ISLAMIC EDUCATION OF CHILDREN
PARENTS AND CHILDREN
“We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents: In pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth. The carrying of the child to his weaning is thirty months. At length, when he reaches the age of full strength and attains forty years, he says, “O my Lord! Grant me that I may be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me, and upon both my parents, and that I may work righteousness such as You may approve; and be gracious to me in my issue. Truly have I turned to You and truly do I bow to You in Islam.” -Qur’an 46:15
Such are they from whom We shall accept the best of their deeds and pass by their ill deeds: they shall be among the Companions of the Garden: a promise of truth, which was made to them. Paradise, holding the true promise which has been given them. -Qur’an 46.15-16
Thy Lord has decreed… that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your lifetime, do not say to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say, “My Lord! bestow on them Thy mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.” -Qur’an 17.23
One companion asked, “O Apostle of God! Who is the person worthiest of my consideration?” He replied, “Your mother.” He asked again, “And second to my mother?” The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The companion insisted, “And then?” The Messenger of God said, “After your mother, your father.” -Hadith of Bukhari and Muslim
And remember when Luqman said to his son by way of instruction, “O my dear son! Establish worship and enjoin kindness and forbid iniquity,
and persevere, whatever may befall you. Lo! that is the steadfast heartof things.” -Qur’an 31.17
In a family, parents are responsible for the welfare of the children and offer the children an embracing, unconditional love that overlooks and compensates for their weaknesses. Through their example, they teach their children the basic values and attitudes which
they will carry throughout life. The children, in turn, respect their parents as the source of their very being, as their teachers, and as the ones who have labored and sacrificed for their sakes. When they are grown, they should be responsible to care for their parents in their old age. These relative responsibilities should not be undertaken as a matter of duty, but rather emerge from the spontaneous promptings of parental love and the children’s gratitude and respect. This is the vertical axis defining relations of love and respect between people of unequal status and different responsibilities.
Al-Ghazali’s Views on Children’s Education 1
According to Al-Ghazali, “knowledge exists potentially in the human soul like the seed in the soil; by learning the potential becomes actual.”
The child, Al-Ghazali also wrote, `is a trust (placed by God) in the hands of his parents, and his innocent heart is a precious element capable of taking impressions’.
If the parents, and later the teachers, brought him up in righteousness he would live happily in this world and the next and they would be rewarded by God for their good deed. If they neglected the child’s upbringing and education he would lead a life of unhappiness in both worlds and they would bear the burden of the sin of neglect.
One of the elements Al-Ghazali insists upon is that a child should be taught the words of the Creed in his earliest days and be taught the meaning gradually as he grew older; corresponding to the three stages of memorizing, understanding and conviction.
The way the child relates to the world at large occupies a large concern in Al-Ghazali’s mind. In concert with Ibn Al-Hajj, he stresses amongst others that a child must not boast about his father’s wealth, and must be polite and attentive to all. He should be taught not to love money for love of it is a deadly poison. He must not spit nor clean his nose in public. He must learn to respect and obey his parents, teachers and elders. As he grows older, he must observe the rules of cleanliness, fast a few days in Ramadhan, avoid the wearing of silk, gold and silver, learn the prescriptions of the scared law, fear thieving, wealth from unclean sources, lying, treachery, vice and violent language. The pupil must not be excessively proud, or jealous. He should not tell off others. He must avoid the company of the great of this world, or to receive gifts from them. He must act towards God, as he would wish his servant acted towards him. He should treat every human, as he would like to be treated himself.
The perspective of Al-Ghazali is centered upon personal effort in the search for truth; and this presupposes, he insists, a received education and the direction of a master. Education (Tabriya), Al-Ghazali states in Ayyuha l-walad is like `the labour of the farmer, who uproots the weeds, trims wheat so as it grows better and gives a better harvest.’ Every man needs a teacher to guide him in the right direction. To try and do without leads to worst illusions. In Ayyuha l-walad the pupils outward respect for his teacher is evidence of esteem for such in one’s heart.
