This can be achieved by teaching one’s children trusteeship, worship of the Creator, development of the earth i’imran), and love of God and His Messengers. Ignoring these essential principles will deprive the family of its happiness. The joy of parenting comes from seeing children behave correctly and in accord with their mission of life on earth. Absorb these concepts, live up to them, and explain them to your children as they mature. This is the way to implant the seed of virtue and goodness in the heart and mind of the child. Even if the child grows up forgetting about God, one day the seed of faith will grow and bear fruit. Purity of faith should ideally be fed with “the purity of the mother’s milk to the baby:’
Instill the foundation for good character. Set the child’s priorities straight right from the beginning. Such a foundation of righteousness strengthens the child’s immunity against the rampant temptations around us. We cannot rely solely on external “policing” to protect society. The child’s internal value system, sense of self respect and power of self-control are the most effective mechanisms for the protection of society. Parents need to help children benefit from the wisdom of divine revelation by emphasizing faith, honesty, and compassion early on in their lives.
Family values have suffered a decline over the decades. The rise in divorce rates, single-parent families, cohabiting couples, illegitimacy, poverty and insecurity has affected both children and parents. The Muslim family unit hasunfortunately been no less immune to these developments, suffering its own particular problems and weaknesses. The Muslim family is supposed to hold the blueprint to success and stability. The answer to why it has declined is complex but lies partly in the decline of the Ummah itself. Deteriorating economic conditions, a deficient education system and a marginalization of sincere faith – all these factors have adversely affected the Muslim family unit. Although the Ummah’s heritage is a rich one, it has not been immune to contamination and the prevalence of wrong practices. These have to be identified and carefully removed to restore the pristine qualities that once gave the Ummah such success. We must sift out the inappropriate influences on our children or else we will be left with imbalanced adults harboring major character flaws. The Qur’an requires Muslims to read (iqra’),reason tya’qilun), think iyatajakkarun), contemplate tyatadabbaruni. and comprehend tyafqahun). Why do Muslims have some of the highest levels of illiteracy and yet why are they steeped in superstition? Muslims have been defeated, assacred, and humiliated during the last few centuries. Furthermore, robbed of their land, wealth, and hopes, they have developed a distorted worldview, a polluted culture, and a weak sense of self-confidence. They have lost much of their character and chosen money and power over moral sand the common good. Laziness and greed have taken priority over common security and public interest. The Ummah faces corruption, disease, poverty, and famine. Muslims are divided into 56 countries, several of which quarrel and fight with one another. They consume much and produce little,and live just to survive and eat rather than build and develop. Centuries of decay have warped their characters, distorted their universal outlook, polluted their culture, and caused the spread of a superstitious mentality. In addition to this, an imported European system of education spread throughout Muslim societies. The new generations lost confidence in themselves, their culture, their faith, and their ancestors. Children began to have doubts about their identity, which further weakened their self-esteem, dignity, and consciousness. They became more subservient, lacking the moral and spiritual stamina necessary for responsible and constructive behavior. Unity and harmony were shattered at home, in the neighborhood, and in society at large.Muslim women and men began to blindly imitate the inappropriate practices of other cultures, which included nudity, showing off (tabarruj), improper sexual pursuits, and neglect of religious duties. This resulted in conflictual behavior, cultural disasters, and a family that was neither Islamic nor modern.
The unthinking pursuit of material gain and physical pleasure, de-spiritualized and demoralized both parents and children. The building block of society – the family – began to fail. Instead of nurturing worthy citizens (who are brave, creative, self-confident, and responsible), Muslim families began to produce spoiled and egocentric children instead. These children were takers rather than givers, self-centered rather than caring community members and servants, and more wasteful and harmful than helpful. Many Muslim parents suffer from illiteracy, ignorance and apathy. Many Muslim children are stifled in their efforts to acquire knowledge and skills. Some Muslim societies suffer from oppressive tyrannical governments. Many Muslims face the following problems:
• Limited freedom to think, due to oppression and indoctrination;
• Limited freedom to question, inquire, and speak;
• Limited freedom to do business and
prosper, due to corruption and mismanagement;
• Limited freedom of women, due to ignorance and male oppression; and
• Limited freedom of citizens to choose their leaders, due to suppression and tyranny.
Muslims cannot tackle all these factors overnight. Nevertheless, they can start with something that is within their control, and that is good parenting. To raise righteous, successful children and ultimately good citizens, Muslims need to change the authoritarian and oppressive styles of parenting currently in vogue in their countries and seriously reform their parenting practices.
CHILD DEVELOPMENT AND SOUND EDUCATION SYSTEM
There has been a serious attempt at reform to curb the slide into which the Muslim world began to drift. Many plans were put into effect. However, child education, an extremely important dimension, was missing in the reformers’ agenda. Great scholars covered many disciplines (including theology, philosophy, politics, sociology, and economics), making a considerable and devoted contribution to reverse the decline of the Ummah and improve its situation. However, the diseases hindering the emergence of a righteous nation were not cured. The tremendous potential and capabilities of Muslim individuals and societies have not been utilized effectively. The gap between Muslims and non-Muslims in creativity, performance, and achievements (in science and technology) has been widening for decades. The responsibility on scholars and educators is to explore the missing dimension and develop a solution. They would do well to examine the issues of child rearing, child development, and child education. They must start with parenting in the home. Unless the child’s psyche and mentality become the focus of attention from parents and reformers, the Muslim world will continue to deteriorate and suffer from decadence and backwardness. Historically, many traditional reformers focused mainly on religious rituals and their legal and political aspects.