Nafaqah (maintenance expenses) is frequently interpreted to refer to goods like property, food, clothing, and a place to live. In reality, many people believe that the husband, who serves as the head of the household, is the only one who should be responsible for paying maintenance.
Have you ever considered that education might also be categorised as a part of nafaqah? In a family, nafaqah, or maintenance, is a necessity. It is the parents' duty to see that their children's education is not overlooked. Thus, it is necessary to consider education as a crucial prerequisite for children's future.
Before entering into a marriage, husbands and wives must recognise that they will play a significant part in shaping the future generation. Islam places a lot of emphasis on marriage since it considers the family unit to be part of the larger society. Therefore, before getting married, couples must empower themselves with the essential knowledge and relevant skill sets.
A pupil once asked the great scholar Imam Abu Hanifa for advice before getting married. It was then suggested to the pupil to postpone his wish to be married until he completed his studies. The counsel of Imam Abu Hanifa demonstrates the need for careful thought and contemplation in the institution of marriage.
The following questions need to be asked. "Are they able to educate the children?" and "Are they equipped with parenting qualities in accordance with the religion?" The affirmative responses to these questions could serve as a gauge of how prepared our future spouse is for marriage.
Remarkably, parents play a role as their children's first teachers and their homes serve as their first schools. Therefore, creating a favourable environment at home for learning is essential. Every infant has a blank slate at birth, just like a clear piece of fabric. Their identity will be shaped and fostered by their parents. It is crucial for Muslim parents to emphasise the values of faith and belief early. In a hadith, the Prophet s.a.w. mentioned:
اِفتَحُوا عَلَى صِبيَانِكُم أَوَّلَ كلمةٍ بلا إلهَ إلَّا اللهُ
“The first words that must be thought to a child is the saying of "La Ilaha Illallah" (there is no God except for Allah).”
It is inaccurate to believe that education can only be acquired through formal education. According to studies, kids who grew up in an environment that did not support learning and frequently experienced parental neglect were more vulnerable to negative outcomes. Children may be at risk for behavioural issues, low self-esteem, and a lack of mental fortitude.
In this regard, parents need to make sure that their homes have both a playroom and a reading corner. A study space should take precedence over an entertainment area.
In the current era of digitalization, it is common for most parents to let their kids use electronic devices or watch TV for entertainment. However, children's upbringing can also be impacted by excessive exposure to digital devices. Parents need to keep an eye on how their kids use technology and keep track of the TV shows they watch. Technology and digital devices should not negatively impact the interaction between parents and children.
Outdoor activities are necessary and can be beneficial for children's cognitive development. Parents must lead the way and foster critical thinking. There are undoubtedly a lot of undesirable factors beyond the comfort of their home. However, they offer parents the ideal chance to talk to their kids and instil moral principles in them.
Imam Jafar Sadiq asserted that a child's identity is developed after they have passed through three phases of life. The first stage is early childhood, which lasts until the age of seven. At this stage, the child imitates all he/she sees and spends his/her time playing various activities. Parents who pay close attention to their children during this time will build strong relationships with them.
From the ages of seven to fourteen, the child will go through an inculcation period. The best time to motivate and encourage kids to learn is during this second stage. Depending on their child's knowledge and level of understanding, parents may assist the child in monitoring the inculcation process and internalising values. It is the best time to instil moral and religious values during this period for the child's upbringing.
The third stage follows when kids reach their adolescent years. At this point, kids begin to mature and develop the capacity to distinguish between good and evil. The period of being aware of what is forbidden and what is permitted has begun. Following that, the child's spiritual identity is developed and cultivated.
Undoubtedly, parenting is a journey which requires a lot of effort and sacrifice. The parenting journey is only possible when couples are able to work together as a team and strive to become the best examples for their children. Nonetheless, as Muslims who are hoping for the best, we must never forget to seek God’s guidance and His assistance.
I end by sharing one simple dua that we can recite from Surah al-Furqan: 74:
رَبَّنَا هَبْ لَنَا مِنْ أَزْوَاجِنَا وَذُرِّيَّاتِنَا قُرَّةَ أَعْيُنٍ وَاجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا
“Our Lord, grant us from among our wives and offspring comfort to our eyes and make us an example for the righteous.”
(Surah Al-Furqan, 25:74)
Read: more duas here.
And Allah knows best.