Undoubtedly children are a source of great joy and delight; they make life sweet, bring more rizq into a family's life and give hope. A father sees his children as a future source of help and support, as well as representing an increase in numbers and perpetuation of the family. A mother sees her children as a source of hope, consolation and joy in life, and as hope for the future. All of these
hopes rest on the good upbringing of the children and giving them a sound preparation for life, so that they will become active and constructive elements in society, a source of goodness for their parents, community and society as a whole. Then they will be as (SWT) described them:
(Wealth and sons are allurements of the life of this world . . .) (Qur'an 18:46)
If their education and upbringing are neglected, they will become bad characters, a burden on their family, community and society as a whole. She understands the great responsibility that she has towards her children
The Muslim woman never forgets that the mother's responsibility in bringing up the children and forming their characters is greater than that of the father, because children tend to be closer to their mother and spend more time with her; she knows all about their behavioural, emotional and intellectual development during their childhood and the difficult years of adolescence.
Hence the woman who understands the teachings of Islam and her own educational role in life, knows her complete responsibility for the upbringing of her children, as is referred to in the Qur'an:
( O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones . . .) (Qur'an 66:6)
The Prophet (PBUH) also referred to this responsibility in his hadith:
"Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock. The leader is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock; a man is the shepherd of his family and is responsible for his flock; a woman is the shepherd in the house of her husband and is responsible for her flock; a servant is the shepherd of his master's wealth and is responsible for it. Each of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock."1
Islam places responsibility on the shoulders of every individual; not one person is left out. Parents - especially mothers - are made responsible for providing their children with a solid upbringing and sound Islamic education, based on the noble characteristics that the Prophet (PBUH) declared that he had been sent to complete and spread among people:
"I have only been sent to make righteous behaviour complete."2
Nothing is more indicative of the greatness of the parents' responsibility towards their children and their duty to give them a suitable Islamic upbringing than the verdict of the 'ulama' that every family should heed the words of the Prophet (PBUH):
"Instruct your children to pray when they are seven and hit them if they do not do so when they are ten."3
Any parents who are aware of this hadith but do not teach their children to pray when they reach seven or hit them if they do not do so when they reach ten, are parents who are sinners and failing in their duty; they will be responsible before Allah (SWT) for their failure.
The family home is a microcosm of society in which the children's mentality, intellect, attitudes and inclinations are formed when they are still very small and are ready to receive sound words of guidance. Hence the parents' important role in forming the minds of their sons and daughters and directing them towards truth and good deeds is quite clear.
Muslim woman have always understood their responsibility in raising their children, and they have a brilliant record in producing and influencing great men, and instilling noble values in their hearts. There is no greater proof of that than the fact that intelligent and brilliant women have produced more noble sons than have intelligent and brilliant men, so much so that you can hardly find any
among the great men of our ummah who have controlled the course of events in history who is not indebted to his mother.
Al-Zubayr ibn al-'Awwam was indebted for his greatness to his mother Safiyyah bint 'Abd alMuttalib, who instilled in him his good qualities and distinguished nature.
'Abdullah, al-Mundhir and 'Urwah, the sons of al-Zubayr were the products of the values instilled in them by their mother, Asma' bint Abi Bakr, and each of them made his mark in history and attained a high status.
'Ali ibn Abi Talib (RAA) received wisdom, virtue and good character from his distinguished mother, Fatimah bint Asad.
'Abdullah ibn Ja'far, the master of Arab generosity and the most noble of their leaders, lost his father at an early age, but his mother Asma' bint 'Umays took care of him and give him the virtues and noble characteristics by virtue of which she herself became one of the great women of Islam.
Mu'awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan inherited his strength of character and intelligence from his mother, Hind bint 'Utbah, not from his father Abu Sufyan. When he was a baby, she noticed that he had intelligent and clever features. Someone said to her, "If he lives, he will become the leader of his people." She responded, "May he not live if he is to become the leader of his people alone!"
Mu'awiyah was unable to instil his cleverness, patience and skills in his own son and and heir, Yazid, because the boy's mother was a simple Bedouin woman, whom he had married for her beauty and because of the status of her tribe and family.
Mu'awiyah's brother Ziyad ibn Abi Sufyan, who was a prime example of intelligence, shrewdness and quick-wittedness, was similarly unable to pass these qualities on to his son 'Ubayd-Allah (SWT), who grew up to be stupid, clumsy, impotent and ignorant. His mother was Marjanah, a Persian woman who possessed none of the qualities that might entitle her to be the mother of a great man.
History records the names of two great men of Banu Umayyah, the first of whom was known for his strength of character, capability, intelligence, wisdom and decisiveness, and the second of whom took the path of justice, goodness, piety and righteousness.
The first was 'Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan, whose mother was 'A'ishah bint al-Mughirah ibn Abi'l-'As ibn Umayyah, who was well-known for her strength of character, resolution and intelligence. The second was 'Umar ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz (RAA), the fifth of the khulafa' al-rashidun, whose mother was Umm 'Asim bint 'Asim ibn 'Umar ibn al-Khattab, who was the most noble in character of the women of her time. Her mother was the righteous worshipper of Allah (SWT) whom 'Asim saw was honest and truthful, and clearly following the right path, when she refused to add water to the milk as her mother told her to, because she knew that Allah (SWT) could see her.
If we turn towards Andalusia, we find the brilliant, ambitious ruler 'Abd al-Rahman al-Nasir who, having started life as an orphan, went on to establish an Islamic state in the West, to which the leaders and kings of Europe surrendered and to whose institutes of learning the scholars and philosophers of all nations came to seek knowledge. This state made a great contribution to worldwide Islamic culture. If we were to examine the secret of this man's greatness, we would find that it lay in the greatness of his mother who knew how to instil in him the dynamic spirit of ambition.
During the 'Abbasid period there were two great women who planted the seeds of ambition, distinction and ascendancy in their sons. The first was the mother of Ja'far ibn Yahya, who was the wazir of the khalifah Harun al-Rashid. The second was the mother of Imam al-Shafi'i: he never saw his father who died whilst he was still a babe in arms; it was his mother who took care of his education.
There are many such examples of brilliant women in our history, women who instilled in their sons nobility of character and the seeds of greatness, and who stood behind them in everything they achieved of power and status.