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The Sealed Nectar

 The Sealed Nectar by Shaykh Safi ur-Rahman

The Prophet Muhammad (saas)'s compassion, mercifulness and consideration for the believers can also be seen in his attitude towards children. The Prophet (saas) took a close interest in his own children and grandchildren, as in those of his companions. In regards to them, he made suggestions about everything, from their birth to choosing names for them, from their health to their education, from their clothes to the games they played, all of which he played an active role in.
For example, shortly before his daughter Fatimah gave birth to his two grandchildren, he told her: "When there is a birth, do nothing to the child without informing me."177 After the babies had been born he instructed on how they were to be fed, looked after and protected.
The Prophet (saas) also prayed for new-born babies, for his children and grandchildren, and for the children of his companions. As he held them on his knee or watched them playing, he would ask Allah to give them long and prosperous lives, as well as wisdom and faith. At every opportunity he would pray for his grandchildren Hassan and Hussein, saying that the prayer he used was the same as that Abraham used for Isaac and Ismail.178
Ibn Abbas (ra), one of his companions, relates how when he was a child, the Prophet (saas) said, "Allah, teach him wisdom." During the childhood of Anas bin Malik, another of his companions, he prayed to Allah to give him much wealth, many children and a long life, and that these would be auspicious for him.179
The Prophet (saas) attached great importance to children's play, and sometimes even joined in with them. He recommended parents to play with their children, saying, "Let he who has a child be as a child with him."180 He suggested that children play such games and sports as swimming, running and wrestling, and encouraged his own grandchildren and the children of those around him to do so.
Many of his companions have described how the Prophet (saas) loved children, and took an interest in and played with them. Here are a number of examples:
Anas bin Malik (r.a):
"The Prophet was one of the foremost people when it came to playing and joking with children."181
Al-Bara 'ibn Azib (r.a):
"I saw Hassan (ra) upon the shoulders of Allah's Messenger."182
Anas bin Malik (ra) said:
"The Prophet (saas) kissed and smelled (his son) Ibrahim."183
Abu Huraira (ra) describes the Prophet (saas)'s love of children and how he used to play with them:
I went along with Allah's Messenger (saas) at a time during the day but he did not talk to me and I did not talk to him until he reached Bazar of Banu Qunaiqa. He came back to the tent of Fatima and said: Is the little chap (meaning Hassan) there? We were under the impression that his mother had detained him in order to bathe him and dress him and garland him with sweet garland. Not much time had passed that he (Hassan) came running until both of them embraced each other, thereupon Allah's Messenger (saas) said: O Allah, I love him; love him and love one who loves him (Hassan)..."184
According to Anas bin Malik (ra), the Prophet (saas) used to often call his grandchildren, Hassan and Hussein, over to him and cuddle them.185
Ibnu Rebi'ati'ibni Haris (ra) says:
"My father sent al-Fadl the son of Abbas and me to the Prophet (saas). When we came into his presence, he sat us down on his right and left, and embraced us more strongly than we had ever seen before."186
The Prophet (saas) would often caress the heads of children and pray for them. For example, Yusuf 'Ibn Abdullah 'Ibn Selam (ra) says the Prophet (saas) would often call him by name and pat his head. Amr Ibnu Hureys (ra) describes how his mother took him into the presence of the Prophet (saas), and how the latter would pat his head and pray that he would always receive his daily bread. When Abdullah Ibnu Utbe (ra) was five or six, he also recalls the Prophet (saas) patting his head and praying he would have many descendants and live in plenty.187
Abu Huraira (ra) provides the following examples of the Prophet Muhammad (saas)'s interest in and love for children:
"When the people saw the first fruit (of the season) they brought it to Allah's Apostle (saas). When he received it he said: "O Allah, bless us in our fruits; and bless us in our city; and bless us in our sa's (a measurement unit) and bless us in our mudd (a measurement unit). He would then call to him the youngest child and give him those fruits."188
