By Hina Khan-Mukhtar

I still vividly remember the first night I spent by myself in the hospital after delivering my eldest son Shaan.  The guests were gone for the day, the hallway lights were dimmed, the nurses were speaking outside my room in muted tones.

“Knock, knock!” came a cheerful voice from the doorway.  “Someone's hungry and wants his mommy!”

The nurse wheeled in the crib that held my newborn, only a few hours old at the time.  She cooed over him as I struggled to sit up, then efficiently handed him into my waiting arms, bustling out of the room after giving me a few words of encouragement.

I pulled the blanket away from his cheek and smiled in awe at this fragile, little creature who was being left alone with me for the first time ever.  I felt privileged to be trusted with his care, overwhelmed with the weight of responsibility.  No one was watching over my shoulder; he was all mine and I could do whatever I wanted.

I felt it was an appropriate time to take care of something that no one had thought of arranging so far — introductions.

“Assalaamu alaikum,” I whispered to the warm bundle nestled against my chest, “I'm your mommy.”  I stroked his face and then asked the rhetorical question that every mother has asked since time immemorial.  “Now… how am I going to raise you?”

It's a question that I have continued to ask since that first magical night in the maternity ward.

I've asked it of grandparents, parents, sons, and daughters.  I've asked it of Pakistanis, Indians, Afghans, Arabs, Americans, Asians, and Africans.  I've sat people down at parties, emailed friends' parents, called up aunties on the telephone, and stopped uncles on their way out the door.  Any family whose practice of Islam has impressed me, any child whose manners have stunned me, any teenager whose conduct with his or her sibling has given me reason for pause, any adult whose balance of deen (religion) and dunya (world) has wowed me, I have accosted and asked,

“What exactly did your parents do with you?!”

“How did you raise your children?!”

“I beg you, tell me the secret of bringing up Mu'mineen like the ones I see in your home!”

What I have found in my years of “field research” is that nearly all of these families have stumbled upon the same basic secrets to success.  While many of them don't necessarily know one another, time and time again they have given me the same advice, the same tips, the same rules.  I would catalogue their stories in my head, thinking I could easily remember them later.  So when I was recently approached with the request for an article on Muslim parenting tips, I jumped at the chance to put it all down in writing and thus preserve the valuable insights I have gathered over the course of the past twelve years or so.

Here then, for my benefit and yours, are the tips from the “experts”, the tried-and-true heroes who have worked hard at (and, insha'Allah, succeeded at) securing their children's minds, hearts, and souls.  These words come from those parents — like you — whose primary purpose in life has been to direct their sons and daughters onto the Path they believe will earn them the Pleasure of their Creator and the respect of their fellow human beings.  Some of the advice may seem “common sense”, the type you could hear on any daytime talk show or read in any self-help book.  Other tips genuinely surprised me at how specific and unyielding they were in their insistence that “This is the only way”.  While there has been a whole variety of advice given to me, I have noticed a pattern emerging where the same ten “Rules of the Game” seem to keep reappearing in different shapes and forms; those dominant tips are the ones that I have chosen to focus on for the purpose of my article.

I have seen with my own eyes children under the age of ten who willingly set their own alarms to get up for Tahajjud prayer.  I have hosted a young soccer marvel in my home who begins his day before mine by reciting Qur'an at Fajr.  I know of an Ivy League university student who insisted on turning the car around because she realized she had left home without giving her mother salaams (farewell wishes).  I have been acquainted with doctors who make more money in a single month than most people make in a single year yet choose to live in small homes with no mortgages so that their salaries can be spent supporting scholars of Islam.  My husband and I work with a young man who once flew with his mother from California to Jordan, then turned around and returned on the next flight home — all of this so that his single mother didn't have to travel across the world alone.  I have witnessed fourth graders who were able to sit quietly with impeccable etiquette in front of Muslim scholars while the adults around them stretched, yawned, and sighed.  I have heard children silence their young friends with urgent reminders, “Don't say that about him!  It's backbiting!”

A sign of someone whom Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) loves is that when you see him/her, you remember Allah.  The examples I have listed here are all people who have caused me to wonder about my own station with Allah in relation to theirs; they have motivated me to at least try to change, to improve.  I'm sure readers will agree that, although Allah alone knows the hidden reality of hearts, these people at least seem to have triumphed both in their embodiment of the true spirit of Islam and in their practical participation in the dunya.  I pray that Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) will continue to send examples like them into our lives so that we may continue to learn and implement that which draws us closer to Him.  ameen.

1.)   du'a, du'a, du'a

“None of this is from us,” insists one mother of three UC Berkeley graduates who have never voluntarily missed a single prayer.  “Everything begins and ends with du'a.  It is only by His generosity that we have been blessed with believing children; we had nothing to do with it.  Now that we have it, we try to hold onto it by showing gratitude and not taking it for granted.”

Every single family I have “interviewed” about raising children in this day and age inevitably began by reminding me about the power of supplication.  “Every success I have seen in my family's life, I can remember having prayed for it first,” admits one grandmother of three huffadh (memorizers of Qur'an).   “If my du'a doesn't come true in this world, I have faith that it will in the next one, so I have patience.”

Another mother of four tells me, “I recited Surah Maryam every single day of my pregnancy.  I want pious children above all else — it's all that matters.”

A convert friend of mine suggests that couples who are about to embark on the path of parenthood should ask themselves, “Why do we even want children?”  She believes in renewing one's intentions on a daily basis.  “Who are we doing this for?”  When she gets embarrassed by something her children say or do, she questions herself, “Why am I upset?  Is it because I'm afraid that they're doing something displeasing to Allah?  Or is it because I'm afraid that they're displeasing people?”

Her unwavering du'a is that her children live their lives seeking only His pleasure.

Many families shared with me their reliance on salah-ul-Istikhaara (Prayer for Guidance) before making any major life-altering decisions and salah-ul-Haajah (Prayer for Need) when desiring something they felt was crucial for their children's well-being.  Whenever a blessing appeared in their lives, they were quick to pray salah-ul-Shukr (Prayer of Gratitude) as well.

“All that I have is due to my mother's duas,” believes one mother of five children.  “She was the one who was always praying for us, even when we forgot to.”

2.)   Suhba (companionship) will make you or break you.

“There were times we sacrificed our own friendships in order to do what was best for our children,” a married couple of sixteen years tells me.  When pressed for reasons why one would end a relationship, they explain, “Before we had children, we had friends who 'drank socially', who played poker, who hosted dance parties.  Once our kids were born, we avoided those types of atmospheres.  Our social gatherings are now the type where both the respected elders and the innocent children feel welcome and comfortable.”

“It doesn't necessarily need to be that it's the 'drinking, gambling, partying crowd' that is holding you back,” muses a mother of elementary school children upon hearing the couple's history.  “I have one set of 'dinner party friends' who believe in a 'children should be seen and not heard' philosophy.  They plant the kids around TV sets and video games while the parents socialize in other rooms.  Then I have another group of friends who engage their children in the adult conversations, who don't keep the younger ones 'out of sight, out of mind'.  It might surprise you to learn that my own kids actually prefer to be around the adults who actually care enough to get to know them.”

“Sometimes I look around at the people I hang with and I think 'What happened?'” laughs a mother who has chosen to homeschool her three kids.  “None of these folks are the type I would have chosen as friends when I was younger, but I admire the way they live their lives and crave the peace and tranquility they trail behind them everywhere they go.  They have a sense of purpose and an awareness of Allah in everything they do.  I want to pass those qualities on to my own kids, so here we are.”

Suhba is of the utmost importance.  If you sleep with the dogs, don't be surprised if you rise with the fleas,” a respected scholar advises.  The words that struck me the hardest with their wisdom?  “When you sit with people of the dunya, you become a drop in their ocean, but when you sit with people of the akhira, the dunya becomes a drop in your ocean.”

“A person is known by who their friends are,” my mother always reminded us.  “Don't ever assume that you are better than your friends.  No!  You are who your friends are.”

“I had a girlfriend whose company I really enjoyed,” remembers one mother wistfully.  “She was the best person to share a cup of tea with, to go shopping with.”  So what happened?  “She and her husband decided that they weren't going to raise their children as Muslims.  Even though we liked each other a lot, we just didn't see eye to eye on what was appropriate for kids.  There were certain behaviors in her home that were complete anathema to us.  I decided that I couldn't have an independent friendship with the mom; at some point her kids were going to start influencing my kids, and we needed to part ways… so we did.”

One father confesses with a sheepish laugh, “I don't know if our children are so God-conscious because of anything we necessarily did.  My nieces are very spiritual young women, and my own daughters were always drawn to them.  I think we got lucky that our children wanted to follow in their older cousins' footsteps.”

“On the Day of Judgment, you'll be standing with the ones you loved most in the dunya,” reminds another well-loved scholar, “so choose your friends wisely.”

More than one parent has gushed about the power a charismatic aunt or uncle, imam, halaqa (study circle) leader, or Sunday school teacher has had over their young ones.  Many of the adults gave up a good portion of their weekends, driving long distances to take their children to gatherings and events where they hoped their children would benefit from being around like-minded people.  “I firmly believe that no friends are better than bad friends,” states a father of five children, “but I did go the extra mile to make sure that my kids did have friends with whom they connected.”

“Sometimes kids start to tune out what the parents say because it's all been said before,” a mother of a middle schooler smiles.  “My own parents told me to pray all my life, but it wasn't until I connected with an articulate teacher who explained how prayer was for our benefit that I finally got the message…and it was my friends who led me to that teacher.”

3.)   The Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wasallam) was a living, breathing reality in our lives.

“What better suhba is there than one who reminds another of the deen?  Can there be a better 'companion' than the Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wasallam)?” asks a UCLA graduate married to a doctor who also does interfaith work for Islam.

When a learned scholar was recently asked, “What should we teach our children?”, his response was swift and unequivocal — “The seerah (biography of the Prophet) and nasheeds (devotional songs of praise).  If your kids love the Prophet, they will automatically love Allah.”

“The best way to call people to Islam is to have them fall in love with the Prophet,” insists another scholar.  “Children should fear and love Allah, but teach them about the love first.  They can learn about the fear when they're older.  And who loved Allah more than the Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wasallam)?”

