“Exposition of the Method of Bringing Up Children from Earliest Childhood, Teaching Them Good Behaviour and Refining Their Character.”Excerpt from Imam al-Ghazali’s Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihya `Ulum al-Deen)
Translators note: Praise be to Allah, and peace upon His Beloved.
There is a conspicuous paucity of material available in English that provides sound Islamic guidance for Muslim parents on bringing up children. Recently, I noticed that Imam al-Haddad (Allah have mercy on him) mentioned some very useful but brief comments on the issue in his amazing, baraka-filled book, ‘Lives of Man’. He alluded therein to ‘The Revival of Religious Sciences’ by the Proof of Islam, al-Ghazali, and advised those desiring more detail to seek it there. Following this lead, I was pleased to find this invaluable chapter in the Ihya which is full of practical, down-to-earth advice for the Muslim parent, written with the usual authority of the great Imam (Allah have mercy on him). I found it so useful and insightful that I decided – insha Allah, with tawfeeq – to translate it for the benefit of my Muslim brothers and sisters, especially those who have children.
I hope that any who do find some benefit from it may make a brief mention of me and my family in their supplications.
In the name of Allah the Beneficent the Merciful
Know that the method of bringing up children is one of the most important and essential matters. The child is a trust in the hands of his parents, and his pure heart is an unblemished precious stone, free of any engraving or form. It is amenable to being engraved and moulded in any direction. If it is habituated and taught to be good, it will be raised upon this. Such a child will be felicitous in this world and the next, and his parents, teachers and educators will all share in his reward.
If the child is habituated to evil and neglected like an animal, he will be wretched and fall to destruction, and his sin will be shared by those responsible for his upbringing.
Allah the Exalted says, “O You who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a fire”. So, just as the father protects the child from the fire of this world, protecting him from the Fire of the next world is more appropriate.
Saving him from the Hell-Fire is by teaching him good behaviour, manners and excellent character, and protecting him from bad company. The child should be prevented from becoming accustomed to ease and comfort, and should not be taught to love adornments and luxuries, lest he waste his life seeking after them when he grows up, and end up in
eternal doom. Complete article