“And we have sent thee not but as a mercy for all peoples”
(The Holy Quran 21:108)
The Holy Prophet (sa) was sent by Allah the Almighty as a mercy to all mankind. Children were no exception. He taught parents to respect their children and to pray for them.
“Respect your children and cultivate (raise, care) in them the best of manners.” (Ibn Mājah)
He taught Muslims to treat their children equally and with justice. At the time of the Holy Prophet (sa) the Arabs would kill their daughters, sometimes burying them alive at birth because they thought they were a source of disgrace. This was because women at that time had no rights and were treated as if they were nothing more than slaves. The Holy Prophet (sa) abolished this cruel custom and gave women rights of inheritance which was unheard of.
“Anyone who has a daughter, does not bury her alive, does not humiliate her or give preference to the son over her, God Almighty will enter him in paradise.” This clearly shows how the Holy Prophet (sa) laid great value upon girls.
Regarding orphans, the Holy Prophet (sa) instructed his followers to look after the needs of orphans. He is reported to have said,
“Anyone who looks after the needs of an orphan and brings him or her up in the best possible manner, will be together in heaven like two fingers of a hand”.
TRAINING CHILDREN WITH KINDNESS
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) set excellent examples for training children. Huzoor (sa) trained them in such a way so they would flourish in God’s love as this would make them independent of everything except God. He always trained them with love and by offering prayers for them. He used to pray for them in the words, “O Allah, I love these children, so You love them too.”
He showed extreme consideration towards mothers and young children and would even shorten his prayer if he heard a child cry.
KEEP YOUR PROMISES
Once the Holy Prophet (saw) went to the house of one of his Companions. The woman of the house called her son, who was playing outside, in order to present him before the Holy Prophet (sa) to seek his blessings. She said ‘Come here, I will give you something to eat.’ (in order for her child to come and listen to her.) The Holy Prophet (saw) enquired, ‘what are you promising to give him?’ She replied, ‘A dried date.’ The Holy Prophet (sa) remarked, ‘If you promise something to a child and you do not keep your promise, you commit the same sin as the one who tells a lie.” This teaches how important it is for parents to always keep their promises to children as they’ll also do so in future.
AFFECTION FOR HIS OWN CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN
Hazrat Anas bin Malik(ra) said that he had not seen anyone more loving and affectionate towards children than the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) Once Huzoor (saw) was kissing his children with love, a Bedouin chief was watching and remarked on this saying, “I have ten children but I have never kissed them.” The Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) said with sadness, “If God has deprived your heart of love, there is nothing I can do about that.”
It is related that very often when he was riding a horse or a camel, he would carry his grandson on the horse either on his back or his front and sometimes upon his shoulders. Very often the Companions of the Holy Prophet (sa) would see Hasan, his grandson, seated on his right thigh while Usama, the son of his freed slave Hazrat Zaid (ra), seated on his left thigh. He would embrace both of them lovingly and pray, ‘O Lord! Shower Thy Mercy and Grace, on both of them.’
Hazrat Abu Qatadah (ra) relates that once “We were waiting for Salat. The Holy Prophet (sa) appeared with his granddaughter, Umama on his shoulder. Umama stayed on Huzoor’s (sa) shoulder. He started the Salat and we followed him. When Huzoor (sa) prostrated, he put Umama down and when he stood, he carried her again.
Hazrat Ya‘la ‘Amari (ra) relates, “I was accompanying the Holy Prophet (sa) to a feast, when we saw young Husain who was the Holy Prophet’s grandson, playing with other children. Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) engaged in playing with him and tried to catch him. Husain started to run around. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) made him laugh and in the end caught him. He then placed his one hand at the back of his head the other hand under his chin and by bringing his face near to his own, started to kiss him. He said, “Husain is from me and I am from Husain whosoever loves Husain, Allah will love him. Husain is our progeny.”
LOVE FOR THE CHILDREN OF COMPANIONS
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) when visiting the homes of the Ansar, would caress their children and pray for them. When a child was born he would give them a bit of a date as blessing.
Hazrat ‘Abdullah bin Harithra (ra) relates; “The Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) used to make Hazrat ‘Abbas’s (ra) children, ‘Abdullah and ‘Ubaidullah and other children stand in a row and would tell them to race towards him. He told them that whoever raced to him first would get a reward. The children would race towards him and if one climbed up on his back the other would be riding on his chest. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) would kiss them and embrace them.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) used to say humorous things to children and kept them close to himself. Once he visited his attendant, Anas’s house. He enquired from his younger brother as to why he was so sad. Huzoor (sa) was told that his pet starling had died. Later on whenever Huzoor (sa) visited his house, he would lovingly tease him saying, “O Abu ‘Umair, tell me about your starling.” Imagine how the child must have enjoyed talking about his pet with the holy Prophet (sa) by feeling the importance that was given to him.
Children loved his company. Seeing him in the street the children would come to him jumping with joy. He would pick them up one by one, cuddle them, kiss them and pray for them. Sometimes it so happened that a mother handed him over her baby to seek his blessing. Once while he was holding a baby in his arms, the baby wetted. The Holy Prophet (sa) did not mind. Instead he immediately got his clothes washed.
Hazrat Abu Hurairah (ra) relates, “Whenever a new fruit of the season was brought to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) he would pray for blessings from the fruit and would then offer the fruit to the youngest child present in that gathering.
LOVE FOR THE CHILDREN OF MARTYRS.
Hazrat Ja‘far (ra) was martyred in the battle of Mu’tah. His wife Asma relates, “The Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) visited our house and asked for our children to be brought to him. He embraced them and cuddled them. His eyes were brimming with tears. Asma enquired ‘Why are you crying. Is there any news about Ja‘far’? He replied, “Yes, he has been martyred in the way of Allah”.
Huzoor (sa) particularly had felt great love and concern for orphans. This shows how much the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) cared and loved children. He was a model for mankind in order that we follow his actions by cherishing all children whether they be their own or not.
Allah humma Salle Ala Muhammadin wa Aalay Muhammad