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Fatima is Fatima

by : Dr. Ali Shari'ati

Back You are here: Home Books Family Principles of Upbringing Children

Principles of Upbringing Children - Tongue Lashing and Impertinence

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Using bad words and talking impertinently is a very bad habit. The persons who do tongue lashing at whatever passes their mind, seldom stick to their word. They are very fickle of mind. They use bad words., keep finding fault with others for no rhyme or reason. They keep causing hurt to others with their irresponsible talk.

Using bad words is haram (taboo) and is considered a major sin.

The Prophet of Islam has said:

“Allah has forbidden Heaven to the users of foul language. There is also curse on those who abuse, are shameless and impertinent and they will all be denied entry to Paradise. .Whatever a foul mouthed person says about others, he does it thoughtlessly and never bothers about what opinion others have of him." (Usul al-Kafi, v 2, p. 323)

Imam Jafer al Sadiq says:

“Swearing, bad-mouthing and impertinence are the signs of hypocrisy (nifaaq) and faithlessness." (Usul al-Kafi, v 2. p. 325)

Allah says in the Holy Quran:

“Shame on all such persons who talk about the failings of others and indulge in ridiculing them." (Quran, 104:1)

Foul mouthed persons are generally inferior and petty minded. They make others enemies with indiscreet talk. People abhor them. They try to keep away from them and avoid their company.

The Prophet of Islam has said:

“Among people the worst is one whose talk is not liked by others and they try to avoid meeting him." (Usul al-Kafi, v 2, p. 325)

Imam Jafer al Sadiq says:

“When people don’t like to even listen to the talk of a person, his destiny will be Hell!" (Usul al-Kafi, v 72, p. 327)

The Prophet has said:

“A Momin ( pious person) will not be taunting, doesn’t criticising, blaming and talking ill of others." (al-mahajjat ul bayda, v 3, p. 127

The child by nature is not capable of bad mouthing. He may learn this from his parents, brothers, sisters and friends at school or play. But the maximum effect will be of the attitude of the parents. The parents can be the most effective example for the children. The parents not only are responsible for their own behaviour but have the very important responsibility of training their children properly. These are the parents alone who either make the children polite and gentle or impertinently loud mouthed. Some parents, either in jest or in anger call bad words with their children. This way they inadvertently give a wrong training to the children. There are some homes where the use of the bad words is a common practice.

‘Son of a dog’, ‘mother of a dog’, ‘fool’, ‘idiot’, ‘senseless donkey’, ‘animal’, ‘shameless’ and several others are the appellations thrown at one another in such households either in jest or right earnest anger.

The parents, whose duty it is to prevent the foibles of their children, themselves are perpetrating such wrong acts and encouraging the children to follow their example. They thoughtlessly abuse each other and call names in front of the children.

The parents taunt the children and use unethical language with them. How can such parents expect that their child will grow into a gentle and respectable adult. They should realise that the child might prove even worst than themselves. They should remember that sooner or later they will find the child trading the same idiom that he has been hearing again and again from his parents. Then any amount of sermonising and beatings cannot reform the child. The best remedy is that the parents reform themselves in good time before it gets too late.

Many a time the children learn this bad habit from their companions. The parents should keep their eyes and ears open to such behaviour in their children and nip the defect in the bud. They should ask their children to try to avoid meeting such children very much. If you ever find your child uttering any abusive word, then don’t just smile and keep quiet. With shouting and threats too such situations cannot be handled. This method might backfire. The best way to correct the child is to talk softly with the child and explain to him about the ill effects of using bad words.

Backbiting or Carrying Words

Backbiting is a very bad habit, and unfortunately it is very much prevalent in the society. If someone speaks something against someone, the backbiter carries the word to the other person saying that so-and-so was saying such-and-such a thing about you. Carrying words are signs of meanness and evil. This creates chasms between good friends. Many crimes, skirmishes, enmities, murders and feuds are the result of misunderstandings between people due to backbiting.

