When it comes to striving to be a better Muslim, there's no better role model to look to than the Prophet Muhammad himself. The Prophet is the exemplar for Muslims to look up to, both in his words and his deeds. By looking at how he treated others, we can try to emulate his behaviour and treat those around us in the same way. ?
During his lifetime the Prophet filled many roles in his community, and one such role that was very dear to him was that of being a father. Whether you're already a father, still a father-to-be, or are a father figure to someone, here are 6 values the Prophet displayed as a father that can guide you along the way.
There are many hadiths that report that the Prophet treated his family with obvious and abundant affection. So much so that it was obvious and endearing to those around him. Anas b. Malik reported:
"I have never seen a man who was more compassionate to his family members than Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)." [Sahih Muslim]
And Abu Huraira similarly witnessed an incident where he saw the Prophet giving his son Hasan a kiss:
"I have ten children, but I have never kissed any one of them, whereupon Allah's Messenger said: He who does not show mercy (towards his children), no mercy would be shown to him." [Sahih Muslim]
So the Prophet was not only obvious in his love for his children, but he did so even if it was not common at the time. ? He didn't shy away from letting his children know he loved them, and in his own words, showing such mercy and affection is also one way to receive the mercy of Allah.
P.S. Last year, the #HHWT team compiled our lessons and stories from travelling with our dads. Though we may not be able to travel right now, we hope that these can inspire you to plan a trip with your dad, or help you look forward to travelling with your kids! ✈
2. Patience in daily frustrations
Any parent would agree that patience is key when it comes to raising children. ? When it comes to dealing with young children or even teenagers, patience in everyday matters is so important. And it seems like things haven't changed since the Prophet's time, as seen from this anecdote recited by Anas:
"I served the Prophet for ten years, and he never said to me, "Uf" (a minor harsh word denoting impatience) and never blamed me by saying, "Why did you do so or why didn't you do so?"" [al-Bukhari]
So in times when you feel your patience wearing thin, remind yourself that you should stay calm and avoid passing judgement or saying things you may come to regret.
3. Patience during major trials
Patience is also important when it comes to large trials that may have you even doubting yourself or unsure of whether you can make it through. The Prophet faced several trials when it came to his children - namely, he had to witness several of them pass away, which is heartbreaking for any parent. Anas b. Malik reported:
"I saw that the boy breathed his last in the presence of Allah's Messenger. The eyes of Allah's Messenger shed tears and he said: Ibrahim, our eyes shed tears and our hearts are filled with grief, but we do not say anything except that by which Allah is pleased. O Ibrahim, we are grieved for you." [Sahih Muslim]
Even when he was grieving his own son, his first act was to weep with compassion in spite of his grief. The Prophet's steadfast belief and remembrance in Allah stayed strong even when faced with impossible trials such as this. He was also not shy from showing signs of his grief; rather than bottling up his emotions, he expressed them freely and showed how much he loved his children.
4. Treated his sons and daughters equally
The Prophet had both sons and daughters, and he treated them equally. In fact, his relationship with his daughter Fatimah was extremely close. There are many anecdotes of the Prophet treating women well in general, but his relationship with Fatimah stands out for its deep respect, love, and mutual support. ? Here is an anecdote from Aishah herself as she observed their closeness:
"I have not seen anyone closer in conduct, way, and manners to that of the Messenger of Allah in regards to standing and sitting, than Fatimah the daughter of the Messenger of Allah." She said "Whenever she would enter upon the Prophet he would stand to her and kiss her, and he would sit her in his sitting place. Whenever the Prophet entered upon her she would stand from her seat, and kiss him and sit him in her sitting place. So when the Prophet fell sick and Fatimah entered, she bent over and kissed him. Then she lifted her head and cried, then she bent over him and she lifted her head and laughed.
So I said: 'I used to think that this one was from the most intelligent of our women, but she is really just one of the women.' So when the Prophet died, I said to her: 'Do you remember when you bent over the Prophet and you lifted your head and cried, then you bent over him, then you lifted your head and laughed. What caused you to do that?' She said: 'Then, I would be the one who spreads the secrets. He told me that he was to die from his illness, so I cried. Then he told me that I would be the quickest of his family to meet up with him. So that is when I laughed.'" [Jami' at-Tirmidhi]
It can be challenging to raise a young woman today, and teaching her to navigate issues of misogyny and sexism as she gets older. If you're a '#GirlDad' wondering how you can be there the most for your daughter, this Muslim.sg article also touches on the importance of a father's role in his daughter's life. On the other side of the coin, the Prophet also led by example in his respectful behaviour to women, so his sons would understand how to honour and treat women well. ?
Whether you're mediating a disagreement between siblings or trying to teach your child a lesson after they've done something wrong, fairness is always crucial to remember. An-Nu'man bin Bashir narrated an encounter he had with the Prophet:
"My father took me to the Prophet to ask him to bear witness to something that he had given to me. He said: 'Do you have any other children?' He said: 'Yes.' He gestured with his hand held horizontally like this, (saying): 'Why don't you treat them all equally?'" [Sunan an-Nasa'i]
An-Nu'man bin Bashir's father had given him a gift and wanted the Prophet to acknowledge this. But instead, the Prophet asked if his father treated all of his children in the same way, and when he learnt that he hadn't, he refused to acknowledge this show of unfairness.
6. Putting family (and faith) first
The Prophet was, both then and now, a leader that many looked up to for guidance in the community. Yet to him, being a father and family man was something he considered of utmost importance alongside maintaining his faith. Narrated Aishah:
"That the Messenger of Allah said: "Indeed among the believers with the most complete faith is the one who is the best in conduct, and the most kind to his family."" [Jami` at-Tirmidhi]
Being a family man and treating one's family with kindness was regarded as being essential to one's faith as a Muslim. The Prophet also imparted the values of Islam to his children through his actions:
"Dates used to be brought to Allah's Messenger immediately after being plucked. Different persons would bring their dates till a big heap collected (in front of the Prophet). Once Al-Hasan and Al-Husain were playing with these dates. One of them took a date and put it in his mouth. Allah's Messenger looked at him and took it out from his mouth and said, "Don't you know that Muhammad's offspring do not eat what is given in charity?""
The Prophet's actions showed that being a good father also meant upholding the values of Islam, and passing them onto the next generation.
The Prophet still remains someone we look up to today for guidance and knowledge through all aspects of our life. If you're embarking on a journey as fulfilling yet tough as fatherhood, we hope that these stories of the Prophet will help you in emulating the Prophet's mercy towards others, to guide and encourage you along the way. Happy Father's Day!