What are children's rights over their parents?

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What are children's rights over their parents?
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Dear Brother / Sister,

It is impossible for all children to be grown up under the same physical conditions since all people in the world do not have the same financial conditions. However, Islam has got some certain rules for meeting children’s essential physical and metaphysical needs.

For instance, children are given rights such as drinking breast milk until the age of two, growing up according to Islamic ethics, wearing nice clothes, sleeping in clean beds, eating halal food, being called with a nice name, being circumcised, being disciplined with good manners, equal treatment, learning necessary sciences and knowledge, learning how to write and read, learning how to read the Quran, learning arts and craftwork, learning sports which are present in the sunnah such as swimming and archery, playing games and marriage.

One must give thanks to Allah when he is given the good news of his new-born baby. The following is stated in hadiths: “The smell of children is the scent of Paradise” and “Children are blessed light in the world and bliss in the hereafter”. Children (babies) should be dressed up in white clothes. Their parents should not grieve over their crying; because their crying is invocation, ascription, supplication and repentance on behalf of their parents. The following is stated in a hadith: “A believer’s son/daughter says “La ilaha illallah” for the first four months, “Muhammad ar-Rasullulah” for the next four months and “O Allah! Forgive me, my mother and my father” for the following four months”.

It is unreasonable to be sad when a baby girl is born and to be happy when a baby boy is born, because nobody but Allah knows which of them will grow to be a better person. Contrarily, it is necessary to be more pleased when a baby girl is born. Indeed, while talking about children in the Quran, Allah mentions daughters before sons: “Allah gives either daughters or sons to whomever He likes.” This Quranic verse indicates that daughters are better than sons.

The following is stated in a hadith: “If one has got a daughter and disciplines her in accordance with Islamic ethics and brings her up with the boons which Allah has endowed upon them, Allah will protect that person from the fire of Hell.” “If one has got three daughters and looks after them well, shows them mercy and disciplines them, Paradise becomes wajib for him/her.”

The Prophet said the following about those who look after their daughters or sisters: “If one has got a daughter or two sisters and he provides them with sustenance, I will be with them in Paradise.”

While saying this, the Messenger of Allah pointed out his index finger and middle finger, which shows how close he will be. In another hadith, he said: “If one has got three daughters and three sisters and bears troubles caused by them patiently, Allah will elevate him to the highest level of Paradise.”  A man heard this and asked him: “O Messenger of Allah! Will he still go to Heaven if he has got two daughters?” The Messenger of Allah answered: Even if he has got just one, he will go to Heaven.”

It is sunnah to recite adhan (call to prayer) to his/her right ear and iqama to the left ear when a child is born. The Prophet is reported to have recited adhan to his grandson Hassan’s ear. Reciting adhan to his/her right ear and reciting iqama to his/her left ear when a child is born has got many benefits for him/her. When the Messenger of Allah encountered a child, he uttered the following words of supplication: “O Allah! Make this (child) one of those who are virtuous and who fear Allah and bring him/her up in a nice way.”

When parents look at their children’s faces, they should utter the supplication of the Prophet Abraham in the chapter “Ibrahim” of the Quran which is translated as: “Praise be to Allah, who hath granted unto me in old age Ismail and Isaac: for truly my Lord is He, the Hearer of Prayer.”

It is necessary to give children nice names because everyone will be called out with their names in the Day of Judgment. In a hadith, the following is stated: “Names loved by Allah are Abdullah and Abdurrahman.” Some other hadiths are narrated which say that children should be honored with names such as Muhammad and Ahmad which mean praised and to change unlawful names (names the meanings of which are not nice). Children must not be given non-Islamic names. And invented names must be avoided.

It is a nice act to cutting babies’ hair after they are one week old and to weigh them with gold or silver coins, giving that amount of money to the poor as charity. When Hazrat  Hassan was born, the Messenger of Allah told his daughter Fatima to cut his hair, weigh it and give the money as charity. Baby boys can be circumcised when they are seven days old, because his wound will recover faster when he is younger. It is appropriate to circumcise boys beginning from the age of seven days to seven years.

According to Imam Muhammad, it is wajib to sacrifice an aqiqa animal. It is sunnah according to Imam Shafii. And according to other imams, it is mustahab. Two sheep should be sacrificed for boys and one sheep for girls. The Messenger of Allah uttered the following words of supplication while sacrificing the aqiqa:

“O Allah! This is the aqiqa for the son/daughter of ……….. Its blood refers to his/her blood, its flesh to his/her flesh, its bones to his/her bones, its hair to his/her hair and its skin to his/her skin. O Lord! Accept this aqiqa as protection from Hell for him/her.”

