Are You Ready for Parenthood? Rights of a Muslim Child

Aziza is a beautiful newborn. Since the day Ayesha and her husband Abdulrahim conceived her, they have been hoping and praying that their first child will be born healthy and grow up into a God-fearing, morally upright citizen, meanwhile assessing and asking themselves some important questions while preparing for the arrival of their baby: Will Ayesha go back to work? Will she use breast or bottle-milk to feed Aziza? Have they saved enough to feed and care for one more family member for life?

All parents-to-be or new parents would think of such questions and they are pertinent because they help us plan and prepare for the long and arduous parenting journey ahead. But as a mother in Islam, perhaps your focus should be on some more important questions such as:

What right does this child have on us as parents? What responsibilities has Allah, the Most High, placed on us by putting this child in our care?

Because as Muslim parents, we are responsible for raising our children in an Islamically approved manner. Hence, these are challenging questions, the answers to which are essential if we want to raise a generation of Muslims that is pious and virtuous.

Are you ready to be a parent? Do you know your responsibilities? Come learn the rights your Muslim child has upon you in this life, for the benefit of the Hereafter - www.MuslimasOasis.com

Rights of a Muslim child

  1. Right to noble birth – Obviously, this is a matter to be considered at the time of marriage, which is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) highly recommended selecting pious women to marry so as to ensure that the children resulting from the marriage would be raised in a virtuous environment.
  2. Right to live – Once conceived, a child is protected by Allah’s laws (which generally forbid abortion).
  3. Right to Tahneek – Aisha (RA) relates that “The people used to bring their newborn children to the Prophet and he would bless them and perform the tahneek” (Sahih Muslim). ‘Tahneek’ is the Arabic word for a ritual that was performed by our Prophet (peace be upon him) when a child was born to one of the families of the righteous Sahaba (companions). He would bless the child and apply mashed date pulp to its palate. These days, this rarely practiced Sunnah ritual of Tahneek may be performed by any virtuous person on a Muslim child.Similarly, it is the right of the child to hear the adhan as soon as it is born. The male child has one more right, namely the right to be circumcised.
  4. Right to an aqeeqah – It has been narrated by Ali (RA) that the Messenger of Allah slaughtered a goat on the occasion of Hasan (RA)’s birth and said “Oh Fatima! Shave the head of Hasan and pay silver equal to the weight of the hair as charity” (Sahih Sunan at-Tirmithee). Likewise, it has been reported by Abdullah bin al-As that the Prophet said, “To whomsoever a child is born and he wants to perform a sacrifice of Aqeeqah on behalf of it, he should sacrifice two goats for a boy and one goat for a girl”. (Sunan Abu Dawood). It is in keeping with these Hadith that a newborn’s head is shaved and an animal slaughtered for sacrifice.
  5. Right to be given a good name – The Prophet (pbuh) said: “On the Day of Resurrection, you will be called by your names and by your fathers’ names, so give yourselves good names.” (Hadith Abu Dawud). Our Prophet always chose names with good and pleasant meanings, asking people to change their names if they meant something unpleasant.
  6. Right to be breast-fed – Until the age of two years, this is another right of the child {The mothers shall give suckling to their children for two whole years. (Surah Al-Baqarah: 233)}
  7. Right to love and affection – Little children need constant demonstrations of affection and love. Our beloved Prophet (pbuh) loved children dearly and expressed this love. There are many authentic hadith relating how he would offer ‘salaam’ to children, play and make jokes with them. He would even allow his grandsons, Hassan and Hussain (R.A), to ride his shoulders during his prayers. It is reported that once a Bedouin saw the Prophet (SAW) kissing a small child. When the Bedouin wondered out loud, “I have eight children but I never kiss them”, the Prophet (pbuh) remarked, “What can I do if Allah has taken away love and compassion from your heart?”Of course, these are the most basic rights that every Muslim child is entitled to and which most Muslim parents readily give. However, there are other rights that kids have and responsibilities that parents must fulfill, that come up as the baby begins to grow and reach different stages in life such as toddler, preschooler, schoolboy/girl and teenager.
  8. Right to education – As the Hadith goes, “Seeking knowledge is an obligation on every Muslim.” (Ibn Majah), so parents ought to make every effort to expose their children to all sorts of moral and intellectual knowledge. Islam also emphasises the education of girls. The Prophet (SAW) once said, “He who provides good upbringing to 3 daughters shall go to Paradise”. A man asked, “What if one has only two daughters?” “He also shall go to Paradise”, said the Prophet. Another man asked, “And what if one has only one daughter?” “He too”, replied the Prophet (PBUH). In today’s circumstances, a ‘good education’ is not just the chance to learn to read, write and do Math, but to learn how to live as a Muslim as well.
  9. Right to proper food, clothing and shelter – Children also have a right to be fed and clothed. However, parents today have to be vigilant about the kinds of food they allow their little ones to consume. Otherwise the child’s health is compromised at an early stage and this sets him/her up for sickness and disease, thus preventing him/her from growing up into a productive member of society.
  10. Right to fair treatment – Even if/when the heart is inclined to one child, parents must not discriminate against one child or favour one over the other. More importantly, parents should not favour boys over girls as, in Islam, there is no difference between having a daughter or a son.
  11. Right to be raised in a good Muslim environment – Raising a good child and raising a good Muslim child are two very different things. Parents seeking to raise a good Muslim child require knowledge and understanding of the teachings of Islam, therefore we must ask ourselves the following question:

    As parents, do we have within us the Islamic knowledge to raise a good Muslim child? Are we model Muslims ourselves?

    Obviously, the first step in this regard would be to educate ourselves with the Qur’anic principles and hadith (in general and especially with regard to parenting). Then we can hope to mould our own behaviour in line with Islamic teachings and become role models that our children can follow. Some of us obsess about the friends our children keep and the schools they attend but seem oblivious to the fact that the TV, computer games and the Internet can also send out powerful messages, which are often un-Islamic. As parents, it is our responsibility to protect young minds from being morally corrupted. Surrounding ourselves and our children with Islamic role models is vital to good Muslims in today’s world. Mothers should supervise the dressing of Muslim girls and explain to them the reasons for Hijab and the need for modesty. Girls and boys must be taught the reasons for segregation in public places and given guidelines for behaving with the opposite sex so as not to fall into sin, knowingly or unknowingly.

  12. Right to own and inherit property – There are Islamic laws that allow for ownership and inheritance of property from parents and other relatives. Even a minor or an orphan cannot be denied this right and it is a highly punishable sin in Islam to do so.

Last but not the least, it pays to remember that the early years of life are the best years in which we parents have the golden opportunity to mould our children and their personalities. Be it as simple as a child’s eating habits or the learning of good manners or on a more serious note, learning the fundamentals of Islam, parents are the child’s first teachers and the family is the first school. Lessons learnt in the family leave a lasting impression on any young mind. Allah entrusts our children to our care and ultimately we are responsible for them. If we raise them in an Islamically-approved manner, they become our source of pleasure and contentment, first in this life and then in the Hereafter.

Let us make dua’a to Allah to make this task easy for us. May He help us to become the model parents we wish to become and to raise our children to grow up to be model Muslims of the next generation, Ameen…

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Lisha Azad is a Qatar-based children’s author with 4 published children’s books based on Islamic values and themes to her credit. Having been a published freelance writer in the Middle East for more than two decades, she also has a wealth of experience in writing on myriad subjects for women’s and children’s magazines. As a mother of two young children, parenting is a topic quite close to her heart and she currently runs a parenting page on Facebook at Conscious Parenting Approach.

For more information on her writing, please visit www.lishawrites.com.

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