RasulAllah said: “He is not one of us who does not show mercy to the young nor respect the old.” –Tirmidhi
and he said: “Indeed Allah is gentle and loves gentleness, and gives due to gentleness that which He does not give to harshness.”
–Ibn Maajah and Ibn Hibbaan
The idea for this personal project of mine sprung from my own frustrations of trying to full-time parent a one-year old. It’s only one child and he’s only one year old, so I know I have a long road ahead of me. Yet that is often times forgotten in the day to day things that frustrate and anger me. As he gets older we are slowly encroaching upon the age when “discipline” starts to take a role in parenting, and the older he gets, the more opportunities exist for learning and tarbiyah.
So came the idea of the Islamic Parenting Project. I see it as a personal research exercise for me to benefit from the collective wisdom of parents who have “been there and done that” and can give tips for those just starting out on the journey. I hope to hear of other’s philosophies, gather insight, and seek advice and encouragement. Initially my thought was to focus this on gentle discipline and I had termed it “The Islamic Gentle Discipline Project” since gentle child rearing is a sunnah that’s so easy to forget for hotheads like myself. Being able to calmly approach a child with a sense of inner peace and handle her with grace and gentleness is no mean task—-I see it as just as much self-discipline for the parent as it is for the child! There are so many excellent books written by non-Muslims on the subject, yet I want to actually benefit from the wisdom of Muslims who are out there in the trenches, cultivating patience and giving tarbiyah with rahmah and understanding.
However, I decided to add a second component to get a more complete view of Islamic parenting, and that part is to gather suggestions on how to develop an Islamic personality in our children. That is, how to bring about a consciousness of Allah (eman), a high standard of character (akhlaq), and a deep level of Islamic knowledge (‘ilm). Both are important, for both a Muslim and non-Muslim can embody gentle parenting, yet it takes a strong islamic commitment to actualize true Islamic tarbiyah.
To be honest, it’s frightening sometimes. This age is easy, where they just eat, sleep, play, toddle around and get into the pots and pans, electrical outlets and toilets (yes, I did say toilets. Perhaps I haven’t mentioned Abdullah’s infatuation with aforesaid item?). Ahead of us lie schooling, mass media, peer pressure, puberty, and all of those wonderful other things parents deal with as their kids grow older.
I don’t have any formal survey methods, but as I meet new people and talk to old friends, I hope to share the tidbits of wisdom that I pick up along the way. Any advice from readers is always appreciated!