Principles of Upbringing Children

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Principles of Upbringing Children

This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought

Author: Ayatullah Ibrahim Amini
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Download: 1605


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Principles of Upbringing Children

Principles of Upbringing Children


This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought

Principles of Upbringing Children

Author: Ayatollah Ibrahim Amini

Table of Contents

The Translator’s Note4

Foreword 5

The Parents Responsibility 7

The Knowledge and Mutual Co-Operation of the Educators11

Training through Deeds, not Just Talk13

Abstain from Domestic Differences15

Starting Life as a Mother19

Welfare of the Embryo (foetus) Depends on the Mothers Nutrition21

The Effects of the Mothers Nutrition on the Foetus22

The Mothers Nutrition 22

Consuming Tobacco 24

When Pregnant Women Fall Ill26

Effect of the Psychological Condition of the Mother on the Embryo26

An Advice to Pregnant Women 29

Clean Environment29


Difficult Deliveries33

After the Birth 36

Mother’s Milk: The Best Nutrition 37

Supplement the Mothers Milk 39

Weaning from Mothers Milk 39

The Schedule of Breast Feeding 40

If the Mother is Deficient in Milk 43

Weaning the Child 44

Daughter or Son 45

Naming the Child 47

Health and Hygiene49

The Childs Sleep and Freedom of Movement51

The Most Delicate Period of Life52

The Newborn and Moral Up-bringing54

Religious Upbringing of the New Born56

The Sense of Belonging 58

When the Child Starts to See the World around Him60

Affection 60

The Expression of Love and Affection64

Love: Not an Instrument of Convenience66

Love Should not become a Hindrance to Good Upbringing67

The Spoilt Child 68

Sucking of Thumbs70


Play and Recreation 76

Conceit or Pride80

Taqlid or Emulation 80

Search for Truth 83

Self Confidence86


Work and Performance of Duties96


Keeping Promises103

Ownership 104

Magnanimity 106

A Helping Hand in Good Work 109


Justice and Equality 112

Respect for the Children 114

Self Assessment and Meaningful Existence117

The Income of the Household and Expenses119

Respect for the Law 120


Theft and Kleptomania 123

Jealousy 126


Tongue Lashing and Impertinence131

Backbiting or Carrying Words132

Fault Finding 133

Children’s Quarrels134

Friends and Friendship 138

The Child and Theological Education141

The Child and the Religious Duties142

Political and Social Thinking 145

The Child and the Radio and Television146

The Gender Problems149

The Habit of Reading Books156

Physically Handicapped Children 159

Physical Punishment161

Non Physical Punishments164

Encouragement and Reward 166

The Translator’s Note

My friend Riaz Ahmed gave me a copy of the Urdu translation of the book to read and attempt its translation into the English language. He told me that the sponsors are keen to have the book published in the English language for the benefit of young, eligible, girls, newly married couples and expectant mothers who do not have proficiency in Persian, the language of the original text, nor can they read Urdu in which it has been translated and published.

After reading the book I am convinced that it is a highly commendable project. I feel a copy should reach every household. It should be a part of the dower of newly wed brides, it should be presented to the young married couples and it must be there on every family bookshelf. The book should adorn the bed-side table of every young couple and will be a very useful reference and guide for proper upbringing of children.

Ayatollah Ustadh Ibrahim Amini has rightly pointed out in his foreword that the western libraries are chock full of works on child rearing and upbringing, but we find hardly any comprehensive reference on the subject with particular emphasis on the Islamic norms and guidelines for upbringing of children. The Western works are more materialistic which emphasize only on the material and moral aspects of child rearing. It is Islam that covers all the aspects including the religious and spiritual guidelines for bringing up the children as good Muslims and citizens. He has extensively quoted from the Holy Book and the Traditions of the Holy Prophet and his Infallible Descendants.