He who undertakes the instructions of the young, points Al-Ghazali, `undertakes great responsibility’. He must therefore be as tender to his pupils as if they were his own children. He must correct moral lapses through hinting above all he himself must set an example so that his action accords with his precepts. The teacher should never criticize the subject taught by another. He must adapt his teaching to the pupil’s capacity and ability, and not to overburden the pupil’s capacity, nor give him fright. He must respect the less gifted pupil, who might if lost; leave safe foundations for standards he would never reach. And after school, Al-Ghazali insists, the pupil must be allowed to have recreation. To prevent play and insist on continuous study leads to dullness in the heart, diminution in intelligence and unhappiness. Even more on this matter, in ˜Ihya ulum al-din, the teacher, Al-Ghazali holds, carries eight duties. First and foremost he is a father for his pupils. He must teach for the sake of God. He would advise the student with prudence, fight the excessive urge to learn too quickly, and to overtake his peers. He would reprimand with moderation, in private, discreetly, not in public. To blame too much is to make the pupil too stubborn in his way of seeing and doing things. And one other duty of the teacher is to make sure that what he teaches he pursues in his life, and that his own acts do not contradict what he is trying to inculcate.
The Rights And Responsibilities of Parents 2
In Islam, Muslim children are considered as precious gifts from Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala. They are loved immensely by their parents and they become the fondness of the family. But children should also be aware of the many rights and responsibilities of their parents. There are many verses in the Holy Qur’an which acknowledge the debt that an individual owes to his or her parents. One responsibility of a parent is to make sure the child gets educated. Parents have to make sure the child is happy, honest, and religious and has knowledge about Islam irrespective of the fact that they might be boys or girls.
When teaching children, parents should remember that a child often learns from examples. The examples of parents play a very important role in bringing up a child. Parents who want their child to be religious, honest and disciplined should themselves be religious, honest and disciplined. The Noble Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi wa Sallam) has said ” Be careful of your duty to Allah and be fair and just to the children”. Parents should also be fair to their children so that they can be fair with others around them. A father should not bestow more favors on some children than others without a valid reason since this kind of treatment will produce jealousy and hatred among siblings. The Noble Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi wa Sallam) has said “Do justice among your sons” and he repeated it twice. Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala has promised us that He will not change a person’s condition until the person changes himself or herself. Parents should be respectful and not say lies if they want their child to be respectful and truthful because a child does what he sees.
When a child is born, it is the responsibility of the parents to give him or her a good name. It is also Sunnah to slaughter an animal when a baby is born and to feed friends and the poor as a sign of thankfulness to Allah Ta’ala for the blessing, which is bestowed on them. The parents are also responsible for circumcising a male child at any time, which is convenient. Parents should provide a pleasant environment for their children so that they feel that they are secure and loved.
One huge responsibility of a parent is to teach the child good manners. The Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi wa Sallam) has stated “No father can give his child anything better than good manners” (Tirmidhi). A Muslim parent is responsible to teach their children how to greet people, how to eat, how to sit, how to drink and so on. The Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi wa Sallam) has also said, “Those who do not show respect to others, respect will not be shown to him”. They should be taught that they should treat people the same way that they would like to be treated and that they should have good manners and good habits because Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’aladislikes people with bad manners and bad habits. The Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi wa Sallam) has said, “Among the virtues and habits they should develop are the habits of being honest, and truthful, gentle and polite, helpful and considerate without being loutish in their behavior to others and the habit of being clean, neat and tidy when looking after their personal hygiene and appearance”. They should be taught how to be clean so that they could look after themselves when they’re older.
Parents should send their children to a Modern Madrasa (with an integrated curricula) to give the child guidance to be a good Muslim. They should make sure the child knows how to read the Qur’an well and has good knowledge of Islam. A child should develop a thirst for knowledge through listening, observing, reading and interacting with others. Children should be taught how to read the holy Qur’an and Hadith at an early age so that they develop the love for it when they’re older. They should be taught good morals, good characters, good Islamic knowledge and proper Islamic behavior.
Parents should give a Muslim child a proper understanding of man’s relationship with God. A child should be taught that man is dependent on Allah the Almighty and that Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala is the Most High and he does not have any mother, father or son. He should be taught of the existence of angels and Shaitaan. A child should be able to understand the purpose of life, the reality of death, the returning of every human being to Allah and the future life in Paradise or Hell. By the age of five or six, a child should learn to love Allah and thank Him. Slowly, he should learn the guidance that Allah Ta’ala gives to human beings through His Messengers, peace be upon them. They should be taught of the guidance, which was conveyed, by the Noble Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam and the love and respect, which every Muslim should have for him. Therefore, a strong Islamic base is established in the child at a very young age that will further enable him to watch over his actions and to further acquire more knowledge about Islam. As a result, a Muslim child understands that the guidelines set by his parents for him are not only the wishes of his parents but are also the wishes of Allah the Almighty.
