Baby Steps to Becoming a Master Parent
By Wadud Hassan
[An experienced educational management professional, Br. Wadud lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife and twin daughters. He can be reached at whassan[at]furqaan.org]
A father cannot give a better gift to his son than a good education. (Tirmidhi)
After being married for 10 years and then a hospital stay of close to 138 days, we were blessed with two beautiful baby girls. That was one year after we clung to the Kaaba and prayed for pious offspring. Little did we know the challenges of raising “Pious Offspring”!
My wife and I have both been involved in the field of education working as a teacher, counselor, and administrator in several local and international private and public schools and colleges.
Becoming a parent was an amazing experience, and after waiting for 10 years and being in the profession of educating children, we thought we were ready! It is only after becoming parents that we connected with the reality that you are never fully ready until you become one!
Good parenting is like being a Good Muslim – both require continuous struggles to stay focused on our goals (that is, if we take the time to even set them in the first place), being conscious of the consequences of our choices, an ongoing and honest evaluation of ourselves, and the best efforts to improve our condition.
God does not change the condition of people until they change what is in themselves. (Qur’an 13:11)
The struggle is real but God is the best facilitator and He, out of His infinite mercy, has made His deen (religion) easy – ad-deenu yusrun (Bukhari) – and many times I find that it is our lack of knowledge, or a structured routine to bring that knowledge to practice that prevents us from moving forward. Therefore, I am here to share my personal reflection of 4 simple steps that I plan to take in raising ideal children by the enabling grace of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (Glorified is He). And the key to success, I feel, is in starting each of the following 4 practices in a small but consistent, meaningful and qualitative way – making the foundation of these deeds strong and grow from there. The actions most beloved to Allah are those that are small but done consistently (Bukhari).
1. Start with Yourself
Become a student of knowledge—A learned man has more power over Satan than a devout worshipper. (Tirmidhi)
- Meet with a Scholar (someone that motivates and inspires you to remember and get closer to God) regularly. Scholars are the inheritors of the Prophets – so create a strong bond of friendship with one that prevents you and your family from stagnation. Ask his or her advice regularly. Take your child(ren) to these gatherings/meetings regularly.
- Read books and scholarly research on Parenting in Islam, and stay in touch with the modern scientific research on parenting and child psychology (e.g. Parenting with Love and Logic – www.loveandlogic.com) always examining them with the lens of Islamic ethos.
- But above all, where else can we find guidance other than the beautiful examples of our beloved Nabi (Prophet) Muhammad ﷺ (peace be upon him)? He was sent as a mercy to the whole mankind (Qur’an 21:107), sent to perfect human character (muatta) in every role including that of the father and indeed Allah (swt) has kept the best examples in his conduct (Qur’an 33:21).
Be a role model—The example of the person who teaches people good and neglects himself is like a lamp, which is a source of illumination for people and burns itself. (Tabarani)
- Action speaks louder than words—and this is where we seem to fall short in today’s intellectual era where a vast amount of knowledge is easily available but only a small fraction of conforming ideals and character traits are seen in people. Rather than telling our children not to be on the iPod or watch too much TV – we can show them through our actions and read a book together!
- Model the best character. Always advise with kindness. Teach patience by practicing patience and perseverance. Delay gratification and focus on teaching them routines. Stay silent and never discipline when angry. Verily anger destroys faith as aloe spoils honey (Baihaqi). Behave with your spouse, parents, relatives and friends kindly and courteously as our elders and scholars have recorded many incidents of people not respectful to their parents or spouse and they reaped the ill consequences of their actions by similar and unpleasant treatments from their children later in life.
- Be a friend. Always make sincere effort to understand your children’s perspectives and do not force yours. Show love and empathize. Be easily approachable. Shall I not inform you about the person who is forbidden from the Fire and for whom the Fire is forbidden? Anyone who is close to people, soft and lenient (Ibid).
2. Ensure an Ideal Learning Environment
Create a balance between work and home—Our child’s education is equally or more important than work (depends on where we work) and hence, the need for our commitment to spend quality time with the family. Invest time in establishing an ideal learning environment at home.
Establish a timetable—Time management is the biggest challenge for us parents. We can involve our family in planning a daily schedule that everyone agrees on. Be it for 10 minutes, establish a study circle to talk, read or discuss about the essentials of deen and especially the life and sayings of the Prophet ﷺ.
Pay attention to the family’s spiritual and physical health—Create and follow a healthy diet plan, commit to physical activities with your family at least three times a week, build a daily connection with the masjid (mosque) and minimize waste of time (i.e. monitor TV, Electronic Games and Internet Access) while also having healthy choices for relaxing and rejuvenating the body and the mind.