The need for English translations of Islamic works is universally felt and lot of work is being done in this direction. There is a very large section of Muslim youth, although fluent at speaking in their native languages, are more comfortable communicating in English which has assumed the status of lingua franca for them. We also come across people from other faiths who are curious to know more about Islam and they wish to have access to good literature on the subject in the English language. If the publication of the translation of this book sees the light of the day, it will be another small, but significant step, towards dissemination of Islamic precepts to a wide spectrum of people in the East and the West. Insha Allah.

Syed Tahir Bilgrami


11, Methodist Colony, Begumpet,

Hyderabad-500016, INDIA


There is pronounced difference between education and training or upbringing. Education means inculcation of knowledge, or imparting the meanings of the contents of curricula. But upbringing is moulding of personalities on desired lines. The society can be transformed with proper upbringing of its population.

It is imperative that upbringing is based on well thought out programme to ensure the degree of desired success. Upbringing is not only sermonizing and admonishing but it requires creation of the right environment towards attainment of the desired results. The criteria necessary for proper upbringing can be listed as:

1. The mentor should be properly acquainted with the student whose upbringing he is assigned to take up. He should familiarize himself with the physical and mental status of the student.

2. The mentor should have defined aims of the training programme for the student. The ultimate goal of the upbringing process has to be the development of the student into a humane person.

3. The training programme to be inclusive of the desirable criteria and conditions for producing best results. The mentor then can expect positive results over a period of time.

The best period for commencement of the upbringing or training is the childhood of the student. Childhood is the most impressionable period in the life of a person. At this delicate and responsible juncture the parents can play a very crucial role. But upbringing of small children is not an easy and simple function and requires deep thought of identification , knowledge, experience, determination and perseverance in the mentor or the parents.

It is sad that most parents are found ignorant of the art of upbringing of the children. This is the reason most children are not receiving upbringing on desirable lines and they keep growing like self sustained saplings.

In the progressive countries of the West and the East upbringing of children receives prime importance. They have conducted lot of research in this field. Many useful books have been published on the subject and they have many experts in the field.

But in our country scant attention has been given to this crucial matter. We have few knowledgeable persons in this discipline and very few books on the subject which are absolutely insufficient. Quite a few books have been translated from other languages into Persian which are available to people. But these books from the West and the East have two big lacunae.

The first lacuna is that they treat of only the physical requirement of the students and the stress is on the worldly education of the subjects. All the research rotates around these aspects only and they are totally silent on the spiritual aspect of human life and have ignored any reference to mention of the concept of hereafter.

In the West the only objective is to train the children for their bodies and minds for the attainment of worldly conveniences and pleasures so that when they grow up they have ideal living conditions at their disposal. And if these books deal with the subject of morality they limit themselves to the treatment of morality specific only to the worldly benefits and are totally silent about the rewards or retribution which one can earn on the basis of his actions during the worldly life.

The second lacuna is that the training problems in the West are dependence for a solution only on past experiences and statistics. There is no impress of "Faith” in this process. Therefore, these books are not of comprehensive utility for the people of the Muslim Faith. In the eyes of a Muslim the human being has two pronounced aspects—one is the body and the other is the spirit. One pertains to the worldly life and the other to the Hereafter.

In view of this the writer has decided to study and research and thereafter present the conclusions to the seekers of knowledge in the form of a book. For the writing of this book the main source of information has been the Holy Quran, the books of tradition and the writings on moral science. Reference has also been made to works in Arabic and Persian on the training of children, their psychology, health etc.

The books written by Iranian scholars on the upbringing of children were also kept in view. The personal experiences of the author have also been invaluable in this effort. It is hoped that this humble presentation will be of use to the mentors who are associated with the training of impressionable minds in the Muslim community.

Ibrahim Amini Najafabadi

January 1980

The Parents Responsibility

In the eyes of Islam the status of the father and the mother is very exalted. Allah, the Holy Prophet and the Infallible Imams have exhorted the people in this regard. There are a lot of verses in the Holy Book relevant to the subject. The exemplary behaviour of children towards their parents is rated as one of the best invocations.

