The role of the father in the life of his child is paramount. The Qur’an likens this relationship to that of the Sun. Allah mentions in the Qur’an that Yusuf (as) said,“I saw in my dream 11 stars and the Sun and the Moon prostrating towards me.” It is well known that the 11 stars represented the brothers of Yusuf (as). However, according to Al-Tabari, the Sun represents the father.
Fatherhood is a great honor representing ones ability to pass on the Prophetic legacy to his offspring. However, in many communities, fathers are AWOL? Young boys and girls are left alone replacing the important guidance and teachings that a father provides with DVD’s, video games, DSL and television. Here are 5 important steps that, inshallah, will help us actualize fatherhood, lead our families and fulfill the command of Allah,
“Oh you who believe, protect yourself and your families from the fire of Hell.”
1. Passionately love your wife
The Prophet (salAllahu a’laihee wa salam) said about Aiesha, “I love this woman.” When asked, “Who is the most beloved person to you?” The Prophet (salAllahu a’laihee wa salam) responded, “Aiesha (ra).” The Prophet (salAllahu a’laihee wa salam) said, “If you love someone for the sake of Allah, then you should tell them.” The Prophet (salAllahu a’laihee wa salam) once said to Mu’ath, “I swear by Allah that I love you.” The Prophet (salAllahu a’laihee wa salam) informed us that Allah (swt) will say on the last day, “Where are those who’ve loved each other for my sake?”
Loving one’s wife is extremely important. Once a sister (may Allah bless her and her family) told me, “If I could choose any man in the world to marry he must be like my father.” Once a small girl started yelling at her younger sibling and suddenly her mother asked, “Why do you talk to him like that?” she responded, “Because this is how you and baba talk with each other.”
We, as men, set an important precedent in the home. By loving our wives and treating them with compassion and mercy, inshallah, those qualities will fall into the hearts of our children. It is well known that children of abusers have a great potential to abuse. The child is a reflection of the parental shadow. Mercy towards women and represents a baton passed from father to son.
- Make sure before you leave the house to tell your wife you care for her.
- Continue to buy gifts for her even after the honey-moon is over.
- Give her your time and organize, at least, a night a week to take her out alone and show her that you care.
- Talk to your wife with care and love. Avoid using harsh words and tones.
2. Be a man of integrity–or your words will fall on deaf ears
It is said that a man’s worth is found in his words. The Prophet (salAllahu a’laihee wa salam) was asked if a Muslim could be miserly and he said. “Yes.” He was asked if a Muslim could be a liar and he said “No.” Allah commands us, “Oh you who believe why do you say what you don’t do? The most disliked thing to Allah is that you say what you don’t do.” Allah says, “Do you order others to do well and forget to practice yourself.”
Fathers, do you keep your appointments and promises with your children? Do you exercise as much effort to be with them as, say, with your friends or business appointments? Once a parent was asked to introduce himself to his son’s classmates, After listing his accomplishment the son said, “You know, those things are nice, but they don’t mean anything to me. What means the most to me is that my dad is in private what you see in public.”
This really applies to the people involved in Islamic Work and the Masjid. Are we the same behind close doors as we are in public? What type of image is developing in-front of our children? It is important to have one face as best we can. Nothing shatters the heart of a child than parental inconsistencies. Let us keep our promises and stick to a positive behavior pattern at all time. The Prophet (salAllahu a’laihee wa salam) said, “Fear Allah wherever you are.” He didn’t say, “In the Masjid.” Nor did he say, “In front of the brothers.” But he (salAllahu a’laihee wa salam) said, “Wherever you are.”
3. Your children’s importance to you can be measured by how much time you spend with them
Once a father told me of all the things that he had showered on his son; the son, no doubt, received a large amount of gifts and gadgets from his father. However, when I asked this young man what he wanted most from his father he said, “I just want him to spend time with me.” Make a schedule and spend at least an hour a day with your kids. Believe me, Inshallah, it will make all difference in the world. A lot of important things can be discussed while throwing a foot-ball, playing hoops, board games, or taking a short walk or trip to the park. While you’re with your kids turn off your hand-phone and lose yourself in their world. Could you imagine if Luqman suddenly told his son, “Wait that’s an important phone call?” Or Ibrahim telling Ismael, as they were building the K’aba, “Just one minute I have an fax coming in”? Keep notes of your conversations and listen attentively. Offer feedback, sincere advice to them and surprise them at times with pats on the back, hugs and small notes of appreciation.
