Birth of a Child and Naming the Child
THE EXPECTANT MOTHER ... ADVICE TO HER
It is irrefutable that the mother's proper nourishment has a telling effect on the health of the yet-to-be-born child. In the like manner the spiritual nourishment of the mother is no less important. If the mother is desirous of an obedient, pious and spiritually healthy child - and which Muslim parent isn't? - she has no choice but to think and act in a manner which will manifest the luminous spirit of Islaam. She will have to spend, much time offering her devotions to Allah by performing salaat, making dhikr, reciting the Holy Qur'aan etc. This will have a two-fold result: the mother will remain spiritually and mentally healthy and at the same time the child will be inheriting piety, good manners and many other angelic qualities - insha-Allah.
It is no wonder then that these angelic qualities are often manifested in the infancy of many a great personality. It is said of some Auliyaa-Allah that they were born with certain portions of the Holy Qur'aan already imprinted in their memory. Others even refused to drink the milk of their mother during the holy month of Ramadaan.
Here is an authentic incident mentioned in the Bukhari and Muslim to substantiate that the acts of virtue of parents certainly have positive effects on their progenies for generations to come.
Aboo Talhah (RA), a companion of Rasoolullah (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam), had a son who had fallen gravely ill. During that period the father had to leave home for a number of days on an important errand, leaving the child to the care of the mother. Whilst away, the sickness caused the death of the child.
The mother beseeched the people not to inform her husband even when he returned. When he returned his very first enquiry was about his son. She answered that he (their son) is presently in a more comfortable state than that which he had been in ... meaning that death had rendered him peace and comfort. By this answer the husband understood that he had recuperated. She then offered him his supper which he ate with relish. The good wife then even adorned herself as best she could which filled him with passionate feelings. When she saw that his needs had been tended to then only did she disclose to him the death of their son. This stark news proved a severe blow to him. He was annoyed and overcome with intense grief ... that she had not disclosed to him the child's fate earlier, and, instead allowed him to perform an act which necessitates Ghusl.
At daybreak he approached Rasoolullah (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) and related to him what had transpired during the night. Rasoolullah (Sallallaahu ?layhi Wasallam) intently asked him whether they had copulated. When he answered in the affirmative, he blessed them by saying: "O Allah, grant them blessings for what had transpired during the night." A male issue was born of them whose Tahneek was done by Rasoolullah (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam). He named him "Abdullah". When Abdullah grew up and married, Allah Ta'ala blessed him with nine children, all of whom became huffaaz of the holy Qur'aan and learned ulama of their time. This overwhelming attainment can only be attributed to the acts of virtue of the grandmother of these Ulama.
It becomes apparent from the above incident that acts of virtue of parents not only have a telling effect on their children but also on heir progenies for generations to come.
WHEN A CHILD IS BORN...
It is indeed a joyous occasion when parents are blessed with a child. However, the extent of the joy could be enhanced even further if the laws of Shariat are adhered to and all other meaningless rituals are cast aside since they are neither mentioned in the Holy Qur'aan nor cited in the Hadeeth.
After birth the child should be given proper ghusl. Thereafter the message of the Greatness and Oneness of Allah Ta'ala, and the prophethood of Rasoolullah (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) should be the first words to reach the child's innocent ears. This should be accomplished by giving azaan near his right ear and iqaamat close to his left. This noble task should be the prerogative of an aalim or a pious elder of the family. If such a person is not at hand then any Muslim male may perform this sunnah.
DU'AAS ON THIS BLESSED OCCASION
It is mustahab to recite the following duaa after the azaan and iqaamat:
Allaahumma innee a'oodhuhaa bika wa dhurriyyatihaa min ash-shaytaani ar-rajeem
0 Allah, I seek your protection for her and her descendants from the cursed Shaytaan.
Note: For boys read "A'oodhuhu" and "wa dhurriyatuhu'
Surah Qul Huwallaahu Ahad
In the name of Allah, most Beneficient, most Merciful. Say! He is Allah, the One. Allah is one on whom depends the entire creation and He depends on no one. He begetteth not, nor is He begotten. And there is bone akin to Him.