An eight-year-old recently burst into tears when he realized that his mother had neglected to wake him up for the Fajr prayer.  The adults who were present exchanged glances, wondering what kind of terror the parents must have driven into this young one's heart.  Was he afraid that Allah was going to punish him?  Did he think he was going to burn in hell?  Upon inquiry, the child revealed that the real cause of his distress was the knowledge that he had neglected something the Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wasallam) took very seriously, something he had exhorted the believers about on his death bed.  Needless to say, the mother has been vigilant about waking her son on time for prayer ever since.

Many of the parents made it a regular part of the daily routine to recite the sunnah duas — the duas for beginning and ending meals, the duas for entering and leaving the home, the duas for waking and sleeping — until they became automatic.  It isn't a surprise for guests in their homes to see children as young as three reciting the du'a for traveling as they get strapped into their car seats.  “We didn't minimize any sunnah in our home,” one Pakistani-American father tells me.  “Once you start to think, 'Oh, that sunnah isn't a big deal; we can ignore it', you've entered dangerous territiory.  What comes next?”

In order to help his children learn the daily duas, this father neatly prints the supplications on index cards and posts them up all over the house until the kids have learned them by heart.  I decided to follow his lead and taped up the du'a for “looking at one's reflection” on my sons' bedroom mirror, completely forgetting to put a card on my own bathroom mirror.  The result?  My eleven-year-old now knows exactly what prayer to recite while brushing his hair for school, whereas I struggle to remember the Arabic words when getting ready in the morning.

“A co-worker recently asked me to name one thing that makes Islam different from other faiths,” my brother-in-law once shared with me.  “Among other things, I told him that with Islam I got a prophetic example for how to live my day-to-day life.  No other prophet's life is so carefully recorded as our Prophet's (salallaahu alaihi wasallam).”

With toddlers and pre-schoolers, I noticed that a lot of the parents mentioned the Prophet Muhammad (salallaahu alaihi wasallam) as if he were a relevant person in their lives.  They talked about him the way one would talk about any respected elder whom the child adored.  It wasn't unusual to hear parents telling their little ones, “The Prophet Muhammad (salallaahu alaihi wasallam) loved green, so let's wear our green clothes for Friday Prayer!” or “Prophet Muhammad (salallaahu alaihi wasallam) taught us that we should sit down when we get angry, so let's sit down since you're feeling so frustrated.”

While visiting my sister in Southern California one weekend, I noticed that an English translation of imam Tirmidhi's “Shama'il” (Characteristics) sat on my six-year-old nephew's beside table.  She explained that it was part of their son's bedtime ritual for her husband to share one hadith from that famous ninth century text with him.  “Learning intimate details, like the fact the Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wasallam) enjoyed eating dates with cucumbers, makes our son feel like he actually personally knows the Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wasallam).”

“Today's generation is so fortunate, masha'Allah,” says one grandmother.  “When our children were younger, there were hardly any quality Islamic literature or media out there.  Today's kids have so many choices!  My grandchildren go through a different seerah book every year.  They are constantly humming new songs about the Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wasallam).  I pray that they always find joy in learning about (and then following) their Prophet, insha'Allah.”

4.)   Having fun wasn't “haraam” in our home, but we kept the home environment as pure as possible.

It would be extremely remiss of me if I failed to mention that every single family I interviewed emphasized the need to severely limit exposure to entertainment media — television in particular, but internet and video games included.  There were some families who didn't have a television set in the house at all, while there were others who allowed their children to watch an hour of pre-screened Saturday morning cartoons or an occasional family night movie.  Computers were always stationed in a public area of the house where email exchanges and internet research were conducted on a set schedule under the watchful eyes of involved parents.

“If Shaytan (Satan) were to ring our doorbell and ask if he could come in and babysit our children, we would throw him out,” one scholar says, “yet we allow the television set to do exactly that…we literally invite Shaytan in when we turn the TV on!”

“Preserving my children's fitra (primordial state) is of the highest priority to us,” one mother of two pre-schoolers tells me.  “Right now, the difference between right and wrong is so clear in their eyes; they really get it when we explain what's what to them.  The entertainment industry's depiction of what's 'normal' manages to confuse adults, so just imagine what it does to children!”

“We're Indian, but we never watched Bollywood films in our home,” a friend admits matter-of-factly.  “We didn't have bhangra dance parties; we didn't wear revealing clothing like skimpy saris and sleeveless blouses; we weren't allowed to be overly chummy with our guy cousins.”

Basically, what she's letting me know is that what is often excused as “culture” was not allowed to contradict the Islamic shariah her parents taught her to respect.

“But don't think we were bored or deprived!” she is quick to reassure me.  “My parents inculcated in us a love of Urdu poetry.  We read classic English literature aloud to one another in the evenings and went on father-daughter hikes in the mornings.  My mother showed us how to garden, my father taught us how to fish.  My brother had a paper route; the younger ones were Girl Scouts.  We had a home life full of energy and activity.”

“It's important to replace every haraam you stop your child from with at least two halaals they can enjoy,” advises a popular Muslim family counselor.  “You don't want your children to grow up thinking that Islam is just a bunch of no's — 'no, you can't do this; no, you can't do that.'”  She laughs heartily, “Make it about 'yes, we can!'”

I have a Yemeni friend who has taken that philosophy to heart with gusto.  She and her husband may not throw birthday or New Year's Eve parties, but you should see the festivities they do arrange.  When her twins memorized the thirtieth juz (chapter of the Qur'an), the picnic in the park was enjoyed with two separate gourmet cakes and party favors for all.  When this same brother-sister team went on to memorize the twenty-ninth juz, they came home from school to discover their bedrooms decorated with streamers and presents.  My five-year-old son Raahim and his preschool buddies recently memorized twelve surahs under this auntie's guidance, and she was quick to organize a party complete with a pinata, awards, balloons, and treats.  With memories like these, Muslim adults are bound to look back on their childhoods as a time filled with celebrations, insha'Allah.

“There is so much fitna (tribulation) out there in the world.  We can't protect our kids from everything bad,” warns a devout grandfather of ten children.  “But it is for that very reason that the home must be an oasis where Allah is remembered and obeyed, where children can relax and feel cherished, where they can practice their religion without feeling apologetic or alien.  The home environment should be as halaal as possible.  Our litmus test was always 'Would we be ashamed if the Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wasallam) were to walk into our house right now?  Is there anything we would want to hide?'.”

The result of this family's “test” was a tidy, simply furnished home where the television set was absent and books lined the shelves.  Flowers bloomed outside every window, intricate Islamic calligraphy adorned the walls, and healthful food was served with generosity and enthusiasm to all who entered.  The sense of serenity in the air was something tangible.

I'll never forget what one daughter of a highly respected elder in the community told me when I asked her how her siblings remained so close to their parents despite being raised in a small town with only a handful of Muslims.  Didn't they ever rebel?  How did they resist the siren song of the un-Islamic peer culture around them?  “If you feel love in your home, you don't look for it anywhere else.”

5.)   Our parents didn't just “talk the talk”, they “walked the walk”.

In other words, they practiced what they preached.

“I don't get it when I hear mothers telling their kids 'Don't tell lies' and then in the next breath smoothly tell phone callers, 'Oh, he's not home right now' when the husband is sitting right there in front of them,” says a medical school resident who is spending time learning Hanafi fiqh as well.  “Or how about when parents teach their kids 'It's wrong to backbite' and then complain about the in-laws to anyone who will listen?  It's just beyond me!”

When pressed for examples of not succumbing to hypocrisy in his own family life, he says that his parents taught him and his siblings the importance of prayer and then never allowed them to miss any, even if it meant praying in the middle of Disneyland.  “Our dad taught us that while there might be a time for fun and play, it never comes at the expense of giving up our duties to Allah.  And since he was always the first to stand up for prayer, we just naturally followed.”

Another experienced mother gave me this age-old advice, “You can teach your kids the rules of prayer all you want, but if you're not going to pray, they're not going to pray.  Children learn from what their parents do, not just what they say.”

“But it's not enough to just teach your children to pray,” interjects another mother who was raised a secular Jew but is now Muslim.  “What about how you pray?  Do you have presence in your prayer?  Are you sad if you ever miss a prayer?  Those lessons are all just as important as learning to pray.”

I was once working with an African-American convert friend when the time for Maghrib prayer came in. I had been busy taking care of some tasks, but I stopped and said, “Well, I guess I better go get my prayer out of the way.”

Startled, she looked up and then chuckled.  “In our house, we say we're going to get prayer 'in the way'.”

SubhanAllah, what a difference one word makes!  What a difference in attitude!

“I was sitting in my room reciting my morning dhikr while the kids were completing an art project in the family room,” an Egyptian friend shared with me the other day.  “It suddenly struck me that I always recite my litanies in private, so I got up and joined them in their area of the house.  They continued to paint while I continued with my prayers.  They need to see me doing this…and they need to see me doing this happily.”

The other day one of my sons became frustrated while searching for an elusive pencil in the writing desk.  He shoved papers aside and slammed the drawer shut when no pencil materialized, grumbling the entire time.  I began to lecture him about the merits of patience when I realized that I had behaved in the exact same manner while looking for my keys a few days earlier.  Children really are like sponges; they soak in everything around them.  “Garbage in, garbage out,” cautions one teacher.

“Children need to see that Islam 'worked' in our home,” says another scholar.  “Islam isn't just about praying and fasting and charity.  Islam is an attitude that must be infused in the mundane day-to-day dealings with life.  Do parents treat each other with respect?  How do they react to the ups and downs of life?  Do they have a sense of civic responsibility?  Children are constantly learning from their parents, even when the parents don't think they have anything to teach.”

6.)   I wasn't afraid to be the Bad Guy, but I never behaved badly.

I know more than one mother who doesn't feel comfortable telling her child to pray or maybe to dress more modestly, thinking that her kid will be “mad” at her if she starts holding him/her to higher standards.  I know of a couple of fathers who have turned a blind eye to certain immoral behaviors witnessed in their teenagers, never once speaking out, telling their exasperated wives, “I don't want to judge our kids.  It's a tough age and they have to fit in.”

The adults I've asked for parenting advice had no qualms about upsetting their children from time to time.

“There were times when I knew that I shouldn't go to this place or go out with that person, but I would ask Ammi anyway, wanting her to be the one to put her foot down…and she always did,” remembers my brother.  “Kids want their parents to set limits and be authority figures, even if they won't admit it.”

