The Muslim woman is not ignorant of the fact that her children need her warm lap, deep love and sincere affection in order to develop soundly, with no psychological problems, crises or complexes.
This sound upbringing will fill them with optimism, trust, hope and ambition. Thus the caring Muslim mother demonstrates her love and affection for her children on every occasion, flooding their lives with joy and happiness and filling their hearts with confidence and security.
The true Muslim woman is compassionate towards her children, for compassion is a basic Islamic characteristic, one that was encouraged by the Prophet (PBUH) in word and deed as Anas (RAA) tells us:
"I never saw anyone who was more compassionate towards children than the Messenger of Allah (PBUH). His son Ibrahim was in the care of a wet-nurse in the hills around Madinah. He would go there, and we would go with him, and he would enter the house, pick up his son and kiss him, then come back."4
The Prophet's compassion and love towards Muslim children included little ones at play. He would flood them with his compassion and affection. Anas (RAA) reported that whenever the Prophet (PBUH) passed by a group of boys he would smile fondly and greet them.5
An example of the Prophet's enduring wisdom with regard to the upbringing of children is the hadith:
"He is not one of us who does not show compassion to our little ones and recognize the rights of our elders."6
Abu Hurayrah (RAA) narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) kissed al-Hasan ibn 'Ali. Al-Aqra' ibn Habis said, "I have ten children and I have never kissed any of them." The Prophet (PBUH) said: "He who does not show mercy will not be shown mercy."7
The Prophet (PBUH), this great educator, always sought to instil the quality of mercy and compassion in people's hearts, and to awaken their potential for love and affection, which are the most basic of human characteristics.
One day a Bedouin came and asked the Prophet (PBUH), "Do you kiss your sons? We do not." The Prophet (PBUH) said, "What can I do for you if Allah (SWT) has removed mercy from your heart?"8
'A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported:
"Whenever Fatimah came into the room, the Prophet (PBUH) would stand up, welcome her, kiss her and offer her his seat, and whenever he came into the room, she would stand up, take his hand, welcome him, kiss him and offer him her seat. When she came to see him during his final illness, he welcomed her and kissed her."9
The Prophet (PBUH) praised the women of Quraysh, because they were the most compassionate of women towards their children, the most concerned with raising them properly and making sacrifices for them, in addition to taking good care of their husbands. This may be seen in the words narrated by Bukhari from Abu Hurayrah (RAA), who said:
"I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) say: 'The women of Quraysh are the best women ever to ride camels. They are compassionate towards their children and the most careful with regard to their husbands' wealth"10
In the light of this guidance, the true Muslim woman cannot be stern towards her children and treat them in a rough or mean fashion, even if it is her nature to be grim and reserved, because this religion, with its enlightenment and guidance, softens hearts and awakens feelings of love and affection. So our children are a part of us, going forth into the world, as the poet Hittan ibn al-
"Our children are our hearts, walking among us on the face of the earth, if even a little breeze touches them, we cannot sleep for worrying about them."11
Parents should be filled with love, affection and care, willing to make sacrifices and do their best for their children.
Undoubtedly the wealth of emotion that the Muslim mother feels for her children is one of the greatest causes of her happiness in life. This is something which has been lost by Western women, who are overwhelmed by materialism and exhausted by the daily grind of work, which has caused them to lose the warmth of family feelings. This was vividly expressed by Mrs. Salma al-Haffar, a member of the Syrian women's movement, after she had visited America:
"It is truly a shame that women lose the most precious thing that nature12 has given them, i.e. their femininity, and then their happiness, because the constant cycle of exhausting work has caused them to lose the small paradise which is the natural refuge of women and men alike, one that can only flourish under the care of a mother who stays at home. The happiness of individuals and society as a whole is to be found at home, in the lap of the family; the family is the source of inspiration, goodness and creativity."13