Allahumma ij'alhu barran taqiyyan. Wa anbit-hu fil Islaam nabaatan hasanaa
For girls read:
Allahumma ij'alhaa barran taqiyyan. Wa anbit-haa fil Islaam nabaatan hasanaa
O Allah, make him/her pious and Godfearing and let him/her grow up in Islaam to his/her excellent growth.
Allaahumma allimhul kitaaba wal hikma wafiqqih-hu fi ddeen.
For girls read:
Allaahumma allimhal kitaaba wal hikma wafiqqih-ha fi ddeen.
O Allah, teach him/her the Qur'aan and wisdom and give him/her the understanding in Deen.
Tahneek means the placing of a piece of date, softened by chewing, on the palate of the new-born. The practice of tahneek is masnoon since Rasoolullah sallallaahu-alayhi-wasallam made the tahneek of Abdullah bin Zubair (RA) and Abdullah bin Talhah (RA). Unfortunately this practice of tahneek is rarely acted upon in modern times. The reward of reviving a 'dying' sunnah of Rasoolullah (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) is boundless. Here again, this should be the prerogative of a learned aalim or a pious elder of the family. Otherwise any Muslim male would suffice. If dates are not available, honey should serve as an ideal substitute.
PRECAUTION AGAINST MISFORTUNE
In order to safeguard children against misfortune, the following du'aa should be recited as often as possible and 'blown' on the child:
A'oodhu bikalimaati llaahi attaammaati min sharri kulli shaytaani wahammaati wa min sharri kulli ayni laammati
I seek protection by the perfect words of Allah from the evil of every devil and reptile, and from the evil of every revengeful eye.
Aayatul-Kursi and the four Quls may also be recited and "blown" on the child.
THE AFTERBIRTH AND NAVAL-CORD
The afterbirth and naval-cord should be buried with due care since they are portions of the human body. As such, it should be treated with respect and honour. Disposing it in the drain or garbage is contrary to this concept. It is for this reason, too, that the dead body of a human being may not be cremated or abandoned in a pit for vultures and other animals to devour it...as is customary among the people of other religions.
As the infant is the offspring of its mother it is common knowledge that the mother's milk is the most suitable source of nourishment for the baby. Therefore, the mother should most obligingly fulfil her duty of breast-feeding the child. By so doing bonds of love, affection and intimacy are strengthened between mother and child, and in the process, good habits and character are transmitted to the child. All these and countless other benefits are contained in breast-feeding. Artificial methods of feeding are all devoid of these advantages. Other methods of feeding should only be resorted to if ill health or other circumstances do not permit her to breast-feed the child. However, she must ensure that no haraam food is consumed by the child. Bismillah should always be recited before feeding.
MAXIMUM PERIOD FOR BREAST-FEEDING
The maximum period for which a child could be breast-fed is two years. To exceed this period is not permissible since the use of any part of the human body, without necessity, is not allowed. The milk of the mother is portion of the human body and there is no necessity to feed the child for more than two years. Therefore not to wean the child after the permissible period is Haraam.
THE CHILD'S ATTIRE
Muslim males may not adorn themselves with clothes of silk or any red and bright orange (saffron) colour. Neither gold nor silver ornaments. Adornment is characteristic of womanhood.
Parents should also ensure that children dress in an honourable and modest manner - never immitating the ostentatious styles that may be in vogue. Due to the incorrect concept of 'freedom' and 'broadmindedness', parents allow their children to dress and act in a manner they wish. This eventually results in problematic, rebellious and disobedient children who in adolescent stages cause parents and society untold heartbreak and much anxiety.
HAIR, AQEEQAH AND NAMING THE CHILD
It is mustahab to remove the baby's hair and to observe the aqeeqah and to name the child on the seventh day after birth. Gold or silver equivalent to the weight of the removed hair may be given as charity to the poor. Otherwise its equivalent value in money. The hair, being a portion of the human body should be buried with due respect. Aqeeqah is a form of sadaqah whereby the child is safeguarded against misfortunes. Two sheep or two goats are offered for a boy while one goat or sheep suffices for a girl. If the seventh day coincides with the days of qurbaani then portions of a cow, ox or camel may be offered as qurbaani and portions as aqeeqah.
