Since children come to this world for the first time, the one they need the most is certainly their parents. It will last for some years later until they have independent life and build their own family in marriage life. As the children’s closest circle, family is the place where they look for protection and learn basic things that will be useful for their future.
When deciding to welcome children as the new member in the family, parents are supposed to take responsibility and consequences. Children are the same as adults, that they have rights which should be fulfilled. We often hear the manners of children towards parents in Islam, such as obeying what they order, or rights of parents in Islam. However, it will be unfair if parents neglect the rights of their children.
According to Islam, there are some things parents must do as their responsibilities over their children.
- Giving Them Good Names
The names parents give to their children is the reflection of their hope. There lies implicit prayer that children’s attitude and character will be as good as their names.
- Breastfeeding Children for Two Years
Breastfeeding gives benefits to both mothers and children. For mothers, it reduces the risk of breast cancer. While for children, it decreases the risk of many health problems, such as diabetes. It is the ideal way to breastfeed in the first two years of children’s life, as it is one of the Islamic rules of breastfeeding.
وَالْوَالِدَاتُ يُرْضِعْنَ أَوْلَادَهُنَّ حَوْلَيْنِ كَامِلَيْنِ ۖ لِمَنْ أَرَادَ أَنْ يُتِمَّ الرَّضَاعَةَ
“Mothers may breastfeed their children two complete years for whoever wishes to complete the nursing [period].” (Al-Baqarah: 233)
- Educating Children
The education here not only refers to the knowledge in general, but also the one related to Islam. For example, understanding the story of Allah’s Messengers and practicing the duties as Muslims. Indeed, it is one of the ways to save families from the hellfire.
يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ قُوٓا۟ أَنفُسَكُمْ وَأَهْلِيكُمْ نَارًا وَقُودُهَا ٱلنَّاسُ وَٱلْحِجَارَةُ
“O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and stone.” (At-Tahrim: 6)
- Being Fair
If parents have two children or more, they must be fair in treating them. Prioritizing just one of them will mentally hurt the subordinated children. Islam has ruled the law of parents who hurt their children’s hearts.
قَالَ سَمِعْتُ النُّعْمَانَ بْنَ بَشِيرٍ، يَقُولُ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم “ اعْدِلُوا بَيْنَ أَوْلاَدِكُمْ اعْدِلُوا بَيْنَ أَبْنَائِكُمْ ” .
“Narrated An-Nu’man ibn Bashir that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, ‘Act equally between your children; Act equally between your sons.‘” (Al-Albani)
- Marrying Children
When children has been mentally or financially capable to get married, parents must support them. It can be said that this is parents’ last duty before children enter the new life as a ‘newborn’ family.
وَأَنكِحُوا۟ ٱلْأَيَٰمَىٰ مِنكُمْ وَٱلصَّٰلِحِينَ مِنْ عِبَادِكُمْ وَإِمَآئِكُمْ ۚ إِن يَكُونُوا۟ فُقَرَآءَ يُغْنِهِمُ ٱللَّهُ مِن فَضْلِهِۦ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ وَٰسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ
“And marry the unmarried among you and the righteous among your male slaves and female slaves. If they should be poor, Allah will enrich them from His bounty, and Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing.” (An-Nur: 32)
On the contrary, with the clear fact above, still there are parents who ignore it. Whereas, Islam firmly forbids parents who neglect their children’s right. There is no exact Islamic law of parents who abandon their children, but the Holy Qur’an explains why parents are not allowed to do so.
- Abandoning Children is the Same as Betraying Allah and Rasulullah
Allah has trusted parents to nurture His creation, or in other words, Allah directly gives them responsibility. It is a complex and honorable job. If parents choose to not do this duty, it means that they break their promise to Allah. Children in parents’ life is just temporary ‘gift’ to examine parents’ effort to give them their rights.
Time goes so fast. When children have grown up, parents will realize that time they spend with their children is that short. Thus, it is better to use the available time in the best way to be the best parents for children.
يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ لَا تَخُونُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ وَٱلرَّسُولَ وَتَخُونُوٓا۟ أَمَٰنَٰتِكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ
وَٱعْلَمُوٓا۟ أَنَّمَآ أَمْوَٰلُكُمْ وَأَوْلَٰدُكُمْ فِتْنَةٌ وَأَنَّ ٱللَّهَ عِندَهُۥٓ أَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ
“O you who have believed, do not betray Allah and the Messenger or betray your trusts while you know [the consequence]. And know that your properties and your children are but a trial and that Allah has with Him a great reward.” (Al-Anfal: 27-28)
- Parents Will Gain A Great Loss
قَدْ خَسِرَ ٱلَّذِينَ قَتَلُوٓا۟ أَوْلَٰدَهُمْ سَفَهًۢا بِغَيْرِ عِلْمٍ وَحَرَّمُوا۟ مَا رَزَقَهُمُ ٱللَّهُ ٱفْتِرَآءً عَلَى ٱللَّهِ ۚ قَدْ ضَلُّوا۟ وَمَا كَانُوا۟ مُهْتَدِينَ
“Those will have lost who killed their children in foolishness without knowledge and prohibited what Allah had provided for them, inventing untruth about Allah. They have gone astray and were not [rightly] guided.” (Al-An’am: 140)
The phrase ‘who killed their children’ is not the literal meaning. It refers to any parent who abandon their children. It is a kind of sin, so there are consequences behind it. The consequences as the recompense may happen in this worldly life or in the Hereafter. And the great loss can be in the form of material or immaterial things. Allah is the one who knows the best.
- Children Can Be an Enemy of Parents
This condition will happen if parents do not provide the right of having education to their children. Let’s take a case as an example. Salat, shaum, and zakat are three of five pillars in Islam which should be done by Muslims. They will be sinful because what they have done is opposite to what Allah has commanded.
But, the case will be slightly different if a person do not know these obligations for Muslims since his parents never taught him about it. On the Day of Judgment, this person will sue his parents of not fulfilling his right, and it will increase parents’ burden.
يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓا۟ إِنَّ مِنْ أَزْوَٰجِكُمْ وَأَوْلَٰدِكُمْ عَدُوًّا لَّكُمْ فَٱحْذَرُوهُمْ ۚ وَإِن تَعْفُوا۟ وَتَصْفَحُوا۟ وَتَغْفِرُوا۟ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
“O you who have believed, indeed, among your wives and your children are enemies to you, so beware of them. But if you pardon and overlook and forgive, then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (At-Taghabun: 14)
Everyone will be held accountable for what is the responsibility of his care, including parents. Generally, Islamic law of parents who abandon their children explains that this act is forbidden, and those who do it will be waiting for the recompense. However, Allah is the Merciful. He will forgive them as long as they do taubatan nasuha and commit not to do it again. And for further understanding, we should not see this case only from our perspective, but also from fiqh perspective when raising children.