Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
In this fatwa:
2- You cannot prevent your wife, who is a Christian, from exposing her children to her beliefs so long as she does not force them to adopt them.
3- After they have attained adulthood, it is up to them to choose the religion of their choice; you are not accountable if they exercise the choice wrongfully.
Responding to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a Senior Lecturer and Islamic Scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states:
Islam has ordered parents to take care of their children and to bring them up according to Islamic manners. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said: “Every child is born on fitra (or innate sound nature) and his parents make him a Jew, a Christian or a fire worshipper.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
As a Muslim father, you must do everything possible within your means to raise your children according to the Islamic faith and practice.
Once you have done your part, you must leave the matter to Allah. You cannot prevent your wife, who is a Christian, from exposing her children to her beliefs so long as she does not force them to adopt them.
After they have attained adulthood, it is up to them to choose the religion of their choice; you are not accountable if they exercise the choice wrongfully.
The Qur’an says: “There shall be no compulsion in religion; the truth stands out clearly from falsehood.” (Al-Baqarah 2:256)
Allah says elsewhere, “…We have only the duty to convey the message.”(Ash-Shura 42: 48)
You, the father, should build in your children good Islamic characters including truthfulness, generosity, love of sacrifice, putting others first, helping others.
You should keep them away from evil characteristics. Such good Islamic characters are little different from good Christian characters.
In addition, teach your children the Islamic manners in all things: using the toilet, eating, drinking, dressing, sleeping, leaving and entering the house, etc.
Try to focus more on those areas in which Christians and Muslims agree, and as your children grow older and can understand teach them more of Islam.
If the children are exposed to points of the Christian theology that directly contradict Islam, you have a religious obligation to clarify the Islamic viewpoints as persuasively as you can, but always exercise rifq or gentleness and hikma or wisdom in teaching your children.
It is our firm conviction that all of the essential Islamic beliefs and practices are fully compatible with common sense and reason and can be readily accepted by anyone with sound mind, whereas the man-made theologies are based on intricate, arbitrary rational arguments which can be rejected by the fitra or innate sound nature.
Also never stop praying to Allah to guide your wife and children to the true path.
As for those brothers or sisters who are accusing you of kufr, they have no right to do that. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) warned us against attributing kufr to others; by doing so it will bounce back on us.
Therefore, such brothers should be forewarned against their recklessness. So you don’t have to feel guilty because of their recklessness. Allah will reward you if you preserve patience and deal with them gently.
May Allah guide us all to speak and do what is right.
Almighty Allah knows best.
Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.