A wealthy man went to Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) home to visit him. While they were speaking, the Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) sat his grandchild, Hussain (AS) on his lap and started kissing him. The man was looking at the Prophet’s behavior toward the child in wonder. He said sadly “I have some children, but I have never kissed them.”
The Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) became upset and said, “What should I do when Allah has removed mercy from your heart”.
This short story explicitly reveals Islam’s emphasis on respectful and kind behavior toward children as the builders of society’s future. This short piece of writing is going to talk about kindness to children.
We are the ones who draw the picture of our children’s lives; it is our choice to draw a beautiful or an ugly one. A child, who lives in an integrated, peaceful, and kind family, undoubtedly enjoys a more lively spirit than his other peers who do not have the opportunity to live in such families.
Psychoanalytically speaking, you might have heard a lot about the role of kindness in upbringing children, as well as its impact on their future. Now let's take a look at what Islamic leaders have said about this issue.
If you have a child or know a child around you, you might find this saying of Imam Sadiq (AS) with regard to children interesting: “Love your children and be kind to them, and if you promise them, keep your promise, for they know nobody but you as their providers”. Imam Sadiq (AS), besides emphasizing kindness toward children, draws our attention to the importance of keeping our promise to children. As children, with their pure nature, are not yet aware of the concept of breaking promises, if the older ones commit this act, they will learn from them and copy their behavior. As a result, imitating this wrong deed will have damaging effects on the child’s spirit.
In another quote from Imam Sadiq (AS), he said: “The one who kisses his child, Allah will give him a reward in the hereafter, and the one who makes his child happy, Allah will make him happy in the resurrection day”. He also said: “Kiss your children a lot because each kiss will raise your statues in front of God”.
There are a lot of narrations and traditions about kind behavior toward children in reliable Islamic sources. In the end, it is noteworthy that the Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) has emphasized a lot on playing with children in a very childish way as if you are a child yourself; this point of view is a modern psychological approach which our Prophet (PBUH&HP) mentioned 1400 years ago.
The holy prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said: “be close and friendly to your children and hug them”.
“He is only a child!”, “Be quiet, this is a grown-up issue”, “Go to your room and don’t disturb us while we are talking” … What do these sentences remind you of? Your own childhood? Your little son or daughter? you have probably heard these statements at least once or twice in your lifetime. Remember this, “ You are responsible for your flower ”. Now let’s read the following extract in this regard:
“It was the time of prayer (Salat). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) who was with his grandchild, Hassan Ibn Ali (AS), invited people to perform this holy task. While standing for Salat, Prophet put the child beside himself and started his prayer. People who were behind him wondered why he had lingered in prostration for a long time, but there was no way for them to find out the cause in the middle of Salat. After they had finished, they inquired the reason of the Prophet (PBUH&HP): ‘we had never seen such a prostration from you. We thought that you were receiving revelations from Allah that made you linger in your prostration for such a long time’. He answered: ‘No it was not a revelation. My child, Hassan (AS), was climbing over me when I was in prostration and I did not want to rush and put him down. So I waited for him long enough to come down himself’” .
“Once prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and other Muslims stand to perform Midday prayer (Salat al-Zuhr) in a congregational manner. However, after performing the second Rak’ah, Prophet (PBUH&HP) suddenly made haste in finishing the two remaining Rak’ahs. After the prayer was finished, the people around him asked: ‘Has something unpleasant happened that you made haste in completing your prayer?’ Prophet answered: ‘Haven’t you heard the voice of that baby who was moaning?’” 
These and many other examples from our kind Prophet shows the deep regard of our religion for the dignity and self-worth of children in Islam.
Through his speech and manner, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) constantly invited his followers to treat children in Islam with respect and to devote great attention to their behavior toward them; when his grandchildren entered a room, Prophet (PBUH&HP) would stand up and welcome them warmlyi, he was always the first one who greeted children and never refused children’s request for playing with them and participated in their games .
As a result of this kind of behavior, children in Islam will feel worthy of respect and will show more confidence in their actions. Consequently, when they grow up, they will be able to take risks and use their full capacity not being afraid of failure and humiliation.
On the contrary, the child whose dignity has been neglected by his/her parents will end up being shaky and not confident, not able to decide for his/her life and find his/her way to success. A beautiful analogy by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) will clarify this fact more: “my cloth will be cleaned by water, but what will cleanse my child’s heart from the dust of discomfiture and the pain of humiliation?” 
So, in raising our children in Islam, it is our responsibility to be highly observant not to say something or act in a way that would deny their self-worth and dignity and belittle them in any way. Children are sensitive creatures, like flowers, an action or a remark which may seem to us unimportant and natural, can wither their beautiful and innocent souls easily, and mark a permanent injury on their heart. Remember, “You are responsible for your flower”.