“I enjoy my children's company; we laugh together, we read the same books, we even share each other's clothes,” chuckles one mother of two teenage daughters who race to give up their seats for her.  “But at the end of the day, they know that I am their Mother.  I am friendly with them, but they cannot treat me like a girlfriend.”

“Weakness in those who are supposed to be in a position of authority only invites contempt,” contends a mother of two.  “It's important to know who's boss.”

One father of four and former high school valedictorian looks back on his youth and laughs appreciatively, “My mother didn't worry about not 'rocking the boat' when we were in high school.  She was willing to capsize the boat if she found us doing something that wasn't okay with her!”

Other parents impressed upon me the importance of having high expectations of their children.  “We have to gently push kids out of their comfort zones,” an Afghan father says.  “If you expect more, your kids will often pleasantly surprise you, but it's important to communicate those expectations.”

One mother always assumed that her children would eventually begin praying simply because they saw that prayer was a priority for her.  When a friend asked her why her ten-year-old daughter didn't join the other girls for prayer, this mom realized that she had never communicated her hopes to her own daughter.  “It was only a matter of discussing it!” she exclaims with genuine surprise.  “I sat her down for a serious 'grown-up' talk.  I said, 'Honey, you're older now and prayer needs to be a regular part of your routine.'  She listened so attentively!  When asr came in, she ran to get her prayer rug and misbaha (prayer beads) and joined me for salah.  She's the one who wakes me for Fajr now.  It's almost as if she was just waiting for me to tell her, 'This is what I expect of you'.”

While these parents were quick to lay down the law with their children, there was one “old world law” that nearly all of them shied away from — corporal punishment.  “We did not hit our children,” most of them say adamantly.

“Well, there might be a place for a good old-fashioned spanking every now and then,” argues a mother of four college students.  “When my daughter was four years old, she ran out in public without her underwear on for the umpteenth time.  In my opinion, it was too dangerous to let her keep getting away with that kind of behavior, so I finally let her have it.  She got the message and never forgot it…and I never had to spank her again.”

Physically beating your children for the simplest infractions seemed to be an acceptable mode of discipline a generation or so ago.  The parents I spoke with are loath to raise their hands on their kids.  “Every time you hit your kids, you have to keep upping the levels,” a financial analyst tells me.  “I knew of a parent who used to twist her kids' ears.  After a while, that had no effect, so she started smacking them on their hands.  When the desired behaviors were no longer obtained using that method, she resorted to swatting them on their bottoms and shaking them in frustration.  I mean, where does it end?”

I spent a good portion of the afternoon just yesterday baking banana crumb muffins from scratch.  I offered one to a son of mine and sent him out on the back deck to enjoy his snack.  As I watched in horror from the kitchen window, I saw him breaking off big chunks of the fresh muffin and forcefully slamming them down on to the floorboards outside.  I rushed out the door and surveyed the crumbs all over the deck, the same deck I had washed just that morning.  “What are you doing?!” I screeched.

He looked up in surprise.  “Oh.”

“WHAT are you doing?!”

“I'm trying to kill a spider that's bothering me.”

I clenched my hands at my side and whispered through gritted teeth,  “Son, please walk away from me right now.  I'm very upset and I am sure that I will spank you if you are near me and this mess.  I need time to cool off, so you better run.”

His eyes grew wide and he scampered off.

I'm so grateful that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala allowed me to restrain myself in that moment of anger.  The crumbs were easily swept up, there were still plenty of muffins left, my son learned his lesson about not wasting food (and not killing innocent spiders in their natural habitat), and I was eventually able to laugh at his logic for dealing with arachnids…but only after an hour had passed.  Letting out my frustration on him by hitting him might have felt good in that moment, but the resulting misery would have lasted much longer…for the both of us.

7.)   I always kept them close by.

I wasn't surprised to see that nearly all of the families I spoke with had the mother at home caring for the children, but I was shocked by how many of the families shared the same steadfast rule — “No sleepovers.”

“Every night I know which bed my kid is sleeping in,” says a homeschooling mom of two and wife of a university professor.  “And that bed is one I can check on whenever I want.”

“Friends were always welcome to come to our home for sleepovers,” reminisces a young woman who grew up with a twin brother.  “My mom went all out — popcorn during midnight games of Monopoly, pancakes for breakfast, privacy for chatting and giggling late into the night.  But we could never sleep in anyone else's home unless our parents were there with us.”

“I saw too many weird things in other friends' homes when I was younger…and that was just during the daytime,” remembers an attorney and father of three.  “The first time my best friend saw a dirty magazine was when he spent the night at his neighbor's house.  I might have resented their strictness a bit when I was younger, but in my heart I knew that my parents were right to keep us in our clean, safe, and cozy home.”

“I never let them go far from me when they were little,” explains a mother of two when asked by me how to raise a dutiful son like hers.  “My kids could have gone on camping trips and overnight field trips with other parents as chaperones, but unless my husband or I were there, they didn't go.  My husband was once willing to consider a prestigious boarding school for one of our 'gifted' children, but I said, 'No way.'  I just couldn't let my family be split in different directions; the time we had with them was already short enough.”

“No nannies or day-cares for our family,” says a grandmother of five.  “And don't think that I wasn't tempted!  I raised three babies on my own without any help; I didn't have parents or in-laws nearby.  A one-income-family meant that we only took local vacations and drove second-hand cars.  We lived in a small home.  I went back to work only after the kids were in school, but I was always at home in time to greet them with a smile, a hug, and an after-school snack.  Even now, my grown children tell me that the smell of peanut butter and jelly gives them a feeling of security.”

Another mother of four, who is able to afford live-in help, made an agreement with her husband long ago that while the maid would be available to help with laundry, cleaning, and grocery shopping, all of the actual food preparation and childcare would be done exclusively by the parents.  “My husband thinks dinner comes together by 'magic',” laughs this stay-at-home mom with a master's degree in business administration.  “But, masha'Allah, he is very helpful with the children, so I get my fair share of 'breaks'.  When we need a night out for ourselves, we rely on the grandparents or my sister…but never strangers.”

8.)   We didn't spoil our kids nor did we praise them too much.

“It's important to me that my kids don't grow up ingrained in this Sibling Society,” a college professor and father of three tells me.

When asked the definition of a “sibling society”, he explains that it's the environment where grown adults behave and are treated like children.  “We've extended adolescence where we excuse bad behavior by saying, 'Oh, he's just going through that rebellious phase.  He's only sixteen; he'll outgrow it.'  Outgrow it when?  Throughout history, puberty has been considered the onset of adulthood; nowadays we have university graduates who behave like babies — tantrums, irresponsible behavior, no sense of accountability.”

This father celebrates his children's birthdays every year by giving them a new toy…and a new duty.  “When my son turns seven, he'll get that monster truck he's been craving, but he'll also get a new responsibility for the year — he has to make sure that all the doors in the house are locked before going to bed.”

He and his wife believe that having responsibilities, even small ones, inculcates in children a sense of contribution and chivalry.

I was recently given cause to reflect when a friend of mine politely refused an invitation for her daughter to recite her award-winning poem at a masjid event.  “masha'Allah, she has received a lot attention and praise this past week for that poem,” she sighed.  “The other day she just happened to be interviewed for a local science program on television too.  I just don't think it's beneficial for her nafs (ego) to be in the spotlight too much, so I'm going to have to say 'no'.”

This mother believes that praise becomes “cheap” when it is given for that which children have no control over; she feels that kids should have to “earn” the praise that comes their way.  “What's the point in telling a child who always gets A's, 'You're so smart'?  Or telling a pretty child, 'You're so beautiful'?  Telling a child who's struggled through an assignment, 'I'm proud of how hard you worked on that difficult worksheet' is so much more meaningful.”

One mother who is often asked the secret behind her kids' contentment with life has this theory to offer:  “It's actually something I've discovered by accident.  We have never been motivated to buy the latest gadgets and gizmos for our kids.  To compensate for the things that we won't buy, we give them something that's free yet still very valuable — our time.  I bake with them, their dad wrestles.  We snuggle on the couch and read together.  I think they're rarely dissatisfied with material goods because they are just so grateful for what little they do get.  They don't have a sense of entitlement.  And since whining has never worked anyway, they just don't bother.”

The father adds, “Well, to be honest, we are spoiling them, except that we're spoiling them with something that's lasting, not fleeting — our love.”

9.)    Talk to your kids…with love.

I was once singing “Rain, rain, go away; Come again another day; Shaan and ameen want to play” with my kids when my brother interrupted us.

“Don't teach them that!  Rain is a blessing!  You don't want them rejecting blessings just because they want 'fun',” he rebuked me.

After experimenting with the lyrics, we ended up singing, “Rain, rain, pour, pour, pour; You're a mercy from our Lord; Rain, rain, fall on me; I turn to Allah gratefully.”  To this day, whenever dark clouds dampen a day that they had hoped to spend outside, my kids console one another by saying, “It's okay.  California needs the rain.  Allah is being Kind to us.”

This suggestion by my brother is a reminder of another piece of advice that families have repeatedly given me — “Never miss out on a teaching moment.”

“When your kids are younger, you should take advantage of every opportunity to guide them, remind them, advise them,” instructs an Iraqi father of two girls.  “Of course, there's a fine line between nagging and teaching, between being judgmental and being perceptive.  Nevertheless, I encourage my children to look at everything through 'the eye of discernment'.  What does everything around us mean?  Why is that billboard saying that their brand of soda will guarantee a successful party?  What was the real reason that car driver honked his horn like that?  Why does this movie make parents look like bumbling fools?  Is having to wait in a long line ever a reason to lose your temper with a bank teller?  Talk, talk, talk to your kids!  Even if they don't say anything, believe me, they're listening!”

“I want to get my 'voice' into my kids' heads while they're young,” says one mom.  “There are so many forces competing for our kids' minds; I want to get in while I can.  There will come a time when we all have to let go, but I'm hopeful that my children will always remember their root values once they're out on their own, insha'Allah.”

The families I've admired have all made a point of being “present” with their children, answering their questions patiently and respectfully, not getting annoyed with their seemingly random thoughts, laughing appreciatively at their jokes, and maintaining eye contact when the children wanted to chat.  The kids feel that they can ask any question and discuss any subject without any judgment on the part of the parents.

