This is a book written by Dr Nur Muhammad Abdul Hafizh Suwaid, originally in Arabic titled “Manhaj at-Tarbiyyah an-Nabawiyyah lith Thifl”. It was written in 1983, and translated into formal Indonesian in 2010 that is rather easy to understand, except for perhaps a few unfamiliar words and concepts which would have been more accurate in its original Arabic version.
As we face the question of the quality of our education system, we must first ask ourselves, what do we expect from sending our children to school?
What is the outcome measure?
In Islam, the aim of education would be to produce a wholesome Muslim who is God-conscious and could contribute with his own very beat towards his society as well as the nation around him, as Prophet Muhammad (SAW – Peace be upon him) said, “The best of all people are the ones who gives most benefit to his people.”
That benefit would encompass spreading their knowledge, service towards the people, saving lives, spreading smile and happiness, and yes, making scientific discoveries that could benefit mankind for years to come. Each person has his own inclinations and abilities. Recognising this fact is one of the Prophet’s (SAW) traditions, and is evident as seen throughout this book.
This book is a good guidance on raising such a person. It gives us a picture on how Prophet Muhammad (SAW) raised and lead not only his children but the children around him, which became the key to the rise of Islamic civilisation in the 7th century.
Parenting begins with finding the right partner, and of course, BEING the right partner. The journey of raising good children is full of challenges, hence it would lighten the burden if it could be walked through with a partner who shares one’s views and ambitions. It is also to avoid confusions with regards to a child’s beliefs and principles, as both parents would show the same correct teachings. This is one of the reasons Muslims are told to only marry another Muslim, regardless of the colour of their skin, so that they will have similar objectives in raising their children.
It is clear from the beginning until the end of this book that Rasulullah (SAW) acknowledges the fact that every child is born with his own potential. This book guides us on the way Prophet Muhammad (SAW) recognised and encouraged every talent. He did not expect every child to have the same inclinations.
This brings us to our education system that teaches the same thing to every single child, and measures success as the ability to excel in all these subjects. Obviously this is unfair, and Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has shown the correct way more than 1400 years ago. Education should not be rigid. It should cater every single child in the nation.
Rasulullah (SAW) also gave room for the child to grow – mentally and spiritually – and encourages the child in what the child loves. He would attend to the child’s questions and teach the child what he knows.
This book also spoke about the eternal bond that exists between parents and their children. It emphasises that this bond is not to be broken, no matter what comes in between them, regardless of whatever mistakes that the parents or children made towards each other. There should be forgiveness and a good relationship is to be maintained.
If every son and daughter complies to the Islamic teaching of caring for their parents until the end of their lives, there would be less elderly people left alone on hospital beds. There would be less unhappiness amongst the older generation and their general health would improve. Therefore this book stressed on the importance of being good to one’s parents throughout one’s life – even after the parents have passed away.
The author went on talking about the three fundamental things to teach a child, as soon as the child could speak (in addition to knowing Allah SWT):
(1) To love the Prophet (SAW)
(2) To love the family
(3) To teach the Quran
What follows is the importance of developing a good character (akhlak). The great Islamic scholars of the past were taught by their mothers to have good manners first before learning other religious and worldly subjects. The children of that era were also sent to other scholars to learn from their manners first before learning about their religion.
We could see the outcome now from Japanese education system of which the young children were taught develop good manners, character and discipline before proceeding to other kinds of worldly knowledge.
Amongst the traits of good conduct that were mentioned in this book were respect, integrity, honesty (most importantly from parents towards children), refinement of one’s appearance, in asking permission, suppression of jealousy and even etiquettes related to food and dining.
In raising a complete person, there needs to be emotional growth and balance. Rasulullah (SAW) himself showed the people around him that love could be displayed with hugs, kisses and play. The importance of listening to our children’s stories, concerns and questions were emphasised to enable a balanced emotional growth.
The importance of physical activities in cognitive development was also discussed. It is sad that these days, a lot of school bans all sorts of extra-curricular activities against the kids sitting for major exams in an attempt to achieve greater academic excellence. However, this idea is not in line with the thoughts of our Islamic scholars.
Imam Ghazali said, “After school, a child must be allowed to play, as recovery means from the exhaustion of studying.this is because a child will never tire out of playing. Preventing a child from playing by forcing him to keep on studying would kill the soul and reduce his intelligence. The child’s life would feel constricted, until he intends to escape all that even by lies and deceit.”
Seeking knowledge is OBLIGATORY for every Muslim. Education should begin as early as possible in view of children’s ease of learning, as compared to adults.
Education is at its utmost importance to Prophet Muhammad (SAW), that the prisoners of war at that tine were asked to teach Muslim children to write and read as a pre-requisite to their release. Rasulullah (SAW) also encouraged people to learn multiple languages as it would ease business dealings and spread of the religion.
A man told his children, “Learn all sorts of knowledge, for men are enemies against what he does not know, and I don’t want you to be an enemy to any fields of knowledge.”
The author wrote a out the role of parents and teachers to discover a child’s potential. One of the greatest recognition of a child’s aptitude in Islamic history was when the young Imam Al Bukhari was learning the science of fiqh (Islamic law). Muhammad bin Hassan realised that the science of hadith (Prophet Muhammad’s sayings and actions) was more suitable for Al Bukhari’s abilities. So he adviced Al Bukhari to busy himself with the knowledge of hadith – he grew up to be the most renowned scholar of hadith that the Islamic world has ever seen.
There are many other stories with lessons on how parenting and education should be, to ensure that growth of each and every child would fulfil his own unique potential, so that he could serve the people around m to his best ability.
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This book should be read by both parents and teachers alike. It is also suitable for leaders as it guides a person towards developing a balanced, successful character.
It is a good book for engagement or wedding present, in view of its encouragement for development of exemplary character amongst parents, so that it could be followed by their future children.
I would give this book 9/10, and would keep it for my own reference, even when I don’t have kids at the moment. There are few topics that are a little unclear, or rather, not well integrated by the author into the needs of this age. Having said that, most of the lessons are applicable until the end of time.