The peace of many households gets shattered due to this nasty practice. Husbands and wives are separated, friends become enemies, parents turn against their children mainly because of the backbiting by some nasty, thoughtless persons. When a backbiter gets exposed, he will be thrown out from everywhere and people hate to see his face. The people curse the backbiter and wish him destruction. The worst of backbiting is the act of sleuthing for the evil tyrants. If someone does eves-dropping for a tyrant and a pious person unnecessarily comes into trouble because of this, and suffers bodily damage or death due to torture, then the backbiter will be equally answerable as that evil person who engaged him to do the nefarious job. They will both be punished on the Day of Judgment. Although, in this case, the back-biter was not directly involved with the physical act of torturing the innocent person.

The Prophet of Islam says:

“The worst person is one who does backbiting against his Muslim brother to the King and do sleuthing against him. This sleuthing is bad for him, for the friend against whom he had reported and also for the King." (Bihar al-anwar, v 75, p. 266)

Islam has pronounced the act of sleuthing and backbiting haram (taboo) and there are many traditions of the Prophet and others in this regard.

Imam Mohammed al Baqir says:

“The backbiter will be denied entry to the Heaven. " (Usul al-Kafi, v 2, p. 369)

Ali, The Commander of the Faithful, says:

“The foul and evil amongst you are those who do backbiting and create differences between friends and expose the defects of good people" (Usul al-Kafi, v 2, p. 375)

There can be many reasons for backbiting. Sometimes enmity becomes the cause of the act. The backbiter may be inimical to one of the parties and be jealous of their good relations. He keeps giving false and malicious reports about one to the other till they fall into his trap. Sometimes the backbiter, as a force of habit, transmits a false and damaging information about one person to the other creating serious differences between them. In this instance the backbiter doesn’t have any ulterior motive except to satisfy his urge to carry a tail. The Religion of Islam has forbidden even to give ear to backbiting.

The Prophet says:

“Neither should you do backbiting, nor listen to a back biter. " (Majma al zawaid, v 8, p. 91)

Ali, The Commander of the Faithful, says:

“Refute the talk of the backbiter and the one who is unduly inquisitive." (Gharar al hukm, p. 145)

It is evident that if no one takes cognisance of the talk of the backbiter, then he will stop doing it. Whoever carries words to you about others, you must be sure that he is not your friend. If he was really your friend he would have defended you while others talked against your interest. If someone tells something in confidence, a good Muslim never speaks about it to others. He will keep control over his tongue and never try to sleuth around. Many persons pick up the offending habit of backbiting from their childhood.

It is a reflection of what they see and hear happening around them. Therefore the parents shoulder a big responsibility that they protect their children from getting the nefarious habit of backbiting. First, the parents themselves should refrain from talking ill of others. The mother should not report of some acts of her neighbour and other relations .to the father.

The father too should not speak to the mother against his friends and acquaintances. Because, if the parents have the habit of speaking ill of others behind their backs, the children too will indulge in such talk. .Sometimes a child speaks to his father against her mother and the elder sister. In such instances the duty of the father is to correct the child and tell him that it is not good to backbite. He should tell him that if want to say something about your mother or sister, tell directly to them. What you are doing is backbiting, which is very bad. If the children try to backbite, totally ignore them at the moment and try to talk on some other interesting subject.

The Prophet of Islam has said:

“Don’t give your ears to the backbiter !" (Gharar al hukm, p. 125)

Fault Finding

Criticising others and finding faults in them for no reason is one of the worst habits of human beings.People hate the persons who habitually keep on finding fault with others. They try to avoid such troublesome persons. Sometimes this faultfinding becomes the cause of enmity and conflict. If someone’s faults are mentioned when he is not around, it is termed as backbiting (ghaibat).and even if this is done in the presence of the person, it is an affront and not desirable. The Religion of Islam has termed ghaibat as a major sin. There are many traditions on the subject. For example:

