Islamic Upbringing

Shz Dr. Yusuf Bhaisaheb Najmuddin


Islam enables a full development of the human personality. The fundamental beliefs of Islam, its devotional practices, its religious injunctions and its ethical and behavioural principles are all designed to bring out to the point of fruition the physical, mental, intellectual and spiritual capacities and abilities of both the individual as well as the community, at one and the same time. This is postulated on the ground that Islam is a perfect religion and Allah has completed his favour in it. Islam has the unique distinction of being divinely religion, incorporating a celestial system through which the affairs of the individual as well as of the society may be well and properly ordered and this too, in relation to life in this world as well as the next. Islam encompasses the entirety of guidance needed and claims for itself the elevation of an individual, a community and the world as a whole. It is crucial that we know for certain and be seriously concerned of the attempts in the past and present to belittle the beauties of Islam. The insidious purpose was to deny to Islam its concept of comprehensive upbringing, with the stipulation, that human life is to be viewed as two distinct and clear cut phases, namely, life in this world and life in the next world. A very strong attempt was made to give root to this division of thought and the proposition was stated that and Islamic Education was necessary only for securing the life in the hereafter. In so far as life in this world concerned a separate set of principles and upbringing were required, accepted and enforced. In this way difficulties arose and chaos and confusion were created. There are religions and faiths which were for some particular community or tribe. Distinctions were imposed betwen the affairs of this world and the affairs of the world hereafter. But Islam gave a universal message which was all comprehensive and related to man’s activities to earn his bread and attain spiritual fulfillment. Thus, Islam included as its beneficiaries, the whole of the mankind, making no difference betwen one community and the other. It came for the individual and the nation, of every place and time. All were invited to enter the fold of Islam. A heavenly pulsating call invites mankind, eternally to seek light from the presence of the merciful and the beneficient. In the case of a system of organisation of individual and community life which is not divine in origin, whether it covers economics, religion, or ethics, it can satisfy the yearnings of the world, however perfect such as system maybe. On the other hand such a system can never help in ordering the life hereafter. For, it will not be able to meet the higher yearnings and needs of man, for instance, the need thus becomes distinguished from the other religions. This is borne out by the saying of the messenger of Allah who said that man was born in the nature of Islam and his parents made him a Jew, Christian or a Majusi. Thus Islam came to be known as a religion of nature. It is in consonance with the natural law that governs man from birth till his death. If this principles are applied correctly and successfully man will be transformed from the animal status to that of being Allah’s Vicegerent on Earth.

The Islamic Concept of Man

Be it what it may, it is only man who is endowed with the capacity which makes him worthy of that special upbringing. In that way man’s development is achieved and his quality and condition made lofty, just as his physical development is enhanced thru nutrition. We raised the pertinent question, such a man, what is his worth to Islam and what is his position in the entirety of creation?

The Quran provides two different images of man. One image is from the point of view of man being Allah’s Khalifa on his earth, one to whom Allah taught all the names, that is to say equipped him with a knowledge of all things in existence and made the holy angels prostrate before man. This Al Quran records in the following words : “And when the Lord said to the angels I will create a vicegerent on earth, they said will thou place therein one who will cause mischief and shed blood, whilst we sing thy praises and glorify thy holy name. He said I know that you know not and he taught Adam all the names. Tell me all the names if you are but true. They said Glory to thee, of knowledge we have none save what thou has taught. In truth it is thou who are perfect in knowledge and wisdom. He said Oh! Adam tell them all the names. When this was done Allah said Did I not tell you, that I know the secrets of the heavens and the earth and I know what you reveal and what you conceal. And lo we said to the angels bow down to Adam and they bowed except Iblis. He refused and was haughty. He was of those who rejected faith.” (Surah Baqarah, verses 30-34)

Read and interpreted in the light of the Quran man is created in the best of moulds (Surah Teen Verse 4). It is for man and his kind that Allah subjected all things on earth and the heaven and completed His bounty, both seen and unseen (Surah Luqman Verse 20).Man is also created on Allah’s pattern which is really his original from and the from of perfection in everything.

