An Islamic Perspective on Child Rearing and Children and Orphans` Rights
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God Says: Wealth and sons are allurements of the life of this world; but the things that endure, Good Deeds, are best in the sight of thy Lord, as rewards, and best as (the foundation for) hopes. (Kahf)18:46
Also, God says Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. (Isra`) 17:23
Al-Imam Muslim has collected on the authority of Anas who said: “I served the Messenger of God (as a child) for ten years and I swear by God in that period he never said to me “uff” (an expression indicating annoyance) nor did he ever say (about something I did wrong): “Why did you do that,” or “Why didn’t you do so and so?”
One of Islam’s scholars commenting on this tradition said: “This tradition contains a shining example of (The Prophet’s) perfect character, his excellent manner of dealing with others and his overlooking of faults and pardoning of shortcomings.”
Abu Hurayrah who said: “I went out with God’s Messenger (PBUH) one day. He said nothing to me and I also remained silent and said nothing until he reached the market of Banu Qaynuqaa. Then he left and upon returning to the tent of Fatimah (the Prophet`s daughter) said: “Is the little one (meaning Al-Hasan) present?” We were under the impression that his mother had detained him in order to bathe him, dress him and to place a necklace of sweet fragrance around his neck. A short time later he (Al-Hasan) came running out of the tent and toward the Prophet (PBUH) until both of them embraced each other, thereupon God’s Messenger (PBUH) said, “O God, I love him; love him and love the one who loves him.”
Some of Islam’s scholars have said in commentary: “The tradition clarifies that being compassionate and playful with children is encouraged and that humility towards children and others is recommended.”
The Prophet (PBUH) once prayed and when he prostrated his two grandsons Al-Hasan and Al-Hussein climbed up on his back. When those present tried to prevent them the Prophet motioned to leave them be. When he finished the prayer he placed them on his lap and said: “Whoever loves me then let him love these two.”
The Prophet once kissed his grandson Al-Hasan ibn Ali in the presence of Al-Aqraa’ ibn Haabis whereupon Al-Aqraa’ said: “I have ten sons and have never kissed a single one of them.” The Prophet looked at him and said: “One who shows no compassion will not be shown compassion.”
The following tradition demonstrates the Prophet’s understanding and forbearance and his down-to-earth nature when dealing with children.
Umm Qais who mentioned that she brought a son of hers who had yet to be weaned to the Prophet (PBUH) the Prophet took the boy and sat him in his lap whereupon the boy urinated in the lap of the Prophet (PBUH). The Prophet did not get angry nor did he appear annoyed he simply asked that some water be brought and sprinkled it on the place where the child had urinated.
Some of Islam’s scholars said in commentary: “The tradition provides an encouragement towards good social relations, being understanding and tolerant, having humility, and being gentle, kind and compassionate.”
Anas who said: “The Messenger of God (PBUH) was the best of mankind in character and interacting with others; I had a brother who we called Abu ‘Umair, I believe he had only recently been weaned. He had a nugur (a little bird similar to a sparrow) with which he used to play. Whenever the Prophet came to visit us he would say to him playfully: ‘O Abaa ‘Umair, where is An-Nugair?’ (changing the word slightly so it rhymed with my brother’s name).”
This tradition demonstrates, as explained by the scholars of Islam, “The playful nature with which the Prophet used to deal with children and that amusing and entertaining youngsters is desirable or at least permitted.”
In Islam Children Are No Less Than a Gift from God

