Be a good parent

Translated by Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami

[All praise is to Allah, the most merciful and the very kind. Peace be upon Muhammad, His final messenger and a mercy to all mankind. The prophet of Allah said, “All of you are responsible and will be asked regarding your responsibility”. Know this that one of the greatest responsibility and honour that Allah gives is the upbringing of children. The action of a good child resonates beyond one’s life whilst the result of a bad child can have dire consequences. - Saif]

You should know that [raising of children] is worthy of serious consideration. The reason being the good or bad habit that solidifies during childhood remains an entire lifetime. As such [I] will mention these in order from childhood to adolescence.

[Strength] Have the child nursed with a pious and practicing woman; milk has a major effect. It is the habit of women that sometimes they scare the child with the police and [sometimes with other] fearful things; this is bad as it weakens the child’s heart. Have a time fixed for suckling milk and feeding food so [that the child] remains healthy. Keep the child clean as this maintains well-being. Do not overly dress up the child. If the child is a boy do not increase the hair. If it is a girl, until she is of age to cover, do not put jewellery on her; firstly, this puts her safety at risk and secondly it is not good for them to be interested in jewellery from childhood.

[Benevolence] Have the child give food, cloth, money and such [charity] with their hands. Similarly, have them distribute food and drink items between their brothers and sisters so that they develop a habit of generosity. However, that which you have them give, ensure it belongs to you; it is inappropriate to force them to give what is already theirs. Mention the negatives of a glutton but never by name. Rather say that a person who eats in such a manner people call them a beggar or consider them a cow. If it is a boy, develop an appeal towards white clothing and instil distaste for gaudy and pompous clothing. [Say] that girls wear such clothing and you masha-Allah are a man; consistently discuss such matter. If it is a girl, even then do not let them form a habit of excessive hair styles and wearing pretentious clothing.

[Prudence] Do not fulfil all their demand as it corrupts the character. Stop them from screaming whilst talking especially if it is a girl; rebuke them properly or else this will become a habit when they have grown up. Prevent them from the sitting and playing with children who have poor habits, runaway from study or are accustomed to pretentious eating and clothing. Continue to make them abhor anger, lying, being jealous of others, stealing, stirring trouble, being obstinate, naively fabricating stories, incessantly speaking without benefit, aimlessly laughing or excessive laughing, deceiving, and not caring about right and wrong. If they do any of these immediately stop it and warn them. If they break something or hit someone give them an appropriate punishment. The show of love in such matters will forever loose the child.

[Competence] Do not let them sleep in the early morning (late into the night). Build a habit of [them] waking early. When they are seven, develop a habit of them praying salah. When they are able to go to madrasah, first have the Quran taught to them. To the upmost possibility have them taught by a pious teacher. Never give them any consideration in missing madrasah. Now and then tell them stories of the pious. Do not let them read books which contain romance, subjects contravening Islam, futile stories and songs. Have them read stories which teach them matters of din and necessary life skills. After returning from madrasah, allow them to play to relax their mind somewhat so that their temperament does not become dry. However, the play should be such that it contains no sin or fear of being hurt. Do not give them money to buy fireworks, chimes or to enjoy wasteful items. Do not create a habit of them showing them games and spectacles. Definitely teach the children such a skill that at times of need and necessity they can earn enough for themselves and their family to get by. Give girls at least enough education that they can write and calculate essentials of the house.

[Autonomous] Accustom the children to do the work with their own hand. They should not become decrepit or lazy. Tell them to do their own bed at night, in the morning wake early, fold and put it away properly. [Have them] put the clothing stacks orderly. If clothing rips, they should stitch it themselves. Even if clothing is dirty they should not be place in a spot where there is a possibility of parasites or mice. [The child] should give clothing to the laundrette after they themselves have counted it and written it down. They should check and count when they pick up. Emphasise to girls regarding the jewellery on themselves, before sleeping and on awakening, they should take care properly. Tell the girls to attentively observe and understand the rationale for the work that is done in the house for cooking, stitching, dying, and assembling.

[Trust] Do not let the child do anything secretively be it playing, eating or any other engagement. Make them responsible for a task that requires effort which maintains health and spirit and staves off laziness. Boys should rustle, lift and walk a mile or so and girls should grind the mill and spin the wheel. The added benefit is that they will not consider these works an embarrassment. Emphasise that they do not dash whilst walking; their gaze should be lowered when walking. Accustom them to be humble in terms of speech, walk and behaviour. They should not be smug so much so that they should boast to their peers about their clothing, house, family, books, pen, ink and writing pad. At times give them some money to buy what they like but instil within them that do not hide from you what they buy. Teach them the manners of eating and the decorum of sitting and leaving a gathering.