Islam is a holistic religion that covers all aspects of
life. Spiritual, emotional and physical needs are all dealt with equally, one
is not more important than the other. In fact, for a person to be spiritually
healthy one’s emotional and physical needs must be taken care of. This is not
restricted to adults; the rights and the needs of children are of paramount
importance. As we discovered in the previous article children’s rights come
into play even before conception.
When man and woman make the decision to marry and start
a family they are securing their future children’s rights. Prophet Muhammad, may
the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, advised his companions and all
believers to make the following supplication to God before having sexual
“I begin with the Name of God! O God! Protect me
from Satan and protect what You bestow upon us (our offspring) from Satan.”
Once a child is conceived it is important to remember that
this is a trust from God. Although the child is most certainly a blessing, it
is not a possession. He or she has God given rights that must be fulfilled.
Throughout the pregnancy, the expectant parents must take care to prepare for
the new arrival. The mother must take care of herself by eating the correct
food, getting the required amount of rest, and seeking medical aid when
needed. Preparing for birth also includes remembering God and seeking His aid.
“O my Lord! Grant me from You, a good offspring. You are
indeed the All-Hearer of invocation.” (Quran 3:38)
“It is He Who has created you from a single person (Adam), and
(then) He has created from him his wife Eve, in order that he might enjoy the
pleasure of living with her. When he had sexual relations with her, she became
pregnant and she carried it about lightly. Then when it became heavy, they both
invoked their Lord (saying), “If You give us a child, good in every aspect, we
shall indeed be among the grateful.” (Quran 7:189)
“Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring the
comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders of the pious.” (Quran 25: 74)
Muslims believe all children are born submitting to God,
this means they are born innately inclined to love and worship God alone. In
his traditions, Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon
him, made this very clear. He said that no child is born except on his true
nature (Islam) and that his parents may choose to give him/her a different
religion other than submission to One God.
When a child is born it is a cause for much happiness
and celebration. In Islam there is no preference for either a male or female
child. Quran says that both the male and the female were created from a single
person (Adam) and that are equal except in terms of piety and righteousness.
“And God said, ‘Oh humankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who
created you from a single person (Adam) and from Him (Adam) He created his wife
(Eve), and from them both He created many men and women.” (Quran 4:1)
Islam was revealed at a time when the Arabs practiced
infanticide and would often bury their female babies alive. This was an
ignorant practice and Prophet Muhammad stated categorically that female
children are a blessing and that raising them to be righteous believers is a
source of great reward.
“And when the news of (the birth of) a female (child) is
brought to any of them, his face becomes dark, and he is filled with inward
grief! He hides himself from the people because of the evil of that whereof he
has been informed. Shall he keep her with dishonour or bury her in the earth?
Certainly, evil is their decision.” (Quran 16:58 & 59)
We have also learned much about the Islamic view of
children from Prophet Muhammad’s beloved wife Aisha. Traditions narrated by
her show clearly that male children should not be preferred over female
children and that raising daughters is a source of great reward.
A lady along with her two daughters came to me
(Aisha) asking for some alms, but she found nothing with me except one date
which I gave to her and she divided it between her two daughters, and did not
eat anything herself, and then she got up and went away. Then the Prophet came
in and I informed him about this story. He said, “Whoever is put to trial by having
to raise daughters and he treats them generously (with benevolence) then these
daughters will act as a shield for him from Hell-Fire.”
“Whenever a child was born among them, Aisha would
not ask if it were a boy or a girl. Instead she would ask, ‘Is the child
healthy (and without defect)?’ If she was told, ‘Yes,’ she would say, All
praise is for Allah, Lord of All the Worlds.’
When the great day arrives, a new life joins the
imperfect world. He is placed into the hands of his parents and becomes
entitled to even more rights. Islam sets out very clearly that there are ways
of welcoming and dealing with infants and children. They are entitled to have
their physical and emotional needs met and they are entitled to being taught
how to worship, love and maintain a connection to God.
Parents, extended families, guardians and the Muslim
community at large have been given a trust, a tiny life completely dependent
upon its caregivers for protection and care. For many children the world is
immersed in terror. Hunger, pain, suffering, torture, sexual abuse, and other horrors
are the realities of life. When their small attempts to reach for comfort are
rejected or their cries are silenced God is watching, and angels are recording.
In part 3 we will discuss the manners of welcoming a
newborn child into the world and Islam.