- Find out what your child likes to do and do it with them.
- Schedule a time to spend with them and break your back to keep it.
- Surprise them by taken them out to lunch from school.
4. You, more than anyone else, can give your children lifelong self-worth
As a son I remember many great things that my mother told me. However, it was always the praise of my father and his advice the truly struck a cord in my heart. We, as men, can make or break our children. It is important to avoid harsh words and overinflated perceptions of our children. Instead, let’s advise them, praise them, and nurture their growth. Allah (swt) describes the childhood of Mariyam (as) as,“And she sprouted and excellent sprouting.” My heart loves this expression as it causes you to look at your child as a seed. Seeds need nurturing and, at times, might develop abnormally. Thus, the tiller looks after the seed with velvet gloves on a daily basis offering love and warmth until it grows. Allah said about the companions,“Their likeness in the Injeel is like a seed that sprouts weak stem.”
LET’S ENTER THE MADRASSAH OF Al-FAROUQ (RA)
Once Umar was walking with his son Abdullah and Abdullah informed his father that he knew an answer to one of the questions the Prophet (salAllahu a’laihee wa salam) put forward to them. Upon hearing his son’s answer Umar turned to him and said, “If you had said it, it would have been sweeter to me than anything in this world.” Ya Rab! This is Umar! This is the Umar that we see has being strong and forceful. But, here we see Umar, the builder of a man. When our children succeed, or even fail, to succeed let us use caution in our dealings with them. The Prophet (salAllahu a’laihee wa salam) said, “Give good news.” And he said, “Make things easy and don’t make things difficult.” Anas (ra) said, “The Prophet (salAllahu a’laihee wa salam) never yelled at me.” Our children build their worth from our words and actions. Avoid being negative and saying, “You always do things wrong.” Such words are like bricks that lay the foundation of our future men and women. It is important to give them support and love. Allah (swt) describes noble words as, “A good tree.” Thus, our good words and advices will plant the seeds that will sprout into worthy adults and noble citizens.
- Lower your standards: Many parents’ goals are ridiculously high. Once a youth told me, “If Abu Bakr (ra) presented himself to my parents; they would want Muhammad (salAllahu a’laihee wa salam).” It is important to set goals for our children, but they should share in them and the goals should be realistic.
- Remember that it’s their future: All through my college days I would meet brothers who were forced to be doctors, lawyers, or engineers. When I would ask them, “What do you want to be?” They would respond, “Not this. But, it is what my parents want.” We should allow our children to express and discover their own personalities and offer guidance when needed. An important rule to remember is, “Be an adviser, not a supervisor.”
5. Communicate as a family
It is common to see Muslims complaining about the injustices and human rights violations that exist in many Muslim countries. However, there is no need to call others pharaoh when one is practicing the pharonic model at home. Allah (swt) described the believers as a people of consultation and the Prophet (salAllahu a’laihee wa salam) and the companions placed great importance in shura. In fact, during the nomination of Umar it is said that S’ad bin Abbi Waqqas took the shura of everyone in Medina including the young veiled women. As a father it is easy to push one’s opinions on the household. However, it is not necessarily the most fruitful method. Talking and listening to others will further allow them to feel that you truly respect them and value their thoughts and ideas. In addition, it will increase their self worth and guide them towards the important qualities of listening, sharing and offering input.
- Set up a weekly shura in one’s home. Keep notes and follow up each week with the issues discussed.
May Allah help us to improve as fathers and touch the lives of those around us.
