31.5 CHILDREN, al awlaad

By Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr.


Growth refers to increase in body size. The stages of physical growth are: infancy, early childhood, middle childhood, adolescence, young adulthood, middle adulthood, and old age. Development increases functional specialization and capability. It includes both maturation and increasing experience. It has biological, cognitive, and social aspects. It is a continuous process. Later development builds on earlier experiences. Breast-feeding by the mother is strongly emphasized because it is the best nutrition in the first stages of growth and also has important psychological effects. Development impairments early in life could affect the capacity for development later in life. Parents must be aware of the rapid growth and development of children and should adapt their parenting to the requirements of each stage of growth and functional development.



A child must belong to a set of parents, a family and a community. Lineage is the basis of self-identification and self esteem. The name influences self-concept, identity, and self-esteem. Love for children is natural and ensures protection and for the children. The love for children and their treatment should be the same for all regardless of gender. Parent communication with children must be open, honest, mutual, nurturing, and consistent. Parents must have time to play with their children. Successful parenting requires a high tolerance level for children. Children's actions and behavior cannot be judged by adult standards. Each child is an individual; each is different. Parents should teach the following to children: love of Allah, loving jannat, hating jahannam, salat by age 7, reading and memorization of Qur’an, telling the truth, avoiding kufr and the prohibited, avoiding shirk, rules of dress especially for girls, using the right hand, basmalah before any activity, adhan and its response, avoiding bad company, bravery, and revenge against the transgressors. 



Children are born in a pure and natural state, fitrat; it is the environment that shapes them into either good or bad people. The first 7-10 years are the formative period of personality. Influences at this stage of life, positive or negative, have long lasting impact. The age of legal maturity is defined biologically as either 15 years or the appearance of definitive signs of puberty. Attaining the age of legal maturity does not mean attaining wisdom. Many problems arise from high expectations of legally mature but unwise children. Good manners and attitudes are not taught but are shown to children. The social environment that children are exposed to should be carefully controlled. Children must be guided to understand moral issues. Moral values can be taught by use of stories since young children cannot appreciate abstract notions. Children should be taught the kalima, love of Allah, love of jannat, reliance on Allah, salat, reading Qur'an, attending salat al-Jama’at, truthfulness, hard work, love of learning, exploration, bravery, and courage. Selfishness should be discouraged. Children should be warned against sins such as: kufr, shirk, gambling, pornography, and smoking. They should be taught to wear Islamic dress, to use the right hand, cleanliness, and respect for the visitor.



Children are not a tabula rasa. They certainly are born with instinctive knowledge of their creator. However their data bank is limited. Their ability to learn from the environment is also limited. Development is individual and there are no fixed norms. Tarbiyah must be related to the level of intellectual and social development. Genetic endowment determines basic intelligence and its potential or ceiling. Environmental stimulation enables reaching the potential. Children understand and retain information at a level higher than what most parents imagine. Children are born with an inner drive to investigate, explore and learn from the environment that should be used in the learning process. Learning should be a pleasure. Fear or scoldings are counter productive. A warm and democratic home fosters intellectual growth. The layout, organization and running of the home should be designed to facilitate child development and not for the convenience of adults. The first intellectual skills that should be taught are language skills. Language influences the way people think. The first words that children learn should emphasize Iman. Complex, detailed, stimulating language should be used. Read to children as early as possible. Early interest in books carries through to adulthood. A second language should be taught as soon as the primary language is stable. A second language is best mastered before puberty. Arabic, the language of the Qur’an, is the preferred second language. There should be zero tolerance for colloquial Arabic.



Children should be taught obedience. Obedience is an attitude. It starts with obedience of Allah then the parents then those in authority. It also includes obedience of the physical laws and acceptance of social realities. Disobedient individuals tend to be marginal individuals in society; they may commit crimes and cannot be good and religious individuals with stable family life. Obedience should be taught by example. A wife obeying her husband and a husband obeying his parents are very good models for children. Disciplining of children must be firm, fair and appropriate. There must be house rules that are not broken. Too much scolding or belittling is child abuse. Children should be treated as individuals. They must be respected as humans with rights, feelings and concerns. As individuals they have a God-given self-worth and an identity that is unique. Children cannot be the same and should not be expected to behave is similar ways. Neither should you expect your children to be exactly like you. Children must be loved and that love should be shown. Parental love for the youngest children should never be conditional. Preference for either male or female children is an un-Islamic custom. Building self-esteem in children requires time and effort. Teach them to communicate their feelings. Listen to them. Negotiate and compromise with them in matters that are not strict rules. Your disciplining must be fair and consistent. Give them responsibilities and tasks. Allow them to make some decisions. Have a sense of humor. Give them loving care.

(c) Professor Omar Hasan Kasule Sr. 2004