The Prophet of Islam, delivering a sermon, has said in a pronounced tone:

“OThose peopleWho profess to be believers with their tongues; but the faith has not entered their heartsDon’t ever do backbiting and criticism of the Muslims and don’t keep searching their faults. Because one who tries to find his brother’s faults Allah will bare his own faults and render him the laughing stock for others." (Jam’i al sa’da, v 2, p. 203)

Imam Jafer al Sadiq says:

“Whoever says something injurious to the reputation of a Momin, Allah shall remove him from the group of His friends and send to the band of Satan who too will refuse to accept him as a friend." (Jam’i al sa’da, v 2, p. 305)

The Prophet of Islam said:

Whoever does ghaibat of any believer man or woman, Allah will not accept his prayer (salat) and fasting (sawm) for forty days, unless he obtains the pardon of those whose backbiting he has done.” ." (Jam’i al sa’da, v 2, p. 304)

Imam Jafer al Sadiq said:

“Ghaibat and faultfinding are taboo. And they destroy the virtues of a person as the fire destroys the fuel." (Jam’i al sa’da, v 2, p. 305)

Unfortunately such a major sin has become an everyday routine for our people. It has reached such grave proportions that the people don’t consider that they are sinning backbiting and finding faults in others. The mother criticises the father and the father finds fault with her. Neighbours and relatives don’t tire counting each other’s faults. The innocent children pick up this loathsome habit from their home and parents. Children do backbiting of other children. When they grow up doing this, it becomes difficult to shun the bad habit.

Some parents pamper and praise their children to the sky. While, in fact, they need to gloss over their shortcomings. Sometimes the parents falsely praise the child for the things he has not achieved to put him to ridicule for his failures.

In such situations the children might turn hostile to the parents. Or even they may get the habit of uttering blatant falsehoods. They can also become the victims of inferiority complex. It is better, therefore, for the parents not to unnecessarily talk of the failures of the children derisively.

Children’s Quarrels

One matter of some concern is the differences and fights between children at homes. When a family has more than one child, there is likelihood of fights. One thinks that the other is usurping his privileges and has unnecessarily come to share things with him. They push each other around and grab toys from each other.

When they start going to school they dirty each other’s note-books and other things. They make fun of each other. When one tries to concentrate on his school assignment, the other makes noises to disturb him. Every child knows the pranks that he can play on his brothers and sisters. In this situation the parents are the helpless spectators. The complaints about the fights reach them. The difficulty comes for them when sometimes the parents get involved to arbitrate in the quarrels of the children. The mother tells the father that he doesn’t give attention to the upbringing of the children. They don’t fear you. It is your careless attitude that the house is literally an arena for fights.

The father complains to the mother that if she were a careful person, the children wouldn’t have turned so naughty as they are. It is her support that encourages the children to misbehave.

Here the parents should remember that the children are, after all, childrenThey cannot be expected to sit quietly in a corner like old persons. You must accept the fact that children’s fights are a natural phenomenon. Even the elders sometimes do fight. How can the children be expected to sit quietly all the while. Children are generally mischievous. Playing pranks at one another they might fight. But soon they get together and forget the differences. They cannot remain away from each other carrying long faces. One psychologist says:

“This is an important matter that we should never think that in a house where there are many children there prevails perpetual peace amongst them; the children live amicably, never fight for once Whichever child we have talked to, said that Mom and Dad expect them to live amicably without fighting with one another. But if you give a serious thought to the matter, the trend of the children fighting with one another is not such a big problem." (Ruwan shinasi kudak, p. 286.)

We should also know that the habit of the children fighting with one another would disappear as they grow in age. If the parents accept the fights between children as a temporary and natural phase, then they would not worry about it so much.

Another psychologist says:

“Lots of activities of the children like playing pranks on one another, fighting and wrestling with one another will taper off with passage of time. " (Ruwan shinasi kudak, p. 286.)

