Upbringing of children: The role of the father
It is sad to note that there seems to be an increasing tendency towards viewing parenthood in material terms only. ‘I have to see to it that my children are well fed, obtain a good education and are given a good start in life’.
This statement in essence gives us the sum total of how most fathers view their parental responsibility. Alas, even a limited understanding of Islamic principles will convince one of how erroneous and short-sighted such a viewpoint is. This point is encapsulated in the following Hadith wherein the very Deeni direction of a child is attributed to the role of the parents. Nabi (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) ‘Every child is born on Fitrat (a natural inclination towards perfect and practical Islam). It is his parents who turn him towards Judaism, Christianity or fire-worship’. (Mishkãt).
The father in essence is the role model of the child and has been given the pedestal of leadership in the home: ‘The man (father/husband) is the keeper and leader of his family’. (Mishkãt).
Leadership in Shariáh does not imply the right to be overbearing, but in actuality carries the meaning of responsibility. The father is the one who will be held responsible in the sight of Allah Taála for the Islamic development and nurturing of his children. A tremendous responsibility has come to bear upon his shoulders. To view this materialistically only, is the height of folly, for we have to realise that sustenance Allah Taála has taken to be His responsibility.
In essence, the actual point of contention is a spiritual one. This is clearly outlined for us in the following Hadith which beautifully and concisely outlines for us the role of the father. Nabi (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, ‘That man unto whom a child is born should give it a good name and ensure the beautiful and correct Islamic nurturing of the child. When the child comes of age, he should get the child married. Should the father fail to do so and his offspring indulges in sin, then the weight and punishment of it will come to bear upon the father’ (Mishkãt)
In clear and unambiguous terms, the father is being informed of the fact that the Islamic nurturing of his child is his responsibility, which Allah Taála has placed upon him. How seriously the Shariát views this can be ascertained by the fact that Nabi (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) has even mentioned that the sins of the child will come upon the father. In the light of such Ahaadith, how can we ever feel exonerated by the mere fulfilment of the material needs of our children?
An important point which we should never lose sight of is the fact that this task which the Shariát has placed upon us, should not be looked upon as a burden, for the correct fulfilment of it will bring such fruits to bear that are truly beyond our imagination. Consider the fact that pious children constitute one of the special avenues that will benefit us not only in this world but will become a means of our rewards multiplying even when we are in our graves. This is substantiated by a Hadith in Mishkãt Shareef.
In order to positively fulfil this responsibility, we have to lead by example in taking the initiative in practically demonstrating Islam to our children. Furthermore, by establishing daily Taáleem of Fazaail-e-Aámaal in our homes, we will find an atmosphere of practical Islam being created by the constant revision of the virtues of the various practices of Deen.
May Allah give us Tawfeeq and Hidaayat, Aameen.
Source: AL-Jamiat: Volume 3, No.4