Parents Leading by Example
Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) was the greatest of Allah Ta‘ala’s creation. Allah Ta‘ala selected him as His final Messenger and blessed him with the greatest Deen – the Deen of Islam which is the most perfect code of life for man to follow. When one examines the blessed personality of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), then one finds that Allah Ta‘ala blessed him with the highest standard of character and nobility so that he could serve as the ultimate example for humanity to emulate until the end of time.
Thus, every dimension of the blessed life of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) was exemplary and outstanding. Whether in the home, while conducting as a husband to his wife and father to his children, or whether in the musjid, as the imaam of the congregation, or in the community as the leader of the Muslims, he conducted in the most perfect manner and set the best standard for all people to follow.
Hence, in the upbringing of a child, until and unless the parents do not emulate the blessed lifestyle and character of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), bringing his sunnah into their lives and home, they will not see and achieve the desired results in their child’s upbringing. Merely tutoring the child by giving him Islamic education and verbally advising him regarding good morals and values will not prove effective if the parents’ actions, conduct and lifestyle oppose their words. When one studies the lives of the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) and the way they tutored their children and steered them towards good morals and values, the glaring aspect that stands out is that they practiced what they preached and their actions were testimony to their words.
Together with the parents leading lives of piety and righteousness, thereby becoming good examples for their children, they should also teach their children to fulfill the rights of Allah Ta‘ala and the rights of the creation. They should guide them regarding oral, physical and spiritual cleanliness, and a great emphasis should be laid on social conduct and etiquette. When Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) taught the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) deen, his teachings were comprehensive and covered all dimensions of human living.
Hazrat Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was the special attendant of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) who was honored with the golden opportunity of serving Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) for ten years until the demise of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). During this period of ten years, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) conducted with him with affection and love and taught him deen. He says, “I served Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) for ten years. During this period, he never hit me, spoke to me harshly, scolded me, or even looked at me sternly.”
Among the golden advices and teachings which Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) imparted to him are the following:
Education regarding Fulfilling the Rights of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and the Creation
“O my beloved son! Keep my secrets confidential, and you will become a true believer.” Hazrat Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) says, “After Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) gave me this advice, I never divulged his secrets to anyone, despite my mother and the respected wives of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) enquiring from me (while being unaware that what Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) had mentioned to me was confidential).”
Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) also said, “O my beloved son! If you are able to constantly send durood upon me then do so, as the angels will beg Allah Ta‘ala for your forgiveness.”
Education regarding Physical and Oral Hygiene and the Great Virtue of Cleanliness
“Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) also said to me, “O my beloved son! Ensure that you make a complete wudhu. If you do so, then the two angels (who are recording your deeds) will love you and you will be granted barakah in your life. O Anas! When you have a fardh bath, then wash your body thoroughly. Through washing your body, you will be cleansed of all your minor sins.” I then asked Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), “How should I ensure that I have washed my body thoroughly?” Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) replied, “When bathing, ensure that you wet the roots of your hair and thoroughly rub the skin of your body.” “O my beloved son! Remain in the state of wudhu if you are able to, for the one who passes away in the state of wudhu acquires the rank of a shaheed (a martyr).”
Education regarding Fulfilling the Rights of Allah Ta‘ala by Performing Salaah
“O my beloved son! Try to offer some (nafl) salaah in your home as well. O Anas! When you make ruku, then ensure that you grasp your knees firmly, spread your fingers apart and keep your elbows from your sides. O my beloved son! When you raise your head from ruku, allow all your limbs to settle and be calm (before proceeding into sajdah), as on the Day of Judgement, Allah Ta‘ala will not look with mercy at the one who does not keep his back straight when waking up from ruku. O my beloved son! When you make sajdah, place your head and palms firmly on the ground, and do not make sajdah so rapidly that it is like the pecking of a rooster, and do not place your forearms on the ground in sajdah, resembling the sitting of a dog or fox. Refrain from looking around in salaah, as this action is a means of destroying (the reward of) your salaah.”
Education regarding Social Conduct and Thinking Good of Every Muslim
“O my beloved son! When you come out from your home, then make salaam to every Muslim that you see, for if you do so, you will return home cleansed from your minor sins. O my beloved son! When you enter your home then make salaam to your household members.” In one narration, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “When you leave your home, then on seeing any Muslim, you should feel in your heart that he is better than you.”
Education on Raising Children
Hazrat Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “On the seventh day after the child is born, the aqeeqah should be performed, he should be given an Islamic name and his head should be shaved. When the child reaches the age of seven, he should be taught Islamic etiquette and manners. When he reaches the age of nine, his bed should be separated from his siblings. When he reaches the age of thirteen, he should be disciplined and hit if he does not perform salaah or fast. When he reaches the age of sixteen or seventeen, his father should get him married. Thereafter, his father should hold his hand and address him saying, ‘I have taught you Islamic etiquette, I have educated you in deen and I have got you married. I seek refuge in Allah from you becoming a means of fitnah and trial for me in this world and a means of punishment for me in the Hereafter.” (Ithaaf 6/316)
Education regarding Upholding Every Sunnah and the Formula for Gaining Entry into Jannah
“O my beloved son! If you are able to spend your day and night without having malice for anybody in your heart, then do so, as this will make your hisaab (accountability in the court of Allah) easy.” Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) also said, “O my son! This (i.e. keeping your heart clean at all times) is my sunnah. The one who loves my sunnah loves me, and the one who loves me will be with me in Jannah. O my beloved son, if you adhere to these advices of mine then there will be nothing more beloved to you than death.” (Sunan Tirmizi #2678, Majma’uz Zawaa’id #1470 and Ibnu ‘Asaakir 9/253)
From the above, we can understand the great importance of imparting deeni knowledge and understanding to the child, as well as the loving, gentle and compassionate approach Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) adopted when teaching Hazrat Anas (radhiyallahu ‘anhu). When the child is taught deen with such love and care, he will have enthusiasm and eagerness for deen in his heart, and will thereafter live his life in accordance with the dictates of deen.