The role of the father in the life of his child is paramount. The Qur’an likens this relationship to that of the sun. God says:
When Joseph said unto his father: O my father! Lo! I saw in my dream 11 stars and the sun and the moon prostrating towards me. (Yusuf 12:4)
It is well known that the eleven stars represented the brothers of Yusuf (peace be upon him). However, according to Al-Tabari (a renowned Muslim scholar), the sun represents the father.
Fatherhood is a great honor representing one’s ability to pass on the prophetic legacy to his offspring. However, in many communities fathers are AWOL!
Young boys and girls are left alone replacing the important guidance and teachings that a father provides with DVD’s, video games, DSL and television. Here are five important steps that, Insha’Allah, will help us actualize fatherhood, lead our families and fulfill the command of God:
Oh you who believe, protect yourself and your families from the fire of Hell. (At-Tahrim 66:6)
1. Passionately love your wife
When asked, “Who is the most beloved person to you?” the Prophet responded: “`Aishah.”
The Prophet said: “If you love someone for the sake of God, then you should tell them.” The Prophet once said to Mu`adh, “I swear by God that I love you.”
He also informed us that God (Exalted is He) will say on the last day: “Where are those who’ve loved each other for my sake?”
Loving one’s wife is extremely important. Once a sister (may God bless her and her family) told me: ’If I could choose any man in the world to marry he must be like my father’.
Once a small girl started yelling at her younger sibling and suddenly her mother asked: ‘why do you talk to him like that?” she responded: ‘Because this is how you and my father talk with each other.”
As men we set an important precedent in the home. By loving our wives and treating them with compassion and mercy those qualities will fall into the hearts of our children. It is well known that children of abusers have a great potential to abuse. The child is a reflection of the parental shadow. Mercy towards women and represents a baton passed from father to son.
A) Make sure before you leave the house to tell your wife you care for her
B) Continue to buy gifts for her even after the honey-moon is over
C) Give her your time and organize, at least, a night a week to take her out alone and show her that you care.
D) Talk to your wife with care and love. Avoid using harsh words and tones.
2. Be a Man of Integrity–or your words will fall on deaf ears
It is said that a man’s worth is found in his words. The Prophet was asked if a Muslim could be miserly and he said: “Yes”. He was asked if a Muslim could be a liar and he said “No”.
God commands us:
Oh you who believe why do you say what you don’t do? The most disliked thing to God is that you say what you don’t do. (As-Saff 61:2, 3)
Do you order others to do well and forget to practice yourself? (Al-Baqarah 2:44)
Fathers, do you keep your appointments and promises with your children? Do you exercise as much effort to be with them as, say, with your friends or business appointments?
Once a parent was asked to introduce himself to his son’s classmates, after listing his accomplishment the son said: ‘You know, those things are nice, but they don’t mean anything to me. What means the most to me is that my dad is in private what you see in public’.
This really applies to the people involved in Islamic Work and the Masjid. Are we the same behind closed doors as we are in public? What type of image is developing in-front of our children? It is important to have one face as best we can.
Nothing shatters the heart of a child then parental inconsistencies. Let us keep our promises and stick to a positive behavior pattern at all time. The Prophet said: “Fear God where ever you are.” He didn’t say, “In the Masjid.” Nor did he say, “In front of the brothers.” But he said: “Wherever you are”.
3. Your Children’s Importance to you can be measured by how much time you spend with them.
Once a father told me of all the things that he had showered on his son, the son, no doubt, received a large amount of gifts and gadgets from his father. However, when I asked this young man what he wanted most from his father he said: ‘I just want him to spend time with me’.
Make a schedule and spend at least an hour a day with your kids. Believe me, God willing; it will make all difference in the world. A lot of important things can be discussed while throwing a foot-ball, playing hoops, board games, or taking a short walk or trip to the park. While you’re with your kids turn off your hand-phone and lose yourself in their world. Could you imagine if Luqman suddenly told his son, ‘Wait that’s an important phone call?’ Or Ibrahim telling Isma`il, as they were building the Ka’bah, ’just one minute I have a fax coming in’?
Keep notes of your conversations and listen attentively. Offer feedback, sincere advice to them and surprise them at times with pats on the back, hugs and small notes of appreciation.
Take Action …
A) Find out what your child likes to do and do it with them.
B) Schedule a time to spend with them and break your back to keep it
C) Surprise them by taken them out to lunch from school
4. You, more than anyone else, can give your children lifelong self-worth
As a son I remember many great things that my mother told me. However, it was always the praise of my father and his advice the truly struck a chord in my heart. We, as men, can make or break our children. It is important to avoid harsh words and over inflated perceptions of our children. Instead, let’s advice them, praise them and nurture their growth. God Almighty describes the childhood of Mary (peace be upon her) as: “And she sprouted and excellent sprouting.”
My heart loves this expression as it causes you to look at your child as a seed. Seeds need nurturing and, at times, might develop abnormally. Thus, the tiller looks after the seed with velvet gloves on a daily basis offering love and warmth until it grows. God said about the companions ‘their likeness in the Gospel is like a seed that sprouts weak stem’.
Let’s enter the school of `Umar ibn Al-Khattab (Al-Farouq, may God be pleased with him)…
Once `Umar was walking with his son `Abdullah and Abdullah informed his father that he knew an answer to one of the questions the Prophet put forward to them. Upon hearing his son’s answer Umar turned to him and said: ’If you had said it, it would have been sweeter to me than anything in this world’.
This is `Umar! This is the `Umar that we see as being strong and forceful.
But, here we see `Umar the builder of a man. When our children succeed, or even fail, to succeed let us use caution in our dealings with them. The Prophet said: “Give good news”. And he said: “Make things easy and don’t make things difficult.”
Anas said, “The Prophet never yelled at me.”
Our children build their worth from our words and actions. Avoid being negative and saying: ‘you always do things wrong’. Such words are like bricks that lay the foundation of our future men and women. It is important to give them support and love. God describes noble words as ‘a good tree’.
Thus, our good words and advices will plant the seeds that will sprout into worthy adults and noble citizens.
Take Action …
A) Lower your standards: Many parents’ goals are ridiculously high. Once a youth told me: If Abu Bakr (may God be pleased with him) presented himself to my parents; they would want Muhammad’. It is important to set goals for our children, but they should share in them and they should be realistic goals
B) Remember that it’s their future: All through my college days I would meet brothers who were forced to be doctors, lawyers, or engineers. When I would ask them, ‘What do you want to be?’ They would respond: ‘Not this. But, it is what my parents want’. We should allow our children to express and discover their own personalities and offer guidance when needed. An important rule to remember is: ‘Be and advisor, not a supervisor’.
5. Communicate as a family
It is common to see Muslims complaining about the injustices and human rights violations that exist in many Muslim countries. However, there is no need to call others pharaoh when one is practicing the pharaonic model at home. God described the believers as a people of consultation and the Prophet and the companions placed great importance in the principle of consultation.
In fact, during the nomination of Umar it is said that S`ad ibn Abi Waqqas took the shura (mutual consultation) of everyone in Madinah including the young veiled women.
As a father it is easy to push one’s opinions on the household. However, it is not necessarily the most fruitful method. Talking and listening to others will further allow them to feel that you truly respect them and value their thoughts and ideas. In addition, it will increase their self worth and guide them towards the important qualities of listening, sharing and offering input.
Take Action …
Set up a weekly meeting in one’s home. Keep notes and follow up each week with the issues discussed.
May God help us to improve as fathers and touch the lives of those around us.
Summary: What does it mean to be a father, according to Islam? What responsibilities does the father shoulder? How to fulfill these responsibilities?