Yes, it is right that most parents cannot completely eliminate the fights between their children. But with tact and clever handling they can reduce their frequency and intensity. The careful parents never remain spectators when the children fight. They intervene tactfully and ensure that the children don’t cause bodily harm to each other during fights. They have first to investigate the cause of the fight and try to eliminate it. One main cause of the differences between the children is the feeling of jealousy. It is necessary that the reason for the jealousy springing up in the child is detected and a remedy found. .

A child wants all the attention for himself. He doesn’t like to share the affections of the parents with other children. The first born is generally pampered by the parents. But when the second arrives, the conditions are changed. Naturally the parents have to divide their attention and have to give the major share to the smaller child. Now the elder child starts getting the feeling of insecurity. He starts feeling neglected. He feels the new arrival is an uninvited guest who is holding the attention and care of his beloved parents. He becomes envious of the baby, but knows that he has to tolerate him because the parents are showering love on him.

In such situations the elder child sometimes malingers, pretending illness, to keep the attention of the parents concentrated on him. Sometimes he may fall on the floor, refuse to eat food, cry and try other pretences to attract the parents’ attention. Such a child considers himself deprived and develops a sort of hatred for his other siblings. He awaits an opportunity to wreak revenge on them. The parents have to discreetly avoid such situations arising. They should prepare the children to receive the new arrival before he is born. They must tell the children that their little sibling is expected soon. When it will grow up, it will play with them and love them.

When they prepare something for the new-born, they should give some gifts to the elder children too, so that they don’t feel neglected. When the mother gets admitted to a maternity home for delivery, the father should give some gifts to the children at home so that their minds are diverted and they don’t miss the mother.

The father should tell them on the occasion that the gifts are given to them to celebrate the arrival of the little oneHe should ask them that when the little one came home, they should not make much noise. The parents should not praise the baby too much in the presence of the other children. They should give a littlemore attention to the older children to give them the feeling of assurance that the new one is not come to deprive them of their parents attention.

Ali, The Commander of the Faithful, says:

“Justice removes differences and promotes friendship." (Gharar al hukm, p. 64)

“Just treatment is always the best strategy." (Gharar al hukm, p. 64)

It is always possible that some of the children might have special qualities that become the darlings of the parents. Some children may be more intelligent, some more pretty and some other more polite to deserve special attention of the parents. One child might perform excellently at school and attract lot of praise from the parents.

These extraordinary expressions of love because of some special quality in a child will not be anything out of the ordinary. But excessive repetition of such praises is not advisable.

Some parents, as a strategy to promote competition between their children, talk about the good qualities of one to the other(s). For example, they may say, ‘ Hassan Work hard at studies that you get high grades in your examinations as did Abbas!’ They say, ‘ ZainabYou must help your mother for his household chores as Zehra is so nicely doing!’ ‘ RezaObserve good table manners like your brother, AliWhat a polite and courteous boy he is!’

This attitude of the parents is not right. It might not bring about positive and desirable results. To the contrary, it might create hard feelings and jealousy between brothers and sisters. They may become revengeful and might themselves indulge in unnecessary comparisons between each other.

Another very important reason for the fights between the children is the high expectations of the parents from them. The child wants to play with the toys of his sibling; the parents prohibit him from doing it. This gives rise to the fight between the two. At this juncture the parents intervene. First they quietly try to convince the children to become quiet. If the quarrel still persists, they ask the other child to give its toy to the one who wants to borrow it for playing. They tell him that it is they who have brought the toy for him. The toy is not his property. If he still refused to give the toy to his brother, they would not love him nor bring any more toys for him.

The child becomes helpless and parts with his toy. But he starts thinking that the parents are tyrannical and the brother is bad. He develops hatred in his heart for both. He will express this hatred whenever there is an opportunity. This is quite natural that the child was thinking that the toys were his own and that none other had a right to play with them. Without his consent. He thinks that he is the victim of the tyranny of his parents and the other brother. In the circumstance, the child is right. Because, in the first instance they don’t permit the other siblings to play with the toys they had given to him. The thoughtful parents try to create a spirit of co-operation between their children. They must have an amicable atmosphere that they share all their toys and games with each other.

