From their knowledge of Islam, the women involved wanted to study the implications of their faith on their child-rearing practices. The first step was to collect information—any Qur’anic verse or hadith—that a participant found relevant. Other information was collected from such knowledgeable people and books as were available. Monthly discussions were organized on different topics. Since the war, some of the participating sisters have returned to Kuwait, but many of our group are now scattered all over the world. All the notes and papers collected by the study group were in my home in Kuwait when the invasion occurred; fortunately my husband was able to salvage them and bringthem here to our new home in the States. I felt an obligation to compile this collected information to share with other Muslims, especially converts like myself. My deepest thanks must go to my husband, whose support and cooperation gave me the means to carry out this task.
This book begins with the birth of a child to Muslim parents, and the traditional Islamic response to the birth, following the example of Prophet Muhammad (S). Very few specific actions are defined, and these mostly relate to practices at the time of birth. All of these fall into the category of sunnah (following the Prophet’s example or what he approved of in others), and though highly recommended, they are not fard (obligatory) actions.
Aside from these few simple practices carried out when a baby comes into the world, Islam has no ceremonies devoted exclusively to children—no first communion, no coming-of-age celebrations. Children are not segregated into a special world separate from that of adults; they are members of families in the great, embracing cycle of human life. The family supports them when they are young; they support the family in their productive years, and in old age they are again supported by the family. They grow and develop gradually in a system that encourages growth and learning, but places little emphasis on milestones and anniversaries.
A large portion of this book is given to defining relationships from the Qur’an and hadith. To understand the significance of the child in Muslim society, it is necessary to recognize the total number and value of his or her relationships within it, which are different from the relationships defined by other societies. Chapter 1 includes some of the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad that apply to the newborn. Chapter 2 describes the nature of the child’s relationship with Allah and the spiritual world, with some suggestions for encouraging spiritual awareness. Chapter 3 contains Qur’anic verses and ahadith relevant to the child’s relationship with his or her parents.
In light of these definitions, and with reference to the Islamic teachings concerning morals, manners, and the purpose of life, an attempt is made in chapters 4, 5, and 6 to present an organized structure dealing with the practical how-to of rearing a child in an Islamic way, from a parent’s viewpoint. Chapters Introduction ix 7 and 8 progressively broaden out the child’s world by adding brothers and sisters, extended family, and community relationships. The practical suggestions for improving relationships among adult family members, in order to pave the way for improving the child’s relations with his or her extended family, are an important aspect of chapter 8. The only relationship which really changes for the child as he or she grows up is that of accountability to Allah, since no child is accountable for his or her actions before reaching the age of understanding. All other relationships develop and deepen as the child grows but remain basically the same, for the general commands to honor parents, show respect to elders, be gentle with younger ones, and honor family ties continue for
a Muslim throughout his or her life. I pray to Allah that this book may bring only good to mothers
and their children, and that He protect them from any mistakes or misunderstandings. I have done my best to prepare the material contained within it in a suitable manner and hope to see other literature published on this important subject, expanding and enriching it. While I alone am responsible for
the contents, I am deeply indebted to the many sisters who helped collect references and discussed the practical implications of our findings. I have no list to prompt me and consequently may have unwittingly forgotten some names, but I well remember Terry, Lianna, Salma, Noura, Mia, Khadijah, Sandra, Hicleir, Debbie, Sara, Maryam, Aneesah, Dianne, Karen, Kauthar and Nawal from Kuwait, all of us working together on this project. My friend Daaiyah Saleem in Ohio has also been very helpful, offering many suggestions for improvement and clarification as she aided in proofreading. My sister-in-law Ghada, of course, has helped along the way. In the course of preparing this book for publication, sister Zeba Siddiqui was chosen by the publisher to edit the text. I have known Zeba, a mother of four and a grandmother, and author of several excellent childrens’ books as well as the THE CHILD IN ISLAM
Parent’s Manual: A Guide for Muslim Parents Living in North America, for several years. When I heard she had taken on this task, I asked her to add anything she felt was missing, from her years of experience and knowledge of the subject. She has supplied all of the hadith reference numbers in the text, in itself an enormous task. In addition to editing, she has filled out and amplified several topics, checking and adding material where needed. The sections on the Hereafter, tahara, respect for religion,
and hospitality are prepared and written by her. It was only fair therefore that her name should appear on the title page of this book in recognition of her valuable contribution. I am deeply grateful to her for her help and input. I also need to thank my children, who suffered through my learning experience and projects for self-improvement in parenting skills, and my mother, whose life-long interest in the growth and development of children helped me understand the importance of the matter and the need for a book such as this. A final note, to the book’s non-Muslim readers: I have chosen to use the word Allah throughout the book instead of the word God. The words are interchangeable in English for Muslims, but all of the women involved in this project have the habit, indeed, they have the love of referring to God, the God of Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, by His Arabic name, Allah.
Breathing new life into timeless biblical tales, Arthur Miller charmingly reimagines the Book of Genesis from the temptation of Adam and Eve to the fraternal tragedy of Cain and Abel. In the beginning, God, generally satisfied with his creation, is nonetheless perplexed by Adam and Eve—why won’t they multiply? It takes wily Lucifer to interest them in anything more than playing handball in the Garden of Eden, but their new knowledge comes at a price. The first family is exiled from paradise—just as Lucifer is banned from heaven—and a fallen, morally ambiguous state becomes the destiny of humankind. Though The Creation of the World and Other Business was Arthur Miller’s first Broadway comedy, it is full of the searching insight and sparkling dialogue that distinguish his best dramas.