Friday Sermon: The Important Role of the Parents in the Life of a Child

by Ebrahim Mohamed

16 June 2023 [Youth Day] (Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-e-Islam Lahore, South Africa)

“Ash-ha-du al laa ilaaha illa-llaahu wahda-hu-laa-shareeka lahu wa ashadu anna Muhammadan abdu hu wa Rasoolo hu”

“I bear witness that nothing deserves to be worshipped except Allah Who has no partners and I bear witness that Muhammad is the servant and messenger of”

“Allah Amma Baad — Auzo billahi minashaytaan nirrajeem. Bismillah hi Rahmaan ni Raheem”

“I begin in the name of Allah the Beneficent, the Merciful.”

الٓـمّٓ ۚ﴿۱﴾ تِلۡکَ اٰیٰتُ الۡکِتٰبِ الۡحَکِیۡمِ ۙ﴿۲﴾ ہُدًی وَّ رَحۡمَۃً لِّلۡمُحۡسِنِیۡنَ ۙ﴿۳﴾ الَّذِیۡنَ یُقِیۡمُوۡنَ الصَّلٰوۃَ وَ یُؤۡتُوۡنَ الزَّکٰوۃَ وَ ہُمۡ بِالۡاٰخِرَۃِ ہُمۡ یُوۡقِنُوۡنَ ؕ﴿۴﴾ اُولٰٓئِکَ عَلٰی ہُدًی مِّنۡ رَّبِّہِمۡ وَ اُولٰٓئِکَ ہُمُ الۡمُفۡلِحُوۡنَ ﴿۵﴾ وَ مِنَ النَّاسِ مَنۡ یَّشۡتَرِیۡ لَہۡوَ الۡحَدِیۡثِ لِیُضِلَّ عَنۡ سَبِیۡلِ اللّٰہِ بِغَیۡرِ عِلۡمٍ ٭ۖ وَّ یَتَّخِذَہَا ہُزُوًا ؕ اُولٰٓئِکَ لَہُمۡ عَذَابٌ مُّہِیۡنٌ ﴿۶﴾
 وَ لَقَدۡ اٰتَیۡنَا لُقۡمٰنَ الۡحِکۡمَۃَ اَنِ اشۡکُرۡ لِلّٰہِ ؕ وَ مَنۡ یَّشۡکُرۡ فَاِنَّمَا یَشۡکُرُ لِنَفۡسِہٖ ۚ وَ مَنۡ کَفَرَ فَاِنَّ اللّٰہَ غَنِیٌّ حَمِیۡدٌ ﴿۱۲﴾

“I, Allah, am the Best Knower. These are the verses of the Book of Wisdom — A guidance and a mercy for the doers of good, Who keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate and who are certain of the Hereafter. These are on a guidance from their Lord, and these are they who are successful. And of men is he who takes instead frivolous discourse to lead astray from Allah’s path without knowledge, and to make it a mockery. For such is an abasing chastisement. … And certainly We gave Luqman wisdom, saying: Give thanks to Allah. And whoever is thankful, is thankful for his own soul; and whoever denies, then surely Allah is Self-Sufficient, Praised.” (The Holy Quran, 31:1–6, 12)

These verses are from Surah Luqman (Chapter 31), verses 1 to 6, and verse 12 — the last one is where the respected Luqman is introduced.

Luqman as you most probably know was a very wise Ethiopian sage; some say he was a prophet whose wise teachings to his son have been encapsulated in the Holy Quran in this Surah [Chapter] dedicated to him to serve as a legacy of guidance, light and learning for the youth present and future.

Now I am not one who is opposed to celebrating Father’s Day or Mother’s Day or Youth Day; because of the importance these people play in the creation of a morally upright and civilized society so important in the overall process of nation building.

What I am opposed to is the practice of setting aside such days for mere superficial, commercial reasons. Nay! There are far more serious things that we should give attention to and do something about.

For example, we are living in times where the values of the home where Almighty Allah should reside Supreme and where parents should be respected and honored are being eroded and diminished not necessarily as one would normally expect by delinquent youth; but instead, nowadays, by authoritative bodies such as governments, the Church and even educational institutions — yes, by the very people supposed to take care of and ensure that the rights and values of the family unit are upheld and protected.

Parents across the world are perplexed by the fact that their rights as parents are steadily being taken away from them and placed in the hands of cold, authoritarian, misguided, ungodly, cult-like officials many of whom even have no clue of what it is to raise a child.