Allah says:

"Your God has decreed that thou shalt worship only Him and adopt good behaviour with (thy) parents”(Quran, 17:23)

Imam Jafer as Sadiq observes:

"Three actions are the best: (a) Offer the five mandatory prayers with punctuality.(b) Maintain good behaviour with your parents.(c) Struggle in the cause of Allah (Usul al Kafi, book 2, p. 158)

Now the question arises why this exalted position has been bestowed on the parents of the FaithfulIs Allah giving this status for no specific reason? What big deed the parents perform for their progeny that they are deemed deserving of the august status. The father, in satisfaction of his carnal desire transfers his sperm into the womb of the mother where it compounds with the ovum and a new being starts to develop and after nine months of the incident arrives into the world as a tiny babe.

The mother suckles it and gives it other nutrition. Sometimes she cleans it and sometimes changes its raiment. She cares of its wetness and dryness. During this time the father takes care of the expenses required for the upkeep of the child. Don’t the parents have any other responsibility besides these?

Is it because of performing these duties that the parents have been endowed with the exalted status?Do the parents only have a right over their off-spring and the children don’t have any rights over them? In my opinion no one will accept any such one sided privilege. The traditions of the Infallibles of the Holy Prophet’s Family are quoted in this regard:

The Holy Prophet of Islam has said: "As your father has a right over you, so does your progeny have a similar right.”(Majma al zawaid, v 8, p. 146)

The Prophet also said: "As are the children disinherited for their disobedience so also it is possible that the parents may be disowned by the children for not fulfillling their bonden duties. (Bihar al-anwar, v 19, p. 93)

The Prophet said: "Allah’s curse on such parents who become the cause of disinheriting their children.”(Makarim al akhlaq, p 518)

Imam Sajjad said: "Your children have a right that you consider if they are good or they are bad. You have been the cause of their birth and the world recognizes them as your offspring. It is your responsibility that you teach them good manners and guide them toward the recognition and obedience of Allah. Your behaviour towards your children must be of a person who believes that a good deed shall get a suitable reward and ill treatment shall call for retribution.”(Makarim al akhlaq p. 484)

The Commander of the Faithful, Ali says: "Beware, your behavior might render your family and your relatives part of the ill fated people.”(Ghurar al hukm, p. 802)

The Prophet said: "Whoever wishes that his children are safe from disinheritance, he should help them performing good deeds.”(Majma al zawaid, v 8, p. 158)

The Prophet also said: "To whomsoever a daughter is born should strive to impart norms of good behaviour to her and make efforts to educate her. Provide means of comfort to her that she becomes a cause of his deliverance from the Hell Fire. (Majma al zawaid, v 8, p. 158)

Above all, Allah says in the Holy Quran: "O, BelieversSave yourselves and your dependents from the fire whose fuel are humans and the stones.”(Quran, 66:6)

The time when a child is in the process of adopting a way of life which can make him either virtuous or wicked, he can be metamorphosed into a perfect human being or a degraded wild animal.

The virtue or wickedness of a person will be dependent on the upbringing he receives and this responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of the parents. In fact the parents are instruments of shaping a human being, good or bad, from the child. The greatest service which the parents can render to their children is that they train them to be good mannered, kind, friends of humans, well meaning, freedom loving, bold, just, wise, righteous, noble, faithful, dutiful, hard working, educated.

The parents must mould their children in such a way that they are successful both in the world and hereafter. Only such people are those who are endowed with the exalted status of parenthood, and not those who in fulfilllment of their carnal desire caused the birth of children and left the children to fend for themselves and rendering them likely to fall into evil ways.

The Holy Prophet said: "The best thing a father provide to his child is good manners and ethical training.”(Majma al zawaid, v 8, p. 159)

The mother has a more important function to perform towards the upbringing of the progeny. Even during the pregnancy the mother’s food habits and her behaviour affects the future virtuosity or otherwise of the developing child.

