Zikr-e-Habib: Edification of children with kindness and compassion


This series, Zikr-e-Habib, explores the life of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, and his sayings, shedding light on his noble character and the impact of his teachings on his followers and the world at large.

M Adam Ahmad, Al Hakam

The lives of God’s prophets encompass every important aspect of life and thus serve as paradigms for mankind. One significant part of their lives is related to guiding and edifying the children. With great kindness and care, these messengers of Allah the Almighty take on their parental roles and impart invaluable lessons that transcend generations.

The Founder of Islam, Holy Prophet Muhammadsa said:

خَيْرُكُمْ خَيْرُكُمْ لِأَهْلِهِ وَأَنَا خَيْرُكُمْ لِأَهْلِي

“The best among you is the one who is best to his family, and I am the best of those who are good to their families.” (Sunan Ibn Majah, Kitab an-nikah, Bab ‘ishratu n-nisa’, Al-fasl ath-thani, Hadith 3252, 3253)

On another occasion, the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa said:

أَكْرِمُوا أَوْلاَدَكُمْ وَأَحْسِنُوا أَدَبَهُمْ

“Be respectful to your children and instil good manners in them.” (Sunan Ibn Majah, Kitab al-adab, Bab birri l-walidi wa l-ihsani ila l-banat, Hadith 3671)

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi, followed his master like night follows day, as he was the reflection of the Holy Prophetsa. The Promised Messiahas would also treat children with compassion and guide them in the kindest manner without hurting their feelings or self-respect.

Method of edification

Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karim Sialkotira says:

“His Holiness, (the Promised Messiahas) is extremely opposed to hitting and scolding children. No matter how much a child may cry or make trouble, complain, make unreasonable requests, or continuously insist on something that is a figment of their imagination or beyond reach, His Holinessas will neither hit them, nor scold them, nor express any signs of anger.

“Mahmud[ra] was perhaps three years of age when the Promised Messiahas was in Ludhiana; I [Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karimra] was there as well. It was summertime and very hot. A wall divided the men’s and women’s quarters. It was in the middle of the night when I woke up and heard sounds of Mahmud[ra] crying and His Holinessas trying to console him by speaking to him of various things. His Holinessas would pace with the child in his arms, but the child would not be pacified. After all this, the Promised Messiahas said, ‘Look Mahmud, what a beautiful star.’ The child turned to its new centre of attention, became silent for a moment and then began to cry and bawl, and said, ‘Father! I want to go to the star.’ I immensely enjoyed the endearing manner in which the Promised Messiahas said to himself, ‘Wonderful. I had thought of a way to console him, but he has found a way to cry about this too.’ In the end, the child cried until it tired itself and became silent. However, during this entire time, never once did the Promised Messiahas say a harsh word or express displeasure.” (Life of the Promised Messiahas, pp. 59-60)

Praying for children instead of scolding

In his book on the life of the Promised Messiahas, Iain Adamson writes:

“The prayers of parents for their children and children’s for their parents were always pleasing to God, he [Prophet Ahmadas] said. Children should be guided by good example, and they should not be punished physically, he said. Fathers who beat their children were putting themselves alongside God and so were guilty of a kind of polytheism, believing they shared His attributes of being a true and absolute guide. Those who pushed their children unwillingly in a certain direction, believing they were masters of their children’s destinies, were guilty of the same sin.” (Ahmad[as], The Guided One, pp. 241-242)

Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karim Sialkotira states:

“His Holiness,[Prophet Ahmadas] is strongly against punishing children. I have witnessed countless times that nothing displeases him more than when he hears about someone hitting a child.

