5 Basic Principles of Islamic Parenting You Should Know
The best gift you could give your child as her parent, is the gift of a good upbringing. But quality parenting can be confusing and very challenging as there are so many theories of good parenting to choose from. Islam is a way of life that offers a holistic approach to living a good life. So it only makes sense that as a Muslim, you want to embrace the tenets of Islam as it relates to parenting. We have condensed the essence of Islamic parenting into 5 basic principles. They will no doubt act as a guide to raising productive and responsible young Muslims.
Children are an amanah, a responsibility as much as they are a gift. Your job is to make sure they become hard working, God-fearing individuals who are assets to the Ummah. Islamic parenting is divided into three core areas of responsibility which parents owe their children. They are: physical, intellectual and emotional security.
Principles of Islamic Parenting, from The Hadith
Principle 1: Children are born pure.
Prophet Muhammad says, “No child is born except on al-fitra (Islam or primordial human nature) and then his parents make him Jewish, Christian or Magian, as an animal produces a perfect young animal: do you see any part of its body amputated?” [Sahih Muslim]
Allah has created children with a natural predisposition for good and a belief in the one God. It is not in a child to do evil or misbehave. So, place no blame on your child if he does anything wrong, until he is 10 years old. It is not his intention to do wrong, he is only mirroring what he has seen, heard, felt and learnt from his environment.
Action: Remember that your child is pure and innocent. If he misbehaves, examine at his environment for a possible cause, and address it.
Principle 2: Parents are guides and role models
“Everyone of you is a guardian and is responsible for his charges. The ruler who has authority over people, is a guardian and is responsible for them; a man is a guardian of his family and is responsible for them; a woman is a guardian of her husband’s house and children and is responsible for them; a slave is a guardian of his master’s property and is responsible for it; so all of you are guardians and are responsible for your charges.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]
You parents are the ones charged with this God-given responsibility to lead, guide and take care of your child. Do well to take this responsibility seriously and ensure he grows on al-fitr and obeys Allah and His Messenger. Then he will continue to do what is good and pure.
Action: Children imitate their parents more than anyone. If you find any undesired behaviour in your child, check if you or your spouse has acted similarly in front of your child. Islamic parenting supports parenting by example. Practice what you preach.
Principle 3: The essentials of Islamic upbringing are kindness and mercy
In a hadith narrated by`Aisha:
"A bedouin came to the Prophet and said, “You (people) kiss the boys! We don’t kiss them.” The Prophet said, “I cannot put mercy in your heart after Allah has taken it away from it.” [Sahih al-Bukhari]
Physical affection is important for making children feel safe and happy. Don't stop it when your child grows up. Of course, you can limit it as your child gets older, but never put an end to it.
Action: When your child does mischief, instead of scolding and blaming, hug or pat him and say, ‘I forgive you. Let’s fix it!’ And then, explain his mistake and suggest a way to rectify it. It can also be saying ‘astaghfir-Allah’ or an apology to you or someone else. An additional habit to teach would be that a good deed wipes away a bad deed!
Principle 4: Boundaries are important
“Verily Allah the Almighty has laid down fara’id (religious obligations), so do not neglect them. He has set boundaries, so do not overstep them. He has prohibited some things, so do not violate them; about some things He was silent, out of compassion for you, not forgetfulness, so seek not after them.” [Hadith Nawawi]
If your child is taught beforehand what is correct and good behaviour, then he will act within the boundaries and will not be left wondering and confused.
Action: Set rules and limits for everyone in the family including yourself! Explain to your child why he must obey them. Children love logical reasoning, but make it simple. Reward good behaviour appropriately and regularly.
Principle 5: Small responsibilities for the small shoulder to make it big!
“Nay, and by the moon, And by the night when it withdraws, And by the dawn when it brightens, Verily, it is but one of the greatest calamities. A warning to mankind, To any of you that chooses to go forward (by doing righteous deeds), or to remain behind (by committing sins), Every person is beheld (accountable) on his own deeds.” [Qur’an: Chapter 74, Verses 32-38]
Giving your child responsibilities at an early and appropriate age helps him realize that if he does not do what he is supposed to then it will affect others and let them down. It also prepares the child for when the time comes for him to be fully responsible so he will not be taken by surprise.
Action Step: Some simple responsibilities include asking your kid to bring his plate to the kitchen or help set the table. Later in childhood, your child can begin to wash his plate or to help you when putting away groceries. Ask your teenager to help you out in the kitchen when cooking or cleaning, to put away things properly and keep the house neat and tidy.
These principles of parenting make the whole process a lot easier. Which of these principles will you be implementing in your home? Share with us in the comments.