Says Allah “so set thou thy face steadily and truly to the faith. Allah’s handiwork according to the pattern on which he has made mankind. Let there be no change. By Allah that is the standard religion” (Surah Raum Verse 30)

But the Quran also gives the other point of view and says that man is unjust and ungrateful (Ibrahim 34) open disputer (Nahl 4) most ungrateful (Israa 17) niggardly (Israa 100) contentious in most things (Kahf 54) most impatient (Me’raj 19) born to strive and struggle (balad 4) turned into the lowest of low (teen 5) indeed man is at a loss (Asr 2 )

This presentation of the nature of man in two contrary lights is not an act of inconsistency in the teaching of the Quran. Rather, it is an excellent statement giving a clear conception and description of two diametrically opposed states in the personality of man. The first state is that which enables him to reach his original status, the one for which he should yearn –

The second is that in which he now finds himself on account of his actions and conduct over a long period of existence. Between the two states of man and the discord and tension that they give rise to, lies the secret of his misery and misfortune and his temptations. Al Quran therefore holds that man is in urgent utmost need of the divine help. He needs assistance so that he may march forward and attain the ultimate of eternal happy life.

Principles of Islamic Upbringing

Allah created man a Muslim. That fact constitutes the fundamental meaningful principle and the spiritual foundation for man’s Islamic up-bringing. Allah made the education and up-bringing of the creation His concern. Al-Quran utilizes the words, Rab and Rehman. These are followed by the word,Allah, connoting His grandeur and splendour and giving manifestation to His signs and functions and attributes. That connotation and manifestation are of vital importance to the up-bringing of man according to spiritual principles and in a meaningful manner based on Islam.

From the “Rububiyat” flows the concept of upbringing and it is the first thing that is revealed in Al Quran. The word ‘Rab’ is the most used name of all divine names next to the word ‘Allah’. The name of Al Rab finds mention 969 times in Al Quran and the name Allah is mentioned 980 times, a difference of 11. The function of divine upbringing , its range and its sphere includes everything, from the beginning of every creation upto its end.

In relation to man, the concern is of his creation, and the prefection of his creation.It is achieved by knowledge,up-bringing and guidance. The most important words relevant in this context are the ones first revealed to the Prophet.

Says Allah “Read: In the name of thy Lord and Cherisher Who created, created man out of a clot of congealed blood.Proclaim! and thy Lord is most bountiful. He who taught you by the pen.”

These verses clearly state that divinity is manifest in two spheres; one is related to the personality of man, and the other to the perfection of that personality, both at one and the same time.

Allah says “Read in the name of thy Lord Who created out of a mere clot of congealed blood.” This is the handiwork of divinity in the sphere of the existence of man. “Read and thy Lord is most bountiful. He taught by the pen. He taught man that which he knew not.” This is the work of divinity in the sphere of perfection during the existence of man. Indeed the word “read” that sounded in the ears of the prophet the very first time he received the divine-revelation is also the basis of knowledge at the human level.

The foundation of education whether religious or otherwise is through the pen, whether the divine pen or mortal pen and the continuation of the exercise of reading. Perfection is reached in this way, beginning with simple terms and reading to an all comprehensive knowledge.

Al Quran in another ayah refers to the same divine functions. Using the name “Al Rahman” it speaks of the creation of man, his education and upbringing. The name AL-RAHMAN is mentioned 57 times in Al Quran. The same function which is attributed to the name of Al Rab is also attributed to the Divine name ‘Al Rahman’ in the first four verses of surah Al Rahman. Mercy is a necessary virtue in every work undertaken for human kind. If mercy is lacking from the foundation of education and its sure setup, than human civilisation will loose the basis of progress.