“There was a man here [in Qadian], who once hit his son, as was his habit. When His Holinessas was informed of this, he was deeply affected. He called for the man and delivered a heart-rending address. The Promised Messiahas said:

“‘In my view, to strike a child in this manner is equivalent to associating partners with God. For the ill-natured perpetrator who hits a child arrogates themselves to a position of granting guidance, a position only held by God, and seeks to partake of God’s station of providence.’ The Promised Messiahas continued:

“‘When an incensed man punishes someone for something, he will continue to grow in anger until he takes on the form of an enemy, and in proportion to the actual offence, he will overstep in punishment by miles. A person who is patient and does not lose the reins of self-control, and who is fully tolerant, forbearing, calm and composed, does have the right to punish or reprimand a child on an appropriate occasion. However, a short-tempered, intolerant and unreasonable person is not suitable at all for the training of children.’ His Holinessas went on and said:

“‘Alas! If only parents would spend as much effort in prayer as they do in seeking to punish their children, and if only they made it a constant practice to supplicate for them with a burning heart. Indeed, the prayers of parents for their children are blessed with special acceptance.’ The Promised Messiahas said:

“‘I have made it compulsory upon myself to make certain prayers on a daily basis. Firstly, I pray for my own soul that God may use me for such work by which His Honour and Glory is manifested, and may He enable me to act in a manner that fully pleases Him. Then I pray for the members of my household that may Allah the Exalted grant me the delight of my eyes through them and that they may tread the path of His pleasure. Then I pray for my children that they may all become servants of the Faith. Thereafter, I pray for all my sincere friends by name, and then I pray for all those who are a part of this community, whether I know them personally or not.’ During the course of this discussion, the Promised Messiahas said:

“‘It is unlawful for such a person to take the seat of a spiritual guide and leader, who is negligent of his followers for even a moment.’ Also, he said, ‘Guidance and upbringing, in essence, is in the hands of God. Nagging incessantly and persisting on a matter beyond reasonable bounds, i.e., to prohibit and rebuke children on every little thing, demonstrates that we are, as if, the masters of guidance, and will be able to bring our children on the path that accords with our own will. This is a hidden form of associating partners with God. My community ought to refrain from such a practice.’ The Promised Messiahas categorically said, and also gave instructions in writing, that ‘Any teacher in our school who has the habit of hitting children and does not refrain from this inappropriate action should be dismissed immediately.’ The Promised Messiahas also said:

“‘I pray for my children, and see to it that they follow broad principles, etiquette and teachings; that is all, nothing more. Then I place my entire trust in Allah the Exalted. The seed of goodness that is present in each of them, according to their nature, will flourish when the time comes.’

“Brothers! One ought to take a lesson from this practice of His Holinessas. There are some from among our community who make very tall claims and assert themselves as having traversed all the stations of divine understanding, but when they are angered – and that too on trivial matters – they turn into ferocious beasts. They do not treat their children well. They consider it an obligation to hit them and for this they will present countless arguments. I trust they will change themselves after this example.” (Life of the Promised Messiahas, pp. 60-62)

Patience and trust in God

“On one occasion, when Mian Mahmud[ra] was some four years of age, His Holinessas was sitting inside, writing as usual. Mian Mahmud[ra] came with a matchbox, accompanied by a group of children. Initially, for some time, the children played and argued with one another as children do, but then Mian Mahmud[ra] did as he pleased and set fire to the written manuscripts in the room. This amused him, and he began to clap in joy; all the while, His Holinessas was engrossed in writing and did not even raise his head to see what was being done. Before anything could be done, as the fire subsided, these valuable manuscripts were reduced to a heap of ash. Some other form of amusement then drew in the children, and they went on their way.

“It was later on, when His Holinessas felt the need to consult his previously written pages for context, that the matter became apparent. The Promised Messiahas asked one child, but he was silent. Then he asked another, who also had no words out of fear. Finally, one child spoke and said, ‘Mian Sahib has burnt the papers.’ All those in the home were in fear of what would happen next. In reality, due to the gravity of the situation, they were all apprehensive and expected a terrible outcome and an unpleasant situation – and no doubt, they should have. However, His Holinessas smiled and said, ‘Wonderful. In this, there must be great wisdom of Allah the Exalted. Now, God Almighty desires to disclose upon me an even better exposition.’