This is where Muslims must step in and strongly oppose such ungodly trends and stand firm by their Islamic values. Muslim leaders and scholars, instead of postulating for recognition and positions of power and privilege in society, should rather earn respect by spending their time arranging and organizing for the investment in the establishment of Islamic institutions and schools at grassroots level, instead of relying on institutions run by a state institution that has abandoned all humane God-inspired family and social values; that has opened the floodgates for a demonic system that is calling for the normalization of immoral and sheer evil practices and customs to find its way into our school system.

It is therefore time that our youth are mobilized and motivated to organize themselves — duly supported by religious leaders, academia and honest and fair- minded politicians — and made to speak out and protest against such a culture being forced upon them. It is no longer just the fight of the parents. The Muslim youth should empower themselves with Quranic knowledge that deals with such matters such as faith in God Almighty alone; the importance of the family unit; respect for the parents; firm understanding and belief that Almighty Allah has created us male and female and NOTHING else and that He has provided us with a pure code of life on how to conduct ourselves towards each other in a moral and decent manner. It has become important for parents to set an example and conscientise the youth about the social dangers and traps they are being led into via subtle indoctrination and peer pressure. I know it is tough out there for both parents and youth; but it is time that we become vocal and declare our pride of being proud Muslims and nothing else.

We have with us the best guidance in the Holy Quran and Sunna [Practices of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)] that provide us with the best social rules to be proud of; for example, just starting with the very basics such as physical cleanliness. We have the stinja, i.e., we make sure we clean ourselves properly, using water if available, when using the toilet, this is part of our faith; we have the ghusl, i.e., washing our bodies to ensure we are clean at all times; we have the ablution where we wash certain parts of the body five times a day before we go to pray. These are basic teachings called tahaarah we teach our youth at grassroots levels in the madrassa [Islamic education] that you will not come across in any Sunday school curriculum. This makes us a unique community. Therefore, as Muslims we should ask ourselves, if those who want to exercise authority over our minds and bodies do not even know how to clean themselves properly when they use the toilets, how can they even begin to think of teaching us proper social etiquette and morality and tell us what is good and what is bad for our children?

When the pandemic hit us, they all shouted we must do what Muslims have been doing for over 1400 years that is to give priority to a hygienic lifestyle. But that is only the start and merely laying the foundation for the development of the true character of our youth. Islam goes further and teaches a pure ethical and moral code of life that goes hand in hand with physical purity. We cannot have one without the other. That is what Islam teaches us and we should not undervalue its importance by taking it for granted. There are many in the West that are now converting to Islam purely because of these basic teachings that they do not come across entrenched in their own faiths. Their morals as we can see daily have entered the cesspool of a toxic swamp. If they want to drag us into it, we should say with greater PRIDE than their ill-begotten one, that we are indeed proud to be Muslim. This should be the clarion call of all Muslims especially the youth that are most vulnerable.

This brings me now to the Quranic narrative of Luqman Hakim [Luqman, the wise]. Now if we are to look for simple but very profound guidance with regard to not only father and son relationships but in fact all children and parents’ relationships, we can start by looking at the wisdom expressed in this Chapter dedicated to the wisdom of Luqman. His teachings are very subtle, yet deeply sincere and profound and no doubt very effective especially in these trying times where parents are facing unmatched challenges in raising their youth.

Let us see what Almighty Allah tells us about Luqman and his advice to the youth:

وَ لَقَدۡ اٰتَیۡنَا لُقۡمٰنَ الۡحِکۡمَۃَ اَنِ اشۡکُرۡ لِلّٰہِ ؕ وَ مَنۡ یَّشۡکُرۡ فَاِنَّمَا یَشۡکُرُ لِنَفۡسِہٖ ۚ وَ مَنۡ کَفَرَ فَاِنَّ اللّٰہَ غَنِیٌّ حَمِیۡدٌ ﴿۱۲﴾ وَ اِذۡ قَالَ لُقۡمٰنُ لِابۡنِہٖ وَ ہُوَ یَعِظُہٗ یٰبُنَیَّ لَا تُشۡرِکۡ بِاللّٰہِ ؕؔ اِنَّ الشِّرۡکَ لَظُلۡمٌ عَظِیۡمٌ ﴿۱۳﴾

