Growing up we all learned about the importance of obeying our parents, whether from our imams at mosques or teachers at Sunday school. We were taught that it is an Islamic obligation to care for them as they age, to speak calmly with them, and to simply follow their instructions.
And while it is necessary that we care for our parents, the individuals who brought us into this world, bathed us, fed us, and protected us from the petrifying environment beyond our homes, Islam also recognizes the rights of children. In the Quran, children are referenced directly 297 times, each time emphasizing both their rights and obligations.
In a hadith narrated within Al-Kafi, three important responsibilities are outlined: Praying five times a day, struggling in the name of Allah (SWT), and maintaining a good relationship with your parents.
In this article, we will identify 6 Islamic responsibilities parents owe their children.
1. Parents have the responsibility to treat their children with kindness and love
There is a hadith in Sahih al-Bukhari that narrates an instance in which Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is kissing his children. A companion of the Prophet (PBUH) said, “I have ten children and have never kissed any of them.” Our Prophet (PBUH) in all his glory responded, “God will not have mercy on a person who does not have mercy on others.”
Our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) understood that everyone deserved love and kindness, especially children, whose upbringings are entirely the responsibility of parents. By implementing love and tolerance we offer them the space they need to discover love in both Allah (SWT) and themselves.
2. Parents have an obligation to teach their children the true way of Allah (SWT)
There is a verse in the Quran where Allah (SWT) exalts, “O, Believers, save yourselves and your dependents from the fire whose fuel are humans and the stones” (66:6).
A parent has more to do than simply feed their children or drive them to soccer practice. While those two activities are great, parents should strive to raise their children to be pious individuals. If a child steers off the right path because of a parent’s neglect or abuse, then the grave sin remains on the parent’s conscience, as they become the reason an individual turns away from Allah (SWT.) Parents have the obligation to raise God-loving children. However, I would like to clarify that if a parent has fulfilled their obligations but a child still veers away from the right path, it is not the parent’s fault.
In another hadith in Majma al Zawaid narrated by our Prophet (PBUH,) he states, “The best thing a father provides to his child is good manners and ethical training.”
3. Parents should provide food and shelter for their children
Nabi Muhammad (PBUH) utters a hadith in Al-Bukhari, “All of you are herdsmen. Just as a herdsman protects his herd, so you too should protect your households.”
In addition to Allah (SWT), parents are the providers of physical and emotional sustenance. Parents are responsible for giving their kids food to eat and clothes to wear. It is their obligation to not neglect their child and to grant them everything they need in order to endure the harshest winters and the hottest summers.
4. Parents must provide financial security for their children
In the Qur’an, Allah (SWT) establishes protection for the inheritance rights of children. The portion that a person’s daughters and sons must receive after the death of the father is illustrated by Allah (SWT) in Surah Al-Nisa, verse 11, and is intended to safeguard their future livelihoods and families
5. Children have the right to be respected, no matter their age
In any relationship, it is essential to give as much as you take. According to the book Majma al Zawaid, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) once said, “As your father has a right over you, so does your progeny have a similar right.”
Allah (SWT) loves all His creations and has given His creations their rights. And while parents are authority figures we owe exponentially in this life and the next, children are meant to be respected by parents, just as children are meant to respect their parents.
6. Parents must tolerate their child’s choice of marriage
Parents are not allowed to force their children into marriage, even if they intend to marry them for “good” reasons or to “good people.” The right to marry and who to marry is entirely up to the groom and bride. In Sahih Al-Bukhari, there is a hadith in which Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says forced marriage is prohibited.
Looking over these 6 responsibilities, it becomes clear that love and truth are at the heart of what makes a parent a “good” parent. As much as children should serve their parents fairly, “wealth and children are an adornment of the life of the world” (18:46). Children are a gift to us from Allah (SWT), and our ticket to Paradise, as illustrated by the verse “My Lord, grant me [a child] from amongst the righteous” (37:100).
The Quran strives to show us the delicacy and importance of children, and the honor of raising offspring that are pleasing to our Lord. It is through caring for them that we may foster individuals who are truly following the path of Allah while aiding the society in which we live through charity, patience, and innovation.