Friday Sermon: Teach Your Children: Parable of the Ant

By Babatunde Jose

‘The toughest thing in life is to deprive your child of what you can afford.’– Sheik Alfaj.’

A thousand and one things distracts and derail children from the path of righteousness. Parents who are not watchful over their children will not escape on the Day of Resurrection as they would be held accountable for the iniquities of their children, and they would face a torment from which nobody can escape. Anas narrated that the Prophet said: “Allah will ask everyone about those whom he was entrusted with.”- An-Nasaa’i & Ibn Hibbaan. In Proverbs 29:17 ESV we read:Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart. Some parents are too emotional and tend to spoil their children, to the extent that perhaps their children have never heard the word “no” to anything they requested of their parents. The result of this is a generation of lazy and indolent youth, who grow up to become menace to society. They are the breeding and fertile ground of area boys and street urchins; the flotsams and jetsam. The never-do-wells. Parasites on society and an everlasting embarrassment to their parents. ‘Umar the Caliph said: “Get yourselves accustomed to harshness because bounties are not always available.”  The Bible said in Proverbs 14:23 (NKJV) ‘In all labor there is profit, But idle chatter leads only to poverty’.

The matter has been succinctly put by Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim who said: “The parent must keep his child away from laziness, extra comfort and being spoilt, and should raise him upon the opposite of these. He should get him used to exerting effort because laziness has evil consequences, which will cause eventual deep regret; on the other hand, exerting effort and getting used to striving in life is praiseworthy and has good consequences whether in this life or the Hereafter, or both; this is because attaining high ranks in this life and the happiness in the Hereafter are only achieved through hard efforts and striving.”  In the same vein, Imam Al-Ghazali said: “A father must protect his child by raising him upon good morals and keeping him away from evil company; he must not make him accustomed to having an easy life and must not make entertainment and joy be his main interest, because this will result in the child wasting his life in endeavouring to attaining these pleasures and joys.”

The foregoing leads us to the ‘parable of the Ant’. The ant never sees work as menial or beneath his dignity. Whether it’s moving dirt or carrying breadcrumbs, he merrily goes along doing his job. How unlike that are many people today! The sum of the matter is found in this simple Bible statement: ‘In all labour there is profit.’ Teach your children the old-fashioned way of getting money – working for it! No work is insignificant.’ As a parent you are preparing your child for their work life, so prepare them well. If you don’t, they’ll have a life of grief, and create a life of grief for others; but most especially for you. Plus, they may end up back on your doorstep!

There is an old saying ‘nothing goes for nothing’There is no food for lazy man, says an old ‘mammy wagon’ that plies old Aba road. Therefore, before you give your child an allowance, give them some chores like making their bed, cleaning their room, helping around the house, taking out the rubbish, getting good grades in school, and doing their homework on time. Reward without responsibility is indulgence. And if you love your child you won’t do that!

As parents therefore, a lot of work needs to be done to bring our children up in righteousness. Sew the seed early and you will have rest in your old age.

Going further on the matter, Abdullah bin Umar narrated, Allah’s Apostle said:“Surely! Every one of you is a guardian and is responsible for his charges: . . . . . . . . a man is the guardian of his family (household) and is responsible for his subjects; a woman is the guardian of her husband’s home and of his children and is responsible for them; and the slave of a man is a guardian of his master’s property and is responsible for it. Surely, every one of you is a guardian and responsible for his charges.”

Do not forget that a righteous son is a source of goodness for you after your death. As the Prophet said“When a servant (of Allah) dies, his (good) deeds will cease, except for three (kinds of deeds): A charity with continuous effect, a kind of knowledge from which people draw benefit, and a good son who prays to Allah for him.” [Muslim] Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet said: “The rank of a man would be raised in Paradise, and he would ask why, and he would be told: `It is due to your son supplicating for your forgiveness.`” [Ibn Maajah]

Unfortunately, a bad son will not supplicate for a departed father, who failed to bring him up in righteousness. Rather it would be like the famous last wish of the condemned robber in Kirikiri Prison who requested to have a last word with his mother. She thought he was about to whisper his last words when he bit off her ear. Asked why he bit off her ear, he said it was because of her failure to teach him right that brought him to where he was.

May Allah teach us how to bring up our children in righteousness; Amen.

We ask, O Allah; “do not put me to shame on the Day when all shall be raised from the dead; the Day on which neither wealth will be of any use, nor children. (Quran 26:87-88)

Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend

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