“You know that cliche 'There's no such thing as a dumb question'?” asks a Persian friend who is also a Fulbright scholar.  “Well, that was always true in our family.  I could ask my mom anything, and I was always confident that I would get an honest answer.  There were times when I was told that I would have to wait a bit before she was ready to teach me certain truths, but I was able to be patient because I knew that the truth was eventually coming.”

Another respected family counselor cautions parents to beware the trap of “over-talking and over-respecting” your sons and daughters.  “Children are little people with little hearts and they need to be treated with dignity and respect so that their feelings aren't hurt,” she admits.  “But there's no need to explain and justify every little thing to your child — 'Honey, please, you need to let me do this so that then I can do that.  And once I do that, I'll be able to take care of this.  And once I do this, then I can read to you.  Is that all right?'…No!  Sometimes you just need to make it clear to the child: 'Because I said so'…And they need to be okay with that too.”

An Arab girlfriend once described how her mother would react when she and her siblings misbehaved as children.  “May Allah guide you!” she would yell in anger.  “May Allah have mercy on all of us!”  The inevitable result was that her daughter grew up to be a mother of twins who now prays for her children instead of cursing them when she is at the height of her own frustration.

Just today Shaan told me about how his younger cousin reacted after he watched ameen splatter a mud ball against a wooden fence.  “Mama, he yelled, 'subhanAllah!  Allahu Akbar!'” my son related with amusement.  “He's just like his dad; he says the same things Khaloo (Uncle) does.”

10.)  They had a pious father who engaged them.

Yes, there are pious mothers who have raised wonderful Muslim kids despite having husbands who not only didn't support them, but even disapproved of their attempts to teach their kids the basics about the deen.  And there are single moms who are doing an incredible service to the Ummah by sacrificing, striving, and successfully raising the next generation of believers.  We all are more than aware that the mother is the first madrassa (school).  And there are examples after examples of mothers who spend the night on the prayer mat weeping in prostration for the future of their families; their secrets are known only to Allah.

But over and over I have seen lackadaisical mothers with pious husbands…and the kids have turned towards their fathers like flowers to the sun.  How many of us know of young adults who roll their eyes at their mothers' religiosity while holding their “fun-loving”, worldly, secular fathers up as paragons of rationalism and intelligence?  There is a power that fathers have over their offspring, the depth of which we can never fully comprehend; the truth manifests itself when we witness which parent the kid most often chooses to emulate.

A majority of the families I spoke with extolled the virtues of the Amir of the House: the man who led his children in congregational prayer, the father who gently but firmly encouraged both his son's and his daughter's sense of modesty, the husband who fulfilled his wife's rights without demanding his own, the responsible breadwinner, the dad who put a stop to gossip the moment it started, the patriarch who was eager to hasten to the masjid to join the jama'ah (congregation), the Muslim who held fast to his principles (whether it was a father who refused to allow his co-workers to shorten his name from “Muhammad” to “Mo” or the dad who wouldn't travel on Fridays so that his Jumu‘ah prayer wouldn't be jeopardized).  The grown children remember their father's integrity and quiet examples long after they have entered parenthood on their own, voluntarily choosing to mold their own lives in honor of a man who didn't force his way of life down their throats when they were younger.

“My mother lectured and taught and scolded and reminded us the entire time we were growing up,” one mother of three sons remembers with amusement.  “My father told me maybe only five things related to the deen my whole life…and yet I remember every single one; I've never forgotten.  I only wish he had shared his thoughts with me more often.”

Back in junior high school, I remember repeating the words of an older cousin as I was studying for an exam at the kitchen table.  “If only Allah allows me to get an A on this final, I'll pray a hundred rakaats to Him in gratitude,” I sighed as I turned yet another page.

My father looked up from his newspaper.  “Allah doesn't need your prayers,” he gently chided.  “If you want to get an A, study hard and pray for His help at the same time.  You don't need to bribe Allah.”

Years later, I sat in the class of a learned shaykh and took down these notes of instruction:  “Don't be mercantile in your religion.  Lose the attitude of 'Pay me and I'll worship You.'”

The truth resonated with me because I had already heard it from the lips of my beloved father twenty-five years earlier.

IN CONCLUSION

While I have always been a fan of “how to” and “top ten” lists, I have never allowed myself to be deluded into believing that there are any guarantees for raising righteous children.  It hasn't been lost on me that the greatest man in humanity, the Prophet Muhammad (salallaahu alaihi wasallam), was intially raised by a single mom…and that too after being sent away to live amongst the bedouins in the desert while still an infant.  Many of the “rules” here didn't apply to his blessed life.  His was a singular circumstance, having been raised by Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala Himself.  All we can do is try to lay out a safe framework in hopes of trying to reach what he (salallaahu alaihi wasallam) reached through Allah's largesse.

If we want to be successful at something, it behooves us to look at those who have succeeded before us.  Each of us has something we can learn from the experiences of another.

There may be some who will read through the list of tips I have collected and think, “We didn't do any of those things, yet our kids turned out just fine!”

To them, I say, “alhamdulillah!”  It's true that there are many kids who didn't have a single one of these “rules” applied to their lives, and, by the Grace and Mercy of Allah, have developed into exemplary Muslims.

And without going into unnecessary details, I will say that I have also seen the most pious, practicing, loving parents be disappointed by their children at every turn.  These parents are in the company of prophets like Prophet Adam and Prophet Nuh (upon whom be peace) who had sons who rejected their teachings — yet these were fathers who were from among the best of humanity, parents who were in a constant state of supplication and prayer, who received guidance from Above.  We can only pray that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala will not test us through our children the way He tested these great men and their wives.  It's interesting to note that many of the men and women in my article have confessed that there were times they felt that they had failed in their duties as parents but took heart knowing that with Allah's Help all obstacles could be overcome.  Eventually, they all came to the conclusion that there was only “so much” they could do; they needed to submit to Allah's will.

There is great comfort in knowing that parents will be rewarded not for how our children “turn out” but for the intentions we had while raising them, for the steps we took to facilitate their deeni success.  All we can do is take the means; the end is up to Allah.  “Even if one's kids go astray,” advises a scholar, “one should always leave a 'door' open for them and pray that they will one day 'come back'.  We should never cut off relations; we should never despair of Allah's Mercy and Guidance.”

“Parenting and living in this dunya is such a struggle,” reflects one friend.  “We have aspirations of who we want to be as parents and we strive to achieve them, and then are saddened by seeing our failures.  I guess it's really about the courage to continue to renew one's intentions and to pray for tawfiq (success).”

None of the parents I interviewed felt “safe” or believed that they had won and were now done with their work.  They continued to pray for daily tawfiq long after everyone had started lauding them for the fine job they had done raising their children.  “It doesn't matter how wonderfully we live our lives,” says one local scholar and father of two girls.  “What really matters is how we end our lives (husn al-khatima)…we're not safe until we die with iman (faith) in our hearts.”

It is with that knowledge that we pray that Allah Subhana wa Ta'ala grants us the du'a for “a pure progeny” that He granted Prophet Ibrahim, Prophet Zakariya, and the mother of Maryam (upon them all be peace) in the Holy Qur'an.  We pray that we are able to be worthy teachers for our children who will carry this noble religion on, a precious trust to be handed from one generation to the next.  May we not be “the weak link”.  ameen.

“O my Lord!  Make me one who establishes regular Prayer, and also (raise such) among my offspring.

O our Lord!  And accept Thou my Prayer.

O our Lord!  Cover (us) with Thy Forgiveness — me, my parents, and (all) Believers,

On the Day that the Reckoning will be established!”

~ The Holy Qur'an (14:40)

MISCELLANEOUS RECOMMENDATIONS

As far as seerah literature for the young is concerned, I have found that Leila Azzam's “Life of the Prophet Muhammad (salallaahu alaihi wasallam)” adequately fits all of my family's needs.  A summary of Martin Ling's excellent adult version of the Prophet's biography, this book is often used to teach university students, so one can rest assured that it is written with an eye for proper grammar and punctuation, something sadly missing in many of our children's Islamic textbooks today.  Parents of younger kids need not worry that the material might be too sophisticated for their little ones; my friend was able to use this same book to teach my preschool-aged son and his friends about the Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wasallam).  One can only imagine my delight when my five-year-old repeatedly turned to me in the middle of my adult seerah class at the mosque to excitedly tug on my arm and whisper, “Hey, I know about Bilal (may Allah be pleased with him) saying 'Ahad, ahad'!…Mama, I learned about Buraq in my class!…Guess what?  Auntie just taught us about Ghar-e-Thawr today!”

On the topic of Islamic media, it is my pleasure to introduce readers to a relatively new nasheed artist on the scene known as “Talib al-Habib”.  His beautiful nasheed, “Songs of Innocence”, never fails to bring tears to my eyes.  The lyrics of that one song contain all of the advice any parent would want to pass on to his/her child, speaking to the hearts of mothers and fathers everywhere, a beautiful summation of all of our hopes and desires for our children.  Time and time again, I have found continuous benefit in his music set only to a daff (hand drum).  I was recently reviewing some of the basic points of aqueedah (Islamic creed) with my children, encouraging them to memorize a list of points, when they suddenly began singing the words to Talib al-Habib's “iman: Articles of Faith”.  I realized then that I didn't need to teach them anything on that subject; they had already unwittingly memorized the articles of faith set to a sweetly melodic tune.  I know I speak on behalf of all parents when I emphasize how rewarding it is to discover so-called “entertainment” which ends up being an instrument for instruction as well.

COPYRIGHT HINA KHAN-MUKHTAR 2009.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

107 Responses

    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      JazakAllahu khayr for the positive feedback. Please keep me in your duas.

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      • Rozana Rauff

        Mashaallah! This article is certainly an eyeopener to all parents. may Allah bless you and your family with all that’s beneficial in this world and in the hearafter Insha Allah.

        May I please have your consent to publish this in a magazine titled “Halal World” in Sri Lanka for the benefit of our readers. The launch of the innaugural issue will be on the 25th of July 2011 IA.

        Look forward to your response. Please respond to my email address as given.

        Jazzakallah Khair!

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  1. Umm Ibraheem

    Oh sister how blessed are you MashaAllah to be surrounded by people that are able to give you such beneficial advice.
    A truly excellent collection of advice which I shall come back and read many times, perhaps you can develop this into a book.
    I was going to book tickets for my kids tomorrow for a live disney show but after reading this article I can honestly say my kids will be going nowhere near it InshaAllah.
    Look forward to more from you.