The bones of the Aqiqa should not be broken and one gigot of the sheep should be given to the Midwife. The rest of the meat should be given to the poor. The Aqiqa should be sacrificed on the seventh or fourteenth day of the birth and the child should be named within this period. A child is a pure being entrusted to the parents by Allah. If parents are careful about disciplining their children, they will have elevated their children to high ranks both in this world and the other world.

Otherwise, they will have led their children to devastation and they will also be held responsible for it on the Day of Judgment. As it is narrated in the hadith, one of the rights that children have on their parents is having a nice name. It is a sin not to teach children high morals and virtues in the worldly life.

Children will sue against their parents who did not discipline them and teach them Islamic matters and they will say: “They were our parents who made us ignorant. They let us eat haram. They dressed us with haram clothes. We did not know them. Take our dues from them.”

The greatest gift one can give to his children is discipline. If a child is given to a foster mother, that woman must be a good, smart, pure, well-behaved and obedient one, because a woman’s milk affects the child’s character. In a hadith, the following is said, “Children gain their personality according to the milk they suck.” As a matter of fact, people are what they eat. That is to say, haram food makes the one who eats it someone who favors haram just like a good harvest comes from good seeds. In another hadith the following is stated, “Avoid haram, because what is built with haram becomes destroyed sooner or later.”

Children must be fostered by their mothers first. It is what the sunnah requires. They can be given to foster mothers after that. Children must be taught the word of tawhid (La ilaha illallah, Muhammad ar-Rasullullah) first when they start talking. One must recite the one hundred sixteenth verse of the chapter al-Mu’min seven times and then Ayat al-Kursi, the last three verses of chapter al-Hashr, over children. The benefits of reciting them are as follows:

Signs of modesty are seen in the child. His mind, understanding and veins brighten up with these signs and he becomes a good, virtuous child. What should be taught to the children when they are young are as follows: Starting meals with basmala, eating with the right hand, in small morsels and chewing a lot and not cleaning their hands with their clothes. In addition, they must be told that eating too much is harmful and eating little is beneficial. Parents should not dress their children in old clothes and should not tell them about private things like love affairs and should not tell them stories about love, etc, because telling them about these things lead children to stray from the right way and become devastated. (Children should not be made or let read harmful books.)

What should be done about the issue is to narrate them the words and good manners of the Prophet, of the scholars and of saintly people, because they influence their hearts, evoke a desire for being a scholar or good person and evoke love towards such people.

Children should not be scolded when they behave mischievously and naughtily; these attitudes should be ignored from time to time, because if they are scolded every time they are naughty or mischievous, they will get accustomed to it and scolding or threatening will not work anymore. Mothers should not threaten their children by saying to them “I will tell what you have done to your father”. It would be appropriate not to make children sleep in too soft beds in order to prevent them from being lazy. They must be forbidden from uncovering their private parts of the body and from showing off to their peers and friends about the food and clothes they have got.

If children take something away from someone, they must be scolded seriously so that their hearts may soften. They should be told about how bad the negative habits are and how dangerous the love and desire for money and worldly things can be. They should be forbidden from wasting time in cafes and teahouses and going to evil social places such as theaters, cinemas, fashion shows, cocktail parties, balls, beaches and shows that include nudity. They should also be forbidden from immoral behaviors such as stretching, yawning, cracking knuckles, talking too much, turning their backs to other people while talking, crossing legs, putting hands under the chin and sitting legs crossed on the floor when with other people.

Moreover, they should be taught that it is necessary to refrain from swearing and starting to talk before everyone else. They should be encouraged to listen to the Quran recitation and they should be told that it is wrong to waste time with nonsense things, that it is good for them to keep away from bad things and bad people, that it is dangerous to attend places where evil people gather and that immorality is contagious.

They should be sent to the places of scholars who will help them gain religious discipline and will give good advise to them. They should be taught the Quran, which is the source of enlightenment for people, and all essential knowledge and sciences. They should be taught all kinds of beneficial sports such as archery, horse-riding and swimming. The Messenger of Allah ordered these things be taught to children.

