An Advice to Children
By: Sayyid Muhammad Taqi Hakim
Spring has arrived and the universe is reborn. Trees once again done their fresh, green apparel. The earth becomes green and pleasant and the spring breeze is filled with heavenly fragrance. Birds are singing sweet songs. Everywhere the air is filled with joy, Sadness turns to joy. No one can tolerate saying indoors, so people, young and old, men and women, take to the fields and meadows to enjoy the spring, this new gift from God. All with their loved ones are gathered in small groups sitting around throughout the green lawns and by flower gardens.
It is a new atmosphere; Everyone has abandoned worries about anything. Every face is wearing a smile. In short, people are moved, from with, with new thoughts and aspirations. Some are lying down without caring about their neatly pressed garments, Students taking advantage of the clean fresh air, and busy studying. Families have com here to hold a family reunion. The joy of this kind of gathering is so noticeable from every face. Smiles and play are the order of the day. When tired of sitting and visiting, they strength their legs and take a short walk.
In one such family, there was a father busy visiting with his child. They had put the problems of their daily lives out of their minds and were deeply involved in a heart-to-heart conversation, in a totally free atmosphere. The father had long been waiting for a opportunity to open up his heart to express his feelings openly to his child. But the pressures and difficulties for daily life would not allow him to do so. however, this was a perfect opportunity. So, he took advantage of it and he finally opened up. His child too, in return, did likewise in such a warm, sincere atmosphere for a heart-to-heart conversation.
.Hospitality and Appreciation
My child! If a person invites you to dinner in his home and treats you with warmth and in a comfortable environment, undoubtedly you will thank him. And if one takes you out for a meal, again, you will thank him. If while on a trip, one accommodates you over night, you will never forget his kindness. If someone invites for a lunch or dinner at his house, you will always remember his favour. If one gives you a drink when you are thirsty, I do not think you would not offer him your thanks.
If one gives you a pen or a book for a gift, every time you use it, you will be thinking of him. If one helps you rest after you are tired, you will express your thanks. If one helps you with your studies, you will tell him thank you. If one gives you a helping hand, you will be obliged to him. If one lets you use his automobile, he will receive you thanks, as is the case when someone gives you a ride in his car or when one offers you his seat on a bus. And finally, if one is only kind to you by worlds and not by his deeds, there too, it is unrealistic to say you will not say thanks.
My child! How is it then that for all these relatively small favours you show your appreciation, but to all the love, attention, care and happiness and to all the material conveniences that you parents have provided for you, you are so indifferent and are taking them for granted?
Oh, how great it is that you have awakened me. And how appropriately you brought this to my attention! I really have been neglectful as to all you love, compassion and hospitalities and have been taking them for granted. I have done so, just as one who pays no attention to the importance of the sum simply because it rises every day. Now I confess that I am greatly indebted to you and owe you all my existence. I take this opportunity to give all my thanks and appreciation to you and my mother even though I shall never be able to compensate you enough.
Mistakes and Apologies
My child! When you realize you have done somebody wrong, or have treated him in a rude manner or with harsh words, you would ask for forgiveness. If you suspect you have been disrespectful to someone or when bumping into him, you would say "excuse me, please" in an apologetic tone.
In short, you do your best to please others and keep their respect and be nice to them as soon as your realize you have offended them in the slightest way. But how is it that you would not say even one word of apology to your father and mother even though you are certain you have disobeyed, belittled and been rude the them? And you to but try to cherish those who reared and nourished you?
I confess that I have been wrong. And now in the name of your child who is guilty of disobedience from head to toe, I beg your forgiveness.
The Most Sincere Caring
My child! Whoever does anything good for you or does you a favour, expects something in return. But your parents, who through their most sincere services and caring as well as their material means, have done their best to raise you and guarantee you comfort while growing up, have no expectation whatsoever for anything in return or to be compensated in any way. Rather, they have done so for you simply because they love you.
My Child! Think and think hard. Try to see how your father and mother are trying hard. to provide you with whatever you want and need. Remember all their wishes directly or indirectly are aimed at your interest and welfare. And when you become what you wish to be, and when your dreams are fulfilled, they will be most happy for you. And they take it as if that gave received the answer to their prayers.