The Messenger and His Educative Efforts : Both for the Individual and for the Society

The Prophet fulfilled basic functions as educator of the individual and society, for those who choose to tread the path of his guidance and accept him voluntarily. These functions to which we refer constitutes the padagogical work of the Prophet. As the preliminary it behoves us to consider those verses of Al Quran which delineate the course of the Prophet’s civilisation and its auspicious and practical impact upon the Islamic nations, throughout the ages and succeeding generations. A similar (favour have ye already received) in that “We have sent among you an Apostle of your own, rehearsing to you our signs and sanctifying you and instructing you in scripture and wisdom and in new knowledge.” (Al Baqara V.151)

Our Lord! send amongst them an apostle of their own who shall rehearse Thy signs to them and instructing you in scripture and wisdom and sanctify them for thou art the Exalted in Might The Wise” (Al Baqara V.129)

Allah did confer a great favour on the believers, when he sent among them an apostle from among themselves,rehearsing unto them the signs of Allah, sanctifying them and instructing them in Scripture and Wisdom, while before them , they had been in manifest error.” (Ale Imran V.165)

Now hath come unto you an apostle from amongst yourselves; it grieves him that you should perish; ardently anxious is he over you; to the believers he is most kind and merciful. But if they turn away, say “Allah sufficieth me, there is no god but he, on Him is my trust, He the Lord of the Throne (of Glory) Supreme!” (Tauba V> 128 -129)

And thus have We, by Our Command, sent inspiration to thee; thou knowest not before what was revelation, and what was faith but We have made the Quran a light wherewith We guide such of or servants as We will; and verily thou dost guide (man) to the straight way – The way of Allah to whom belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. Behold (how) all affairs tends towards Allah.” (Shura V.52-53)

It is He who has sent amongst the unlettered ones an apostle among themselves to recite to them His signs to sanctify them and to instruct them in scipture and wisdom – although they had been before in manifest error.” (Al Jumoa V.1-2)

Of their goods, take alms, that so through mightest Purify and sanctify them and pray on their behalf. Verily their prayers are a source of security for them.” (Tauba V.103)

These wise noble verses make manifest to us, the work of the messenger, that of saving and delivering hearts of Muslims and of believing societies i.e. Recitation of Allah’s verses day and night, Sanctifing hearts and minds, purifying the bodies, intelligence and souls, teaching the scripture and wisdom, guiding them on the straight path, praying for muslims and mumineen, as the prayer brings peace to their hearts and comforts to their minds. That is, education in its most imposing quality and that is culture in its highest form.

Islamic Beliefs and Religious Rites Instrumental to Effective Pedagogy

The totality of Islamic beliefs, right from the belief in Allah, His angels, His scriptures, His Messengers and the Last Day and faith in new fate and divine decree, all together aim at developing the human personality, educating it, and setting it up on a sound religious and metaphysical foundation. The same is the purpose of devotional practices of Islam. The religious rites are purity, Prayers, Fasting, Giving of Zakat and performing Pilgrimage and fighting in the way of Allah at the mental level, both of an individual as well as a society. We will apply ourselves at this state to the mention of a few examples in the sphere of belief and in the sphere of religious rites.

The faith in Allah, is not based only idea of the lofty, the High, Divine Unity. Rather it is precisely, the ground work of Tawheed. This principal demands of its followers, and requires of him that his whole life in all the fields, be a living proof of Divine Unity its splendour and its greatness.The belief in Tawheed is not manifested by a muslim believer by a mere verbal assertion of the existence of Allah,His unity and prefection. The belief in unity of God is the basic source of all human activity and a spring from which gush forth all the lively activities,in the various spheres of life .

