How do Allah and Muhammed (pbuh) value children?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

"The high qualities, mercy, love and compassion of the Prophet (pbuh) embraced all children, including the children of non-Muslims. He took care of children with his vast modesty at every opportunity, joked around with them, greeted them and asked them about their health when he saw them. He tolerated their mistakes and visited them when they became ill. Similarly, the children of non-Muslims also received their share from the Prophet's compassion. The Prophet prohibited killing children in wars and separating the children from their mothers in captivity; he also visited the children of non-Muslims when they got ill.

We can learn from the hadiths that include the issues the Prophet were interested in related to the children in his family and what a Muslim family should do when they have a baby. The Prophet's care for the children of his relatives started with their birth. He would call adhan into the ears of the newborn children and give them names. He would change their names if they had been given bad names. When Hasan, his grandchild, was born, he called adhan into his ears. He told a Companion about naming his son Ibrahim, who was born the night before, as follows the next day:

"I had a child last night. I gave him the name of my ancestor, Ibrahim." (As it is known, Hz. Muhammed is a descendant of Hz. Ibrahim.)"

"The Prophet entertained his grandsons by carrying them on his back or holding them in his arms. When the Prophet led prayers in the mosque, his grandsons were sometimes on his shoulders or on his back. Once, the Prophet was distributing zakah and holding Hasan in his arms. When he finished distributing zakah, he placed him on his shoulders."

"The Prophet (pbuh) took care of the material and spiritual education of his grandsons and guided them to ensure their happiness in the world and the hereafter. It is seen the Prophet laid emphasis on prayer and asceticism when he educated his grandsons. When he left home to go to the mosque for the morning prayer (fajr), he would stop by Hz. Fatima’s house and awaken them for the morning prayer."

THE VALUE ISLAM GIVES TO CHILDREN

The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh), who was sent as a prophet to a community in which little girls were buried alive (1), ordered people to treat girls and boys equally and to love them. Man was created in "ahsan taqwim" (the best of molds) according to Islam (2) and is regarded as the most honorable creature (3).  It is natural that a child, who is a little human being, will have those qualities. As a matter of fact, it is possible to see statements that mention the value of children in both the Quran and hadiths.

Islam states that children are allurements of the life of this world as the Quran puts it (4) while the Prophet states that a righteous child is a source of good deeds for a person after his death (5). It shows the place and value of children in Islam that the Quran mentions children and decrees related to children in many verses and that Hz. Umar allocated 100 dirhams a month to children until they reached the age of puberty (6).

1. The Value of Children in the Verses of the Quran

The Quran states that mothers and fathers nurture a love and compassion that are inherent in their nature to their children. This is understood from the fact that the phrase "qurratu ayn (apple of the eye)" is used instead of the word child in some verses (7) and from the verses in which the crying and agonies of Hz. Yaqub (Jacob) causing him to be blind due to his compassion and longing toward his son Yusuf (Joseph) (8).

The verses that mention the state of the mother of Hz. Musa (Moses), who had to be put in the River Nile when he was a baby (9), are impressive expressions showing the deep love and compassion of a mother toward her child.

The existence of children in the life of the hereafter and Paradise, where all kinds of beauties come together, is mentioned. The Quran mentions children of Paradise who are likened to "scattered pearls" in three different chapters. 10

It is mentioned in the Quran that children are shown to be cute to people (11) but believers are warned to be careful and they are ordered not to be diverted from the remembrance of Allah by their wealth and children (12).  It is stated in a verse that riches and children are a trial and that the highest reward is in the presence of Allah. (13)

The number of the verses that mention children directly in the Quran is 297. However, the number of the verses that are related to children in various aspects is 342. (14) On the other hand, the word "Rabb", which is derived from the word tarbiya (education), is the word that is mentioned the most in the Quran after the word Allah (15); it is mentioned 965 times (16).

When the Quran is viewed related to our topic, it will be seen that the way a father addresses his son in the relationship between a father and a son is always in the form of "bunayya (my dear little son)" (17), which is an expression of compassion and mercy.

"Behold, Luqman said to his son by way of instruction: "O my son! Join not in worship (others) with Allah: for false worship is indeed the highest wrong-doing… O my son!" (said Luqman), "If there be (but) the weight of a mustard-seed and it were (hidden) in a rock, or (anywhere) in the heavens or on earth, Allah will bring it forth: for Allah understands the finest mysteries, (and) is well-acquainted (with them). "O my son! Establish regular prayer, enjoin what is just, and forbid what is wrong: and bear with patient constancy whatever betide thee; for this is firmness (of purpose) in (the conduct of) affairs." (Luqman, 31/ 13, 16, 17)

It is remarkable that this way of address, which is not seen in the other holy books (the Torah, the Gospel), is included in many verses of the Quran. In fact, we think that informing people about those expressions full of love and compassion in the relationship between the son and the father through the verses of the Quran is enough to show the importance Islam gives to children.