In Islam children are considered a great gift and blessing which God bestows upon parents. For this reason, in many Qur’anic verses, when God mentions the favors and the bounties which He has bestowed upon mankind and which entitle Him to be the sole object of their worship, gratitude, and praise, He mentions children and offspring. God says,
“And God has made for you, from yourselves, mates and has granted you, from your mates, sons (offspring) and grandchildren and has provided for you from the good things. (After all this) is it in falsehood that they believe and in the favor(s and bounties) of God that they disbelieve?” (An-Nahl) 16:72
God also says mentioning His favor upon the Children of Israel
“Then We gave you once again (after suffering defeat) a return of victory over them, and We reinforced you with wealth and children and made you more numerous in manpower.” (Al-Isra) 17:6 And He says,
“And fear the One Who has provided you with that of which you are well aware; provided you with livestock and children.” (Ash-Shuara) 26: 132-133
And He says, mentioning the bounties He bestows upon those who repent and seek His forgiveness,
“He will cause rain to descend upon you from the sky in abundance and give you wealth and children, and grant you gardens and make for you (flowing) rivers.” (Nuh) 71:12-13
Since children are considered such a great blessing in Islam, Muslim parents are expected to show their appreciation to their Creator for this tremendous bounty by loving, nurturing and caring for them and raising them properly. What follows is a concise discussion of Islam’s view of children, child rearing and children’s rights.


How Islam Views Children
One of the renowned Islamic scholars, considered a specialist in the field of child-psychology, education and upbringing, summed up Islam’s view of children and the responsibility of parents toward them as follows:
“A child is an amaanah (a trust or something which has been entrusted) to his parents. His pure heart is a precious gem; innocent, naïve and free of every image, likeness or inscription (like a clean slate). His heart (because of it’s innocence and naivety) accepts and welcomes in every image and it inclines toward whatever it is exposed to and persuaded toward. So if a child is taught good conduct and behavior and is made accustomed to righteous action then he grows up accordingly and he rejoices and is fortunate in this world and the next, and his parents and teachers and all those who helped to refine his character will share in his reward. But if he is disposed to evil and wickedness or disregarded, neglected and left to fend for himself, then he will be ruined and destroyed and the sin and shame will be upon his parents; who were put in charge and made responsible for him.”
The Finest Guidance is the Guidance of the Prophet ((PBUH))
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the role model for all Muslims in all matters. Muslims are required to follow his example and to practice Islam in accordance with his teachings. The Prophet Muhammad demonstrated an unprecedented wisdom, compassion, and tolerance in his dealings with children. Here we provide a few, of many examples, of his exalted standard of character in dealing with youngsters which every Muslim is encouraged to imitate.
Islam and Children: Fundamental Principles
Islam has provided comprehensive guidance related to having, raising and interacting with children. It has also clarified the rights to which they are entitled and the obligations which they are required to fulfill. When one carefully studies these teachings one can clearly conclude the great importance Islam assigns to the concept of family, children, child rearing and children’s rights.
Child Rearing Begins Before Marriage
Yes, the role of parents in raising their children begins long before birth. A Muslim man is expected to “choose wisely” and to diligently seek to marry a religious, righteous, and faithful woman.
The Prophet (PBUH) said: “A woman is married for (one of) four matters: her wealth, her status, her beauty or her religion. Take the religious one; you will triumph and be successful if you do so.”
A Muslim women is likewise encouraged to make religion a priority in her search for a mate, rather it is even more of a priority in her case because her husband will be her provider, protector and the head of her household. If he is righteous the family is likely to be likewise and if he is irreligious the family is likely to follow in his footsteps.
It is for this reason that we find the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) giving the following advice to fathers with daughters ready for marriage:
“If a man whose religion and character impresses you proposes to your daughter then marry him to her. If you do not do so there will be calamities in the world and great corruption.” At-Tirmidhi collected it from the hadeeth of Abu Hurayrah
Protection of New-Born Females

Islam also rejects the pre-Islamic practice of infanticide a form of post-partum birth control where children were in many cases buried alive by their parents. Infanticide was sometimes practiced out of destitution (thus applied to males and females alike) or out of “the disappointment and fear of social disgrace felt by a father upon the birth of a daughter.” Concerning this practice God says,
“…and do not kill your children out of poverty…” (Al-Anam) 6:151
He also says,
“And do not kill your children out of fear of poverty. We provide for them and you. Indeed their killing is ever a great sin.” (Al-Isra) 17:31
He also says,
“And when one of them is informed of the birth of a female, his face becomes dark, while suppressing his grief (and displeasure). He hides himself from the people because (he deems) ill that which he has been given the glad tidings of. Should he keep it in humiliation or bury it in the ground? Unquestionably, evil is that which they decide (to do).” (An-Nahl) 16:58-59
Children’s rights

