Below is a set of fascinating patterns and interesting situations for you and other educators to learn and obtain benefit from as much as you like. They are patterns and images from the childhood of the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, for they are the best of people, whether they are men or children, young or old, as stated by the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam: “The best of generations is that of mine, then that which follows it and then that which follows it (the second generation).”
If you, dear educator, reflect on this educational community, i.e. the community of the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, you would surely find that the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was the best educator, and in the childhood of the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, the best example for your children to follow. Why not, given that Allah The Almighty chose the Arabs from all the people in the world, then chose Isma‘il (Ishmael), may Allah exalt his mention, from among all the Arabs, then chose the Kinanah from among all the descendants of Isma‘il, may Allah exalt his mention, then chose the Quraysh from among all the descendants of the Kinanah, then chose the offspring of Hashim from among all the descendants of the Quraysh, and then chose from among all the offspring of Hashim Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
Many scholars have mentioned the wisdom underlying this choice made by Allah The Almighty in that the Arabs, despite their vices and evildoings still possessed several virtuous praiseworthy morals, which made them, in case they believed in Allah The Almighty, competent to lead all mankind. From among those high and supreme morals, we can mention their generosity, commitment, self-respect, sense of honor, determination, forbearance, deliberation, innocence and purity of the contaminators and intrigues of civilization.
This discussion about the childhood of the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, is intended to outline how those praiseworthy qualities and virtuous morals were implanted in them since their early childhood whether during the pre-Islamic days or in the Islamic era, perchance we would be able to rear our children in the same way that their children were reared. In this way, our children would lead mankind just as they themselves led mankind before us in the name of Islam.
The childhood of ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Umar:
It was narrated on the authority of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, that he said, “The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: ‘From among the trees, there is a tree, the leaves of which do not fall and it is like the Muslim. Tell me the name of that tree.’ Everybody started thinking about the trees of the desert areas. However, I thought of the date-palm tree but felt too shy to answer. They asked, ‘What is that tree, O Messenger of Allah?’ He replied: ‘It is the date-palm tree.’” According to another version, “I intended to say that it was the date-palm tree; however, I was the youngest of the people who were present, thereupon, I felt shy (to answer).” In a third narration, “But since I saw that both Abu Bakr and ‘Umar (who were present among the people) did not speak, I disliked to speak.’ When we stood to leave I told my father what had occurred to my mind thereupon he said, ‘Had you said it, it would have been dearer to me than possessing red camels (i.e. the most expensive and the dearest property in the sight of the Arabs).’” [Al-Bukhari and others]
1- Reflect, dear educator, on how the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, used a stirring style during his teaching and instruction to the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, which always made the listener more attentive and focused, and less distracted and less likely to forget the information. Thus, he alerts you to use this method with your children instead of beating, raising the voice and using the means of punishment. Even though punishment may be beneficial sometimes, it could also be extremely detrimental in other situations.
2- The fact that ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, was attentive and interactive with the question of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is proof of his weighty mind and intelligence; and also his presence in the gatherings of men is evidence of his father’s wisdom and educational prudence, as he made him sit in the gatherings of men so that he would grow up and think as men think, and his thought and mind would become mature due to his presence in that great educational incubator. However, many fathers do not take their children with them to the gatherings of men, out of laziness or for fear of being embarrassed by their children’s (inappropriate) reactions.
However, this is one of the greatest mistakes a father might make. The presence of the child with you has a strong impact on the child as well as great benefit for the male child in particular. It inculcates within himself a feeling of manhood and makes him more capable of mixing and interacting with people, and farther from introversion and withdrawal. That is quite important for the boy, unlike the girl who, when sitting with her mother in the house, gets accustomed to modesty and abidance in the house. However, it is not so for the boy who should not get accustomed to sit by the side of his mother often, for this makes him come out to the community as a pampered child who speaks and behaves just like girls.
In this context, we should not skip the narration of Muslim on the authority of Sahl ibn Sa‘d As-Sa‘idi, may Allah be pleased with him, that once, a drink was brought to the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and he drank. A boy was sitting on his right side, and there were old men on his left side. He said to the boy: “‘Do you permit me to give those (old men the remains of my drink)?’ The boy said, ‘No, by Allah! I am not willing to give anyone preference over myself with my share from you.’”
This narration provides evidence for the fact that boys and children used to attend the gatherings of the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and the gatherings of men. Moreover, the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, used to talk to them and seek their permission.
There are many meanings of manhood and self-confidence which were implanted in the soul of this boy, whom the Prophet, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, asked and sought his permission.
So, compare between that method and that of many fathers nowadays, when anyone of his children asks him to go with him, thereupon he says to him, “Stay here, for you are still young.” Reflect, then, on how many meanings of shyness, introversion and defeatism of personality are implanted in this child.
3- The modesty of ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, is adequate proof of his profound behavioral and moral education. He felt shy to speak while being the youngest of the people who were present, or in the presence of the great Companions like Abu Bakr and ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with them. No doubt, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, would not have done this unless it was deeply-rooted in his thought, mind and sentiment and he had been brought up on it since his early childhood.
This conduct, i.e. respect for the old, is missing in a lot of our children today because we simply do not get them accustomed to it since their early childhood, and whoever is brought up on something since he was a child would persist in it even when he becomes old. So, get your children accustomed to good, for goodness is a habit. Unfortunately, we see a lot of children abusing their parents and beating them in the streets in front of people because they fail to respond to their demands. They keep on crying and weeping simply because they have seen that this way is successful with their mother, who, in turn, did not teach them since their childhood, how to respect elders and ask for anything politely. In this way they did not develop respect for their elders. On the other hand, the child who was scolded from the first time he erred, he would become sure that this behavior is wrong and that the person who does this would be scolded and rejected by all people.
4- The positive attitude of the father ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, in the way he listened to and encouraged his son by telling him that he would have been very happy had his son spoken and told that it was the date-palm tree. The father is always proud of his child, and hopes that he will be the best of all people, including even himself. This method has a great impact on the child’s soul if the father demonstrates it before the people, given that the child really deserves his father’s pride of him. This, indeed, makes the child more self-confident and more loving towards his father. However, the father who always disassociates himself from his child may say, “Neither is he my child, nor do I know him”, and he disavows him before people, kills his child’s self-confidence and makes the tree of love that is between them wither.
5- You should disclose, dear educator, your feelings for your child and not conceal them, for it is you who build your child’s personality and it is up to you to strengthen or weaken it.