Allah has not only given parents responsibilities but He has given them rights as well. He has given them the right of disciplining or punishing their children when they do something wrong. Parents have the right to punish their boys who are ten years and older if they don’t read their Salah at the appropriate times. When a child misbehaves, a parent should first teach and make sure the child understands that what they did was wrong and if the child doesn’t understand and misbehaves again parents have the right to punish the child.
Allah Ta’ala says in the Holy Qur’an, “Say (O beloved Prophet): Come, I will recite to you what your Lord has forbidden you: that you associate nothing with Him and that you do good to parents…” (6:151). Allah Ta’ala also says, “And we have enjoined upon man concerning his parents: his mother bore him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Therefore, show gratitude to Me and to both your parents: unto Me is the eventual journeying.” (31:14)
There are also many Ahadith which stress the importance of parents and the respect that should be given to them by their children. Once, a man came to the Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam and said, “O Messenger of God, I desire to go on a military expedition and I have come to consult you.” He asked if his mother lived with him and when he replied that she did, he said,” Stay with her, for Paradise is under her foot.” It is also related by Abdullah ibn Umar Rady Allahu Anhu that the Noble Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam said, “‘The pleasure of Allah lies in the pleasure of the parents and the displeasure of Allah lies in displeasing the parents”.
Parents should train their children to ensure love for Islam, love for Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala, love for the holy Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi wa Sallam), love for their parents, love for their teachers and love for their community.
Teaching our Children 3
Within the two-parent Muslim family, there are, by definition, two educators for the child: the father and the mother. Contrary to current thinking, a father’s role is not limited to paying the bills and engaging in a little consultation now and then.
The Muslim father is also responsible for his child’s training and education. Concerning this, the Prophet (S) said: A father gives his child nothing better than a good education. (Mishkat, 4977, transmitted by Tirmidhi and Baihaqi)
There is a wealth of material in the Qur’an and hadith encouraging learning and acquiring knowledge in general. Although mothers are not addressed specifically, they are often the major force in carrying out this obligation
In the first Muslim community, both men and women learned their religion directly from the Prophet (S). In cases in which men were addressed, they were responsible for conveying the information to their wives and children.
Women were almost exclusively in charge of early-childhood education, as well as usually being responsible for the education of girls. Men were responsible for seeing that their children learned their religion and its way of life and behaved according to its teachings.
Respectful behavior is an extremely important value in Islam – respect for parents, grandparents and other relatives, elders, teachers, Muslims, and human beings in general. However, we are living in an environment in which lack of respect – for others and for themselves – seems to be a hallmark of the young generation. Unfortunately, this prevailing attitude of disrespect often carries over even into religion.
Some children speak of Allah Ta’ala without the proper respect and even treat the Holy Qur’an with disrespect. Generally acting flippant toward religion is not acceptable behavior. A parent does not need to be harsh or mean about this, but merely be firm and consistent in not allowing disrespectful behavior.
Teacher and Student
The relationship between teacher and student should be based on mutual love and respect. Teacher should treat his students as his own sons, and the student should consider his teacher as his own father.
In this regard, they should exchange respect and love within Islamic principles.
However, the student should always consider his teacher as his or her father. He should not try to put him in trouble. He should find ways and means to get his rights without hurting his teacher. Mutual understanding and tolerance are highly recommended in this case.
Surely, Islam calls upon teachers to be fair and honest. The teacher has to be a model to be followed. He should do not do injustice to his students. If he did so, he would certainly face dire consequences on the day of judgment.
Etiquette of the Seeker of Knowledge 4
Seeking knowledge is a key to gaining Allah’s pleasure in the Hereafter. Mu`adh ibn Jabal (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “Seek knowledge, for seeking it for the sake of Allah is a sign of consciousness of Allah; acquiring it is an act of worship; studying it is a glorification (of Allah); and searching for it is (a kind of) jihad (striving in Allah’s cause)…”
The student should start with purifying his own soul, and steering clear of evil manners, for knowledge is the worship of the heart. He should dedicate his life to seeking knowledge. The early Muslims used to give precedence to knowledge over anything else. The student to the teacher should be like a patient to a physician.
Sheikh M. S. Al-Munajjid, a prominent Saudi Muslim lecturer and author, states:
“There is a certain amount of etiquette for seeking knowledge that the seeker of knowledge should follow. We will give you this advice and this etiquette for seeking knowledge; may Allah cause you to benefit thereby.