Just as parents have right over their children, so too do children have some rights over their parents. Generally, parents’ rights over children are emphasized a lot although children’s rights over their parents are usually neglected. So, we are going to talk about children’s rights over their parents in this article.

Human beings, just like other beings, are not going to live in this world forever. However, there is a will and desire for eternal life in human disposition. This desire is actualized by having children of one’s own in this world. Human beings come to this world through birth and after experiencing the life stages of childhood, adolescence, adulthood and senior age, they depart from this world when their due time arrives. Nevertheless, they are able to continue their generation through their children and grandchildren they leave behind. Human beings’ desire for eternity is apparently actualized this way. In this sense, we must attach importance to our children who are the assurance of our future. We must try to fulfill our duties and responsibilities toward them to the utmost degree.

Parents should consider their children as beings entrusted to them by Allah. Fulfilling household responsibilities is a matter which parents will be called to account for by Allah on the Day of Judgment. After all, Allah says in the Quran: “O ye who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones…” (at-Tahrim, 66/6)

Scholars state that saving oneself and one’s family from the fire of Hell as stated in the Quranic verse can be done through education. That is to say; when family members are educated and disciplined in accordance with Islam, they will be happy both in the worldly life and in the afterlife. Therefore, they will be saved from the fire of Hell.

Otherworldly responsibilities of the head of the family (husband, father) are stated concisely in several verses in the Quran. Indeed, it is stated in a verse that one who has not taught his family members the religious disciplines and eventually has caused them to fall into the fire of Hell will be in the worst situation on the Day of Judgment. “Say: "Truly, those in loss are those who lose their own souls and their People on the Day of Judgment: Ah! that is indeed the (real and) evident Loss! They shall have Layers of Fire above them, and Layers (of Fire) below them: with this doth God warn off his servants: "O My Servants! Then fear ye Me!” (az-Zumar, 39:15-16).

The Messenger of Allah said the following regarding the issue: “All of you resemble a herdsman. Just as a herdsman protects his herd, so too should you protect your households and those who serve you from Hell! You should teach them about Islam. If you do not, you will be called to account for it.” (Bukhari, Wasaya 9; Muslim, Imara 20).
As it can be deduced from this verse and hadith, children are entrusted to their parents by Allah. This entrust puts significant responsibility on parents. Indeed, parents will have to account for how they treated their children in the worldly life, on the Day of Judgment, in the presence of Allah.
According to Islam, children have rights over their parents. We are going to try to list and explain some of these rights here.

1. Rights before marriage: Children’s rights over their parents start before their mother and father get married according to Islam. That is to say; one should be very careful with choosing the person whom s/he will marry and should choose his/her spouse very carefully, because his/her descendants will continue through that person. One’s children, who are one’s most precious wealth in the world, will be born through him/her and s/he will play an important role in bringing up the children.
Actually, Abu Aswad ad-Duali, who is one of the greatest Islamic scholars, boasted saying this to his children: “I did you favors when you were young, when you grew old and before you were born. When his children asked him how he did them favor before they were born, he said to them: “I chose for you a mother whom will not be sworn at.” (1)
During the period a mother is pregnant with her baby, she must be careful about what she drinks and eats and about all of her attitudes and actions, because whatever she does during pregnancy certainly affects her baby and the baby develops according to it. In this sense, after choosing whom to marry carefully, one should also be careful to the utmost degree during the child’s development in the mother’s womb.

2. Giving a nice name: After a child has come to the world through birth, the child’s rights over his/her parents continue to exist. The first duty of parents for their children after birth is giving a nice and appropriate name for their children, because a name is very important for people. As a matter of fact, the Prophet (pbuh) said: “One of the rights of children over their parents is being given a nice name and having a good education (2). You will be called out with your names and your fathers’ names on the Day of Judgment; so, give nice names to your children. (3)
Names are important because the word chosen as a name affects the person who is called with that name psychologically, sociologically and in many other ways. This effect can be either positive or negative. Moreover, the integration and harmony between the name and the person affects the people around him too. It is also a truth that names increase the power of persuasion.
A name given to a child must be one which will not be mocked at and which will not cause him to be overlooked in the society and culture in which the child will grow up.
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) advised people to give children nice names. He changed the names of many Companions who were not given nice names at birth. For instance, he asked one of Companions his name and when he answered “Zahim”, he did not like this name and gave him the name “Bashr”. So he changed the name which meant “trouble” with a better one meaning “blissful herald”.
Another Companion’s name was al-Asi, which meant rebellious. The Prophet changed this name to “Muti” which meant obedient. (4)
Hazrat Ali narrates how his first son was named: “When my first son was born, I named him “Harb” which meant “war”. The Messenger of Allah came and said: Show the baby to me; what did you name him? We said that we had named him Harb. He said: No, his name is Hassan. (5)