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      Alhamdulillah, just be sure to replace that Disney show with something a lot more fun and halaal instead! :) JazakAllahu khayr for the positive feedback. I would definitely like to develop this into a book if possible; I have a lot more material which I haven’t added in this article. Please pray for my tawfiq (success) for the sake of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala), insha’Allah!

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  2. Mirza Shahbaaz Baig

    mash Allaah. jazak Allaah khayr for this amazing article. really helpful.

    wassalam,
    Mirza

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      Alhamdulillah and wa eeyakum! Please keep my family and me in your duas.

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  3. Farooq

    Masha Allah, wallahu akbar! Beautifully written, great advice that is in dire need. May Allah reward you, and bless you so that more of us can learn from you. May Allah make us all great parents and give us great offspring.

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      Aameen to all of your beautiful duas! JazakAllahu khayr for the positive feedback.

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  4. Hasan

    MashAllah! May Allah reward you in vast vast abundance for this amazing article! InshAllah these teachings will serve to be a good guideline for my wife and I when we have kids.

    JazakAllah khair.

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      Wa eeyakum and insha’Allah! May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) grant you with beautiful, loving, healthy, happy children who love Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) and His Prophet (salallaahu alaihi wasallam) and are the noor (light) of your eyes. Aameen.

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  5. ummaasiyah

    Jazakallah khair for this! In an age where good, Islamic upbringing is even more important than before, this is a really refreshing piece. To be perfectly honest, most of it was reminiscent of my own childhood and also similar advice given to me by my own mother. Also, I like the no-smacking rule. When the Prophet (saw) told us to beat our children if they’re not praying by the age of ten, it was not only to highlight the importance of salaah, but also to highlight to parents that they shouldn’t be mindlessly hitting their children for spilt milk, spat-out food or constant whining whilst shopping. There’s more ways than one to deal with a naughty child.

    Anyway, fantastic article. I’m considering printing this off for safekeeping and passing on as an heirloom, insha’Allah.

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    • Mombeam

      Glad to see this article reposted here. It has been making the email and Facebook rounds and it is excellent and balanced. I have long dreamed myself of polling/surveying successful Muslim families in the West for any patterns/secrets and I am so glad Sr. Hina has done this.

      On a side note to the commenter, be careful with translated words. The Prophet Salla l-laahu `alayhi wa sallam never told us to “beat” our children. In my dialect of English (not sure about others) to “beat” someone means to hit them repeatedly so as to cause severe harm. This is not an appropriate translation of the word “Daraba” which means simply to hit, not to beat up. This is a little pet peeve of mine in the discussion of that issue.

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      • ummaasiyah

        Thanks for pointing that out. I read that translation of the hadith when I was a child myself (about 8 or 9 years old), and the word ‘beat’ was what I read, hence that has stuck in my mind. Obviously, a lot gets lost in translation, particularly the meaning, and that translation of the hadith was probably not the best.

        I personally would not ‘beat’, ‘hit’ or ‘smack’ my own children, insha’Allah, for whatever reason, because it’s so detrimental to the child’s development, and I would advise not to do that either. As for a child not praying by the age of 10, the article above covers all that, so I don’t need to comment any further :)

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      I would love to read any specific pieces of advice your mother gave you! I’m sure all of us could benefit. And jazakAllahu khayr for the positive feedback. Please keep me in your duas.

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  6. fatima

    this was so beautifully and sensitively written. I’m 27 and single, but looking forward to and praying for the day when Allah blesses with me the gift of a pious partner and offspring. I’ve often felt overwhelmed by the thought of being a parent and the immense responsibility of bringing up an entire human being to be a good Muslim, but your writing reminded me that we really don’t need to look any further than the seerah and the lives of the Prophet’s companions for guidance and inspiration. Alhamdulillah I was blessed with a mother who did many of the things you mentioned in your article, and reading this made me grateful for her wisdom and love, and hopeful for the kind of parent I will inshaAllah try my very best to be.

    I’m definitely bookmarking this and printing out a copy as well! JazakAllah Khayr and may Allah bless you and your family with the best in this world and in the next.

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      Your future children will be so fortunate to have a thoughtful, sincere mother like you…as evidenced by the enthusiasm you express in this comment of yours. May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) unite you soon with a righteous, loving husband who will help you on your path to Jannah. Aameen.

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      • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

        And I would love to read some specific examples from your life with your mother if you wouldn’t mind sharing. I’m sure we could all benefit!

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  7. UmA

    Jazakumullahu khayra, I hope sr Hina gets a chance to see these comments on MM, I plan to forward this article to fellow moms in my area.

    I’ve come across many of these points when I have interviewed sisters with remarkable kids who have now grown up. A book I’d like to recommend is called Hold on to your kids by Mate and Neufeld about being present for our kids.

    The talib al habib cd called Rahma is good as it contains nasheeds made up of hadeeth and adhkar as well as the famous poem of Imam Ash Shafiee about ilm and memory.

    One final point perhaps the way we want to look at the paradigm of life is not in terms of Deen and Dunya, but Dunya and Akhirah, as you need Deen for both!

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      I absolutely loooooove that book “Hold Onto Your Kids”…it changed my way of parenting forever! Another one I recommend for mothers of sons is “Raising Cain”.

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  8. Nazia

    Woooww, I loved this article! May Allah reward you sister for taking the time to share your knowledge and “field research”. I find myself doing the same thing with “successful” (inshaAllah) parents, and I hope our generation of parents is able to continue the legacy our parents left for us.

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      JazakAllahu khayr for the duas and positive feedback. Please include me in your prayers whenever you feel you are implementing anything you learned from this article. Insha’Allah!

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  9. abu zayd

    The Muslim Home: 40 Recommendations.

    Home is the place where you and your family spend most of the time. Therefore, it should be decent and comfortable. In order to be so, it must be based on intimacy, love, sincerity, truthfulness, honesty, and the like. All these concepts and others are just applications of the Islamic principles.

    This booklet presents the necessary advice about building up such a home. Acquiring this information would enable you to make of your home the most enjoyable place for yourself and your family:

    http://www.kalamullah.com/muslim-home.html

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  10. dawud farquhar

    Indeed, Allah creates children with pure innate nature, and whatever defects that happen later is the result of bad education. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, is reported to have said: “Every child is born on Fitrah (man’s innate disposition to monotheism), his parents make him Jewish, Christian or a fire worshipper.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

    That is why Islam has ordered parents to take care of their children and to bring them up according to the Islamic manners.

    Focusing more on the very interesting question you have raised, we would like to cite the following:

    Allah Almighty has entrusted parents with their children. Parents bear the responsibility to raise up their children in the Islamic way. If they do that they will be blessed in this life and in the Hereafter, and if they don’t, they will get bad result during their life and in the Hereafter.

    The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said: “All of you are guardians and all of you are responsible for things under your guardianship; the ruler is a guardian (managing his state’s affairs) and he is responsible for things under his care, the man is a guardian over his family and responsible for them, the woman is a guardian of her husband’s house and she is responsible for it. All of you are guardians and responsible for things under your control.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

    The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, did not excuse any one from responsibility that Allah has put on every individual to build the Islamic society: the ruler is responsible: the man and woman are responsible…. all within their capabilities, domains, and authorities… and the loss of Islam from our Muslim Ummah these days is nothing but a result of the neglect of responsibility.

    Men and women, fathers and mothers share the responsibility to raise up, educate, and build the new generation in the correct method and the right way.

    Man has in him the good and bad tendencies, so parents must encourage and grow the good tendencies in the child so he can become a useful person that helps himself and his people. Referring to this, Allah Almighty says: (O’ you who believe, protect yourselves and your families from a fire whose fuel is men and stones. )
    (At-Tahreem: 6)

    The protection of yourself and your family from Hell-Fire won’t be with anything but good education, the practice of good morals, and the guidance to nobility.

    Islam does not distinguish between male and female with regard to the education requirements. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said: “Whoever has a daughter, tutors her on good morals, educates her well and feeds her properly; she will be a protection for him from Hell-Fire.”

    What do we mean by good education? The good education means the physical, mental and moral preparation of the child so he can become a good individual in the good society.

    Methods for Moral Upbringing:

    1- Showing the values of good deeds and their effects on the individuals and society; also showing the effects of bad deeds, all within the child’s capability of understanding.

    2- Parents should be a good example in their behavior because children like to imitate their parents in their sayings and their deeds.

    3- Teaching the child the religious principles and tutoring him in worship, taking into account the child’s capability of understanding. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said: “Order your children to pray at the age of seven.”

    4- Treating children nicely and kindly. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) taught us that practically. When he was praying as an Imam with the people, his grandson Al-Hasan, son of his daughter Fatimah, may Allah be pleased with them rode his back while he was bowing. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, lengthened his bow. When he finished his prayer, some attending Companions said, “You lengthened your bow?” Then the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, answered, “My grandson rode my back and I hate hastening him”

    5- One of the important things that parents must teach their children is to choose the good company and to the avoid the bad one, because children are always influenced by the company they keep. The bad behavior can be easily transmitted through bad company. So the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, warned us by saying, “Man is inclined to get influenced by his friend’s manners, so one must be careful in choosing friends.” (Reported by Abu Dawud & At-Tirmidhi)

    6- Encouraging the child’s sense of belonging to the Muslim Ummah, by teaching him of the brotherhood between Muslims, teaching him to care for Muslims in any land, and that he is part of the Muslim body, to feel joy when Muslims are joyous, to feel sad for Muslims’ sadness, and to do best to achieve the Muslim Ummah’s goals. All of this can be done practically through:

    A- Taking children to Mosques and introducing them to their brother in Islam regardless of race, language, or origin.

    B- Teaching the children the history of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and his Companions and the history of Islam, bearing in mind the child’s capability of understanding.

    C- Encouraging children to sympathize with Muslim problems and to contribute to the solutions such as the poverty problem and to donate some money to the hungry Muslim children.

    D- Taking part in the celebrations and festivals with Muslims, and sharing picnics and creating ties with their Muslim brothers of the same age.

    7- Imbuing in children the feeling of love of Allah, His Prophet, Muslims, and all people. This love will lead to special behavior towards all those loved.

