On the subject of raising children, Ali ibn Abi Taalib (Radhi Allahu ‘anhu) said
“Play with them for the first 7 years (of their life); then teach them for the next 7 years; then advise them for the next 7 years (and after that).”
First 7 Years – Play with them
In the first 7 years, your goal is to build a strong connection with your child. This is the foundation, the base from which your relationship with them grows. If this is rock solid, the remaining years will be much easier. If this foundation forms poorly, the next years will be more challenging.
If you have young children, this (first 7 years) is the time to roll up your sleeves and invest, heavily, in yours and their future. In fact, you will be rewarded for all the righteous progeny that survives you, not just children, until the Day of Judgement.
Play with your children, teach them Islam, teach them to have the best of manners but make the learning easy and don’t be harsh with them.
7-14 Years – Teach them
Once children reach 7, they are ready to learn. This is the time they are sponges, ready to soak up anything and everything you tell them, teach them, show them, and do in front of them. If you built that solid foundation in ages 0-7, they are now more than willing and happy to learn from you.
This is the time to teach them everything — Aqeedah, halaal and haraam, fiqh, all the things they need to know to survive throughout their life. Qur’an and seerah are also very important; as one prominent tabi’een said, “we learned seerah (frequently and in details) from our parents the way we learned Qur’an.”
Tell your children to study the deen first and then they can do their homework afterwards because the deen is the priority. Read and memorise the deen every day.
We should attach our hearts to the ulama (Scholars) and we should see them and take our children to see them, before they pass away.
Make your children tulaab and take them to the masjid and keep them from bad company. When they go to the masjid, tell them to always take their notepads even if there’s no lesson on, just in case they hear a benefit.
You shouldn’t just leave them on the streets or schools, rather you give them Tarbiyyah of the Sunnah and the staying away from Bidah. You shouldn’t always keep them inside the home.
We should tell our children to read biographies of the Salaf and then write about it and ask why they wrote those points especially. The more the children read these books, they will become more encouraged by them and the Salaf will become their role models. Also ask the children the names of the imams of the Salaf.
Teach them sports too, Rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “Teach your children Swimming, Archery and Horseback riding.” They gain many benefits from it, including physical fitness, learning teamwork, and sportsmanship.
- Abu Bakr Sijistanee compiled his first book at 11 regarding the biography of a great imam and his father was pleased with that.
- Imam Ahmed would read the musnad of his, which had the collection of 40,000 Ahadith to his children for 12 years.
- Imam al-Bukhari began compiling his Sahih at the age of 16 and finished at the age of 32.
Age 15 – The Final 7 Years – Advise them
Once your children hit 14, they are probably already mukallaf (full adults Islamically, and accountable for their actions) — this happens at puberty, or at age 15 at the latest.
At this age, you are mostly out of the picture. Children achieve independence; their personalities manifest; they look more to their peers than their parents and families.
During these critical years, befriend them, advise them, and do what you can; understand that they are now full adults, and the choices are theirs to make, right or wrong.
If you worked hard during the last two periods of 7 years, you will already be that trusted confidant, that advisor, that go-to person when they need help or advice. Be part of their lives, and advise them as best you can.
A few etiquette notes taken from a lesson by Abu Khadija Abdul Wahid:
- Teach your child to not speak until he is permitted to speak.
- Teach your child not be disruptive around you.
- If parents are telling the child off, teach your child to not look into your eyes, rather look down.
- A child should sit with his parents like a student sits with a sheikh, i.e. not raising the feet in front of a sheikh.
- The father needs to teach his children to serve the guests.
- Teach your child to seek permission to leave the room. Also when you are out, teach your child to let you through the door first.
- Teach your children to respect your family and friends.
- Some parents tell their children not to call them mum or dad but by their names, this is not correct.
- Sometimes children at 8 are screaming and shouting at home, like babies. This is not correct.
- Make your children close to you, not distant and put a desire of ilm (knowledge) in them.
Below is a bit of extra info by Abu Talha Dawud Burbank: [(rahimuhullah)]
Imam adh-Dhahabee -rahimahullaah- mentioned in ‘Siyar A`laamin-Nubalaa.’ (10/233), in his biography of aboo Mushir `Abdul-A`laa ibn Mushir ad-Dimashqee:
” Ibn Zanjawayh said: I heard Aboo Mushir say:
“Strictness with a child at an early age will bring about increase in his intellect in later life.”[adh-Dhahabee said about Aboo Mushir in his biography in ‘al-Kaashif’:
The Imam, Aboo Mushir al-Ghassaanee, the Shaikh of Shaam. (He narrated) from Sa`eed ibn `Abdil-`Azeez, and (Imam) Maalik; and from him (narrated):Ibn Ma`een, Aboo Haatim, and`Abdur-Rahmaan ibn ar-Ruwaas. He was from the finest of the scholars, and from the most eloquent and correct in speech, and one of those who memorized most. He was threatened with the sword to force him to say that the Qur’an was created, but he refused, so he was imprisoned. He died in Rajab, in the year 218 (H).”]
* Ibnul-Jawzee -rahimahullaah- reported in ‘Dhammul-Hawaa’ (p.116) that Ibraaheem ibn Ishaaq al-Harbee (d.285 H) said:
“Keep your children away from evil companions, before it happens that you have immersed them in, and dyed them with affliction”,
and he said:
“The beginning of the corruption of children comes about from one another.”
[Reference: Dr.Sulaymaan ibn Ibraaheem al-`Aayid’s introduction to ‘Ghareebul-Hadeeth’ of Ibraaheem al-Harbee.
Ibn al-Jawzi rahimahullah said:
“The cure for conceit is to know one’s faults… How can a person have self-conceit when knowing that Imam Ahmed knew one million hadith by heart, and Kahmas ibn al-Hasan used to recite the whole Quran three times a day and Salman al-Taymi prayed Fajr with the same wudhu of ‘Ishaa for forty years.”
Book: Disciplining the soul by Ibn al-Jawzi (d. 597 AH)
May Allah give us the understanding and make it practicable for us all.