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The expectant mother…advice to her

It is irrefutable that the mother’s proper nourishment has telling effect on the health of the yet-to-bo-born child. In the like manner, the spiritual nourishment of the mother is no less important. If the mother is desirous of an obedient, pious and spiritually healthy child-and which Muslim parent isn’t? – she has no choice but to think and act in a manner which will manifest the luminous spirit of Islam. She will have to spend much time offering her devotions to Allah by performing salaat, making dhikr, reciting the Holy Quraan etc. This will have a two-fold result: the mother will remain spiritually and mentally healthy and at the same time the child will be inheriting piety, good manners and many other angelic qualities - Inshallah.
 
 It is no wonder then that these angelic qualities are often manifested in the infancy of many a great personality. It is said of some Auliyaa-Allah that they were born with certain portions of the Holy Quraan already imprinted in their memory. Others even refused to drink the milk of their mother during the holy month of Ramadaan. 
 

Here is an authentic incident mentioned in the Bukhari and Muslim to substantiate that the acts of virtue of parents certainly have positive effects on their progenies for generations to come.

 Aboo Talhah (RA), a companion of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu-alayhi-wasallam) had a son who had fallen gravely ill. During that period the father had to leave home for a number of days on an important errand, leaving the child to the care of the mother. Whilst away, the sickness caused the death of the child.  
 
The mother beseeched the people not to inform her husband even when he returned. When he returned his very first enquiry was about his son. When answered that he (their son) is presently in a more comfortable state than that which he had been in… meaning that death had rendered him peace and comfort. By this answer the husband understood that he had recuperated. She then offered him his supper which he ate with relish. The good wife then even adorned herself as best she could which filled him with passionate feelings. When she saw that his needs had been tended to then only did she disclose to him the death of their son. This stark news proved a severe blow to him. He was annoyed and overcome with intense grief… that she had not disclosed to him the child’s fate earlier, and, instead allowed him to perform an act which necessitates ghusl. 
 
 
At daybreak he approached Rasoolullah (Sallallahu-alayhi-wasallam) and related to him what had transpired during the night. Rasoolullah (Sallallahu-alayhi-wasallam) intently asked him whether they had copulated. When he answered in the affirmative, he blessed them by saying: “O Allah, grant them blessings for what had transpired during the night.” A male issue was born of them whose Tahneek was done by Rasoolullah (Sallallahu-alayhi-wasallam). He named him “Abdullah”. When Abdullah grew up and married, Allah Ta’ala blessed him with nine children, all of whom became huffaaz of the Holy Quraan and leaned Ulamaa of their time. This overwhelming attainment can only be attributed to the acts of virtue of the grand-mother of these ulamaa. 
 
 
It becomes apparent from the above incident that acts of virtue of parents not only have a telling effect on their children but also on their progenies for generations to come.
 

When a child is born…

It is indeed a joyous occasion when parents are blessed with a child. However, the extent of the joy could be enhanced even further if the laus of Shariat are adhered to and all other meaningless rituals are cast aside since they are neither mentioned in the Holy Quraan nor cited in the Hadeeth. 

After birth the child should be given proper ghusl. Thereafter the message of the Greatness and Oneness of Allah Ta’ala, and the prophethood of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu-alayhi-wasallam) should be the first words to reach the child’s innocent ears. This should be accomplished by giving azaan near his right ear and iqaamat close to his left. This noble task should be the prerogative of an aalim or pious elder of the family. If such a person is not at hand then any Muslim male may perform this sunnah. 
 

Precaution against misfortune

In order to safeguard children against misfortune, the following duaa should be recited as often as possible and “blown” on the child: 

I seek protection by the perfect words of Allah from the evil of every devil and reptile, and from the evil of every revengeful eye. 

Ayatul-Kursi and the four Quls may also be recited and “blown” on the child.
 

 The afterbirth and naval-cord

The afterbirth and naval-cord should be buried with due care since they are portions of the human body. As such, it should be treated with respect and honour. Disposing it in the drain or garbage is contrary to this concept. It is for this reason, too, that the dead body of a human being may not be cremated or abandoned in a pit for vultures and other animals to devour it… as is customary among the people of other religions. 
 

Feeding

As the infant is the offspring of its mother, it is common knowledge that the mother’s milk is the most suitable source of nourishment for the baby. Therefore, the mother should most obligingly fulfill her duty of breast-feeding the child. By so doing bonds of love, affection and intimacy are strengthened between mother and child, and in the process, good habits and character are transmitted to the child. All these and countless other benefits are contained in breast-feeding. Artificial methods of feeding are all devoid of these advantages. Other methods of feeding should only be resorted to if ill-health or other circumstances do not permit her to breast-feed the child. However, she must ensure that no haraam food is consumed by the child. Bismillah should always be recited before feeding. 
 

