Allah says in Surah al-Mai’dah that He perfected Islam for us. He approved Islam for us as our religion. Hence, Allah completed the religion for us through the Prophet (PBUH). The rights of people in Islam are of utmost importance. That includes the rights of Muslims, non-Muslims, neighbors, guests, etc., as well as the rights of children.
Parents or guardians are responsible for ensuring that they grant the rights of children to them. Allah and the Prophet (PBUH) clearly outlined the various rights in the Islamic scriptures, i.e., Allah’s Word and the sayings of the Muhammad (S) and his companions.
The Islamic community is of immense importance. Children are a vital ingredient for any Muslim community because they are the future flag bearers of society and Islam. Therefore, their guardians must formulate a methodical upbringing for them. Allah puts the rights of children into place well before their births. The parents must prepare for the child’s arrival. They must be aware of their importance and the role they will play for the child. The relationship between a mother and father is of immense value to a child. Any negative vibes between parents can lead to a difficult upbringing.
Islam put an end to the horrid practice of killing children, specifically girls. This was widespread in Arabia before the arrival of the Prophet (PBUH). Islam teaches that all life is sacred and children are no different. In fact, children are born innocent and believing in Allah. Hence, nobody has the right to kill a child in Islam. Allah says in Surah al-An’am that parents should not kill their children due to poverty. After all, Allah is the Best of Providers.
Allah sends children as a blessing
Children are a blessing for the parents. People should not think of them as possessions for personal gain. Parents must care for the children as the early days of a baby’s life are very important. The mother and the baby both go through a lot during the process of childbirth. Others must help to take care of them. This is one of the fundamental rights of children.
Allah speaks in Surah an-Nahl about the tradition of wanting boys rather than girls. He describes how people became upset in the past upon hearing of the birth of a girl. People thought of it as something negative. Islam completely rejects any such notions. A boy or a girl, both are gifts from Allah and have their own purposes in this world. Islam brought comprehensive social reform and ended the stigmatization of girls’ births.
The parents must always be thankful to Allah when He blesses them with a child. They must pray for the child’s well-being and its guidance. The Prophet (PBUH) said that anyone who has three daughters and treats them well would find that his actions towards them will be a means of saving him from hell on the Last Day. (Ibn Majah)
Children’s rights and how to welcome a baby
Saying adhan in the baby’s right ear is a well-known tradition in Islam. Hence, the first thing the child hears includes the call to Salah, and that call contains the words of the Shahadah.
A companion of the Prophet (PBUH) reported that Muhammad (S) did Tahnik for the baby. This means to put something sweet like a date into the baby’s mouth.
Sacrifice is also recommended for newborns. The Prophet (PBUH) said that we should offer two sheep for the boy and one for the girl.
Another sunnah is to shave the child’s head and to give the equivalent of the weight of the hair in gold or silver as a charity. These are all among the rights of children, as long as it is easily possible and affordable for the parents.
The birth of a child is a moment of grand celebration for Muslims. We should be happy and thankful to Allah and do our best to give the child a great welcome.
Boys should be circumcised soon after birth. Circumcision is one of the acts of fitra, and we should remember that when a boy is born.
The parents and relatives should come up with a good name for the child. The name will be the basis for the child’s identification and must be something with a good meaning. Names such as Abdallah are among the most favored.
The rights of children during the first part of their lives
Children should be cared for adequately in the earlier part of their lives. As with all mammals, the first few weeks, months, and years can be crucial. This period is like a building block for a child. If it is strong, the child can grow up and become healthy. If it is weak, then the child may encounter weaknesses, whether physical or mental.
The initial stages of a baby’s life can be problematic for parents. They have to show extreme patience and tolerance. Young children require a lot of maintenance and need constant care during the first few weeks. Parents often have to give up on extended sleep in order to care for the newborn, but this is among the basic rights of children.
Feeding and cleaning are two of the most regular things that parents will need to do. They also need to ensure that the child is in good health, insha’Allah. Parents should promptly address any signs of sickness (God Forbid).
Children’s rights as they grow up
The physical needs of the child develop rapidly as he or she grows up. Walking and talking come into the equation, and parents have to widen their focus. At this stage, the guardians of the child must ensure that he or she has access to a proper, healthy diet, which is crucial to the child’s growth.
Young children may not be able to understand Islamic concepts just yet. However, we can teach them some simple duas. Similarly, we should also teach them how to read the Quran, as this will be an essential part of the rest of their lives. Recitation of the Quran is required in the five daily prayers. Hence, this is one of the important rights of children.
Parents may occasionally also want their children to memorize the Quran. In that case, the sooner they start, the better. Young children are best suited to memorization. A child’s ability to learn the Quran wanes as he or she matures.
The Prophet (PBUH) encouraged parents to teach children how to pray at the age of 7. From the age of 10, they should offer prayers regularly. They can also start fasting during this period. Fasting during the month of Ramadan becomes obligatory when the child reaches the stage of puberty.
Children’s character development
Children often learn by example. It is difficult to instill certain qualities into them specifically. Instead, they will learn by what they see around them. Hence, parents need to set the right example for them. We should avoid any negative behavior and activities. Not only in the presence of the child, but in general as well. We should focus on positive qualities. This is a win-win situation for the whole family as everyone is positively impacted while the children’s rights are also in focus.
Besides setting an example, parents should also try to ensure that the child has the right friends and companions. They will learn from who they associate with. So, righteous and positive people are the order of the day. We should encourage children to stay away from negative people who have poor lifestyles and engage in sinful activities.
We should teach the child about the life of the Prophet (PBUH) and how he was generous, kind, honest, modest, patient, empathetic, considerate, etc. On the other hand, we should rebuke children when they are argumentative, hostile, arrogant, selfish, narcissistic, dishonest, lazy, etc.
Muslim parents have to use a delicate balance during this period. They must try to mold a child’s character, but without alienating him or her. Many children may feel that they are under too much duress and rebel as a result. We should avoid that, and the focus should be purely on the betterment of the child and, indeed, the family. This is why setting an example is a very effective method of character-building. It does not require directly telling the child what to do or what not to do.
The child should also receive an Islamic education, alongside worldly education. Any future career or lifestyle choices should be compatible with Islam.
Children’s rights mean they should be cared for in the best way possible. We should treat them in line with Islamic teachings. Parents should also leave some room to have a discussion with their children. Sometimes when an elder suggests something, a child may not understand why it is suitable for him or her. In such cases, they should be listened to and entertained as long as they remain polite. Parents should then attempt to explain why what the child perceives as a negative is a positive.
As children become adults, undergoing puberty, things will change in the household. It may be a difficult period for everyone involved. This is an important stage of the young person’s life, and parents should be understanding while also being firm in the case of any rudeness or rebellion.
As life goes on, someday the tables will turn. The children will be required to look after their parents. This is where a good upbringing can be crucial. Further on, Muhammad (S) said that among the things that can benefit a deceased person are the supplications of a pious child.
Hence, children’s rights are crucial for the overall improvement of society. A well-mannered and hard-working person is a boon for the community. Negative traits are, meanwhile, a bane for those around him. The process of correct upbringing often determines the rest of the trajectory of the child’s life. It is up to the parents or guardians to ensure that children and their rights are in focus.