“In this instance as well, one who is inclined to critical analysis ought not to pass over this incident without comparing it to the ways of others.” (Ibid., pp. 34-35)

Listening to and engaging with children

Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karim Sahibra says:

“I have seen countless times that his own children and other children also will be sitting on the charpoy of the Promised Messiahas and inconvenience him to sit at the foot of the charpoy, while in their own childish tongue, they will tell him, for hours, stories of toads, crows and birds; and the Promised Messiahas will go on listening with pleasure, as if someone was reciting the Mathnawi of Maulana Rum.” (Ibid., 58-59)

Iain Adamson states:

“Children were equally at ease with [Prophet] Ahmad[as]. They climbed on his lap and told him their nursery tales of frogs, crows and animals. He told them stories, too, it is remembered. They treated him as a companion. One of his wife’s friends often stayed with them for a month. Her little daughter occasionally amused herself by coming into his room and fanning him as he worked. One day, she found it more interesting to sit by the window. She told him, ‘Come and sit over here. It’s easier for me,’ [Prophet] Ahmad[as] duly got up and sat where she had directed.

“When the boys of the school were going off to sit the matriculation examination, they sought his blessing before they left. He was about to return to his house when his coat was suddenly tugged violently from behind. ‘Please, Sir, I’ve been left out,’ said a small boy. Ahmad[as] turned, smiled and shook hands with the boy. ‘May all of you pass,’ he said.

“With his own children, he was always an indulgent but caring parent. […] His sons and daughters remember Ahmad playing with them as small children, riding on his shoulders when he went for a walk, teasing them gently when they were in bed. He did not consider himself above nursing a fractious child.” (Ahmad[as], The Guided One, pp. 241-242)

The Promised Messiahas would listen to his children and even fulfil their childish wishes to create a strong bond with them. Narrating one such incident, Hazrat Abdul Karim Sahibra says:

“Once in the winter season, Mahmud[ra], who was a child at the time, put a large piece of brick in the waistcoat pocket of His Holinessas. When the Promised Messiahas lay down, the brick would push into his side. He turned to Hamid Ali and said, ‘For the last few days I have been experiencing pain in my rib; it feels like a pricking pain.’ He was surprised and began to pass his hands over the body of the Promised Messiahas and eventually his hands were able to identify the piece of brick, which he immediately took out of the pocket of the Promised Messiahas and submitted, ‘It was this brick that was hurting you.’ His Holinessas smiled and said, ‘A few days ago Mahmud put this in my pocket and told me not to take it out because he said he would play with it.’” (Life of the Promised Messiahas, pp. 65-66)

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Guiding with kindness and compassion

Hazrat Nawab Mubaraka Begumra states:

“Once the Promised Messiahas was resting on a charpoy in the garden, and I and Mubarak brought a turtle to show him. After some time, he said, ‘Come here, I will relate to you the story of Muharram today.’ We both sat next to him. He started narrating the events of Hazrat Imam Hussain’sra martyrdom.

“The Promised Messiahas said, ‘He [Imam Hussainra] was the grandson of our Prophetsa. Hypocrites and oppressors martyred the hungry and thirsty Imam Hussainra in Karbala. […]

“The Promised Messiahas narrated quite a long story. His state was such that he was overwhelmed with emotions and tears were flowing down [his cheeks]. The Promised Messiahas would wipe the tears with his index finger, and I always remember that sight.” (Mubaraka ki Kahani Mubaraka ki Zubani, p. 25)

Iain Adamson says:

“He [Prophet Ahmadas] guided them [children], too, to have respect for God’s other creatures. When Mahmood[ra], as a little boy, tried to catch sparrows by shutting the door of the mosque, he told him, ‘No one catches the little sparrows of his own abode. One who has no compassion has no faith.’

“And when Mahmood[ra] was older and went out shooting and returned with a parrot, Ahmad[as] told him, ‘It is flesh, so morally it is not forbidden to eat it. But God has not created all birds for eating. Some beautiful birds are there for us to see and enjoy, while other birds are gifted by nature to delight us with their songs.’” (Ahmad[as], The Guided One, pp. 242-243)

Life lessons

Hazrat Sheikh Yaqub Ali Sahib Irfanira states:

“On 15 February 1901, there was a cricket match among the students of Talim-ul-Islam School, Qadian, and some elders also watched it to encourage the children. […] A child of the Promised Messiahas asked him out of simplicity, ‘Why didn’t you come to watch the match?’ […] The Promised Messiahas replied:

“‘They [the children] would have eventually come back after playing, but ‘the cricket match’ I am playing will continue till the end of times.’” (Sirat Hazrat Masih-e-Maudas by Hazrat Sheikh Yaqub Ali Irfanira, p. 371)

Iain Adamson states:

“He [the Promised Messiahas] took a constant interest in their education. When Mahmood[ra] arrived home one afternoon, he told his younger brother Mian Bashir that their teacher had asked them to discuss which was more valuable – wealth or knowledge.