1. Be patient and persevering
Seeking knowledge is one of the highest of pursuits, and heights cannot be scaled except by working hard and patiently.
So be patient and persevere. If Jihad requires an hour of patience, then the seeker of knowledge must be patient until the end of his life. Almighty Allah says: “O you who believe! Endure and be more patient (than your enemy), and guard your territory by stationing army units permanently at the places from where the enemy can attack you, and fear Allah, so that you may be successful.” (Al `Imran: 3)
2. Have pure intention in what you do
Adhere to purity of intention in what you do. Let your aim be to seek the Face of Allah (i.e., the pleasure of Allah) and the abode of the Hereafter. Beware of showing off and loving to make yourself appear to be superior to your peers. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Whoever seeks knowledge in order to compete with the scholars or to prove himself superior to the ignorant or to make the people look up to him, Allah will cause him to enter Hell.” (Reported by an-Nasa’i).
To sum up, you have to be pure both outwardly and inwardly from every major and minor sin.
3. Act upon what you know
Know that acting upon what you know is the fruit of knowledge. Whoever knows but does not act upon his knowledge is like the people whom Allah likened to the ugliest things in His Book, when He said: “The likeness of those who were entrusted with the (obligation of the) Tauraat (Torah) (i.e. to obey its commandments and to practice its laws), but who subsequently failed in those (obligations), is as the likeness of a donkey which carries huge burdens of books (but understands nothing from them). How bad is the example of people who deny the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah. And Allah guides not the people who are Zalimun (polytheists, wrongdoers, disbelievers).” (Al-Jumu`ah: 5)
And whoever acts without knowledge is like the people, who have gone astray as mentioned in Surat al-Fatihah.
4. Always be aware that Allah is watching
You must always be aware that Allah is watching you, in secret and in the open. Your attitude towards your Lord must always be balanced between fear and hope, which for the Muslims are like the two wings of a bird. Turn to Allah wholeheartedly and let your heart be filled with love for Him, your tongue with remembrance of Him (dhikr). Be happy and rejoice in His rulings and His wisdom.
Always call upon Allah (du`a’) in every sujud (prostration), asking Him to bless you and grant you beneficial knowledge, for if you are sincere towards Allah, He will support you and help you, and will cause you to attain the level of the righteous scholars.
5. Make the best use of time
Spend the most of your youth and your whole life in learning. Do not be deceived by procrastination and wishful thinking about the future. Every hour of your life that passes cannot be replaced. Do away with whatever you can of distractions and obstacles that prevent you from striving your utmost to attain knowledge. Hence the salaf (righteous predecessors) encouraged keeping away from one’s family and keeping a distance from one’s homeland, because when a person is distracted he will not be able to understand facts of knowledge and subtle issues. Allah has not given man two hearts in his chest, and similarly it is said that knowledge will not give you a part of it until you give it your all.
Make the most of your time, when you are free and when you are busy. Make the most of your youth when your mind is fresh and you have fewer distractions, before you become distracted by false ambitions and the desire for worldly possessions.
6. Be cautious
Beware of being preoccupied in the beginning with the disputes among the scholars, or among people in general, because this confuses the mind. Instead, give your all to the book that you are reading or the topic that you are studying until you become competent in it. Beware of moving from one book to another (before completing the former), for that is a sign of boredom and failure. You must pay attention to each branch of knowledge, in order of importance.
7. Be precise and focused
Strive to verify what you want to memorize so that you are certain of it, either from a sheikh or from someone else who can help you. Then memorize it properly and continually repeat it and review at specific times each day, lest you forget what you have memorized.
8. Study books
After you have memorized the summarized books properly, along with their commentaries, and you have understood any difficult passages in them and understood the important points, then move on to studying the detailed versions, always reviewing what you have learned and noting the valuable points, subtle issues, strange minor issues, solutions to problems, and differences between similar rulings, in all branches of knowledge. Do not think little of anything useful that you learn or any basic principle that you understand; instead, hasten to note and memorize it.
Let your concern to seek knowledge be uppermost; do not be content to learn only a little when you are able to do more. Do not be content with a little of the legacy of the Prophets (peace and blessings be upon them), and do not delay learning anything that you can or be distracted or put off by wishful thinking. Delay is a problem, and if you learn something now you can learn something else later.
