By Amina Salau
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
The news of a child is one of the most exciting things to happen to any parent. All parents can relate to the happiness they feel when Allah (swt) blesses them with an offspring or when they anticipate having a young one to love.
A child is a huge responsibility for all Muslim parents. This is because on the Day of Judgement, parents will have to give an account of how they raised the children that Allah (swt) blessed them with. This is why I believe that in an effort to not take this responsibility lightly, we should always remind ourselves of these very important rights that our children have on us.
Right to be taught about Islam
In a hadith reported by Abu Hurayrah, the Prophet (sa) said: “Every child is born upon the fitrah (Islamic monotheism). It is the parents who make him a Jew or a Christian.” (Bukhari) This is perhaps the most important right that a child has on his or her parents. A child whose parents have firmly planted his or her feet on the path of Islam will grow up as a responsible Muslim in the society and will also be part of the Ummah (community) of Prophet Muhammad (sa) on the Day of Judgement.
A child has the right to be taught about the religion of Islam – the articles of faith, the shahadah (testimony of faith), the Qur’an, salah (prayer), and all other obligatory and non-obligatory acts of worship. It is the parents’ responsibility to ensure that the home and the environment of a child is designed to help him or her grow as a good Muslim.
Right to care
Before they become adults who are capable of making independent decisions, children are little people who depend on their parents for the provision of basic amenities. It is the duty of parents to provide food, shelter, and clothing for their children to the best of their ability. We have an obligation to meet the needs of our family in any way that we can. We however should not equate a right to be provided for as a right to be spoiled. Islam places a high value on moderation, and in this case, so that we do not raise entitled children.
Beyond food, clothing, and shelter, children also have a right to an equally important set of care: emotional and physical care. Parents should provide a home safe from emotional and physical abuse of any form.
Right to be loved
The home is the first point of human interaction for a child, and it should be filled with as much love as possible. The Prophet (sa) emphasized the importance of loving children and playing with them, and even set an example by habitually kissing his children and grandchildren. (Ibn Majah; graded sound by al-Albani)
Adults in a home may sometimes have disagreements, but we should endeavour to not take them out on the children. Show them love, play with them as much as you can, and let them feel safe in your presence.
Right to protection
A man has been appointed as the leader of his house, and the woman is the nurturer. Both parents have a duty to protect their family from harm as much as possible. The protection of a child begins before they are born, and as parents will say, you never really stop trying to protect your children even when they are adults.
As Muslims, the best form of protection that we can give our children is prayer. From conception to adulthood, there are prayers to seek Allah’s (swt) protection for them and to ask for the best of life for them. In a hadith narrated by Ibn Abbas, the Prophet (sa) used to seek protection for his grandchildren by saying: “I seek refuge for both of you in the perfect words of Allah from every devil and every poisonous thing and from the evil eye which influences.” (Abu Dawood; graded sound by al-Albani)
Right to equal treatment and inheritance
Few things are emotionally damaging to a child than the feeling of being unwanted, or the knowledge that another child is more preferred to him or her. Favouritism between our children is not allowed in Islam, and it is every child’s right to be treated equally with siblings. Regardless of their age, position in the family, physical attributes, or circumstances surrounding their birth, our children have a right to be treated in a good way as much as anyone.
If we are committed to raising righteous Muslims who will be a source of good for us after we have passed on and who will dwell with us in paradise (or even be a means of us entering paradise), it is important for us to fulfil our children’s right over us.
May Allah (swt) grant us offspring who will be the coolness of our eyes. Ameen.
Amina Salau is a freelance writer who is passionate about women’s issues in Islam
© IIPH 2016