As with any responsibility, there are rewards and joys in being a parent. These rewards far outweigh the challenges, responsibilities, and efforts of parenting. In fact, parenting holds some of Allah's greatest rewards on this earth: unconditional love, bonding and human closeness, shared moments, a smiling face with loving eyes, and hugs full of love and care. Look into the eyes of your child, feel his or her skin, and listen to his or her voice, and you will understand the true beauty of this gift. It is as if Allah is giving us a little sample of heaven right here in this earthly life.
Above all, a devout parent will experience the gratification of watching his or her child grow into an obedient servant of Allah; a believer who will love and obey Allah and contribute to the society around him or her. This servant of Allah may also provide enduring good deeds to a parent's record through supplication. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: “When a person dies, no good deeds will be added on his record except for three: continuous charity, beneficial knowledge, and a pious child who supplicates for him.” [Reported by Muslim]
A pious child who supplicates is one of only three ways through which a person may acquire continuing good deeds for presentation on the Day of Judgment. All of the effort definitely pays off in the end.
Goals of parenting
How do parents save themselves and their children from the hellfire? How do they fulfil their responsibility before Allah? How do they achieve the bliss and happiness guaranteed for the obedient servants of Allah? What are the goals that they should have for their children? These points will be elaborated throughout this book. It necessarily begins by setting goals for ourselves and our children.
“And We had certainly given Luqman wisdom [and said:] Be grateful to Allah. And whoever is grateful is grateful for [the benefit of] himself. And whoever denies [His favour] - then indeed, Allah is Free of need and Praiseworthy. And [mention, O Muhammad], when Luqman said to his son while he was instructing him: O my son, do not associate [anything] with Allah. Indeed, association [with Him] is great injustice. And We have enjoined upon the human being [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination. But if they endeavour to make you associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them but accompany them in [this] world with appropriate kindness and follow the way of those who tum back to Me [in repentance]. Then to Me will be your return, and I will inform you about what you used to do. [And Luqman said]: O my son, indeed if it [a wrong] should be the weight of a mustard seed and should be within a rock or [anywhere] in the heavens or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth. Indeed, Allah is Subtle and Acquainted. O my son, establish prayer, enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong, and be patient over what befalls you. Indeed, [all] that is of the matters [requiring] determination. And do not tum your cheek [in contempt] toward people and do not walk through the earth exultantly. Indeed, Allah does not like everyone self-deluded and boastful. And be moderate in your pace and lower your voice; indeed, the most disagreeable of sounds is the braying of donkeys.” (Qur'an, Surah Luqman, 31: 12-19)
Luqman was a wise man whose insight was bestowed upon him by Allah. He taught this wisdom to his son for his benefit in this world and the world to come. Understandably, priority was given to teaching tawheed and warning against polytheism, since this is the foundation of the Islamic creed. Following one's duty to Allah, he enjoined kindness and obedience to parents. This ingredient is critical in terms of parenting, for it eases the task when children assimilate this principle into their personalities.
After informing him of the rights due to Allah and parents through the expression of gratefulness, Luqman reminds his son of the awareness of Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) in all matters, public and private:
“O my son, indeed if it [a wrong] should be the weight of a mustard seed and should be within a rock or [anywhere] in the heavens or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth. Indeed, Allah is Subtle and Acquainted.” (Qur'an, Surah Luqman, 31: 16)
Allah is aware of all that we do and for this reason we should have fear of Allah. We should also be cautious about taking sins lightly. The obligation of performing prayer and observing it perfectly is then mentioned. He encouraged his son to enjoin right conduct and forbid wrongdoing, to be patient over what comes to pass, and to avoid arrogance and boasting.
These few verses contain an abundance of wisdom for parents. From this, parents can delineate the important goals for their children:
• Belief (Iman) in Allah with pure tawheed and avoidance of associating partners with Allah
• Kindness, respect and obedience toward parents.
• Fear of Allah and awareness of His all-encompassing presence.
• Establishmentof prayer, on time and in the correct manner.
• Enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong.
• Bearing life with patience.
• Humility and meekness.
• Moderation and avoidance of extremes.
In addition to these, the following may be added:
• Strength in belief and faith.
• Attachment to the Qur'an and authentic hadiths.
• Love of and sincerity to Allah, His Messenger, and His Book.
• Adherence to the Sunnah of the Prophet (Peace be upon him).
• Understanding of all things from the perspective of Islam.
• Islamic personality, values, and identity.
• Equity and justice in dealing with others.
• Kindness, mercy and good character towards all people.
• Concern for the affairs of all Muslims (aid them, fulfil their rights).
• Inviting others to Allah and Islam.
• Pride in being Muslim.
Associated personality characteristics that would be desirable include the following:
• Self-confident and with positive self-esteem.
• Persistent, hard-working.
• Capable and skillful.
• Content and satisfied.
• Honest and trustworthy.
The foundation of these goals is the development of 'aqeedah, Iman and fear of Allah. In essence, the individual develops an Islamic personality and an Islamic identity. This becomes the centre of the heart and soul. All effort will be put forward to Jive a life of Islam, Iman, and Ihsan, True success will then be achieved in this life and the hereafter. In the end, the supreme goal for both parents and children is paradise.
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