, too, have a responsibility in supporting mothers in the moral training of their children. They should cooperate with them and neither criticise their wives in front of their children nor undermine them. In Asian societies, many times a barrier develops between fathers and sons after the age of 15 or 16. This is wrong and should be prevented. Fathers should cultivate friendly relationships with their teenage sons and guide them through the challenges of navigating this society at this vulnerable age.” (The Review of Religions, 5 October 2019)

The ways in which the present generation is behaving and voicing their concerns (protesting violence with violence etc.) are indeed alarming. We can thus save this world from another global war and restore its order, not through violent protests and burning buildings, but through instilling the love of Allah the Almighty in the hearts of the people and uniting the world under the banner of the Messiahas of Muhammadsa.

Hence, the world is in dire need of a generation with high moral and spiritual standards to rescue it from the clutches of darkness and bring it back to light. Following the guidance of the Khalifa of the time, Ahmadi parents can fill this void once and for all with well-disciplined children and bless this restless world with an enlightened generation. 

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