KHATNAH OR CIRCUMCISSION
Circumcision before seven years is mustahab. The baby's health must be taken into consideration before deciding on khatnah. However, khatnah before he attains twelve years is imperative.
WHEN THE CHILD BEGINS TO TALK
The child should first be taught to say the kalimah when he begins to talk: Laa ilaaha illallaahu muhammadur Rasoolullah.
EDUCATION AND GOOD MANNERS
Islaam lays considerable emphasis on education and good character. It is the children's rightful claim to be given sound Islaamic education and taught good manners. This will not only afford the children happiness in both the worlds, but they will prove great assets to both, their families and society as well. This is why Rasoolullah sallallaahu-alayhi-wasallam declared good manners as the 'best thing' a father can impart to his children. He also declared the mother as the 'shepherdess' of the household which implies that she is responsible for the correct upbringing of her children.
WHAT PARENTS OWE THEIR CHILDREN
1. SELF-ESTEEM: Parents owe their children personal worth and self-esteem which are the cornerstones for sound mental health. A child who is constantly criticised, "put down", reproached, made to feel stupid and inept, continually compared with brothers or cousins who do better, will become so unsure and so terrified that he or she will lose enthusiasm for learning and becoming successful.
2. PRAISING THE CHILD AND EXPRESSING LOVE: A child needs to be praised every now and again for his achievements and good behaviour. Some parents find it difficult to voice their approval or praise the child. However, there are other modes of expressing approval as well - a smile, caress or a kiss will convey approval. All these acts of love are very essential for producing children who are healthy in mind and body. It is for this reason that our Shari'ah lays considerable stress on showing love and affection to children. Rasoolullah (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) said that one who does not have mercy on our children and does not respect our elders, is not from among us.
3. EQUALITY: Parents should always treat their children equitably. Children tend to grow miserable, lose confidence, become discouraged and resentful if parents show favoritism towards a particular child. It is related by Hadhrat Aa'i'shah (RA) that once she offered a date to a lady beggar who was accompanied by her two daughters. The lady shared the date between her two daughters, depriving herself of a share. Then she departed. When Rasoolullah sallallaahu-alayhi-wasallam came home, she related to him the incident. He said: "Whoever is "involved" with any daughters, and he treats them well (equitably), this will serve as a protection for him from the Fire."
4. BASIC ISLAMIC EDUCATION: It is the duty of every parent to ensure that his children have basic Islamic education which covers aqaa'id or Islamic beliefs, the five principles of Islaam, the rules and masaa'il pertaining to these five principles and the correct recital of the Holy Qur'aan.
5. STANDARDS AND VALUES: Decent standards and solid values should also be taught to the child. This means being respectful to parents, elders, the Ulama, teachers and just laws.
CLEANLINESS AND OTHER NECESSARY PRECAUTIONS Sharia't has termed cleanliness half of Imaan. As such the mother Should personally accomplish all maternal devotions such as feeding, bathing and keeping the child clean and 'paak.' Soiled clothes must be cleaned without delay so that the danger of bacteria spreading is nipped in the bud. Thus, barakah and happiness will abound. The baby should also be immunized against infantile diseases. This does not, however, imply lack of faith and reliance in Allah.
NAMING THE CHILD
It is the infant's vested right to be honoured with a good name. When choosing a name for the child, it should be done with the intention that the child will be blessed with the barakah of that name. Here are some Ahadeeth to show the importance of selecting a good and correct name:
Ibne Umar (RA) relates Rasoolullah (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) as saying: "Truly, the most loved of your names by Allah are Abdullah and Abdur-Rahmaan."
It is also reported in the Aboo Dawood that Rasoolullah (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) said: "Keep the names of prophets. And the most desirable names by Allah Ta'ala are Abdullah and Abdur-Rahmaan. And names that depict honesty are Haarith (planter) and Hammaam (thoughtful). And the most disliked ones are Harb (battle) and Murrah (bitter).
