How did God's Messenger treat children?
The Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, excelled in every walk of
life. People should not compare him to themselves or the so-called ‘great
personalities’ of their age. Researchers should look at him, the one to whom
angels are grateful, always remembering that he excelled in every way. If
they want to look for Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, they must
search for him in his own dimensions. It is not possible to reach him using
the imaginations of people like us, who do not even know how to imagine
properly, for God bestowed upon him, as His special favor, superiority in
The Prophet Muhammad is truly the pride of humanity. He lived and died
with honour. Humanity has never witnessed and never will witness a person
like him. Even his contemporaries could not see him in his full reality.
Most of them could not recognize him. However, the number of his nation who
know and respect him has ever since increased continually.
He was an extraordinary head of family, a perfect father, and a unique
grandfather. He was unique in every way.
He treated his children and grandchildren with extraordinary compassion
and never neglected to direct their faces to the Hereafter and towards good
deeds. He smiled at them, caressed and loved them, but he did not allow them
to neglect the matters related to their afterlife. In worldly matters, he
was extremely open, yet he was very serious and dignified in maintaining
their relationship with God. He showed how to lead a humane life, and never
allowed them to be neglectful of their religious duties. He was very careful
about this, so as to keep them from becoming spoilt, and to prepare them for
the life of the Hereafter. He was perfectly balanced. This was another
dimension of his divinely inspired intellect.
In a hadith narrated by Muslim, Anas bin Malik, honoured as the servant
of the Messenger, one who performed this service with perfect loyalty for
ten years without break, says:
I have never seen a man who was more compassionate to his family members
He was so compassionate, so sincere and so open that no one can be
compared to him.
If this admission were made just by us, it could have been dismissed as
unimportant. However, millions of people, so benign and compassionate that
they would not even offend an ant, declare and admit that he was unique in
that he embraced the whole being with compassion.
He was a human like each of us, but God inspired in him intimate
affection for every living being so that he would be able to establish a
connection with all of them. Because of this, he was full of extraordinary
affection toward his family members and others.
All of his sons had died. His last son, Ibrahim, born of Mary, the Copt,
did not live long either. The Messenger often visited his son while alive,
although he was very busy, who was looked after by a nurse, and he embraced,
kissed, caressed him, and then returned home.12 When Ibrahim passed away,
the Prophet took him on his lap again, embraced him and described his sorrow
while on the brink of tears. Some were surprised. He gave them this answer:
Eyes may water and hearts may be broken but we do not say anything except
what God will be pleased with. He pointed to his tongue and said: God will
ask us about this.13 He was the most compassionate, most merciful of all
He took his grandsons Hasan and Husayn on his back and carried them
around with him. Is it possible for a man of such status to do such a thing?
He did it without hesitation. By doing this, he also heralded the honour
that they would attain later. One day, when Hasan and Husayn were on his
back, ‘Umar came into the Prophet’s house. When he saw them on such an
honoured place, he said, ‘What a beautiful mount you have!’ The Messenger
added immediately: What beautiful riders they are!14 They may not even have
been aware of the way the Messenger had honoured them. This special
compliment was because of their position as the future leaders and family
heads of the household of the Prophet. From them were to come the greatest
and most respected ones among saints. His compliment was not only for his
grandsons but for all his offspring. For this reason, ‘Abd al-Qadir Jilani,
a well-known member of the household of the Prophet, said: ‘The blessed feet
of the Messenger are on my shoulders and mine are on the shoulders of all
saints.’ This statement will probably stand for all saints to come.
The Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, was completely balanced
in the way he brought up his children. He loved his children and
grandchildren very much and instilled love in them, but, he never let this
be abused. None of them dared deliberately do anything wrong but, if they
made a mistake unintentionally, the Messenger’s protection prevented them
from going astray even the least. He did this by wrapping them in love and
an aura of dignity. For example, once, Hasan or Husayn wanted to eat a date
that had been given as alms. The Messenger rushed and took it from his hand
immediately, and said: The date given as alms is forbidden to us.15 In
bringing them up to be sensitive to the forbidden acts, even in their
childhood, he laid down for us an important principle of education.