Maximum period for breast-feeding

The maximum period for which a child could be breast-fed is two years. To exceed this period is not permissible since the use of any part of the human body, without necessity, is not allowed. The milk of the mother is portion of the human body and there is no necessity to feed the child for more than two years. Therefore not to wean the child after the permissible period is haraam.
 

 The child’s attire

Muslim males may not adorn themselves with clothes of silk or any red and bright orange (saffron) colour. Neither gold nor silver ornaments. Adornment is characteristic of womanhood.

 Parents should also ensure that children dress in an honourable and modest manner-never imitating the ostentatious styles that may be in vogue. Due to the incorrect concept of ‘freedom’ and ‘broad-mindedness’, parents allow their children to dress and act in a manner they wish. This eventually results in problematic, rebellious and disobedient children who in adolescent stages cause parents and society untold heartbreak and much anxiety.
 

 Hair, aqeeqah and naming the child

It is mustahab to remove the baby’s hair and to observe the aqeeqah and to name the child on the seventh day after birth. Gold or silver equivalent to the weight of the removed hair may be given as charity to the poor. Otherwise its equivalent value in money. The hair, being a portion of the human body should be buried with due respect. Aqeeqah is a form of Sadaqah whereby the child is safeguarded against misfortunes. Two sheep or two goats are offered for a boy while one goat or sheep suffices for a girl. If the seventh day co-incides with the days of qurbaani then portions of a cow, ox or camel may be offered as qurbaani and portions as aqeeqah.
 

 Khatnah or circumcission

Circumcission before seven years is mustahab. The baby’s health must be taken into consideration before deciding on khatnah. However, khatnah before he attains twelve years is imperative. 
 

When the child begins to talk

The child should first be taught to say the kalimah when he begins to talk:
 

 Education and good manners

Islam lays considerable emphasis on education and good character. It is the children’s rightful claim to be given sound Islamic education and taught good manners. This will not only afford the children happiness in both the worlds, but they will prove great assets to both, their families and society as well. This is why Rasoolullah (Sallallahu-alayhi-wasallam) declared good manners as the ‘best thing’ a father can impart to his children. He also declared the mother as the ‘shepherdess’ of the household which implies that she is responsible for the correct upbringing of her children.
 

 What parents owe their children

  • Self-esteem: Parents owe their children personal worth and self-esteem which are the cornerstones for sound mental health. A child who is constantly criticized, “put down”, reproached, made to feel stupid and inept, continually compared with brothers or cousins who do better, will become so unsure and so terrified that he or she will lose enthusiasm for learning and becoming successful.

 

  • Praising the child and expressing love: A child needs to be praised every now and again for his achievements and good behaviour. Some parents find it difficult to voice their approval or praise the child. However, there are other modes of expressing approval as well-a smile, caress or a kiss will convey approval. All these acts of love are very essential for producing children who are healthy in mind and body. It is for this reason that our Shariah lays considerable stress on showing love and affection the children. Rasoolullah (Sallallahu-alayhi-wasallam) said that one who does not have mercy on our children and does not respect our elders, is not from among us.
     

  • Equality: Parents should always treat their children equitably. Children tend to grow miserable, lose confident, become discouraged and resentful if parents show favoritism towards a particular child. It is related by Hadhrat Aaisha (RA) that once she offered a date to a lady beggar who was accompanied by her two daughters. The lady shared the date between her two daughters, depriving her self of a share. Then she departed. When Rasoolullah (Sallallahu-alayhi-wasallam) came home, she related to him the incident. He said: “Whoever is involved with any daughters, and he treats them well (equitably), this will serve as a protection for him from the Fire.”
     

  • Basic Islamic education: It is the duty of every parent to ensure that his children have basic Islamic education which covers aqaaid or Islamic beliefs, the five principles of Islam, the rules and masaail pertaining to these five principles and the correct recital of the Holy Quran.
     

  • Standards and values: Decent standards and solid values should also be taught to the child.  This means being respectful to parents, elders, the Ulama, teachers and just laws.

 
Cleanliness and other necessary precautions

Shariat has termed cleanliness half of Imaan. As such the mother should personally accomplish all maternal devotions such as feeding, bathing and keeping the child clean and paak. Soiled clothes must be cleaned without delay so that the danger of bacteria spreading is nipped in the bud. Thus, barakah and happiness will abound. The baby should also be immunized against infantile diseases. This does not, however, imply lack of faith and reliance in Allah.

 
Naming the child

It is the infant’s vested right to be honoured with a good name. When choosing a name for the child, it should be done with the intention that the child will be blessed with the barakah of that name. Here are some Ahadeeth to show the importance of selecting a good and correct name: 

Ibne Umar (RA) relates Rasoolullah (Sallallahu-alayhi-wasallam) as saying: “Truly, the most loved of your names by Allah are Abdullah and Abdur-Rahmaan.”

It is also reported in the Aboo Dawood that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu-alayhi-wasallam) said: “keep the names of prophets. And the most desirable names by Allah Ta’ala are Abdullah and Abdur-Rahmaan. And names that depict honesty are Haarith and Hammam. And the most disliked ones are Harb and Murrah.” 