The Prophet of Islam said:

"Lucky is the one whose foundation of his virtue has been made in the womb of the mother and unlucky is one whose wickedness had its rudiments in the mother’s womb as well”(Bihar al-anwar, v 77, pp. 115-133)

“Heaven (i.e janna)is under the feet of one’s mother.”(Mustadrak al-wasail, v 2, p 38)

The parents, who don’t pay attention to the education and training of their children, become guilty of gross negligence. Such parents must be asked whether the innocent child pleaded with him to give him birth in the world to be abandoned like sheep and cattle. Now that you have become the cause of his existence, by virtue of religious tenets and human wisdom his education and training is your bonden duty.

The parents are also answerable to the society. Today’s children will be men and women, the citizens of tomorrow. The fabric of the society will be made of these individuals. Whatever lessons they learn today, they shall put them into practice tomorrow. If their upbringing today is perfect, the society of tomorrow shall be flawless. And if today’s generation follows a faulty programme of training it is imperative that tomorrow's society will be evil and perverted.

The personalities in the field s of politics, education and society shall emerge from these elements. Today’s children are tomorrow’s parents. Today’s children can be tomorrow’s reformers. If they have received good training at the hands of their parents, they in turn can carry forward this practice with their children. If the parents have the will, they can be the instruments of the reform of the society for the future and with neglect of the children they can be the cause of the ruination of the society. By giving the right training to their children, the parents can render invaluable service to their society.

Education and training should not be treated as an insignificant subject. The efforts which the parents make to educate their children and the hardships that they undergo in this quest result in the creation of thousands of professors, doctors, and engineers. It is the parents who strive to nurture perfect human beings, capable and pious mentors and other professionals.

The mothers in particular bear more responsibility for the upbringing of the children. The children spend most of their childhood with the mothers. The foundation of the direction their future is bound to take is laid here. So, the key to the vice or virtue of a person and the progress or decline of a society is with the mothers of the society. The woman’s place is not in the shop floor, ministerial or administrative positions. These functions don’t measure up to the importance of a woman as a mother. Mothers breed perfect human beings. Virtuous ministers, lawyers, professors owe their positions to the loving care received from their mothers during their formative years.

The parents, who nurture truthful, pious children not only serve their children and the society but also create a niche for themselves in the society. These children will be a support of the parents in their frail old age. If parents strive towards the education and upbringing of their children they reap the harvest of their troubles during their lifetime only.

Ali, The Commander of the Faithful, says:

“Evil off-spring is among the greatest hardships for the parents.”(Ghurar al hukm, p. 189)

“Evil off-spring causes loss of respect for the parents and the successors are shamed." (Ghurar al hukm, p. 780)

The Prophet of Islam says:

“May Allah bless the parents who trained their children to behave justly with them." (Makarim al akhlaq, p. 517)

Therefore those who attain parenthood have great responsibility on their shoulders. This responsibility is to Allah Almighty as also to their fellow human beings and also to their own children. If they discharge the responsibility properly they will be rewarded in this world and hereafter. But if they falter in the discharge of this responsibility then they themselves will be the losers and they will be tantamount to have cheated their own children and the society at large and they would be perpetrating an unpardonable sin.

The Knowledge and Mutual Co-Operation of the Educators

The training and upbringing of a child is not an easy and simple task that the parents can perform with little or no effort. This task requires, in fact, delicate handling and temperament. There are myriads of fine points to be considered to achieve success in the efforts. The mentor has to relate himself with the spirit of the child. He cannot perform the task without knowing the spiritual, psychological, educational and practical niceties of the job.