THE BARAKAH OF NAMING A CHILD AFTER THE BELOVED NAME OF RASOOLULLAH (Sallallaahu ?layhi Wasallam)
Rasulullah (Sallallaahu ?layhi Wasallam) said: "Whoever is named after me with the hope of being blessed, he will be blessed and will be in peace till the day of Qiyaamat."
He also said: "To whomever is born a boy and he names him Muhammad solely for the love of me and for the blessings of my name, then both he (the father) and his son will enter Jannah."
THE IMPORTANCE OF KEEPING GOOD NAMES
HADITH: "On the Day of Qiyaamah you will be called by your (own) names and the names of your fathers. Therefore keep good names." Aboo Dawood.
HADITH: "To whoever is born a child, the child should be given a good name and sound education. And when he becomes of age he should be married."
It Was Rasoolullah's (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) practice to enquire the names of persons and villages. If they were pleasant, it became apparent on his face. If not, his displeasure could be seen.
Once Rasoolullah (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) called for a volunteer to milk a camel. Four persons volunteered: he refused to accept the services of the first three because their names did not imply pleasantness. The names of the first two were Murrah (bitter) while Jamrah (burning coal) was the name of the third person. When the fourth said his name is Yaeesh (long live) Rasoolullah sallallaahu-alayhi-wasallam said to him: "Milk her."
UNDESIRABLE NAMES SHOULD BE CHANGED
Aa'ishah (RA) reports that Rasool sallallaahu-alayhi-wasallam used to change displeasing names replacing them with good names. Abdullah bin Umar (RA) relates that one of his sisters was named Aasiyah (disobedient). Rasoolullah (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) changed it to Jameelah (beautiful). Zainab (RA) says that I had been named Birrah (pious). Rasoolullah sallallaahu-alayhi-wasallam said: "Do not claim piety for Allah knows best who amongst you are pious. Name her Zainab!"
NAMES MAY INFLUENCE THE LIVES OF PEOPLE
Sa'eed ibne Musayib (RA) relates from his father that his grandfather went to Rasoolullah sallallaahu-alayhi-wasallam and was asked: "What is your name?" He replied: "Hazn" (sorrow). Rasoolullah sallallaahu-alayhi-wasallam said: "You are Sahl." (contended). He replied: "I will not change the name my father had given me." The narrator says that thereafter sorrow continually remained with them.
KEEP AWAY FROM NAMES IMPLYING SHIRK
As Muslims, we should always abstain from keeping names implying any elements of Shirk, like adjoining the word 'Abd'(servant) to names or epithets other that those of Allah Ta'ala. Rasoolullah sallallaahu-alayhi-wasallam also forbade keeping pompous and selfglorifying names, for this reveals arrogance and haughtiness - human elements most abhorred by Allah Ta'ala.
BE PROUD OF YOUR IDENTITY AND FAITH
Muslims should always be proud of their identity and faith. Nowadays, to conceal his identity, it is common practice for a person to 'westernize' his name, like substituting Yoosuf with Joe or Joseph, Sulaimaan with Solly or Sully, Faatimah with Fatli, Sumay-yah with Summi, etc. Efforts to distort such beautiful names merely reveal an un-Islamic and sacreligious attitude. Remember, there exists behind each Islamic name an Islamic spirit and meaning, which, when distorted, is ruined. For example, there is intended love for the Prophet of Islam, and barakah when naming a child Muhammad. But when Muhammad is called Mahmad or Gammat, this spirit of love for Rasoolullah sallallaahu-alayhi-wasallam and the acquiring of barakah by such a name is shattered. Should we not then refrain from such sacreligious practices?
May Allah Ta'ala guide us so that we may realize the beauty and uniqueness of the religion of Islam propounded by no other than the one who is the best of Allah's creations-May Allah shower His choicest blessings upon him.
May Allah Ta'ala guide us on the Right Path.
May He also grant this humble effort of mine to be a fulfilment of a long-felt need amongst the Muslims-especially the English-speaking Muslims. Ameen.
Source: Names for Muslim Children: M Rafeeq Hathurani.
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