Muslim Matrimonials and More

Articles and Essays on Marriage and Family in Islam


Let the Child be a Child

By Mohammed Khalfan of Dar el Salaam, Tanzania

A child was visited at home by his friend. That night the child declined to sleep in his room. He insisted on joining the parents in their bedroom. The fear was triggered when the friend asked the child if he was afraid to sleep so close to a window when ghosts and spirits peep directly into the room.

The tactful approach to the situation should have been for the parents to accede to what the child had pleaded for, at least, for that night knowing that such fears wear off or become much less the next day. Instead they thought it a good opportunity to enforce the parental discipline over the child so that he abandons what was perceived as a sissy trait.

The child was restless that night because he was a human child, and if only the parents knew that! The father's argument kept ringing in his ears: "why believe in a ghost or spirit when you have seen none and will see none of them ever in your life?" and he would ask himself: yes, why?

The child was betraying nothing more than a simple natural fear of the Unseen, because he, as human, has been created with a nature which readily believes in the Unseen - that Unseen which includes Allah, Angels, Jinns and Shaitan. No wonder the fundamental teaching in Islam is Iman bil Ghaib that is, the Belief in the Unseen.

The subject of Al-Ghaib reveals one thoughtful aspect for discussion here: fear! It is a part of the instinct for self-preservation or survival. It is not something that a child should be made ashamed of. In fact, manifestation of fear is a welcome sign of a mental normalcy in him.

To ask the child to banish fear is like asking him to banish his human instinct. A good authority on the natural aspect of fear in the children states:

Another characteristic of the child's personality is the presence of many fears. These fears result from uncertainty combined with easy recourse to imagination. The imagination runs toward superlatives, and when a child indulges in fantasy, things are either very attractive or very threatening.

We can ascribe a reason for this in the context of Islam: imagination by the child or his fantasy is a phase of manifestation of his attempt at perceiving things which are and remain Unseen. The child's negative fear of an unseen being like a ghost or spirit indicates one important thing - the existence of the natural positive capacity for submission to his Creator - in the realm of the Unseen. It is a manifestation of Al Iman bil Ghaib.

So let the child be a child, because treating him as an adult will not turn him into an adult before his time!

May Allah help us relate to our children as Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings be upon him) related with his grandsons. May He help us treat them mercifully when they need affection and firmly when they need discipline.

Reprinted from the IslamiCity bulletin

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