A child’s world is a world of his own and his imaginations and fantasies will be unique to him. These cannot be compared to the thought process of the adults. The child’s spirit will be delicate and will be very impressionable. The child will be a human being in miniature that has not as yet assumed a permanent identity but it has the capability to attain this change. The mentor of the child has to be capable of fathoming and identifying a human being and, also, identifying the mind of the children. He should have a keen eye on the intricacies of the process of upbringing. He should be aware of the human capabilities and failings. He should have sense of responsibility and keen interest in the job on hand

He should be patient and courageous that the hardships don’t overpower him. Besides, the rules of training are not rigid and cannot be implemented the same way under different circumstances. In fact these rules have to be modified and applied to each individual child according to his physical make up and mental capabilities. The parents must keenly observe the physical built of the child and educate him keeping this factor in mind. Otherwise, the effort may not bring about the desired result.

The man and woman should acquire knowledge about education and training before parenting a child. The education of the child commences with its birth and, in fact, from the time of conception. During this period the foundation of the child’s nature is established and his nature, behaviour, thinking process starts taking shape.

It is not right that the parents remain unconcerned during this visibly dormant period.

They postpone the upbringing of the expected new arrival till its actual arrival. They tend to keep away this task till the child is capable of distinguishing between good and bad behaviour. While it may be easier to correct the behavioural defects in the early stages, it may be difficult, if not impossible, to effect these corrections once the habits are formed.

Ali, The Commander of the Faithful, says:

“The most difficult politics is bringing about changes in the habits of people." (Ghurar al Hukm, p. 181)

“Habits settle down upon people.” (Ghurar al Hukm, p.580)

“Habits become second nature." (Ghurar al Hukm, p.260)

Shunning habits is so difficult that doing it is considered amongst better invocations.

Ali, The Commander of the Faithful, says:

“Overcoming bad habits is amongst benevolent invocations." (Ghurar al Hukm, p.176)

Another important factor in imparting ideal training to the child is the coordination and cooperation between the parents and other mentors like the grand parents on the programme of training to be followed. Their joint effort will produce the desired results. But if any one of them takes a cavalier attitude on the training process, the results may not me as desired.

The child should be made aware of its duty. When the parents give contrary directions the child gets confused. Particularly if they insist on their contrary points of view, there is likelihood of negative results in the process of the training of the child. The biggest difficulty in imparting training to the child is that the father makes a decision about him and the mother or the grand parents insist on a contrary course. There is always a need for such understanding between the mentors that the child is able to clearly understand what he has to do and the idea of doing anything against this does not enter his mind.

Sometimes it happens that the father is well educated and reasonable and the mother of the child is ill tempered and uneducated. Sometimes the situation is reversed, when the mother is better equipped to train the child and the father is not. Many families face this problem. Children in such families do not receive proper training. But this doesn’t mean that they should give up efforts of properly training their children.

In such a difficult situation the responsibility become more pronounced. The need in such a situation is to give more thought to the programme of educating the child. The parents should make sincere efforts to overcome the lacunae in their character and behaviour and give more attention to the children. With good actions the parents can attract the children’s attention and set a desirable example before them. The parent’s action should help the child to decide what is good for him and what is not. If the mentor is wise, thoughtful and patient he can to a greater extent counter the negative impact of his wife’s behaviour on the training of the child. This is no doubt a difficult task but there is no way out of it.

One intellectual says:

“A family in which the father and the mother think alike about the upbringing of the children and are able to mould their character and actions accordingly the impact on the senses of the children will be ideal. The family unit is a small society in which the child’s moral character assumes definite form. A family in which the members are friendly towards each other their children are generally mild mannered, self respecting and judicious. Against this, a family where the parents have the habit of contradicting each other their children will be morally deficient, pretentious and excitable."

Training through Deeds, not Just Talk

Most parents think that oral instructions and occasional talk about dos and don’ts is sufficient for good upbringing of children. They presume that the upbringing of the child is thus taken care of and they do not have to do anything about the upbringing of the child concerning other walks of life. This is why such parents do not feel any need to think of the upbringing till the child is a tiny tot. They say that the child is still a babe and is incapable of understanding anything about upbringing.

