A delegation from the Imam Mahdi Association of North America (I.M.A.M.) led by its Chairman,…
Islam is a religion that teaches us how to live every aspect of our lives in the very best ways and in a comprehensive manner. It teaches us everything from the details of acts of worship like prayers to the etiquette of eating. Among the most important topics that our traditions address is family values that consist of matters like marriage and divorce. Under the umbrella of family values, the religion of Islam offers unique insight into the importance of appropriately raising children and passing on good etiquette to our future generations.
In a very important tradition, the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) advises, “Some of the child[ren’s] right[s] over [their] parents are that they give [them] a good name, teach [them] how to write, and get [them] married when [they] become of age.”1
Choosing a Name
Parents have certain obligations towards their children in terms of taking care of them before and after birth. Before a child is born, parents prepare everything such as clothes, cribs, strollers, diapers, wipes, bottles, and pacifiers for the baby. One of the most important things that parents choose before the baby is born is the child’s name. The child’s name is something that will stick with them for the rest of their life. In the above narration, the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) instructs us to first give a good name with a positive meaning to our children. It is advisable to name our children after those who have been honored in the Quran or after the names of the Prophet and his family (pbut).
The second important aspect of a child’s life is their education. Providing the best tools for knowledge to our children is one of the most crucial parts of their lives. Having a strong source of learning from childhood will certainly allow them to succeed as they get older. It is important to recognize that education should include more than secular learning. Religious learning is equally important.
Moreover, learning does not come from academic studies alone, and the need for real-world experiences is often overlooked. We can give young adults a chance to experience those things not typically taught in schools. For example, travelling to less fortunate parts of the world to learn about different cultures and traditions and to see how people live will allow our youth to appreciate their own blessings and opportunities and inspire them to help make a positive difference in someone’s life. Also, encouraging them to volunteer in places such as homeless shelters, food pantries, and nursing homes will perhaps allow them to decide what path they want to take in terms of their careers. Sayyid al-Sistani has given the advice to “[h]ave a spirit of learning and an interest in increasing your knowledge and wisdom in all stages of your life and in all conditions.” 2 In order to help children apply this advice, parents must give them a chance to see and experience what is not in their text books. This kind of training will allow our children to progress in this life and the next.
In many of our communities today when our youth express their interest in getting married, we are often not receptive to the idea and believe they are too young, have not finished their degrees, do not have enough money, or do not have a job. We forget that God has promised, “Marry the single people among you and the righteous…If they are poor, God will enrich them through His favor.”3 God generously promises those who desire to marry that He will sustain them. It is important that we as a community really take this profound advice from the Holy Quran seriously. Instead of pushing our young adults away from the idea of marriage, parents should be more encouraging and more supportive. For example, if parents think that their children do not have the financial means to get married because they are still in college, then parents should help them get married then support them financially (after marriage) until they are able to be on their feet. By being supportive in these kinds of situations, parents will help their children stay away from sin while attaining great rewards from the Almighty.
There are few steps we can take to help us with raising our children:
- Play with our children. When children are young, they learn almost everything through play. It is extremely important for parents to have a connection with the child and make it easy for the child to connect with them. The Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) said, “If one has a child, he should play with him as if he is a child himself.”4 Parents should act as if they are children when they are playing with their youngsters to build that special bond. This bond will allow parents to properly guide their children and impart positive life lessons according to God’s teachings.
- Teach our children the Holy Quran. It is necessary for us to teach our children the pure words of the Almighty. If we start teaching them at a young age and continue to integrate it into their lives as they become adults, their love and attachment to the Holy Quran will grow as they get older. Click here to learn more about the importance of reciting the Holy Quran.
- Be creative to build a connection between the child and the Ahl al-Bayt. When we celebrate the birth or commemorate the deaths of the members of the Ahl al-Bayt (pbut), we should think of creative ways to make these moments unforgettable for our young ones. For example, if a child loves birthday parties, we could celebrate the births of the infallibles with a birthday cake. We should tell them short stories about their (the infallibles’) lives to make the children think about how great the members of the Ahl al-Bayt (pbut) are. The child will never forget these moments if the parents are consistent and positive.
- Shaykh al-Majlisi, Bihar al-anwar, vol. 71, p. 80.
- “Advice to the Youth from His Eminence, Grand Ayatullah Sayyid Ali Al-Sistani.” I.M.A.M., 17 July 2017, www.imam-us.org/advice-youth-eminence-grand-ayatullah-sayyid-ali-al-sistani/.
- Quran 24:32.
- Al-Hurr al-Amili, Wasail al-Shia, vol. 21, p. 486.