(4) Rights of Children

Let us first establish that children in accordance to the Islāmic concept includes to both male and female.  Some of anti-Islāmic concepts accuse Islām by differentiating between male and female children claiming that it does prefer boys over girls in terms of inheritance, ‘Aqeeqah (slaughter of two lambs upon the birth of a male baby and one lamb for a baby girl) and other matters.  In accordance with true Islāmic teaching, both male and female are alike in the sight of Allāh.  Each however is physically prepared and equipped to perform certain task and duties that are suitable to his/her nature.  All again are equal in religious duties, except for certain exception that are defined and illustrated by Allāh in the glorious Qur’ān, or declared and specified by Allāh’s Apostle (sallAllāhu `alayhi wa sallam).  Only these differences are to be acknowledged and honoured in accordance with Islām and its teachings.  

The first and the famous right that children are entitled to is the right to be properly brought up, raised and educated.  This means that children should be given suitable, sufficient, sound and adequate religious, ethical and moral guidance to last them their entire life.  They should be engraved with true values, the meaning of right and wrong, true and false, correct and incorrect, appropriate and inappropriate and so forth and so on.  Allāh the Almighty stated in the glorious Qur'ān: 

O you who have believed, protect yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is people and stones,  [Al- Qur'ān, 66:6] 

Allāh’s Apostle (sallAllāhu `alayhi wa sallam) also said: “Every one of you (people) is a shepherd.  And every one is responsible for whatever falls under his responsibility.  A man is like a shepherd of his own family, and he is responsible for them”.  (Reported by Bukhāree and Muslim) 

Children therefore are a trust given to the parents.  Parents are to be responsible for this trust on the Day of Judgment.  Parents are essentially responsible for the moral, ethical and the basic and essential religious teachings of their children. 

If parents fulfil this responsibility, they will be free of the consequences on the Day of Judgment.  The children will become better citizens and pleasure to the eyes of their parents, first in this life and in the hereafter. 

Allāh the Almighty stated in the glorious Qur’ān: 

And those who believed and whose descendants followed them in faith – We will join with them their descendants, and We will not deprive them of anything of their deeds (i.e., the reward thereof).  Every person is retained (i.e., held responsible) for what he earned.  [52:21] 

Moreover, Allāh’s Apostle (sallAllāhu `alayhi wa sallam) said: ”Upon death, man’s deeds will “definitely” stop except for three deeds, namely: a continuous charitable fund, endowment or goodwill; knowledge left for people to benefit from; and pious righteous and God-fearing child who continuously pray to Allāh the Almighty for the soul of his parents”.  (Reported by Muslim). 

In fact, such a statement reflects the value of proper upbringing of children.  It has an everlasting effect, even after death. 

Unfortunately, many parents from every walk of life, in every society, regardless of creed, origin, social and economical status, etc. have neglected this very important this imposed right of their own children unto them.  Such individuals have indeed lost their children as a result for their own negligence.  Such parents are so careless about the time their children spent with no benefit, the friends they associate with, the places they go to etc.  Such parents they do not care, are totally indifferent about where their children go, when they come back and so forth and so on, causing the children to grow without any responsible adult and caring supervision.  Such parents neglect even  to instruct, direct or guide their children to the proper way of life, behaviour or even attitudes towards others.  Yet, you may find these parents are so careful about their wealth.  They are extremely concerned about their own business, work and otherwise.  They exert every possible effort to lead a very successful life in terms of materialistic gains, although all this wealth is not actually theirs.  No one will take wealth to the grave. 

Children are not only to be well-fed, well-groomed, properly dressed for seasons and appearance, well-taken care of in terms of housing and utilities.  It is more important to offer the child comparable care in terms of educational, religious training and spiritual guidance.  The heart of a child must be filled with faith.  A child‘s mind must be entertained with proper guidance, knowledge and wisdom.  Clothes, food, housing, education are not an indication of proper care of the child, proper education and guidance is far more important to a child than his food, grooming and appearance. 

One of the due rights of children upon parents is to spend for their welfare and well-being moderately.  Over spending or negligence is not condoned, accepted or even tolerated in Islām.  Such weighs negative effect on the child regardless of the social status.  Men are urged not to be miserly to their children and household, who are their natural heirs in every religion and society.  Why would one be miserly to those who are going to inherit his wealth?  They are even permitted to take moderately from their parents’ wealth to sustain themselves if the parents declined to give them proper funds for their living. 

Children also have the right to be treated equally in terms of financial gifts.  None should be preferred over the others.  All must be treated fairly and equally.  None should be deprived his gift from the parents.  Depriving or banning the right of the inheritance or other financial gifts during the lifetime of the parents or preference of parents for a child over the other will be considered an act of injustice according to Islām.  Injustice will definitely lead to an atmosphere of hatred, anger and dismay amongst the children in one household.  In fact, such an act of injustice may most likely lead to animosity amongst the children and consequently this will affect the entire family environment. 

In certain cases when a special child may show tender care to his aging parent, for instance, causing the parent to grant such a child a special gift or issue him an ownership of a house, a farm, a car, or any other valuable items.  Islām however considers such a financial reward to such caring, loving or may be obedient child a wrong act.  A caring child is entitled only for reward from Allāh the Almighty.  Although its nice to grant such child something in appreciation for dedication and special efforts but this must not lead to an act of disobedience to Allāh.  It may be that the heart and feelings of such a loving and caring child may change at one point in time, causing him to become a nasty and harmful child.  By the same token, a nasty child may change at any given time to become a very caring and kind child to the same parent.  The hearts and feelings are, as we all know, in the hands of Allāh the Almighty, and can be turned in any direction at any given time and without any previous notice.  This indeed is one of the reasons to prevent an act of financial preference of a child over another. On the other hand, there is no assurance or guarantees that a caring child can handle the financial gift of his parent wisely.

It is narrated by Abu Bakr (radhi Allāhu 'anhu) who said that Allāh’s Apostle (sallAllāhu `alayhi wa sallam) was informed by one of his companions al-Nu'man bin Basheer, who said: “O prophet of Allāh!  I have granted a servant to one of my children (asking him to testify for that gift)”.  But Allāh’s Apostle (sallAllāhu `alayhi wa sallam) asked him: “Did you grant the same to each and every child of yours?”  When Allāh’s Apostle (sallAllāhu `alayhi wa sallam) was informed negatively about that, he said “Fear Allāh the Almighty and be fair and just to all of your children.  Seek the testimony of another person other than me.  I will not testify to an act of injustice.”  (Reported by Bukhāree and Muslim).  Thus, Allāh’s Apostle (sallAllāhu `alayhi wa sallam) called such an act of preference of one child over the others an act of “injustice”!  Injustice is prohibited and forbidden in Islām.

But if a parent granted one of his children financial remuneration to fulfil a necessity, such as a medical treatment coverage, the cost of  a marriage, the cost of initializing a business, etc. then such a grant would not be categorized an act of injustice and unfairness.  Such a gift will fall under the right to spend in an essential need of the children, which is a requirement that parent must fulfil.  

Islām sees that if parents fulfil their duties towards all children in terms of providing them with necessary training, educational backing, moral, ethical and religious education, this will definitely lead to a more caring child, better family atmosphere and better social environment and awareness.  On the other hand, any negligence in their parental duties can lead to the loss of a child or ill treatment to a parent at a later age.
 
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