One of the greatest challenges a Muslim will ever face is being a parent. This is one challenge, however, many of us are least prepared for. Allah tells us in the Qur’an that our children are our trial and as such we should take the task of parenting seriously, and start learning from each other. In my experience in dealing with my own family and counseling other Muslim families, a model has developed based on what I call “The Positive Approach”.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) stated: “He is not of us who does not have compassion for his fellow beings.” It is interesting to note that when it comes to Hadith like this or Qur’anic quotes dealing with human behavior, we never stop to think that our children and family members are also our fellow human beings and that these golden rules must also be applied to them. Compassion is only one component of the concept of mercy (rahmah) — the others being kindness, respect, and of course love. Remember the displeasure of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) when Al-Aqra Ibn Habis told him how he had never kissed any of his 10 children. Upon hearing that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told him, “You have no mercy and tenderness at all. Those who do not show mercy to others will not have God’s mercy shown to them.”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) has related that Allah says: “Oh My servant. I look on high-handedness as something not permissible for Myself, and I have forbidden it for you. So do not oppress each other”. When we consult with each other in the domestic realm, both husband and wife must show respect for each other. This is one of the best ways to bond and to learn and listen to each other and to resolve conflicts. However, the consultation will only be fruitful if it is sincere and not merely a formality. Imposition of one’s ideas with scant regard to the welfare of the whole family unit defeats the purpose of the most important Qur’anic principle.
The concept of cooperation in Islam is most beautifully illustrated in Surah Al-Asr : “… counsel each other to the truth (haq), and counsel each other to patience and fortitude (sabr)”. When a family unit cooperates in this manner, they truly capture the spirit of Islam — the welfare of each member of the family becomes the concern of the other.
It is extremely important that our families commit themselves as a unit to Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him ): “Obey Allah and His Prophet and those in authority over you” (Surah An-Nisa). This collective commitment gives us an identity and maps out our purpose — namely that we all belong to Allah and are accountable and responsible to Him.