When the child comes to the age of understanding they give a thought to its upbringing. It is the period in the life of a child when he starts discriminating between good and bad. While this thinking is incorrect, the child, as a matter of fact, is ready for the upbringing the day he is born. He gets trained every moment and his nature is moulded in a particular way. Whether the parents are aware of this process or not the child does waits not for any initiative on their part. The child’s active mind and other senses are like a camera, which keeps preserving images of what happens in its environment.

A child of five to six years would have acquired a certain character. Good or bad habits would have got engrained in its nature and it would be a difficult task to bring about a change in his behaviour. The child, as a matter of fact, is a mimic. It tries to emulate its parents and the other inmates in its surroundings. The child views its parents with a degree of respect and makes efforts to copy their life style. Their actions become his yardstick for good and bad actions. The nature of a child is not cast in a mould but it takes the parents as the example to follow. The child depends more on the behaviour of the parents as a model for its actions than any amount of sermonizing.

The daughter observes her mother and learns the niceties of house keeping. She sees her father and understands the nature of men. The boy takes lessons about life from his father’s actions and from his mother’s behaviour he learns about the nature of women.

It is therefore necessary for responsible people to reform themselves at the outset and if they have any flaws in their behaviour they should avoid them. In a nutshell, they should mould themselves into good human beings before they embark on the road to parenthood.

The parents should give a thought to what sort of offspring the desire to give to the society. If they feel that their child should be a morally upright, kind, humane, freedom loving and responsible person then they too have to be owning such characteristics that they set an example for him to emulate. The mother wishes that her daughter should be responsible, kind, equanimous person who respects the feelings of her spouse then she should herself try to fit into these norms. The daughter will then observe the behaviour pattern of the mother and automatically mould herself the same way. If the mother is an ill tempered, lazy, disorderly, untidy and selfish person then she cannot expect to train her daughter only through lecturing on the norms of good behaviour.

Only those persons can competently train and bring up children properly who had similar upbringing themselves in their childhood. They will have better understanding of the nature and psyche of the children. The parents who have differences and pick up fights over trivialities will be incompetent in bringing up children. Similarly professional educators who have taken up the task only for the material remuneration, who are impatient, excitable and do not have an understanding of the child’s nature and psyche will not be able to put their trainees on the right track.

Dr. Jalali writes:

“Whosoever has the responsibility of upbringing a child should occasionally do introspection on his own character and behaviour, realize his responsibilities and try to correct his failings."

Ali, The Commander of the Faithful, says:

"The person who is in the lead should first reform himself and then try to correct others. Before teaching the norms of good behaviour to others he should set an example himself. One who educates himself in learning and manners is more deserving of respect than he who only teaches the norms of good behaviour to others." (as quoted in the edited work, Nahj al balaghah)

“You respect your elders that your children respect you." (Ghurar al Hukm, p.546)

“If you wish to reform others, then commence the exercise with reforming yourself. If you like to correct others and keep yourself flawed it will be the biggest blemish." (Ghurar al Hukm, p. 278)

“When the talking tongue is silent on sermonizing and the actions of the sermonizer speak for themselves, then no ears can keep the sermon out and nothing is more effectively beneficial than this." (Ghurar al Hukm, p.232)

One lady writes in a letter:

"…. my parents’ character has deeply impressed me. They have always been kind to their children. I never found any flaw in their words or deeds. We also acquired this habit. I cannot forget their good character and behavior. Now that I am a mother my endeavour is to see that I don’t do any thing in the presence of the children, which is not considered good. My parent’s character is the example to be emulated in my life. I try to see that my children too are brought up the same way."

Another lady wrote in a letter:

“…. When I recapitulate my past life I recall that my mother used to argue and shout on trivial matters. Now that I am a mother I feel that with a little difference my condition is nearly the same as my mother’s was. All her negative manners have become a part of my character. The strange problem is that however much I try to reform myself I am unable to make much progress. Definitely it is proved in my case that the parents’ character and behaviour has far reaching effect on the moulding of the character of their children. The saying, therefore, is correct that a mother with the good training of her children can transform the world."