Whenever he returned to Madina he would carry children on his mount. On
such occasions the Messenger embraced not only his grandchildren but also
those in his house and those nearby. Through his compassion he conquered
He loved all children. He loved Umama, his granddaughter, just as he
loved Hasan and Husayn. He often went out with her on his shoulders. He even
placed her on his back while praying. When he went to prostrate, he put her
down and when he had finished he took her on his back again.16
He showed this degree of love to Umama so as to teach how to treat girls
to a society that used to bury their daughters alive only a decade
previously. Among those people, the Messenger’s care for his granddaughter
was novel and had never been seen before.
There is no discrimination between son and daughter in Islam. The
Messenger himself showed this. How can there be? One of them is Muhammad,
the other is Khadija; one is Adam, the other is Eve; one is ‘Ali, the other
is Fatima. For every great man there is a great woman.
Fatima, the daughter of the Messenger, is the mother of all members of
the household of the Prophet. She is our mother, too. As soon as Fatima
entered, the Messenger would stand, take her hands and make her sit where he
had been sitting. He asked about her health and family, caressed her and
paid her many compliments.
He loved her like his own self, and Fatima, knowing how fond he was of
her, loved him more than her own self. Her great mission was to be the seed
for the saints and godly people. She always watched her father and his
method of calling to Islam. For this reason, she wept and groaned when the
Messenger gave her the news of his impending death, and rejoiced when he
told her that she would be the first to follow him.17 Her father loved her,
and she loved her father. The Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings,
was totally balanced even in his love for Fatima. He trained her for the
heights to which the human soul should rise.
The Messenger brought up Fatima, as well as the other members of his
family and also his Companions, in a way to prepare them for the Hereafter.
Human beings were created for eternity. They cannot be satisfied except
through eternity and the Eternal Being. Therefore, human beings want nothing
but Him, and they long for Him either consciously or unconsciously. The
essence of all religions and the message of every Prophet was about the Next
World. For this reason, the Messenger always sought to prepare his followers
for the eternal peace and permanent bliss while himself giving to them a
sample of that peace and bliss which they would taste in his presence.
Fatima once came to the Messenger with a necklace (a bracelet, according to
another version). He said to her: Do you want people – inhabitants of the
earth and the inhabitants of heavens – to say that the daughter of the
Prophet is holding (or wearing) a chain from Hell?
He loved them and directed them towards the Hereafter, to the
otherworldly and eternal beauties, and to God. His words were enough for
Fatima. For those words were coming from a man whose throne was established
in her heart and who had conquered all her faculties. For this reason,
I immediately sold the necklace, bought a slave and emancipated him, and
then went to the Messenger. When I told him what I had done, he rejoiced. He
opened his hands and thanked God: All thanks to God who protected (my
daughter) Fatima from Hell.18
Certainly, Fatima did not commit a sin by wearing the necklace, however,
the Messenger wanted to keep her in the circle of the muqarrabin, those who
were made near to God. Our master’s warning was due to taqwa, fear of God,
and qurb, nearness to Him. This was, in a sense, a neglect of worldly
things, and an example of the sensitivity befitting the mother of the
household of the Prophet, which represents the Muslim nation until the Last
Day. To be a mother of godly men like Hasan, Husayn and Zayn al-‘Abidin was
certainly no ordinary task. The Messenger was preparing her to be the mother
of Ahl al-Bayt first, and then the mother of ‘Abdul Qadir al-Jilani,
Muhammad Baha’ al-Din al-Naqshband, Ahmad Rifai’, Ahmad Badawi, al-Shadhili
and the like. As if he said to her: ‘My daughter! You are to marry a man and
go to a house from which many golden ‘rings’ will consequently come. Forget
that golden chain on your neck and concentrate on becoming the mother for
the ‘golden chains’ of saints who would appear in the spiritual orders of
Naqshbandiya, Rifaiya, Shadhiliyyah and the like.’ It was difficult to
fulfil the role of mother of the great ones while wearing a golden necklace.
For this reason, the Messenger was more severe with his own household than
others in these kinds of matters. He reminded them of the straight path by
turning their faces towards the other world, closing all the windows opening
on the ‘world’ and telling them, What you need is God.
They would lead their whole lives looking to the other world. For this
reason, the Messenger purified, as a sign of his love, his most beloved ones
from all worldly rubbish, not allowing worldly dust to ‘soil their robes’.