Sometimes the reason for differences cropping up between the children is that the parents entrust one task to a particular child and leave the others with nothing to do. This situation can give rise to fights. To avoid such situations the parents should try to make the children busy with something or other. Then they will not have a feeling of neglect.

Sometimes even fights between the parents encourage the children to follow suit. When the innocent children see that the parents are compulsive fighters, they start thinking that fights are a way of life. In emulation of the parents they start looking for reasons to commence fighting.

Therefore, the parents who are fed up of the constant fights between their children, should do introspection and reform themselves. Then they must turn their attention to set the children right. There will hardly be any family that has no difference of opinion amongst its members. But if the parents take care not to air their differences in the presence of the children, the children will not be encouraged to argue and fight. But, even then if there are some minor fights between the children, the parents must discreetly intervene and sort out the matter to the satisfaction of all.

In the end we would like to caution you that in spite of observing all the cautions, your family may not be totally free of fights between the children. After all children are human, and the instinct to fight is there in every individual. In fact the children are generally hyperactive and fighting can be a way of dissipating some of their energy. The parents must exercise care that when the children fight, they don’t cause bodily harm to one another and the property around them. They should not worry too much if some children have more inclination to fight. This is a transient habit and it tapers off with time.

Friends and Friendship

A good friend and companion is the greatest gift of God. In adversity, a friend only is the refuge for a person and solace for his heart and soul. In this world, that is full of hardships and hurdles, presence of a true friend is absolutely necessary for every individual. One who doesn’t have any friend, will be like a person, all alone, away from home. He will not have anyone to commiserate with him in the times of need.

Imam Musa ibn Jafer was asked what is the ideal source for comfort in this world. The Imam replied:

“An airy house and plenty of friends!" (Bihar al-anwar, v 74, p. 177)

Ali says:

“The weakest person is one who cannot make anyone his friend and brother." (Nahj ul balagha, v 74, p. 154)

“Not having friends is like being a stranger in ones own land and being a loner." (Bihar al-anwar, v 74, p. 179)

As the grown ups need friends, the children too want friends and companions. A child who doesn’t have friends, will always be lonely and forlorn. The child, by nature, needs a friend and companion. He cannot be denied this natural need. There is also a subtle difference between a friend and acquaintance. Perhaps, a child may have acquaintances but no friends. Sometimes a child selects a friend from his class fellows and the children in his neighbourhood. The cause for picking up a particular person as a friend may not be evident. Perhaps the spiritual similarity between the two has brought them together.

The Commander of the Faithful, Ali, says:

“The hearts of people are like migrant nomads, whosoever loves them, they are attached to him." (Bihar al-anwar, v 74, p. 178)

A friend cannot be thrust on anyone. The parents cannot very much restrict the child to accept particular persons as friends. The child must be free to make his own choice of friends. But this freedom will be with some conditions and restrictions. The character and conduct of the friends will have to be observed by the parents before they permit the child to pick a friend. If a child selects a courteous and polite friend, he will definitely benefit by picking up his good habits. To the contrary, if the friend has undesirable habits then, naturally, the child will take to some of his bad habits. There are plenty of children and youths fallen into the morass of sin because of indiscreetly selecting bad friends. .

The Prophet of Islam has said:

“A man follows the faith, ways and habits of his friend." (Usul al-Kafi, v 72, p. 375)

Ali, The Commander of the Faithful, says:

“The most fortunate are those who have connections with good people." (Gharar al hukm, p. 189)

This is the reason the Religion of Islam exhorts its peoples to abstain from bad company.

