Imagine this scene…
A powerful leader, a man who has conquered hearts and souls, is arriving in the city. He has a mission to establish the tawheed or worshipping the common Creator. He brings honor to the city and Islam for its people. Everybody – men, women and children – have been waiting for him with bated breath.
It has been three days now.
They are restless and anxious…. Is he safe? Wait… there is a black speck on the horizon….. Two camels are approaching….. The Prophet of God has arrived. The throngs move forward. Everybody wants to be the first to greet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Elders, wise men and leaders of the society… Wait… the children, little girls, have broken into song praising the Prophet.
The Prophet of Allah hears their little voices, he listens to their song. He comes up to them taking time out for them.
“Do you love me?”
“Yes, yes! We love and respect you O Messenger of God.”
Answered the children, who I can imagine were thrilled by the attention. Then the Prophet replied:
“And I also love you all.”
The children were delighted!
Here was a man exhausted from a long journey through the desert, stressed from having to protect himself from enemies who wanted him killed. He has left his home, migrated to another city. Yet, in this tired state of mind and body…… he remembers the children!
He was a man on a mission to spread the truth. He brought to the people tidings of a God who has no partners. This was a serious message that rejected all falsehood and wrong practices of the past. His audience included kings, warriors and wise men. Yet…… he takes out time for the children!
He was a leader of men and a messenger of Allah. Everybody wants him to be their guest; he is almost mobbed by people who love him – important people, community leaders and rich merchants – people inviting him into their lives and homes. Yet… he brought his love to the little children!
This is the man we Muslims take as our leader, a man we attempt to emulate. Going through the seerah (biography) of our beloved Prophet, we come across many instances that illustrate his love and kindness for children. He came as a prophet to all of humanity and made it clear that “all of humanity” included children as well.
Hadith collections tell us about his love for his children and grandchildren when they were little. Usama bin Zaid narrates that the Prophet used to take him (i.e. Usama) and Al-Hassan (which is the Prophet’s grandson) in his lap and say:
“O Allah! Love them, as I love them.” (Al-Bukhari)
He would hug his grandchildren and be kind to them. He would hold them, carry them and pet them. He loved children and had no hesitation in expressing this love, even in public, and encouraged his followers to do so as well.
Allah’s Messenger kissed Al-Hasan ibn `Ali while Al-Aqra` ibn Habis At-Tamim was sitting with him. Al-Aqra` said, “I have ten children and have never kissed one of them.”
The Prophet cast a look at him and said:
“Whoever is not merciful to others will not be treated mercifully.” (Al-Bukhari)
Also Lady Aisha narrated that a bedouin came to the Prophet and said:
“You (people) kiss the boys! We don’t kiss them.”
The Prophet said:
“I cannot put mercy in your heart after Allah has taken it away from it.” (Al-Bukhari)
These are rather stern statements coming from the Prophet of Allah and reiterate the importance he gave, that modern psychologists advise as well, to love and care for children.
So men who feel it’s not a “man thing” and women who are simply too busy to give their child a cuddle, please take heed to what the Prophet of Allah has shown us through his own example. It is a sunnah to be loving and caring to children! It is a sunnah to cuddle and hold your baby! It is sunnah to kiss your son or your daughter.
Children bring joy, they are a mercy and a gift from Allah as they bring blessings to their families, and soften even the most hardest of hearts. This is their contribution to society and we must respect them for it.
Importantly, we must love our children because the little ones best understand the language of love.
Prophet Muhammad was kind and considerate to children, he knew babies were delicate. They need understanding as they go through their early years in this world. Babies need all the support they can get as they take their first uncertain steps.
The Prophet says that he would shorten the prayer if he heard a baby crying, as he did not want to distress the baby’s mother. On other occasions, he has prayed with a child in his arms lifting it as he stood up for each rak’ah (unit of prayer) and putting the child down as he went into sujood (prostration). This was how tender he was with babies.
Lady Aishah narrates how a child once urinated on the Prophet, but he neither complained nor made a fuss; he simply took some water and cleaned his clothes by pouring the water over the soiled place.
This was how much he loved children. He was tolerant and forgave any little mistakes they made. He played with them, gave them lifts on his camel and then fed them dates. How fun! He knew babies were curious and liked to explore new things.
One baby actually played with the seal of Prophethood between his shoulders, her father was annoyed with her. What was the Prophet’s response? Well, he told her father to leave her alone, not to scold her and then he blessed the baby by praying for her to have a long life.
How many of us can claim to be following the example of the Prophet? Well, we pray, fast and read the Quran and these are commendable activities. But we should be doing much more. We must emulate him to the best of our abilities, even though we may never be able to reach his standards.
He was kind, fair and loving in all that he did and with children; he loved them even more. They are the future, so he taught us to treat them with care and respect. He knew they were delicate and so was gentle with them.
Can we be as kind as the Prophet was? Can we love and guide at the same time? Try it!
First published on January 2016.