You should try to obtain as many of the books you need as you can because they are the tools of learning. Do not make getting and keeping a lot of them (without benefiting from them) the only share of knowledge that you have, and collecting them the only share of understanding that you have. You also have to use and benefit from them as much as you can.
9. Choose good companions
Strive to choose righteous friends who are preoccupied with seeking knowledge and are of a good nature, who can help you in achieving your aim, add to the benefits you have already gained, encourage you to seek more knowledge, stop you from feeling bored and tired, who are religiously-committed, trustworthy and of good character, who are sincere towards Allah and who are not merely messing about.
Beware of the bad companion, for he may influence you. People are like birds, they will resemble one another (i.e., “Birds of a feather flock together”). So beware of mixing with bad people, for that is a sickness, and prevention is better than cure.
10. Have good manners towards the teacher
Knowledge cannot be gained only from books; you must also have a teacher whom you trust to open the door to knowledge and keep you from making mistakes. So you must have good manners towards him, for this is the way to success, learning and strength. So you must honor, respect and be polite to the teacher. Observe the utmost standards of etiquette when you sit with your sheikh and speak with him. Ask questions in a proper manner and listen attentively. Be polite when studying the book with him and do not try to argue or compete with him. Do not initiate conversation with him, or walk ahead of him, or speak too much in his presence, or interrupt when he is teaching. Do not pressure him to give you an answer, and avoid asking too many questions, especially in front of other people, for this will make you appear to be showing off and make him bored with you. Do not call him directly by his name or nickname; rather say “O my sheikh” or “O our sheikh” (Ya sheikhi or Ya sheikhuna).
If you think that the sheikh has made a mistake, do not let that make him lose respect in your eyes, because that will deprive you of his knowledge. Who is there who is entirely free from error? ” Excerpted, with slight modifications, from: http://www.islam-qa.com
Intellectual Status 5
Having established beyond question the spiritual equality of men and women in Islam, what of their intelligence, knowledge and education? The Prophet Muhammad said:
‘The search for knowledge is a duty for every Muslim (male or female).’ And: “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave.”
“Knowledge” for a Muslim is not divided into sacred and secular, and the implication of these sayings of the Prophet, in modern terms, is that every Muslim boy or girl, man or woman, should pursue his or her education as far as it is possible, bearing in mind the words of Allah in the Qur’an:
“Only those of His servants who are learned truly fear God” (Qur’an 35:28).
In Islam therefore, both men and women are credited with the capacity for learning and understanding and teaching, and one of the aims of acquiring knowledge is that of becoming more conscious of God. It is considered in Islam that the more a person, male or female, studies the creation and observes its workings, the more he or she becomes conscious of the Creator, the Power who made and sustains the creation.
One of the famous women in the history of Islam is Aisha (Radhi Allahu Anha), the Prophet’s wife. And the quality for which she is remembered primarily is that of her intelligence and outstanding memory. She is considered to be one of the most reliable sources of hadith by virtue of these qualities. More than a thousand Ahadith are reported by her and she is regarded as one of the greatest teachers of the hadith.
Generally speaking, in the Muslim world of the early medieval times, there was not any bar or prohibition on women pursuing studies – on the contrary, the religion encouraged it. As a result of this many women became famous as religious scholars, poets, doctors and teachers in their own right, such as Nafisa, a descendant of Hadrat Ali (RA) who was such a great authority on hadith that Iman al-Shaafi-I sat in her circle in al-Fustat when he was at the height of his fame; and Shaikha Shuhda who lectured publicly in one of the principal mosques of Baghdad to large audiences on literature, rhetoric and poetry, and was one of the foremost scholars of Islam.
There are numerous other instances of learned Muslim women who have been teachers, writers and poets, held in the highest respect by Muslim society. There is therefore every encouragement for a Muslim woman to pursue studies in any field for her intellectual benefit and to make use of her academic or professional training for the good of the community, subject to certain moral precepts.
1. By: Foundation for Science Technology and Civilization Info@fstc.co.uk FSTC Limited, Sun 09 December 2001(www.Islamicheritage.com)
2. Ahmed Syed online at www.iqra.net/students/competition/essaysen9.html
3. Excerpts from “The Child in Islam” by Norma Tarazi, American Trust Publications, Indianapolis, 1995
4. Sheikh M. S. Al-Munajjid, a prominent Saudi Muslim lecturer and author (www.islam-qa.com)
5. B. Aisha Lemu on line at http://www.codewan.com.ph/salidumay/updates/articles/islam_0906_02.htm