In the sphere of religious rites and ceremonies and devotional practices,we see,that the master has laid down a perfect curriculum for the education of the individual and education of the Islamic nation.This curriculum includes physical and mental , as well as spiritual aspects, all reacting at one and the same time. Purity is one of the important religious devotional rites . The prayer dose not hold good except with prior ablution. Prayer is to be repeated a fixed number of times each day. It is practical means for achieving purity .Prayer is to be offered five times a day at the appointed times . It is tantamount to finding lofty, spiritual moments in which believer meets Allah , transcending the pressures of life , the turn of events and of perpetual errors. The devotee seeks from Allah, for guidance rectitude,help and righteousness, in all fields of his worldly activity. In the same way is the obligation to fast for one month in the year. It is a practical exercise for 1 month for restraining cravings and the passions. This though a practical exercise leads to the upliftment of body and soul.

This way, through all devotional practices and religious rites,the master of the religious code intented to make the Islamic nation, its individuals and societies a model for human society; its members livng like good citizens and perfect human beings in consonance with human nature. Nay, the Master of the Shariah definitely wanted all individuals of the Islamic nation to become divine using what Allah has given them out of His wisdom and His light and guidance. In this way was to be sustantiated His revelation “Be ye worshippers of Him who is truly the cherisher of all, For ye have taught The Book and ye have studied it earnestly.”

Holy prophet says, “He who completes the ablutions, fully offers prayers, gives zakat out of his wealth, restrains his anger, keeps his tongue in check, gives out of his possessions, seeks pardon of his Lord, and bears goodwill for my descendents, such a person has fulfilled the obligation of Iman and for him the doors of paradise are open.”

It must be noted that all the tenets of Shariah, whether they relate to gaining eternal life in the hereafter, constitute in the view of Din-e-Islam, worship. At the same time they are canons to regulate the life of man in his society so that Allah may give him a pure and happy life.

Centres of Islamic Up-Bringing

The centres of learning and upbringing are those wherein abilities and virtues could develop, be enriched and blossom. Its fruits are shared by both the individual and society. For ability and virtue to flourish, merely principles will be inadequate .One also needs a proper atmosphere – an atmosphere which is disciplined and intellectual. These centres are broadly four in number namely; “the home, the masjid, the madrasa and the life of a muslim in the whole gambit of society and its activity.”

Each of these four centres has a special function in relation to man’s up-bringing and has its own special effect .Each of the four centres are linked to one another.Even if such a link is missing, it should be forged and sustained. The role of the Masjid is of special character, for it is the root of spiritual as well as the social wellbeing of mankind.

Among all these centres naturally, the home is of primary concern.It is there that life begins and where the personality is first shaped. This has been going on for ages. Islam holds family life at a very high level of importance. In fact, it considers family as a miracle. Allah, in regard to this says in the Quran –

And among his signs is this that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may dwell in tranquility with them and He has put love and mercy between your hearts; verily in that are signs for those who reflect” (Surah Rum, V21)

Bearing in mind that Islam gives great importance to family life and that the home is the first school of learning for a child and that in the centres of learning it occupies a prominent position, even though the Masjid holds the first place,we intend to first discuss upbringing on the basis of the home and the family-

The home is one over which a Muslim has complete control and authority. It behoves every Muslim wherever he may be living, whether it be a Muslim or non-Muslim country, to manage the home and family life in accordance with the requirements laid down by Islam. A Madrassa or a Society in which a Muslim has to receve education may not be based on Muslim concepts, yet upbringing in the home on Muslim concepts will enable the person to protect himself from the effects of the atmosphere prevailing in a non-Muslim Madrassa or Society. A family upbringing based on Islam will reward the individual with bounty in this world and thereafter, just as much as it will prove a boon to society and the State.

Imam Jafar-us-Sadiq (S.A.) says that a Muslim who correctly provides for the upbringing of his family and provides for their learning and good manners, will take all of them to paradise, be they young or old, his servants or his neighbours. A person who is sinful will impart to his family bad manners and will lead them all on the road to Hell.

Accordingly, it is incumbent upon Muslims parents, who will be questioned by the Creator, by society and by the world at large, to prepare themselves to discharge this onerous responsibility and to immediately attend to it, so that upbringing can be made Islamic, benefitting themselves and society at large .

