My personal belief is that Allah has done what is best for the child and what's best for her parents. The child was born with Down's Syndrome and had major defects in the heart. Should she have survived longer, she would have needed to go through at least two operations on her heart. As parents, a lot of our time would have been devoted to her alone and could have reduced our attention to our other four children. Even without her, we are struggling to instill in them good values as Muslim children but I suspect that our way of educating them may not suit them.
The eldest is now eight years old. We never hit them when they do something wrong. Probably, when they surpass the age of 10 (as indicated in the Hadith) we may consider punishing them physically as a lesson. Though we never hit the children, we often raise our voices when scolding them. I personally do not like this noisy atmosphere in my house, even though I sometimes raise my voice to my children. Very rarely do I experience a nice, calm and quiet condition in my house. Smiling faces are hard to see.
My wife is currently not working, soI thought that the nitty-gritty things should be handled by a mother! Sometimes I help in doing the housework such as cooking, doing the laundry and other things.
I also believe that leading by example may work well in many instances—as in daily Prayers. Wouldn't it be hard to tell children to do Prayers early, when the mother normally does her Zhuhr (Noon) Prayers near `Asr(Afternoon) Prayers, and Maghrib (Sunset) Prayers near `Isha’ (Night) Prayers. I have talked about all these things with my wife, but not much seems to change.
I would really appreciate any advice with regards to raising children in a harmonious and cheerful way to establishing an Islamic family. Could you please briefly explain the responsibilities that should be shouldered by a father and a mother?
May Allah reward you all good things in this life and in the Hereafter. Thank you.
In this counseling answer:
“What is worth considering is how you can give your wife the support that she needs so that she can have time to sit with you and share the learning process together. Also, you can consider, while you are at home, the ways in which you can support your wife morally and in the duties of the household. Then you too can share in developing the manners of the children. It is through the Islamic code of manners, when genuinely excercised, that there descends a calm. It helps to train us in the reciprocity of rights.”
As-salamu `alaykum brother,
If you do not mind, I will try to answer your second question first, although it cannot be answered adequately in this space. You know the first and defining rule that I was taught when I attended my first lesson in Islamic jurisprudence, is that there is no point in learning if you are not going to practice, in fact it becomes haram (forbidden by Allah), because one becomes responsible for what one knows. This was the commitment that had to be made before proceeding with any further lessons.
In Marriage We Mature
We can learn all that we want, but what is the point if we do not take responsibility for it? After all, it is in the real world that we can best appreciate how strong or how weak an element of knowledge is. It is also the only time that we can fully understand the depth of that fragment of knowledge. That is why in Islam, commitment to a healthy marriage is seen as the medium by which one matures and is made able to take on the responsibilities that life offers.
One can appreciate how disorientating it is to live in a noisy atmosphere full of tension. Most of all, it is the mother who deals with the ‘nitty gritty’ and who faces head-on those tensions, which by your account seem to last all day! There you are, trying to think, and there is your wife getting worn out by it all. It is a wonder that she finds time to pray let alone to pray properly i.e.with full concentration.
Your wife, I think, has to be avaliable at all times, regardless of her needs and regardless of the desire to pray. It is good that you help out, even if it is only a little. You know, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
” Who among the people is most deserving of a fine treatment from my hand? He said: Your mother. He again said: Then who (is the next one)? He said: Again it is your mother (who deserves the best treatment from you). He said: Then who (is the next one)? He (the Holy Prophet) said: Again, it is your mother. He (again) said: Then who? Thereupon he said: Then it is your father. In the hadith transmitted on the authority of Qutalba, there is no mention of the word” the people”.
Learn Together, Grow Together
However, the importance that Islam places on education for men, women and childen can not be stressed enough, hence your desire to learn more. I remember a small community of converts where the women were kept busy looking after the household and had no time to even read the Qur’an’. While the men were busy sharing knowledge, the women were busy educating the children, not according to Islam but according to what they knew before becoming Muslims. They were too busy looking after the children and the visitors and barely had time to pray.
So what is worth considering is how you can give your wife the support that she needs so that she can have time to sit with you and share the learning process together. Also, you can consider, while you are at home, the ways in which you can support your wife morally and in the duties of the household. Then you too can share in developing the manners of the children. It is through the Islamic code of manners, when genuinely excercised, that there descends a calm. It helps to train us in the reciprocity of rights.
From those rights, one is more able to waste less energy with daily battles and divert those energies to more constructive and creative endeavors. One is more able to spend time with the children instead of avoiding them or getting them to be quiet. For instance, if you want them to stop fighting amongst each other, although they might be too young to understand the ‘whys’ of it all, they are at an age where a little distraction could help. Communicating with them at their level is the trick, and one can help them understand through stories, visits, activities in the home and little jobs around the house.
When you pray, leave a place next to you so that if they wish, they can join you, even if it is only mimicking. There is play time and relaxation time. Instill the sense of beauty in calmness when reading or listening to the Qur’an so that they may be quiet when you pray, when they see you reading and when they themselves hear the Qur’an playing or being recited.
Show Respect, Get Respect
Try to allocate relaxation time, when they need to calm down for instance, but remember they have their own sense of time, so once you understand the rhythm of their day, there are always clues as to what you can introduce and when. When they are noisy and boisterous and they want your attention, do not respond until they speak to you in an appropriate manner, but for this to happen, you also must speak to them with much consideration, so that they can learn to consider you. At the same time, they need their energy outbursts, to climb and to fall. Their social skills are determined by what happens in the home and that includes you and how you treat your wife.
“There is a sadaqa to be given for every joint of the human body; and for every day on which the sun rises there is a reward of a sadaqa (optional charity) for the one who establishes justice among people.”
Less Tension, Less Frustration
So give justice to your wife and support her in a manner that she can feel less tense about raising the children. Less tension leads to less frustration, and less frustration to less shouting, for if your wife has to continually struggle against the odds all day, she will have no energy or presence of mind to reflect on what she is doing.
Just imagine what can be done when the children are not fasting. There are lots of things that can be done, but you have to include yourself in the picture instead of focusing solely on the children and your wife.
As regards the death of your beautiful daughter, this hadith is the closest to what you have in mind:
“A woman whose three children die will be shielded by them from the Hellfire.” On that a woman asked, “If only two die?” He replied, “Even two (will shield her from the Hellfire)”.
The approach you took on her death was a wise one. To have prolonged her life in any way would also have prolonged her suffering. Who knows, even though she lived a short time, her life and death has probably contributed towards your current thoughts on your children who remain with you.
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(From Ask About Parenting archives)