There was once a poet by the name of Muhammad bin Basheer who had an overweight (and lazy) son. One day, Muhammad bin Basheer sent his son on an errand. However, the boy took long to return, and when he did eventually come back, his father learnt that he did not even attend to the errand. Overcome by frustration, Muhammad bin Basheer looked at his son and said,

His mind is (small like) the mind of a bird, and he is the size of a camel.

Hearing this, his son spontaneously responded:

I resemble you, O my father, and I will not be any different to you! (Al-Mustatraf pg. 269)

While the father should not have criticized his son’s obesity when correcting him, and while the son should not have responded to his father in this disrespectful manner, we nevertheless see an important theme in the above incident – the apple does not fall far from the tree. Hence, the son informed his father that his own laziness and obesity was the result of him emulating his father.

How many a parent complains about their child being dishonest, disobedient and disrespectful, yet they themselves are guilty of the very same sins – if not in their relationship with other people then in their relationship with Allah Ta‘ala?

It is for this reason that the first step required in the upbringing of the child is for the parent to first rectify and reform their own condition and relationship with Allah Ta‘ala so that he or she can set a good example for their child. When the child sees the parents leading a life of piety, honesty, righteousness, integrity, hayaa and respect, etc. then generally, the child begins to imbibe these very same qualities.

On the contrary, when the child sees the parents lax in salaah, negligent regarding purdah, dishonest in their relationship with Allah Ta‘ala and people, ignorant regarding basic shar‘ee laws, not showing the required respect in matters of Deen, etc. then it is most probable that the child will imbibe these very same contemptible and reprehensible traits from his parents.

Such is the influence of the parent on the Deen of the household that once, Maalik bin Dinaar (rahimahullah) saw a man performing salaah in an incorrect manner and remarked, “How I pity his household!” Hearing this, a person enquired, “Why is it that this man is performing salaah incorrectly, yet you are expressing sympathy for his household?” Maalik bin Dinaar (rahimahullah) replied, “He is the senior in the home, and it is from him that the household will learn and take direction (hence, if this is the poor condition of his salaah, then most likely, the condition of his household’s salaah will be even worse).” (Hilyatul Awliyaa vol. 2, pg. 274)

Furthermore, when a person reforms his condition, repairs his relationship with Allah Ta‘ala and strives to lead a life of piety, then Allah Ta‘ala generally assists him and helps him to raise his children in the correct Islamic manner, and blesses his progeny with piety. Hence, the renowned Taabi‘ee, Muhammad bin Munkadir (rahimahullah), once said, “On account of a man’s piety, Allah Ta‘ala blesses his child and grandchild with piety as well.” (Az-Zuhd – Ibnul Mubaarak #330)

With the new school-year commencing, the attention and focus of most parents is on school and their children’s educational activities and academic performance. However, far more important than their worldly education is their Deeni upbringing and education.

If we become good examples for our children to emulate and give them a good, Islamic upbringing, they will be a delight to us in this world and an investment for us in the next. Conversely, if we set a poor example for them and neglect to give them the correct Islamic upbringing, then we will suffer the consequences in this world and in the Hereafter as well.

May Allah Ta‘ala bless us and our progenies with piety, aameen.