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How did God's Messenger treat children?

The Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, excelled in every walk of life. People should not compare him to themselves or the so-called �great personalities� of their age. Researchers should look at him, the one to whom angels are grateful, always remembering that he excelled in every way. If they want to look for Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, they must search for him in his own dimensions. It is not possible to reach him using the imaginations of people like us, who do not even know how to imagine properly, for God bestowed upon him, as His special favor, superiority in every field.

The Prophet Muhammad is truly the pride of humanity. He lived and died with honour. Humanity has never witnessed and never will witness a person like him. Even his contemporaries could not see him in his full reality. Most of them could not recognize him. However, the number of his nation who know and respect him has ever since increased continually.

He was an extraordinary head of family, a perfect father, and a unique grandfather. He was unique in every way.

He treated his children and grandchildren with extraordinary compassion and never neglected to direct their faces to the Hereafter and towards good deeds. He smiled at them, caressed and loved them, but he did not allow them to neglect the matters related to their afterlife. In worldly matters, he was extremely open, yet he was very serious and dignified in maintaining their relationship with God. He showed how to lead a humane life, and never allowed them to be neglectful of their religious duties. He was very careful about this, so as to keep them from becoming spoilt, and to prepare them for the life of the Hereafter. He was perfectly balanced. This was another dimension of his divinely inspired intellect.

In a hadith narrated by Muslim, Anas bin Malik, honoured as the servant of the Messenger, one who performed this service with perfect loyalty for ten years without break, says:

I have never seen a man who was more compassionate to his family members than Muhammad.11

He was so compassionate, so sincere and so open that no one can be compared to him.

If this admission were made just by us, it could have been dismissed as unimportant. However, millions of people, so benign and compassionate that they would not even offend an ant, declare and admit that he was unique in that he embraced the whole being with compassion.

He was a human like each of us, but God inspired in him intimate affection for every living being so that he would be able to establish a connection with all of them. Because of this, he was full of extraordinary affection toward his family members and others.

All of his sons had died. His last son, Ibrahim, born of Mary, the Copt, did not live long either. The Messenger often visited his son while alive, although he was very busy, who was looked after by a nurse, and he embraced, kissed, caressed him, and then returned home.12 When Ibrahim passed away, the Prophet took him on his lap again, embraced him and described his sorrow while on the brink of tears. Some were surprised. He gave them this answer: Eyes may water and hearts may be broken but we do not say anything except what God will be pleased with. He pointed to his tongue and said: God will ask us about this.13 He was the most compassionate, most merciful of all people.

He took his grandsons Hasan and Husayn on his back and carried them around with him. Is it possible for a man of such status to do such a thing? He did it without hesitation. By doing this, he also heralded the honour that they would attain later. One day, when Hasan and Husayn were on his back, �Umar came into the Prophet�s house. When he saw them on such an honoured place, he said, �What a beautiful mount you have!� The Messenger added immediately: What beautiful riders they are!14 They may not even have been aware of the way the Messenger had honoured them. This special compliment was because of their position as the future leaders and family heads of the household of the Prophet. From them were to come the greatest and most respected ones among saints. His compliment was not only for his grandsons but for all his offspring. For this reason, �Abd al-Qadir Jilani, a well-known member of the household of the Prophet, said: �The blessed feet of the Messenger are on my shoulders and mine are on the shoulders of all saints.� This statement will probably stand for all saints to come.

The Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, was completely balanced in the way he brought up his children. He loved his children and grandchildren very much and instilled love in them, but, he never let this be abused. None of them dared deliberately do anything wrong but, if they made a mistake unintentionally, the Messenger�s protection prevented them from going astray even the least. He did this by wrapping them in love and an aura of dignity. For example, once, Hasan or Husayn wanted to eat a date that had been given as alms. The Messenger rushed and took it from his hand immediately, and said: The date given as alms is forbidden to us.15 In bringing them up to be sensitive to the forbidden acts, even in their childhood, he laid down for us an important principle of education.

Whenever he returned to Madina he would carry children on his mount. On such occasions the Messenger embraced not only his grandchildren but also those in his house and those nearby. Through his compassion he conquered their hearts.