“Which do you think is more valuable, he asked his brother. [Prophet] Ahmad[as] interrupted. ‘Neither,’ he said. ‘It is the bountiful Mercy of God alone which has real value and is worth seeking.’ On another occasion, he said, ‘The wealth of this world, its kingdoms and grandeur, are not to be envied. What one should truly envy is the act of prayer to God.’

“He [the Promised Messiahas] was very certain that he needed prayers of support. He had asked his first wife to pray for him when they were still children. Now He asked Mahmood[ra], when he was nine years old, to pray for him. He also asked other children to pray for him.

“He [Prophet Ahmadas] instilled in his children great respect and love for their mother, recalling the verse in the Quran that says paradise lay under the feet of mothers.” (Ahmad[as], The Guided One, p. 243)

Looking after children

Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karim Sialkotira said:

“His Holiness, [Prophet Ahmadas] cares for and nurtures his children in such a manner that anyone who looks at him with a cursory glance would think that perhaps no one in the world loves their children more. When they are ill, he gives them so much attention, and becomes so absorbed in caring for them and giving them medicine, as if he has no other care in the world. However, a discerning eye can see that all of this is for the sake of Allah Almighty, and in this, His Holinessas has in view the importance to protect and care for God’s weak creation.

“The firstborn daughter of His Holinessas, whose name was Ismat, fell ill in Ludhiana with cholera. His Holinessas would tend to her and would run to and fro to care for her as if he would never be able to live without her. A materialistic person who in ordinary, worldly terms is infatuated and preoccupied with his children could perhaps not have shown a greater example of toil and labour. However, when she passed away, His Holinessas stepped away as if nothing had happened and did not dwell over what was past. Such resignation and submission to the destiny and decree of God cannot be possible for anyone except those who are sent from Allah.” (Life of the Promised Messiahas, p. 91)

Rights of parents

Where there are rights of children, Allah the Almighty also emphasises kindness and obedience to parents in the Holy Quran. The Promised Messiahas said:

God desires that you worship no one else and treat your parents with kindness. Truly, what a remarkable sort of providence it is that when a human being is a child and has no power whatsoever, a mother renders invaluable service, and during this time, just observe how a father supports the efforts of the mother. It is merely out of His grace that God Almighty has created two agents to support His weak creation and has made them to reflect the light of His own love. […]

“Until hearts are inspired by Allah the Exalted, no human being, not even a friend, neither equal nor a ruler, can love anyone; and it is a mystery of God’s boundless providence that a mother and father love their children to such an extent that they will happily bear all sorts of pain to care for them. So much so that parents will not even hesitate in laying down their own lives to save their children. Hence, in order to perfect the higher morals of man, in the words Rabb-in-Nas (the Lord of Mankind), God Almighty has alluded to parents and spiritual guides, so that thankfulness for the system that is apparently observed in the figurative sense may lead a person to show gratitude to the True Lord and Guide.” (Malfuzat [English], Vol. 1, pp. 189-190)


Through his own example, the Promised Messiahas emphasised the importance of edifying and moral upbringing of children. In short, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih Vaa said:

“Thus, this is the basic principle that the Promised Messiahas has repeatedly drawn attention to, and it is in fact the explanation of the Quranic teaching that parents’ own example plays an important role in the tarbiyat [moral training and edification] of the children. May Allah the Almighty help us set the best examples for our children. May we fulfil our pledge to give precedence to faith over the world. Some people have the habit of observing others to see how they are, so instead of looking at others, they should focus on improving themselves and becoming righteous. Then, we can expect our generations to do good deeds. Be the ones who consistently pray for their children so that Allah the Almighty always makes our children the delight of our eyes and our legacy continues.” (Friday Sermon, 14 July 2017)

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