Page 90 - Islam In Focus

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overconfidence, false pride, or misdeeds that might be caused by children. The
religious moral principle of this position is that every individual, parent or child,
relates to God directly and is independently responsible for his deeds. No child can
absolve the parent on the Day of Judgement. Nor can a parent intercede on behalf of
his child. Finally, Islam is strongly sensitive to the crucial dependence of the child on
the parents. Their decisive role in forming the child’ s personality is clearly recognized
in Islam. In a very suggestive statement, the Prophet declared that every child is born
into the true malleable nature of faith (i.e., the pure natural state of Islam), its parents
later on make it into a Jew, Christian or pagan
According to these guidelines, and more specifically, one of the most inalienable
rights of the child in Islam is the right to life and equal life chances. Preservation of
the child’ s life is the third commandment in Islam. (6:151, cf. 17:23 ff)
Another equally inalienable right is the right of legitimacy, which holds that every
child shall have a father, and one father only. A third set of rights comes under
socialization, upbringing, and general care. To take good care of children is one of the
most commendable deeds in Islam. The Prophet was fond of children and he
expressed his conviction that his Muslim community would be noted among other
communities for its kindness to children. It is charity of a higher order to attend to
their spiritual welfare, educational needs, and general well-being. Interest in and
responsibility for the child’ s welfare are questions of first priority. According to the
Prophet’ s instructions, by the seventh day the child should be given a good, pleasant
name and its head should be shaved, along with all the other hygienic measures
required for healthy growing. This should be made a festive occasion marked with joy
and charity
Responsibility for and compassion toward the child is a matter of religious importance
as well as social concern. Whether the parents are alive or deceased, present or absent,
known or unknown, the child is to provided with optimum care. Whenever there are
executers or relatives close enough to be held responsible for the child’ s welfare, they
shall be directed to discharge this duty. But if there is no next of kin, care for the child
becomes a joint responsibility of the entire Muslim community, designated officials
and commoners alike.
The Child’s Duties: The Parents Rights
The parent-child relationship is complementary. Parent and child in Islam are bound
together by mutual obligations and reciprocal commitments. But the age differential is
sometimes so wide as to cause parents to grow physically weak and mentally feeble.
This is often accompanied by impatience, degeneration of energy, heightened
sensitivity, and perhaps misjudgement. It may also result in abuses of parental
authority or intergenerational estrangement and uneasiness, something similar to what
is now called the “ generation gap” . It was probably in view of these considerations
that Islam has taken cognizance of certain facts and made basic provisions to govern
the individual’ s relationship to his parents
The fact that parents are advanced in age and are generally believed to be more
experienced does not by itself validate their views or certify their standards. Similarly,
youth per se is not the sole fountain of energy, idealism, or wisdom. In various