Building Children's Character
By Sheikh Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid
Many people are concerned about their childrens unstable
characters and the effects of luxury on their personalities.
How can we introduce strength and honour into our childrens
Answer (by Sheikh Munaajid):
Praise be to Allah.
The issue referred to in the question is one of the most serious
problems in raising children nowadays. Some of the Islamic solutions
to this problem and ways of instilling strength and honour in
our childrens character are listed below:
Takniyyah (using the kunya or patronymic in addressing
Calling a young boy "Abu Foolaan" ("Father of
so-and-so) or a young girl "Umm Foolaan" ("Mother
of so-and-so") will make the child feel more responsible
and grown up, so he will become more mature and will feel above
normal childishness. The Prophet (Peace & Blessings of Allaah
be upon Him) used to give kunyas to children. Anas (may Allaah
be pleased with him) said:
"The Prophet (peace and blessings of Alaah be upon him)
was the best of people in attitude and manners. I had a brother
whom people used to call Abu Umayr. I think he was just
past the age of weaning, and whenever he came along the Prophet
would say to him, O Abu Umayr,
what did the nughayr do (Ya Abaa Umayr ma faala
al-nuhgayr)?" (The nughayr was a small
bird with which he used to play). (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 5735).
Umm Khaalid bint Khaalid reported that the Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allah be upon him) was given some clothes, among
which was a small black garment made of silk, known as a khameesah.
He said, "Who do you think I should
give this to?" The people were silent, then he said,
"Bring me Umm Khaalid"
and she was carried to him (which indicates that she was very
young). He picked up the garment and put it on her, saying, "Enjoy it until it wears out."
There was a green or yellow spot on it, and he said, "O
Umm Khaalid, this is sanaah" sanaah
means "beautiful" in Ethiopian. (Reported by al-Bukhaari,
According to another report also narrated by al-Bukhaari:
"He looked at the khameesah and pointed to it, saying, O Umm Khaalid, this is sanaa, O Umm Khaalid,
this is sanaa.'" Sanaa in Ethiopian means beautiful.
(Reported by al-Bukhaari, 5397).
Taking them to gatherings and letting them sit with grown-ups:
This will increase their understanding and wisdom, and make
them try to imitate adults, as well as keeping them from spending
too much time on games and entertainment. The Sahaabah used to
bring their children with them when they went and sat with the
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). One of the
stories that describe this was narrated by Muaawiyah ibn
Qurrah from his father, who said: "The Prophet used to sit
with a group of his companions. One man had his little son with
him; he would bring him from behind and make him sit in front
" (Reported by al-Nisaai and classed as
saheeh by al-Albaani in Ahkaam al-Janaaiz).
Talking to them about the heroic deeds of earlier and subsequent
generations, Islamic battles and Muslim victories:
This will encourage them to be brave, which is one of the
most important parts of being strong and honourable. Al-Zubayr
ibn al-Awwam had two children, one of whom was present
at some of the battles, and the other of whom used to play with
the old battle scars on his fathers shoulder. This was
reported by Urwah ibn al-Zubayr, who said that the Companions
of the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon
him) said to al-Zubayr on the day of Yarmook, "Will you
go and attack, and we will go with you?" He said, "If
I attacked, you would be lying." They said, "No, we
will do (as we promised)." So he launched an attack (against
the Romans), penetrating their ranks and passing straight through,
but no one was with him. Then he turned around and came back,
and the Romans seized the reins of his horse and wounded him
twice in the shoulder. Between these two new wounds was a scar
from a wound he had received at Badr. Urwah said, "When
I was little, I used to play by putting my fingers in those scars."
Urwah said, " Abdullaah ibn al-Zubayr was with
him on that day. He was ten years old. He (al-Zubayr) put him
on a horse and entrusted him to the care of another man."
(Reported by al-Bukhaari, 3678).
Commenting on this hadeeth, Ibn Hijr (may Allaah have mercy
on him) said: "Al-Zubayr felt that his son Abdullaah
was brave and chivalrous, so he put him on a horse, but he feared
that he might attempt to do more than he was able, so he put
another man with him so that he could feel that he was safe from
the attacks of the Romans should he become distracted by the
fighting." Ibn al-Mubaarak reported from Hishaam ibn Urwah
from his father from Abdullaah ibn al-Zubayr that he was
with his father on the day of Yarmook, and when the mushrikoon
ran away, he attacked and started killing their wounded, i.e.,
he finished off every wounded soldier whom he found. This indicates
that he was strong and brave from childhood.
Teaching them good manners:
Among the manners that should be taught are those described
in the hadeeth narrated by Abu Hurayrah from the Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allah be upon him): "The
young should greet the old, the passerby should greet one who
is sitting, and the small group should greet the larger group."
Giving them the praise and respect they deserve in front
This is made clear by the following hadeeth: Sahl ibn Sad
(may Allaah be pleased with him) said that the Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allah be upon him) was brought a cup and he
drank from it. There was a boy, the youngest of all the people,
on his right and some elders on his left. He said, "O
young boy, will you allow me to give this to these elders?"
The boy said, "I will not give away my share of your blessings
to anyone, O Messenger of Allah," so he gave the cup to
him. (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 2180)
Other components of building character in children:
- Teaching them useful sports: It is commendable to
teach children sports such as archery, swimming and horse riding.
- Avoiding humilating them, especially in front of others:
Part of treating children respectfully is never belittling their
ideas, and encouraging them to take part.
- Consulting them and asking for their opinions.
- Giving them responsibilities in accordance with their
age and abilities.
- Teaching them to be brave as appropriate including
how to speak in public.
- Making sure their clothes are modest and protecting them
from inappropriate clothing, hairstyles, movements and ways of
- Making sure that boys do not wear silk, as this is only
- Avoiding extravagance, luxury, laziness and idleness:
Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said: "Get used
to a rough life, for luxury does not last forever."
- Avoiding entertainment or pastime gatherings, singing,
music and other wastes of time, because these go against strength,
honour and seriousness.
These are some of the ways and means which will increase strength
and honour, and protect our children.
And Allah is the One Who guides to the Straight Path.