“And certainly We gave Luqman wisdom, saying: Give thanks to Allah. And whoever is thankful, is thankful for his own soul; and whoever denies, then surely Allah is Self-Sufficient, Praised. And when Luqman said to his son, while he admonished him: O my son, ascribe no partner to Allah. Surely ascribing partners (to Him) is a grievous iniquity.” (The Holy Quran, 31:12–13)

Muslims are taught to give thanks to Almighty Allah every day. In our daily prayers we repeatedly say,

اَلۡحَمۡدُ لِلّٰہِ رَبِّ الۡعٰلَمِیۡنَ ۙ﴿۱﴾

“‘Alhamdulillah hi Rabbil Alameen”

“All praise and thanks are due to Allah alone; the Lord of all the worlds.” [The Holy Quran, 1:1]

Thus, the first lesson Luqman teaches the youth here, is the same lesson we will see repeated over and over throughout the Holy Quran. And that is to teach the child from a young age to have faith in Almighty Allah alone and NOT to set up any partners with Allah. In other words, Almighty Allah comes first then the parents. Not the king, nor the clerics, nor the teachers, nor the sportsmen and women and actors and musicians that our youth tend to idolize, who themselves are all dependent on Allah for their existence and livelihood. Parents should learn from this and expand on it by teaching the young that Almighty Allah is Caring, Forgiving and Loving. Teach them to become aware of a Higher Super Power they can rely on and draw support from in times of despair and hopelessness – emotions we all experienced in our youth and even in adulthood.

Parents should draw their attention to the heavens and the earth and teach them that all these things did not come about by themselves. In fact, as soon as the child develops some consciousness, make them understand that Allah exists. To do this is far more important than just sending the child to a formal madrassa and to leave it over to the teacher who will subject them to a regimented learning routine.

No, the learning and development process starts with the mother and the father. A child needs to bond with a loving parent ideally the mother as provided by nature when taught the love of a Higher Being such as Almighty Allah. This is the most effective way of teaching them about Almighty Allah that will stay with them for all times. Parents should speak to them about Almighty Allah at the dinner tables before they eat and at bedtimes before they go to sleep and occasionally during the day. You do not have to be highly educated to do this. Simply ask them, where do you think the food we eat comes from? Who created the plants, the vegetables and the fruits that we enjoy? Etc.…

In this simple way, when they reach the age of formal schooling this consciousness of an Almighty God should have been fully entrenched in their psyche already. This is such a basic, yet perhaps the most important part of a child’s development that I find is so much neglected in modern societies where nowadays the child is first taught to use a cellphone. Then we wonder just why our youth are so misguided and confused when faced by the onslaughts of other cultures, especially the debased western cultures that are glamorized in the news and on social media. The cause of much of the sickness of modern youth lies at the feet of the parents themselves. But they are NOT entirely to be blamed. Society, unfortunately, has forced upon mothers and fathers a situation of survival where true parenthood is compromised and the child often forced to be left at the wolves’ door, metaphorically speaking of-course; but if parents make the time to make the child aware of the existence of a Loving God Who looks over all of us, and teach them simple rules of hygiene and etiquette that are NOT rocket science, and does not take up much time, they will be laying a foundation for a vibrant moral based society to evolve. Therefore, parents should make sure to spend at least an hour or even half an hour every day — repeating these lessons.

وَ وَصَّیۡنَا الۡاِنۡسَانَ بِوَالِدَیۡہِ ۚ حَمَلَتۡہُ اُمُّہٗ وَہۡنًا عَلٰی وَہۡنٍ وَّ فِصٰلُہٗ فِیۡ عَامَیۡنِ اَنِ اشۡکُرۡ لِیۡ وَ لِوَالِدَیۡکَ ؕ اِلَیَّ الۡمَصِیۡرُ ﴿۱۴﴾

“And We have enjoined on man concerning his parents — his mother bears him with faintings upon faintings and his weaning takes two years — saying: Give thanks to Me and to thy parents. To Me is the eventual coming.” (The Holy Quran, 31:14)

As the child now matures, his attention is drawn to the parents, especially the mother who went through the pangs of childbirth and breastfed them when they were very young. We should ask ourselves repeatedly if our mothers did not do this when we were nothing, but helpless infants where would we have been today? Where would societies or nations have been today? This role of a mother in the upbringing of a child is so important that our Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:

‘Heaven lies beneath the feet of thy mother’

meaning if you show respect, honour and serve your mother, it will open the gates of heaven for you. So, if you are lucky to still have parents that are alive show them that due respect. If they are no longer with you, pray for them and give in charity on their behalf. Better still, remember the good things they taught you and pass it on to your own children or to others in your community.

