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Notes from Talk: Early Childhood Development

160928 Summary of Notes Taken during Shaykh Muhammad Aslams talk:


Early Childhood Development
By Amran Sofiyan
In the Name of Allah, Most Kind, Most Merciful, All praises is due to Him who created us for
nothing and brought us out of darkness into light, who gave us parents who cared for us the best
they could, may He shower His mercy on them, All praises to Him, too, for the blessing of having
parents and role models to take lessons from, to build good character, and as a sign to one of His
many wisdoms. May the complete blessings and peace be sent by Him upon His Messenger in the
way that He knows fit for His beloved. And may peace and blessings be upon the family of the
Messenger and his companions.
It was a cool evening. The rain was falling lightly on the roofs the Tuanku Bainun Childrens
Creative Centre in Taman Tun Dr Ismail. The smell of bukhoor has reached every corner and
crack in the hall. Our clothes have also taken on the sweet taste of the bukhoor. The setting was
ready for the talk on Early Childhood Development by Shaykh Muhammad Aslam from the UK.
Amongst the attendees were parents, expecting parents, and probably teachers from childcare
centres. We may come with different aspirations, but I believe we all came with a common intent
to learn how the Prophet s.a.w. was a parent, grandparent and adult to children in his society and
emulate him. We wanted to know if it was still possible to bring up children in that way in this
day and age. I took some notes down, Alhamdulillah. I have prepared a summary of them to
make them easier to read, inshaAllah. The notes also include my reflections on the points Shaykh
made, therefore I apologise for that firstly. I pray that the reader benefits from these notes, and be
protected from the mistakes I made preparing it. May it benefit me and family, too. I ask you to
make dua for my parents. Here are my notes:
Shaykh started with mentioning the basis of loving the family of the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.
and why its important for us to realise this. Allah Taala reveals in surah Al-Ahzab (33) verse 6:
The Prophet is closer to the believers than they are themselves, while his wives are their
mothers.1 Shaykh says that this is a tremendous rank given to the family of the Prophet s.a.w.
Wouldnt we give our sincere respects and love to our mothers? The wives of Rasulullah s.a.w.
are singled out here as our mothers. Let us think about this. Another thing to consider is when
Allah Taala revealed in verse 33 of al-Ahzab: God wishes to keep uncleanness away from you,
people of the Prophets House, and to purify you thoroughly. Certainly something to reflect upon,
especially if we are looking for pure role models. Anyone interested to know about the Prophet
Muhammad s.a.w. and his family must read Surah al-Ahzab as it mentions them in several
places.
Here are some of the things that we should stop or change:
Parents should visit their children often, even after they have married. The Prophet s.a.w.
frequently visited his daughter Fatimah r.a. This seems a neglected sunnah.
We need to teach our children spiritual matters early in their life. Putting this off for later
may have detrimental consequences. A child has an immense amount of energy: physically,
intellectually, and spiritually. However, being immature and growing, they do not know how
1

Translation of verses taken from M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, The Quran: a new translation by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem,
(US: Oxford University Press, 2010).

Amran Sofiyan 2016

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Notes from Talk: Early Childhood Development