3. Train Your Child in the Best Character and Etiquette
Keep God in mind wherever you are; follow a wrong with a right that offsets it; and treat people courteously (Tirmidhi). We find three great qualities from this hadith (prophetic narration) that we can inculcate in our children:
- God Consciousness – Our children need to be trained to be conscious of their actions and learn the consequences of good and bad choices.
- Accountability – You make the mess, you clean the mess. From a young age, always give them choices and do not be afraid to let them make a mistake, as that will provide an opportunity to impart a valuable lesson on responsibility, which they will hopefully always remember.
- Courtesy – This character trait should be part of an early training we provide our children. They should always be kind and courteous to their parents, teachers, peers, siblings and to all of God’s creation. Courtesy is rooted in mercy for others and this is a required characteristic of a true Muslim – courtesy must be extended to the teacher, to knowledge, and to the environment of learning.
Dedicate weekly family discussion or reading sessions on other special character traits such as respect, kindness, trustworthiness, and best effort. Enforce positive behavior—a simple acknowledgement can also go a long way.
4. Take Refuge in Du`a’
Who was able to do any of these steps better than the beloved and chosen messengers of God (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon them)? But they knew full well that the results of their efforts and the true guidance were in the hands of Allah (swt), who has power over all things.
We, therefore, must learn to pray to Allah (swt) regularly for our children, learn the du`a’s (supplication) from the Book of Allah and the examples of Allah’s Messenger ﷺ and recite them from the heart to attract the mercy, guidance and acceptance of Allah (swt) as he is the true Murabbi (Nurturer) and can make up for our shortcomings in guiding and shaping our most valuable trust—our children. Indeed whomever Allah guides is truly guided, and whomever He misguides no one can guide him. Here are a few beautiful du`a’s from the Qur’an parents can recite regularly:
Rabbana waj`al muslimayni laka wa min dhurryatina ummatam muslimatal lak wa arina manasikana watub `alayna innaka antat tawwabur raheem.
Our Lord! And make us submissive towards you and from our offspring a nation obedient to You – and show us the ways of our worship, and incline towards us with Your mercy; indeed You only are the Most Acceptor of Repentance, the Most Merciful. (Qur’an 2:128)
Rabbi habli milla dunka dhurryatan tayyiba innaka samiud du`a’
[Zachariah prayed] My Lord, grant me from pure offsprings. Verily, You hear prayers. (Qur’an 3:38)
Rabbahuma la-en ataytana salihan lana kunanna minash shakireen
O Allah! Surely if you give us a well-formed child, we shall be forever thankful. (Qur’an 7:189)
Rabbi j`alni muqimus salati wa min dhurryyati rabbana wataqabbal du`a’
O my Lord! Maintain me as one who establishes prayer, and some of my descendants; O our Lord! and accept my prayer. (Qur’an 14:40)
Rabbi la tadharni fardaw wa anta khayrul warithin
[ Zakaria prayed] O my Lord – do not leave me without offspring, and You are the Best Inheritor. (Qur’an 21:89)
Rabbana hablana min azwajina wa dhurryatina qurrata a’yuniw waj`alna lil muttaqina imama
Our Lord, soothe our eyes with our wives and our children, and make us leaders of the pious. (Qur’an 25:74)
Jazakallah to u brother May the Almighty Bless u and your family in abundance Insha ALLAH……Iv had a longing for this guidance surly ALLAH is ALL MERCYFUL..Cause He has guided me to this beautiful article Alhumdulillah
Can you please provide the Arabic or reference number for the Hadith in At-Tirmidhi?
Mashallah, very helpful post!
the arabic is appearing backwards, if that could be fixed?
but mA, beautiful article, jazakAllahkhair!
fixed alhamdulilLah! JazakAllahu khayr for bringing this to our attention!
May ALLAH shower blessings on you , family and and on all brothers and sisters. Alhamdulillah , blessed with a baby boy today and please include me and my family in your dua…
Ameen and Congrats mA! May Allah keep him healthy and on the straight path. May Allah grant you the tranquility and ease to be a very successful parent!
Even if someone isn’t a parent; this article is a great read w/ practical information.
Islam is a practical religion; and hence any advice that stems from it is practical as well.
MashAllah knowledgble article,bought tears in my eyes.i m an expecting mother to 21month old baby boy n i want my children to grow up as mumin’s. May Allah help me.
Pray you have a safe and easy delivery and your family blessed with a beautiful, healthy and pious child.