وَ اِنۡ جَاہَدٰکَ عَلٰۤی اَنۡ تُشۡرِکَ بِیۡ مَا لَیۡسَ لَکَ بِہٖ عِلۡمٌ ۙ فَلَا تُطِعۡہُمَا وَ صَاحِبۡہُمَا فِی الدُّنۡیَا مَعۡرُوۡفًا ۫ وَّ اتَّبِعۡ سَبِیۡلَ مَنۡ اَنَابَ اِلَیَّ ۚ ثُمَّ اِلَیَّ مَرۡجِعُکُمۡ فَاُنَبِّئُکُمۡ بِمَا کُنۡتُمۡ تَعۡمَلُوۡنَ ﴿۱۵﴾

“And if they [i.e., the parents] strive with thee to make thee associate with Me that of which thou hast no knowledge, obey them not, and keep kindly company with them in this world, and follow the way of him who turns to Me; then to Me is your return, then I shall inform you of what you did.” (The Holy Quran, 31:15)

This guidance is now given to the mature youth, who have the intellectual capacity to distinguish between right and wrong based on the guidance and upbringing they have been exposed to thus far. If a parent or parents try to indoctrinate them to associate others with Almighty Allah then in such cases the child is commanded by Allah Almighty not to obey the parent but to still keep kindly company with them. There are nowadays many instances where a Muslim man marries a Christian woman who does not want to adopt Islam as her faith. She might have a child by him and contrary to his wishes would strive to raise the child as a Christian whose doctrine is based on associating a human-being, i.e., Jesus, with Almighty Allah. If the child reaches the age of discretion and reasoning and maturity and finds such a teaching repugnant to his or her faith, they are allowed to disobey the parent who is trying to force such a belief on them. But remember, even in such cases there should be no hostilities between parent and child.

یٰبُنَیَّ اِنَّہَاۤ اِنۡ تَکُ مِثۡقَالَ حَبَّۃٍ مِّنۡ خَرۡدَلٍ فَتَکُنۡ فِیۡ صَخۡرَۃٍ اَوۡ فِی السَّمٰوٰتِ اَوۡ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ یَاۡتِ بِہَا اللّٰہُ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ لَطِیۡفٌ خَبِیۡرٌ ﴿۱۶﴾

“O my son, even if it be the weight of a grain of mustard-seed, even though it be in a rock, or in the heaven or in the earth, Allah will bring it forth. Surely Allah is Knower of subtilities, Aware.” (The Holy Quran, 31:16)

It is important to be taught from a very early age that nothing is hidden from Almighty Allah, Who sees everything we do. This teaches the person not to have evil thoughts or hidden agendas or intentions to cause mischief or harm to others. Create in them an awareness that one’s evil thoughts and plans will eventually be manifested with dire consequences. This is the divine law that operates throughout the universe. We see a lot of situations these days where what has been hidden over generations has been exposed. Some may escape the scandals associated with it in this life; but in the next life there will be no place to hide, therefore, best to make amends here and seek Allah’s forgiveness if you are affected while you still can.

یٰبُنَیَّ اَقِمِ الصَّلٰوۃَ وَ اۡمُرۡ بِالۡمَعۡرُوۡفِ وَ انۡہَ عَنِ الۡمُنۡکَرِ وَ اصۡبِرۡ عَلٰی مَاۤ اَصَابَکَ ؕ اِنَّ ذٰلِکَ مِنۡ عَزۡمِ الۡاُمُوۡرِ ﴿ۚ۱۷﴾

“O my son, keep up prayer and enjoin good and forbid evil, and bear patiently that which befalls thee. Surely this is an affair of great resolution.” (The Holy Quran, 31:17)

This is the best recipe for success a parent can give a child that now enters adolescence going towards adulthood. We know too well that as a parent you might wish to forever hold your child’s hand as they go through life, but there will come a time that you will realize that you have to let go, for this is how the child develops and learns how to stand his or her own ground and becomes independent and self-reliant. They should know that when they reach that stage in their life, to develop a bond with a Higher Power that will listen to them when they call on Him for protection and guidance. This is what prayer does; it provides you with the confidence and strength to face any challenge in life. Make them aware that a life dedicated to do good and oppose evil will always be an uphill road with many challenges; and that if they do not have the patience and resilience to deal with it, they will find it more difficult. But it is the only road to success. Therefore, patience is another moral armour the Holy Quran strongly inculcates.