to channel these energies correctly and learn how to as they mature. The parents assist by
guiding their children on how to use their energies maturely. If we want our children to
develop spiritually, we have to start young. When the Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. passed
away, his grandsons, Hassan & Hussain were just 7 years of age. Young for many of us. But,
they related hadith from the Prophet s.a.w. Their spiritual side was developed in the
household of the Prophet. If we want our children to love the Prophet s.a.w. when they are
older, we need to inculcate this love from early on. We should never say they are too young
and the local madrassa or school will teach them, later. If we send our children to thinking
skills classes, gyms, and other enrichment classes, we should also enrich their spiritual side.
The best is to do this from the home. Shaykh says: Often times we hold things off because
we thought they were too young.
Rasulullah s.a.w. advised parents to teach their children the love of three things. The first is
the love of the Prophet s.a.w., then the love of his noble family r.a., and then the love of
reciting the Quran. Shaykh says that the recitation of the Quran is mentioned last because
for us to recite it with proper reverence, our akhlaq, characters must be right. Teaching our
children about the Prophet s.a.w. and his noble family inculcates in them good character, and
encourages them to take them as role models.
Many parents are quick to discipline/scold their children, but not as quick to show gratitude
or thank their children when the child has done something commendable. Ask ourselves how
it feels when someone says thank you to us. Does it feel gratifying? Do we become generally
positive? The same with children, more so, when they are still learning the difference
between correct and selfish behaviours. It seems that parents are expecting their children to
do things for them, as if children owed them. This wanting to get from ones children is very
detrimental on the parent-child relationship. The following story is apt to illustrate the
importance of giving thanks for something, especially when it is small. A poor dishevelled
woman once came to give a small amount of food to the Shaykh AbuBaker bin Salem. His
servant turned her away saying: Caravans are bringing goods to the Shaykh from far off
places and he is not in need of what you have brought. The Shaykh, however, was listening
and he welcomed the woman, graciously accepted her offering and gave her a big reward in
exchange. He then chastised his servant, saying: The one who does not show gratitude for
small things will not show gratitude for great things. The one who does not show gratitude to
people does not show gratitude to Allah. (Source: Imams of the Valley)
Many parents do not see their children much, except when they are sleeping. When they
leave in the morning, its very early, the children are still asleep. When they return in the
evening, its very late, the children have already gone to sleep. Ask then: when do the
children see the parent? This situation leads to children developing serious psychological
problems later in life. They have been neglected by their parents. This is a deprived situation.
When one is deprived of something, one would look for means to fulfil that deprivation. If
we were to use this principle, then we would be able to see how many of the social ills
affecting the young is a result of some sort of deprivation.
Many of us say we are too busy, that spending a little time with our families is asking for too
much. If we reflected a little on the Prophets s.a.w. life, would we be able to say the same?
Let us look briefly. He was not just a father, husband, and friend, but he was also the leader
of a state, he was a military commander, he was always on his guard from those threatening
to harm him, he was the judge, the distributor of war spoils and the arbitrator of disputes, he
was the leader of the prayer, the guide, the one who received emissaries from other places.

Amran Sofiyan 2016

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Notes from Talk: Early Childhood Development

Theres many more to list. Any book on the Prophets noble life, will show us that he was a
very busy man. Despite all this, he still played with children. He was still kind to his wives.
He still had time to mend his own clothes. He s.a.w. was the best to his family. When we say
that we are too busy to even hold our child, we should really be bracing ourselves for the day
when we need our children and they will say, Im too busy for you dad/mom.
Reflecting on some of the descriptions of Rasulullah s.a.w and children, it became clear to
me that he gave every situation its due. He s.a.w. saw things as they are, and acted in the best
way for that situation. He was always giving and not expecting to be given to. In Surah
al-Ahzab, Allah Taala reminds the believers not to linger after having a meal at the
Prophets s.a.w. house. Because he s.a.w. did not want to ask them to leave, he would shrink
from asking you to leave. (verse 53)
The most vulnerable people in this day and age are our children. Why? It is because they are
still weak and they are being attacked from their own parents. How do parents attack their
children? By neglect, by favouritism, by sub-parenting, take out their grouses at work on
their children, etc. One of the principles in Islam is to care for the weak. Children are weak;
taking it out on the children, makes us adults bullies and abusive. May Allah protect us from
resorting to such abusive behaviours. There is a tradition in Riyadhus-Salihin, from Abu
ad-Darda Uwaymir r.a. who heard the Messenger of Allah s.a.w. say: Help me in seeking
out the weak. They are supported. You are provided for on account of the weak among you.2
Shaykh says that children, up to the age of 7 do not need toys. They just need their parents.
Something occurred to me later, watching a mother rattle a toy to her toddler. It seems that
the ones really who need the toys are parents. I was wondering how the parent would be if
there was no toy. I guess, thats why some parents give their children the phone and the
iPads. Back to the rattle, it apparently makes the child happy. When the parent gets tired, the
toy is given to the child, because it was seen that the child was happy because of the toy. It
was not seen that the child was really happy because the parent was engaging with the child.
Parents as adults, are, theoretically, humans who have reached a certain level of maturity. In
so saying, parents have to be brave and put less attention on themselves, suspend their egos.
Parents need to place a lot more attention on their children. This way children will learn
what mature is and will know what to grow up to. If parents have too much attention on
themselves, the children will feel neglected. This would teach the children a very immature
behaviour: selfishness.

Shaykh said: [In todays world,] children are grateful and innocent human beings that have been
corrupted by the society and those around them.
Here end my notes.
May Allah forgive me and make me into a good parent. All praise is due to Him. The blessings of
peace be upon our liege lord, Muhammad, the final messenger, his family and his companions.

Imam an-Nawawi, Riyad as-salihin: the gardens of the righteous, (US: Tughra Books, 2014), hadith no. 153,
p104.

Amran Sofiyan 2016