2. The Value of Children in the Sunnah of the Prophet 

Hz. Muhammad (pbuh), “who was sent as a mercy for all creatures” (18), abolished the discrimination between boys and girls first and ordered people to treat children equally. (19) He also prohibited people from damning children (20). He said,

"He who does not show compassion to children is not one of us." (21)

Thus, he persuaded people to show love and compassion to children through spiritual sanctions and became successful. The role of the love and care the Prophet showed to children in his own life is great in this achievement. It will be appropriate to give examples from his compassion and mercy toward children here.

Hz. Anas, who describes the Prophet (pbuh) as "the most compassionate person toward his children and family" states the following:

"I have never seen anyone more kind to one's family than the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). His son Ibrahim had a foster mother in the suburb of Madinah. Her husband was an ironsmith. He used to go there and we accompanied him to see the child. When he entered the house, which was filled with smoke, he would hold his son Ibrahim in his arms, smell and kiss him. He would return after a while." (22)

The following is narrated in a hadith related to the moment of death of Ibrahim, who died when he still suckled: The Prophet cuddled and kissed his son, who was about to die, and started to shed tears. When Abdurrahman b. Awf, who saw this, said, "O Messenger of Allah! Are you weeping too?", he said,

"This weeping is due to mercy. The eyes are shedding tears and the heart is grieved, but we will not say except what pleases our Lord. O Ibrahim! Indeed, we are grieved by your separation."

(23) In a similar incident, when the Prophet saw a child who was about to die, he could not help weeping. When those who saw him asked, "O Messenger of Allah! What is this?", he said,

"This is mercy Allah placed in the hearts of His slaves. Allah shows mercy only to His slaves who are merciful." (24)

When a Bedouin saw the Prophet (pbuh) kiss children found it odd, he said, "You kiss children! We never kiss them." Thereupon, the Prophet said,

"I cannot put mercy in your heart after Allah has taken it away from it." (25)

Thus, he stated that mercy will not exist in a heart that is deprived of love of children.

We can see many more examples related to the compassion and mercy of the Prophet (pbuh) toward children in hadith books; we can see various aspects of his love toward children. The Prophet sometimes cuddled and kissed his grandsons Hz. Hasan and Hz. Husayn and prayed for them (26); he showed this love and compassion to other children too. Usama b. Zayd, who spent most of his childhood with the grandsons of the Prophet and who became the commander of the Islamic army afterwards, narrates the following: The Prophet (pbuh) placed me on one of his knees and Hasan on his other knee; he hugged us and said,

"O Lord! Show mercy to them because I show mercy to them." (27)

Yusuf b. Abdullah said, "The Prophet made me sit on his lap, caressed my head and named me Yusuf." (28) The following hadith is more interesting. Hz. Anas narrates:

"A young Jew became ill. The Prophet (pbuh) went to visit him. He sat down by his head and said to him, 'Accept Islam! Thereupon, he looked at his father who was beside him; his father said, 'Obey Abul-Qasım’. The boy accepted Islam. The Prophet said, 'Praise be to Allah Who has saved him through me from Hell.' (29)

The Prophet (pbuh), who ordered people to treat to children and to improve their education (30), practiced in his own life what he ordered others. "He gave the first fresh fruit of the year to the youngest child in his presence" (31). He joked around with children and asked them how they were when he met them. He carried sometimes his own grandsons (32) and sometimes other children (33) on his shoulder; it is remarkable that he sometimes made jokes with them. The Companion called Mahmud b. Rabi' narrates that the Prophet took some water from a bucket and threw it on his face when he was five years old and that his face never got old though years passed. (34) Hz. Anas states the following: "The Messenger of Allah used to joke around with us; he would ask my little brother, ’O Abu Umayr! What happened to your little bird?'" (35)

The following incident is also a very good example showing the tolerance of the Prophet toward children: The Prophet (pbuh) accepted that "a child’s naughtiness when he is young is a sign showing that he will be very clever when he grows up." (36) He ordered people not to intervene in the children who misbehave at once. (37) Once, a Companion in Madinah caught Rafi’ b. Amr, who was a young boy, throwing stones at his date-palm trees and took him to the Prophet. The Prophet asked him, "'O my son! Why are you throwing stones at the date-palm trees?" Rafi' said, "I was hungry. I threw stones to eat dates." The Prophet said, "Do not throw stones at the date-palm trees again. Eat from what falls to the ground." Then, he patted Rafi’ on the head and said, "O Allah! Give him enough to eat." (38)

On the other hand, it is reported in narrations that the Prophet entered the mosque carrying Umama, his granddaughter, on his back, that he performed the prayer like that, that he put her on the floor when he bowed down and picked her up again when he stood up (39), that Hasan and Husayn climbed on him when he was in prostration, that he lengthened the prostration so that they would not fall (40), that he held them with his hand when he stood up so that they would not fall (41), that he descended from the pulpit when he was delivering a sermon and hugged Hasan, his grandson, (42) and that took him on the pulpit. The Prophet, who appreciated a mother’s compassion toward her child, said,  

"I sometimes start a prayer with the intention of performing it long but when I hear a baby crying, I shorten the prayer so that the baby will not disturb her mother." (43)

Khushu (awe) is ordered by the verses (44) and the Prophet made several warnings so that the people would perform prayers in khushu and they would not be busy with doing anything else in prayer. (45) However, the narrations mentioning the Prophet’s being busy with children in prayer express the limitlessness of tolerance and understanding related to children. Besides, that he accepted the allegiance of the children who had not reached the age of puberty yet like Hasan, Husayn, Abdullah b. Abbas, Abdullah b. Jafar and Abdullah b. Zubayr (46) is another example showing the importance he gives to children.

