Child Upbringing And Its Effects On Our Society
By Muhammad Auwal Ibrahim
In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful
There is a popular hausa proverb, “Yara manyan gobe.” There is no doubt that children are the leaders of tomorrow. As such the religion of Islam made perfect provisions for their proper upbringing. A child today is a father tomorrow so also a leader. Failure to take time and appropriate steps needed to train him (child) will result in a bad future sooner or later. To avoid this, the religion of Islam have made the steps to be taken very clear to us.
Everything that has to do with children should be associated with good and not bad. Positive not negative. Children having been acquainted with the bad always will make them behave badly as opposed to the teaching of Islam. The Quran and the traditions of the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah Be Upon Him) have stated clearly that a child should be guided positively. And this is the responsibility of his parents. This can be seen in the following Quran verse.
“O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones, over which are [appointed] angels, harsh and severe; they do not disobey Allah in what He commands them but do what they are commanded.”
[Surah At-Tahrim 6]
Undeniably, children are part of a family. Therefore, it is the duty of parents to take care of their wards.
So many researchers have agreed that Islam intends to build up personality and character of a child in such a way that he/she becomes an integral part of a society as its noble and civilized individual.
This is an important social issue. Giving the Islamic point of view will throw more light on what is proper child upbringing. Thereby, dotting the undotted. Clearing the uncleared. In Nigeria, today, most of the vices committed are done by young people who may be victims of poor parental upbringing.
Before going further, there is a need for us to have a clear and good definition of a child. Who is a child? In the layman’s sense, a child is a very young person.
In Islam, any person who has not attained the age of puberty is referred to as a child. This is a person who does not have a sin written for him when he does wrong.
However, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has defined a child as “any person under the age of 18”
“Upbringing and grooming of children takes the effects of the nature, environment, situation and observation, education and learning and following of others, but parental impact on the upbringing of the child is undeniable and the most important. If good moral conduct and honesty are taught right from the beginning to the children, their impact remains and is carried into adolescence and maturity of personality.” Abdul Ghafoor Baloch.
To show how Important child upbringing is in Islam, the Holy Quran and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) have clearly stated directives, guidance in respect to child upbringing. For instance, below is another verse from the Holy Quran teaching us how to relate with children.
“And [mention, O Muhammad], when Luqman said to his son while he was instructing him, “O my son, do not associate [anything] with Allah. Indeed, association [with Him] is great injustice.”
[Surah Luqman 13]
The above mentioned verse is showing to us how Luqman (may Allah have mercy on him) treated his son by teaching him Tauhid. This is a very practical approach on how to train our children.
The method in which children are treated in Islam varies from the way we do today in our society. Proper child upbringing is not all about beating them when they are wrong. It is not all about denying them food to eat when they are wrong. It is not all about giving them all sorts of inhuman punishments. There should be mutual understanding between a child and his parents. Parent should teach their wards Islam. Preach to them when they are wrong.
In doing so, children are expected to pick up the good training faster than while beating them. Because once they are used to beating. they won’t do the right thing. They can withstand the punishment. At this point of time, parents should develop and employ the technique of Nasiha as used by Luqman in the above-quoted verse.
Dr. Abdul Ghafoor Baloch and associates at the Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology, Karachi, Pakistan have asserted that “these wise words of Luqman to his son serve basic and essential guidelines for the upbringing of children. This is a reformative law which can make acts and talks of a child the best. With this kind of upbringing, a child can turn into a respectable member of the society.”
It is not socially desirable for a child to be immoral, irrational and undisciplined while relating with people or behaving in the community. Without any doubt, scholars have agreed upon that proper child upbringing in the light of Islam must include teaching him good values. These include patience, honesty, perseverance, hard work, diligence, commitment and many other values.
Just like the way children are taught good values, they must be taught to stay away from their opposite (bad ones). Such as telling lies, laziness, breaking promises, and etc. Abdul Ghafoor and associates stated that “It is necessary to train children to avoid acquiring these bad habits. A person who is indulged in self praise never comes to know his/her shortcomings. So, children who are in the habit of self praise are always running into loss. “
Abdul Ghafoor et al have further elaborated that “there is no doubt in this point that a child needs reformation of his/her instinctive feelings for becoming a member of nobility and good character in his/her society. A human being needs to have social relations and dealings with his/her fellow social beings as a member of human society. Children do have their own friends. Care should be taken to watch out for his/her relations, which he/she keeps, with which sort of children.”
“It is very much necessary, because if a child has bad friends his/her own character and conduct will also come under those bad effects. If a child keeps a company of good friends there will be positive effects on his /her character and conduct.”
The effects of child upbringing in our society are numerous. They can be positive and can also be negative as well. For example, if a child relates with good company, as started by the above writer, they will possibly behave like them and contribute to the development of such society. In doing so, the society will in turn benefit from the actions of the child or children as the case may be.
The large number of the children of Shehu Usman Bin Fodio are a good instance. They were well trained and brought up. For this, they were beneficial to the society, the ummah and everyone in general. They are Sultan Muhammad Bello, who later became the first Sultan ( Amirul Mu’umineen or leader of believers) and his sister Nana Asma’u who has also written extensively on Islamic topics. For their immense contributions to Islam, society benefitted from them.
Considering the above-cited examples, should they have not been well, properly and responsibly trained and brought up, they will not have positively impacted the lives of millions of people in the past decades and many more decades to come.
But if they (children) are relating with bad company (we don’t pray), they will likely behave like them, thereby contributing to the death of the society. In fact, they will be the killers of the society when they grow up. They will kill people and destroy properties. Terrorists are busy killing innocent people and destroying properties worth millions of naira. Not only them but also those who are into kidnapping, banditry, and cattle rustling have become a problem to the Nigerian society. They made life miserable.
The belief here is that every well-trained child is not expected to be in any of the above categories or should any well brought up child be involved in electoral violence, thuggery amongst others? No.
Every good beginning has a good ending. As the saying goes, a child is trained from the onset so that when he grows up, he behaves responsibly and humanly. Parents should therefore work hard to train their children. There is a very high tendency that every habit that a child learns at this age (childhood) is likely to keep on with him up till his last age. For these reasons, we have to take heed in the training of a child. The Almighty Allah gives different orders and guidance to parents as earlier started in this piece
Muhammad Auwal Ibrahim is an award-winning journalist, fellow African Investigative Journalism Conference (AIJC) 2020, Wits University, Johannesburg, South Africa.