    These are general guidelines to raise our children Islamically, so every Muslim must take care of his children and know the correct path that must be followed. This will help us do the job we are entrusted to do as Allah proscribed, as well as the responsibility the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, has clarified, with aim of protecting the future generations of Muslims, as Allah Almighty says: (And Say Do deeds! Allah will see your deeds, and (so will) his Messenger and the believers. And you will be brought back to the All-Knower of the unseen and the seen. Then He will inform you of what you used to do. ) (At-Tawbah: 105)

    http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?pagename=IslamOnline-English-Ask_Scholar/FatwaE/FatwaE&cid=1119503545244

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  11. Ayesha

    jazakAllahukhairan sister for your efforts…

    Another mother of four tells me, “I recited Surah Maryam every single day of my pregnancy. I want pious children above all else — it’s all that matters…

    Salaat-ul-Haajah (Prayer for Need) when desiring something they felt was crucial for their children’s well-being

    sister are the above from the sunnah of the rasool(sallalahu alihi wassallam)???

    also I think It would be nice if you could add the ((duas from the Quran ))in the “DUA” section…(jus a suggestion)

    1.رَبَّنَا هَبْ لَنَا مِنْ أَزْوَاجِنَا وَذُرِّيَّاتِنَا قُرَّةَ أَعْيُنٍ وَاجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا —-> surah furqan : 74

    2.رَبِّ هَبْ لِي مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ ——> surah saffat :100 (dua of Ibrahim and after he made this dua Allah blessed him with Ismaeel )

    3.قَالَ رَبِّ هَبْ لِي مِن لَّدُنكَ ذُرِّيَّةً طَيِّبَةً ۖ إِنَّكَ سَمِيعُ الدُّعَاءِ (dua of zakariyya after which Allah blessed him with Yahya who was
    1.musaddiqa(n) bi kalimatimm mina Allahi
    2. sayyid – leader
    3. hasoora – utterly chaste
    4.nabii min al saliheen – prophet among the righteous))

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      Surah Maryam has specific duas in it for righteous children.

      “Reflections of Pearls” is a compilation of duas and prayers from the sunnah; Salaat ul Haajah is included in there. It’s a beautiful dua and you may find much benefit in it, insha’Allah. This book should be available from most Islamic bookstores/websites, insha’Allah.

      Thank you for the suggestions of duas for inclusion in the article.

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  12. Shuaib Mansoori

    Assalamu Alaikum,

    Truly an exceptional article on this subject, couldn’t stop reading despite its length :) BarakAllahu Feeki. May Allah Bless Shaan and Ameen to be from His righteous slaves.

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      Your dua for my children brought tears to my eyes. JazakAllahu khayr! Please include my soon-to-be six year old son Raahim in your duas as well (if it’s not too much to ask).

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      • Shuaib Mansoori

        Wa Iyyakum! Not at all Sister, Insha Allah I will keep Raahim and your family in my Du’as and remember me in yours as well.

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      JazakAllahu khayr for the duas; they are all I need.

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  13. Arif Kabir

    JazaakumAllahu Khayran for this; this was the most enjoyable-to-read article from MuslimMatters.org in my opinion as it’s filled with both advice and anecdotes seamlessly combined. Please write more for this website!

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      JazakAllahu khayr for the positive feedback. It means more than you can ever know.

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  14. Ahmad

    Im 21 years old. I rarely read Islamic literature and hardly read the Quran but was raised to be at least what I think is a decent human being. My dad is a devout Muslim, reading Quran in the morning with my mother and always reading this or that about Islam today. I read this, slightly pained because of how much I feel I lack, and slightly happy because I at least have this knowledge for later. I want a good wife and I want good kids but I often wonder if I qualify. My parents dont know that Ive smoked and that Ive done some not so nice things online but I otherwise believe I have most of what they’ve given me. I just dont know what to do to help myself. I had a fight with my parents today, typical everything coming down at once, and resolved that Id try to at least listen to the quran online and read at least something about Islam everyday. I just hope I qualify for a good wife when it comes time. I have a good group of muslim friends and almost 98% of the time Im always with them but I dont know what Im getting wrong. I dont miss prayers and I dont find myself doubting Allahs help or Islam but still it seems Im so far from where I should/could be. iA Ill get somewhere better soon.

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      The fact that you even worry about being “far away from Allah” or about disappointing/displeasing your parents is a huge nai’mah (blessing) in and of itself. How many of us are completely oblivious to what we are doing wrong? At least you are aware that something is not right and more needs to be done to “fix it”. May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) grant you His good pleasure and may He guide you on the Straight Path always. Aameen.

      And, remember, having Muslim friends isn’t enough. It’s quality that counts over all other things. Make sure you are spending your time with people who remind you of Allah (subhana wa ta’ala).

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      Aameen! JazakAllahu khayr for the postive feedback; it means a lot that you took the time to comment.

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  15. Ahmad

    I cried when I reached number 9. I hope I can be good enough to bring my children up as these parents have. So often you find adults that could care less about passing on what they know. So often you find adults that treat you like you arent ready yet. So often you find adults that laugh when you need this advice. I thank you for this, for helping me have this knowledge before I need it. For compiling these insights. I think most people realize but forget and then forget to try and preserve what they’ve found. You discover so much about yourself and about other people but you never realize how much leaves your mind until you try to remember how to deal with things. iA I have hope.

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      Alhamdulillah, it all begins with niyah (intentions), and it’s obvious that your heart is in the right place. May Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) grant you tawfiq (success). Aameen. JazakAllahu khayr for your kind words about the article.

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  16. Abd- Allah

    JazakumAllah khayr for sharing your experiences in this article sister Hina.

    7.) I always kept them close by.

    How does one balance between keeping them under supervision and between keeping them too close that they are completely dependent on their parents and are not able to do anything for themselves. I have seen many kids who lack confidence and are very dependent on their parents regardless of how old they are, and they don’t know how to do anything for themselves just because their parents have kept them too close. I feel a balance here is required. Not necessarily that they go to sleep overs, but in some other way that would teach them how to be self dependent if they ever need to.

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    • Sayf

      I remember seeing on Dr.Phil (not that I consider him an authority) that a good way to teach kids independence is through controlled decision making. It’s a nice balance between letting them run completely free and making decisions recklessly on their own or making every decision for them. Easy example: Instead of “Get some extra-curricular activities”(no control) or “You MUST join the chess club”(too much control) you could check out what options they have and give them a list to make a decision from. “You can pick between a sports team, this club or that club”

      I know that was a bit of a tangent with regards to keeping them physically close, but the same rule applies to all levels of independence. Get them to make their own decisions / allow them to do things/spend time on their own, but the list of possible decisions and thus control belongs to you, so even a weak decision isn’t a hurtful one (so they learn consequences too!). I remember hearing one story of a mother offering to pay the masjid to employ her child rather than lets say, finding his own employment and ending up at a mcdonalds.

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  17. Umm Bilqis

    Assalamu alikum wonderful article and commentary.

    I will just add a bit of a thought in regards to the fact that many people treat their cars with the utmost care and will not give it to just any mechanic. However will hand over their kids to strangers in strange schools. Why? Are you not interested in the kind of ideas they are getting?
    You really have to watch the enviroment and keep the end in mind.
    We need to model the behavior and Aklaq that please Allah(Insha’ Allah).
    Then, to the best of our ability make sure the children are around people who have these characteristics.
    I think it is counter productive to put them in non Muslim public schools. That is unless you want them to come back with secular humanist concepts.
    As someone wrote somewhere, You can send you little kid to Caesar’s schools but don’t be surprised if they come back as little Romans.
    I personally like the Home school option but if not a good Muslim school.

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      JazakAllahu khayr for the positive feedback.

      I homeschool my 3 children and am grateful that Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) has surrounded me with such a wonderful “village” to raise my children in.

      Many of the parents I interviewed for the article did indeed choose to homeschool; however, not many felt that it was the one die-hard rule to live by. In fact, one respected shaykh surprised me when I asked him if he felt that we should be homeschooling our children. “Not necessarily,” he responded. “I benefited greatly from many teachers who taught me in the early years in the public school. What’s most important is the home life. If parents give their kids the right armor for protection, they should be okay, insha’Allah.” The “right armor” was a home life where Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) was honored and obeyed and the parents were intimately connected with the children.

      It’s a different story for converts though. Since many of their children “look just like non-Muslims” (whatever that means) and often have non-Muslim-sounding names, it is very difficult for the kids to deal with the constant questions and pressure about no dating, no drinking, no dancing, all of which are such a huge part of “normal” American culture. These teenagers often don’t have large extended Muslim families to rely on for support. Sometimes it really is a matter of preserving their imaan (faith) by keeping them around Muslim peers and teachers, so homeschooling and/or Muslim schools really are the must-do’s in their cases.

      Having said all that, I have to say that you don’t see the benefits of homeschooling overnight. It is only after eight years of homeschooling that I am seeing why Allah (subhana wa ta’ala) has guided me onto this path. I cannot thank Him enough.

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  18. AnonyMouse

    Wow, masha’Allah… straight up one of the best articles I’ve ever read. I was amazed to find that almost everything listed were things that my parents implemented throughout my own childhood and adolescence… although I wasn’t able to articulate it until I read it right here!
    JazaakiAllahu alf khair, sis Hina… this article is amazing!

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      Alhamdulillah. Please keep me in your duas.

      If it wouldn’t be too much trouble, could you please list a few specific examples from your childhood and how they affected you? I’m sure we can all benefit, insha’Allah!

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  19. Umm Nusaybah

    Asalamu Alaikum =-}

    Sister Hina thank you so much for this post!!! Do you have an email address I can contact you at?

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      Walaikum Assalaam,

      Wa eeyakum! My email is__________

      Wassalaam,
      Hina

      -Pls send any enquiries for Sr. Hina to info at muslimmatters dot org and they will be passed to her. -Editor

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  20. SA

    Jazakallah for the article.I dont know if I have turned out to be the muslim my parents wanted me to be but so many of your points are what my parents enforced while bringing us up.I couldnt agree more with you on how important a role a pious father plays.My father was never an outwardly pious man but he taught us the importance of believing in Allah and knowing that hardships are tests that can be surmounted through sheer belief and hardwork.He was also the one who made sure that when he was home everyone had dinner together regardless of how busy we were.To this day I would prefer having a quiet family dinner with my parents and siblings gathered around at home rather than in the best restaurant with all my friends.My parents kept us so close that when it came time for university none of us was willing to move out and my parents instead put off their plans to move into a bigger house just so we wouldn’t have problems commuting.