He loved all children. He loved Umama, his granddaughter, just as he loved Hasan and Husayn. He often went out with her on his shoulders. He even placed her on his back while praying. When he went to prostrate, he put her down and when he had finished he took her on his back again.16

He showed this degree of love to Umama so as to teach how to treat girls to a society that used to bury their daughters alive only a decade previously. Among those people, the Messenger�s care for his granddaughter was novel and had never been seen before.

There is no discrimination between son and daughter in Islam. The Messenger himself showed this. How can there be? One of them is Muhammad, the other is Khadija; one is Adam, the other is Eve; one is �Ali, the other is Fatima. For every great man there is a great woman.

Fatima, the daughter of the Messenger, is the mother of all members of the household of the Prophet. She is our mother, too. As soon as Fatima entered, the Messenger would stand, take her hands and make her sit where he had been sitting. He asked about her health and family, caressed her and paid her many compliments.

He loved her like his own self, and Fatima, knowing how fond he was of her, loved him more than her own self. Her great mission was to be the seed for the saints and godly people. She always watched her father and his method of calling to Islam. For this reason, she wept and groaned when the Messenger gave her the news of his impending death, and rejoiced when he told her that she would be the first to follow him.17 Her father loved her, and she loved her father. The Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, was totally balanced even in his love for Fatima. He trained her for the heights to which the human soul should rise.

The Messenger brought up Fatima, as well as the other members of his family and also his Companions, in a way to prepare them for the Hereafter. Human beings were created for eternity. They cannot be satisfied except through eternity and the Eternal Being. Therefore, human beings want nothing but Him, and they long for Him either consciously or unconsciously. The essence of all religions and the message of every Prophet was about the Next World. For this reason, the Messenger always sought to prepare his followers for the eternal peace and permanent bliss while himself giving to them a sample of that peace and bliss which they would taste in his presence. Fatima once came to the Messenger with a necklace (a bracelet, according to another version). He said to her: Do you want people � inhabitants of the earth and the inhabitants of heavens � to say that the daughter of the Prophet is holding (or wearing) a chain from Hell?

He loved them and directed them towards the Hereafter, to the otherworldly and eternal beauties, and to God. His words were enough for Fatima. For those words were coming from a man whose throne was established in her heart and who had conquered all her faculties. For this reason, Fatima said:

I immediately sold the necklace, bought a slave and emancipated him, and then went to the Messenger. When I told him what I had done, he rejoiced. He opened his hands and thanked God: All thanks to God who protected (my daughter) Fatima from Hell.18

Certainly, Fatima did not commit a sin by wearing the necklace, however, the Messenger wanted to keep her in the circle of the muqarrabin, those who were made near to God. Our master�s warning was due to taqwa, fear of God, and qurb, nearness to Him. This was, in a sense, a neglect of worldly things, and an example of the sensitivity befitting the mother of the household of the Prophet, which represents the Muslim nation until the Last Day. To be a mother of godly men like Hasan, Husayn and Zayn al-�Abidin was certainly no ordinary task. The Messenger was preparing her to be the mother of Ahl al-Bayt first, and then the mother of �Abdul Qadir al-Jilani, Muhammad Baha� al-Din al-Naqshband, Ahmad Rifai�, Ahmad Badawi, al-Shadhili and the like. As if he said to her: �My daughter! You are to marry a man and go to a house from which many golden �rings� will consequently come. Forget that golden chain on your neck and concentrate on becoming the mother for the �golden chains� of saints who would appear in the spiritual orders of Naqshbandiya, Rifaiya, Shadhiliyyah and the like.� It was difficult to fulfil the role of mother of the great ones while wearing a golden necklace. For this reason, the Messenger was more severe with his own household than others in these kinds of matters. He reminded them of the straight path by turning their faces towards the other world, closing all the windows opening on the �world� and telling them, What you need is God.

They would lead their whole lives looking to the other world. For this reason, the Messenger purified, as a sign of his love, his most beloved ones from all worldly rubbish, not allowing worldly dust to �soil their robes�. He turned their faces towards the exalted realms and prepared them for being together there.

