That man can have nothing but what he strives for; that (the
fruit of) his striving will soon come in sight; then will he be rewarded with
a reward complete. (al-Qur'an 53:39-41)
A Question to think about: What is vital
and fundamental in parenthood? What is meant by parental care?
Parenthood is a creative struggle to accommodate a new-comer in a world where
everything needs to be shared in the family. It is a journey through new experience
that leads to more maturity and accountability of the parents. The journey is
a one-way traffic, full of bends, curves, ups and downs. But it is the sense of
consciousness that makes parenting a lively and challenging enterprise. Positive
parenting requires a determined effort.
Parenthood is an historic journey
that brings in challenge and reward in one's life. At the start of a journey every
parent is expected to know two essential things. Where is his destination and
how is he going to reach there? Confusion or lack of planning in this process
will end up with tragic consequences.
Parenthood could be the most pleasurable and worthwhile
engagement in life. But preparation is fundamental for that pleasure. 'If you
fail to prepare; prepare to fail'. A teacher who wants to succeed in providing
the curriculum in a disciplined and safe environment, spends time to prepare a
lesson plan. Likewise, a parent's long-term plan is absolutely vital for the development
of a child's physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual life. We all do some
planning in our life subconsciously, but tend to ignore that in our future investment,
in bringing up our children. Those who plan for efficient parenthood are rewarded
at the end.
A Question to think about: Discuss the importance of parenting with
an Islamic perspective in a few lines
The importance of nurturing children,
i.e., positive parenting, cannot be over emphasised. The plants in the nursery
and the children at the home and school 'nursery' have striking similarities.
The culmination of a plant is a healthy tree with flowers and fruits. Parental
care here does not simply mean providing children with good food, dress and shelter.
It includes proper education and the inculcation of good behaviour and attitude
toward human beings and other creation. Those who create havoc in the society
and become menace to humanity are generally known to have unfavourable upbringing.
Parenting - Islamic Perspective
Islam wants all human beings to grow up as emissaries of Allah on earth. In that
respect, parenting in Islam is a divine responsibility. Parental duty is at the
heart of Muslim life. For a sound and healthy continuity of Islamic civilisational
legacy every parent has to transfer the spirit and message of Islam to his offsprings.
If an individual parent cannot cope with this great and demanding task for some
reason, the community has to create such network that nobody in the ummah falls
through the net and joins the hapless mob of disconcerted and lapsed 'Muslims'.
It also tells of the immense obligation of the guardians of a household. In fact,
every one in a Muslim family is jointly responsible according to his role in the
Islam's spirit dictates Muslim life in a way that Muslims are prepared even to
die for others, rather to live selfishly for oneself. Here lies the root historic
reason of Islam's lightning success of winning people's heart in its hey days.
Self-centred nature and the concept of 'individualism' has very little to do in
a caring and compassionate society. These are departures from basic human qualities
and make a society avaricious and dangerously competitive. They are the features
of materialistic societies where human beings vie with each other to endure and
triumph. (al-Qur'an 3:14).
A Question to think about: What are the effects of self-centredness
and individualism in the society?
This gives rise to the rule of the
'survival of the fittest' which makes some super rich and powerful at the cost
of the majority. In contrast, Islam advocates for social responsibility, without
of course endangering personal creativity and innovation.
It is a balancing act, like walking
in the tight rope. Losing balance due to callousness and indifference brings him
down to bottomless pit. Only a full consciousness of what Allah has demanded from
man can save him from that fate, i.e., a hellish life in this world and eternal
hell in the hereafter. All these are great tests of real life. Excessive love
for children should not fool the parents in their divinely ordained responsibilities.
Disproportionate love for or apathy to the children is the recipe for misfortune.
Those who are blessed with children should always weigh out whether their children
would emancipate them from or throw them into hell fire. (al-Qur'an 66:6)
A Question to think about: What is the consequence and what can be done
if an individual parent cannot cope with the duty of transfering the spirit and
message of Islam to his offspring?
There is no room for complacency in
parental responsibility. There is also no room for compromise with the basic principles
of Islam. Of course, most parents do make little compromises in a real life of
living in Jahiliyah. But they must be forthcoming and honest with their children.
If parents fail in sticking to ideal Islamic solutions for some reasons, they
must openly admit them and clarify to the children so that they understand the
context. However, they must keep on trying to improve their lot.
Muslims in the past played that pivotal
role in the world even where they were insignificant in number, the tiny minority.
They were the pioneers in passing on the spirit and message of Islam to their
own children on one hand and to the children of Adam on the other. Like a loving
mother Islam deals with people's heart with sensitivity. Once that is conquered
society brings out its natural transformation.
Parenting in non-Muslim Environment
Many million Muslims now live in the West in the midst of a culture, often alien
to Islamic values. For centuries the world view of the two civilisations, Islamic
and western, had difficulties in adjusting with each other. With the decline of
religious influence in the West and intellectual stagnation in the Muslim world,
the gap has widened. Many Muslims coming from disadvantaged positions and settling
in affluent western cities, are finding themselves like 'fish out of water'. Revert
Muslims have their specific disadvantages and are finding their life not less
difficult in their own homeland.
A highly educated immigrant Muslim
professional once told me in a voice filled with resentment and resignation about
his two university-going children. His resentment emanated from a long-time observation
of the 'unsocial behaviour' of his own children and the children of his friends.
What is wrong with these young people? The father mentioned that they never came
and talked to the family friends, mostly from his country of origin, on their
own. Whenever there was any family guest their abode would be their small rooms.
He mentioned that he has adjusted himself to the apathy and indifference of his
children toward their own 'root'. At the end of the discussion, he sounded a bit
philosophical, "we are a displaced people with our roots neither here nor there.
Our children are like uprooted plants struggling to survive in a pot".
A Question to think about: What factors are important to survive and
sustain in an unfriendly environment?
I am not sure whether his observation
is accurate. Even if it is, don't the plants survive in the hostile environment,
if proper care is taken? As far as human beings are concerned, they are not only
capable of adaptation but also able to influence events in extreme difficulties,
if they really want. Of course, not every body or every nation can manage to survive
and sustain in unfriendly environment. What matters is the physical and intellectual
fitness and stamina.
A Question to think about: What is the crucial requisite for Muslim
parents in the Western society to be able to raise their children in the prophetic
Here comes the enormous responsibility
of the Muslim parents in the western society. They have the twin tasks or mission,
which they need to take on board. Or else, they will face the severe consequences
in future. On the one hand, they have to quickly improve their adaptability in
the new environment of the West without compromising the basic Islamic principles,
and on the other, they have to undertake great burdens of raising their children
in the prophetic model.
The goal of Islam is to create a world
where man is liberated from the clutches of Jahiliyah. That includes the liberation
of mind before anything. Islam challenges human mind and intellect to come clean
with objectivity so that it can think fresh. Contrary to common perception today,
Islam promotes intellectual exercise on any area of knowledge, from aesthetics
to zoology. Islam's assertive character encourages Muslims to take a pro-active
role in the intellectual and social enterprise. It urges Muslims to participate,
interact, engage and influence in society's common good. It has an ultimate target
of leading humanity toward full submission of Allah.