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      The fact that you appreciate all that your parents did for you shows that you must have turned out at least a wee bit the way they wished! :) I can only hope and pray that my own kids will appreciate all that their dad and I tried to do for them when they were younger. JazakAllahu khayr for sharing the specific examples from your own life; they’ve given me much food for thought!

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  21. Syed J

    Assalam alaikum,

    Masha Allah, one of the BEST articles i’ve read on MM. Actually, tears rolled into my eyes when i was reading this..

    ..I know of an Ivy League university student who insisted on turning the car around because she realized she had left home without giving her mother salaams (farewell wishes). I have been acquainted with doctors who make more money in a single month than most people make in a single year yet choose to live in small homes with no mortgages so that their salaries can be spent supporting scholars of Islam. My husband and I work with a young man who once flew with his mother from California to Jordan, then turned around and returned on the next flight home — all of this so that his single mother didn’t have to travel across the world alone. I have witnessed fourth graders who were able to sit quietly with impeccable etiquette in front of Muslim scholars while the adults around them stretched, yawned, and sighed. I have heard children silence their young friends with urgent reminders, “Don’t say that about him! It’s backbiting!”

    A sign of someone whom Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) loves is that when you see him/her, you remember Allah. The examples I have listed here are all people who have caused me to wonder about my own station with Allah in relation to theirs; they have motivated me to at least try to change, to improve. …

    Jazak Allah Khair.

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      JazakAllahu khayr for taking out the time to comment and let us know what touched you. It means so much to me!

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  22. Amatullah

    mashaAllah sister Hina, we’ve been awaiting your arrival :D I already commented but once again: may Allah bless you and your family!

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      JazakAllahu khayr for the duas — they are the most precious gift to me! :)

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  23. Sammy

    What a detailed and impressive article MashaAllah!!!

    Born and raised in Pakistan, it has always upset me how the social/ traditional/ cultural norms prevent parents from talking to their children about topics that are best left alone, when in fact, they are sad realities! My parents have always shied away from topics I had problems with and even though I think they tried to “walk the walk” with everything they could, I always regret not having them “talk” to me. I grew up with certain qualities on my own, because I felt like that’s what I needed to do and I’m sure it has a lot to do with how my parents lived their lives and how they prioritized “teaching at every opportunity”; at the same time, I feel disadvantaged because I learned a lot of things on my own, the hard way because nobody ever spoke to me about them. Wallahu aalam but it was Allah’s Will then, that I had to learn things myself. :)

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      Masha’Allah, you have the right attitude! And we can all learn from our past experiences so that we “do better” with the next generation, insha’Allah. But , of course, we all know that Perfection is only for Allah (swt) and our parents did the best with what they had, alhamdulillah. May we learn from all the good they did and may Allah (swt) reward them for their intentions and efforts. Aameen.

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  24. Dua

    SubhanAllah, what am amazing article. I sent this article to my friends and family. Once my father read this article, he was so pleased he immidiately thanked Allah (swt), then he told us, “Please let me know what I lacked in this regard. I know I have not done all right but I pray to Allah that He help me for the rest of my life.”

    It really made me tear up. I think thats one thing all parents should do. No one is perfect. obviously there will be times when you mess up, but stay open to feedback, suggestions, discussion. It shows them you care, are sincere and you are trying your best. That itself sometimes is the best gift for your children. Alhamdulillah.

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      I shared your comment with my father, and he told my siblings and me that he shares your father’s sentiment and would love to be forgiven for any mistakes he has made as He continues to rely on Allah’s Mercy and Guidance. SubhanAllah. What humility coming from men who deserve our undying gratitude and devotion! Who knows what mistakes we will be making with our own children in the coming years? All we can pray is that we recognize our errors in time, that we ask for forgiveness with hearts full of sincerity, and that our own sons and daughters are merciful and understanding with us as well. (Oh — and, of course, that we rectify our mistakes!) Thank you so much for sharing this with us; it really meant a lot.

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  25. Ummhs

    Jazakallah khair for this amazing article. SubhanAllah, my eyes literally filled with tears while reading through it. And many points I re-read because they were just so touching. My husband had initially told me about this article, so I finally found time to read it. I feel like reading it a 100 times over! I even told my husband that we should print it and post snippets of it around the house. I am a mother of 2 kids under the age of 3 and find myself praying and hoping that Allah will raise them to be His righteous servants; but then when I reflect, I realize that I also need to “walk the walk” as you mentioned. SubhanAllah, what an eye opener! Jazakallah khair once again. May Allah guide you and your family to all that pleases Him and keep you on al-siraat-ul-mustaqeem. Ameen.

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      JazakAllahu khayr for your kind response. I wish there was some way I could express to readers how much their feedback means to me. If you don’t mind, would you be able to share with me which parts in particular touched you the most? Which were the parts you re-read? (I’d like to get this info while it’s still fresh in your mind.) I’m thinking of developing this article into something more substantial (insha’Allah), and it is very helpful to know what readers are connecting with most. If you want privacy for your response, you could email me personally through the editor of this blog. And jazakAllahu khayr for your duas; I am in much need of them. :) I look forward to hearing from you, insha’Allah.

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  26. Fahad

    As Salaamu Alaykum,

    I’m 27. Today, during lunch, I called my mom and asked her what she wanted to see me accomplish. My mom is a doctor and has worked her entire life, given up so much for us, and I love her more than she will ever know. If I could make it so that she never had to take step or reach for something to retrieve it, I would do it in a heartbeat. Sometimes when we are traveling I try to pick her up so she doesn’t have to walk, but she doesn’t let me.

    Anyways, of course like every desi mom she wants to see me get married and be happy, but this time I was looking for a direct order from her because I love to take orders from her and follow through. So she said she wanted me to be successful in my Deen and in this Dunya.

    I don’t believe in coincidences, and I’m so glad I stumbled upon this article today. I had to take a break to wipe my nose during #3. While I was reading the article, I was making dua that you would mention something about the importance of the father in the house. Alhamdulillah, Allah blessed me with a dad that goes to the Masjid for Fajr and Isha every day. It seems that nowadays the father’s role is neglected by families including the father himself.

    Anyways, I could keep going on, but I just want to send an enormous JAZAK’ALLAH KHAYR to you for writing this. May Allah make your children yearn to be in the company of the Prophet sal’Allahu alayhi wa sallam. May he make them children that pray for you and your husband every day of their lives and instill in their own children to do the same. May he put them with the best of company during every moment of their lives and give them hearts full of noor that turns any company they are with into the best.

    Ameen.

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    • Amad

      jazakallakhair Fahad for sharing your thoughts. Such sentiments provide more encouragement for all the bloggers to keep on going :)

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      Your duas made me cry; I shared them with my children. I pray that they grow up to love my husband and me the way you love your parents, masha’Allah. Aameen. JazakAllahu khayr for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful, heartfelt comment. It means so much to me.

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  27. Abdullah

    Asalaam alaikum Warahmatulah Wabarakatuh

    Sister Hina, you said that there was more that you still wanted to write yet.. please can you please post more, something like a 2nd part to this article? It’s really beneficial to us parents inshaa’ Allah, and its better that its shared with us.

    Jazakillah khayr in advance..

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    • Hina

      Walaikum Assalaam Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatahu,

      JazakAllahu khayr for the words of encouragement. I will definitely keep you apprised as I write more, insha’Allah. For now, if you’re interested, there will be an interview posted on http://www.onelegacyradio.com within 24 hours of this comment, insha’Allah. If you go to their website and click on the “Family Connections” show, you should be able to download a podcast of the two hosts interviewing me about the article “Raising Children with Deen and Dunya” on April 5th, 2010.

      I also have an article called “Mawlid by Moonlight” available on http://www.seekersguidance.org. You can google it, if you’re having trouble finding it, insha’Allah.

      Please keep me in your duas.

      Wassalaam,
      Hina

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  28. Hina

    Assalaamu Alaikum, Readers,

    I just wanted to let you know that the radio interview about my article is now available for listening to on-line. Please go to http://www.onelegacyradio.com and click on “podcasts” and then click on the “Family Connections” show. My interview was the April 5th, 2010, interview. JazakAllahu khayr.

    Wassalaam,
    Hina

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  29. Uzma

    Assalam-o-Alaikum,
    Jazak-i-allah, this is the best article on muslim parenting. Can you please post a link to the book you mentioned by Leila Azzam’s “Life of the Prophet Muhammad (salallaahu alaihi wasallam)”.

    Regards,
    uzma

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  30. Maria

    MashAllah a very practically helpful piece of writing … am twenty four and not a mother to be soon yet after reading your article i very strongly feel that i would like to hold on to it and go through it more often so that i remember to follow when i am in that era of my life what Allah may give taufiq to me for out of these wonderful advices for bringing about a positive generation ahead … JazakiAllah … JazakiAllah khayr …

    Regards,
    Maria

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  31. Fareeda Bhatti

    Jazak Allahu khairun. It is a great road map for new parents and eye opening review for rest of us who are trying to fulfil this extraordinary task of preparing good muslims. SubhanAllah, these tips are wonderful and you have pulled everything together nicely.
    May Allah SWT help us all to instil love of our prophet in our children’s heart.

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  32. Aisha Mohammed

    Masha Allah, i loved this write up. ITs very practical and Insha Allah hope to abide by it . May Allah make us raise rightoeus kids and be also among the righteous, Amin

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  33. Umm Imran

    Bismillah

    Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah dear Hina,

    Mashallah your article has taught me quite a lot of important lessons. Mashallah it is a very well-written article.

    Sis, will you be able to allow me to publish this beautiful article at our Muslim parenting site please?

    Our readers can benefit a lot from your great article insha-Allah.

    Please do let me know insha-Allah.

    Jazakallah khairan sis, wassalam.

    Umm Imran :-)

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    • Hina

      Walaikum Assalaam, Umm Imran,

      Alhamdulillah for your kind words! I’m so happy to hear that you find it of benefit. Please feel free to post it on your site, but please don’t edit it at all…I’m very particular about grammar and spelling and writing style, and I have chosen my words carefully for this article. I would love to see the parenting site as well! Would that be possible?

      JazakAllahu khayr. Please keep me in your duas.

