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Muhammad: Fatherhood Redefined

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The Compassionate Father
By Mostafa Al-Khateeb
OnIslam Staff
OnIslam Staff
13707
Some people wonder why Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) deserved to be the final Messenger and Prophet of Allah. The simple answer that comes to a Muslim's mind is that he (peace and blessings be upon him) was an exemplar in all aspects of life. This means that anyone can find the practical model for a perfect human in him. Almighty Allah says about Muhammad,

(Verily in the messenger of Allah you have a good example for him who looks unto Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much.) (Al-Ahzab 33:21)

Prophet Muhammad set good examples in all aspects of life: he was an ideal husband, father, grandfather, leader, etc.

Being a perfect and a model father, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) dealt with his kids with deep love, kindness, compassion, and justice.

Let's try to live some warm moments in the Prophet's household, to follow his steps in bringing up our children in a perfect manner.

Good Choice of the Mother

The first act a good father should do is to choose a good mother for his kids Indeed, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) had a distinguished choice of his wives.  Khadijah bint Khuwailed, his first wife, who was the mother of almost all his children, was a woman of noble descent and manners. She was brought up well. Their marriage was based on respect, honesty, sincerity, morals, and love.

It is worth mentioning that the Prophet did not get married to another woman while Khadijah was alive. Mother of the believers, `A'ishah commented on the Prophet's faithfulness to his late wife saying, "I never felt so jealous of any wife of Allah's Messenger as I did of Khadijah because Allah's Messenger used to remember and praise her frequently, and because it was revealed to Allah's Messenger that he should give her (Khadijah) the glad tidings of her having a palace of Qasab (canes stud with jewels) in Paradise." (Al-Bukhari)

This was his behavior toward her after her death. Then, it is not difficult to imagine the atmosphere where their children lived while she was alive.

Deep Love and Care

In spite of the heavy and painstaking tasks the Prophet shouldered, he did not forget to express his deep and sincere love toward his children. Anas ibn Malik, the Prophet's servant (may Allah be pleased with him), talked about the Prophet saying:

"His son Ibrahim was in the care of a wet nurse in the hills around Madinah. He (the Prophet) would go there, and we would go with him, and he would enter the house, pick up his son and kiss him, then come back." (Muslim)

Another example of these sincere emotions is crystal clear in a hadith in which Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet,

".. came back to th e tent of Fatimah – his daughter - and said ,"Is the little chap (meaning Al-Hasan – his grandson) there?" We were under the impression that his mother had detained him in order to bathe and dress him and adorn him with sweet garland. Not much time had passed that he (Al-Hasan) came running until both of them embraced each other, thereupon Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said,O Allah , I love him; so please love him and love those who love him.” (Muslim)

The Prophet's care for his children was not limited to them as children but as adults and married ones. This was clearly shown when `Ali ibn Abi Talib – the Prophet's cousin and son-in-law- wanted to marry a woman whose father was an enemy of Islam. Al-Miswar ibn Makhramah said,

"I heard Allah's Messenger who was on the pulpit, saying, "Banu Hisham ibn Al-Mughirah have requested me to allow them to marry their daughter to Ali ibn Abi Talib, but I don't give permission, and will not give permission unless ' Ali ibn Abi Talib divorces my daughter in order to marry their daughter, because Fatimah is a part of my body, and I hate what she hates to see, and what hurts her, hurts me." (Al-Bukhari)

Although polygamy is allowed in Islam, the considerate father refused to let his daughter Fatimah be hurt or get saddened. Moreover, this stance of the Prophet was  because Fatimah's mother and sisters died one after another, so if her husband married another woman, she would partially lose someone who was giving comfort to her. 

In another eye-catching scene we know that when Fatimah came to her father, he would stand, take her hands, and make her sit where he was sitting. He used to speak with her showing a fountain of fatherly love. Prophet Muhammad used to call her Umm Abbiha (mother of her father) and Bint Abbiha (daughter of her father).

Overwhelming Kindness, Mercy, and Compassion

Kindness and mercy were among other fatherly traits of Allah's Messenger. The Prophet's life is full of incidents that show his extreme kindness and mercy toward his children.

One day Allah ’s Messenger kissed Al-Hasan ibn `Ali while Al-Aqra` ibn Habis At-Tamimi was sitting with him. Al-Aqra` said, "have ten children and have never kissed one of them. The Prophet looked at him and said, “Whoever is not merciful to others will not be treated mercifully.” (Al-Bukhari)

Prophet Muhammad, the ideal father, urged parents to be kind to their children. Abu Hurairah narrated that Allah's Messenger said, "The righteous among the women of Quraish are those who are kind to their young ones and who look after their husband's property." (Al-Bukhari) This saying leads parents to compete in being kind to their little ones. This "catalytic" method of conveying the message, is so effective indeed.

`Aishah, (may Allah be pleased with her) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) got some ornaments presented by Negus as a gift to him. They contained a gold ring with an Abyssinian stone. The Messenger of Allah, turning his attention from it, took it by means of a stick or his finger, then called Umamah, daughter of his daughter Zainab, and said: "Wear it, my dear daughter." (Abu Dawud)

Usamah ibn Zaid narrated that Allah’s Messenger used to put him on (one of) his thighs and put Al-Hasan ibn `Ali on his other thigh, and then embrace them and say,”O Allah! Please be merciful to them, as I am merciful to them.” (Al-Bukhari)

Anas ibn Malik reported that while Ibrahim, the son of the Prophet was giving his last breathe, the Prophet shed tears and said, ”The eyes shed tears and the heart grieves, and we will not say except w hat pleases our Lord, O Ibrahim! Indeed we are grieved by your separation.” (Al-Bukhari)

Al-Bahiyy reported another indicative situation reflecting how kind and merciful toward his children the Prophet was. Al-Bahiyy said "When Ibrahim, the son of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) died, Allah's Messenger prayed over him at the place where he used to sit." (Abu Dawud)

 Likewise, Anas ibn Malik assured the Prophet's uniquecompassion toward his children, saying, "I never saw anyone who was more compassionate toward children than Allah’s Messenger" .(Muslim)

Zainab died in the eighth year after Hijrah leaving her little daughter Umamah whom the Prophet used to dandle remembering her mother and solacing the little one. Abu Qatadah Al-Ansari and some Companions were sitting in the mosque. He reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) came upon us carrying Umamah daughter of Abul 'As ibn ar-Rabi'. Her mother was Zainab daughter of the Messenger of Allah. She (Umamah) was a child and he (the Prophet) was carrying her on his shoulder. The Messenger of Allah led (the people) in Prayer while she was on his shoulder. When he bowed he put her down and took her up when he got up. He kept doing so until he finished his prayer. (Abu Dawud)

The Prophet balanced the refined and noble traits above mentioned with other ones required for education, so that his children would not be spoiled. What the latter traits were, and what the practical tips to be a great father following the Prophet as an exemplar are; will be tackled in part two in sha’ Allah.

Related Links:
The Prophet: An Ideal Father & Grandfather
The Prophet’s Care for Children
The Prophet's Mercy and Compassion

Mostafa Al-Khateeb is one of OnIslam.net's Shari`ah staff. He was a moderator of IslamOnline.net's Discussion Forums and an editor in IOL's  Living Shari`ah section. He holds a BA from the Department of English, Cairo University, and holds a two-year translation diploma and a two-year diploma in Islamic studies.

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