March 22, 2011

Children's Rights: To Be Raised Upon Correct Religious Knowledge

In his work, Essential Rights, Shaykh Muhammad Saleh Al-Uthaymeen details the importance of raising our children upon correct knowledge: 

Children in accordance with Islam are entitled to various and several rights. The first and most famous right is 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 for 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. Allah, the All Mighty stated in the Glorious Qur'an:

"O you who believe! Ward off yourselves and your families against a fire whose fuel is men and stones..." (At-Tahrim: 6).

Allah's Apostle, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, said: "Every one of you is a shepard. And every one is responsible for whatever falls under his responsibility. A man is like a shepard of his own family, and he is responsible for them..." (Bukhari 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 basic essential religious teachings of their children.

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

Allah, the All-Mighty, stated in the Glorious Qur'an: "And those who believe and whose offspring follow them in faith: to them shall We join their offspring, and We shall not decrease the reward of their deeds in anything. Every person is a pledge for that which he has earned," (At-Tur: 21).

Moreover, Allah's Apostle, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, said: "Upon death, man's deeds will definitely stop except for three deeds, namely a continuous charitable fund, endowment, or good will; knowledge left for people to benefit from; and pious, righteous, God-fearing children who continuously pray to Allah, the All Mighty, for the soul of his parents." (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 economic status, etc., have neglected this very important and imposed right of their own children unto them. Such individuals have indeed lost their children as a result of their own negligence. Such parents are so careless about the time that 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, behavior, 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.

To read more from Essential Rights, please visit

March 17, 2011

A Mother's Milk: Benefits of Breastfeeding

I never truly appreciated the natural functions of my body until I became pregnant. Alhamdulilah, my appreciation grew tenfold when I started breastfeeding. In my opinion, Allah, the Most High, has made our breast milk a beautiful and powerful gift. It's combined properties are unlike any other, and it's benefit is so great that many try to imitate but as of yet, all have failed to duplicate. As a believer of "breast is best," I've listed a few of the benefits of breastfeeding below:

Benefits for Baby
1. Optimal Nutrition, the Natural Way
No one can deny that breast milk has the most to offer nutritionally than any other food source out there, at least for the first stages of life. Naturally packed with omega-3s, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids, breast milk contains all the nutrition that an infant needs to help them grow and thrive. Breast milk is also known to naturally adjust as the child's hunger and growth needs change, providing just the right nutrition for that child at every stage. --La Leche League, What Makes Human Milk Special?

2. Helps Protect Against Illness and Disease
Often times, breastfed babies are sick less than formula babies. This is because breast milk contains live cells, antibodies and many antibacterial properties that are known to strengthen a child's immune system to help them naturally fight off infection. "Human milk has been found to contain 90 different oligosaccharides forming over 900 different chemical structures, each of which can block infection by preventing a particular strain of 
bacteria from sticking to the gut wall." -- La Leche League, The Science of Mother's Milk

Benefits for Mommy
1. Naturally Helps Regulate Hormonal Changes
Breastfeeding releases oxytocin which not only gets the body started in releasing milk to the baby, but also stimulates uterine contractions, helping mommy's body return back to pre-pregnancy size. These contractions also prevent postpartum hemorrhages, something that non-breastfeeding moms are at the highest risk for in the first few days after labor. --La Leche League, A Well-Kept Secret: Breastfeeding's Benefits to Mothers 

2. Enhances Bonding and Nurturing
"There is much more to breastfeeding than the provision of optimal nutrition and protection from disease through mother's milk. Breastfeeding provides a unique interaction between mother and child, an automatic, skin-to-skin closeness and nurturing that bottle-feeding mothers have to work to replicate. The child's suckling at the breast produces a special hormonal milieu for the mother. Prolactin, the milk-making hormone, appears to produce a special calmness in mothers." --La Leche League, A Well-Kept Secret: Breastfeeding's Benefits to Mothers 

