This topic was delivered by Habib Kazim al-Saqqaf and translated by Shaykh Ibrahim Osi Efa in Luton on 15th December 2011.

In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate

All praise to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. And salutations and greetings upon our master Muhammad and upon his family and companions. I intend to study and teach, take and give a reminder, take and give benefit, take and give advantage, to encourage the holding fast to the book of Allah and the way of his messenger, and calling to guidance and directing towards good hoping for the countenance of Allah and His pleasure, proximity and reward, transcendent is He.

The Mother Is The Teacher

Blessings be upon the Prophet [salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa alihi wa sallam] until the day we meet Allah (Exalted is He). The most important stage in one’s development of mind is childhood. How did the Prophet [salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa alihi wa sallam] interact with children around him?

Children can move very swiftly without thinking, the role of the caregiver is vital. Child becomes cognisant of the world through the window of parents. The mother’s primary role is in the house. The most important thing to give them is the  relationship between parents and children. The mother is the first madrasa, she even interprets on behalf of the father. She has more of a responsibility.

The two most important things for children are.

  1. Sanctity of the relationship between parent and child
  2. Embedding faith in the heart of child, so child is not subject to any doubt when child grows up. It is impossible for faith to be embedded in the child by way of philosophy-that will cause doubt. Affirm faith in the heart of the child, in the beginning this is very simple; you do this by telling them stories of Prophets, and righteous.

Through stories one can attain faith, which will be as strong as a rock, these are specific stories that relate to miracles of the Prophets, and righteous. Children have a very vast imagination; they are able to believe in wondrous things. Child may pose some questions, when stories are told to them; the effect of them is immense. Examples of stories include: The miraculous events that occur in the life of the Prophet [salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa alihi wa sallam] like during his birth, his nurturing, the hijrah. When the child grows up, he begins to feel the effects of the stories, through these narratives; it begins to attach the child to Allah, His existence, and the fact that He is the Bestower.

When the Prophet [salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa alihi wa sallam] was young, his chest split, no injury was seen: this assists in affirming faith in the child. Narratives allow the child not to rely in his/her intellect. Example in the hijrah, where the bounty hunter, who spotted the Prophet [salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa alihi wa sallam] was swallowed by the earth, after it had split open. In the Isra Wal Mi’raj, in a split second, the Prophet [salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa alihi wa sallam] travels to Jerusalem, and then to Paradise.

An adult can hear these narratives, but it has more effect on child. As adults we question things, the child has the ability to embrace the little they know. There are many realities that occur, which are beyond the human intellect, the seerah is rich with these narratives, it’s not limited, and the same is with other Prophets too. Sayyidina Ibrahim (alayhis-salam) was cast in the fire, it did not harm him. Sayyidina Ismail (alayhis-salam) is in the desert, Sayyidah Hajra (May Allah be pleased with her) is experiencing great fear, ZamZam pours forth from beneath the wing of Jibreel (alayhis-salam). How the army of Musa (alayhis-salam) is saved from the army of Pharaoh, they are able to traverse the Red Sea, whilst the army of Pharaoh drowns. We have examples from the life of the sahaba, one day Sayyidina Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) is on the mimbar, he calls out to his companion who is in a distant land, ‘O Sari’aa be careful of the mountain , O Sari’aa be careful of the mountain ..’

These have a very profound effect. When the child grows up, and is confronted with beliefs which sow doubt, these stories will be a barrier. All religions rest upon this affair, when a Prophet engages his people, he presents to them arguments that argue for His existence, when people deny this, and thereby what manifests is the utmost judge, i.e. the miracles, which decipher between the two parties. Those destined to be believers, move into the sphere of faith, those destined otherwise move towards that. The younger generation will be exposed to wondrous things, like the Dajjal, one who is not fortified with true faith prior to this manifestation; they will be taken by the magicians and Dajjal. We should be affirming faith in children, especially for the next generation who will be confronted by these events.

In relation to stories of the awliya, begin with those mentioned in the Qur’an, like Sayyidah Maryam (May Allah be pleased with her), story of Sayyidina Sulaiman (alayhis-salam) and the Queen Bilqees. Then look into the lives of companions, then those of the righteous who live in our time, or just prior to our time, or in our vicinity. This is a great responsibility upon us, as it relates to His affirmation. This is upon the parents in the home, and the teachers in the schools.

Habib Hassan Al-Attass, was most affected in his childhood, his parents would speak of a wali (friend of Allah), who lived in a valley close to Hadhramout. He said when I heard this, faith would be embedded in my heart, and I felt close to Allah (Exalted is He).

