SOURCE: The Magazine of Islamic Herald, Vol: 35
The Role of Children
Children are an important part of society simply because the children of today will become the adults of tomorrow. In Islam, children are considered a trust, given by ALLAH to their parents, to be brought up in such a way as to be righteous servants of God and in return, the child shall be dutiful to their parents.
ALLAH SWT says: “O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stem (and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the Commands they receive from ALLAH, but do that which they are commanded.” (Surah At-Tahrim, 66: 6)
ALLAH SWT says: “And We have enjoined on man to be dutiful and kind to his parents. His mother bears him with hardship and she brings him forth with hardship, and the bearing of him, and the weaning of him is thirty (30) months, till when he attains full strength and reaches forty years, he says: “My Lord! Grant me the power and ability that I may do righteous good-deeds, such as please You, and make my offspring good. Truly, I have turned to You in repentance, and truly, I am one of the Muslims (submitting to Your Will).” (Surah Al-Ahqaf, 46:15)
Morale Decadence Prior to Islam
The Quran itself was revealed during a time and place where ignorance was strife and corruption was widespread. Women were oppressed prior to Islam, and children (female infants) were killed. Islam prohibited the killing of innocent people and children.
ALLAH SWT says: “And when the female (infant) buried alive (as the pagan Arabs used to do) shall be questioned. For what sin she was killed?” (Surah At-Takwir, 81: 8-9)
The Collapse of Moral Values in Ancient Civilizations
In the Quran, there are many stories of previous nations destroyed by ALLAH SWT when they refused to believe in the Prophets and the message of warnings that the Prophets conveyed. One such story which is retold in different parts of the Quran is the fate of the powerful Firaun (Pharoah), rule of ancient Egypt, and how Prophet Musa AS called on Firaun, as Messenger of ALLAH, to stop corruption and oppression of his people, which included the killing of male infants.
In the end, ALLAH SWT made Firaun die as a non-believer, even as he admitted to believing in ALLAH SWT moments prior to drowning, it was no longer accepted.
ALLAH SWT says: “We recite to you some of the news of Musa and Firaun in truth, for a people who believe (those who believe in this Quran, and in the Oneness of ALLAH). Verily, Firaun exalted himself in the land and made its people sects, weakening (oppressing) a group (I.e Children of Israil) among them, killing their sons, and letting their females live. Verily, he was of the Mufsidun (i.e those who commit greats sins and crimes, oppressors, tyrants, etc.)” (Surah Al-Qasas, 28: 3-4)
ALLAH SWT says: “And We took the Children of Israil across the sea, and Firaun with his hosts followed them in oppression and enmity, till when drowning overtook him, he said: “I believe that La ilaha illa (Huwa) (none has the right to be worshipped but) (He), in Whom the children of Israil believe, and I am one of the Muslims (those who submit to ALLAH’s Will). Now (you believe) while you refused to believe before and you were one of the Mufsidun (evildoers, corrupts, etc).” (Surah Yunus, 10: 90)
The Physical Needs of a Child
Raising a child is not an easy task. Often, it requires more than one adult, and the support of the local community and extended family. The basic physical needs of a growing child include a home, food, clothing, access to clean water and healthcare. These needs have financial costs and hence, while Islam does not forbid poor people from getting married and procreating, the Quran does advice those who cannot afford to mary, to abstain.
ALLAH SWT says: “And marry those among you who are single (I.e a man who has no wife and the woman who has no husband) and (also marry) the Salihun (pious, fit, and capable ones) of your (male) slaves and maidservants (female slaves). If they be poor, ALLAH will enrich them out of His Bounty. And ALLAH is All-Sufficient for His creatures needs, All-Knowing (about the state of the people).
And let those who find not the financial means for marriage keep themselves chaste, until ALLAH enriches them of his Bounty. And such of your slaves as seek a writing (of emancipation), give them such writing, if you know that they are good and trustworthy. And give them something yourselves out of the wealth of ALLAH which He has bestowed upon you. And force not your maids to prostitution. If they desire chastity, in order that you may make a gain the (perishable) goods of this worldly life. But if anyone compels them (to prostitution), then after such compulsion, ALLAH is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful (to those women I.e He will forgive them because they have been forced to do this evil action unwillingly)” (Surah An-Nur, 24: 32-33)
The Role of the Community to Help Eradicate Poverty amongst Children
It is sad to contemplate that despite the fact the world produces sufficient resources, there are many children who still lack the necessities, even simple things like access to clean water, enough food, and safe housing. These conditions can exist or are made worse by the presence of war and armed conflict.
The nature of children being dependent on others, usually the parents, for all their needs, makes children a vulnerable group. Thus, if the parents fail to provide, other adults including the government, must intervene for the sake of the children.
ALLAH SWT says: “And give to the kindred his due and to the Miskin (poor) and to the wayfarer. But spend not wastefully (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift.” (Surah Al-Isra’, 17 : 26)
ALLAH SWT says: “They ask you (O Muhammad SAW) what they should spend. Say: “Whatever you spend of good must be for parents and kindred and orphans and Al-Masakin (the poor) and the wayfarers, and whatever you do of good deeds, truly, ALLAH knows it well.” (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2: 215)
The Emotional, Mental and Spiritual Needs of a Child
The child however is more than just a physical being. To grow into a responsible adult, a child also needs love, attention, support, kindness, patience, and guidance, as they grow from an infant, to toddler, to preschool and school-going child, and later develop into a teenager and young adult who pursues a university degree. In the present time that we live in, education, both religious and secular, are considered basic needs for every child.
The current economic situation in Malaysia and many parts of the world require both parents to work to support a family, and hence children are ‘left on their own’ to learn about the world without parental guidance and support, and this is believed to contribute to the decline in moral values.
Patience in Parenting
The Quran illustrates the use of patience in parenting when the father of Prophet Yusuf AS. Prophet Ya’cob AS is told of Yusuf’s disappearance by his other children. The Father did not react with anger or decide to punish the children for what had happened.
ALLAH SWT says: “They said: “O our father! We went racing with one another, and left Yusuf by our belongings and a wolf devoured him; but you will never believe us even when we speak the truth. And they brought his shirt stained with false blood. He said: “Nay, but your own-selves have made up a tale. So (for me) patience is most fitting. And it is ALLAH (Alone) Whose help can be sought against that which you assert.” (Surah Yusuf, 12: 17-18)
The Abuse of Children
The whole nation was shocked when the death of a nine-year-old girl, Nur Aina Nabihah, made headlines in January earlier this year. The deceased was believed to have been physically abused by he own father and step mother. She was found unconscious in her own home and rushed to the emergency department, only to be pronounced dead after doctors failed to resuscitate her. Her father, who is a military officer, admitted to hitting her with a plastic chair and belt, biting her and even forcing her to do 500 push-ups. Clearly, Islam does not advocate such harsh and abusive measures even for disciplining a child.
The Impact of Child Abuse and Neglect
Children who are abused, physically, sexually, emotionally, or are neglected, suffer long term effects, not just on their physical and mental health but also on their behaviour. They are more likely to smoke cigarettes, abuse alcohol, and use illicit drugs, plus engage in high risk sexual behaviour.
Abused and neglected children are more prone to be a juvenile delinquent, have teenage pregnancy, and poor academic performance. As an adult, these children will be more likely to become involved in crime and violent crime.
Hence, children who are not loved by their parents and raised the right way, or who suffer abuse, are at increased risk of being involved in immoral activities, perpetuating, and worsening the decline in moral values.
Writer by: Ass. Prof Dr Mazlyn Mustapha, Internal Medicine Lecturer, Lincoln University College