3. Helps Us Stay In Shape
Making milk is no small task for the body. The process of production alone burns 200-500 calories per day on average. This helps breastfeeding moms not only lose weight, but keep it off, too! --La Leche League, A Well-Kept Secret: Breastfeeding's Benefits to Mothers 

4. Lowers Risk of Anemia and Helps Space Babies
Exclusive breastfeeding, without substituting formula, pacifiers, or other foods during feeding times, helps delay the menstrual cycle, preserving iron in the mother's body and acting as a natural contraceptive for the first six months after baby is born. --La Leche League, A Well-Kept Secret: Breastfeeding's Benefits to Mothers 

Benefits for Society
1. Saves Money
Why spend on bottles, nipples, formula, and warmers? Breast milk is ready for baby every and any time he or she needs it. It's got all the right stuff at just the right temperature for absolutely FREE.

2. Reduces Waste
Talk about being green! "For every three million bottle-fed babies, 450 million empty tins end up in landfills. Few are recycled. Human milk, on the other hand, requires no transportation, only a little more food for the mother, and can stand covered, in a clean cup, for up to six hours without becoming contaminated. This is true even in warm climates. Also, the production of breast milk creates no waste in need of disposing." -- La Leche League, Nursing the World Back to Health

3. Promotes Healthier Families
"Breastfed babies are far healthier than their bottle-fed peers. This is not because there is anything inherently dangerous in formula, only that formula can't possibly replace all the benefits of human milk. Human milk is alive with beneficial bacteria that aid an infant's digestion and help prevent diarrhea (a frequent cause of infant death in developing countries), and with immunoglobulins that protect infants from disease. It is rich with all the nutrients that the human body requires for proper development...In one study, a group of infants fed artificial milk had $68,000 in health care costs in a six-month period, while an equal number of nursing babies had only $4,000 worth. In Brazil, where medical care is not readily available, an artificially fed baby is 14 times more likely to die than an exclusively breastfed baby, and at least four times more likely to die than an infant receiving both mother's milk and artificial milk." -- La Leche League, Nursing the World Back to Health

March 4, 2011

Umm Wanayyan on Raising 14 Children

Umm Wanayyan is a happily unemployed, stay-at-home, American mom of 14. She currently lives in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

So, 14 children, mashaAllah! Have you always wanted to have a large family?
I had no idea when I was a very young woman that I would end up with such a huge family. Before I married I had the usual daydream of domestic bliss. You know the one...married to prince charming, a couple of perfect children, a lovely home. Nowhere did that vision include 14 kids and a home in the desert! A friend once told me that my man mentioned that he wanted 12 kids out of me...I laughed so hard!

What are the ages of all your children and how many of them currently live with you?
My children range in age from 27 years down to three years. There are 10 boys aged 27, 25, 22, 17, 16, 14, 13, 11, seven, and five. I also have a 22-year-old stepson who has lived with us since he was three. The girls are aged 24, 20, eight, and three. But once I get my sons married off, inshaAllah, I'll have 14 daughters! =D I am now patiently waiting for grandchildren!

What do you do to instill a love for Islam in your children?
I haven't really found the need to instill a love for Islam in them as they have all been raised as Muslims and do vociferously defend their religion whenever it is attacked. I do play surat Al-Baqara and Al-Imran every morning to keep the shaytan at a distance and to help them memorize it (albeit unconciously). I also have found that starting a religious discussion with one willing person usually leads to the others joining in as well. This way they don't feel like they're being lectured.

With 14 children to care for, how do you balance your role as a mother with your role as a wife?
Naturally, with so many people clamouring around me for one thing or another, especially the little ones, I really don't have the kind of time for my husband that I used to have. Thankfully, he understands this problem and doesn't ask me to do more than I'm capable of. I do believe that the husband should come first though, and unless a child is seriously in need of me, then I happily drop whatever I'm doing onto one of the older kids and answer the occasional audacious wink.