3. A good education and discipline: Another right of children over their parents is receiving a good education. Educating and disciplining children and preparing them for the future is one of the duties of parents.
Parents are responsible not only for feeding and dressing their children but also for providing them with a good education.
Families play an important role in children’s education. Actually, family is the first place where children receive their fist education. Education starts in the family.
Fathers are the primary people who are responsible for the education of children. They are held responsible for this by Allah. It is stated in the Quran that fathers who did not fulfill this responsibility will be the ones in the worst situation and the most devastated fathers on the Day of Judgment.
One is responsible for his family. Actually, their children will be either a suer or an intercessor for them on the Day of Judgment. If a father disciplines and educates his children according to Islam, he benefits from the thawabs his children earn, and thus his children will be intercessors for him. Otherwise, his children will sue him saying, “Why did you neglect our education, why did you lead us to Hell?” Indeed, the following is stated in a Quranic verse: “Your riches and your children may be but a trial: but in the Presence of God, is the highest, Reward.” (at-Taghabun, 64:15).
The trial mentioned in this verse for fathers is not only about meeting their children’s physical needs but also providing them with a good education.
In this sense, being a father means being responsible in Islam. A father is the one who is responsible for his family members both in the world and in the hereafter. His responsibility for disciplining his children can be fulfilled by preparing them very well for life and bringing up them well enough so that they can fulfill their own responsibilities as well. Teaching children merely religion or merely professions is not a good education. It is incomplete education.

A Father’s Responsibilities:

We can list the main knowledge a father is responsible for teaching his children according to Islam as follows:
1. Basic information about belief and worship.
2. Basic information about high moral qualities.
3. Information on what to be careful about in relations with other people.
4. Vocational education.
While educating children within the family, parents and other members of the family must set up good examples for children. A child who witnesses good behaviors and manners from his parents and other members of the family will certainly be influenced in a positive way. Parents should talk to each other in a respectful way in front of children and should avoid telling lies and breaking promises. They should also perform their prayers properly. Children seeing all these positive behaviors in their parents will be affected in a positive way. So, we should set good examples for young people with our proper and ideal lifestyles. We should keep in mind that actions speak louder than words. How effective would it be if a smoking parent told their children not to smoke? Of course, it would not be effective at all. Therefore, words and actions should comply with each other. It is impossible for an education given by parents whose words and actions do not comply with each other to succeed.

Family is a primary school in which children are taught the essentials of the creed, principles, values, virtues and teachings of Islam.

We have to provide our children with not only a vocational education which will help them have a good job in their future lives but also a correct and adequate religious education which will help them grow up to be believers and righteous people.

4. Treating children well: It is one of the children’s rights over their parents to be treated well. It is wrong to beat children in order to discipline and educate them. However, it is essential to give them the feeling that they will be punished if they do something wrong. Parents should approach their children understandingly, mercifully and affectionately while educating them in the family. When a child does something wrong for the first time, parents should explain very well to him why it is wrong. If the child persists on doing the same thing again and again, parents can choose to punish him in an appropriate way. However, they must never force or oppress him. Exaggerating every mistake and punishing severely each time and revealing the mistakes in front of others are inappropriate.

Truths should be explained to children by simplifying the subject to the degree the children can understand. Simplifying subjects and explaining them to young people in a way that they can understand is an important factor for education to be successful. ıt is necessary because the religious truths are usually abstract. They are not easy to understand and comprehend. For this reason, we should make matters easier for them to understand by making use of examples and anecdotes, following the method of the Quran, the Prophet and Islamic scholars. Examples and anecdotes help comprehending abstract subjects and make them permanent in the mind.

5. Treating children equally and justly: Parents should treat their children equally and justly. Parents should treat all of their children without making any discrimination between girls and boys and younger ones and older ones. This equality should include all kinds of interest and offerings from physical and material things which can be bought and sold to the kisses given to the children. Unfortunately, some parents today do not treat their children equally in material things and affection. Especially, it is a wide-spread attitude that boys are loved more than girls and girls are despised. As a result of this wrong attitude, children feel hatred and jealousy to each other and thus love and respect between them disappears. However, Islam orders parents behave equally and justly to their all children.

