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Advice on raising children


This is from an excerpt from a famous book of Imam Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (d. 751 AH) called Tuhfat al-Mawdood bi Ahkaam al-Mawlood. One of the most important chapters of his book is the sixteenth chapter, which is entitled Fi fusool naafi’ah fi Tarbiyat al-Atfaal tuhmad ‘awaaqibuha ‘ind al-Kabr (Useful advice on raising children which will have good consequences when the child grows up). What follows is a summary of what Ibn Qayyim says:

1. The child should be breastfed by someone other than his mother, two or three days after birth. That is better because her milk after that time will be thick and contain different ingredients, unlike the milk of one who has been breastfeeding for a while. All the Arabs pay attention to that, and they give their children to desert women to breastfeed, as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was given to Banu Sa’d to be breastfed among them.

2. They should not be picked up and carried around until they are three months old or more, because they have only recently emerged from their mother’s wombs and their bodies are still weak.

3. They should be given only milk until their teeth appear, because their stomachs are weak and unable to digest food. When the baby’s teeth appear, his stomach has grown strong and is able to be nourished by food. Food should be introduced gradually.


4. When they approach the age where they will begin to speak and one wants to make it easy for them to speak, a little honey and salt should be placed on the infant’s tongue, because they contain substances that will reduce the excessive moisture that prevents speech. When the child begins to speak, one should prompt him to say Laa ilaaha ill-Allaah Muhammad Rasool Allaah.

5. When the time for the teeth to appear comes, the gums should be rubbed every day with butter and ghee.

6. Parents should not get upset when the child cries and yells, because he benefits greatly from that crying. It exercises his limbs, opens his intestines and chest, keeps his brain warm, warms his moods, provokes his energy, creates suitable conditions for expelling waste matter, and helps rid the brain of mucus and other waste.

7. The child should be protected against everything that may scare him of harsh and terrifying noises, frightening scenes and disturbing movements.

8. Complete breastfeeding lasts for two years. This is the right of the child if he needs it and cannot do without it. The Qur’aan confirmed that by adding the word kaamilayn (meaning complete or whole, in the verse
“The mothers shall give suck to their children for two whole years” [al-Baqarah 2:233]). If the one who is breastfeeding the child wants to wean him, she should wean him gradually, and not wean him suddenly in one go; rather she should get him used to it slowly because of the harm that may be done by changing the child’s food and habit in one go.

9. It is mistreatment of children to allow them to eat their fill of food, and to eat and drink a lot.
One of the most beneficial ways of training them is to give them less than their fill, so that they may digest well and be in good health, there will be less waste in their bodies and their bodies will be healthy, and they will have less sickness because of having less food waste in their bodies.

10. One thing that the child needs most urgently is close attention to his moral well being. He grows up with whatever the one who is raising him gets him used to when he is small. [If it is] resentment, anger, arguments, haste, being easily led by whims and desires, foolishness, hot-temperedness and greed, then it will be difficult for him to change that when he grows up. Hence you will find that most people are deviant in their character, because of the way they were brought up.

11. The child’s guardian should keep him from taking from others because if he gets used to taking, that will become natural for him, and he will grow up as one who takes and not one who gives. If the guardian wants to give something, he should give it by his hand [i.e., give it to the child to give away] so that that he will taste the sweetness of giving.

12. He should keep him away from lying and treachery more than he would keep him away from lethal poison. Once he lets him get the habit of lying and betrayal,
he will have corrupted his happiness in this world and in the Hereafter, and deprived him of all goodness.13. He should keep him away from laziness, idleness, a life of ease and too much rest, and he should force him to do the opposite. He should not let him rest more than is sufficient to restore his energy so that he can do more work, for laziness and idleness bring bad consequences and lead to regret. Yahya ibn Abi Katheer said:
“Knowledge cannot be attained by letting the body rest.”14. He should get him used to waking up at the end of the night, for that is the time when reward is allocated and prizes are awarded; some will take less and some will take more and some will be deprived. If he gets used to that when he is little, it will be easy for him when he grows up.
[Tuhfat al-Mawdood (194-203).]

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  1. June 6, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    JazakAllahu khair for sharing. This is one of the best articles I read regarding raising your children.

    BarakAllahu feekum,
    Abu Musa Atif

  2. June 6, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    ~ Advice for Educating the Muslim Children by Hasan as-Somali ~

    http://dawahatreading.blogspot.com/2010/04/noble-women-who-defined-islaam-seminar.html

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