Ali said:

"Avoid making friendship with transgressors and sinning persons because evil creates evil." (Bihar al-anwar, v 74, p. 199

Imam Zain ul Abidin told to his son, Imam Mohammed al Baqir:

“OMy sonAvoid acquaintance of five type of persons: 1. Don’t be friends with a liar. He will be like a mirage. He will trick you. When a thing is far, he will say it is near; and when it is at hand, he will say that it is very far. 2. Don’t make a transgressor and sinner your friend because he might sell you for as low a price.3. Don’t make a parsimonious and stingy person your friend who may not help you in times of need.4. Don’t make a stupid person your friend, lest he bring harm to you with his stupidity. It is possible that with all good intentions, he might bring harm to you with his foolish actions. 5. Don’t be friend with those who deprive their kin of their rights. Such persons are shorn of Allah's Blessings and are accursed people. (Usul al-Kafi, v 72, p. 376)

Responsible and thoughtful parents will not be totally unconcerned with the type of friends their children cultivate. While the parents must know the type of friends a child has, they should not appear to be interfering in their personal matters.

If the parents can provide a good friend to their child, they have made a great contribution to his virtuous future. But this is not such an easy task. The best way is to acquaint the child with what is good, and what is not, when he comes to the age of understanding. They should explain to the child the defects that might be there in undesirable friends.

The parents must keep a subtle watch over the activities of the child and his friends from a distance. If they find that the friends are good, they must appreciate them. They should create opportunities for the child to meet such friends. But if they notice that the child has picked up an undesirable acquaintance, then they should discreetly try to cut this friendship short. If the child persists in such friendship, deal with the matter strictly.

The parents can help the child in making good friends by another method. They should pick children in their neighbourhood with good behaviour, character and background. Create opportunities for the children to meet and react with one another. If they become friends, encourage them to cement the friendship. This way, even if there are some minor defects in their own child, they can be warded off in the company of good children. For example, if a child is timid, he might overcome his timidity by being friends with a bold and courageous child.

The parents should not be totally oblivious of the type of friends their child has. Particularly when the child is on the threshold of youth. This will be the period in his life when habits take root. .Any negligence on the part of the parents might result in irreparable harm to the character and conduct of the child, if he persists to be in bad company. They should remember the dictum: Prevention is better than cure!

Ali, The Commander of the Faithful, says:

“For everything there is a calamity, and for virtue the calamity is a bad friend."

One gentleman writes:

"My parents never permitted me to meet my friends. If sometimes friends visited me, I tried to send them away quickly after talking with them for a while. One friend of mine used to live very near our home. My parents knew him well but never allowed us to visit each other. I used to wish to have friends, meet them, chat and play with them. But my parents were the impediment. I was very sad about this. One day I had decided to visit my friend, whatever cameI told my Mom that I had to go for my exams. I took permission for going to attend the examination but, in fact, I made a beeline to my friends house. This friend’s house was at a little distance from our home. I boarded an omnibus and reached his place. There were other children too at my friend’s place. We had lots of fun together, When I returned home in the evening, Mom asked me why I was so late. To hide one lie, I had to utter another.

Now I wonder if Mom was not aware that the children too need friends and companions. Why did they restrict me so much?!’

One girl writes:

"Once I invited some friends home. I had some savings from my pocket money. With this money I ran to the neighbourhood grocery and brought a pack of ice cream. My mother was away visiting some people. While my friends were eating the ice cream, Mom returned home. I was very scared that she might scold me. She didn't bother a bit about my feelings and said angrily to my friends,’ You girls are making Saima waste her money!’ My friends abruptly went away.My Mom didn’t stop at this.

She visited my school the next day and complained to our class teacher that my friends visit our home and encourage me to waste my money. She told the teacher that the girls visited a day earlier and asked me to buy ice cream for them. My friends, who were also my class fellows, said, ‘AuntyWe shall pay you the price of the ice cream we ate at your home yesterday‘I felt so ashamed and belittled that I wished the earth went asunder and I fell into the abyss. Ever since that day,I had never gone to the school. All my friends progressed in their studies. Today I am a forlorn and lonely person, lagging behind in all walks of life."