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The true Muslim parent – whether father or mother – understands the psychology of his or her children and knows how to deal with them, using the best and most effective methods of parenting and upbringing.

He endears himself to them in all kind of ways and gets close to them, according to their age and mental levels, so he plays with them, praises them, jokes with them, and tell them words of love and care which make them happy. Then they will love him, and accept his direction eagerly. When they obey him, it will be from the heart, for there is a great difference between the obedience which is based on love, respect, and trust, and that which is based on violence and cruelty. The former is lasting obedience, while the latter is shallow and baseless, and will quickly vanish when the violence and cruelty reach extreme levels.

Some people think that if the father comes down to his children’s level and interacts closely with them, this will diminish his paternal status in their eyes and undermine his parenting efforts. Nothing could be further from the truth, for this kind of approach is the most efficient method of raising children properly, and is promoted by modern experts. It is also the method promoted by the Prophet (saw) fifteen hundred years ago and clearly demonstrated by him in words and deeds.

The Prophet (saw) used to line up Abdullah, Ubaydullah and Kuthayyir, the sons of Al-Abbas (ra), and say: “Whoever reaches me first, I will give him such-and-such.” So they would race towards him and jump on his back and chest, kissing him. (Ahmad)

Bukhari, in Al-Adan al-Mufrad, and At-Tabrani reported from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (saw) took the hand of Al-Hasan or Al-Husayn (ra), then put his feet on his foot and said, “Climb up.”

There is no clearer demonstration of the spirit of the great educator (saw) than in the way he carried Al-Hasan and Al-Husayn (ra), and treated them with love and care, thus setting an example for fathers and grandfathers everywhere, no matter how great their status and influence, to treat these tender young shoots in the gentlest and caring way. This may be seen in the hadith narrated by Ahmad and Nasa’i from Shaddad: “The Prophet went out carrying Al-Hasan or Al-Husyan, and when he came forward to lead the prayer, he put the child down and commenced the prayer. He prostrated himself and stayed in that position for a long time. I raised my head and saw the child on his back, so I returned to my prostration. When he had finished praying, the people said, ‘O’ Messenger of Allah, you prostrated for such a long time.’ He said, ‘My child was riding on my back, and did not like to disturb him until he had had enough.’” (Ahmad and Nass’i)

The Muslim should be in the habit of being involved with his children, treating them with love and kindness, and joking with them, as much as he can whenever he finds the opportunity so that their hearts will be filled with happiness.

One of his primary duties is to demonstrate his love, mercy, and affection towards his children so that they will grow up confident, positive, optimistic, and with high levels of self-esteem.

Compassion is a basic Islamic characteristic, and was one of the most prominent characteristics of the Prophet (saw), as Anas (ra) told us: “I never saw anyone who was more compassionate towards children than the Messenger of Allah. His son Ibraheem was in the care of a wet nurse in the hills around Madeenah. He would go there, and we would go with him, and he would enter the house, pick up his son and kiss him, then come back.” (Muslim)

The Prophet’s mercy and love towards the Muslim children included little ones at play. “Anas (ra) reports that whenever the Prophet (saw) passed by a group of boys he would smile fondly and greet them.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

An example of his enduring educational wisdom is the advice: “He is not one of us who does not show compassion to our little ones and recognize the rights of our elders.” (Ahmad and Al-Hakim)

by Muhammad Ali Al-Hashimi

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