With Mohammed Hassan Loum
Perhaps you would agree with me that some of the hardest questions ever posed are by children. My first difficult-to answer question came when my two-year-old son, Zachariah, asked me where babies come from! I quickly sweated on that cold day and produced a very hurried, incoherent and an unintelligible answer, which up till today I cannot remember. Nonetheless the young trusting boy just nodded his head, smiling in total acquiescence with his knowledgeable father. I was saved from further embarrassment. Then some weeks ago, came the second hardest question I had to encounter, and this time from three-year-old Mohammed Jnr. Maashaa’Allah. It went like this: “Baba, I know there is capital A and small a, but why is there is no capital 7, and small 7 ?!”
I paused for a while to calmly take in the question and attempt to this time around give an intelligent answer, but I was busted. The only lame excuse I could come up with was that I would have to look for my Methodist Prep and Primary school teacher the good old Aunty Anna and ask her the answer to an apparently very good question (and anybody who attended Methodist Preparatory and Primary schools in the ’80s and early ’90s would definitely remember the forever-smiling and jovial Aunty Anna). Guess what, young Mohammed Jnr gave me the answer to his very own difficult question. He simply, calmly and confidently said; capital is the number seven which is vertically crossed, and small 7 is that which is not vertically crossed (both symbols are of course used to express the figure 7). Dear readers, I am definitely and faithfully sticking to this answer until someone else gives me another logically acceptable one.
What the above specific question and answer session taught me was that as parents we should never take our children for granted. First of all, we should be very thankful to Allah or God The Almighty for granting us children and we sincerely pray that they be the coolness of our eyes. We should be kind to children (even if they are not our offspring) and develop a healthy habit of regularly engaging them in fruitful conversations which is very important for their intellectual growth and maturity. Children are very good observers of what adults do or say around them. Children by their very nature love the parent who is kind to them, helps them, converses with them, shows them love and is patient with them as much as possible.
Imam Muslim (2592) narrated from Jareer that the Prophet (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever is deprived of kindness is deprived of goodness.” Au contraire, where kindness is absent and where there is violence and harshness, it will automatically lead to the alienation of children, which in turn will lead to stubbornness, disobedience, and general delinquency of the child.
Parents, let us be mindful not to show open favouritism and preference of one child or children over the other(s). Such inclinations could foment negative results of hatred, destructive rivalry and jealousy of one against the other(s). If we ponder the story of Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him), then we may perchance come to understand how Satan can truly provoke chaos and trouble between siblings in such cases. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning of the Noble Qur’an): “When they said: ‘Truly, Yusuf (Joseph) and his brother (Benjamin) are dearer to our father than we, while we are ‘Usbah (a strong group). Really, our father is in a plain error.- Kill Yusuf (Joseph) or cast him out to some (other) land, so that the favour of your father may be given to you alone, and after that you will be righteous folk (by intending repentance before committing the sin)” [Surat Yusuf: 8-9].
Perhaps we may favour or deliberately distinguish a child with good and attractive characteristics over the others, but it could in the long run harm that very child by making him/her proud and develop a lethargic and lackadaisical attitude towards everyone and everything. The apparent black sheep of the family today could possibly in future change to become very positive and noble. So with prayers, perseverance and positive attitude, we could help our children achieve very bright futures. Children need to play, and such a play should never forget to inculcate discipline where appropriate. It is a Sound Standard that everything must be given due attention, within moderation. It is recorded in Bahjat Al-Majaalis, 1/109, that Imam Hassan Al-Basree said: “The effect of (good) learning in early age is like engraving on a stone”. So let us be mindful as to what we engrave on our stones for they could become very hard to efface once dried and hardened overtime.
Mohammed Hassan Loum can be reached at [email protected] or on 3773464 / 7773464.