Footnotes:

1- "When news is brought to one of them, of (the birth of) a female (child), his face darkens, and he is filled with inward grief! With shame does he hide himself from his people, because of the bad news he has had! Shall he retain it on (sufferance and) contempt, or bury it in the dust? Ah! What an evil (choice) they decide on?" (an-Nahl, 16/58, 59)

2- " We have indeed created man in the best of molds." (at-Tin, 95/4.)

3- " We have honored the sons of Adam; provided them with transport on land and sea; given them for sustenance things good and pure; and conferred on them special favors, above a great part of our creation." (al-Isra, 17/70.)

4- al-Kahf, 18/46.

5- Musnad, V, 269.

6- San'ani, Musannaf, V.311.

7- al-Furqan, 25/4; al-Qasas, 28/9

8- Yusuf, 12/84-86.

9- Taha, 20/40; al-Qasas, 28/10-11.

10- al-Insan, 76/19; al-Waqia, 56/17; at-Tur, 52/24.

11- Aal-i Imran,3/14.

12- al-Munafiqun, 63/9.

13- at-Taghabun, 64/15.  The word "fitnah" in this verse means testing and trial according to Ibn Kathir. A slave is tested through them and it becomes known whether he obeys or disobeys Allah. see Ibn Kathir, Tafsiru Quranil-Azim, Cairo, IV, 376.

14- For detailed information, see Canan, Allahın Çocuklara Bahşettiği Haklar, p. 17-20.

15- M. Fuad Abdulbaqi, Mu'jamul-Mufahras. Ist. nd, "Rabb " item.

16- Nevzat Ayasbeyoğlu, İslâmiyetin Eğitime Getirdiği Değerler, Ist. 1968, p.16.

17- In all of those verses, the word "bunayya" is used; it means "my dear little son". The verses showing the types of addressing between the father and the son used in the Quran are as follows: " So the Ark floated with them on the waves (towering) like mountains, and Noah called out to his son, who had separated himself (from the rest): "O my son! Embark with us, and be not with the unbelievers!" (Hud, 11/42). His father (Hz. Ya'qub) said to his son (Hz. Yusuf): "My (dear) little son! Relate not thy vision to thy brothers, lest they concoct a plot against thee: for Satan is to man an avowed enemy." (Yusuf, 12/5)

18- "(O Muhammad!) We sent thee not, but as a Mercy for all creatures." Al-Anbiya, 21/107.

19- Muslim, Hibat, 13.

20- Muslim, Birr, 87.

21- Al-Hakim, Mustadrak alas-Sahihayn, Beirut, nd. I, 62.

22- Bukhari, Adab, 18; Muslim, Fadail, 63; al-Hakim, Mustadrak alas-Sahihayn, IW, 40.

23- Bukhari, Janaiz, 44.

24- Zabidi, Tajrid Sarih, IW, 376.

25- Bukhari, Adab, 18; Muslim, Fadail, 65.

26- Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 31.

27- Bukhari, Adab, 22.

28- Al-Juam, Fadlullahis-Samad fi Tawdihil-Adabil-Mufrad, Cairo, 13 88,1,461.

29- Abu Dawud, Janaiz, 5. Bukhari, Janaiz, 79.

30- Ibn Majah, Adab, 3.

31- Muwatta', Madinah, 2; Haythami, Majmauz-Zawaid, Beirut, 1967, W, 39.

32- Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 50.

33- Al-Hakim, Mustadrak alas-Sahihayn, m, 555-56.

34- Bukhari, Ilm, 18, Daawat, 31.

35- Bukhari, Adab, 81; Ibn Majah, Adab, 24.

36- Munawi, IW,310.

37- The pedagogues of today regard being very well-behaved and quiet as a disorder for children. see Jacquin, p. 38.

38- Ibn Majah, Tijarat, 67.

39- Bukhari, Salah, 106; Muwatta, Safar, 81.

40- Haythami, ibid, 182.

41- Muslim, Masajid, 42.

42- Bukhari, Fitan, 20; Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 31.

43- Bukhari, Adhan, 65.

44- al-Mu'minun, 23/l-2.

45- Bukhari, Adhan, 88; Ibn Majah, Iqamah, 68.

46- Haythami, VI, 40., IX, 285.

(Prof. Dr. M. Emin Ay, Çocuklarımıza Allahı Nasıl Anlatalım)

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