"Whenever he came back from a journey, the children of his household would be taken out to meet him." He (saas) used to hug them close to him, as 'Abd-Allah ibn Jafar (ra) said:
"Whenever the Prophet (saas) came back from a journey, we would be taken out to meet him. One day we met him, Hassan, Hussein and I. He carried one of us in front of him, and another on his back, until we entered Madina."189
'Once the Prophet (saas) went out during the day… then he sat in the compound of Fatima's house and asked about the small boy (his grandson Hassan). After a while the boy came out running and the Prophet (saas) embraced and kissed him'."190
Jaabir bin Samurah (ra) has this to say on the subject:
"I prayed along with Allah's Messenger (saas) the first prayer. He then went to his family and I also went along with him when he met some children (on the way). He began to pat the cheeks of each one of them. He also patted my cheek and I experienced a coolness or a fragrance of his hand as if it had been brought out from the scent bag of a perfumer."191
The Prophet Muhammad (saas) was sent at a time when female babies were still killed at birth, but stressed that girls should not be discriminated against in favor of boys, and that it was a sin to kill them. By demonstrating equal love for and interest in both, he set an excellent example to the whole of the society. The followoing is an example of what the Prophet (saas) said about female children:
"A daughter is a lovely child; affectionate, eager to help, mild and full of sacred feelings of motherhood."192
The Prophet (saas) demonstrated his love in word and deed. He would tell children how much he loved them.193
The Prophet (saas) never favored one child over another. He showed the same affection and compassion to the children of the faithful that he did to his own children and grandchildren. When Halid bin Said (ra) visited the Prophet (saas), there was a little girl by his side. The Prophet (saas) showed her special affection because she had been born in Abyssinia. On one occasion, the Prophet (saas) had a piece of embroidered fabric in his hands. He called the girl over and gave it to her, making her very happy.
Jemre (ra) was a small child at the time. Her father would bring her into the presence of the Prophet (saas) and ask for him to pray to Allah to make her prosperous. The Prophet (saas) took Jemre (ra) in his lap, placed his hand on her head, and prayed.
Usama (ra), the son of the Prophet (saas)'s assistant Zaid (ra), had this recollection of the Prophet (saas):
"Allah's Apostle (saas) used to put me on (one of) his thighs and Al-Hassan bin 'Ali on his other thigh, and then embraced us and said: 'O Allah! Please be Merciful to them, as I am merciful to them'."194
Some people were unable to understand why the Prophet (saas) played with children and took such an interest in them. On one accasion, Akra bin Habis (ra) saw the Prophet (saas) kissing Hassan (ra), and said:
" 'I have ten children and have never kissed one of them'." The Prophet (saas) looked at him and said, 'Those who show no mercy will be shown no mercy'."195
The Prophet (saas)'s venerable son Ibrahim (ra) would frequently visit the house of his wet nurse, show her love and affection, and stroke her head. Anas bin Malik (ra), the servant of the Prophet (saas), has another recollection:
"I never saw anyone who was more compassionate towards children than the Messenger of Allah (saas). His son Ibrahim was in the care of a wet-nurse in the hills around Madinah. He 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."196
Our Prophet (saas) also warned the faithful to treat their children justly, and said:
"Fear Allah and treat your children with equal justice."197
The Prophet (saas) also placed great emphasis on children's education and their being brought up with a proper morality, and showed the way by giving a great deal of advice on the matter. Some of the things he had to say are as follows:
"The best things that a man leaves behind after his death are a virtuous child who invokes Allah for him, a perpetual charity, the reward of which reaches him, and a beneficial knowledge which remains useful after him."198
"One of a child's duties to his father is to make his name and behavior fitting."199
"Be hospitable to your children and raise them to be well-behaved ..."200
As in all subjects, the Prophet Muhammad (saas) was an excellent model to the faithful as far as taking an interest in children and showing them love and affection. He communicated the importance of showing love to children in the words, "He does not belong to us who does not show mercy to our young ones...."201