In Islam parents assume a very serious responsibility over the care of their children, as it is intrinsically linked to their success in the Afterlife.
The murder of four year old Daniel Pelka, at the hands of his parents, continues to raise questions about neglect of children in the UK. Daniel was starved to death and suffered multiple injuries, including a broken arm. He weighed just a one half stones when he died.
Sadly this case is not unique. The cases of Tiffany Wright, Baby P, Tyra Henry and Victoria Climbie who suffered boiling water tipped over her head, her toes being struck with a hammer died with 128 injuries to her body, are but a few of the extreme cases that are brought to light by the media.
The NSPCC defines neglect as “the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs resulting in serious impairment of health and/or development”. Looking at numerous reports produced by the NSPCC and the many other similar charities it becomes evident that child neglect is pervasive, a very real problem in the UK; and not limited to the extreme cases the media selectively focuses on.
Often the failure of Social Services is attributed as an important factor behind the death of a child; however Social Services are usually called in to repair a very broken situation that, often, cannot be resolved.
Ultimately one needs to scrutinise the mind-set and behaviour which causes so many parents and adults to abuse children. This requires honest questioning about the ideas and values in society. What are people encouraged to prioritise, who is number one in their life? Why are children considered a burden, be it financial or an encroachment on one’s personal freedom to enjoy their lives? Focusing on the standards of the social care will never address these underlying causes.
In Islam parents assume a very serious responsibility over the care of their children, as it is intrinsically linked to their success in the Afterlife. The pursuit of one’s own desires; be it having fun and enjoying the life of this world over the care of a child, is not behaviour that is acceptable by Allah (SWT). Prophet Mohammad (saw) said: “….. A woman is the Shepherd of her husband’s household and is responsible for her flock…”
(Bukhari and Muslim).
This saying of the Prophet (SAW) likens looking after children to the responsibility of a shepherd who can never forget his sheep; and will never let them stray, assuming full responsibility over them. Understanding this means that parents look after the needs of their children with full attention, always reminded of the responsibility they will one day be accounted for.
Islam has a rich history of dedicated parents, especially mothers. Umm Sulaim bint Milhan Al-Ansariyyah was amongst them. After becoming divorced from her first husband who refused to accept Islam, she persuaded her son, Anas bin Malik, to become a Muslim. She than dedicated her son to the service of the Prophet (SAW) for some 10 years. Anas was very beloved to the Prophet Mohammad (saw).
Another notable mother in the history of Islam was the mother of the renowned scholar, Mohammad Ibn Idrees Ash-Shaafi’ee. When her husband died, his son was nearly 2 years old. She did not remarry, choosing instead to dedicate her life to the teaching of her son. With little money she strove with patience to achieve the greatest Islamic education for her son.
Furthermore, Prophet Mohammad (saw) said: “It is sin enough for a man to forsake those who are under his care” (Muslim, Abu Dawud).
Children are given to parents as a trust from Allah (SWT). They are not deemed to be a burden, financial or otherwise, but as a means to secure a high degree in paradise. This will not only secure the wellbeing of the child and family but underpin the fundamental tenets of a strong Islamic society.
Deputy Women’s Media Representative Hizb ut Tahrir Britain