As soon as the child is born he or she immediately enjoys certain rights which his parents are obligated to observe and fulfill. These include the following:

1) The right to be given a good name.
2) The right to a good Islamic upbringing.
God says,
“O you who believe, protect yourselves and your families from the Hellfire whose fuel is men and stones…” (Al-Tahrim) 66:6
The Qur’anic commentators have provided a variety of explanations for this verse all of which revolve around providing them with the necessary knowledge of Islamic teachings and a good practical example which will aid them in becoming good Muslims:
“Learn goodness, teach it to your families, discipline them, refine their morals and manners and train them to have good character.”
“Protect yourselves with your good deeds and protect your families by admonishing and advising them.”
“Enjoin righteousness upon them and forbid them from evil, teach them and discipline them until you make them afraid of Hell.”
“So it is obligatory upon (parents) to teach their children the religion and all that is good and the morals and manners that they cannot do without.”
“It is obligatory upon the Muslim that he teaches the members of his household; his wife, his children, and all those under his care and authority, what God has made compulsory upon them and what He has prohibited so that they will practice obedience to God and avoid sinning or disobeying God and thus be saved from the fire of Hell.”
3) The right to provisions and sustenance.
The Prophet (PBUH) said: “It is enough sin for a person to withhold the sustenance which he possesses from his dependents.”
4) The right to be treated justly.
The Prophet (PBUH) and said: “I call you to witness that I have given this son of mine a slave I own as a gift.” Whereupon the Prophet (PBUH) enquired: “Have you given a similar gift to all of your children?” My father said: “No.” Whereupon the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Then take back your gift, fear God, and be just towards your children.”
5) The right to be put in the best environment for his religious development.
6) The right to a good education – in accordance with the means and ability of the parents – which will enable him or her to be a functioning member of, rather than a burden on society.

The Rights of Parents
No one can question the debt owed by a child to his parents who are the reason – after God’s will – for his or her existence in this world. Children are therefore required by Islam to discharge certain duties toward their parents and to treat them in a manner befitting the great debt they owe to them. Among the rights of parents upon children:
1) The right to honor respect and kind treatment.
God says,
“And your Lord has decreed that you worship none other than Him, and that you treat your parents well. Whether one of them or both of them should reach old age during your lifetime then say not to them (any word implying annoyance not even) ‘uff’ and do not repel them rather speak to them in the kindest manner.” (Al-Isra) 17:23
Mothers enjoy special status and are entitled to the best treatment, companionship and care.
The Prophet (PBUH) and said: ‘O Messenger of God, who amongst the people has more right to my good companionship?’ The Prophet said: ‘Your mother.’ The man said: ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: ‘Your mother.’ The man said: ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: ‘Your mother.’ The man asked a fourth time: ‘Then who?’ Whereupon the Prophet said: ‘Your father.’
2) The right to obedience as long as this obedience does not entail the disobedience of God or contradict with other rights.
3) The right to discipline their children in order to refine their character and urge them to abandon misbehavior. Although discipline is not synonymous with spanking, physical reprimands are permitted when necessary provided that parents do not exceed certain limits; the face must be avoided, no mark should be left, no harmful instrument should be used, and only the amount of “punishment” needed to get the child to comply should be applied.
4) The right to have their advice sought, heard and acted upon.
One of Islam’s scholars said: “Seek your parents’ advice in all of your affairs and beg their pardon if you are forced to do other than what they suggest.”
5) The right to be cared for and looked after receiving physical, financial and other assistance as necessary especially in their old age.
The Prophet (PBUH) said: “May his nose be rubbed in dust! May his nose be rubbed in dust! May his nose be rubbed in dust! I.e.: May he be humiliated! He whose parents, either one of them or both of them, reached old age but he did not enter Paradise (by serving them).”
Abdullah ibn ‘Amr who said: “A man came to the Prophet (PBUH) and said: ‘I pledge allegiance to you that I will migrate and fight in the cause of God seeking thereby reward from God.’ The Prophet (PBUH) said: ‘Is either of your parents living?’ The man said: ‘Yes, both of them are alive.’ The Prophet said: ‘Do you really seek God’s favor and reward from Him?’ The man said: ‘Yes I do.’ Whereupon the Prophet (PBUH) said: ‘Then return to your parents and serve them well.’”

