By Babatunde Jose
Sequel to our sermon of last week, it has become pertinent to unravel the stand of Islam on child treatment and care. This would enable us to understand the stand of Islam that children should not be sentenced to a life of penury with a begging bowl and why this sad commentary on our collective responsibility should not be allowed to continue. Thirteen million of our children are out of school and over seven million of them are sentenced to going about with begging bowls while millions of others are hawking goods on the roadside in our ‘pure water economy’, epitome of collateral damage of our ‘witchcraft socio-economic system’.
The Quran clearly states that: “Wealth and children are ornaments of this world, but the enduring good deeds are better to your Lord for reward and better for [one’s] hope” Q18:46. Obviously having children is a great advantage, and that is why whoever could not bear children bears the agony of the deficiency. Beautified for people is love of the joys (that come) from women and offspring, and stored up heaps of gold and silver, and horses branded (with their mark), and cattle and land. That is comfort of the life of the world. God! With Him is a more excellent abode. Q3:14
Children are great divine endowment and they are as well the most precious and most cherished of what humans may possess, they are the greatest source of satisfaction and joy for which the Almighty deserves thankfulness: will they then believe in vain things, and be ungrateful for Allah’s favors? Q16:72.
To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills (and plans). He bestows (children) male or female according to His Will (and Plan), Or He bestows both males and females, and He leaves barren whom He will: for He is full of Knowledge and Power. Q42:49-50
Naturally, the most ardent desire of men and women is reproduction of progenies, since both share this propensity, as well as other worldly desires. According to the Quran the parent or guardian of a minor must never indulge in anything that cause harm to a child. Therefore, his physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing must be preserved and protected.
Prophet Muhammad PBUH said: “there should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm”. Islam obligates parents to teach, train, discipline and refine the character of their children according to the dictates of Islam. The Prophet said: “Nothing a parent may award his (her) child that is better than a good upbringing.” Tirmizi 1952 Islam has made the sustenance of children mandatory upon parents, in such a way that it is not to be considered that any service rendered to a child is a favour done to him, but rather the father is merely performing his duties. It is among the most guaranteed way of seeking the pleasure of Allah. The Prophet (PBUH) “It is enough a grievous sin for a person to neglect his child” He was also reported to have said: “the best money spent by a man is the money he spends on his children”. The Quran said it all when it declares: The mothers shall give suck to their offspring for two whole years, if the father desires to complete the term. But he shall bear the cost of their food and clothing on equitable terms. No soul shall have a burden laid on it greater than it can bear. No mother shall be treated unfairly on account of her child. Nor father on account of his child, an heir shall be chargeable in the same way, If they both decide on weaning, by mutual consent, and after due consultation, there is no blame on them. If you decide on a foster-mother for your offspring, there is no blame on you, provided you pay (the mother) what you offered, on equitable terms. But fear Allah and know that Allah sees well what ye do. Q2:233 Furthermore, the father is commanded to give out according to his means thus: Let the man of means spend according to his means: and the man whose resources are restricted, let him spend according to what Allah has given him. Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him. After a difficulty, Allah will soon grant relief. Q65:7
Every father is commanded to spend on his family regardless of his financial status, so nobody is spared from this burden. In a nation-state therefore, the state is enjoined to cater for and spend on the children by providing them welfare which includes schooling, health-care and all. In the developed world, parents are paid child support apart from the children being given compulsory education to a certain age and even after that, children are given bursaries and loans to see them through college. The essence is that ‘no child is left behind. In this regard whoever has the nerve to eject his child at a very tender age and yet claim that he is sending him out to learn Quran, ought to be asked where he got such precept and wisdom: Definitely not from the Quran or the Hadith.
Another important aspect enshrined in the laws promulgated in the Quran is the principle of setting up of a society dominated by affection, kindness, love, solidarity, justice and mercy. Allah has obligated Muslims wherever they are to provide absolute care to the orphans in the same manner they would render it to their own progeny. Plethora of verses abound that emphasizes this basic responsibility of taking care of those who genuinely needed care especially the orphans. Quran says: “they ask you concerning orphans. Say: the best thing is to work honestly in their property and if you mix your affairs with theirs, then remember that they are your brothers” If such is the type of instructions emanating from the Quran over the affairs of the orphans how could Islam allow a person claiming to be Muslim to forsake his own progeny.
Prophet in a Hadith declared that ”whoever does not display mercy would not be shown mercy”. This prophetic saying would apply to our irresponsive leaders who are content to serving their own children caviar and giving stones to other children to eat. As far as they are concerned, the 13 million children could die if they chose to. Unfortunately those who sow the wind will definitely reap the whirlwind. When these children grow up into an army of 13 million malcontent and dissidents, there will be nowhere for us all to hide. Take heed therefore; when your neighbor is consuming poisonous insects, be concerned because when the coughing gets unbearable at night, you too would know no sleep. Those who have ears should listen now!
Barka Juma’at and a happy weekend