[i]. This behavior of Prophet (PBUH&HP) was probably because of the great personality and value of Imam Hassan (AS) and Imam Hossein (AS), however, when we consider it along with other Hadiths, we can easily distinguish the affectionate and compassionate manner of him toward children.
- Ibn Shahr Ashub, Muhammad. Manaqib Al Abi Talib. V.4, P.24.
- Ali Ibn Hassan Tabarsi. Meshat al-Anvar. P. 243.
- Abbas Qomi. Safinah al Bahar. V.2, P.676.
- Falsafi, Muhammad Taqi. Child in Hereditary and Upbringing View (Kudak Az Nazare Verasat va Tarbiat). P.259.
A newborn baby who opens his/her eyes to this world is tiny and weak at first; like a rosebud that appears in spring. It is then a burden upon the parents in Islam to take care of this fragile gift, like a compassionate gardener, until the baby grows up and flourishes.
Knowing that our parents as a team have provided for all our needs till we grow up, we naturally respect them. But this becomes of paramount importance when we come to know that how strongly Islam emphasizes parents’ rights and respecting them.
Islam has placed such a strong emphasis on the parents’ rights and worth that showing gratitude and being grateful to them are commanded to, right after Monotheism (Tawhid) in several verses of the Quran [i].
In the nineteenth chapter of the Quran, Surah Maryam, where some moral virtues of Prophet Yahya (PBUH) are mentioned, it is said that he was “good to his parents” (19:14). We also read that Prophet Jesus (PBUH) introduces himself as the servant of Allah who: “[made me] be good to my mother” (19:32).
In a narration, Imam Sadiq (AS) is asked about the best deeds; Imam (AS) answers: “Prayer (Salat) in its stipulated hour, goodness towards parents and Jihad in the way of Allah” . Bringing respect for parents, after prayer (Salat) and before Jihad indicates the high-value Islam places on caring for parents.
In another narration from Imam Sadiq (AS), doing good to parents, whether they are among believers (Mu'min) or disbelievers (Kafir), is known as a duty that no one can be exempted from . He also said that: “Whoever satisfies the parents has satisfied God; and whoever annoys them, has annoyed God” .
Respecting the rights of parents in Islam, whether alive or dead, is highly advised. These rights include:
Obedience to parents as far as it is not against God’s orders or unjust; a situation that one is forbidden to obey his/her parents is: “if they urge you to ascribe to Me as a partner that of which you have no knowledge, then do not obey them”(31:15). But even in this case, one should treat them kindly: “Keep their company honorably in this world” (31:15). Another case where parents’ disobedience is allowed, is when they invite to something unfair: “Be maintainers of justice and witnesses for the sake of Allah, even if it should be against yourselves or [your] parents and near relatives” (4:135).
Respecting them deeply, looking at them with affection, being humble and talking to them with a gentle voice and kind words: “Keep their company honorably in this world” (31:15); “[He has enjoined] kindness to parents. Should any of them or both reach old age at your side, do not say to them, ‘Fie!’ And do not chide them, but speak to them noble words” (17:23); “And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy” (17:24). In a narration from Imam Reza (AS), saying “Fie” to parents is believed to be the last thing that bothers them; hence, anything greater than that must be definitely avoided. Of other narrations in this regard are: “If your parents upset you, do not react badly; if they hit you, do not react the same but tell them ‘May God forgive you’”; “… do not look at your parents except with a kind look, do not raise your voice on them, nor your hands over their hands, nor walk further than them ” ; “whoever looks at his parents with hatred, even if they oppress him, Allah will not accept a single prayer from him” ; “Insolence includes a man’s looking at his parents with a sharp gaze” .
Being humble regarding parents: “Lower the wing of humility to them, mercifully” (17:24). This humility must arise from deep in your heart and originate from your real affections.
Treat them well: "When We took a pledge from the Children of Israel: ‘Worship no one but Allah, do good to your parents” (2:83). This verse of the Quran reveals that everybody, whether Muslim or not, must treat the parents well.
Imam Hussain (AS) was asked about the meaning of treating well in this verse. The answer was briefly that it means to treat them with ultimate compassion, to show them great respect during their companionship, not to oblige them to ask for what they need but provide them before they mention it . One of the best deeds in Eid al-Adha is said to be doing good to parents .
Being beneficent to parents is a duty upon children when they are alive as well as after they pass away. Imam Sadiq (AS) said: “What prevents you from doing good to your parents? Pray [ii], donate, perform the holy pilgrimage (Hajj) and fast (Sawm) in their place because God awards you a lot in return for your good deeds” . It is also said that: "Whoever visits his parents' grave on Fridays, will be forgiven and will be among the virtuous" .
And be thankful to them: “Give thanks to Me and to your parents” (31:14).
Praying and asking mercy for them [iii]: “and say, ‘My Lord! Have mercy on them, just as they reared me when I was [a] small [child]’ ” (17:24).
Continue Reading: "What are the Rights of Parents in Islam? Part 2"