Nicknames

Parents are apt to call their children with nicknames, and in a good number of cases these names endure to the exclusion of real ones. While choosing nicknames or calling names care should be taken to see to it that one does not fall ashamed to be addressed by it in full grown age.  

Some parents intentionally corrupt the names of their children, just in a fondly way, but later on this corruption goes so deep that it is beyond correction. As for instance Muhammad is turned into Mamad, Ahmed into Amad, Ebrahim into Ibu, Yusuf into Isop and so on. The parents are the root cause of such mutilations. They should avoid this sort of habit.   Islamic philosophy of naming is that a child must have a good name, significant of good augury, congenial to human nature sweet, serene, noble, indicative of submission to the Almighty, avoiding names suggestive of ferociousness or sanguinity. The name should not smack of dirtiness, incivility, abuse or debasement. 

The last but not least point to be kept in view while naming a child is that the Muslim identity should not be lost in strange and foreign names. The Muslims must be able to clearly make out whether a man or a woman belongs to Muslim society by just hearing their names. That is, the names must be familiar and relative to Muslims. There is nothing wrong in naming a girl as Rosy, or Rosetta, but on hearing it her identity is lost. Such un-Muslim names must be avoided even in nicknames or calling names.   Every man and woman must have a distinct name but it is not possible to do so. Hence, human ingenuity and inventing power has attached prefixes and suffices to common names just to make out one from the other. This glossary also contends itself only with more common names in vogue among Muslims of Indo-Pak origin. 

It is hoped the website will prove useful to parents and relatives of new-borns to choose and select names of their choice from this glossary. 

Humiliating and debasing names must also be eschewed as such names degrade a man and hurt his self-respect. Some sections give their children degrading names to cast off evil eyes and ward off the Angel of death. These are mere superstitions and revolting to the spirit of Islam. 

Another point to be remembered in giving names is that bondman ship of a child must be attached to Allah alone and to none else. Hence, such names as Abdur Rasul, Ghulam Nabi, Ghulam Husain, Kalbe Ali (the dog of Ali), etc., must be shunned.  

The Prophet  (Sallallahu-alayhi-wasallam) ordered to give a good name to the child on the seventh day, and cleanse it of the dirt (i.le. the hair of the head) and perform Aqiqah.  

It is advisable to give children names of Arabic origin. This tends to create a sense of attachment towards the language of the origin of Islam and also uniformity and familiarity amongst the Muslims of the world. One may reside in any part of the world but his name of Arabic origin will at once indicate that he is a Muslim. 

Compound names

During the prophet’s time the names were short and simple, but later on as Islam spread from country to country, the names also underwent great changes. Political upheavals developed personality-cult and the names of a section of Muslims revolved round Ali, Fateman, Hasan, Hussain. Others who shared equal love for all the caliphs combined their names such as Siddique Ali, Omer Ali, Uthman Ali. Many combined names where coined based on ‘Deen’, ‘Islam’ such as Hakimuddin (wise man of religion), Naserul Islam (Helper of Islam). Some liked to have prophet’s name prefixed to every name such as Muhammad Ali, Muhmmad Husain, Muhammad Hasan.  The as Islamic Government and society assumed greater dimensions, bombastic, flamboyant, high sounding lengthy names also came into vogue. If I try to compile combined names the task would be beyond the scope of the present booklet. It is sufficient to give some guidance on combines names to enable parents to coin the names of their choice:
 

1.    The combination must conform to the direction given by the holy prophet as mentioned above.

2.      All conceivable noble abstract qualities and good adjectives could be pressed into service
      to form combined name such as    Shujaa (courage), Shujauddin (courage of religion), Noor
     (light),  Noorul Islam (light of Islam), etc.

3.     Poetical names: Some like to give their children names in consonance with their own rhythm,
      metre and measure, lsuch as Ismail, Israel, Sulaman, Salman, Mohamed, Ahmed, etc.

4.      Historical names: These are based on the year of birth and only those well versedin
      arithmetical    poetry could make out fitting names.

 Remember, there exists behind each Islamic name an Islamic spirit and meaning, which, when distorted, is ruined. For example, there is intended love for the Prophet of Islam, and barakah when naming a child Muhammad. But when Muhammad is called Mahmad or Gammat, this spirit of love for Rasoolullah (Sallallahu-alayhi-wasallam) and the acquiring of barakah by such a name is shattered. Should we not then refrahin from such sacrilegious practices? 

May Allah Ta’ala guide us so that we may realize the beauty and uniqueness of the religion of Islam propounded by no other than the one who is the best of Allah’s creations-May Allah shower His choicest blessings upon him.

 May Allah Ta’ala guide us on the Right Path. May He also grant this humble effort of mine to be a fulfillment of a long-felt need amongst the Muslims-especially the English-speaking Muslims. Ameen!!! 

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