      Wassalaam,
      Hina

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      • Umm Imran

        Walaikum salam wa rahmatullah dear Hina,

        Jazakallah khairan sis for allowing me to share this beautiful article. I will not change anything and will publish it exactly the way you did it insha-Allah.

        I will let you know as soon as the article is published at our next issue insha-Allah.

        Please do visit our site sis and let us know your feedback insha-Allah :-)

        http://www.mumandmuslim.com

        Thanks sis, take care.
        Wassalam.

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  34. Fayaz Bin Abdu

    Dear Sister Hina
    Jazakallah for this article. I am a father of 1 year old daughter who was wondering how would I take care of
    my little from nasty world. Because I knew if my kid grow up the way I was. Its not going to be easy in more worst environment. Now you have showed me a way and also inspired me. Almighty bless you sister. I am putting this in my blog as it is for my reference since no body else normally look at my blogs. Hope you dont mind. Ma salama
    with regards
    Fayaz

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    • Hina

      Alhamdulillah, jazakAllahu khayr for the duas. Please feel free to post this article to your blog. I pray that it is of benefit to you and others, insha’Allah.

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  35. Umm Abdullah

    Assalamoalaikum,
    Jazka’Allah khair for this article. mash’Allah.

    i’ll be honest – i’ve only read the initial paragraphs and a quote someone else sent me – who recommended it to me. insha’Allah will read soon. (i’m still mash’Allah getting to grips with my 1st child) Alhamdullilah a blessing.
    I just wanted to say that when he was born i remember 2 days later we were discharged and my mum and brother came to get us. we packed and checked everything was sorted out with the doctors etc…
    my brother and husband took all of the luggage/gifts etc to the car while i stayed with baby and my mum. thats when i burst into tears. my mum asked me what was wrong and i said – its just hit me. this child is MY responsibility, i have to take him out into this world where ‘evil’ is. how will i protect him? how will i do it? Then.subhan’Allah..it poured like i’d never seen before. the mercy of unbelievable! by this time my husband and bro had joined us and we all raised our hands and made dua. Alhamdullilah.
    we cried and hugged one another and took this gift out into the world.
    Allah protect our children, our sisters our brothers out there and guide us all.ameen

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      What a beautiful story, masha’Allah! I’m sure your child will always treasure knowing how concerned you were about raising him/her well. Insha’Allah!

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  36. shahida

    mashallah…. Jazakallah…….. i’m going to save this article…… n will com back to it time n again 4 guidance…… may Allah bless u n ur family 4 this endeavor……… just remember u;ll be in my prayers . in shaa Allah…… :)

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      JazakAllahu khayr! Duas are all I ask for! Much appreciated…

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  37. fiza

    Thank you with your beautiful writing. I’m searching on muslim guide of living in dunya and that’s when I came to read your article. I’m in the midst of searching for how I should live in dunya, and Alhamdulillah I get something to think about. Eventhough you only mention in a line about doctors who choose to live in a small house in order to help muslim scholars, but for me the line is what I need to set my aim to live in this dunya.

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      Alhamdulillah! May Allah (swt) give you tawfiq. Aameen.

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  38. Abu Hamzah

    as-salamu alaikum

    May Allah reward your efforts for trying to convey helpful pointers for raising our children. However, I believe it is better for Muslims to take advice from the scholars. There are several points in your article that I disagrew ith. First, it is from Islam to show the whip in a public place. Corporal punishment is needed, but only when it is most effective. Secondly, there is no salaat Al-Haajah in Islam, this is based upon fabricated and weak ahaddith. There was some benefit from this article, however, I suggest that Muslims should avoid reading this as there is better material from many scholars and callers to Islam.

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      It would be wonderful if you could post links to the “better material”. I’m sure we all could benefit from reading what “scholars and callers to Islam” have to say, insha’Allah.

      By the way, the book “Reflections of Pearls” has details on Salaat-ul-Haajah in it. You should be able to order it from http://www.islamicbookstore.com if you are so inclined.

      Thank you for your duas.

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    • Hina Khan-Mukhtar

      Question ID:1117

      Date Published: August 06, 2005
      The Prayer of Need (Salat al-Hajah)

      Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
      Question:
      How does one perform the prayer of need (salat al-haja)?
      Answer:
      In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

      In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful, and all blessings and peace upon our master Muhammad, his Folk, Companions and those who follow their noble way,

      Abullah ibn Abi Awfa (Allah be pleased with him) relates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “Whoever has a need with Allah, or with any human being, then let them perform ritual ablutions well and then pray two rakats. After that, let them praise Allah and send blessings on the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). After this, let them say,

      لا إِلَهَ إِلا اللَّهُ الْحَلِيمُ الْكَرِيمُ
      سُبْحَانَ اللَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَرْشِ الْعَظِيمِ

      الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِين
      أَسْأَلُكَ مُوجِبَاتِ رَحْمَتِكَ وَعَزَائِمَ مَغْفِرَتِكَ وَالْغَنِيمَةَ مِنْ كُلِّ بِرٍّ وَالسَّلامَةَ مِنْ كُلّإِثْمٍ
      لا تَدَعْ لِي ذَنْبًا إِلا غَفَرْتَهُ وَلا هَمًّا إِلا فَرَّجْتَهُ وَلا حَاجَةً هِيَ لَكَ رِضًا إِلا قَضَيْتَهَا يَا أَرْحَمَ الرَّاحِمِينَ

      There there no god but Allah the Clement and Wise.
      There is no god but Allah the High and Mighty.
      Glory be to Allah, Lord of the Tremendous Throne.
      All praise is to Allah, Lord of the worlds.
      I ask you (O Allah) everything that leads to your mercy, and your tremendous forgiveness, enrichment in all good, and freedom from all sin.
      Do not leave a sin of mine (O Allah), except that you forgive it, nor any concern except that you create for it an opening, nor any need in which there is your good pleasure except that you fulfill it, O Most Merciful!”

      [Related by Tirmidhi and Ibn Maja. The hadith has some weakness, but it is slight: such hadiths are acted upon for virtuous deeds (fada’il al-a`mal) by general agreement of Sunni scholarship]

      The prayer of need is very simple: It is essentially to raise one’s need to Allah Most High, by performing ritual ablution (wudu), praying 2 rakats (or four), and then making whole-hearted dua to Allah. If one uses the abovementioned Prophetic supplication, or other similar supplications transmitted from the Beloved Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), it is best. [Ibrahim al-Halabi, Sharh Munyat al-Musalli; al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya; Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Muhtar]

      The inward manners of supplication is exhibiting our neediness and absolute slavehood to Allah, consigning one’s matters to Allah, and knowing that the only one who gives or benefits is Allah Most High. With this, one should be certain that Allah Most High answers our duas, but in the way He knows is best for us.

      When circumstances do not permit us to pray 2 rakats, one should still turn to Allah in supplication, raising one’s needs to Him, for He answers our supplications and loves being asked.

      And Allah alone gives success.

      Wassalam,

      Faraz Rabbani

      Dear Abu Hamzah,
      I guess it’s safe to say that scholars differ in their opinions on salaat-ul-haajah. You should follow the opinion you are most comfortable with. I am very sincere when I say that I am truly interested in reading the other articles on parenting you recommend. Please do share them if you are able.
      JazakAllahu khayr.
      Wassalaam,
      Hina

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  39. Jawad Mehmood

    @ hina: Can u send me your article? actually there are so many letters like 
    Â above. Its difficult to comprehend. jzk

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  40. Umm Aisha

    Salam alaikum my sister, Jazakillah khayr for your very engaging writing, mashallah! Alhamdulilah I’ve learnt a lot from these experiences, and having a very young baby, it’s always good to hear how other Muslim parents ‘did’ it! You should definitely develop it into a book one day which will be beneficial to all inshaAllah. A few points that I thought went against the grain of islam though in your article; celebrating birthdays for children and normalising that tradition when there is no such thing in our perfect religion, and reading surah Maryam in particular when pregnant is not from the Sunnah. Any Surahs and duas would do, I learnt from a renowned female scholar in the Gulf.

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  41. Madeehatariq

    Subhaan Allah!!! what a treasure trove on Muslim parenting!!! and Alhamdulillah, that i accidently stumbled upon it while reading another post on MM…. may Allah reward you immensely for your effort sister Hina… your intention is laudable!! raising children is such a universal topic! one where we r sooooo in need of HELP!!  n one hardly finds advice that corresponds to ones own set of values… i mean lets face it, truth is, the cyber space is filled with advice about ‘secular parenting’ and other matters of life! but Islamic content is hard to find… so jazakAllah hi khair sister for such an enlightening piece! hoping to read more from you inshaAllah! mashaAllah i envy you.. imagine the amount of sadaqa e jaaria you have accumulated n that will keep coming your way through this amazing article alone! may Allah accept it from you! loads of duas for you and your family! i hope and pray Allah takes some work of deen from myself n my children too… n hence inshaAllah hope to meet you, inshaAllah in jannah!! Ameen!

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  42. RY

    alsalam wa alaikom wa rahmatuh allah wa barakatuh

    May I Just say god bless you for such a great long article. I am not a parent, but a daughter at the age of 19, this helped me remember how to treat my parents and remember what they have done for me, It also helped remind me how I want to live my life inshaa allah.

    Jazaki allah khayr

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    • Fatemah

      Same here! This article reminded me so much of my parents. (I’m also a 19-year old daughter.)

      I bookmarked this so I can read it again later, with a different mind-set, insha’Allah. :)

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  43. ummazza

    Assalamu alaykum and thank you for this very beneficial article. This is the second time it has been emailed to me and the second time I’ve read it so you should be happy to know your words and reflections continue to circulate and offer guidance for our ummah alhamdulillah :)

    I am interested that you are homeschooling your children as we are discussing this option for our little ones as well insha’Allah. Could you please recommend any resources or websites that you have found particularly useful? I am interested both in practical advice as well as any research that situates homeschooling within the Islamic scholarly tradition. JazakAllahkheir!

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  44. mamaharaz

    MashaAllah, a beautiful piece. It did take a while to go through, but I felt connected at every point and I’m so happy you could put them all in words.

    We are new parents and as new parents there is always that fear as well as excitement to raise your child so that they will succeed both in this world and here-after. May Allah guide us and help us in this journey.

    Thank you! Barakallahufik

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