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  August 2003

Human Rights
Parenting the Children
Dr. Mozammel Haque

With the IT revolution and the supersonic media, the whole world becomes a global village and one family. The events of one corner of the planet affect the people of the other corner. Nobody can ignore what is happening today around the world, which affect and influence our children and has impact on the elders too.

The problem of violence grows substantially when children move to adolescent years. In addition to violence, numerous other challenges present themselves in the lives of our child: drugs, premarital sex, alcohol and disrespect towards authority figures, to name a few.

In his article, “Countering violence,” in the Chairman’s Corner of US Airways Attache magazine of July 1999, Mr. Stephen M. Wolf says, “In her insightful book, Mayhem, a Study of the Impact of Violence in the Media on Society, Dr. Sissela Bok, quotes a frightening statistics from research done in the early 1990’s that estimated by the time a child left elementary school he or she would have watched 8,000 murders and more than 100,000 acts of violence on television, in the movies and video games.” According to CNN’s Headline news of March 8th, 2001 statistics, 39 kids have died in school shootings since the Columbine shooting.

There is no doubt that all parents have to be concerned with this fact, especially those who care about the well-being of their children and those who understand that children are a trust from Allah and we will be asked about the way we brought them up. We hope that on the Day of Judgement, we will be able to humbly respond to Allah’s question in a positive way and with His grace say: “We did our best to fulfill the trust.”

Children are the apple of a man’s eye, the source of great joy and companionship. If a man’s children have good attributes then they will truly be joys of this life, as Allah described them in the Qurán: “Wealth and sons are the allurements (joys) of the life of this world…” (18:46).

But if the parents neglect their children’s upbringing, the results will be disastrous. Their children will be a source of annoyance, frustration and constant concern, not to mention nights of lost sleep and days of worry. The true Muslim understands his great responsibility towards the children he has brought into this world.

The home is the first environment in which these little ones grow; it is the milieu in which their inclinations, attitudes and personalities are formed. This explains the importance of the parent’s role in nurturing their young ones and paying equal attention to their physical, mental and spiritual well-being.

Parents are responsible for providing their children with a sound Islamic education and upbringing. In Surah Al-Tahreem, Allah says, “O you who believe! Save yourselves and your family from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones…” (66:6) There is no greater proof of the gravity of parent’s responsibility to bring their children up to obey Allah and His Messenger, than the verdict of the Ulema that every family should heed the words of the Prophet (pbuh): “Instruct your children to pray when they are seven years of age, and hit them if they do not pray when they are ten.”

Every new baby is born in a state of fitrah (the natural state of man), and it is parents who make him a Jew or a Christian or a Magian, as is mentioned in the Sahih Hadith narrated by Al-Bukhari. Hence the parent’s responsibility regarding the upbringing of the child and the formation of his personality is clear.

According to Qurán and the teachings of our beloved Prophet (pbuh), Tarbiya is a joint responsibility between both parents as reported in the following Hadith: “Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock. The leader is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock; a man is the shepherd of his family and is responsible for his flock; a woman is the shepherd in the house of her husband and is responsible for her flock; the servant is the shepherd of his master’s wealth and is responsible for it. Each of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock.” (Agreed upon)

Children are a part of us, going forth into the world, as the poet said: “Our children are our hearts, walking among us in the face of the earth, if even a little breeze touches them, we cannot sleep for worrying about them.” Parents should be filled with love, affection and care, willing to make sacrifices and do their best for their children.

One of his primary paternal duties is to demonstrate his love, mercy and affection towards his children so that they will grow up confident, positive, optimistic and with high levels of self-esteem. Compassion is a basic Islamic characteristic, and was one of the most prominent characteristics of the Prophet (pbuh), as Anas told us, “I never saw anyone who was more compassionate towards children than the Messenger of Allah.”

It is the parent’s job to help their children find the right source of knowledge about the Prophet’s life and the lives of his companions. The child should feel that his parents love him, understand his needs, know that he is facing a lot of peer pressure, and care about his well-being. The child should feel that he/she is valuable, capable, and skilled in various areas. The parents have to make sure that the child’s life-style is an active one. He does not feel like it’s boring and tedious. Parents can get their child involved in Muslim activities.

Pakistan accuses India of training terrorists

Pakistan said on Aug 18 that India had missed a golden opportunity to resolve the issue of Kashmir and to bring peace and stability in the region when it rejected a proposal for ceasefire on the Line of Control.

“President Pervez Musharraf’s proposal was very constructive and a historical opportunity to resolve the Kashmir issue. But there was a negative response from India when they swiftly rejected it. They did not even listen to us but instead went for a knee jerk reaction. They should have at least listened to us as the proposal had ingredients for a breakthrough,” Masood Khan, spokesman at the Foreign Office told the media the government said it was disturbed at this opportunity, as India does not want to go for talks. “We should talk meaningfully,” he said.

He said steps to resume relations would continue as Islamabad has proposed the second half of September for technical level talks between Railway officials for the resumption of the Samjotha Express. As yet there has been no headway made for resuming air links.

Islamabad also repeated its concern on what it says are more than 55 terrorist training camps in Indian held Kashmir saying that these have been set up by New Delhi to destabilise Pakistan.

“There are more than 55 terrorist training camps across the Line of Control. This apparatus of terrorist training camps has to be dismantled. This is not a secret. They have been set up to indulge in activities of sabotage, sectarian violence and other activities against Pakistan,” said Khan. However, to a query, he said Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali would not set the dismantling of these camps as a pre-condition to meeting with his Indian counterpart.

The smart Muslim father keeps his eyes open as far as his children are concerned. He knows what they are reading and writing, the hobbies they have chosen or which he may have encouraged them to follow, without them realizing it, the friends with whom they spend most of their time, and the places they go in their spare time. He knows all of this without his children feeling that he is watching them. If he finds anything objectionable in their reading-material or hobbies, or finds that they are hanging around with undesirable friends, or going to unsuitable places, or taking up bad habits like smoking, or wasting time and energy on haram games that make them accustomed to trivialities and idle pursuits, he puts them straight in a gentle and wise manner, and persuades them to return to the straight and narrow.

The books which children spend time reading should be broadening their minds, building their personalities and offering them good examples; they should not be corrupting them and extinguishing the flame of goodness in their hearts.