My child! Don't you ever believe there is anyone on earth who will love you, or will care for you or will stand by you in the time of grief or will come to your secure, more than your father and mother do. Your Parents want your happiness regardless of anything in return. They just love you.
The harder I took, the more I realise there is no one more worthy of respect than you, my loving parents. I know of no one kinder than you. My heart tells me your kindness toward me matches that of none. I believe it is quite natural you care for me. That is because of such caring, that you do your utmost in making me happy. I wonder how much I my self will be able to do for myself.
The Unmatchable Love
My child! It seems that you have forgotten everything. You think you were born that big! You are ignoring the different stages in your life. And how gradually you have grown through them! Think of your childhood, and the many exhausting troubles your parents were through for your sake. Think of when you were in your mother's womb1 and she carried your weight and of how she had to suffer morning sickness and many other complications related to different stages of pregnancy until you were born. That was just the beginning. The beginning of a series of new inconviences for her as well as for your father. Your mother would nurse you, quiet you when you were crying, she would wash you, change you and keep your clothes clean.
During the night, she had to stay up in order to feed you and to lullaby you to sleep. Many time, she would beg others to be quiet so you could go to sleep. When you were healthy, they would worry that you wouldn't get sick. And when you were ill, they would do their best to seek medical assistance until you recovered your health again. In either situation, they would alter their life style to meet yours. When you became of age you needed, even if they would do that with pleasure and satisfaction of being able to provide your food. And when you become a little older and were able to play with toys, They purchased for you toys and games.
My Child! As you grew older, they sent you to kindergarten, primary school, high school, college, and university. They paid for all your school needs to the best of their ability. They assigned a special room for your study. Around your examination time, they worry abut your test results. And whenever you receive passing grades, it would make them the happiest parents under the sun. My child! When you are happy, they are happy and when you are sad, they are sad too. Whatever troubles your body and soul, or comforts it, would bother or comfort theirs.
My dear child! In the family setting, your father and mother would rather for you to be the one to have the best food, clothing, and accommodations. They would spare you from any unpreventable inconvience. Even if they were not concerned about their own future, They certainly cared about yours. They worked hard to send you on a vacation so you would not get tired and bored. In the summer time, they would work in the hot climate but would send you to a cool place. My child! When you were at home, looking at you brought joy to their hearts. And when you were away on a trip, you were constantly on their minds. How could they forget about you? You are in their hearts. Whoever is in one's heart is on one's mind.
My child! If you were a few minutes late in coming home from school, they would worry about you. The same way if you were late coming home after going to see a friend. Think again, and think hard. Do you have anyone else in this world who would be so much concerned about you? My beloved! You are the apple of you parent's eyes, the joy of their lives and the source of their pride. Without you, the home is such a dull place. When your parents are out, their thought are with you, and upon returning home, they step in the house with anticipation of the joy of seeing you here.
My child! After your educational goal is reached and you are ready to work, they will use all their night and means to help you find your desired kind of employment, so you would serve your society in the best possible capacity. And now that you are putting your education to work and starting to reap it's intellectual and material fruits, your parents have nor the least expectation to share it's benefit with you. Instead, they are happy for your good fortune. My child! when you are ready for marriage, your parents, with their blessings and happiness, will assist you in preparing for and make happen this joyous event of your life.
My child! By the time you enter the society and occupy you place in accordance with what you contribute to it, you have gone through many life situations and in short, you have come a long way. My beloved child! Take a good look at your past. Review and analyze every event. See who had faithfully and sincerely stayed by you and helped you.
Were they any other than your father and your mother?
Yes? It was only they. It was only they who help you with your problems; got rid of obstacles from your path and help you fulfill you dreams and accomplish your goals. It was they who put up with all sorts of hardships and hazards! Words cannot express the degree and extent of all such inconveniences. Is there anyone who can do so? Only Allah knows all your father and mother had suffered for your sake!
