What is Child development?
Child development in Islam is a multifaceted concept that encompasses the physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual growth of a child. Islam provides guidance on parenting and child-rearing, emphasizing the importance of creating a nurturing and supportive environment for children. Here are key aspects of child development in Islam:
Emotional Development & Nurturing Environment: Islam encourages parents to create a loving and nurturing environment for their children. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) set an example of showing affection and kindness to children. Islam teaches parents to be attentive to the emotional needs of their children. Showing love, empathy, and support helps children develop a strong sense of emotional security. E.g. Kissing your child
عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، قَالَتْ قَدِمَ نَاسٌ مِنَ الأَعْرَابِ عَلَى رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالُوا أَتُقَبِّلُونَ صِبْيَانَكُمْ فَقَالُوا نَعَمْ . فَقَالُوا لَكِنَّا وَاللَّهِ مَا نُقَبِّلُ . فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ” وَأَمْلِكُ إِنْ كَانَ اللَّهُ نَزَعَ مِنْكُمُ الرَّحْمَةَ ” . وَقَالَ ابْنُ نُمَيْرٍ ” مِنْ قَلْبِكَ الرَّحْمَةَ ” .
‘A’isha (ra) reported that there came a few desert Arabs to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and said:
Do you kiss your children? He said: Yes. Thereupon they said: By Allah but we do not kiss our children. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: Then what can I do if Allah has deprived you of mercy? Ibn Numair said: (We has deprived) your heart of mercy.
(Sahih Muslim 2317)
Discipline: Islam advocates for fair and constructive discipline. While correcting undesirable behaviour, parents are encouraged to avoid harshness and to use positive reinforcement. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) emphasized the importance of gentleness in correcting children.
أَنَسَ بْنَ مَالِكٍ، يُحَدِّثُ عَنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ أَنَّهُ قَالَ “ أَكْرِمُوا أَوْلاَدَكُمْ وَأَحْسِنُوا أَدَبَهُمْ ” . قَالَ
Anas bin Malik narrated that the Messenger of Allah(ﷺ) said:
“Be kind to your children, and perfect their manners.”
(Sunan Ibn Majah 3671)
Instilling Morality and Values: Islam guides parents in instilling Islamic values and moral principles in their children. Teaching honesty, integrity, kindness, and compassion is crucial for their character development. Let’s look at the story of Luqman (as) advising his son:
وَإِذْ قَالَ لُقْمَـٰنُ لِٱبْنِهِۦ وَهُوَ يَعِظُهُۥ يَـٰبُنَىَّ لَا تُشْرِكْ بِٱللَّهِ ۖ إِنَّ ٱلشِّرْكَ لَظُلْمٌ عَظِيمٌۭ
And ˹remember˺ when Luqmân said to his son, while advising him, “O my dear son! Never associate ˹anything˺ with Allah ˹in worship˺, for associating ˹others with Him˺ is truly the worst of all wrongs.”
(Surah Luqman :13)
يَـٰبُنَىَّ إِنَّهَآ إِن تَكُ مِثْقَالَ حَبَّةٍۢ مِّنْ خَرْدَلٍۢ فَتَكُن فِى صَخْرَةٍ أَوْ فِى ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ أَوْ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ يَأْتِ بِهَا ٱللَّهُ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَطِيفٌ خَبِيرٌۭ
˹Luqmân added,˺ “O my dear son! ˹Even˺ if a deed were the weight of a mustard seed—be it ˹hidden˺ in a rock or in the heavens or the earth—Allah will bring it forth. Surely Allah is Most Subtle, All-Aware.
(Surah Luqman :16)
Spiritual Development: Islam places significant emphasis on the spiritual development of children. Parents are encouraged to teach them about Allah, the Quran, and the principles of Islam. Encouraging regular prayer and a connection with the spiritual aspects of life is fundamental. Again, Let’s look at the story of Luqman (as) advising his son:
يَـٰبُنَىَّ أَقِمِ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَأْمُرْ بِٱلْمَعْرُوفِ وَٱنْهَ عَنِ ٱلْمُنكَرِ وَٱصْبِرْ عَلَىٰ مَآ أَصَابَكَ ۖ إِنَّ ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ عَزْمِ ٱلْأُمُورِ
“O my dear son! Establish prayer, encourage what is good and forbid what is evil, and endure patiently whatever befalls you. Surely this is a resolve to aspire to.
(Surah Luqman :17)
Independence and Responsibility: Islam encourages the gradual development of a child’s independence and sense of responsibility. Parents are advised to gradually entrust children with age-appropriate tasks, allowing them to learn responsibility and develop confidence.
Positive Role Modelling: The behaviour and actions of parents significantly influence a child’s development. Islam emphasizes the importance of positive role modelling, as children often learn by observing the behaviour of their parents.
Community Involvement: Islam encourages a sense of community and social responsibility. Involving children in positive community activities helps them develop a sense of social awareness and responsibility.
Encouraging Talents and Skills: Parents are encouraged to identify and nurture the talents and skills of their children. Islam acknowledges the diversity of human abilities and encourages the development of individual strengths.
By incorporating these principles into parenting, Muslim families strive to raise children who are not only well-educated and responsible but also spiritually connected and morally upright according to Islamic teachings for their children.