What has been the most challenging part of raising so many children? What has been the most rewarding part?
The single most challenging thing about being a mother to so many is making them all feel that they are special in their own ways. It means I must listen to them intently when they confide in me and I do encourage them in whatever they are trying to accomplish. I feel the most reward just watching them grow and mature. When I remember their childhood antics I am amazed that these are the same persons, just all grown up. Some of them look like other siblings but, subhanAllah, they are each uniquely individual.

A lot of moms get stressed trying to raise just one child, I can imagine raising 14 would be even more stressful. How do you work through and overcome your stressful times?
Stress is a very real part of any parent's life whether you have one child, six, 10, or an "empty nest." Like they say, "it aint the work, it's the worry!" although the work can be daunting at times! I delegate...a lot. =) My boys do dishes and my girls cook a lot for me on weekends. They all do their own washing and ironing. To unwind I quilt, read, and bead a little too. But, when even these restfull distractions fail, I hide! In the closets, under the beds, outside in the chicken coop.

Over the years, what has been the most important lesson you've learned about being a mom?
Probably the most important lesson I've learned about being a mom is that Allah has given me this particular family because He knows that I can handle it all. "And we burden not any soul with more than he can bear". They are a test of my strength and faith and I will be held accountable for how I dealt with that trust. Also, no matter how difficult any one child may be, there is always something wonderful in him as well. In all things, I must put my trust in Allah (swt)."Verily,with hardship comes ease".

Do you have any advice for other moms who want a large family?
To any moms who want a very large family, it's a lot of work. You spread yourself quite thin and you will be tired at the end of each day, but it's well worth it. I can't imagine life without each one of them. The kind of person you want them to be is the kind of person you yourself must be now. You must provide them with the right example. Be a PROactive parent, even if you're married to a REactive spouse. You must still do whatever you can to make the difference in their upbringing. You are their sheppard.

Any final words of wisdom to share?
Keep your wits about you and a fluid sense of humor. When your two-year-old has dunked your second phone in the loo and the Hershey's syrup is decorating your kitchen floor, remember that this life is short and you aren't taking anything with you but your deeds. So chill and enjoy them while you can. They'll be grown before you know it and you'll be reminiscing about the good ol' days.

May Allah bless us all with large families, grant us the good things in this life and the next and forgive us our sins. Ameen.

March 2, 2011

Sunnah of Childcare: Teaching Tawhid

Post excerpted from Raising Children in Light of the Qur'an and Sunnah

Upon the first indications that a child is beginning to speak, the parents should strive to teach him the statement of tawhid by dictating it to him.

Ibn 'Abbas, radiAllahu anhu, reported that the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said: "Initiate to your children that the first word they pronounce be: laa illaaha illaaAllah. And at the time of their death, incite them to say: laa illaaha illaaAllah." --Al-Bayhaqee

Umm Sulaim, may Allah be pleased with her, would dictate to her son, Anas, saying: "Say: There is no deity that has the right to be worshipped except Allah. Say: I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah." This was before the age of weaning. --Siyar A'laam an-Nubalaa

It should be consistently repeated in front of him. This applies especially to the mother who should do that when playing with him. Then when the child grows up accustomed to it and begins to understand, you should explain to him so that he understands its meaning.

The child should also be taught that Allah is One and that He has no partner. He should be taught that Allah is the Creator, that He is above the heavens, that He ascended over the Throne, that He sees us and knows our state of being, that He hears and sees and that He is Able to do all things.

He should be made accustomed to put his trust in Allah and to know that He is the One who cures and that we are obligated to love Him and worship Him. The father should also teach his son to love the Prophet and obey him. He should relate to him some of his characteristics and manners and inform him that he would love children and play with them as well as other things that their minds can comprehend.

He should repeatedly ask them: "Who is your Lord? Who is your Prophet? What is your Religion? Where is Allah?"

The child should learn to have a love for the Companions and righteous people and he should memorize Surah Al-Fatihah, Surah Al-Ikhlas and the Mu'awadhatain (i.e. Surahs Al-Falaq and An-Naas).