I shall never forget all your endeavours that you, my father and mother, have done for my success, and in my upbringing. Also, I shall never be able to tell you how important you have been in my life. Or to mention the depth of your love for me. However, I look forward to finding an opportunity to express my appreciation both in words and in deeds, indeed.
A Gift of Allah
My child! Keep in mind that children are gifts of Allah. Do not belittle this fact. Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) once said:
"A righteous child is a flower from flowers of heaven".
- The Book Wafi, Part 12, pages 196-197.
He also said:
"Of the signs of prosperity, the righteous child is one."
- The Book Wafi, Part 12, pages 196-197.
And Imam Zain al-Abidin (as) is quoted as saying:
"One of the signs of a man's prosperity is having children from whom he gets helps."
- The book Wafi, Part 12, pages 196-197
Imam al-Sadiq (as)1 said:
Once there was a man who said, he did not wish to have any children until he went to Mecca. There at Arafat, he came across a young man with tears in his eyes who was praying to Allah for his father. Seeing that situation, persuaded me to have children.
- The Book Wafi, Part 12, pages 196-197.
Yes, a child is a gift, and man has been assigned obligations for this gift as Imam al-Sadiq (as) once said:
"Sons are gift and daughters are righteous deeds. Allah holds one responsible for a gift but be rewards one for righteous deeds."
- The Book Wafi, part 12, pages 196-197.
Therefore, the father are responsible for their children and they should be careful how they treat and rear them.
The Results of Good Behaviour
My child! Think and see how do you wish your children to treat you and what do you expect from them. Then you would know how your father and mother want you to treat them, and you will understand that their expectations from you are fair and justified.
My child! If you wish your children to treat you nicely, appreciate you, and fulfil their obligations to you; and in the hard times, share your sorrow; and in the good times, be the source of your pride, in short to treat you with good behaviour, then do likewise for your father and mother and set yourself as an example for them, Imam al-Sadiq (as) says:
"Treat your fathers with benevolence, so that your children will treat you with benevolence."
It is my ardent desire to have quite capable children to help me out, and to cherish me. Thus, as they have said, I will have to improve myself and to establish an equitable relationship between you and me so that according to the principle of equal returns be worthy of having favourite children. Right now, I pledge to treat you in no way but with utmost benevolence.
The Fruits of Hard Word
Whatever possessions your mother and father have, such as the house and all there is in it, real estate property and others, will someday by yours, since we shall pass away and take nothing with us.
Think hard! You may even end up making better use of them. Your parents have obtained them painstakingly and with hard work. But will take great satisfaction in putting them at your disposal. They have even bought some iterms especially for you.
I pray that you will live for many years in happiness and in health and fully enjoy the fruits of you hard work. I do not want anything but to be able to live and enjoy life under your auspices and your protection.
A Good Reputation and the Family Environment
My child! It is you who can earn a good reputation for yourself through sincere efforts and good deeds, thus making your parents proud. Or, through mischievous and dishonest acts making them ashamed of you. Now, is it is not better to conduct yourself in the former fashion? That way, you will not only make us happy, but also Allah will be happy with you. This in itself is great blessing for you.
Everyone, instinctively, wishes to earn a good reputation for himself and his parents. However, this is directly related to the type of environment at home provided by everybody especially the elder family members. Imam al-Sadiq (as) says:
"In every family if there exists no fellowship and adoptability, it becomes deprived of Allah's blessing and bounties."
- Usul Kafi, Volume 11, p. 119.
Also Samuel Smiles, the famous author says:
"In any family where love and order is present, it's members will have a daily life of righteousness and good deeds, it's head is wise and kind hearted. One can expect to see happy, healthy and useful children come out of it. They, in turn, will follow their parent's ways and will provide happiness for themselves as well as people around them."
- The Book of Ethics, Part I, p. 41.
Of course, at times one finds misleading factors outside the home causing the youth to go astray by surrendering to their sensual desires. That is the time when, if the parents don't come in and involve themselves to save their children, they will fall to ill repute and will be destroyed forever.
Hormany and Co-existence
Now that we are talking about the family environment, I should tell you: The green family tree will bear sweet fruits only when its roots i.e. parent are compassionate and its branches i.e. children have understanding. This tree, in whatever home happens to be, will bring about a warm and pleasant atmosphere of love.