Upbringing of Child in the Islamic Family

I shall now deal with some important aspects relating to Islamic upbringing. The upbringing of the child in an Islamic family must be comprehensive and complete. It should cover the physical, the emotional, the spiritual, the social, the moral and the intellectual aspects of man. The injunctions of Islam rule over all these aspects.

As far as the bodily upbringing is concerned there are two aspects, namely; development of the body and prevention from harm to the body. For physical well-being proper nourishment is essential. A weak child is prone to illness. An under fed child may in adult life suffer because of deficiency. The lack of proper nourishment will turn affect the spiritual and intellectual capacity of the child. There are other factors also which are relevant. A child is in need of exercise and fresh air. The health of the parents is also important as also the absence of hereditary diseases. All these collectively affect the physical upbringing. The child must be educated in regard to cleanliness, kept far from infection and trained to follow the healthy precepts in regard to clothes, food, habits etc.

We shall now consider the pshycological upbringing of the child. For this the home must be free of parental discord and tension. For, parental discord, has a severe and lasting effect on the child. He is denied the boons of a happy home. It creates pshycological disturbance which not only affects the child, but his later life. To ensure such mental, wellbeing it is necessary for the parents not to choose harmful attitude. For example, child must not be denied the parental love nd attention, the parents must not be over lenient or over strict or over concerned, because the child will become weary and will develop an attitude of defiance.

For emotional development of the child the parents must create in him a sense of love and devotion towards the family, the society and humanity, as also for religion and moral values. He must be made to look upon life from the positive angle. Smilarly, an emotional dislike must be created in the child for destructive thoughts, for evil desires and habits which lead to sin and hate complex. He must be made to take a dislike for all negative values in life. Such a child will have a desire for every good and useful quality and will develop a dislike for evil and unproductive things.

With physical, emotional and psychological development based on the Islamic way, must also be instilled the social norms. In regard to social upbringing two points are important. Firstly, the child who has had a good family life will easily fit into the community atmosphere, secondly a proper concept of social life given during the home’s training will help him in forming his social personality in the present and the future. Parents must always bear in mind that the home is the first teacher and the first centre for putting into practice social virtues. When society is best with evil its its source can be traced to the home. Similarly good emanates from the home. Thus, it becomes obligatory on a Muslim to make his home the base of good and not evil. The Prophet (S.A) says-

The entire creation are Allah’s heirs; he is most loved of Allah who benefits most Allah’s Creation.”

We come to the moral upbringing of the child. It is possible for a human being to attain the moral standards of angels. Allah willed that He should make a Vicegerent from amongst men inhabiting the world- the world created by Him and preserved according to an order and system fashioned by Him, governed by His law to serve the general and particular philosopic divine intentions perfect in form and ends, so that mankind may enjoy the wonders of that Creation.

He made His Vicegerent graceful, endowed with many faculties and varied parts, the best of living beings. Then, He breathed into the Vicegerent His spirit, the most superior and noble of all spirits, so that the Vicegerent may be a moving, sensitive, conscious, knowing and active personality according to His desire. Then He inspired the Vicegerent’s soul through celestial beings so that with their help it may become possible for the Vicegerent to attain a composite charecter, learn all the sciences, literatures, disciplines, knowledge and policies, just as He made it possible for the Vicegerent through His physical body and its limbs of many shapes and forms to perform all types of human acts and workmanship.

The intellectual and spiritual upbringing of man, enables him to reach the highest point of development. The spiritual upbringing rules over all other developments of the human personality. The spiritual upbringing is based on the faith in Allah, belief in Allah’s Messengers, the life after death, and that man will receive justice for all his actions; a reward for good action and punishment for evil action.

Intellectual upbringing is of the essence. But for the gift of Al Aql and the enlightenment available through the rays of Al Aql, the message of Allah would not have been accepted, nor the revelation of the Prophet heeded, nor the signs of the light of Allah’s Tawheed moved the souls of men, nor would have any tongue have spoken of the wisdom of the hereafter.

