1. Complete faith = kindness to family
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Indeed among the believers with the most complete faith is the one who is the best in conduct and the most kind to his family” (Tirmidhi). In Islam, faith and family go hand-in-hand. Our parents have rights upon us, and when we become parents ourselves, our children have rights upon us. There are no shortcuts when it comes to focusing on and raising a righteous family. But there is an essential guide—and like in every other aspect of a Muslim’s life, that guide is the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
2. It is okay to play!
One narration states, “They had gone out with the Prophet (peace be upon him)…and Husain was there playing in the street. The Prophet (peace be upon him) came in front of the people and stretched out his hands, and the child started to run here and there. The Prophet (peace be upon him) made him laugh until he caught him, then he put one hand under his chin and the other on his head and kissed him, and said, ‘Husain is part of me and I am part of him. May Allah love those who love Husain. Husain is a tribe among tribes.’” (Sunan Ibn Majah)
This is a beautiful account of the way the Prophet (peace be upon him) interacted with his grandson, Husain. Playful, fun, and loving are just a few of the heartwarming words that come to mind when reading this narration. Looking to this example of the Prophet (peace be upon him), Muslims too try to treat the children in their lives in a similar way. It is hard to imagine any person not wanting to have this kind of relationship. But for a Muslim, this inherent human experience is one that Islam actually encourages and one that God can reward a person for. Since faith and family go hand-in-hand in Islam, a Muslim must ensure his reputation with his family is solid in order to also have a respected station with the Almighty.
3. Do not be quick to scold.
Anas bin Malik, a young servant who lived in the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) home narrated: “I have never seen anyone more kind to one’s family than Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him)” (Muslim).
While at times, Anas bin Malik may have slipped up in his tasks due to his young age, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would not be quick to scold him. In fact, Anas bin Malik said, “I served the Prophet (peace be upon him) at Medina for ten years. I was a boy. Every work that I did was not according to the desire of my master, but he never said to me: Uff, nor did he say to me: Why did you do this? or Why did you not do this?” (Sunan Abi Dawud).
4. Show your love.
Another account says, “Some Bedouin people came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said: ‘Do you kiss your children?’ He said: ‘Yes.’ [The Bedouin] said: ‘But we, by Allah, never kiss (our children).’ The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘What can I do if Allah has taken away mercy from you?’” (Sunan Ibn Majah).
The Prophet (peace be upon him) was a very loving father and grandfather. He showed affection to children in the community and did not hesitate to make them feel special and loved. This is quite contrary to the men of his time, who thought showing such tenderness towards family and children was not a masculine characteristic. The Bedouin in the above account actually boasts about not kissing children—as they were often seen as mere commodities and acting harsh with them was more in line with “being a man.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) instead highlights that showing mercy and affection to children is indeed the better path to take.
5. Listen to children, and do not dismiss their feelings.
On one occasion, the younger brother of Anas bin Malik, Abu Umayr, lost his pet bird named Nughayr. Upon seeing the child’s distress, the Prophet (peace be upon him) consoled the young boy and asked him about his pet (Bukhari). Here we see the example of the Prophet (peace be upon him) take very considerate action to help a young child, whereas many adults would brush away such a seemingly “trivial” situation. This kind of relationship can build trust, open communication, and validation for the child.