SHAFAQNA- Islam Today : Dr Shomali’s address to the 4th Peace & Unity Conference hosted by the Ahl Al-Bait Society Scotland.
Children’s right is a very important topic and I thought perhaps my contribution might be more useful if I explained the significance of children from the Islamic perspective. To be able to understand exactly the contribution of Islam in this matter, it would be important for me to explain the condition of children before the advent of Islam.
Arab society in the Arabian Peninsula, just before the coming of Islam lacked humanity. It was a society suffering from ignorance and darkness and perhaps those who suffered most were children. Children did not receive sufficient attention and mercy, especially girls. The Qur’an clearly blames and condemns the people for burying their daughters alive.
The Qur’an says of those who received news of the birth of a girl: “His face would become dark with anger and say, what shall I do with this shame?” Of course, there is a history of this that goes back to the past, when tribes attacked each other and women were taken as hostages. Because of this, they developed this attitude towards females. But Islam brought respect for children, especially for girls. Our Prophet(PBUH) used to show the maximum respect for children, especially girls. I would like to mention a few examples from the life of the Prophet (PBUH) and then make a comment which I think is relevant for today.
One anecdote which is very beautiful demonstrates how our Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) used to show his love for his children and grandchildren. He often kissed his grandchildren, something seen as a sign of weakness in the society of the time. A man was expected to keep his feelings inside. Once someone was surprised that the Messenger of God (PBUH) kissed his grandchildren and told him: “I never kiss my children”. The Prophet (PBUH) replied: “If you don’t show mercy, you will not receive mercy.” One has to show mercy to children so God shows His Mercy to you.
In another anecdote that may have happened more than once, when the Prophet prostrated in prayers sometimes his grandsons, Hasan (AS) and Hussain (AS), climbed on the back of the Prophet (PBUH) and he would take his time to come out of prostration, even if in congregational prayer when many people would pray behind him. The Prophet (PBUH) had so much love for his grandchildren that he would prolong his prostration so that they could finish playing and come down from his back. Only then he would stand up.
Once when the Prophet (PBUH) was about to start the prayer, – as you know we start our prayers with the pronunciation of Allahu Akbar (God is the Greatest), Imam Hussain (AS) could not pronounce Allahu Akbar properly. On that occasion, God ordered the Prophet (PBUH) to repeat the words. He repeated the words seven times until the young child could also pronounce it properly.
Showing respect and love towards children is the essence of religion and humanity. We have a beautiful hadith (narration) from the Prophet(s) which I believe can summarise many things he said: “Love children as much as you can, you should love and have affection for the children”.
Rahma (kindness) is to give love to children without expectation; expecting something in return is not kindness.
The Prophet (PBUH) also said; “if you promise something to children you have to keep your promise.” Sometimes people might promise something to children to keep them happy but later on, they cannot keep their promise, this is not right. The Prophet said: “Your children look at you as their sustainer as if you are the world.” So whether it is our children or any other children we should look at them as if we were responsible for them because they look at us as their protectors and sustainers. One of the worst things that could happen is when an innocent child has put his or her trust in us adults, and we mistreat them or abuse them. Our seventh Imam Musa al Kazem(AS) says: “God never gets angry as much as when women or children get abused.” So when children are abused God is most unhappy with us.
We have to work together to spread the message of protecting all the children of the world who are both innocent and a gift of God. According to the Islamic tradition all babies, even those miscarried, go to heaven. We have a saying that when God tells a miscarried baby to go to heaven he/she replies: I won’t go to heaven unless my parents join me.
I would like to share an idea with you. When we buy a computer or a mobile we are advised that if we want a long-lasting battery we need to charge it fully, we have to do the same thing with children. We have to give our children as much love, peace and tranquility as we can, so that later on in our lives we don’t have any difficulties. Children who receive love from their parents, in the school or from the community will lead a more stable life and will not wish bad for other people. I am sure many of the adults who do criminal acts had a difficult childhood devoid of love and warmth.
We have to make sure that we give unconditional love and mercy to children so that throughout their lives they keep beautiful memories of their childhood and get positive energy. Whenever they have a problem they can draw on the light and hope in their childhood to empower themselves. So let’s work together to give as much love and tranquility to the children to make this world a better place for them regardless of their ethnicity, faith or race.