Islam and Orphans
God in numerous verses of the Qur’an forbids the harsh and oppressive treatment of orphan’s while urging kindness and justice towards them. One verse reads:
“So as for the orphan, do not oppress him.” (Ad-Duha) 93:9
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself was an orphan and in spite of this he was chosen to be God’s Final Messenger to mankind; clearly indicating that being an orphan is not a shame nor is it an obstacle to achieving great things in life.
The Qur’an also speaks of the reward waiting for those who feed orphans, the needy and the prisoner of war for the sake of God:
“And they give food in spite of their love (and need) for it themselves to the needy, the orphan and the captive. (Saying)we feed you fo o other reason than the approval of God. We wish not from you reward nor gratitude. Indeed we fear from our Lord a Day austere and distressful. So God will protect them from the evil of that Day and give them radiance and happiness. And will reward them for what they patiently endured with a garden in Paradise and silk garments.” (Al-Insan) 76:8-12
The Qur’an also warns those who wrongfully consume the property of orphans that they will be punished in the hereafter with “fire in their own bellies”.
“Indeed those who devour the property of orphans unjustly are only consuming fire into their bellies and they will be burned in (Hellfire).” (An-Nisa) 4:10
The Qur’an also gives detailed instructions to guardians regarding the orphans under their care, particularly on how to manage their wealth and property.
Islam and Adoption
Islam does not condone adoption in the “Modern World” sense wherein the adopted child takes the name of the adoptive parents and is legally assimilated into the family and thereby entitled to the family rights enjoyed by his or her biological siblings (e.g. inheritance etc.). The Pagan Arabs used to practice adoption in this way and actually viewed the adopted son and the biological one as equal in every way. They therefore considered the marriage of the ex-wife of one’s adopted son a great abomination. The following verses were revealed to abolish adoption in this sense and to clarify that the adopted son is not the same as the son of lineage:
“…Nor has He made your adopted sons your (biological) sons. Such is (only) your (manner of) speech by your mouths. But God tells (you) the Truth, and He shows the (right) Way. Call them by (the names of) their fathers; that is more just in the sight of God. But if you know not their father’s (names, call them) your brothers in faith, or your trustees. But there is no blame on you if you make a mistake therein. (What counts is) the intention of your hearts. And God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Al-Ahzab) 33:4-5
“And (remember) when you said to him (Zaid bin Harithah the freed slave of the Prophet) on whom God has bestowed Grace (by guiding him to Islam) and you (O Muhammad too) have done favor (by manumitting him) Keep your wife to yourself, and fear God. But you did hide in yourself (i.e. what God has already made known to you that He will give her to you in marriage) that which God will make manifest, you did fear the people (i.e., that they would say in scorn: “Muhammad married the divorced wife of his manumitted slave”) whereas God had a better right that you should fear Him. So when Zaid had accomplished his desire from her (i.e. divorced her), We gave her to you in marriage, so that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the believers in respect of (the marriage of) the wives of their adopted sons when the latter have no desire to keep them (i.e. they have divorced them). And God’s Command must be fulfilled.” (Al-Ahzab) 33:37
In Islam Muslims are encouraged to “foster” orphans caring for them like their own children while strictly avoiding the type of assimilation which entails disregarding the child’s true identity, replacing it with a new one, cutting ties with his true blood relations, entitling the child to what he is not entitled to (e.g. inheritance) and prohibiting him from that which has not been prohibited (e.g. marrying from the family in which he has been adopted).
In conclusion, Islam has placed a great deal of importance on the issue of family and that of having and raising children. What has preceded is just a brief illustration. The issues of children, orphans, and parents rights are of outmost importance in Islam.

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