This is a heartwarming account of one Shaykh's efforts in educating his children. It gives us something to shoot for, and a real life example so we know it is not unrealistic. The article originally appears here in Arabic. I'd like to say jazakAllahu khayr to my friend ibn Dhaakir for translating this and to our brother Abu Bakr for helping edit it.
All praise is due to Allāh, the Lord of the worlds, and may prayers and peace be upon the Messenger of Allāh, his family, his companions, and those who follow them until the Day of Resurrection.
As salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,
Allāh the Most Exalted said in his glorious book: “But the bounty of the Lord – rehearse and proclaim!” (Ad-Duha:11). It is from the blessings of Allāh upon us, glorified be He, that He granted us our noble shaikh and father: Ihsaan ibn Muḥammad ibn Aa'ish al-Utaibi, may Allāh preserve him as a gracious father, a righteous educator, and an excellent teacher. This is how we perceive him, and we do not praise anyone over Allāh.
Among the blessings which Allāh has given our father is that He made many of his children huffadh of Allāh's Book. This is the blessing which I want to discuss with you. I hope that Allāh will allow us to benefit from this, and that his raising of his children will be an example for us and for all Muslim families.
I am only going to write about the extent of his children's memorization along with their ages and some of their surprising accomplishments. This is especially important because we are almost at the beginning of the summer vacations, and I want to encourage all fathers and mothers to have their children memorize the Book of Allāh. Also, he is an example for the youth and others to use their time wisely, especially because their vacations have begun, so they should hurry to the numerous Qur'an memorization programs and the Sunnah memorization programs, and Allāh is the source of success.
It is an example for every Muslim Family that our honorable father has six children who have memorized the Book of Allāh and the Prophetic Sunnah
* One of them is Dawud: He memorized the Book of Allāh at 8 years of age, and he memorized some other texts as well: The 40 Hadith of imām Nawawi, al-Ajarrumiyyah [a text on Arabic grammar], al-Bayquniyya [a poem on Hadith terminology], Umdat al Ahkam of imām Al-Maqdisi [a collection of legal Hadiths taken from as-Sahihayn], and Riyadh as Salihin of imām Nawawi [a famous Hadith collection].
(However, in reality he has forgotten some of these texts because of school – which I consider a huge reason behind the corruption of the contemporary generation – and with Allāh is help sought … however, Dawud is going to revise those texts, in sha Allāh).
He is now on the path to complete his memorization of Bukhāri and Muslim, because he has focused his energies on memorizing the texts of the Sunnah – and they are the Prophetic Hadith. In this vacation, he is going to Shaikh Yahya al-Yahya's memorization program which is held in Mecca in order to complete his memorization by the Will of Allāh.
He is now 15 years of age.
*Another child is Malik: He completed memorizing the Book of Allāh at 9 years of age. He has memorized the following texts: 40 Hadith of imām Nawawi, Bulugh al Maram [collection of legal Hadiths], and he is now on the way to completing the memorization of Bukhāri and Muslim. He is known for his love of reading the books of history and sīrah despite his young age, so much so that I find him reading large and difficult books like Siyar A'lam an Nubalaa by imām adh-Dhahabi [this book is almost 40 volumes of biographies of famous scholars and important personalities], Tarikh al Islam by imām adh-Dhahabi [Siyar A'lam an-Nubala is taken from this book of history], Tabaqat al Kubra by imām Ibn Saad [history of narrators], Zaad al Maad by imām Ibn al Qayyim [fiqh of sīrah], Seerat an Nabi by Ibn Hisham [sīrah], and other books.
Once his father asked Malik's shaikh, Shaikh Muḥammad al-Jamal, about the general of a military campaign. Shaikh al-Jamal told him, “Ask your son Malik!” So [Malik's father] asked me to ask Malik [the question]. I asked him and he immediately gave the answer.
He is now 11 years old.
* His children also include the twins, Mu'adh and Mu'awiyah. They both completed memorizing the Book of Allāh at 9 1/2 together, and they will very soon start memorizing Bukhāri and Muslim by the Will of Allāh. They are very keen to begin the memorization, but the methodology of our Shaikh Ridwan al-Jalaad is that we should not begin memorizing anything until we complete memorizing the Book of Allāh by heart.
Their age is now a little over 9 years.
His children are many, praise be to Allāh, and those who have not yet memorized [the Qur'ān] are still below the age of 9, and they are on the path of memorizing the Book of Allāh.
* His children also include 'Umar: He memorized the Book of Allāh at 13 years of age, but he has forgotten part of it, and that is because he memorized it in a short amount of time. He also did not revise for a while because of the passing away of his shaikh, may Allāh have mercy upon him… However, he is now revising strongly to get back what he forgot, and all praise is due to Allāh.
