We are in need to focus on the role of the parents with regard to the discipline, manner and upbringing of the children. Unfortunately, there are many people, or parents who are concerned only with the maintenance of their children, with their future, with their education and qualifications. But, according to Islamic teachings, according to what Allah orders the believers, their concerns about the discipline, about the morality, about the spirituality of their children is much more important.
Let’s put it this way, of course the emotions, the love and care for your children is something natural. You wish them every success, but in addition to providing them with what they need for their livelihood; accommodation, clothing, food and other things. We need to work in bringing up and advancing their religious values, ethical issues and to make them good members in the community. For example, when they mingle with friends and colleagues who are not acting in the right manner, they go with their colleagues to any gathering without even evaluating how good they are, or they are the cause of immorality. People will automatically be affected with whatever addicted those friends are. Now we sign that unfortunately in some reports, the Muslim youth, whether in this country or in other countries of Europe, they are jailed or they are severely punished by the law of the land because of their drugs, because of them being addicted to some unacceptable sexual behaviour, or even insult or assault, so this is the duty of the parents, whether the father or the mother to concern themselves with whom these youngsters communicate and are associated.
When we look at Imam Ali’s (a.s) advice to his son Imam Al Hassan (a.s) we notice that he warns Al Hassan (a.s) not to be associated with friends who are sinful, those who are crazy and not disciplined, those who are stupid and have less ability to weigh things in the right manner. And this is of course the best advice father can give to his children. In the same way, a mother is responsible for educating and teaching her daughter because, it is not sufficient that every early morning, either the father or the mother taking the children to school, coming to collect them around 4 o’clock in the afternoon. The moment they arrive at home, we have to see to their homework and whatever other things to do, then it goes on and on to the next day and next week, without evaluating their spiritual and moral progress. One of the very important things is that when the father or any parent, notices that there is some sort of unacceptable behaviour with the children, they start from the early days to warn them or to discipline them, or to direct them to what is right and keep them away from what is wrong. For example, when I notice that the child is greedy, not only accepts what is given to him, his or her share, tries to extend their hand to other people or other siblings’ share and need more and more, shall we accept it and say yes, that is the way this child is doing or this is his nature? Or we have to try to treat this and amend this exactly when for example they have some problem with their teeth or with their skin or with their hair? Normally people are concerned with any defect which appears in the body or in the appearance of the child, but what about their behaviour? Greed is something very very dangerous. Another thing which may appear in the attitude or the behaviour of the child as being arrogant, selfish. This appears when they treat their siblings or their friends and colleagues, not leaving this responsibility to the school, to the teachers. Of course, teachers at the school are concerned mainly about the curriculum, about the scientific and educational progress, but it is the duty of parents to look after the morality and ethical values for their children. When I notice the child is jealous. Jealous in a very extreme way, cannot see any progress or praise anything good with his brother or sister. For example, he is lazy, he is not getting good marks in exams, but notices a colleague in the school or a sibling at home achieving and going with higher marks, some sort of negative thoughts, some sort of jealousy burns inside them. Shall we leave it like that? Or it is the duty of the parents to seriously think about them? These are some of the negative points in the personality to be treated, to be cured, to be amended.
The other duty which has been mentioned by the Prophet (S.A.W.W) by the error-free Imams, and repeatedly the parents are reminded to care for it and to be concerned about is to teach their children Quran. Yes, it is important that Muslims make sure that their children are familiar with the Quran, its recitation, its understanding and gradually memorising the Quran, if not the whole Quran, at least the short Suras. Fortunately, nowadays we see sometimes the Saturday schools that are arranged by many mosques, many Islamic centres here in the UK and in other parts of Europe, they are taking this responsibility on their shoulders and trying to educate the children with the Quran. We see from the history of our Imams that they would pay much attention to this and it was very usual thing to see that parents, for example the father pays some sort of prizes to the children if they memorise one Sura, and next week another Sura and so on. Brothers and sisters really it is one of the main duties and obligations of the parents to educate their children, teach them the Quran and then the very simple principles of (Ahkam) or rulings of Sharia. For example, when both boys and girls attain the age of (buloogh) puberty, they become adults, or they are teenagers. These teenagers are going to face some changes in their psychological and biological beings on them. If we don’t teach them in advance about what they will face, of course they may be given wrong ideas, adapt something from the media, from some people who are supposed to be their role models but they get the wrong information about this. Not only teaching the Quran, rather to give them some basic rulings of Sharia regarding what is lawful and what is unlawful, what is obligatory and what is prohibited. And by this of course we guarantee that they are walking in the right direction. And what is again important that we think about those who are advancing and going towards choosing the spouse. We don’t say and we don’t approve of the blind marriage or the forced marriage that some people or some families are used to it. For example, choosing a girl for their son from abroad, from their own countries and in their mind that is something to keep him safe, without thinking about the most important methods of education, bringing up and whether this is sufficient to bring a girl from abroad or it must be some sort of match between their mentality, their understanding, the way that they would deal with problems.
Brothers and sisters, Allah makes it a must to protect our families, our children. Allah says you have to protect your families, your independence, your dependants and your children. You have to look after them and make them walk on the right path at least exactly in the same way that you are concerned with their health, with their well-being, with their education, you have to be concerned with their religious education with moral practice and ethical values.
May Allah enable us to comply with our duties.