The Advice of the Salaf Regarding the Early Upbringing of the Child - 1
Ibn Qudaamah al-Maqdisee
Ibn Qudaamah al-Maqdisee
You should know that the child is a trust upon his parents, his heart like an innocent gem that is open to any inscription upon it. So, if the child is accustomed to righteousness then he will develop and grow in it, and his parents and guardians will share with him the reward of living a pious and righteous life. Similarly, if the child is accustomed to evil then he will grow up in this – and so the sin will be upon the guardians. Therefore, the guardian of any child should safeguard, discipline and cultivate him; teaching him noble manners and protecting him from evil company.
The guardian of the child should not accustom him to luxury and he should make sure that the child does not become attached to the ways and means of beautification and affluence – otherwise the child will grow up wasting his life trying to seek this.
Rather, it is befitting that the guardian supervises the child from a young age – so the woman who breastfeeds and looks after the child (the mother or otherwise) should be a righteous and pious women who only eats from that which is Halaal – for indeed the milk that the woman produces after eating Haraam has no barakah (blessing ) in it.
Thereafter, the child will begin to think and distinguish, and the first sign of this is a sense of shyness. This shyness is an excellent indicator that the child’s mind and intellect are beginning to develop, and he is approaching the age of puberty. So the child is to be helped, disciplined and taught correct manners – through this shyness of his.
Then, when the first signs of him appetising for food become prevalent, he should be taught the manners of eating, and sometimes he is to be only given bread to eat so he does not become attached to that which is eaten with it (the dish or condiment), considering it to be a necessity. Over-eating should also be made undesirable to him, and he is to be taught that over-eating resembles the eating of animals.
The child is be made to prefer clean, white clothes as opposed to dirty or silk clothing – whist also being taught that silk clothing is not worn except by women and effeminate men. The chid should also be prevented from mixing with other children who have become accustomed to luxury.
Thereafter, the child is occupied with school. He learns the Qur’aan, ahadeeth and is taught examples of righteous people, so that the love of the righteous becomes engrained in his heart. Furthermore, he should be made to avoid the listening and memorising of poetry containing mention of love and romance.
Whenever the child shows a beautiful characteristic, or a good action, then he should be appreciated and rewarded with something that he likes and is to be praised in the presence of other people.
However, if he opposes this (by doing a bad action), it can at times be overlooked and not exposed. If he then persists upon this action, he is to be warned in secret and is made to be afraid that other people may find out. However, the child should be not be disciplined and warned too often, as this type of treatment will make him accustomed to being censured and rebuked – rather the guardian should restrain himself from using threatening speech with the child.
It is also befitting that the mother disciplines the child using the father (i.e. by using the natural standing, authority and fear of the father.)
The child should be prevented from sleeping during the day as it results in laziness and he should not be prevented from sleeping during the night. He should not be given a soft mattress - being prevented from it so that his bones and skeleton become strong. It is befitting that he becomes accustomed to coarseness in his food, clothing and sleep. He should also be made accustomed to walking, activity and exercise so he is not overcome with laziness.
 I asked Shaykh ‘AbdulRazzaq Al-‘Abbaad (May Allah preserve him) regarding this statement, and other passages in this article that are similar to it, he said that there is no clear evidence from the Qur’an or Sunnah to say we should do this, however a person considers the state of the child and that which will benefit him. So if one was to see from a child an excessive likening to food then sometimes he can take this action. Similar to this is the statement of the author “It is befitting that he is accustomed to coarseness in his food, clothing and sleep,” one can do this sometimes to teach the child that blessings such as food and clothing do not last forever, and that it is not befitting for a Muslim to concern himself too much with this. As for the ahadeeth stating that Allah loves for blessings to be seen on a person, then this is without the heart becoming attached to these worldly blessings but rather from the view point of showing gratitude to Allah, and that the Muslim should remain clean and beautiful as Allah loves cleanliness and beauty.
 Similar to this – or indeed more destructive – is the existence of music and films containing such content, which have unfortunately become widespread in Muslim homes.
 See footnote 1.
Taken from Madeenah.com
Translated by Abul Abbaas Naveed Ayaaz
The child is taught to not boast in front of his friends and peers about something that his parents own, or to boast regarding his food and clothes. Rather he is nurtured upon modesty and being kind and generous to whomsoever he has a relationship with. And he is to be prevented from taking something from another child like him. He should be taught that inferiority is in taking and that superiority and dignity is in giving. And he should be made to not like gold and silver.
He is to be prohibited from spitting in gatherings, blowing his nose, yawning in front of others, and from sitting with his legs pointed, one on top of the other.
He should also be accustomed to speaking little and should not speak except when answering a question or fulfilling a request. He should also master the skill of listening well, when others are speaking especially if the one speaking is older than him. He is to be taught to stand for the one who has authority over him and to sit close to, next to, or in front of such a person.
He is to be prevented from lewd speech and that he keeps company with those who use such speech – for indeed the foundation of protecting a child lies in keeping him away from bad friends.
It is also from good practice that when the child finishes from his studying that he is allowed to play in a good way, so that he is able to relax from the difficulty and strictness of learning and discipline. It is has been said,
‘Relax the heart and mind; strengthen the memorisation and intellect.’
The child should be cultivated upon obedience towards his parents and towards the one who educates him, and he should revere such people.
Thereafter, when he reaches the age of seven years, he is to be ordered with the Salaah (obligatory prayers), and he is not to be excused from not being in a state of purity (by knowing the wudhu, and remaining in this state) so that he becomes used to it. He should also be reprimanded from lying and deceit, and then when he approaches puberty he should be taught the various rulings of Islaam and be made responsible for them.
You should know that food is a type of medicine and the objective behind eating is to strengthen the body in order to show obedience of Allah, the most High, through worship. This Dunya (worldly life) will not remain forever and death cuts off the pleasures of this world. Death awaits each person and may arrive any hour. The intelligent one, therefore, is the one who prepares for the Aakhirah (the Hereafter).
Hence, if the upbringing of the child is righteous then this will all become firm in his heart – similar to how an engraving becomes very firm on a stone.
Sahl Ibn Abdullah once said, “I was a child of three years, and I would stay awake at night looking at my uncle, Muhammed bin Sawwaar, praying. So he said to me one day, “why don’t you remember Allah, the one who created you?”
So I asked, “and how do I remember Him?”
He replied, “Say, three times in your heart without moving your tongue: Allah is with me, Allah is watching over me, Allah is a witness over me.”
I then said this a number of nights until I became accustomed to this. He then said to me, “say it eleven times every night.”
So I said it, and I felt the sweetness of this statement in my heart.
A year on from this, my uncle said to me “Memorise and safeguard what I have taught you, and act according to it up until you enter your grave”
So I continued acting upon these words for years and I would find the sweetness of it in my privacy.
He then said, “O Sahl, whomsoever Allah is with, and He watches him and is a witness over him – do you think such a person should disobey Allah? Beware of disobeying Allah."
After this, I advanced to school and memorised the Qur’aan when I was only six or seven years old. I would then fast all the time, my daily sustenance was bread made from barley and thereafter I would wake during the night in order to pray.”
Taken from Madeenah.com
Translated by Abul Abbaas Naveed Ayaaz