�A man is with whom he loves�. If you love the Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, you will be on his path, and those who are on his path will be together with him in the world beyond. To prepare his family and Companions for this gathering, the Messenger loved and embraced them, and used this love efficiently.

Bukhari and Muslim gave another example of his education system. It was narrated by �Ali, who said:

We had no servant in our house. Fatima did all the housework by herself. We lived in a house with just a small room. There, Fatima lit a fire and tried to cook. She often singed her clothes while trying to increase the fire by blowing. Moreover, she baked our bread and carried water. Her hands became covered in callouses from turning the millstone and her back also became so because of carrying water. Meanwhile some prisoners of war were brought to Madina. The Messenger gave them to those who applied. I suggested to Fatima to ask for a servant from her father. And she did.

Fatima continues:

I went to my father, but he was not at home. �A�isha said that she would tell him when he came, and I returned home. As soon as we went to bed, the Messenger came in. We wanted to get up, but he did not let us and sat between us. I could feel the cold of his foot on my body. He asked what we wanted and I explained the situation. The Messenger, in an awesome manner, said: �O Fatima! Fear God, and be faultless in your duties to Him! (Fulfil all the obligatory deeds that God ordered and be loyal to your husband.) I should say to you another thing: When you want to go to bed, say Subhanallah (All glory be to God) and al-hamdu lil-lah (All praise be to God) and Allahu akbar (God is the greatest) thirty three times each. This is better for you than having a maid.�19

He meant: �I am turning your faces to the other-worldly realms, and there are two ways for you to reach them and be together with me there: fulfilling your duties in perfect servitude to your Lord and fulfilling your duties to your husband. If a maid takes your responsibilities, this may make you deficient. You must have two wings in order to fly to the higher ranks. How can a man or woman become a perfect slave of God? How can a person become a perfect human being and fulfil all of his or her obligations? It is your duty to find the answers of these.

First of all, become a perfect slave of God. Then, become a perfect human being by performing your duties to �Ali, a great man who represents all the saints from among his descendants, so that you may be with me in Heaven where all the perfect things and perfect human beings shall come together.�

I cannot help but digress to mention a fact about �Ali. The Messenger gave him his daughter without any hesitation, because he deserved being the husband of a Prophet�s daughter and a Son-in-law of a Prophet. He was the king of the saints, and was created in this nature. The Messenger, one day, said to him:

O �Ali! The offspring of every other Prophet came from himself, however mine will come from you.20

�Ali is the father of the offspring, grandchildren, of the Prophet, namely, the household of the Prophet. For this reason, to obey �Ali means to obey the Messenger, and to obey the Messenger means to obey God. Also, those who love �Ali should love the Prophet and follow his Sunnah.

1. Muslim, Rada�, 47.

2. Bukhari, Salat, 80.

3. Tirmidhi, Nikah, 41. / 4. Bukhari, Adab, 68.

5. Bukhari, Shurut, 15.

6. Abu Dawud, Sunnah, 15; Tirmidhi, Rada�, 11.

7. Muslim, Talaq, 34, 35.

8. Abu Nu�aym, Hilyah, 8.100.

9. Muslim, Talaq, 35.

10. Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 64.

11. Muslim, Fada�il, 63.

12. Muslim, Fada�il, 62.

13. Bukhari, Jana�iz, 44; Muslim, Fada�il, 62; Ibn Maja, Jana�iz, 53.

14. Hindi, Kanz al-�Ummal, 13.650.

15. Ibn Hanbal, 2.279; Muslim, Zakat, 161.

16. Bukhari, Adab, 18; Ibn Sa�d, Tabaqat, 8.39.

17. Muslim, Fada�il, 98, 99; Bukhari, Manaqib, 25.

18. Nasa�i, Zinat, 39.

19. Bukhari, Fada�il al-Ashab, 9; Muslim, Dhikr, 80, 81.

20. Bedi�zzaman Said Nursi, Lemalar, 4. Lema.


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