Cultivation in Islam is very important, for indeed all of the religion is based upon upbringing. It starts, first of all, with our own selves, then with our families, and then with the community at large. But this cultivation is most important with respect to our children, so that they are brought up upon the correct path of Islam.
Having children is a blessing from Allah; therefore, it is obligatory for the parents to take care of their children as they are held responsible for them. The Prophet said: “Every one of you is a guardian and is responsible for the people under his guardianship…” [Al-Bukhari]
The Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet encourage us to bring up our children correctly; ordering us with righteousness and good conduct ourselves as well as ordering us to prevent our families from falling into that which would result in their own destruction. Allah Says (which means): “O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones...” [Quran; 66:6]
What follows are some practical steps towards establishing the correct cultivation of children.
Seeking righteous children:
When an individual wants to get married, they should have the intention to have righteous children and supplicate Allah to this effect. They should seek their children with the intention to increase the number of the Prophet’s nation, and to get Allah’s reward in this life and the Hereafter. The Prophet said: “Marry women who are loving and very prolific, for I shall outnumber the nations (on the Day of Resurrection) by you [by your abundant number]." [Ahmad and Al-Bayhaqi]
If one has the correct intention at the beginning of the action, then he will yield its correct fruits at the end.
Setting a Good Example:
The parents should set the best example for their children. They should hasten to do that which is good and, likewise, hasten to abandon all that is evil. Children follow the example of their parents, and they love, respect and admire them. The parents are, therefore, the first and most lasting of examples for their children.
Putting emphasis on Religion:
Parents should consider Islam as the most important matter in their life. They should raise their child to know that the most important aspect of life is being upright in religion, clinging to it firmly. Allah Says (what means): “And this (submission to Allah, Islam) was enjoined by Ibraaheem upon his sons and by Ya’qoob, (saying), ‘O my sons! Allah has chosen for you the (true) religion, then die not except in the faith of Islam.” [Quran; 2:132]
Parents should supplicate Allah to guide their children and keep them upright. Allah Says that the believers say (what means): “Our Lord! Bestow on us from our own wives and our offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders for the Muttaqoon (i.e. pious and righteous persons).” [Quran; 25:74]
Besides supplicating Allah, parents should also take the necessary steps in bringing up their children upon this religion.
Showing Love and Kindness towards Children:
The parent should treat his/her children with love and kindness, and should not always use harshness. However, if the situation requires harshness, and even hitting, then he/she should do so, as and when the situation requires it, but he/she should not make this his/her way (i.e. being always hard and harsh towards the children). We should not be like those people who are always hard upon their children as this may lead them towards further corruption and going astray.
On the other hand, we should not be like those who leave their children without any discipline, otherwise they will follow whatever way they like and do whatever they want.
Teaching Good Character:
The parent should aim to raise his/her children upon good character from a young age. He/she should teach them the Quran, the history of the Prophet and that of the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, as well. One should not leave his children to continue making mistakes saying that he will correct them when they get older, because it is indeed more difficult to correct a person when he has grown up adopting incorrect actions and bad characteristics. As a poet once said: “Whoever grows up upon something, he grows old upon that same thing.”
The Prophet used to train and bring up the children from a young age upon good manners and character. As can be seen in the Hadeeth of Al-Hasan, may Allah be pleased with him, in which he narrates how he once took a date from the dates of charity, and the Prophet stopped him and told him to take the date out of his mouth. The Prophet explained to him that the dates were for charity, and that charity was not allowed for the Prophet or his family.
The Prophet did not leave Al-Hasan, may Allah be pleased with him, without instructing him; rather, he stopped him from continuing in what he was doing and explained to him the correct way, in a kind and wise manner.
Being Just with Children:
The parents should neither oppress nor wrong any of their children. They should not show one of their children due favor more than other children, by giving him more or praising him more than any of the others. Indeed this type of favoritism can be a reason for the children swaying from the correct path and developing personal problems later on in life.
Spending Upon one’s Children:
The parents should be generous and spend on their children. They should take the necessary steps to earn lawful money and spend on their children in a manner that is correct. Indeed, anything that one spends on his family with the correct intention will be rewarded. The Prophet said: “Two Dinaars (golden currency) which you spend by way of charity, or two Dinaars which you give to the poor, or the two Dinaars which you give to your family; indeed the greatest of these as regards reward is that Dinaar which you spend upon your family.” [Muslim]
In conclusion, everyone should take care of his family, for if everyone in the society was to take care of the upbringing of their families and take care of their financial needs, then this would prove good and beneficial for the society as a whole. Contrarily, if everyone were to leave the affairs of their families and their children, then this would lead to the corruption of the society, and poverty would be widespread.