Islam cares about the weak, the destitute, the broken and the defeated. It enjoins the necessity of taking care of the young and doing whatever is useful and suitable for them.
The way Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) treated children, for example, shows us that the best way to approach them is through specific planned disciplinary manners. This kind of treatment should be based on knowledge, experience, practice, patience and understanding.
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) kissed his grandson Hassan bin ‘Ali in the presence of Aqra’ bin Habis. Thereupon Aqra’ remarked: ‘I have ten children and I have never kissed any one of them.’ The Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him) cast a glance upon him and said, ‘He who does not show mercy to others, will not be shown mercy.’” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
In a similar vein, Abu Qatadah Al-Harith bin Rib’i (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (Peace and blessings be upon him) said, “I stand up to lead salah (i.e. Prayer) with the intention of prolonging it. Then I hear the crying of an infant and I shorten the salah lest I should make it burdensome for his mother.” (Al-Bukhari)
When Umamah, his granddaughter, was a small child, Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him) used to carry her on his shoulder while he prayed. He used to put her down to prostrate and then pick her up again as he rose.
The same happened with his two grandsons, Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein (May Allah be pleased with them), when they grew up a little, and were able to toddle around, they very frequently wandered out of their house into the Prophet’s masjid (i.e. mosque). If the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) was in the middle of a khutbah (i.e. sermon), he would immediately stop, descend from the pulpit, take them in his arms, carry them back, and seat them beside himself on the pulpit, and then he would resume his khutbah. If the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) was leading the congregational prayers, and was in sujud (prostration or resting one’s forehead, two palms, two knees and toes on the ground), both Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein, very often, climbed onto his neck and back. When this was the case, the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) preferred to prolong the sujud rather than to disturb any of them, and rose from sujud only when they dismounted from his neck or back voluntarily.
Whenever the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) returned from a journey or trip and saw children, he would stop and order his honorable companions to pick the children up, and he would let one of them ride in front of him and another behind him. After a while, the children would say to each other, “The Prophet let me ride in front but you rode behind!” Others would say, “The Prophet ordered his companions to let you ride behind them!” Indeed, this had a very positive psychological effect on the children as they would consider this to be a very valuable and an unforgettable experience. And, it is indeed an unforgettable experience!
On other occasions, the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) would carry a child during which the child urinates on his clothes, whereupon he calls for some water and he sprinkles it over his clothes without the need to wash it. This situation recurred many times; a matter which shows his love for children. He (Peace and blessings be upon him) never reproached a child or his mother or father for this or even showed any sign of dissatisfaction. Truly, he was and still is mercy for all humankind.
All the above is only some glimpses from the Prophet’s life and the way he treated children be them relatives or others. He (Peace and blessings be upon him) never preferred any human being to others except for their piety as he was taught by Allah the Almighty Who created us all. Among the many signs of the Prophet’s compassion and mercy to all children are that he used to play with them, greet them by saying “As-Salamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh”, wipe over heads of the orphan, and teach the children the matters of their religion.
All this shows us how the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) was a blessing and mercy sent to all; children, mothers, fathers, the destitute, the weak and all human kind. And this is the way a real and true faithful Muslim should be!
Dr. Ali Al-Halawani is Assistant Professor of Linguistics and Translation, Kulliyyah of Languages and Management (KLM), International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He was Assistant Professor and worked for a number of international universities in Malaysia and Egypt such as Al-Madinah International University, Shah Alam, Malaysia (Mediu) and Misr University for Science & Technology (MUST), Egypt; Former Editor-in-Chief of the Electronic Da`wah Committee (EDC), Kuwait; Former Deputy Chief Editor and Managing Editor of the Living Shari`ah Department, www.islamOnline.net; Member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS); and member of the World Association of Arab Translators & Linguists (Wata). He is a published writer, translator and researcher. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.