Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Education of the household

Delivered by Sister Maisha Kareem

I seek refuge in Allah from the rejected Shaitan. In the name of Allah the most Merciful most Kind. All praises are due to Allah the lord of the universe, the most Merciful most Kind. Master of the day of judgement. You alone we worship and You alone we ask for help. Guide us along the straight path. The path of those whom You have favoured and not the path of those who earned your anger and went astray. Ameen

Allah says in the Quran: O mankind protect yourself and your family from a fire whose fuel is mankind and stones. (sura Tahrim: 6). In this ayat Allah is telling us that it is not only enough to safeguard ones own imaan, rather the leading figure of the house will also be asked about the imaan of the household. This should be enough incentive for us to look at the religious needs of our loved ones. How we can provide the right form of education for our children and nurture them in the manner which will please our lord Allah? In the hadith the prophet ( peace be upon him says) that only 3 actions will benefit a person after he dies (1) an ongoing sadaqa, (2) knowledge that he has left behind, (3) and pious children who will pray for him.

The 3rd point of the hadith is concerning pious children. You can only expect to have pious children if you bring them up right by giving them the proper education. If you have not given them the right Islamic education then don’t expect them to pray for you. So in this hadith indirectly the Prophet peace be upon him is telling the parents that it is in your interest to give your children a good Islamic education.

Below are some instrumental forms of education taken from the teachings of our liege-lord Muhammad may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

1) Education through establishing habits. This can be done when only two factors are observed. Through (a) virtuous Islamic knowledge and (b) righteous environment

Example of virtuous Islamic knowledge
The Prophet peace be upon him says “a father has not given his child anything better than teaching him politeness. (Tirmidhi)

Example of righteous environment
The Prophet Peace be upon him said “Every child is born on the fitra (innate intrinsic nature), there his parents make him into a Christian a Jew or a Zoroastrian (fire-worshipper). (Bukhari)

In this hadith the Prophet is trying to allude to the fact that in order to give the children a good Islamic education, first and foremost the Parents need to sort them selves out because everything the parents do or say has a direct influence on the child. Here again it should be reminded that giving the children good Islamic education is in the interest of the parents. How? First of all, the parents would need to rectify themselves and secondly good children will pray for them after their death.

Another Example of righteous environment: See what type of friends the child has.
In the hadith the prophet peace be upon him says, the example of a good friend is like the example of an ‘attaar (a person who sells perfume) even though he does not use any perfume but he still will be perfumed by just staying there. And the example of a bad friend is that of a blacksmith, even if he does not do anything some of the bad odour will come unto him. (Bukhari)

One rotten apple spoils all the apples.

2) Education through admonition

(a) Rather than punishing the child, it is better to point out his mistakes in ways it will not hurt his ego or feelings, through advices and exhortation.

Example 1. Through using sympathy and love. As in the case of Luqman (as) who made his son understand by using a very sweet and loving tone (yaa bunayya) O my small child. Allah says in the Quran in narrating Luqman’s story “And as Luqman said to his son whilst admonishing him, O my son, do not associate others with Allah. Surely associating others with Allah is indeed a grave injustice. (Sura Luqman: verse 13)

(b) When they do something wrong to teach them by telling them a story from the Quran and Hadith, such as if the child is jealous then the story of sayyiduna Yusuf (alayhis salaam) and his brothers can be mentioned and the consequence of jealousy.

(c) To teach them by correcting the mistake by acting it out by yourself. The Prophet peace be upon him once led the prayer whilst on the mimbar so that others can see him praying and learn by watching. (Bukhari)

(d) Admonition through seizing the chance. Once the Sahaba backbited about a person, the Prophet did not say anything to them, but then they passed by a dead donkey and he said back biting is worse than eating the flesh of this carcass.

3) Education through observation

It is very necessary for parents to observe the belief, psychological and moral formulation of the child. As mentioned in the ayat: O mankind protect yourself and your family from a fire whose fuel is mankind and stones. (sura Tahrim: 6). How can it be possible to save your family from the fire of hell if you do not observe them.

This is why the Prophet said in a hadith: every one of you is a Shepard and everyone will be asked about his flock, the women is guardian over her husband’s house and responsible for her subjects, the man over his wife and the person over his own self. (bukhari)

Where the role of the father is instrumental and he is the bread winner, we find in this hadith the mother has a responsibility as well and that is to be responsible over her husband’s affairs including a good moral upbringing of the children. As the cliché says the first social institute towards building a harmonious society is the family which is the corner stone of society and the mothers lap is the first school.

The prophet taught few sahaba’s through observation. Umar ibn abi salama says: I was a boy in the lap of the Prophet and my hand used to move around everywhere in the dish whilst eating food, so the Prophet said, “O child mention Allah’s name eat with your right hand and eat from the nearest place to you. (Bukhari, Muslim) This is a prime example of education through observation.

Wa sallallahu ala ashrifil anbiya wal mursalin, wa ala aalihi wa ashabihi ajma’in wa man tabi’ahum ila yawmiddin

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