Khalid Muhammad Khalid, a contemporary writer, what affected him most was a narrative of someone who lived in Egypt; people would see him where they didn’t expect to see him. Tarbiyah is very important but also very effective.

How does one direct the child with compassion? A child can make mistakes, Imam Ghazali states, one should alert the child with up most kindness and not publically. When a child displays shame, it’s a good sign; it shows the light of intellect is becoming illumined in the child. If the child does something wrong and tries to cover that, then one should show ignorance to the wrong, and tell the child in another way that was incorrect. The mother and father both have different roles. The mother should try to renovate the role of the father; the child will listen to the father more than the mother, especially with boys. Mothers should instil the awe (haibah) of the father, and the mother should maintain this. One should not think that in the absence of the father, a child cannot be reared properly, rather the contrary holds true. Other male figures can take the role of the father. Even in the absence of these male figures, child can still be raised properly. Never forget that the Prophet  was raised as an orphan, Aminah Bint Wahb (May Allah be pleased with her) passed away whilst he [salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa alihi wa sallam] was six. Many great figures were raised without fathers, the parents’ success lies in the role of the mother. Were we to look at those raised by fathers alone, or mothers alone, those successfully raised were those raised under mothers alone.

 Question & Answer

1.    What is the best age to send child to Tarim?

The predecessors would take the child to the pious to receive ijazahs, even though the child was not cognisant of this. This causes an increase in the child’s spiritual development. Child can benefit more in such environments; they don’t have the veils that adults have. This is of benefit regardless of age, but once they reach the age of discernment (buloogh/puberty) they can benefit even more.

2.    What is better home school or Islamic schools?

The most important madrasa is the home; the success of the child at other schools depends on the home. Those children who study at home, cultures can be protected. There is a generation of Hadhramis (those originally from Tarim, Hadramawt) who migrated to Saudi Arabia; they still maintained their beliefs despite they were going to their schools. If we fulfil our role at home, we shouldn’t fear what child faces outside home. When child returns home, the contradictory beliefs can be removed from child.

3.    Single mother bringing up children.

Mother shouldn’t display feelings of absence of father; the loss of the mother is far greater. Mother should not allow child to feel he is missing something. The mother should be convinced that she has a profound effect on a child in the early years, she should take the opportunity to maximise this benefit. Modern studies mention, the absence of the father allows the child to flourish, the father figure in early years can even block out the right nurturing. One should never believe that the father not being present would be a preventative. Often when the father figure is present, mother places her trust in the father, when he is absent, she places her trust solely in Allah (Exalted is He), and at this point Allah (Exalted is He) bestows her and the child with spiritual sustenance. Ordinary people place their trust in Allah when going through difficulties; the pious people do this all the time.

4.    Mothers who work

She should dedicate an hour or two to the child. Allah (Exalted is He) will allow the child to benefit due to the sanctity of the relationship between the parent and child. It’s not enough that the relationship be based on dictates, which is based on commands, that’s not what is encouraged, this must be based on love, respect and profound feelings for the child. Some salaf, would sit in front of the child, as if they were a child themselves, in order to give the child a proper voice. The father and mother would be the best friend of the child. In the Ba’Alawi school, the relationship between the mother and father is well seen, like the example of Habib ‘Alawi ash-Shihaab with Muhammad Shihab and there are lots of other examples. When you have this type of relationship, the child is able to move into a self-corrected mode. Abu Bakr Bin Abdillah al-Aydarus, said, ‘My father never scolded me except when I read a book called, Meccan Openings, I said I understood the book, my father said, I fear your understanding of the book is wrong.’

Habib Abdul Qadir as-Saqqaf mentions, ‘I was only scolded when I told a white lie, once I went to see a football match, I was late for maghrib. So I prayed in another mosque…’ [His father was the Imam of masjid Tahir, he was ill at the time Habib Abdul Qadir thought that he’d pray maghrib at home] His father asked him, ‘where did you pray maghrib?’. He replied, ‘Masjid Tahir.’ His father then asked, ‘Who was the Imam?’, he replied the Mu’allim [a teacher who would lead the prayers, when Habib’s father wouldn’t be able to do so] ‘You say the Mu’allim led the prayer?’ His father then took him to the house of the Mu’allim. Father asked Mu’allim, ‘Who led the salat-tul-maghrib?’ to which he said, ‘You did, O Imam Ahmad.’ Father said to Habib, ‘did you hear that O Abdul Qadir?’ then he took him home. Habib would say, ‘till my father passed away, that affair remained with me.’

These notes are not mine. All credit should go to the note taker so please keep the note taker in your duas.