The body of man is subject to the forces of Allah’s creation and limited by them. Yet, the mind of man through the medium of Al Aql has grasp over Falaki-Moohit and is capable of mastering it.

Therefore a special care may be taken on the intellectual upbringing of the child for a developed intellect is lke a light which sheds light before him and all around him.

When a Muslim family has received upbringing on these lines covering all the aspects of man then the first foundation is laid for a good life, a useful life and a happy life both of Muslim Society and Society at large. Every Muslim family will have to answer Allah in regard to this obligation.

The Masjid is the most important center for the upbringing of the child. The Masjid has always remained the centre for spiritual leadership, for Dawat Mohammediyah and Islamic Upbringing in all the countries and place for long ages. We have already examined the message of the Prophet and the responsibilities. The Masjid is a good centre thru which the Prophet’s works were accomplished. The Message which the Prophet of Islam delivered withg the help of Allah shall continue to be proclaimed from the Masjid. The Masjid provides the spiritual fusion. From the Masjid the exposition of Islam to the congregation takes place, as also the religious social and cultural discipline and upbringing, altogether.

It is necessary that the role of the Masjid should not be restricted to merely the teaching of and offering of prayers. On the contrary it must become the educative and cultural centre.

It behoves that the Masjid should be the luminous centre for the upbringing and culture of a Muslim. From here should radiate the comprehensive plan of such culture and upbringing in all branches of learning and forms of culture – be it religious or temporal, human or universal. The plan must ensure that all activity is from the Islamic standpoint.

We have seen earlier that the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him) made the masjid a base for religious activity and upbringing of the growing Islamic community. The needs of this growing community, spiritual, psychological and material, were fulfilled in order that this society became a living example of an ideal society for generations to come.

Today, at al times and in all places, the need is indeed both strong and vital for the Muslims to emulate this Godly upbringing which the great Prophet commenced and whose foundation was laid within the Masjid, at Medina Munawwarrah, the House Of Allah and sacred sanctuary.

It should be the centre for discussion from the Islamic angle of all subjects and matters. The Masjid should be place from which the Muslims derive the maximum advantage. It should not merely be deemed a place for prayer and its use so circumscribed.

It is the purpose of the Islamic Madrasa to provide for a Muslim in the best portion of knowledge and understanding on all different topics and subjects, for use, in matters of faith and of the material world. All that is capped with hopes in Allah faith, high values and lofty priciples, upon which depends the existence of human society. The Islamic Madrasah is like the faith of Islam, it does not distinguish between spiritual knowledge and knowledge of the world. On the contrary, it combines both, in such a manner, that in acquiring knowledge the student experiences handiwork of Allah in the universe, in the world of soul, in the world of religion and in the world of humanity. If he views these worlds man will understand the meaning of Haq and will see Haq in all things. Al Quran not only has related this fact, but has alsp promised humanity the verification of this truth. Allah Says “Soon will We show them our signs in the (former) regions and in their own souls until it becomes manifest to them that this is the truth. Is it not enough that Thy Lord doth witness all things?” (Surah 53 and 54)

Now we come to the 4th centre – Society. Society itself should be a center of Islamic Upbringing. A Muslim whatever he does and whereever he lives is a Muslim. He acquires strength day by day as a result of these Islamic concepts and views all things from the Islamic angle. To that degree, that his every activity will become a centre giving strength to the process of Islamic Upbringing.

These are the centres of a Muslim’s upbringing and they take command over a Muslim’s entire life. The degree of efficiency of each of these centres and the degree of co-operation inter-se to that degree will upbringing be superior. In this way Muslims will fulfill the duty and will attain the position of being “noblest of all ummat” for being the ummat of The Lord of Prophets and last of apostles,Peace be on him.

Islamic Congress, Colombo 1978

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