What effect does the environment have on the Islamic upbringing of Muslim children?
It is the right of the children that they have a positive environment, a good environment, meaning the home, the household should be an Islamic household. It’s not an Islamic household simply because we have on the wall 'Ayatul Kursi', you know people can buy 'Ayatul Kursi' in bookstore whatever and nicely framed, written in gold letters, we put it on the wall, so now we have an Islamic household. 'No' this is not what makes an Islamic household, what goes on inside of that household is what determines whether it is Islamic or not.
So we should have all of the necessary things in the home which show the child in the home environment, an Islamic example. This is going back also to the example of the parents, example in the environment which they live. So parents should maintain a peaceful environment in the home. The home should be peaceful. It should be free of conflict. I mean, of course between husband and wife there is going to be some conflict but it should be done behind closed doors quietly. Of course it could be behind closed doors banging and smashing, 'no' 'no', quietly, the children don't know what's going on. Okay you could say this is kind of hypocrisy, it’s better to see who we really are, 'no' it’s not better, sometimes it’s not better. Sometimes 'yes' it is better to know the reality of things and sometimes it’s not because they will not understand, they will not be able to interpret that. So we try to keep some of those conflicts etc., behind closed doors.
Children shouldn't see their mother acting in a disobedient fashion to their father, similarly they shouldn't see the father insulting the mother. This is a negative home environment for the children and also parents should be consistent in dealing with the children. It shouldn't be that mother says this and then you could run to dad and dad will say that. So you know whenever mother is too harsh you'll go to dad and whenever dad is too harsh, you'll go to mom. Because the kids they quickly learn this and they play off one against the other. They become experts at it. So it is important that there is consistency that the child asks you something, you don’t know what your wife has said to them, so you ask them what did your mom say, ohh, she said...wait let me check with your mom first. Go back and check with mom. Same thing with mom checking with father. What did father actually say or what does father think on this matter. So you come up to a unified position on particular issues.
The home as I said as an environment, we should hear Qur'an reading in the home. The media, the various issues of media in the home should be Islamic. We should also invite to the home religious people. So we create a religious environment in our home. Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) has said that only the righteous should eat your food, meaning that those people whom you invite to home to eat along with you and your family etc., they should be righteous people. So they are part of the environment of the home. They are part of what makes a home Islamic.
Also the home should be free of unIslamic magazines, books etc. And we should also teach the children how to deal with people who do what we told them not to do. We ourselves try to avoid these things, so we tell them don't do it, so we don't do it and they don’t do it but they are going to see people who do it. So what do we do? Of course, we have to let them know it’s wrong, we can't tell them it’s okay for them but it’s not okay for us. 'No' it’s wrong but of course the children, they have to be taught a certain amount of diplomacy because with children, once you tell them this is wrong, they are quick to run up to that person and say, hey, why are you doing this? You shouldn't be doing this and it can get embarrassing sometimes. But the bottom line is that they need to know it’s wrong and even if they embarrass you sometimes it’s better that than you creating this kind of vague understanding about right and wrong in these matters.
As I said we should create a good environment for the children. This is the sixth habit. That involves the home as we spoke about as well as what is outside the home. So when we are choosing schools we should try to put our children in Islamic schools, even if the Islamic school maybe of a lower academic standard than the regular government school or the private school. It may be a higher standard producing specialists on another level and we would like our children to have these specializations, but what is more important is their Islamic upbringing, so it is better to put our children in Islamic schools of inferior academics than to put them in non-Muslim schools of superior academics. That’s the bottom line. But you may say, we have to survive in this world, you know, this is a world which gives favor to those who are superior academically. Well, we don't know the future and it is with Allah and our duty is to give them the best we can while we can. So we choose the Islamic school and of course, we should strive to upgrade those Islamic schools, I'm not saying just leave the school as it is, we see their academics low, what do we do? We just say okay, 'Masha' Allah'. No' we should tell them and advice them. It is our duty to tell them, listen, why should our Islamic schools be of inferior academics? They shouldn't be. In some countries in the Muslim world and in the non-Muslim world where there are Muslim schools, these Muslim schools are at the top. They compete with the top private schools, the top institutions in the country. Their students win the top prizes. It can be, so it’s not a must that Islamic schools have to be of inferior academics. But I'm just saying if that’s what is in front of us, then we know we have to make the right choice to create the right environment for our children.< Back to Questions