15 Nov Practicing Good Conduct in the Family.Part1
Good character is not only taught but can also be caught.
Being a person of good character can best be achieved by learning what is good and bad, observing the limits set by God in the Scripture, witnessing good conduct in daily life, and emulating personal examples. To this end, modeling good character, especially in the family, is essential in raising children with character.
Morality, manners, and social life are learned in the family first.
A healthy, ordered family life is necessary, as love and respect can be witnessed best in such a family. Good character characteristics can be gained and developed in the family. A child who learns respect for the grandmother and grandfather, obedience to the father and mother, and decent behavior toward those of their own generation within the family will have these positive traits when they enter society at large.
With that introduction, let us take a look at good conduct in the family.
TREATING CHILDREN WITH COMPASSION
As is well known, daily prayers and fasting are among the most essential pillars of our faith. But in both these practices, we can clearly see compassion for children, both in the religious guidelines and in the example of the Prophet’s life.
While performing daily prayers has the highest priority in worship for the Prophet, he never refrained from being kind to children, even while praying or leading the congregational prayers. For example, the Prophet’s granddaughter Umama would come to the mosque to play and climb on the Prophet’s shoulders and back as he led the prayers. When he went to prostrate he put the child down, and when he straightened up he took her up on his shoulders again. Sometimes he wished to lengthen the congregational prayers, but if he heard a child crying at the back of the mosque, he would change his plans and shorten the prayers out of compassion for the child and the feelings of the mother.
There is another important narration which demonstrates clearly the extent of Prophet Muhammad’s consideration for children. This was conveyed by ‘Abdullah ibn Shaddad from his father:
“God’s Messenger came to us for the evening prayers one day. He carried one of his grandchildren, Hasan or Husayn. He put the child on the floor and went to the front (to lead us). Then he recited the opening takbir and began the prayers. During the prayer, he stayed prostrated for a long time. (Since it was so long) I picked up my head and looked. What did I see! A child had climbed on the Prophet’s back while he was prostrating, and was sitting there. Immediately I prostrated again. When the prayers had finished, the people asked him, ‘O Messenger of God! The prostration was so long, we thought something had happened to you, or perhaps you were receiving revelation?’ He answered, ‘No! Neither of these things happened. My child had climbed on my back. I thought it inappropriate to hurry him to get off before he was ready to (I waited until he got down before continuing).’”
This compassion for children in Islam is not limited to prayer times. When we look at fasting (in the month of Ramadan, when all believers are required to fast), there are important exceptions for mothers and children.
For example, as a mercy from God to women and their children, pregnant or nursing mothers are given legal allowance not to fast.
Again, another important principle is that children under the age of puberty are not obligated to observe the fast.
They are also exempted from the obligation of the other acts of worship until they reach the age of puberty and discretion.Normally this age is considered to be fifteen years old.
One of the most serious wrongs that can be done to a child is for the parents to curse the child—even if it only happens “by mistake” due to impatience on a rare occasion. The danger of this type of curse is that even when the bad words slip out of a person’s mouth, they are a form of prayer. Jabir relates,
“The Messenger said, ‘Do not pray against your own souls, do not pray against your children, do not pray against your servants. Do not even pray against your possessions. For if you pray at the time when prayers are accepted, God may accept your prayer.”
Once in a war zone, some children were caught between the enemy lines and were killed. When the Prophet heard about this, he was grief stricken. The solders, seeing this, asked him,
“O Messenger of God, why are you so disconsolate? Were not these children of the enemies of God?” He answered, “Even if they were children of the enemy, they were human beings. Weren’t the most pious among you the children of the enemy at one point? You must take the utmost care never to kill children. By God every life is created with a nature that is open to faith and Islam.”
One day when he was being affectionate to his grandchildren, a Bedouin came into the Prophet’s presence. When this man, who was devoid of compassion for his children, saw the scene, he could not hide his surprise and said,
“I have ten children, and I have never kissed any of them.” The Prophet answered, “If God Almighty has extracted all the mercy from your heart, what can I do? Those who have no mercy will be shown none.”
Anas ibn Malik recounted,
“The Prophet used to join us children and, smiling, banter with us.” Anas also recalled, “I served God’s Messenger for ten years. I swear before God, he never once lost his patience with me. He never asked me, ‘Why did you do that? You should have done it another way.’”