I can’t wait to read this article…been pondering on this so much. jazak Allahu khayran!
May Allah reward u loads brother for sharing this valuable reminder! Inshallah Allah (swt) guides us all to do Amal on the above and we be better parents for our children ameen and jazakallah khair
Ameen! I needed that Du’a. 🙂
thanks for this good article, it will assist me in preparing myself as a parent one day..it is so true that we need to be the role model first, in order to raise pious off-springs, we ourselves are actually striving to be the best Muslims we could be on a daily basis, i honestly believe that being a Muslim is a journey, and therefore once we become parents we bring our children in that journey together …InsyaAllah…
Beautifully expressed, mA! 🙂
Jazak Allah khairun for this great reminder, brother.
In your article you mentioned setting goals for raising your children.. Would you please give some examples? I really need help in this area.
WaYaKum Sister. Goals can be set depending on your family’s norms. Some examples are:
1. Exposing them to Quran on a regular basis in their Infant and toddlers years (turning on audio during their nap time or before going to sleep).
2. Reading to them regularly with a set schedule.
2. Making sure they are exposed to Arabic and English literacy between the ages of 1-4 (before they attend Pre-school).
3. Setting a routine for regular healthy outdoor activities for the family.
4. Enrolling them in physical activities from a young age.
5. Many children respond really well to a structured Quran class from 3 or 4.
6. Setting your family’s priorities as to what type of school your children will attend and how to supplement that school with needed after-school and weekend religious or extra-curricular activities.
7. Starting a sharia compliant Educational savings account (ESA) within their first year.
8. Exposing them to the Masjid and community based service projects from a very young age so that they develop a strong inclination in being involved in ways to serve and give others.
Living in a very materialistic, high-achieving culture, our children just like us can easily lose focus to strive for an exemplary character and to prepare for the hereafter. We just have to continue to set and reset goals to not to lose focus ourselves and to also guide our children. It is one of the biggest struggles but also one of the most rewarding.
Not sure if this helps? May Allah give me the tawfiq to practice as I need it the most.
Alhamdullillah I found your article, for I have been struggling to have a baby and it’s been more than 3 years of marriage. There are times when I wonder why everyone else who get married after me, conceived immediately and some of them are having second, third children by now, while I have to wait and wait.
You, however, have helped me to realise that everything happened with Allah’s will. Allah knows what’s best for me. I do pray to be blessed with pious children every day and for now, I just want to gain knowledge in Islam and other subjects so that one day I can educate my own children (or someone else).
All praise to Allah SWT that you found this beneficial. I pray you will soon have beautiful children. So while you try and pray for your children, do not forget to fully enjoy the time with your husband and the community now as you will then miss the days before children when you could sleep for 8 hours straight 🙂
Now I find myself coming back to this article whenever I am feeling down. And with Allah’s mercy I feel better every time I read this article. I remind myself that Allah is testing my patience and I believe Allah is planning something great for me.
Salam, Sr. Sarah, That is the spirit mA! Allah SWT definitely has something great planned for you :-). Patience will be the most heavy on the scale on the DOJ! May Allah grant you tranquility and contentment.
We went through a period of blues yearning for children. Thinking about those who are in worst conditions that we are always made us feel thankful – today we can not imagine the pain of the people in Syria, Egypt and other places we hear about where parents are having to bury their own children. We pray for them to be reunited in the hereafter – but we also take lessons from their resilience and thank Allah for the security and health He has granted us.
After our kids, my wife and I always talk about why we did not go out and attend more Spiritual Retreats, Workshops, Volunteer opportunities before the kids…sometimes immersing yourself in taking care of someone else’s needs (whether it is Habitat, Shelter, Soup Kitchen, or whatever else you feel passionately about) is a great way to overcome your own difficulties iA…
Sadaqa every day even if very small (like a dime or a quarter) also helped us tremendously. We will pray for you and please keep us in your prayers!
Today, I revisited this post again, after hearing and witnessing even more pregnancies from others. I was feeling down, but as usual, this post reminded me of all the good things in life, Over the last 12-24 months, I have been able to attend workshops and seminars, meeting people and gaining a lot of knowledge. Today, when I read this post and the comments, it reminded me of my life purpose. I hope this article will remain online for as long as possible.
[…] And You thought you were Ready?? by Wadud Hassan (Guest Author) Taking baby steps to becoming a master parent. . […]
MashAllah such a compact and motivating article for parents!This sort of writing is always helpful, even people with limited knowledge on Islam can be benefited.I found many new things to practice with my kids!I felt good also that Alhamdullillah I already practice many of them.The eloquent presentation made the article lively!