It is befitting that I advise everyone who enters the memorization programs in these upcoming days, to devise a specific and strong schedule for revising what he memorized, especially the Book of Allāh, because it is very easy to forget.
And to be frank: whoever enters these programs – the programs of memorization in a month or more – and he is unable to continue striving afterwards by revising what he had memorized, he shouldn't tire himself by entering the [memorization] program because he will forget very quickly.
This is something that is apparent to us. Some of the brothers memorized the Book of Allāh in one month, some more and some less, but afterwards returned to the starting point due to laziness [in reviewing], and from Allāh is help sought.
For this reason, whoever wants to enter these memorization programs, he should always be [prepared to] review after the end of the session. Otherwise he shouldn't tire himself and others; he should memorize what he's able to – and Allāh does not burden a soul more than what it can bear.
One very interesting story is that he also has a 7 year old daughter whose name is Latifa – she fasts Mondays and Thursdays. Take note: this is a voluntary fast! However, my father recently forbade her from fasting a little less than a month ago, because the summer season has entered and fasting is difficult for her because she is weak, and it is apparent that she is sick. And how rare it is to find such a thing in these days. She excels in reading the Qur'an and has memorizing two and a half juz' by heart, and to Allāh belongs all praise.
It is fitting here to suggest to the readers that they read this article which my father, may Allāh preserve him, wrote a few years ago, in which he mentioned that over 18 years ago, he hoped to one day have sons who had memorized Allāh's Book and would be able to correct him in ṣalāh if he erred. Indeed, Allāh has fulfilled this desire of his for he now leads the prayer in his masjid with six huffadh from his sons standing behind him. In fact, they themselves have at times lead the prayer with him praying behind them. You will find this, along with other of his articles at this page here: http://saaid.net/Doat/ehsan/index.htm. And to Allāh is due all praise and thanks.
Another very interesting point to mention is that whenever I enter their bedroom, I will remain standing for some time smiling as I see them all sleeping, each one with Allāh's Book next to his head, open at the place where he reached in his reviewing or memorization. And I will see traces of the Light from Allāh's Book upon their faces.
It is also interesting to note that my brother Mu'awiyah concerning whom I have written, one time said in great sadness to my mother, may Allāh continuously grant her health and prosperity, “Mother, if only you would be as keen concerning the Qur'an and the portion our shaykh gives us the way you are so keen about our school books.”
By Allāh, she was shocked when she heard those words from him, and I said to myself, “Glad tidings to him for his love of the Book of Allāh, Mighty and Majestic.”
The purpose in all that I have mentioned to you, o beloved brothers for the sake of Allāh, is only so that it may be a lesson to us and an encouragement to raise our children correctly. Furthermore, as I write these words, I feel remorse for the children of today, in fact, even for the children of some of those who appear to be pious or scholars and students of knowledge, and I say to myself, “If the children of these pious people are like this, then how about the children of other people?” So ponder this matter!!
However, perhaps they are excused they only desire from their children to attain these worldly academic degrees (shahādāt). As for the testimonies (shahādāt) that will benefit them and their children in the worldly life and the Hereafter, they are not in need of them. However sufficient for me is to mention to them Allāh's Statement:
“O You who believe, guard yourselves and your families from a fire whose fuel is men and stones. Upon it are severe, stern angels who do not disobey Allāh in anything that He commands them and they do as they are commanded.”
And the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) has stated, “Indeed, all of you are shepherds, and all of you shall be questioned concerning your flocks. Hence, the leader of the people is a shepherd, and he shall be questioned concerning his flock, and the man is a shepherd amongst the people of his household and he shall be questioned concerning his flock. And the woman is shepherd over the house of her husband and his children, and she shall be questioned concerning them. The slave of a man is a shepherd over the property of his master and he shall be questioned concerning it. Surely, all of you are shepherds and all you shall be questioned concerning your flocks.” [Agreed Upon]
Furthermore, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) states, “Any shepherd who deceives his flock shall be in the Fire.” [Sahih al-Jami': 2713]
And with Allāh is help sought!!!
We ask Allāh (سبحانه وتعالى) to rectify the shepherds and their flocks and to guide us all to raising our children properly and teaching them the Book of Allāh and the Sunnah of their Prophet, prayers and peace be upon him. And we ask Him to guide our father to that which He loves and is pleased with, and to not deprive him of reward. And all praise is due to Allāh, the Lord of the Worlds.
Tariq ibn Ihsan ibn Muḥammad al-'Utaybi