Numan Ibn Bishr narrates: “My father had granted some of his property to me. My mother Amra Bintu Rawaha said ‘I will not accept it unless you tell the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) about this grant’. Upon this, my father took me to the Messenger of Allah in order to tell him about the grant. Having learned the matter, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), asked: ‘have you got any other children?’ My father said ‘yes’ and the Prophet (pbuh) asked again: ‘Did you also grant to your other children like this?’ My father said ‘No’. Upon hearing this, the Prophet (pbuh) said: ‘Fear Allah! Be just to your children!’ My father left and returned the grant.” (6)

As it is clearly understood from this hadith, receiving equal treatment is one of the rights of children over their parents. Some Islamic scholars stated that this equal treatment consists of not only material things but also everything about love and interest including the kisses given to them. Actually, as narrated from Hazrat Anas, while a man was sitting with the Prophet (pbuh) one of his sons come. The man kisses his son and sits him on his lap. After a while his daughter comes and the without kissing her, man, sits her in front of him. Seeing this, the Prophet (pbuh) criticized and disapproved his behavior by saying: “Are you treating them equally by behaving like this?” (7)

Moreover, in another hadith, the Prophet (pbuh) said: “Allah likes us treating children equally in everything including the kisses given to them. (8)

Unfortunately, today many parents cause lots of injustice and unfairness by treating their children unequally. Thus, resentment, offence, anger, hatred and enmity occur between children and parents and amongst children.

It is essential that parents be very careful about this matter and treat their children equally and justly. Actually, we should keep in mind that we are going to be called to account for what we have done in the worldly life by Allah one day.

6. Marrying children when they are old enough to get married: one of the rights that children have over their parents is to be provided with marriage when they are old enough, without delaying it. As a matter of fact, both the Quran and the Prophet (pbuh) orders that young people and orphans be married when they are old enough.

Marrying children is an important part and significant matter of domestic discipline and education given to children, because the goals of Islam in terms of family can only be actualized with the help of a good marriage. For this reason, the Quran includes the marriage issue in detail: Wed them with the leave of their owners (parents), and give them their dowers, according to what is reasonable: They should be chaste, not lustful, nor taking paramours.” (an-Nisa, 4:25) “Do not marry unbelieving women (idolaters), until they believe. Nor marry (your girls) to unbelievers until they believe.” (al-Baqarah, 2:221) And the Prophet emphasizes that a spouse to marry must be righteous. (9)

Actually, ideal basic education that should be given to children by their parents and the parents’ duty finishes by providing them with a job and marrying them by providing them with a separate house as soon as possible. (10)

A married young person is then an independent individual who has got his/her own responsibilities. S/he is no more a burden on his/her family and has become an individual having his/her own responsibilities.

Conclusion

Parents have some responsibilities and duties concerning their children. They are going to be called to account for whether they have fulfilled these responsibilities and duties in the presence of Allah. We should try our best to fulfill our duties concerning our children who are the assurance of our future.

Our duties concerning our children start before they are born, when they are in mother’s wombs and continue by increasing when they are born.

Parents whose babies are born should give them a nice name, first of all. They should provide their children with a good education and good discipline and should treat them equally and justly and mercifully while giving them this education and discipline.

Lastly, parents should enable their children to become good individuals in the society by marrying them when they are old enough.

Footnotes:

(1) Ahmad al-Ghandur al-Ahwalu'sh-Shahsiyya fi't-Tashri'i'l-Islamiyya, Kuwait 1972 p.27; Ateş, Süleyman, Evlenme ve Boşanma. p.5.
(2) Canan İbrahim Hadis Ansiklopedisi VII 363.
(3) Abu Dawud, Adab, 61.
(4) al-Adabu l-Mufred, II, 181.
(5) al-Adabu l-Mufred, II, 180.
(6) Muslim, Hibat, 13.
(7) Canan, Peygamberimizin Sünnetinde Terbiye Tuğra Neş. İst. trs p.175.
(8) Fayzu l-Qadr, II, 297.
(9) Bukhari, Marriage, 15.
(10) Canan, İslamda aile terbiyesi Din Öğretimi Dergisi s.63.

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