The sweet fruit of such a tree is comfort and happiness, because the kindness of parents and the understanding of children bring harmony and peace. That, in return, prevents creation of problems and misunderstandings. Thus, no dissatisfaction and hard feelings will appear among them, with such co-existence, every one will discharge his own duties and will respect the right of others. The father fulfils the duties of fatherhood; the mother that of motherhood; and the children behave like children. Oh! how fortunate is a family which comprises such members and how blessed is a house that has such inhabitants.
Your conversation having such sweet words and appropriate metaphor is every fascinating for me and in respect of content too it is meaningful and perfectly correct. There is no doubt about it's wisdom.
Revenge and Forgiveness
My child! When a person insults your mother or father or even treats them with disrespect, it is possible that because of natural instinct they may keep it in their heart and may look forward for a proper opportunity to take revenge from the person. However, no matter how you, my beloved child, mistreat them or how unpleasantly deals with them, they not only will not find a hatred against you but they also, will not attempt to get revenge from you.
The purity of your hearts has impressed me so deeply. No matter how bad my behaviour should cause a slightest heartbreak, you would soon forget about it and would resume your cheerfulness.
This is because of my good fortune that the Almighty Creator has created you so compassionate to treat me with kindness and love and to never ignore me.
Complaining and Hoping for Forgiveness
My child! Following our discussions in the past, I do not believe you would ever mistreat, hurt or disobey us in any manner, shape or form. Nor would you turn away from us in disgust. whatever we tell you does not come from mere carnal desires, but it is inspired by our love to you and is in your interest. So, listen to us and do as we suggest so you will find success and happiness.
When I was a child, I was ignorant. Now that I am a young man, I am suffering from pride. these two elements have prevented me from fulfilling my obligations towards you and from pleasing you. If my immature behaviour has cause you any hardship, or if I have ignored you, I sincerely apologize. And I hope that you will forgive me, as the great people do forgive. If parents do not forgive their children, then who woudl? And if they do not excuse them, who would?
Sufferings and Hopes
My child! Your father and mother have suffered a lot, gone through many ups and downs and thick and things, joys and sorrows in raising you and bringing you up to this stage, Look now! If you prove to be a bad person, you have spoiled all their sufferings and hopes.
Whenever, in appearance, I disagree with you, in reality internally, I feel ashamed and sorrowful. The more I disobey you, the more sorry I become. I pledge that from now on, I would be beneficial to you. If not that, at least I would not cause you any harm.
The Religious Beliefs vs. Superstitions
My child! Now that you have become mature, wise and of age, instead of honouring and respecting you parents, you are calling them ignorant, old fashioned and superstitious! What you call superstition, they consider religious knowledge and tradition. and they are deeply committed to observing them. Don't you think could be right? And couldn't what you refer to as superstition be a set of truths that can be understood only after comprehension and attention?
My beloved! Speak with your conscience for a moment. Think about the things you label nonsense. See if you are not mistaken. Think hard and apply your wisdom for analyzing your understanding regarding religious facts. If you feel helpless, you may seek assistance from the religious scholar. See what can you come out with? Do you find them to be superstitious? Or are they a strong moral code based on logic, science, and discoveries?
I bear witness in front of my conscience that if you follow this method, and if you sincerely look into the roots and the branches of religion, you will then believe in them in a scientific and logical manner. And therefore while your parents were committed to their faith on the basis of following (Taqlid)1 of the others, you will become Muslim in your own capacity on the basis of enlightenment achieved by you, after a through knowledge of the religion.
The illogical statements and irrational behaviour of some people in the name of religion make us turn away from it. The superstitions which appear as religious facts as well as hard to believe imaginary rituals caused us to flatly reject religion. Otherwise, most of us young people do believe in the Islamic teachings and we look at the Holy Qur'an with extreme respect. further, we have no difficulty in accepting the factual aspects of the religion.
Of course, we still need guidance in understanding of what we consider ambiguous and unclear. We also need someone to touch our hearts with simple but interesting explanations about our religious obligations and to convince us of the necessity of following them.