This is the summary of a talk delivered by Shaykh Muhammad Al-Yaqubi (HA) on 18.11.2017 in Bolton, UK.
Know that raising children is an act of worship/sacred act. Marriage is a pre-cursor to children and one of the main reasons for marriage is to have children. To have children is an innate urge within us.
Parents are politicians and bosses. The traditional definition of politics (siyasah in Arabic) is a way of disciplining the nafs (siyasah). Every parent is a politician and a boss.
A politician because they need to win children over just like a politician has to win over the electorate. Dictatorship is not siyasah but oppression and so we don’t act like dictators when we want to be parents.
A boss because of the Hadith of the Prophet (SAW) – every one of you is a shepherd/boss and responsible for the ones under you… As a boss you just have to give them the basics such as food, shelter, clothing and love rather than large monthly salaries.
If you want your children to love you, “you have to give them your hearts”.
How we raise our children should be a primary concern. At a very young age, as we teach them to say thank you, please, sorry etc we should teach them Islamic phrases i.e. subhanallah, subhanallahi wa bihamdihi subhanallahil adheem. We need to teach them kindness and good behaviour because these are very important Islamic principles and are lacking a lot in our time. Inculcating this into children from the beginning will guide them as they get older.
When children reach the age of 5 or 6 they should be with you when you visit friends, attend lectures and gatherings, visit the mosque etc because from that age they are looking for role models. It is not enough to leave them with their peers, because children won’t pick up how to behave from other children. Having your child with you will also ensure you are acting in a way which is appropriate.
When adults speak to each other around young children they must use euphemistic language around the children so they pick up a good vocabulary i.e. don’t say toilet but WC or restroom. This will also ensure that your vocabulary is suitable and that you are speaking in a way which is appropriate of a Muslim. Be careful what you say around young children because they pick up on what we say even if we think they don’t understand. They also have acute hearing so hear things which perhaps we don’t realise they heard!!
The three most important concepts to instil in children is
1) good belief,
2) good character and
3) good profession.
Good belief and character will see them through in both this life and the next life. Teach them belief with encouragement of the love of Allah and His Mercy. Allah is so generous that he gives to children and they are not required to pray or do acts of worship until around 15 years old.
A good profession will see them through in this life and can help in the next life. Non-Muslims can have good character and good profession but don’t have good belief.
As children get older you need to help develop their intellectual ability and encourage them to develop this. Chess is very good for this as it helps them to think outside the box, rather than repetitive computer games where they are often doing the same things again and again.
When a child reaches 7-10 it is critical to sit and talk to them every day i.e. about school or life – anything challenging, any difficulties. Discussions with them is important at this stage so they are your friend at 15 and happy to speak to you about anything. Families often sit around the TV or smartphones but you have to spend time to talk to them. Even if it is over dinner and dinner is extended to be one hour long if you are talking to them it is fine.
Free time is a dangerous thing, important to keep children busy – learn a language, do a club, sport etc. If you just leave them they can get into the wrong crowd, or waste their time. Younger years are a crucial time to learn and develop their abilities across the board.
Need to encourage the young to learn by gifting them, praising them and making them feel good – later they will learn sincerity. Shaykh Muhammad used himself as an example and said that he gave his first khutbah (serman) at the age of 14 years and 7 months. This he puts down to his father Shaykh Ibrahim al-Yaqubi who took a keen interest in his upbringing and studies. He said that he had a lot of money as a child because his father would give him money whenever he memorised something or learnt something as a way of encouragement. He would also praise his son in front of his older students and people would be impressed with the young Shaykh Muhammad. Give children attention by any means. If they learn knowledge at a young age it will remain when they learn sincerity at a later date. Shaykh Muhammad is a living example of this way of thought.
Of benefit to parents and children is to make duah for your parents as much as possible as it is a source of rizq (sustenance from Allah) and make duah for your children in sujood as this is a place where duah is accepted.
Finally – always pray for your children. If you want children to answer your call – answer the call to Allah.
Further information can be found about Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqubi here.
Summary written by Mohamed Suleman