وَ لَا تُصَعِّرۡ خَدَّکَ لِلنَّاسِ وَ لَا تَمۡشِ فِی الۡاَرۡضِ مَرَحًا ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ لَا یُحِبُّ کُلَّ مُخۡتَالٍ فَخُوۡرٍ ﴿ۚ۱۸﴾ وَ اقۡصِدۡ فِیۡ مَشۡیِکَ وَ اغۡضُضۡ مِنۡ صَوۡتِکَ ؕ اِنَّ اَنۡکَرَ الۡاَصۡوَاتِ لَصَوۡتُ الۡحَمِیۡرِ ﴿٪۱۹﴾

“And turn not thy face away from people in contempt, nor go about in the land exultingly. Surely Allah loves not any self-conceited boaster. And pursue the right course in thy going about and lower thy voice. Surely the most hateful of voices is braying of asses.” (The Holy Quran, 31:18–19)

As the young adults now enter society on a broader scale, they now need further guidance the best of which is to be found here in Luqman’s advice to his son. All our young people should know that to be successful in life we need to develop social skills that attract and NOT dispel or push people away. Especially in the workplace in general or when in positions of leadership they should be taught never to be condescending or demeaning towards others. Make them aware that we are social beings who are dependent on others and therefore need to live in harmony with others; and that the worst characteristics and behaviours for a person to have in such situations is to be a loud-mouthed, arrogant, conceited, egotistical boaster. This will cause them to lose the support of their team or co-workers. Nay! Teach them to be an honest and trustworthy team player. All the institutions in the world will tell you this is what will make you attractive and successful in your career, whatever it might be. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

In conclusion remember the wise words of warning we read in verse 6 of this Surah that says:

وَ مِنَ النَّاسِ مَنۡ یَّشۡتَرِیۡ لَہۡوَ الۡحَدِیۡثِ لِیُضِلَّ عَنۡ سَبِیۡلِ اللّٰہِ بِغَیۡرِ عِلۡمٍ ٭ۖ وَّ یَتَّخِذَہَا ہُزُوًا ؕ اُولٰٓئِکَ لَہُمۡ عَذَابٌ مُّہِیۡنٌ ﴿۶﴾

“And of men is he who takes instead frivolous discourse to lead astray from Allah’s path without knowledge, and to make it a mockery. For such is an abasing chastisement.” (The Holy Quran, 31:6)

Make the youth aware of these influences out there. Encourage them to acquire true knowledge of their Faith and all other relevant aspects of life so that they can stand their own ground and stand up for and defend the TRUTH and not be misled by those who wish to lead astray from the path to success that the Almighty has laid down for us to tread.

So how wonderful are lessons of Luqman Hakim, preserved forever in the Holy Quran for the development of our youth; we can analyze and unpack it more, but we have run over time and can leave it open for further discussion on another day. May Allah, the Almighty guide our parents and protect our youth with light and guidance and empower them with true knowledge and faith. May Almighty Allah ruin the plans of the wrongdoers with failure in a way that they return to His guidance. Ameen.

بَارَکَ اللّٰهُ لَنَا وَلَکُمْ فِي الْقُرْآنِ الْعَظِیْم،  وَنَفَعَنَا وَاِیَّاکُمْ بِالْآیَاتِ وَالذِّکْرِ الْحَکِیْم۔ اِنَّہٗ تَعَالیٰ جَوَادٌ کَرِیْمٌ مَلِکٌ بَرَّ رَوُوفُ رَّحَیْمٌ۔

“Baa-ra-kal laa-hu la-naa wa la-kum fil qur-aa-nil ‘Azeem, wa na-fa-a’-naa wa ee-yaa –kum bil-aa-yaa-ti waz-zik-ril Ha-keem, in-na-hoo ta’-aa-laa Ja-waa- dun Ka-ree-mun Ma-li-kun Bar-rur Ra-oo-fur Ra-heem,”

“May Allah bless us all in the glorious Quran and may He let us benefit by His signs and wise remembrance. Verily Allah the Almighty is Generous, Affectionate, King, Most Kind, Compassionate and Merciful.”

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