Your brother and father in the making,
* I want to dedicate this article to Yahya Shahed. A close friend, great student of knowledge and, inshallah, an even better father. I love you for Allah’s sake.
where’s number three?! 🙂 great article – jzk
Asalamualiakum Shaykh Suhaib,
Once again thank you for the wise words, I just wanting to get your thoughts on sending children to Islamic school. I’m in the process of finding a school for my daughter (5 years). The problem I have is do I send her to state school which is well equipped and has the qualified teachers and their conduct with the children is correct according to their age, but lacking all the Islamic adam and Islamic knowledge. or do I send her to a newly formed islamic school teaching Islamic studies based on the Azhae system but lacking in English, Science and Maths. The resources are not very good the building is not child friendly ; the teachers don’t have the right training. The children don’t have much room to play as there no playground.
Deep down I want her to go to the Islamic school as she’s currently going to an Islamic nursery which she really enjoys and she has learnt a lot from there. It seems if she goes to state school the 1 and half year at nursery learning the correct adab will be wasted.
I would appreciate any advice
subhana’allah Imam Suhaib, I really appreciate this inspiring and critically needed advice. In today’s world, men are encouraged to act like boys. I pray Allah swt helps me and all my fellow Muslim brothers to be mature men and help raise righteous children.
SubhanAllah, I enjoyed reading this article, I am not a parent yet, but it just made me reflect on my own family and how me and my brother were raised/are being raised. JazakAllahKhair for the amazing advice!
Thank you. Very useful and very needed. Please continue what you are doing for us.
jazakallah for the advice, it makes me think of my own household & wish that my father could have had the knowledge & heart to bring us up in this manner but thats the past & nothing can be done apart from learn from scholars like you & insha’allah try & practice these methods with your own children.
I wish I could see my father again,
I forgive him for anything and I ask Allah to reward him for everthing he did for me and coulndt do for me. I feel like there is something missing in my soul, I dont wish this pain on anyone…
The air is gettin’ hotter, there’s a rumblin’ in the skies.
I’ve been wadin’ through the high muddy waters /water,
But the heat riseth in my eyes. /With the heat rising in my eyes
Every day your memory goes dimmer,
It doesn’t haunt me like it did before.
I’ve been walkin’ through the middle of nowhere,
Tryin’ to get to heaven before they close the door.
When I was in Missouri, they would not let me be.
I had to leave there in a hurry, I only saw what they let me see.
You broke a heart that loved you,
Now you can seal up the book and not write anymore.
I’ve been walkin’ that lonesome valley,
Tryin’ to get to heaven before they close the door.
People on the platforms, waitin’ for the trains.
I can hear their hearts a-beatin’, like pendulums swingin’ on chains.
When you think that you’ve lost everything,
You find out you can always lose a little more.
I’m just going down the road feelin’ bad,
Tryin’ to get to heaven before they close the door.
I’m goin’ down the river, down to New Orleans.
They tell me everything is gonna be all right,
But I don’t know what “all right” even means.
I was ridin’ in a buggy with Miss Mary-Jane,
Miss Mary-Jane got a house in Baltimore.
I’ve been all around the world boys,
Now I’m tryin’ to get to heaven before they close the door.
Gotta /Gonna sleep down in the parlor, and relive my dreams.
I’ll close my eyes and I wonder, if everything is as hollow as it seems.
Some trains don’t pull no gamblers,
No midlife /midnight ramblers like they did before.
I’ve been to Sugartown, I shook the sugar down,
Now I’m tryin’ to get to heaven before they close the door.
