When we examine the world around us, we find that every living creation, be it from the plant or animal kingdom, requires some form of nourishment to survive and thrive. In the case of plants, the required nourishment will generally come from the sunlight it receives and the water and minerals it absorbs through its roots. As for animals and humans, then their nourishment is found in the diet they consume.
However, the food we consume and liquids that we drink only nourish and maintain our physical bodies, whereas Allah Ta‘ala has created us as intricate and complex beings who have also been endowed with personalities and mindsets that shape and influence our actions and reactions. In this regard, the single-most essential ‘nutrient’ to produce a stable, well-adapted individual who has a complete and harmonious personality is that of love. Thus, if one is deprived of love, especially from a young age, then one’s character will suffer disastrous and long-lasting damage.
Psychological studies have discovered that many of the world’s most perverted and cruel serial killers shared a common trait – they had been abused and traumatized in their childhood. In this manner, when they were starved of love and affection, the spirit of kindness, compassion and empathy, inherent to each person, withered away and died within them, until this damage manifested in the twisted behaviour they then displayed and vile crimes they then committed.
On a lesser scale, teachers and Aapas can attest to the fact that in many cases, when a child displays aggressive tendencies in the class, then it is an indication of the child being exposed to the very same behaviour at home (be it the parents being abusive to the child, or one parent to the other).
All this highlights a vital and crucial point – a home which is unstable and void of love will result in a child who is accordingly unstable and incapable of showing love.
When it comes to the nourishment of love, then the very first bond of love that the child is introduced to is the bond of love that the believer shares with his Creator, Allah Ta‘ala. Hence, the very moment the child is born, the azaan is called out in the right ear and the iqaamah in the left ear of the child so that the first name he hears is the name of his Rabb which will be a means of igniting the spark of love for Allah Ta‘ala within his heart throughout his life. Thereafter, as the child grows and develops, we must continue to speak to him about the kindness, mercy, generosity and love of Allah Ta‘ala so that his bond of love with Allah Ta‘ala can continue to increase.
The second bond of love that we must make an effort to develop in our children is the bond of love which a believer shares with Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), as Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) is the person who is most worthy for our love, as he has done everything for us in connecting us to Allah Ta‘ala and leading us to Jannah.
The third bond of love is the love of the Quraan Majeed. In regard to these bonds of love, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) mentioned in the blessed hadeeth, “Instill three qualities within your children; love for your Nabi (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), love for the Ahlul Bayt (family of Rasulullah [sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam]), and (the quality of) reciting the Quraan Majeed.” (Dailami – Ithaaful Khiyaratil Maharah #7753 and Sheeraazi & Ibnun Najjaar – Faidhul Qadeer #311)
It should be remembered that while it is important to speak to the child regarding the love of Allah Ta‘ala, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and the Quraan Majeed – even more important is for the child to witness this love in the life of his parents (through their commitment to Deen and the sunnah), as it is this lesson, taught by example, that penetrates into the deepest recesses of the heart.
The fourth bond of love is the bond of love which every parent shares with his children. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), through his blessed and beautiful example, also taught us that we should nurture this bond by displaying and expressing love and affection to our children. Hence, it is reported that on one occasion, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) kissed his beloved grandson, Sayyiduna Hasan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu). At that time, Sayyiduna Aqra’ bin Haabis (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) was seated by Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). (On witnessing the affection and love which Rasulullah [sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam] had expressed,) he mentioned, “Indeed I have ten children, yet I have not kissed one of them.” (Hearing this,) Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) looked at him and said, “The one who does not show mercy will not be shown mercy (by Allah Ta‘ala).” (Saheeh Bukhaari #5997)
Together with hugging and kissing our children, we should also spend quality time with them and speak to them with love so that we may bond with them. Thus, we find mention in the hadeeth that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) was once carrying his beloved grandson, Sayyiduna Hasan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), on his blessed shoulder, when a certain person addressed Sayyiduna Hasan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) and (light-heartedly) remarked, “O youngster! What an excellent conveyance you are riding!” (Hearing this,) Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) added, “And what an excellent rider he is!” (Sunan Tirmizi #3784) This action of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) showed the love he expressed when dealing with his beloved grandson, Sayyiduna Hasan (radhiyallahu ‘anhu).
The illustrious Sahaabi and second khaleefah of Islam, Sayyiduna ‘Umar (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), once mentioned, “When a man is among his family (at home), then he should be like a child (i.e. he should come down to their level and conduct in a light-hearted and informal manner in order to show them love and bond with them).” (Al-Mujaalasah – Deenawari #1038) The great Imaam, Ebrahim Nakha‘ee (rahimahullah), also mentioned the same, however, he further added that if the man’s family were demanding from him that he violates any laws of Deen, then he should be firm on his Deen (i.e. he should correct them and not allow them to continue on the wrong). (Nawaadirul Usool vol. 4, pg. 17)
When a believer is firm in his love for Allah Ta‘ala and Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), then throughout his life, he will remain on the straight path, as he will never wish to displease or disappoint his beloved. No matter what challenges he faces from people, he will not become overwhelmed or despondent. He will not suffer from an emotional inadequacy nor will he find himself on the doorstep of depression. Rather, in all circumstances, he will find solace and comfort in his bond of love with Allah Ta‘ala and Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). Furthermore, when the parents have a strong bond of love with their children, then their children will readily and wholeheartedly turn to them for guidance in life and accept their advice.
May Allah Ta‘ala instill His true love into our hearts and the hearts of our children, and may He bless us to enjoy loving relationships with our children, aameen.