He turned their faces towards the exalted realms and prepared them for being
‘A man is with whom he loves’. If you love the Prophet Muhammad, upon him
be peace and blessings, you will be on his path, and those who are on his
path will be together with him in the world beyond. To prepare his family
and Companions for this gathering, the Messenger loved and embraced them,
and used this love efficiently.
Bukhari and Muslim gave another example of his education system. It was
narrated by ‘Ali, who said:
We had no servant in our house. Fatima did all the housework by herself.
We lived in a house with just a small room. There, Fatima lit a fire and
tried to cook. She often singed her clothes while trying to increase the
fire by blowing. Moreover, she baked our bread and carried water. Her hands
became covered in callouses from turning the millstone and her back also
became so because of carrying water. Meanwhile some prisoners of war were
brought to Madina. The Messenger gave them to those who applied. I suggested
to Fatima to ask for a servant from her father. And she did.
I went to my father, but he was not at home. ‘A’isha said that she would
tell him when he came, and I returned home. As soon as we went to bed, the
Messenger came in. We wanted to get up, but he did not let us and sat
between us. I could feel the cold of his foot on my body. He asked what we
wanted and I explained the situation. The Messenger, in an awesome manner,
said: ‘O Fatima! Fear God, and be faultless in your duties to Him! (Fulfil
all the obligatory deeds that God ordered and be loyal to your husband.) I
should say to you another thing: When you want to go to bed, say
Subhanallah (All glory be to God) and al-hamdu lil-lah (All praise be to
God) and Allahu akbar (God is the greatest) thirty three times each. This is
better for you than having a maid.’19
He meant: ‘I am turning your faces to the other-worldly realms, and there
are two ways for you to reach them and be together with me there: fulfilling
your duties in perfect servitude to your Lord and fulfilling your duties to
your husband. If a maid takes your responsibilities, this may make you
deficient. You must have two wings in order to fly to the higher ranks. How
can a man or woman become a perfect slave of God? How can a person become a
perfect human being and fulfil all of his or her obligations? It is your
duty to find the answers of these.
First of all, become a perfect slave of God. Then, become a perfect human
being by performing your duties to ‘Ali, a great man who represents all the
saints from among his descendants, so that you may be with me in Heaven
where all the perfect things and perfect human beings shall come together.’
I cannot help but digress to mention a fact about ‘Ali. The Messenger
gave him his daughter without any hesitation, because he deserved being the
husband of a Prophet’s daughter and a Son-in-law of a Prophet. He was the
king of the saints, and was created in this nature. The Messenger, one day,
said to him:
O ‘Ali! The offspring of every other Prophet came from himself, however
mine will come from you.20
‘Ali is the father of the offspring, grandchildren, of the Prophet,
namely, the household of the Prophet. For this reason, to obey ‘Ali means to
obey the Messenger, and to obey the Messenger means to obey God. Also, those
who love ‘Ali should love the Prophet and follow his Sunnah.
1. Muslim, Rada’, 47.
2. Bukhari, Salat, 80.
3. Tirmidhi, Nikah, 41. / 4. Bukhari, Adab, 68.
5. Bukhari, Shurut, 15.
6. Abu Dawud, Sunnah, 15; Tirmidhi, Rada’, 11.
7. Muslim, Talaq, 34, 35.
8. Abu Nu‘aym, Hilyah, 8.100.
9. Muslim, Talaq, 35.
10. Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 64.
11. Muslim, Fada’il, 63.
12. Muslim, Fada’il, 62.
13. Bukhari, Jana’iz, 44; Muslim, Fada’il, 62; Ibn Maja, Jana’iz, 53.
14. Hindi, Kanz al-‘Ummal, 13.650.
15. Ibn Hanbal, 2.279; Muslim, Zakat, 161.
16. Bukhari, Adab, 18; Ibn Sa’d, Tabaqat, 8.39.
17. Muslim, Fada’il, 98, 99; Bukhari, Manaqib, 25.
18. Nasa’i, Zinat, 39.
19. Bukhari, Fada’il al-Ashab, 9; Muslim, Dhikr, 80, 81.
20. Bediüzzaman Said Nursi, Lemalar, 4. Lema.