i would like to know what reply you gave to the sister regarding choosing between a well organised experienced state school and a not so established islamic school as i am going thru the same dilemna with my 5 year old, i am constantly being told by family menbers to send my son to a state school as the level education is better, i would prefer to send him to a islamic school because of the environment, because i dont like the goddles and immoral environment in state schools . i have jus moved recently to another part of england where there are many more muslims living and the state schools are more aware of our religious needs, most of the students are muslims in the state schools, but i would like my child to grow up with islamic morals and manners, cos they say when the times gone, its gone, and i dont mind giving him extra help in the home, but dont want to overburden him with too much work i.e. at school and then at home aswell. what would you advise me? hoping to hear from you soon
I’m not really able to comment on the U.K situation since my experience is in the USA. However, I have found that most of the kids who attend excellent public schools, combined with good parenting, seem to turn our much better than those who attend Islamic Schools who are sub par in their education religious and otherwise. This is my experience and it is not something that is written in stone. However, as and educator, I tend towards sending my own kids to public schools for a number of reasons:
1. Preparation instead of incubation:
I’ve seen many kids come out of Islamic schools incubated and unable to deal with the drama that awaits them in High School and the Campus. Thus, and I’ve put this question to Islamic educators before, we need to move from and incubation psychology to one that prepares, empowers and strengthens our young people. By sending children to education reservoirs we are failing to prepare them for what awaits them. Thus, indirectly, we might be creating inverted personalities who fail to connect with the fact that they are part and parcel to the society at large. This effort to “protect them” as I’ve seen, only increases their hunger to break away from the pride lands and kick it with Beyonce. The most difficult youth I’ve dealt with were all graduates from such reservoirs. On the other hand, youth who went to public schools, had non-Muslim friends and engaged were far more comfortable with themselves. The others, to put it bluntly were walking Freudian slips.
2. Education standards and Ethics:
So far, and I’ve taught in Islamic schools for a number of year and have a degree in elementary education, I’ve not seen, at least in the States, any Islamic school that can educate a child the way public schools do. The latter have issues, but the former have not, in most cases I’ve seen, lived up to the visions associated with them. When it comes to testing your kids, addressing learning issues and cognitive development, many public schools are setting some amazing trends. Islamic schools are not able to offer the same resources for a simple reason: money.
Unfortunately Islamic Schools have become the focus of many a political battle in communities. Wives, who are unqualified, of mosque board presidents get hired and some boards have no clue about education. In fact, I remember, during a job interview being asked, “Does one really need a degree to be a good teacher?”
4. At the end of the day, WE must raise our kids:
No Islamic school, nor any other institute is going to do the job that good parents can do. It is a simple fact that schools, and in recent years, the internet are closing in on parents as the most important factors in a child’s life. However, religion, morals and faith should be looked at like a grammar that is acquired, not preached, or uploaded. Organic, robust religious experiences come through a set of sociological constructs that are formed, shaped, nurtured and lived in one’s home.
Allah knows best but I would:
1. Make Istikhara.
2. Talk with other parents in the community.
3. Make a decision based on the above.
4. Visit both schools and look at the philosophy of each school/ask to see test scores as well.
We ask Allah to bless you both, protect your children and raise your status. Please don’t take these words and write them in stone. They are mere opinions. They might be right or they might be wrong.
Assalamu Alaikum Wr Wb,
Should we celebrate mother’s day/ father’s day? what are the pluses, minuses for doing so?
Alhamdulillah after three hours surfing the net I found the answer to my month long question. Thank you brother, intellectually and logically you have convinced me to make the right decision.
We sent our daughter (10 years old) to a new Islamic school in an effort to ‘protect’ her from the negative influences out there. Her previous public school was good at identifying her strength and she was eligible for gifted and talented program. The Islamic school being new, lack resources and good teachers. The vision is good but then I have not seen real meaningful work towards fulfilling it. Plus the school is heavily control by a few individuals with narrow definition of what education really means.
I have to trust myself to be able to guide my children to be strong Muslim, comfortable with who they are, confident, fair and caring. She is going back to public school!
May Allah reward you generously.
This is really true. I am very close to my father, and wish that whoever i marry is like him! My father was never practicing when I was younger, which was a shame because he was such a good man mashAllah. I could never do anything behind his back simply because he was so good to us. As the Prophet (pbuh) said, the best of you in jahiliya are the best of you in Islam. Alhamdillah, Allah guided my father and i ca truly say he is one of the best men mashAllah 🙂
May Allah guide all fathers to be role models for their children.
Excellent article MashaAllah.
I did not understand clearly one piece however and that is , Allah says,”I saw in my dream 11 stars and the Sun and the Moon prostrating towards me.
Allah cannot dream is that right?
Please clarify, JazakaAllah Khairan.
That was a typo. Jazakillahu khayr for pointing that out. The typo has been fixed.
Shukran for sharing those very important points.Inshallah I will be a father in 2 months time and I hope I can implement these points with my child.